Philip the Personal Worker (8:26–40)
Any Christian would enjoy a revival such as that which God gave in Samaria, but not everyone would leave such a meeting to lead one soul to Christ! Philip obeyed the Lord and found an Ethiopian, undoubtedly a proselyte to the Jewish faith, a man who was a high officer in his land. We see in this event the factors necessary for effective personal work and soul-winning.
A. The man of God.
1. Philip was in close fellowship with the Lord
a. He knew Christ as his own Savior.
b. Vs 26 & 29
c. The Lord was speaking and Philip was listening.
d. 1 Kings 19:11-12 "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
e. Philip was obedient to the Spirit, going where God led him.
2. He was available to the Lord
a. God uses people—dedicated men and women who will obey the Spirit.
b. Acts 8:5-8 "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city."
i. He did not lean unto his own understanding.
ii. Contrast Philips reaction to Jonah’s
c. He was ready. Notice vs. 26-27; 29-30
d. He obeyed immediately
3. Philip was the kind of evangelist who was willing to leave the public meeting with its excitement to help a soul find peace in a private place where only God could see.
a. Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.—D. T. Niles
b. Our great object of glorifying God is to be mainly achieved by the winning of souls.—Charles Spurgeon
c. I’m just a nobody telling everybody about somebody who can save anybody.—elevator operator at a hospital in Nashville
d. One man said, “Although I have shared Christ personally with many thousands of people through the years, I am a rather reserved person and I do not always find it easy to witness.
But I have made this my practice, and I urge you to do the same: Assume that whenever you are alone with another person for more than a few moments, you are there by divine appointment to explain to that person the love and forgiveness he can know through faith in Jesus Christ.”
e. He continued to show a heart to reach others.
f. Acts 8:40 "But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."
B. The Spirit of God.
1. The Holy Spirit is the Lord of the Harvest, and it’s through Him that we have the power to witness (Acts 1:8).
2. The Spirit opened the way for Philip to come to the man
3. He opened the Scriptures to the seeking sinner
4. He opened the sinner’s heart to the Savior.
5. A man cannot be saved who does not understand what he is doing, and only the Spirit can teach the sinner the truths of the Gospel.
6. When the Spirit brings a prepared servant and a contrite sinner together, there will be a harvest.
C. The Word of God.
1. Romans 10:17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
2. There can be no real conversion apart from the Word of God.
a. John 5:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
b. Ephesians 1:12-14 "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
c. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6 "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ."
d. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:"
e. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
f. Titus 1:3 "But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;"
g. 1 Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
3. Isaiah 53 (vs. 32–33)
a. Isaiah 53 describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (vv. 1–4), His death (vv. 5–8) and burial (v. 9), and His resurrection and exaltation (vv. 10–12).
b. The theme “the innocent Servant died in the place of the guilty” When theologians speak about “the vicarious atonement,” that is what they mean. We cannot explain everything about the cross, but this much seems clear: Jesus took the place of guilty sinners and paid the price for their salvation.
c. There is quite a contrast between “the arm of the Lord,” which speaks of mighty power, and “a root out of a dry ground,” which is an image of humiliation and weakness.
d. Israel was not a paradise when Jesus was born; politically and spiritually, it was a wilderness of dry ground. He did not come as a great tree but as a “tender plant.”
e. They were ashamed of Him because He did not represent the things that were important to them, things like wealth (Luke 16:14), social prestige (14:7–14; 15:1–2), reputation (18:9–14), being served by others (22:24–27), and pampering yourself (Matt. 16:21–28). He is rejected today for the same reasons.
f. Matthew 8:14-17 "And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." applies Isaiah 53:4 to our Lord’s healing ministry and not to His atoning death.
g. plural pronouns: our griefs and sorrows, our iniquities, our transgressions.
h. He died not for anything he had done, but because of what we have done.
i. He was “wounded,” which means “pierced through.” His hands and feet were pierced by nails (Ps. 22:16; Luke 24:39–40) and His side by a spear (John 19:31–37; Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). He was crucified, which was not a Jewish form of execution (John 12:32–33; 18:31–32). Capital punishment to the Jews meant stoning (Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:35–36). If they wanted to further humiliate the victim, they could publicly expose the corpse (Deut. 21:22–23), a practice that Peter related to the Crucifixion (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24).
j. On the cross, Jesus Christ was “bruised,” which means “crushed under the weight of a burden.” What was the burden? “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6; see v. 12; 1:4). Sin is indeed a burden that grows heavier the longer we resist God (Ps. 38:4).
k. The “healing” in Isaiah 53:5 refers to the forgiveness of sins, not the healing of the body
i. 1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
ii. Psalm 103:3 "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;"
iii. Sin is not only like a burden, but it is also like a sickness that only God can cure
iv. Isaiah 1:4-6 "Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
l. Sin is serious.
i. Transgression: which means rebellion against God, daring to cross the line that God has drawn (Isa. 53:5, 8).
