Acts 8:34

War heroes. Indian campaign. Texas Capitol.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Acts 8:34

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

With the eunuch’s quoting of Isaiah complete, Luke next records, “So the eunuch answered Philip.”

As has already been seen in Acts, the word “answered” is used in the sense of “spoke to” or “addressed.” It is not a response to something but the beginning of a communication. He answered, “and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this.’”

It is an obvious question to begin with. There is simile conveyed in the verses (as a sheep to the slaughter, etc.), and so to the eunuch it could be that the part seemingly speaking about death could be some type of literary device as well. Without knowing the context, it is just a set of words that could really mean anything. In order to know what is being conveyed, he naturally asks for this context. He then adds in the words, “of himself or of some other man?”

The word “man” is not in the original. It asks if it is about himself or someone else. The fact that it is a man is obvious from the text, however. But there are times in the Bible where speaking of a person can mean an entire group of people or even a location –

“But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.” Isaiah 41:8

Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;
Israel shall blossom and bud,
And fill the face of the world with fruit. Isaiah 27:6

If the eunuch had read through Isaiah, he may have no idea at all whether the words before him are speaking of a man, a group of people, a location, or some other entity. As such, his question is not only appropriate, but it is a wise thing to ask.

Life application: As always, the phrase “context is king” should be remembered and applied. Reading Isaiah and taking the words recorded there in their appropriate context, it should be obvious that the words of Isaiah 53 are messianic in nature. The rabbis of Israel destroy the context in order to hide this fact because it so obviously points to what Jesus accomplished.

But this is not uncommon. People shove the church into passages spoken to Israel under the law all the time. The Sermon on the Mount and the Olivet Discourse, for example, were spoken to Israel and they apply to Israel. The context is purposely manipulated to justify presuppositions about various issues, such as the timing of the rapture. But such manipulations don’t change when the rapture will occur. And so, the only thing that has happened is that a pretext is formed. In the forming of a pretext, people’s doctrine will be harmed.

To understand this concerning the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says in Matthew 5 –

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17

Are the people of the church waiting for the law to be fulfilled? The answer is obvious, “No.” Jesus was speaking to Israel. He still is speaking to Israel. Until they move from the law to Him, they must perfectly adhere to every precept of the law in order to be saved. Those in the church, both Jew and Gentile, have come to Christ. As such, our righteousness is not in the law, but in Him.

Context, context, context. Oh, how sweet will be the doctrine of those who maintain proper context!

Glorious God, help us to maintain proper context in our doctrine. Amen.