an Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8,30-31.What is the Protestant view?


#1

Hi,

last week there was a reading from Acts 8.26-40 in Holy Mass.

Philip is sent by Holy Spirit to an Etiopian eunuh who was reading a book of the prophet Izaiah and asked him whether he understood what he was reading. The Etiopian answered how he could know if nobody is telling him what the book says.

In English there are variations in the translation of the verbs: understand or know,
guide or show,
but in Greek there is for meaning “understand or know” a verb “ginosko”, and for meaning “guide or show” a verb "hodegeo"
blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?book=Act&chapter=8&verse=30&strongs=1097&page=
blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?book=Act&chapter=8&verse=31&strongs=3594&page=

I heard my friend(who is from a Presbyterian church) telling a child that if he would read a Bible he can get know about God’s love. That means by reading himself.

However, is not this Word of God, that is about the story of Philip and Etiopian, telling us, that there is a crucial importance of being told what does it mean by an authority otherwise someone can read but not understand? As the boy of my friend might not?

What is your view, my friends Protestants?
What do you think?
Thank you for your answer.:wink:


#2

The Ethiopian was having trouble understanding the meaning of the scripture passage in Isaiah that he had read. He asked who it was in reference to, not knowing it was a Messianic passage.

I would say that it was a good example of someone taking advantage of a good opportunity to share the Gospel with somebody else who obviously showed an interest and had a question.


#3

Sure, but it means that the Bible itself wasn’t sufficient for him to understand. He needed someone to help him. The Bible doesn’t teach


#4

Is that why Catholics have a Catechism?


#5

I don’t know? We’ll have to ask them. I don’t know what your point is though because Catholics believe in Scripture and Tradition (Orthodox believe in Scripture in Tradition), but either way the Catholic Church is not a catechism alone church either.


#6

We are fortunate in having almost 2000 years of teaching in how to interpret Sacred Scripture. Nothing that the Magisteirum of the Church teaches today conflicts with the teaching in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd century etc.

The Apostle Philip was a member of the first Magisterium.


#7

Hi Chris LaRock,
first of all, thank you for your answer & question.
Do you mean by your question about having Catechism, that you don’t need to ask any authority what the Word of God means? That you will understand it yourself even though the Etiopian’s story shows us the very importance of guidance into getting to know the whole meaning of the Word?

God bless you. :wink:


#8

I was wondering if the purpose of the Catechism was to show the intended context of the scriptures and to give people the official RCC interpretation.

(There’s also a Lutheran Catechism as well.)


#9

Actually, it wasn’t just a good opportunity to share the Gospel. If you read the preceding verses you’ll see that he was sent by God to guide the unuch who was a very learned man as shown in the following verses:

26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise, go towards the south, to the way that goeth down from Jerusalem into Gaza: this is desert.
27 And rising up, he went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge over all her treasures, had come to Jerusalem to adore.

This eunuch was already a believer but, as with the rest of us, he couldn’t completely understand scripture without one of God’s chosen of the Magisterium to teach him.


#10

How can you be sure he was already a believer?


#11

There was no New Testaments in print at the time, and obviously the Ethiopian was reading an Old Testament text… so Philip is verbally sharing the New Testament with him. Which is just as good - or better - it’s like a Bible you can ask questions (Philip being an apostle).

Yes, I do think people can get saving faith from just reading the Bible, but I don’t think it’s the best way. If I started from scratch, I wouldn’t have reached the doctrine of the Trinity in 10,000 years… of course we need help understanding!

  • Steffen

#12

Well, the eunuch clearly wasn’t already a believer in Yeshua, for he hadn’t even been baptised yet!

In response, this is an interesting point, but this has never really caused me any distress …

The Scriptures are usually pretty clear. One can read Isaiah 53 and know WHAT it’s referring to (a Suffering Servant), yet not WHO (the Messiah). That was the eunuch’s problem, and in all honesty, he had no way of knowing until Philip showed him. The Scripture had been fulfilled not long ago at all!

