Following the grace of God poured out on Samaria through the ministry of Philip, the Holy Spirit directed Philip to get up and immediately go out into the desert area of Gaza, a Philistine city that had been destroyed. When Philip obeyed this divine command and went out into the desert, he spied an Ethiopian eunuch passing by. This court official in the service of the queen of Ethiopia was returning to Ethiopia after having come to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. As this man’s traveling chariot passed by, the eunuch was reading the prophet Isaiah.
When commanded by the Holy Spirit to join himself to his man, Philip ran over and asked the eunuch if he comprehended what he was reading (the text which he was reading was from Isaiah 53:7-8). The eunuch offered a free and frank acknowledgement of his ignorance and demonstrated a teachable spirit in his response: “How can I, unless someone guides me?” He then invited Philip to join him in his chariot for that very purpose … to be guided by Philip!
Since the eunuch is reading from probably the single most appropriate chapter in the Old Testament for explaining the work of Christ, Isaiah 53, this was clearly a Spirit-directed encounter at the right place at the right time. The 2 verses that the eunuch was puzzling over describe a person being led to the slaughter like a lamb before its cutter. In silence, he allows his own humiliation as he receives the greatest of injustices. The verses further lament that this Suffering One has no successive generations (no progeny), because he is killed in a violent, seemingly untimely way.
The eunuch then asked Philip one critically important question: who is this servant that Isaiah was referring to? Was it himself OR someone else? Who is it that suffers in such a grievous way? Beginning with this very text from Isaiah, Philip thoroughly explained to him the Good News about Jesus of Nazareth … about how Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 but also of the deliverance and reversal that came after these lamentations, in that Jesus triumphed over His murder by being raised from the dead, receiving a glorified body, being ascended back into the heavens, and then being seated upon God’s throne of power and glory as King over all: the triumphant King of the kingdom with a host of spiritual progeny given to Him!
Providentially, they approached a pool of water in the desert after Philip’s lengthy explanation, and the now-believing eunuch asked Philip if there was anything that could prevent him from participating in the Christian rite of baptism. Clearly there wasn’t: the temple Jews in Jerusalem may have rejected this black eunuch from another land, but the Lord certainly would NOT reject such a one who now professed faith in Jesus as Messiah. The gloriously converted eunuch commanded the chariot to stop, and both men entered into the waters, and Philip immersed him in the water, following Christ’s ordinance of baptism that He commanded in Matthew 28.
As the 2 men came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit divinely relocated Philip to Azotus, another Philistine city 20 miles away. The sudden disappearance confirmed to the eunuch that Philip had indeed been sent to him by God; and as a man now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he had the natural response of a believer’s uninhibited joy in Christ. While the eunuch returned to Ethiopia rejoicing, Philip was now present in Azotus; and as he passed through Philistia, he preached the gospel to ALL the surrounding towns until he reached Caesarea, where Philip would reside for some time.