Understanding what we read

“Do you understand what you are reading?”

(April 30)

Rubens apostel philippus.jpg

Philip the Apostle and Evangelist – by Peter Paul Rubens, from his Twelve Apostles series (c. 1611), at the Museo del Prado, Madrid

This was the question the Ethiopian Eunuch asked Philip; he was one of the seven appointed to assist the 12 disciples (Acts 6:2,4); Stephen who was killed was also one of them.

“An angel of the Lord” (8:26) caused Philip to go up and meet with this Ethiopian as he was returning from worshipping in Jerusalem” (verse 28) which shows he was a genuine God fearing man – and as he travelled, he was reading God’s word and puzzling over a person he was reading about in the book of Isaiah who was “like a lamb before its shearer is silent … in his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth” (verses 32,33).

He asks Philip,

“Does the prophet say this about himself or about someone else?” (verse 34).

Philip explains,

beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus”.

The whole world has now been given the whole of the word of God – all 66 books of it, in just about every language. Remember what Jesus said:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).

People in the ancient world were challenged by the faith of Noah in the huge ark he and his sons built over many years! Does the word of God really challenge us? It did when it was first printed! Let us read some of it every day – and our understanding will grow and – like the Eunuch, we will start to think and to ask,

“What prevents me from being baptised?” (verse 37).

And if we are already baptised and have experienced the feeling he did after his baptism in “going on his way rejoicing” (verse 39) we will find less and less to rejoice about in much of what we do in this world.

We will relate to words in Peter’s 1st letter. He said that genuine believers

“by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last to time. In this you rejoice, though now, for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith … may be found to result in praise and honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:5-7).

The baptism of the eunuch by Rembrandt, 1626, ...

The baptism of the eunuch by Rembrandt, 1626, depicting Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. the only way of a true baptism is by full immersion, which is not shown on this portrait.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Find additionally:

  1. Faith
  2. Belief of the things that God has promised
  3. Rebirth and belonging to a church
  4. June’s Survey – Baptism by immersion: Necessary for salvation?
  5. Why baptism really matters – e-book
  6. United people under Christ

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  • God Wants to Use You! Are You Ready? (todaysfreshmanna.wordpress.com)
    Do you believe God wants to use you? Do you believe the Holy Spirit would prompt you to help someone know Jesus?
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    This Ethiopian was a very influential man. He experienced this personal touch from God and it changed the entire course of his life. Because of this man’s influence as treasurer under the queen, his life most likely then touched the lives of countless others. This story is the demonstration of the power and intimate effort on God’s part to use someone who knows Him (like you or I) to help another get to know Him. God loved this man so much that He spoke to Philip to go out to this desert place. Would God help you be used like this in some way?
  • The Commemoration of Philip, Deacon and Evangelist, 11 October (concordiakoinonia.com)
     Philip, also called the evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve apostles and of the rapidly growing early Church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (Acts 6:1-6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (Acts 8:4-13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea, he was host for several days to the apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-15). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)
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     Word, then Sacrament, specifically the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The court official asks what is to prevent Baptism. Indeed!  The Greek verb for “prevent”  or “hinder”  is the same one Jesus used when the disciples rebuked the parents from bringing their children to Him for a blessing, (Mark 10:14).  This high court official of Queen Candace received the kingdom, freely given, in Baptism as a child.  Indeed, all baptisms are baptisms of children and infants, even for an adult. The man went away “rejoicing”. This old song illustrates the eunuch’s rejoicing:   “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak and He is strong. Yes!  Jesus loves me. Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes!  Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.
  • The Ethiopian Eunuch – Philip Preaches to a Stranger on a Lonely Road (brakeman1.com)
    The story of Jesus was new to the Ethiopian.  He listened eagerly, and believed every word of this strange preacher who rode beside him in the chariot.  He knew now that his long journey to Jerusalem had not been made in vain, for he was learning the very thing he had longed to understand.
  • A Eunuch’s Legacy (gobeyondblog.com)
    There are over sixty references to this East African nation in the Bible. Christianity there dates back to the days of Philip in Acts 8. The stoning of Stephen, the first martyr, ignited the expansion of the church beyond Jerusalem. A believer named Philip, later known as Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8), ventured to Samaria and unwittingly became the first missionary in Acts — the first to carry the good news to unreached peoples.
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    If we will listen carefully, like Philip, we too will hear the sound of chariot wheels that signal an approaching opportunity to talk with others about Jesus. Don’t let those chariots pass you by. Take the initiative to share Jesus with someone seeking the right path. You never know how many generations you might impact by sharing the good news with one person.
  • What Barriers? Reflections on Acts 8:26-40 (bobcornwall.com)
    I appreciate a word given by Barbara Brown Taylor found in today’s reading found in the Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year B(WJK Press, 2011).
    She writes:

    This story is think with the presence of the Holy Spirit, which raises interesting questions about how that Spirit works.  If God is the Law-maker, then God is also the Law-bender, or at least the Law-transcender, who both places limits on the faithful and inspires them to challenge those limits when right relationships with God and neighbor are at state.  This dynamic shows up in both testaments, not just one.  When Philip follows the Spirit’s leading to go to the Ethiopian eunuch, he follows in the footsteps of his ancestor Elijah, who was led by the Lord to a widow of Zarephath (1 kings. 17:9).  When Philip comes up with nothing that might prevent the Ethiopian from being baptized, he acts on the eschatalogical prophecy of of Isaiah 56:4-5.

    As Barbara Brown Taylor notes, it’s not that there aren’t limits, but God can and will transcend them, when it is appropriate and fruitful for the furtherance of our relationships with God and neighbor.

     

  • Reading in Ethiopia …Acts 8 (inmyanguish.wordpress.com)
  • We Will Not Walk on the Same Road Twice (levelupgeneration.wordpress.com)
    Philip was called by The Lord to go South and preach the gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch but after he baptized him, he was snatched away by the Spirit of The Lord to the North then he start walking until he reached Caesarea. But two things I learned from this passage, first when God called to do something we must do it immediately without procrastination. Because we only have one shot, one opportunity, on the timing that is set by the Lord for us to do what He has called to do. Remember in Ecclesiastes it says that there is right time for everything? Secondly, we will pass by in this road of life only once, so take every opportunity to do our best to give glory to God and serve our purpose in this life that God has appointed us.
  • Religious gatekeepers would not like Philip the evangelist (patheos.com)
    Philip was an affirmative-action hire by the early church in Jerusalem — before that word “church” had even begun to be used. The early Christians shared all their possessions — “everything they owned was held in common” and “there was not a needy person among them.” Part of what that meant was a kind of Meals on Wheels program that took care of widows. But the community was growing fast and, “the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.”
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5 thoughts on “Understanding what we read

  1. Pingback: Daily portion of heavenly food | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

  2. Pingback: Vindt meerdere teksten van ons ook op andere websites | Broeders in Christus

  3. Pingback: Meaning of Sacrifice | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten

  4. Pingback: Salvation, Baptism and Re-baptism – Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven

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