Acts 8:30 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 8:30, NIV: Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. 'Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked.

Acts 8:30, ESV: So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Acts 8:30, KJV: And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:30, NASB: Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?'

Acts 8:30, NLT: Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?'

Acts 8:30, CSB: When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you're reading? "

What does Acts 8:30 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

An angel has led Philip the evangelist to an Ethiopian court official on his way home from worshiping the Jewish God in Jerusalem. The official is reading from Isaiah 53: a prophecy about Jesus' execution (Acts 8:26–29). At this time, reading was usually done aloud, so Philip would have heard him.

Although the Ethiopian official traveled to Jerusalem, understood Judaism, and worshiped the Jewish God, he didn't understand all of the Jewish Scriptures. He was separated from Isaiah by language, likely reading the Greek versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. He was also separated by time and culture. He was right to read the passage and understand it as far as he could, but he was also right to accept help understanding when he got stuck. The question asked here, and the answer given by Philip (Acts 8:31) are key in our understanding of how spiritual knowledge is gained. In short, no one is meant to learn about God entirely alone—the Great Commission is to "make disciples," which requires interaction (Matthew 28:19).

Jews today typically skip over Isaiah 53. They either don't understand the purpose of the "Suffering Servant" or they do understand how the prophecy so closely matches what Jesus experienced—and it makes them uncomfortable. Jews have a long literary heritage of interpretations and arguments about Scripture that they use to try to figure out what the Old Testament means. Jesus promised that when He left, He would send the Holy Spirit to "guide [us] into all the truth" (John 16:13). In this case, the Holy Spirit sends Philip.