Chapter 8 begins with the Gospel in action. Chapters 8--12 describe the period of transition during which several things take place: The center of activity moves from Jerusalem to Antioch; the message goes from the Jews to the Samaritans and then to the Gentiles; Peter's kingdom ministry comes to a close and Paul takes his place; and, the Gospel of the kingdom is replaced by the Gospel of the grace of God.
If the Ethiopian eunuch was of the black race (and many believe he was), then in chapters 8--10 we have presented to us three remarkable conversions paralleling the three sons of Noah in Genesis 10:1. The Ethiopian would come from Ham; Paul, a Jew, from Shem; and Cornelius, a Gentile, from Japheth. Thus, we have pictured the Gospel going to all mankind.
There are several lessons that can be learned from chapter 8. One is that persecution is often an opportunity for service. The blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the church. Secondly, we find that Satan opposes the Word of God through persecution from without and false professions from within. Today, as always, the only way to defeat Satan is through obedience to the Word of God.
A very interesting point concerning soul-winning is also contained in chapter 8. Philip was concerned about one soul. We know that in the first part of this chapter there were many; but Philip was faithful in leading the one to Christ when he explained the Gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch. What a lesson for us today! True, we as preachers and teachers can preach to hundreds and thousands, but that one lonely soul is important to Christ. Philip set forth an example that we all should follow.
Saul was the chief persecutor of the Christians. Because of these persecutions, the first missionaries were born. Because of the fear of persecution, the apostles were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the Word. The message was the same as it had been, but now it was being preached to a different group of people. That message was, "Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.".
In chapter 9 we see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. This man, who had been a hater of all Christians, was confronted on the road to Damascus by a light from heaven and the voice of Jesus; and there he repented of his sin and received Christ as his personal Saviour.
Paul's conversion was very miraculous and dramatic. The conversion of the thief on the cross was a simple request by the thief and not so dramatic. It is good to observe this contrast, because I have seen people come weeping, running, and very emotional to receive Christ as Saviour; others come very calmly, and the same miraculous new birth transpires in both lives.
The point I am making is simply that there is no certain physical condition a person must be in to come to Christ; the important thing is that they come, believe, and receive Him.
After his conversion, Paul becomes what I consider to be the greatest of all Christians, and was later to be the human instrument through whom the Gospel would be preached to the Gentiles. From a murderer and hater of Christians, to one of God's choice preachers, this change will be continually noticed throughout our future readings.
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