THE MAN READING IN THE CHARIOT
Acts viii: 4 to 40.
E have seen how the first church of those who believed in
Christ was broken up, and its members were driven away
by the fury and rage of its enemy, the young man Saul.
But as those who were scattered went into other places,
they told the people about Christ and his gospel. And
very soon new companies of believers in Christ began to
rise up, all over the land. In place of one church in
Jerusalem there were many churches among its cities and
villages of Judea. Thus Saul, for all his hate toward
Christ, really helped in spreading the gospel of
Among those driven away by Saul was a man named Philip,
not Philip the apostle, but another Philip, who had
been one of those chosen with Stephen to care for the
poor. This Philip went down to the city of Samaria,
near the middle of the land; and there he began to tell
the people about Christ. These people were not Jews,
but were of the race called Samaritans. The woman of
Samaria, with whom Jesus talked at Jacob’s well, as we
read in Story 117, was of this people.
The Lord gave to Philip the power to work many wonders
among these Samaritans. At Philip’s word, evil spirits
came out of men. Those who had the palsy were cured,
and the lame were made to walk. The Samaritans saw
these things done by Philip, and they believed that he
spoke to them the words of God. Very many of them
became believers in Christ, and were baptized; and
there was great joy in that city.
At that time there was in Samaria a certain man named
Simon, who had made the people believe that he had
great power and could do wonderful things, by some
magic that he used. But the works wrought by Philip
through the power of Christ were so much greater and
more wonderful than his own, that Simon himself
 listened to the teaching of Philip, claimed to believe
in Jesus, and was baptized. But his heart had not been
touched; he thought only that Philip’s magic was better
than his own, and he hoped to find out what it was, so
that he too could use it.
The twelve apostles, you remember, were still in
Jerusalem; for they did not leave the city when Saul
broke up the church. After a time Saul ceased to
trouble, and some of the believers began to go back to
Jerusalem. A new church grew up in that city around
the apostles, though it never became as large or as
whole-hearted as had been the church of the early days.
News came to the apostles of the great work wrought by
Philip in Samaria, and they sent Peter and John to
visit the new church in that place. Peter and John
came to Samaria, and were glad when they saw how many
and how faithful were the believers in Christ. They
prayed for them, that the same power of the Holy Spirit
that had come upon the disciples in Jerusalem might
come upon those in Samaria; and the power of the Lord
came when the apostles laid their hands on the heads of
When Simon saw that this strange power of God came with
the laying on of the apostle’s hands, he offered Peter
and John money, saying to them, "Sell me this power, so
that I may give the Holy Spirit to those on whom I lay
But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with
you if you think to buy the gift of God with money!
You do not really belong to Christ, and your heart is
not right with God. Turn away from this your sin, and
pray God that he will forgive you. For I see that you
are yet in your sins, sins that are as bitter as gall;
and you are fast bound in evil as with a chain!"
Simon could not understand this, but he said, "Pray
for me to the Lord, that none of these evils that you
have named come upon me!"
After this Peter and John preached among many villages
of the Samaritans, and then they went back to
Jerusalem. Philip’s work in Samaria was now done, and
an angel of the Lord spoke to him, saying:
"Rise up, and leave this city; and go toward the south,
on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
This was a road through a desert region, without
villages or people; but Philip at once obeyed the word
that came from the
 Lord. He left Samaria and walked southward, until he
came to the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. While he
was on this desert road he saw a chariot drawing near,
and in it was seated a black man reading from a roll.
This man had come from the land of Ethiopia, in Africa,
far to the south of Egypt. He was a nobleman of very
high rank, the treasurer of the queen in that land; and
though he was not a Jew, he had taken a journey of more
than a thousand miles to Jerusalem, riding in his
chariot all the way, that he might worship God in his
Temple. He was now going back to his own land, and in
his hands was the roll of the prophet Isaiah, from
which he was reading aloud while he was riding on his
As the chariot of this black man came in sight, the
Spirit of the Lord said to Philip, "Go near, and stand
close by the chariot."
And Philip ran toward the chariot, and spoke to the
man, and said "Do you understand what you are
The nobleman answered him, "How can I understand it,
unless some one tells me what it means? Can you show
me? If you can, come up into the chariot and sit with
Then Philip came up and sat down in the chariot. The
place where he was reading was the fifty-third chapter
of Isaiah, with words like these:
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter,
And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb,
So he openeth not his mouth.
His story who shall tell?
For his life is taken from the earth."
These are the words that the prophet spoke of Jesus
many hundreds of years before he came to the earth.
Philip began with those words, and told the Ethiopian
nobleman all about Christ. And the man believed, and
took into his heart the word of the Lord. As they went
on the way, they came to some water, and the nobleman
said, "See, here is water! Why may I not be
And Philip said to him, "If you believe with all your
heart, you may be baptized."
And he answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the
Son of God."
 Then the nobleman gave order for the chariot to stand
still; and Philip and the man went down into the water
together, and he baptized him as a follower of Christ.
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of
the Lord took Philip away, so that the nobleman saw him
no more; but he went on his way home, happy in the
Philip went next to a city near the shore, and there he
preached; and from that place he went northward through
the cities by the Great Sea, preaching in them all,
until he came to Caesarea, and at Caesarea he stayed
for many years.