Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1955
NUMBER 23, PAGE 2-3a

Conversion Of The Eunuch

Hoyt H. Houchen, San Antonio, Texas

We now consider the conversion of the eunuch which is recorded in Acts 8. Beginning with verse 26 we read: "But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert." Here we learn that the preacher who brought the message to the Samaritans is the same one who is involved in this account. He is Philip the evangelist. Again, in order to properly analyze the lesson, there are several questions to be asked.

First, what did the angel of the Lord do? What part did he assume in the conversion of the eunuch? He spoke to the evangelist and told him where to go. The angel did not do anything directly to the man to be converted. It is not in the Lord's plan to send angels for the purpose of preaching the gospel. God has committed that work to men. Those today who claim that angels speak to them and reveal to them what to do to be saved fail to read of any such example in the New Testament. What, then, was the work of the angel in this case? His work was to send the preacher to the man to be converted. Philip complied with the words of the angel for verse 27 reads, "And he arose and went."

Second, what was the work of the Holy Spirit? What did he do in this case of conversion? We learn what he did by reading verses 27-29. "And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." It is to be noted that the Spirit did not enter directly into the heart of the man to be converted. There is no example of the Holy Spirit operating directly upon the heart of the unsaved. It was by words that the Spirit placed the preacher in contact with the eunuch. It is not to be denied that the' Holy Spirit had a part in the conversion of this man but he did not act directly upon him. As we shall see later, it was by the preaching of the gospel that this man was saved.

Third, what was the work of the preacher? What did he do in this case? The answer to this question is found in the passage that follows. We therefore continue this reading with verse 30. "And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other? And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus." The officer was interested in the word of the Lord. Philip did not talk to this man about political matters, nor did he preach his opinion or a creed; he "opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture (Isaiah 53), preached unto him Jesus." Neither the angel or the Holy Spirit spoke anything directly to the Ethiopian officer. They merely cooperated in placing the preacher in contact with him. What did the preacher do? He preached Jesus Christ.

Fourth, what did the officer do? We have the answer to this question by reading verses 36-38. "And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." The faith of the eunuch led him to go down into the water and be baptized. This obedience on the part of this man assures us that Philip included water baptism in the preaching of Christ. It is impossible for one to preach Christ without also preaching the commands of Christ. Jesus said in Mk. 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mk. 16:16 is a clear and simple statement of what salvation requires. The conversion of the eunuch here in Acts 8 is a clear example of what Jesus stated. When men claim to preach Christ but at the same time deny that baptism is essential to salvation, they are not preaching Christ regardless of what they claim. You will observe that the eunuch did not tell an experience and neither did he give any evidence that his sins were pardoned before baptism. Furthermore, he was not placed on trial or probation. Philip did not tell the candidate to wait until he received permission to receive him into the church. Only the preacher and the eunuch were present. The eunuch was not voted upon and there is no example in the scriptures where anyone else was ever voted upon before he could be baptized. The eunuch simply heard the gospel preached and then he demanded baptism.

The eunuch did not have water sprinkled or poured upon him. He was baptized and baptism is immersion. The word "baptize" is from the Greek word "bapto" which means to "dip, plunge, or immerse." (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer, p. 95). There is a vast difference between baptism that is taught in the New Testament and sprinkling and pouring as taught by men. In the case of sprinkling and pouring, little water is required, it is brought to the candidate, the candidate stays out of the water, there is no burial, and there is no symbolism. But baptism requires much water (Jno. 3:23), the candidate goes to the water (Acts 8:36), he goes down into the water (Acts 8:38), the person comes up out of the water (Acts 8:39), thus it requires a burial and resurrection (Horn. 6:3-5, a symbolism of Christ's own death, burial, and resurrection. There is no example, precept, or command for sprinkling or pouring in the New Testament. What did the eunuch do? He confessed Christ and was baptized.

Fifth, as a result of the man's obedience what did the Lord do? He pardoned him from all past sins. Peter said in Acts 2:38, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." As a result of the eunuch's obedience, he went on his way rejoicing. In summary we learn that this man heard the gospel, he believed the gospel, repented, for repentance is a prerequisite of baptism, he confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and he was baptized for the remission of his sins.