The passage from Isaiah (Acts 8:32)

“Now the passage

Of the scripture

That he was reading

Was this.

‘Like a sheep,

He was led

To the slaughter.

Like a lamb silent

Before its shearer,

As he does not

Open his mouth.’”

ἡ δὲ περιοχὴ τῆς γραφῆς ἣν ἀνεγίνωσκεν ἦν αὕτη Ὡς πρόβατον ἐπὶ σφαγὴν ἤχθη, καὶ ὡς ἀμνὸς ἐναντίον τοῦ κείροντος αὐτὸν ἄφωνος, οὕτως οὐκ ἀνοίγει τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ.

The author of Acts indicated that the passage (ἡ δὲ περιοχὴ) of the scripture (τῆς γραφῆς) that he was reading (ἣν ἀνεγίνωσκεν) was about (ἦν αὕτη) someone who was like a sheep (Ὡς πρόβατον), being led to the slaughter (ἐπὶ σφαγὴν ἤχθη), like a silent (ἄφωνος) lamb (καὶ ὡς ἀμνὸς) before his shearer (τοῦ κείροντος αὐτὸν ἄφωνος).  He did not open (τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ) his mouth (τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word περιοχὴ, that means circumference, a portion circumscribed, a section, or a passage.  This eunuch was puzzled by this exact saying from the suffering servant Isaiah, chapter 53:7, “He was oppressed.  He was afflicted.  Yet he did not open his mouth.  He was like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.  He was like a sheep that before its shearers is silent.  Thus, he did not open his mouth.”  This suffering servant in Isaiah did not open his mouth to complain, unlike Job and others.  Even though he was oppressed and afflicted, he was like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep about to have his wool sheared, since he never opened his mouth.  Actually, it was not that difficult.  Have you ever seen a live lamb?

I need a guide (Acts 8:31)

“The Ethiopian eunuch replied.

‘How can I?

Unless someone guides me?’

He invited Philip

To get into the carriage

To sit beside him.”

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με; παρεκάλεσέν τε τὸν Φίλιππον ἀναβάντα καθίσαι σὺν αὐτῷ.

The author of Acts indicated that this Ethiopian eunuch replied (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) that he was not able (γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην) to understand it, unless someone would guide him (ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με).  He invited (παρεκάλεσέν τε) Philip (τὸν Φίλιππον) to get into (ἀναβάντα) the carriage and sit (καθίσαι) beside him (σὺν αὐτῷ).  This man in the chariot replied to Philip that he was not able to understand Isaiah without a guide to help him.  Thus, he invited Philip to sit beside him in his carriage and help him understand the book of Isaiah.  Although he could read and get the words, he did not understand the meaning of what he was reading.  Have you ever read a book that you did not understand?

Do you understand what you are reading? (Acts 8:30)


Philip ran

To the Ethiopian eunuch.

He heard him reading

The prophet Isaiah.

He asked.

‘Do you understand

What you are reading?’”

προσδραμὼν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἤκουσεν αὐτοῦ ἀναγινώσκοντος Ἡσαΐαν τὸν προφήτην, καὶ εἶπεν Ἆρά γε γινώσκεις ἃ ἀναγινώσκεις;

The author of Acts indicated that Philip (δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος) ran (προσδραμὼν) to the Ethiopian eunuch.  He heard (ἤκουσεν) him (αὐτοῦ) reading (ἀναγινώσκοντος) the prophet Isaiah (Ἡσαΐαν τὸν προφήτην).  He asked him (καὶ εἶπεν) if he understood (Ἆρά γε γινώσκεις) what he was reading (ἃ ἀναγινώσκεις).  Philip went running over to the man in the chariot who was reading out loud from the prophet Isaiah.  Thus, Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading.  Normally, people read out loud, since this was a common practice.  Asking him if he understood what he was reading seemed a little rude.  It was not clear whether he was reading a Greek or Hebrew version of Isaiah, but probably from the Greek Septuagint.  Have you ever read aloud in your car?

Go to the chariot! (Acts 8:29)

“Then the Spirit

Said to Philip.

‘Go over to

This chariot!

Join it!”

εἶπεν δὲ τὸ Πνεῦμα τῷ Φιλίππῳ Πρόσελθε καὶ κολλήθητι τῷ ἅρματι τούτῳ.

The author of Acts indicated that then the Spirit (δὲ τὸ Πνεῦμα) said (εἶπεν) to Philip (τῷ Φιλίππῳ) that he should go over (Πρόσελθε) to this chariot (τῷ ἅρματι τούτῳ) and join (καὶ κολλήθητι) the eunuch.  Philip was led by the Holy Spirit again.  He was to get close to the eunuch and join him in his carriage or chariot.  This was not an angel of the Lord, but the Spirit or Holy Spirit, who continued to play a key role in Acts.  Have you ever felt that someone was telling you to walk up to someone?

The Ethiopian was reading Isaiah (Acts 8:28)

“This Ethiopian eunuch

Was returning home.