ii. Iniquity: the crookedness of our sinful nature (vv. 5–6). In other words, we are sinners by choice and by nature.
iii. Like sheep, we are born with a nature that prompts us to go astray; and, like sheep, we foolishly decide to go our own way.
iv. Under the Law of Moses, the sheep died for the shepherd; but under grace, the Good Shepherd died for the sheep (John 10:1–18).
m. Jesus Christ was silent before those who accused Him as well as those who afflicted Him.
i. He was silent before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:62-63 "And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.")
ii. the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:12 "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.")
iii. Pilate (Matthew 27:14 "And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly."; John 19:9 "And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.")
iv. and Herod Antipas (Luke 23:9 "Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.")
v. He did not speak when the soldiers mocked Him and beat Him. (Luke 22:63-65 "And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.")
n. Isaiah 53:7 speaks of His silence under suffering and verse 8 of His silence when illegally tried and condemned to death.
i. In today’s courts, a person can be found guilty of terrible crimes; but if it can be proved that something in the trial was illegal, the case must be tried again.
ii. Everything about His trials was illegal, yet Jesus did not appeal for another trial. John 18:11 "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
o. The Servant is compared to a lamb (Isa. 53:7), which is one of the frequent symbols of the Savior in Scripture.
i. A lamb died for each Jewish household at Passover (Ex. 12:1–13), and He died for His people, the nation of Israel (Isa. 53:8).
ii. John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.", NKJV); and twenty-eight times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lamb.
p. Since Jesus Christ was crucified with criminals as a criminal, it was logical that His dead body would be left unburied, but God had other plans.
i. The burial of Jesus Christ is as much a part of the Gospel as is His death (1 Cor. 15:1–5), for the burial is proof that He actually died.
ii. The Roman authorities would not have released the body to Joseph and Nicodemus if the victim were not dead
1. John 19:38-42 "And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand."
2. Mark 15:42-47 "And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid."
iii. A wealthy man like Joseph would never carve out a tomb for himself so near to a place of execution, particularly when his home was miles away. He prepared it for Jesus and had the spices and grave clothes ready for the burial. How wonderfully God fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy!
q. The prophet now explains the Cross from God’s point of view.
i. Even though Jesus was crucified by the hands of wicked men, His death was determined beforehand by God
ii. Acts 2:22-23 "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
iii. Jesus was not a martyr, nor was His death an accident. He was God’s sacrifice for the sins of the world.
r. He did not remain dead! Isaiah 53:10 "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."
i. He was resurrected to live forever.
ii. In His resurrection, He triumphed over every enemy and claimed the spoils of victory
iii. Ephesians 1:19-23 "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."; Ephesians 4:8 "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."
iv. Satan offered Christ a glorious kingdom in return for worship (Matt. 4:8–10), which would have meant bypassing the cross. Jesus was “obedient unto death,” and God “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:8–10).
s. Another part of His “reward” is found in the statement, “He shall see His seed [descendants]” (Isa. 53:10).
i. To die childless was a grief and shame to the Jews, but Jesus gave birth to a spiritual family because of His travail on the cross (Isaiah 53:11 "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.").
ii. Isaiah 8:18 "Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion."
iii. Quoted in Hebrews 2:13 "And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me."
t. The Servant’s work on the cross brought satisfaction (Isa. 53:11).
i. John 8:29 "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."
ii. “It is finished” (John 19:30).
u. The death of the Servant also satisfied the Law of God. The theological term for this is “propitiation” (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2).
i. The Judge took the place of the criminals and met the just demands of His own holy Law! “He was numbered with the transgressors” and even prayed for them (Isa. 53:12; Luke 22:37 "For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end."; Luke 23:33-34 "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.").
ii. The Law has been satisfied, and God can now graciously forgive all who will receive His Son.
v. Justification means that God declares believing sinners righteous in Christ and never
i. John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
w. From that chapter Philip preached Christ. Explaining who Jesus was and what He had done.
4. The personal witness that finally bears fruit is the witness that plants the seed of the Word and exalts Jesus Christ.
5. The Ethiopian proved his faith by his baptism, in obedience to the Word of God.
6. Philip was caught away for a ministry elsewhere; but the treasurer went on his way rejoicing!
7. When Philip preached Christ in the city, there was great joy (v. 8), and when he presented Christ in the desert, he sent the new believer on his way rejoicing.
Paul’s conversion is the great turning-point. His whole program for the evangelization of the world depended on this unusual man. Peter and Paul represent two different ministries:
|1. One of the twelve apostles||1. Called apart from the Twelve|
|2. Centered in Jerusalem||2. Centered in Antioch|
|3. Ministered mainly to Israel||3. Ministered to the Gentiles|
|4. Called on earth by Christ||4. Called by Christ from heaven|
|5. Saw Christ’s glory on earth||5. Saw Christ’s glory in heaven|
1. Too many Christians confuse these two ministries and thus turn the local church into a hodgepodge of “kingdom truth” and “church truth.”
