Lessons from Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch on How to Teach the Bible (Acts 8:26-40):
26But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)
Venturing out into ministry – into teaching others the Word and ways of God – can seem nonsensical. Who was Philip going to find in the desert? It can also make you feel alone and thirsty. It’s critical to have a strong foundation in God – knowing that He will never leave nor forsake you, and that He is the living water who takes away thirst altogether.
27So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,
When you step out in faith and make yourself available to God, you will have the most unusual encounters. God will bring people across your path for the purpose of doing His work. This was the Secretary of Treasury for one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world at that time. And he must have been a religious man — otherwise why did he cross the continent to worship in Jerusalem? What an intimidating situation!
28and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
Again, presumably a theologically-learned man. Worships in Jerusalem. Reads the Bible in the car…
29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
It’s critical to follow the Spirit’s promptings when you’re doing ministry. God’s ways are not our ways. And we wouldn’t know what His plans are or what He wants us to do if we didn’t follow His Spirit. Here, God tells Philip to run alongside this guy’s motorcade. Seriously presumptuous and counter to any appropriate social behavior…
30Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
Go with eagerness to the task set before you. Be bold in your purposes. Don’t assume you’re not good enough, smart enough, or trained enough to teach God’s Word and ways to anyone. Even the most powerful, most seemingly learned people need help.
31And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
This is KEY. Teaching is best accomplished by coming alongside people, joining them in their journey, and purposing to do more than just deliver a lesson.
32Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 33″IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.”
34The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”
35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
Another KEY. Bible teaching is most effective when it conveys the gospel message. Since the message of Christ’s sacrifice, resurrection, and payment for us to have eternal life is the thesis for the Bible, every chapter and verse can be used as a launching point for that message. The more directly you can connect your teaching to the gospel message, the more effective you will be.
36As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
Teachers can do more than teach. Again, it’s about sharing someone’s spiritual journey with them. Don’t be confined by the parameters of your lesson plan, curriculum, or paradigm of what a “teacher” is. Take people to the next level in their journeys with God.
37[And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]
Here Philip knows the basic prerequisites for baptism. When you step out to teach, it’s good to have the basics down. Not a nuanced theology – just the basics. Everything else can be dealt with by, “Let me check on that and get back to you.” Over time, you will learn more and more. But don’t let your limited understanding keep you from venturing down that desert road to begin with.
38And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
Philip was teleported! When you sign up for ministry, you will experience the most amazing things! Anticipate miracles, enjoy the thrill of them, and…
40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
Continue to work the works of Him who sent you.