Conversion Of The Ethiopian Eunuch

by David Padfield

In the eighth chapter of the book of Acts we find one of the many cases of conversion in the New Testament. These examples have been recorded for us to demonstrate how men enter the kingdom of God. Like every other case of conversion in Acts, God used the "foolishness of preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21) to reach the alien sinner. An angel of the Lord sent a preacher named Philip to teach an Ethiopian nobleman (Acts 8:26).

Little is known about the Ethiopian. In all likelihood, he was a black man who had turned to Judaism. We know he was a sincere individual, for he had traveled over 1,000 miles, from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, to worship God (Acts 8:27). It would be hard to believe a man would travel that far across the desert by chariot just for "show." I know folks who claim to love God but won't drive fifteen minutes in a new car to assemble with the saints. His dedication to God is further shown in Acts 8:28, where we find him "reading Isaiah the prophet" as he traveled.

The Ethiopian was a very humble man. When Philip drew near the chariot he asked the Ethiopian if he understood what he was reading. He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (Acts 8:31). After this, Philip got up into the chariot and "preached Jesus to him" (Acts 8:35). In the course of preaching Jesus, Philip spoke of water baptism. We know this because the Ethiopian said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36). Philip responded "If you believe with all your heart you may" (Acts 9:37). The man then confessed, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

His confession was an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ. In Romans 10:10 we read, "For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." This confession, as noble as it is, will not bring salvation by itself. "Even the demons believe -- and tremble" (James 2:19).

After his confession, "he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:38). New Testament baptism was always by immersion in water. It is referred to as a "burial" (Romans 6:1-4). Sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion was introduced by men centuries after the completion of the New Testament. I am certain Philip was not a Baptist preacher, for you will notice that no church voted on the Ethiopian before he was baptized. When a man is saved, the Lord adds him to His church (Acts 2:47).

Furthermore, Bible baptism is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). We are baptized in order to obtain salvation. Some people have changed the divine order of things by teaching salvation comes at the point of faith, before and without water baptism. This doctrine is out of harmony with the word of God (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). After his baptism, the Ethiopian "went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39). He had good reason to rejoice, for he was now a child of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ. He was now a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17).

If you would like to know more about baptism and the church Jesus built, please contact us. If you do not have a Bible, we will be happy to give you one.

Water baptism for the remission of sins