What does Acts 8:35 mean?
ESV: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
NIV: Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
NASB: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
CSB: Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with that Scripture.
NLT: So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
KJV: Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Verse Commentary:
The passage the Ethiopian court official is reading is Isaiah 53:7–8. It describes the Suffering Servant's unjust treatment and death. The Ethiopian must have been surprised to learn that this is good news. It's because of Jesus' death on the cross that he—and all of us—can be reconciled to God. He responds immediately and insists on being baptized (Acts 8:36).

Philip's explanation follows the common format of evangelism in the early church to Jews: he explains how Jesus of Nazareth fits into the Jewish Scripture (our Old Testament). Peter did the same on the day of Pentecost when thousands of Jews flooded Jerusalem for the feast and discovered the Jesus-followers whom the Holy Spirit had just indwelt (Acts 2). Paul will continue the pattern; in each town he goes to visit, he starts either with the synagogue (Acts 9:20; 13:14–49), or another place where Jews meet (Acts 16:13). Jesus started this tradition when He met with the two men on the road to Emmaus: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

That doesn't mean that we should always start with the Old Testament when introducing people to Jesus. As Jesus did during His ministry, we should start by meeting the person where they are. Paul did this when he spoke with the Greek philosophers in Athens. He began by putting their monument to an unknown god into context, and then quoted their own philosophers to show that God has sovereignty over His creation. Finally, he explained that God's sovereignty extended to His right to judge them and to raise the dead (Acts 17:22–31).
Verse Context:
Acts 8:26–40 completes the story of Philip's early ministry. Driven out of Jerusalem by persecution, he first travels north into Samaria and spreads the gospel to a people Jews had believed accursed (Acts 8:5–13). Now, an angel tells him to go south where he meets an official of the Ethiopian court who is reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip's ministry shows that God doesn't care if someone is born into His chosen people, or are ethnically and theologically confused, or are even a foreign eunuch. He loves equally and desires that everyone will repent and come to Him.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus told the apostles they would spread the gospel (Acts 1:8) and persecution makes that happen. Upon the death of the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54–60), a young Pharisee named Saul builds on the momentum to arrest and, if possible, execute Jesus followers (Acts 8:1–3; 26:10). The apostles mostly stay in Jerusalem, but the church members flee, spreading the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Important encounters in this passage include a magician named Simon and the conversion of an Ethiopian court official.
Chapter Context:
Acts 1:8 gives the outline of the book of Acts; Acts 1—7 describes the spread of the gospel through Jerusalem; Acts 8:1—11:18 shows the gospel spreading in Judea and Samaria; Acts 11:19—28:31 sees the gospel spread to the ''end of the earth,'' finalizing in Rome. Ironically, although Paul is the central figure in spreading Jesus' good news to the ends of the earth, his early persecution of the church in Jerusalem is instrumental in spreading the gospel through Judea and Samaria.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 4/16/2024 12:41:23 PM
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