Philip Baptizes The Ethiopian
30 x 48
Gouache, chalk, and pencil on canvas
The Philip in the story behind this painting was one of the seven deacons commissioned by the apostles to handle administrative duties in the body of believers because he was "of honest report (reputation) and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." He was also an evangelist—fully equipped to preach the good news of the kingdom with power. He is not to be confused with Philip the apostle (one of the twelve original disciples.) Here, Philip the evangelist has just finished ministering in Samaria when the Angel of the Lord speaks to him, telling him to head south toward a deserted area lying between Jerusalem and Gaza.
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for he remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Obeying, he sees the chariot of the royal steward of Ethiopian
Queen Candace. This man was a eunuch, and held great authority. He had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is now on his way back to Ethiopia, reading the writings of the prophet Isaiah as he travels.
The Holy Ghost tells Philip to catch up with the chariot, and upon
approaching he overhears the man reading from the prophet Isaiah,
and asks him if he understands what he is reading. The Ethiopian
replies there is no way he can, unless someone guides (explains it to)
him. He invites Philip to join him in the chariot.
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY
Beginning at the verse the man is reading (what we would recognize as
Isaiah 53:7-8) Philip preaches the ministry, death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ. Upon grasping this prophetic revelation, the eunuch insists on being baptized. They have just come upon a body of water, and there Philip baptizes the Ethiopian.
Immediately following the moment you see depicted in the painting, the
Spirit of the Lord catches Philip away, and transports him to Azotus - an
ancient Philistine city we would recognize today as Ashdod. As you can see, the commission of the first century church was to reach all people; and there was a Christian presence and testimony in greater Africa long
before Anglo missionaries set foot on the continent.
!! ARTIST OBSERVATION !!
Was this event supernatural or what?? The eunuch does not even seem fazed that some random guy has appeared in the middle of a desert expanse; and is running fast enough to catch up with the horses pulling the chariot! Plus, he "just happens" to be able to explain the very scripture he is reading. The awesome power of the Holy Ghost in action!