A Walk Through Acts
Acts 8:26-39 - And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Next we see Philip evangelizing an Ethiopian eunuch. The angel of the Lord, the Spirit (see Acts 9:26,29), says to Philip to go to this man. Philip then proceeds to open up the scriptures from Isaiah to him and explain that the sheep that was led to the slaughter is none other then Jesus. Now this is not a detailed account of what Philip specifically told the eunuch, but we can ascertain, by the clues left in this scriptural record, with great assurance what He did say when he preached Jesus to him. We know He identified Jesus. We know that Philip tied in Jesus to the sheep that was led to the slaughter. Meaning he did speak about His death and we know that the story never ends at His death, so we can be assured that Philip talked about Him being buried and rising again on the third day (His life, death, burial, and resurrection - the gospel)!
Do we know if Phillip continued with anything else? I would safely assume that he did because as they were speaking they came to a place of water and the eunuch says, "What hinders me from being baptized?" Well, how did the eunuch know that he needed to be baptized? I would have to assume that somewhere in their conversation they came to a point where Philip told him what a man's response is to the revelation of Jesus being Lord, which should be to repent, be baptized in Jesus' name, and receive the Holy Spirit. Philip says to the eunuch, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The eunuch makes this bold confession, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Phillip and the eunuch then enter the water and the eunuch is baptized.
Then something amazing happens. When they ascend out of the water, the Spirit seizes Philip and he disappears from right before the eunuch’s eyes. Astonished, the eunuch then departs rejoicing. Now I know, people point here and say, "Hey, he didn’t speak in tongues." At this point, scripture doesn't explicitly state that he received the Spirit, either. On the other hand, does it indicate that he didn’t speak in tongues or that he didn't receive the Spirit? Or does it just simply not say anything about it at all? Verily, verily I say unto you, the record is silent on the matter. But that doesn’t mean he never spoke in tongues. It didn’t say the Samaritans spoke in tongues either. If you look at it in reference to Simon the Sorcerer observing something, and the fact the Peter and John traveled all the way from Jerusalem to lay hands on them that they might receive the Spirit, it is safe to assume they did. The precedent of expectation had already been set. They who initially receive the Spirit, speak in tongues.
Remember, Peter preached the first gospel message (Acts 2) and he commanded to those who would listen to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus and receive the Spirit. The 3000 saved that day must have assuredly repented, and have been baptized. It doesn’t say they spoke in tongues either, but if Peter felt it so important that the Samaritans receive the Spirit, as evidenced by them speaking in tongues, wouldn’t Peter have expected the same from the listeners in Jerusalem at Pentecost?
I agree. It doesn’t record that the eunuch spoke in tongues, but given that the history up to this point in Acts shows that it was expected, we can safely assume that if he didn’t receive the Spirit at this point where Philip vanished from his sight by the Spirit, then he may have later on, just like the Samaritans. Then again, maybe he did at that point because that was an incredibly supernatural event. Philip disappears from right before His eyes. Another piece of evidence that he may have received the Spirit at that point is that he left rejoicing. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).
Not good enough yet, huh? Well, let’s keep going. We’re bound to find more if we keep searching. Now we turn to Saul who became Paul. The question here is: Did Paul repent, get baptized in the name of Jesus, and receive the Spirit? It’s probably a dumb question being that he was arguably the greatest apostle, but it should be investigated. Did salvation come to him by the three-fold witness? The answer is in Acts 9, but we will look particularly on these verses.
Acts 9:3-18 – And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. [Emphasis added are mine]
When Paul is confronted by Jesus, Paul asks, "What do you want me to do?" Jesus simply tells him to go to this house and you will be told what to do. Why didn’t Jesus simply tell him, right then and there, what he must do? This is the first time, but not the only time, that Jesus does this. He also does this with Cornelius (which we will review up ahead later). I believe Jesus is making a very clear and important point. Let us find out what was it that Paul needed to do and then we will comment.
At this point, we identify and recognize that Paul was a believer without the Spirit.
Did Paul trust that the person he saw was the Christ preached by the Christians that he was persecuting?
Yes, for he refers to him as Lord, trembling and astonished.
Did he obey Lord Jesus?
Yes, for when Jesus spoke to him on what to do, Paul did so without question.
Did Paul repent?
Yes, for he was going around the countryside persecuting and killing Christians. But after an abrupt introduction to his Sovereign King and Lord, he stopped right quick. Not only that, when he was in Damascus, blind and waiting, he fasted for 3 days. That to me is an outward sign of repentance and brokenness before his God.
Did Paul get baptized in the name of Jesus?
It says in verse 18 that after the leprous flakes fell from his eyes, he sees and rises and is baptized. We know Paul definitely repented by what is recorded here in Acts 9. In Acts 22:16, he was told by Ananias to rise and be baptized, washing away your sins – calling on the name of the Lord. That tells you specifically that he was baptized in water in the name of the Lord, calling on Jesus. So the question is answered. He was baptized in Jesus name.
But did Paul receive the Spirit with the evidence that he spoke in tongues?
It does not record that he spoke in tongues at this point. Although, it doesn’t say here that he didn’t speak in tongues either. We need to go outside this passage to answer this question. There are more detailed records of this event, so let us fast forward a little bit and see if we gain any more details.
There are recorded events that Paul saw Jesus multiple times and spoke with him. Remember we said that when you have received the Spirit you are full of Him, led by Him, and enabled to walk in His power. I would have to conclude, after everything Paul accomplished in his life, that it is evidence that he received the Spirit at some point, for what he accomplished could not have been accomplished without the Spirit. If Acts' history, up to this point, teaches that a person was expected to speak in other tongues when receiving the Spirit and if we do see, by his own admission, that he did speak in tongues in his lifetime, then he must have received the Spirit.
It is recorded that Paul laid hands on others to receive the Spirit and they spoke in tongues (Acts 19:6). If he had not spoken in tongues when he received the Spirit, how could he have been sent to lay hands on others to receive the Spirit? Furthermore, why would he expect them to speak in tongues if he had not spoken in tongues when he received the Spirit? In other words, if he had received the Spirit, without speaking in tongues, why would he expect others to speak in tongues when he laid his hands on them to receive the Spirit? I’m sure that whatever he experienced when he received the baptism in the Spirit, he would have also expected others to share the same experience when they received the Spirit.
We know that Paul did speak in tongues in his life because he says in the letter to the Corinthians that he thanked God that he prays in tongues more than all of the Corinthians (I Corinthians 14:18). That means that he spoke in tongues quite frequently and if he spoke in tongues, then, when he received the Spirit, he must have spoken in tongues. Everyone who has received the Spirit (where it's explicitly stated in scripture), up to this point, has spoken in tongues.
Like Peter, when Paul preached he also expected those who would listen and obey the gospel to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus and receive the Spirit. He expected this without having conferred with Peter. Paul simply followed the pattern which he experienced when he repented, was baptized and received the Spirit.
Having studied these bits of information, I think it is safe to say, that not even Paul was exempt from partaking of the three-fold witness as one. This three-fold witness is the answer to the question: "What must I do?" This is the response Peter told the Jews at Pentecost. This is what Ananias told Paul he must do. We can also say with great certainty that when he did receive the Spirit, he did indeed speak in tongues. Paul became a believer with the Spirit.
© copyright 2000, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz