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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Answered Philip. That is, addressed Philip. The Hebrews often use the word answer as synonymous with addressing one, whether he had spoken or not.

Of himself, etc. This was a natural inquiry, for there was nothing in the text itself that would determine expressly to whom the reference was. The ancient Jews expressly applied the passage to the Messiah. Thus the Targum of Jonathan on Isa 52:13, "Behold, my servant shall deal prudently," etc., renders it, "Behold, my servant, the Messiah, shall be prospered," etc. But we should remember that the eunuch was probably not deeply versed in the Scriptures. We should remember, further, that he had just been at Jerusalem, and that the public mind was agitated about the proceedings of the sanhedrim in putting Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Messiah, to death. It is by no means improbable that this passage had been urged as a proof that he was the Messiah; and that the Jews, to evade the force of it, had maintained that it referred to Isaiah or Jeremiah—as they have since done. Yet the subject was so important and so difficult, that it had occupied the attention of the traveller during his journey; and his question shows that he had been deeply pondering the inquiry whether it could refer to Isaiah, or whether it must have reference to the Messiah. In this state of suspense and agitation, when his mind was just fitted to receive instruction, God sent a messenger to guide him. He often thus prepares, by his providence, or by a train of affecting and solemn events, the minds of men for a reception of the truth; and then he sends his messengers to guide the mind, thoughtful and anxious, in the way of peace and salvation.

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