After Stephen was stoned, the believers scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. In this story, we learn more about one of the 7 original deacons that were set apart, named Philip. Philip went to a town in Samaria (where the Northern Kingdom was) and ministered there. An angel came to Philip and told him to go south, towards the desert road to Gaza. Look at a map of the area and you can see that Samaria is north of Jerusalem, and Gaza is southwest of Jerusalem. Philip didn't know why he was supposed to go to that road, who he was supposed to see, or what was supposed to happen. But he went anyway. Which Old Testament figure does that sound like? (How about Abram?)
As he traveled towards Gaza, he met an important man from Ethiopia (check that out on a map to see how far he traveled). This man was in charge of the treasury (all the money) in Ethiopia for Candace the Queen. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship for some reason. There are many theories about this man's status: whether he was a Gentile convert to Judaism, whether he was a descendant from the Queen of Sheba referenced in the Old Testament, whether he was part of the lost tribe of Dan, etc. For the purposes of this lesson, we know that he wanted to worship in Jerusalem for some reason, and since he was reading the book of Isaiah, we can infer that he had some knowledge and commitment to Judaism.
As Philip saw this Ethiopian man and his chariot, the Holy Spirit told him to approach it. This was the reason he was sent southward! Philip overheard the Ethiopian reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. "'How can I?' he said. 'I need someone to explain it to me.' So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." (Acts 8:31)
Then Philip proceeded to explain to the Ethiopian that the portion of Isaiah he was reading was actually about Jesus. And he explained the Gospel (Good News) to him. The Ethiopian apparently accepted his message, because as soon has he saw water, he asked Philip if there was any reason he shouldn't be baptized. So they went down to the water and Philip baptized him. Then something miraculous happened. As soon as they came up out of the water, Philip immediately disappeared and he found himself in Azotus! (refer back to the Bible map to see where this was). Philip spent some time there preaching and went up to Caesarea, which was up north off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Remember Acts 1:8? "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (ESV)
In this story, we see the believers scattered from Jerusalem because of the stoning of Stephen and subsequent persecution of the believers, into Judea and Samaria, Philip ministering in Samaria and then converting a man outside of Israel ("the ends of the earth").
Is there a subject in school that is difficult for you to understand? Who helps you understand it?
In our story today, we are going to meet a man who was reading the Bible, but couldn't understand what he was reading.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Acts 8:26-40
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?