Philip Opened His Mouth


BY JORDAN SCOTT


One of my favorite accounts in Scripture, for a number of reasons, is when Philip baptizes the man from Ethiopia. I believe it’s a great example of urgency and obedience. It teaches the rightness of baptizing new Christians immediately when they believe, and it serves as a wonderful case study for cross-cultural evangelism.

When the Lord told Phillip to rise and go toward the road connecting Jerusalem to Gaza, Acts 8:27 says that Philip rose and went. No hesitation—a sharp contrast to the response we see from the prophet Jonah a few hundred years prior.[1] When the Lord clarified further for Philip to join the man traveling on the road, he was so quick and intentional to obey that he literally ran to catch the moving chariot.

Then we read four simple words lying to rest any semblance of doubt about Christian responsibility to unbelievers: “Philip opened his mouth.”[2]

The passage continues as Philip overhears the man reading Isaiah and "beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” We’re not told what happens to this new Ethiopian believer after his baptism, but how amazing is it that Jesus hunted him down when he was 4,000km away from his home, journeying back from worshiping in Jerusalem! The Lord used Phillip, quoting Isaiah, to reveal himself to that man. There’s no doubt in my mind—Jesus loves to draw men to Himself by the testimony of those who are already His.

And remember, Phillip was just a regular man. He had a good reputation and was full of the Spirit,[3] but his job was to serve tables so that others could devote themselves full-time to the preaching of God’s word. He was a layman with a service job. Yet he understood, that as a believer, jobs are subservient to obeying Jesus and his command to tell others the good news. With an uncomfortable blend of hope and despair, I imagine what it would be like if every Christian understood what Philip understood. I hope because I know that God is able to make a man love his Son so thoroughly that he couldn't help but preach. But I disparage because I am well acquainted with every reason why we don’t.

Unfortunately for Jonah, men will go down in history as examples of what not to do. Fortunately for us, we’re not dead yet! There’s still time to be recorded as men who loved their Lord more than themselves and preached his Word for the sake of the souls Jesus purchased with blood outside the gates of Jerusalem.


Jordan Scott lives in Iraqi Kurdistan with his wife and two children, where he serves as Director of Community Development. He can be reached by email at Jordan@faimission.org.


 

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[1]   See the Book of Jonah
[2]  Acts 8:35; See Romans 1:14
[3]  Acts 6:3-5