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Monday, 11 July 2022
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Acts 8:36
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The previous verse said that Philip opened his mouth and began to preach Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch. Luke next records, “Now as they went down the road.”
It is obvious that Philip continued with the preaching as they preceded from Jerusalem to Gaza, sitting next to the eunuch and telling him the things he knew about Jesus and His fulfillment of Scripture. And it obviously had the intended effect on him as is seen in the coming words, which begin with, “they came to some water.”
The words are not unimportant. It said that Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch. And yet, the obvious intent – and as will be seen explicitly in a moment – of the note about water is that a part of Philip’s preaching about Jesus was the fulfillment of the command concerning baptism. Luke directly ties evangelism about Jesus in with the requirement to be baptized.
Although this is a descriptive account, it is forming a normative pattern when taken with all of the other instances given in Acts. And more, it is a direct and unambiguous note of obedience to Jesus’ words that were given after the resurrection and in connection to the New Covenant. With this in mind, and in confirmation of this, it next says, “And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water.’”
The Greek more directly says, “Behold! Water!” It is as if the eunuch was marveling that such a propitious thing occurred on the desert road at exactly the time that he had chosen to believe the gospel presented to him.
Of this water, various travelers over the centuries have attempted to determine what source is being spoken of. But that is less important than the fact that water was there, right in the barren desert, in order to provide immediate compliance with the Lord’s command to be baptized. Taking full advantage of the moment, the eunuch immediately asks, “What hinders me from being baptized?”
One cannot ask about something like baptism unless he has first been told about it. As such, it is apparent that the preaching of the gospel included the subject as a core part of what was said. Because this was so, the eunuch immediately wants to comply with this outward ritual as a demonstration of the inward change that has occurred.
Life application: The Ethiopian eunuch is a Gentile. He has not been described as a proselyte to Judaism, and that cannot be inferred from the text, nor was it allowed under the law due to his being a eunuch. He is a man who came to worship God in a nation where he could not be accepted into its assembly.
And yet, he has now been accepted by the very fulfillment of every type, shadow, and picture that the law only anticipated. And that, by a mere act of faith (as will be seen in the coming verse). In his zeal to be identified with this new faith, and in direct obedience to the command of the Lord, he suggests baptism as soon as water is seen.
How is it that entire theologies have been developed and various cults have arisen that cannot comply with what this eunuch so readily was willing to seek. It is because they have improperly divided the word of God, and they have failed to understand the structure, intent, and message that the book of Acts is conveying.
This book is a key and pivotal marker in what God is doing, not by dividing His gospel between people groups, as if there is more than one gospel. Rather, God is showing a transition away from focusing on the Jewish people to a focus on Gentiles. And the reason for this is not that the Jews have been cut off permanently, but because – in their failure to accept Christ – they have gone into the punishment of the law that they chose to be judged under, instead of the freedom that He offered them in the giving of His Son.
The messianic promises to Israel will be realized when this time of punishment ends. And that will end when they – as a nation – call out to God through Christ Jesus. Until then, the one and only gospel (with its commands from the Lord), has gone to the Gentiles. Let us be faithful to comply with His words and not get ourselves caught up in the aberrant doctrines which have crept in and torn apart what is sound and proper concerning life in Christ.
Lord God, may we be found obedient to those things You have commanded us in our acceptance of the good news about Jesus. You have told us to be baptized, and You have told us to observe the Lord’s Supper. How is it that we can’t get these two basic things right? May we not fail to comply henceforth. To Your glory! Amen.