THE STORY OF THE EARLY CHURCH
Verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
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33.1 PHILIP BAPTISES THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
- Philip the "deacon" and now an Evangelist meets the Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. He explains a prophecy of Isaiah from the Jewish Bible, tells him about the Gospel of Jesus, and at the Ethiopians request, baptises him. The baptised man presumably carries the Gospel into Africa:
Acts 8:30-38 - .... as Philip ran forward he heard the man (the Ethiopian) reading the prophet Isaiah, and he said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
And he replied, "How can I unless I have someone to guide me?"
And he invited Philip to get up and sit by his side (in his carriage or chariot). The passage of scripture he was reading was this:
'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his justice was taken away. And who will declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.' (Isaiah 53:7,8)
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, "Tell me, I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this - is he speaking about himself or about someone else?"
The Philip began, and using this scripture as a starting point, he told the eunuch the good news about Jesus. As they proceeded along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, here is some water; is there any reason why I should not be baptised now?"
And he gave orders for the carriage to stop. Then both of them went down to the water and Philip baptised the eunuch.
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33.2 PETER PREACHES TO THE GENTILE CENTURION CORNELIUS
- The God-fearing Cornelius, a Roman centurion stationed in Caesarea, has a vision telling him to send for the apostle Peter, then staying in Joppa. Peter has his own vision in which God teaches him that the Gospel of Jesus is for all peoples. Peter travels to Caesarea and contrary to Jewish Law enters Cornelius' Gentile home. He preaches the Gospel, and Cornelius becomes the first named Gentile Christian:
Acts 10:34-46a - .... Peter began to speak, "In solemn truth I can see now that God is no respecter of persons (whether Jew or Gentile), but that in every nation the man who reverences him and does what is right is acceptable to him! He has sent his message to the sons of Israel by giving us the good news of peace through Jesus Christ - he is the Lord of us all. You must know the story of Jesus of Nazareth - why, it has spread through the whole of Judea, beginning with Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed. You must have heard how God anointed him with the power of the Holy Spirit, of how he went about doing good and healing all who suffered from the devil's power - because God was with him. Now we (his disciples and apostles) are eye-witnesses of everything that he did, both in the Judean country and in Jerusalem itself, and yet they murdered him by hanging him on a cross. But on the third day God raised that same Jesus and let him be clearly seen, not indeed by the whole people, but by witnesses whom God had previously chosen. We are those witnesses, we who ate and drank with him after he had risen from the dead! Moreover, we are the men whom he commanded to preach to the people and bear fearless witness to the fact that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of both the living and the dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear witness, that every man who believes in him may receive forgiveness of sins through his name."
While Peter was still speaking these words the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to his message. The Jewish believers who had come with Peter were absolutely amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was being poured out on Gentiles also; for they heard them speaking in foreign tongues and glorifying God.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate
Maps by Gordon Smith can be used without further permission. Please quote http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm