We are fascinated by missionary tales of "chance" encounters. Along a lonely road in the African bush, a man suddenly appears and asks a missionary traveler, "Can you tell me who Jesus is?" Luke's account of Philip's divinely guided encounter with the Ethiopian would have been just as fascinating to first-century Romans or Greeks, for in their view Ethiopians lived literally at the southern edge of the earth (Homer Odyssey 1.23—eschatoi andron; see Acts 1:8).
God is actively fulfilling his purposes for the scope of the church's mission (Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8). If it reaches an Ethiopian so soon after its beginning, Theophilus can know for sure that the gospel that is to be preached among all the nations is true. It is for him, and for us too.
This scene is a fitting climax to the Grecian Jewish Christians' mission thrust, for here they complete the geographical aspects of the Acts 1:8 commission: Jerusalem (6:8-8:3), Judea and Samaria (8:4-25) and the ends of the earth (8:26-40). Further, it is a harbinger of the full-fledged Gentile mission to come (Acts 13—28).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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