He was seated

In his chariot,

As he was reading

The prophet Isaiah.”

ἦν δὲ ὑποστρέφων καὶ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τοῦ ἅρματος αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀνεγίνωσκεν τὸν προφήτην Ἡσαΐαν.

The author of Acts indicated that this Ethiopian eunuch was returning home (ἦν δὲ ὑποστρέφων) to Ethiopia.  He was seated (καὶ καθήμενος) in his chariot (ἐπὶ τοῦ ἅρματος αὐτοῦ).  He was reading (καὶ ἀνεγίνωσκεν) the prophet Isaiah (τὸν προφήτην Ἡσαΐαν).  This Ethiopian eunuch was also leaving Jerusalem on his way home, sitting in his chariot reading the prophet Isaiah, who was very popular around the time of Jesus.  Acts mentioned him often, about six or seven times, as did the contemporary Essene Qumran Dead Sea community group also.  Thus, reading the book of the prophet Isaiah did not seem out of place.  The only question would be where he got a copy of Isaiah, since it would have been expensive to have a scriptural manuscript.  However, he seemed like a man of some means, since he was sitting in a chariot.  Have you ever read the prophet Isaiah?

The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27)

“Philip got up.

He went to Gaza.

On the way,

He saw a man,

An Ethiopian eunuch,

A court official

Of Candace,

Queen of the Ethiopians.

He was in charge

Of her entire treasury.

He had come

To Jerusalem

To worship.”

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἐπορεύθη. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ Αἰθίοψ εὐνοῦχος δυνάστης Κανδάκης βασιλίσσης Αἰθιόπων, ὃς ἦν ἐπὶ πάσης τῆς γάζης αὐτῆς, ὃς ἐληλύθει προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ,

The author of Acts indicated that Philip got up (καὶ ἀναστὰς) to go (ἐπορεύθη.) to Gaza.  However, he saw (καὶ ἰδοὺ) a man (ἀνὴρ), an Ethiopian eunuch (Αἰθίοψ εὐνοῦχος), a court official (δυνάστης) of Candace (Κανδάκης), the Queen of the Ethiopians (βασιλίσσης Αἰθιόπων).  He was in charge (ὃς ἦν ἐπὶ) of her entire treasury (πάσης τῆς γάζης αὐτῆς).  He had come (ὃς ἐληλύθει) to Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ) to worship (προσκυνήσων).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word γάζης that means treasure or treasury.  Philip got up and was on his way to Gaza on the southwestern wilderness road, when he saw this Ethiopian eunuch.  It is not clear how he figured out who this person was.  A eunuch was a castrated emasculated court official, so that he could be trusted in the court scene.  Thus, he could have been a person in charge of the treasury.  However, eunuchs could not go to worship publicly in the Jerusalem Temple, since they could not be circumcised.  The country of Ethiopia implied a distant land in Africa, south of Egypt.  Candace was either a royal title or a personal name of this queen.  There were a lot of gentiles who were interested in Jewish worship in Acts, so that many came to the Jerusalem Temple to worship, because of its celebrity.  This may be an allusion to Psalm 68:31, where the psalmist said “Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.”  Isaiah, chapter 56:3-5, seemed very favorable to eunuchs.  For some reason, eunuchs, who had their testicles removed, were looked down upon.  However, Yahweh, in Third Isaiah, seemed to honor them as if they are faithful to Yahweh.  This was a very strong statement on eunuchs in Isaiah.  Perhaps, the author of Acts was also pointing out the good things about eunuchs.  Have you ever met a eunuch?

Go to Gaza! (Acts 8:26)

“Then an angel of the Lord

Said to Philip.

‘Get up!

Go toward the south!

To the road

That goes down

From Jerusalem

To Gaza.’

This is a wilderness road.”

Ἄγγελος δὲ Κυρίου ἐλάλησεν πρὸς Φίλιππον λέγων Ἀνάστηθι καὶ πορεύου κατὰ μεσημβρία3. ν ἐπὶ τὴν ὁδὸν τὴν καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ εἰς Γάζαν· αὕτη ἐστὶν ἔρημος.

The author of Acts indicated that then an angel of the Lord (Ἄγγελος δὲ Κυρίου) spoke (ἐλάλησεν) to Philip (πρὸς Φίλιππον).  The angel said (λέγων) to get up (Ἀνάστηθι) and go (καὶ πορεύου) toward the south (κατὰ μεσημβρίαν), to the road (ἐπὶ τὴν ὁδὸν) that goes down (τὴν καταβαίνουσαν) from Jerusalem (ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ) to Gaza (εἰς Γάζαν), the wilderness road (αὕτη ἐστὶν ἔρημος).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word μεσημβρίαν, that means noon or the south.  The followers of Jesus will continue to expand under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  In this case, an angel of the Lord appeared to Philip to tell him to head south instead of north as he had done in Samaria.  This angel told him what road to take, the wilderness road that goes southwest from Jerusalem to Gaza on the Mediterranean coast.  This unidentified angel was a messenger from God.  Have you ever received a message from God?