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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 39
Verse 39. Out of the water, ek. This preposition stands opposed to eiv "into;" and as that may mean to, so this may mean from; if that means into, this means here out of.
The Spirit of the Lord. Ac 8:29. The Spirit had suggested to Philip to go to meet the eunuch; and the same Spirit, now that he had fulfilled the design of his going there, directed his departure.
Caught away. This phrase has been usually understood of a forcible or miraculous removal of Philip to some other place. Some have even supposed that he was borne through the air by an angel. (See even Doddridge.) To such foolish interpretations have many expositors been led. The meaning is, clearly, that the Spirit, who had directed Philip to go near the eunuch, now removed him in a similar manner. That this is the meaning is clear,
(1.) because it accounts for all that occurred. It is not wise to suppose the existence of a miracle, except where the effect cannot otherwise be accounted for, and except where there is a plain statement that there was a miracle.
(2.) The word "caught away" hrpase does not imply that there was a miracle. The word properly means, to seize and bear away anything violently, without the consent of the owner, as robbers and plunderers do. Then it signifies to remove anything in a forcible manner; to make use of strength or power to remove it, Ac 23:10; Mt 13:19; Joh 10:28; 2 Co 12:2,4, etc. In no case does it ever denote that a miracle is performed. And :all that can be signified here is, that the Spirit strongly admonished Philip to go to some other place; that he so forcibly or vividly suggested the duty to his mind, as to tear him away, as it were, from the society of the eunuch. He had been deeply interested in the case. He would have found pleasure in continuing the journey with him. But the strong convictions of duty, urged by the Holy Spirit, impelled him, as it were, to break off this new and interesting acquaintanceship, and to go to some other place. The purpose for which he was sent, to instruct and baptize the eunuch, was accomplished, and now he was called to some other field of labour. A similar instance of interpretation has been considered See Barnes "Mt 4:5".
And he went on his way rejoicing. His mind was enlightened on a perplexing passage of scripture. He was satisfied respecting the Messiah. He was baptized; and he experienced that which all feel who embrace the Saviour and are baptized, joy. It was joy resulting from the fact that he was reconciled to God; and a joy, the natural effect of having done his duty promptly, in making a profession of religion. If we wish happiness, if we would avoid clouds and gloom, we shall do our duty at once. If we delay till tomorrow what we ought to do today, we may expect to be troubled with melancholy thoughts. If we find peace, it will be in doing promptly: just that which God requires at our hands. This is the last that we hear of this man. Some have supposed that this eunuch carried the gospel to Ethiopia, and preached it there. But there is strong evidence to believe that the gospel was not preached there successfully until about the year 330, when it was introduced by Frumentius, sent to Abyssinia for that purpose by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. From this narrative we may learn,
(1.) that God often prepares the mind to receive the truth.
(2.) That this takes place sometimes with the great and the noble, as well as the poor and obscure.
(3.) We should study the Scriptures. It is the way in which God usually directs the mind in the truths of religion.
(4.) They who read the Bible with candour and care may expect that God will, in some mode, guide them into the truth. It will often be in a way which they least expect; but they need not be afraid of being left to darkness or error.
(5.) We should be ready at all times to speak to sinners. God often prepares their minds, as he did that of the eunuch, to receive the truth.
(6.) We should not be afraid of the great, the rich, or of strangers. God often prepares their minds to receive the truth; and we may find a man willing to hear of the Saviour where we least expected it.
(7.) We should do our duty in this respect, as Philip did, promptly. We should not delay or hesitate; but should at once do that which we believe is in accordance with the will of God. See Ps 119:60.
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