Generation of the Ethiopian Eunuch

By Jeff Arthur

It happened about six months after our church launched in 2007. I had preached about Abraham and Isaac that Sunday morning. After the service, one of our ladies told me she was familiar with Abraham and Isaac, because she had drawn the image of Abraham offering Isaac to God while pursuing her degree in art. But she had never heard of other Bible characters I had been talking about in my sermons.

That resonated with me all week long. I knew I was preaching to a group divided into three parts—non-Christians, nominal churchgoers, and former Catholics—and that I needed to preach on a basic level, but she had never heard of most Bible characters at all.

The next Sunday I asked everyone to turn to Genesis in their Bibles. (We had handed out Bibles so I could give book, chapter, verse, and then the page number so everyone could find it when I preached.) I explained we were going to start with Adam and Eve, and I was going to preach on basic Bible characters until Christmas (about three months).

After that service the vast majority of people told me they were extremely excited because they didn’t know anything about the Bible characters I had preached on that day. One person said, “I had heard those names before, but I really didn’t know who they were until today.”

Just Like the Ethiopian

Considering all the Bible helps available today, why don’t people know more about the Bible?

I believe we live among people not unlike the Ethiopian eunuch, whom Philip led to Christ (see Acts 8:26-40); in fact, I call this the “Generation of the Ethiopian Eunuch.” In this postmodern world, I would suggest most people, just like that Ethiopian, don’t know the most basic Bible teachings.

I see several parallels:

• The Ethiopian was looking. He wanted to know more, and was willing to openly talk about it. He didn’t know what the Scriptures meant. He desired to learn, but all he could really do was flounder in his own ignorance.

• The Ethiopian was willing to ask questions and listen to the answers. When Philip asked him whether he understood, the Ethiopian quickly admitted he didn’t, and asked for help. Even as Philip presented the gospel, the Ethiopian pointed to water and asked why he couldn’t be baptized. While we in the church focus on baptism being a part of the presentation, I would suggest that the Ethiopian was asking questions because he wanted to learn more.

• The Ethiopian was successful: he was educated, respected, powerful, influential—a mover and a shaker. He was one of the high-ranking officials in the country and had the ear of the queen. Most of the people in our new church are well-educated and successful professionals. Yet they, like the Ethiopian, have no idea who Jesus Christ really is.

Philip’s Role

Now let’s focus on Philip’s role in this process:

• Philip knew how to explain about Jesus and salvation. Please notice, Philip didn’t ask the Ethiopian to wait while he went to find someone smarter. Philip immediately started explaining the Scriptures, and on the Ethiopian’s level. While we don’t know what Philip told the Ethiopian, I believe a good chunk of the information was about what Christ had done in his life. Personal testimonies are more powerful than we may believe.

• Philip entered the conversation with the Ethiopian very easily. Most people make talking about Christ harder than it really is. Just start where the person is. At my church, our vision is to build the spiritual bridge from where we are to where Christ wants us to be. That’s precisely what Philip did in his conversation with the Ethiopian.

• Philip didn’t judge the Ethiopian. It is so important to see Philip’s attitude. The man was a eunuch, yet Philip didn’t judge him or make fun of him. The Ethiopian was wealthy, and it probably showed; yet Philip wasn’t intimidated. Philip didn’t react to the Ethiopian so much as he reached out in kindness with the love of Jesus Christ.

• Philip followed the Lord’s leading. When you think about it, Philip did something that was seriously strange. He left a place where he was able to tell hundreds of people about Christ to walk along a road where he would encounter hardly anyone. Why would the Lord want him to do that?

While we know the answer for Philip, the answer for us and for our service to Christ is still unfolding. Why would Christ ask us to go where he is leading? Why would he ask us to serve in unusual places?

I admit I don’t know all the answers, but I suggest it is possible God leads us to the most unusual places because making an impact on one soul for Jesus’ sake is still what it’s all about. Helping to bring people to Christ is still about helping one person at a time.

Our Responsibility

If I’m right and this is the “Generation of the Ethiopian Eunuch,” it’s not about this generation’s being all that different from other generations, but about recognizing our increasing responsibility to honor Jesus and build the spiritual bridges. If you are reading this and you are a minister, know that we must lead in explaining Scripture and making practical life applications. If you are reading this and are not a minister, know that you should play a role in explaining Scripture.

If I claim Christ as my Savior, I must take responsibility for helping build spiritual bridges into others’ lives, so that when the time comes I too can positively respond when someone says, “How can I know Jesus unless someone explains him to me?”

Jeff Arthur is founding minister of Meadowbrook Christian Church in Fenton, Missouri. He is also a life coach for individuals, families, and corporations with Compass Global Group in Kansas City, Missouri.

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