Acts 8:26-39 is the record of Philip, a first century Christian who was led by an angel of the Lord into the middle of nowhere. It was only when he got there that the holy spirit led him to the place where he could talk to an Ethiopian eunuch. This brief but powerful encounter contains a number of outreach principles we can learn and apply as we too share the Word of Life with people.
(26) Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
(27) So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
(28) and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
(29) The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
(30) Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
(31) “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
(32) The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
(33) In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
(34) The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
(35) Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
(36) As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
(38) And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
(39) When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Obey quickly the prompting of God (8:26-29)
When an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip about going to a certain place, Philip got up and went. When prompted by the holy spirit, a follower of Christ needs to respond immediately, in faith, trusting that God wants to accomplish something with him.
Expect that God has prepared the individual to receive the Word you speak (8:28)
When God speaks to us, we should not doubt, but expect that there is benefit and blessing in doing what He is leading us to do. The eunuch was returning from worshiping in Jerusalem and was pondering the meaning of Isaiah 53:7. His heart was open to receive, but he was perplexed and needed help understanding the meaning of this passage. God honored his heart’s desire by calling on Philip, who responded in faith. Like Philip, we Christians today are the only “hands and feet” God has.
Start the conversation with a question (8:30)
When Philip met the eunuch, he asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. How the eunuch responded indicated what Philip would do next. Witnessing to someone is fruitful only if they are willing to talk with you. By asking a question, you can find this out. If they respond positively, you can proceed. If negatively, you should respect their wishes and move on (Luke 9:5).
Engage them at their level of understanding (8:32-35)
If you receive a positive response, find a common ground where you can begin your discussion. Unless you get on the same page, it will be difficult to advance the discussion to new material.
Use Scripture (8:35)
Referring to people receiving the Word, 1 Thessalonians 2:13b states: “…you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” When God’s words are spoken, they “…will accomplish what I (God) desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isa. 55:11). You don’t always have to reference chapter and verse, but using Scripture in your discussion is a powerful spiritual tool.
Direct your conversation toward Jesus as Savior (8:35)
Eventually your conversation will uncover a problem or need in their life, and the chances are it is related to sin. The sin could be theirs, their family of origin, or the fallen nature of the world in general. When they understand the link between the problem and sin, they may well realize that they need a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus Christ, the only name under heaven whereby men can be saved.
Bring them to the good news about Jesus (8:35)
You may share Romans 10:9 about their personal salvation. During the discussion, you can mention that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The other person may or may not accept that conclusion immediately, but you have offered a solution. If the person doesn’t receive your solution, pray for him and let time and God work within him.
By practicing Philip principles, a follower of Christ is quick to obey, expectant that God is at work in the other person, finds a common ground, precisely shares the Word of God, focuses on Jesus Christ as the only solution to sin, and offers him as their personal Savior and Lord. You can do so knowing that the Lord is working with you to see people be saved and come unto a knowledge of the truth.