I think it goes without saying, one reading and attempting to learn the Scriptures is a fool without searching out the context and examining the views of others, and most certainly a grave fool without making frequent use of prayer. When I stumble, I typically go to a pastor or a commentary from any number of sources …

The eunuch genuinely wished to understand the passage he was reading, yet without instruction, he saw this was impossible for him in his current position, and being of a humble and contrite heart (Isa. 66:2), he asked Philip if he would assist him.

Protestants are not against requesting help or assistance on a puzzling passage–not so at all. Yet I find no reason to accept that the magisterium is omniscient in its understanding of the Word, and see no reason to adhere soley to its interpretation, as it has proved erroneous in the past, and thus will continue to make errors to the present day.


#13

A believer in God as is demonstrated by his reading of the OT and his desire to learn what it meant. As he had not yet heard of Christ except from the OT scripture that he needed help in interpretting, he wasn’t yet baptised into Christ’s one Church. He was like the Jews were before Christ came and spoke the good news. After Phillip explained Christ’s message, he immediately believed and asked to be baptised.


#14

I agree with the Eunich… How would I know unless someone told me… But here’s the clincher… that someone to me could be the Holy Spirit. :slight_smile: I will be the first to admit that I cannot interpret everything (or even anything) on my own. I need the help from the Holy Spirit for that. And sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks through others around me to help me grow.


#15

I don’t necessarily agree with this statement… I think someone can believe before they are baptized otherwise why would they want to be baptized in the first place? :confused:


#16

There are some many variations of Protestantism that this is sortof a non-starter. The branch I originated from (which I don’t know a single poster here that would call Christian, even it if claims itself to be so) believes in a class of people gifted with understanding and tasked with “feeding the sheep”.

Not all Protestants state that you can come to an understanding of the Bible on scripture alone. Some Protestants teach heavily the idea of tradition. Some teach about a Church and its aid in understanding.

Definining “Protestant” as non Orthodox, non Catholic, but accepting some basic tenants of Christianity - I don’t think there’s a take on the teaching of scripture I haven’t seen. The common one I’ve seen is “with scripture alone you’ll get there, but it’s going to take a long time”.

Also, understanding God’s love and the importance of the sacrifice are not exactly that hard to make out on in the Bible, the finer aspects of beliefs held - the ones often debated - are.


#17

I don’t necessarily agree with this statement… I think someone can believe before they are baptized otherwise why would they want to be baptized in the first place?

What I meant was this: Since he hadn’t been baptised yet, he either (a) in all likelihood did not believe, or (b) didn’t have an adequate understanding of the Good News, and therefore did not receive baptism. Now, whether he was a Jew (perhaps a convert), I couldn’t say. The fact that he was reading Isaiah might be a pretty good indication of that. But as for being a believer in Yeshua, it seems to me pretty clear that, prior to meeting with Philip, he was not.


#18

Dear The_Truthinator,
thank you very much for your posts.
I have these notes and the question:

:thumbsup: I do the same. Once I went to ask for a prayer also a ministrant from the church of my friends, because they evidentally did not understand well the meaning of Eucharist because of ignorance and he said very well: a lot of people don’t understand because they don’t know other churches well, so it’s good to talk and getting know each other. :clapping:

The eunuch genuinely wished to understand the passage he was reading, yet without instruction, he saw this was impossible for him in his current position, and being of a humble and contrite heart (Isa. 66:2), he asked Philip if he would assist him.

Please, don’t forget that it was Holy Spirit first who sent Phillip to the eunuch, so God wanted to instruct him by Phillip, a diacon.

Protestants are not against requesting help or assistance on a puzzling passage–not so at all. Yet I find no reason to accept that the magisterium is omniscient in its understanding of the Word, and see no reason to adhere soley to its interpretation, as it has proved erroneous in the past, and thus will continue to make errors to the present day.

Might you note please at least three things in which magisterium in your view proved error?:wink:

God bless you.

P.S.: Sorry, not good at quoting yet.


#19

I guess the obvious question would be:

Who has the authority TODAY to interpret scripture?

and

On what basis would you determine that?


#20

The Church (magisterium) naturally, as guided by the Holy Spirit as promised by Christ when He promised to build His Church on Peter and who said He would be with the Church to the end of time and that even the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
And what is the Church? As St. Paul said to Timothy, it is the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.