2. Paul is God’s spokesman to the local church:
3. 2 Peter 3:15-16 "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
4. We cannot ignore God’s instructions to the church through Paul
5. Even Peter did not fully understand God’s new program revealed through Paul and had to be instructed further (see Galatians 2).
I. Paul and the Lord (9:1–9)
1. Paul’s conversion was all of grace; God suddenly interrupted him on his murderous mission and by grace transformed him into a new person.
2. Just as the church is one body composed of Jews and Gentiles, so Paul was one man with both Jewish and Gentile relationships.
a. He was a Jew by birth, but a Gentile by citizenship.
b. He was God’s choice servant (v. 15) to announce the message of the church, this “mystery” that God had kept secret from ages past.
c. Being associated with both Jews and Gentiles, trained in the OT Scriptures as well as the Greek philosophies and Roman laws, Paul was the ideal man to give this new message that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in Christ.
3. His conversion experience can be summarized in these statements:
a. He saw a light
b. He heard a voice: Paul heard the voice of the Lord through the Word of God, although Paul heard Christ speak audibly. (The men with him heard sounds, but did not hear the words.)
c. He obeyed a call.
4. Every sinner is in the dark until the light of the Gospel shines on him.
a. How Christ humbled Paul! He “fell” not only physically but in his heart as well; for unless we fall in humility we cannot be saved.
5. Verse 4 is another proof that the body of Christ was in existence;
a. otherwise how could Paul persecute Christ?
b. When he laid hands on believers, he laid hands on the members of His body, and this affected the Head of the body, Christ.
II. Paul and Ananias (9:10–19)
1. Acts 22:12-13 "And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him."
2. Paul’s ministry was primarily to the Gentiles
a. Acts 13:46-47 "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."
b. Acts 13:18:6
c. Acts 13:22:21
3. Paul was already saved when Ananias arrived is seen in Ananias’s greeting, “Brother Saul.”
a. Acts 22:16 "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.": “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins”
b. Acts 2:21 "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
c. Acts 10 illustrates this: sinners hear the Word, believe on Jesus Christ, receive the Spirit, and then are baptized.
III. Paul and the Jews (9:20–31)
1. Two evidences are given of Paul’s conversion:
a. he prayed (v. 11)
b. he preached (v. 20)
c. Talking to God for men and to men for God are good proofs of conversion.
d. Paul started where he was and preached what he knew, another good policy for new Christians to follow. His conversion was probably in the year a.d. 37.
e. He spent time in Damascus preaching, then went to Arabia (Galatians 1:15-18 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.")
f. returning to Damascus “after many days” (Acts 9:23).
g. This covered a period of probably three years, during which time Paul was being taught the truths of God’s “mystery of the church.”
h. When back in Damascus, he was attacked by the Jews and had to leave through a window at night
i. 2 Corinthians 11:32-37 "In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands."
ii. Acts 9:23–26.
2. This takes us from a.d. 37 to a.d. 39, at which time he went to Jerusalem, where he met the apostles (Acts 9:26–29; 22:15–21; Galatians 1:17-20 "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.").
a. The apostles were afraid of Paul, and it was Barnabas (“son of consolation,” Acts 4:36) who introduced Paul to the group.
b. The fact that Paul was a stranger (and even an enemy) to the apostles is important: it proves that he got his message of grace from Christ Himself and not from men.
i. Galatians 1:15-18 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
c. God took every precaution to keep separate the ministries of Paul and the twelve apostles.
i. What a tragedy that people confuse them today. Paul stayed with Peter for fifteen days (Gal. 1:18), but he did not see any other apostle (Gal. 1:19).
ii. He did visit James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19) who later took Peter’s place as the spiritual leader in Jerusalem (Acts 15).
iii. Paul wanted to minister to the Jews in Jerusalem, but God commanded him to depart from the city (Acts 22:17–21).
iv. God’s kingdom program at Jerusalem was now at a close, and Paul had a ministry to fulfill among the Gentiles.
3. Further persecution made it necessary for Paul to leave, so he returned to his home at Tarsus.
a. Galatians 1:21 "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;" suggests that Paul preached in that region, and Acts 15:23 indicates that there were churches in that area. It is possible that during his stay of four or five years, Paul preached the Gospel of the grace of God and established Gentile churches. When the center of ministry moved from Jerusalem to Antioch (a Gentile city)
b. Barnabas went and sought for Paul and brought him back to minister with him (see Acts 11:19–30).
IV. Peter and the Saints (9:32–43)
1. Joppa (vv. 36 and 43). This city reminds us at once of the prophet Jonah, who went down to Joppa to flee to Tarshish (Jonah 1:1–3).
a. God called Jonah to carry His message to the Gentiles; and God was about to call Peter to do the same thing (Acts 10).
b. Peter lived in Joppa with Simon, a tanner, suggesting that some of Peter’s Jewish prejudices are now being set aside, for tanning was “unclean” as far as Jews were concerned.
c. Peter was about to discover that nothing is unclean that God has sanctified.