Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch – Philip’s Continued Ministry

Acts 8:40 says, “But Philip found himself at Azotus.”  Azotus in the New Testament is the Ashdod in the Old Testament.  Upon Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land, Ashdod was allotted to the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:46).  In 1 Samuel 6:17, Ashdod was mentioned as being one of the main Philistine cities.  After the Philistines captured the Ark of the covenant from the Israelites, they took to Ashdod and placed it into the temple of their false god Dagon.  The next morning, an image of Dagon was found prostrate before the Ark, and then when they put him back up, the next morning he was found prostrate before the Ark again and, this time, broken.

So, this is the city where Philip “found himself” (v40).  Again, there are various interpretations as to what that means.  Did he find himself in the sense that he walked there and ended up there?  Or was he miraculously transported there and found himself there?  I tend to lean to the latter, but either way, we know that the Spirit took him there with a purpose.  What was that purpose?

Verse 40: “and as he passed through he preached the gospel“.  The Spirit sent him, whether instantly or otherwise, to go and preach the gospel.  No doubt that was the main reason he was sent; to continue on in his ministry of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And so he did.  And he didn’t stop there.

Verse 40 goes on to say that he preached the gospel “to all the towns until he came to Caesarea“.  They are about 59 miles apart.  So, Philip made this journey, presumably on foot, preaching the gospel from town to town.  Among these towns, one commentary tells me, were Joppa, Lydda, Askelon, and Arimarthea.  So, Philip was busy at work, and he continued to Caesarea, where it seems he finally settled and continued to do ministry in the city.

Caesarea was originally called “Straton’s Tower”, but was then renamed by Herod to honor Caesar Augustus.  After the fall of Jerusalem, it would become the capital of Judea.

I’m encouraged, here, to see our brother Philip’s continued diligent obedience to Christ’s mandate for us to make disciples of all nations.  He could have, upon sharing the gospel with the Eunuch and witnessing his conversion, said, “Well, a job well done!”  Instead, he was sent off and continued to preach the gospel along the Mediterranean.  This is a great example for us and one I hope that we will follow.

Preaching the gospel is not a one-time event; it’s a way of life.  It is an ongoing mandate from our Savior.  It is our occupation, no matter what our earthly occupation is.  We are ambassadors for Him.  We are messengers of His good news.  And we are commanded to go and boldly proclaim this good news to others.

But like Philip, this certainly is not a chore for us–or at least it shouldn’t be.  We have the message of salvation!  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  The wages of sin is death.  But God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life!  He took on the punishment that sinners like you and me deserve, and by grace through faith, sinners like you and me can be saved.

Do we share the gospel like Philip, with his zeal?  I pray that daily, we will grow in that passion.

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