Philip and the Eunuch
TEXT: Acts 8:26-40
- supplemental scriptures
The students will know that Philip used God's power to witness. They will be able to explain how the Holy Spirit works through us to tell others about Jesus.
- memory verse
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15
- bible lesson outline
Introduction: Bring a globe to class, and several pictures of dolls representing children of other nationalities, as well as one representative of a child of our culture. Explain that Jesus wants us to tell others about Him, both at home or wherever He wants us to go.
- Philip had been preaching in the city of Samaria, and many people had been saved. Then an angel told Philip to go to a certain desert.
- Philip obeyed, and the Spirit told him to join a man who was riding in a chariot. This man was an Ethiopian, and he was reading the Book of Isaiah, while traveling along.
- When Philip saw what the Ethiopian was reading, he asked him if he understood it.
- The man said he needed someone to teach him, and he invited Philip to come up into the chariot. Philip explained the Scriptures to him, and told him about Jesus.
Climax: The Ethiopian believed on Jesus and was baptized in water.
Conclusion: Jesus cared so much about the Ethiopian that he sent Philip a long way to teach him about being saved. He wants us to care about people's salvation, too, and to always be willing to tell people about Jesus.
Response: Your students will be able to explain that the Holy Spirit guided Philip and worked through him to help the Ethiopian learn about Jesus. They will be able to tell how God can work through us in the same way.
- background information
Philip, not to be confused with the Apostle Philip (Matthew 10:3), was one of the seven deacons chosen by the Apostles to serve tables (Acts 6:1-5). We have the accounts of two of these deacons, Stephen and Philip, whom God used in a much greater capacity than their original calling. God used Philip to preach the Word in Samaria (Acts 8:4-8), lead the Ethiopian to Christ (Acts 8:26-39), preach in various cities until he reached Caesarea (Acts 8:40), influence his four daughters for Christ (Acts 21:9), and give hospitality to Paul (Acts 21:8).
The Ethiopian, interested in knowing the true God, had been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but being a eunuch, he was barred from becoming a member of the congregation of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:1). The Lord, however, was breaking down the barriers that had once hindered people from entering the household of faith (Ephesians 2:14-15).
Scripture does not say what became of the Ethiopian but tradition tells us he became a missionary to his people. Perhaps as a result of Philip's letting the Holy Spirit lead him and because of his knowledge of the Word, the Gospel began reaching into Africa.
Teachers should be prepared to answer the question: "What is a eunuch?" According to Zondervan's Bible Dictionary, the term came to mean "an officer" or "custodian."
- in-class activities
- Use the principle of siphoning to show the effect of God's power working through people. Bring to class a bowl of water, short rubber tube or flexible straw, and two glasses half full of water. Hold each end of the tube and place both ends underwater in the bowl of water. The tube will fill with water. Pinch ends to hold water. Then put ends underwater in the separate glasses. Release ends of tube. Gently, holding the tube, lift one glass higher than the other. The water will flow from the higher into the lower glass. Explain that we are like the tube, maybe label it with children's names on it. God's power flows through us and out to others as we witness and tell about Jesus, Sunday school, and His love for them. God is in Heaven, therefore, He is higher than we are here on earth and His power flows down to us, and through us.
- Start a paper chain with a strip of paper. Tell a child, "Jesus loves you." Let that child add a paper strip to yours. Then that child tells about Jesus to the next child, etc. Each time another link is added to the paper chain. When the children come back the following Sunday they can add to the paper chain if they had told someone about Jesus.
- Using 13 flash cards, write a different word of the memory verse on each card. Pass them out to the class and have the students arrange them in the correct order. For variety, cut the flash cards in the shape of footprints, shoes, or small children.
- To illustrate the work of the Holy Spirit, use a pair of glasses. Tell your group, "I need my glasses to see clearly." The Holy Spirit will help us to understand what to say and how to tell others about Jesus.
- Give each child a piece of paper with several simple figures drawn on it. Talk to them about the children they see each day - the one they sit next to in school, see on the school bus, eat lunch with, etc. Help them write the names of these people beside each of the figures. On the top of the paper, help them copy the words, "I Want To Be a Witness to . . . . "
- Who sent Philip to the desert of Gaza? For what reason
- What nationality was Philip? The man he met? How do we know that Jesus loves everybody—people of all nationalities?
- What was the Ethiopian man doing as he rode along? In what way might this be a good example for us?
- What did Philip ask the man, and what was the man's reply?
- How do we know that the man listened eagerly to the preaching of Philip and believed what was taught him?
- What was it in Philip's life that made him an effective witness and preacher of the Word?
- Do you think the Holy Spirit helped Philip to preach to the eunuch?
- Is this why the Holy Spirit is important for us to receive?
- Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit the same as the eunuch's baptism? Explain.
- What does rejoicing mean—happy, sad, joyful, glad, exult, sing, pray, mournful, depressed, dejected?
- What made it easy for Philip to talk to a stranger about God?
- Why couldn't the man understand what he was reading?
- pre-school suggestions
- Use stick puppets (see Patterns) of a boy and girl to dramatize ways children can invite their friends to Sunday school or tell them about Jesus. A shoe box with one side removed and set up on the edge of your table will make a good stage.
- Cut out an assortment of children's pictures from magazines. Make a collage of these pictures in class. As you paste each figure into the collage, make up a little imaginary story about the figure, giving it a name and stressing that this child needs to know about Jesus. In the center, write the words, "I'll Tell Them About Jesus!"
- Give each child a construction-paper heart with a sticker of Jesus in the center to give to someone.
- If you have new students in your Sunday school on this Sunday, use their "welcome time" as an opportunity to talk about what it means to be a witness.
- Let each child cut out and assemble the chariot and figures representing Philip and the Eunuch (see Patterns) to help tell the story.
- review ideas
Give a number of students or teachers in your group a balloon mounted on a stick, to hold. Have a questioning face drawn on each balloon. Give the person holding the balloon a question which might open the door for an opportunity to witness. You hold a balloon with a smiling face on it. Stroll around the room. When you come near someone holding a balloon, have them stand up and read their question. You answer it in a manner that shows how to witness to others. Example: "Tommy, you always seem so happy. Why?" "I have Jesus in my heart." Or they might ask, "Want to go to a ball game on Sunday?" "Oh no, I go to Sunday school. Would you like to come with me?"
Act out some "mini-situations" where children of the age you are teaching might have an opportunity to witness to others. It might be interesting to portray the situation two ways: one where the child is afraid or just neglects to take an opportunity to witness, and another where the child does tell someone about Jesus or invites him/her to Sunday school.
Use puppets to act out some situations as described in the previous activity.
Have your class help you compose a letter on a chalkboard telling about your Sunday school and issuing an invitation to attend. Be sure to include time and address. Promise your students that you will type and run off copies of the letter for them to receive next Sunday. They can give them to a friend and thus have an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.