Why stand in the way- Thursday, 3rd week of Eastertide – Acts 8:26-40

The eunuch in the narrative was of Ethiopian descent, that makes him the first African to be converted and while he is referred to as the eunuch five times in this passage we are not told his name.  Clearly now, the Church was moving beyond Jerusalem and Judea. So what do we know about this first convert from Africa and what can we learn from this narrative?

The Eunuch is heading to Gaza, an important city on the Mediterranean coast. We are told that he has gone to Jerusalem to worship. It is most unlikely that he was a convert to Judaism and hence the man could be described as best as a seeker.

Since he was a eunuch, he would be under prohibitions from the Jewish Law. Deuteronomy 23:1 stipulated that since he was ‘half a man’, he would be unable to enter “the assembly of the Lord.” It is unfortunate that his sexual identity prevented him from worshiping God. Yet it is to him that Philip is sent, not stirred by Philips’ zeal to evangelize but prompted by and angel and the Holy Spirit. The message of Christ’s redeeming love must be shared with all irrespective of caste, creed or sexual orientation.

Socially and politically he was, as we would say, landed. He was a minister of Candace, the queen of Ethiopia in charge of her entire treasury.  This would put him in a position of great power, influence and wealth; he was riding a chariot which in those days was the Mercedes Benz of the Roman roads.

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