Philip and the Ethiopian


#1

quick question:
when philip converted and baptized the ethiopian eunuch he was then “taken away to another place” or transported (using the star trek term). the eunuch was then left to go on his own and interpret his new faith for himself (he didn’t even have a bible to claim sola scriptura! :slight_smile: ). i have also read that when missionaries reached ethiopia a few years later they found a christian church established there. do you know anything about this? and if so, does this give protestants a leg to stand on that we are a group of individual churches headed by Christ since this church wasn’t in “communion” with rome for some years?


#2

[quote=bengal_fan]and if so, does this give protestants a leg to stand on that we are a group of individual churches headed by Christ since this church wasn’t in “communion” with rome for some years?
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I am under the impression that they are in communion with the Eastern Orthodox bishops, not Rome.

As for your second question as to whether this would be ammunition against the CC’s claim to papal authority, I would answer that it would be no more so than the existence of any other eastern orthodox body.

Simply put, the authority claims of Rome have long been disputed in the church, both east and west, and this doesn’t really add anything qualitatively to that discussion.

One more note - I’m not sure you could trace the Ethiopian Orthodox church to the eunuch anyways. Estimates I have seen trace the beginning of the church to the 4th century, long after the eunuch’s time.

ken


#3

[quote=II Paradox II]I am under the impression that they are in communion with the Eastern Orthodox bishops, not Rome.
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correction - They are not canonical Orthodox, but monophysite because they reject the council of Chalcedon. As such, they would be not only rejecting Rome itself, but also the authority of an ecumenical council (though I’m not sure whether they reject the council’s conclusions as unorthodox while accepting it as a true council, thus rejecting conciliar infallibility and authority, or whether they just consider Chalcedon to not be a true ecumenical council, thus accepting the councils in principle while disagreeing about what constitutes a legitimate council.)

ken


#4

double post


#5

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is fine, so far as it goes. But I don’t think that we can conclude from it that the eunuch or any other Ethiopian Christian of his time never received any direction from any of the apostles or those whom had been charged by them (such as Philip) to pass on the Gospel authoritatively.


#6

[quote=bengal_fan]quick question:
when philip converted and baptized the ethiopian eunuch he was then “taken away to another place” or transported (using the star trek term). the eunuch was then left to go on his own and interpret his new faith for himself … does this give protestants a leg to stand on that we are a group of individual churches headed by Christ since this church wasn’t in “communion” with rome for some years?
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I think it’s the opposite. I’ve heard that this passage actually gives credence to the fact that the bible diesn’t interpret itself, as the eunich replied he didn’t understand the text unless it was explained to him.
Has anyone else heard this explanation?


#7

i have heard that explanation and it does make sense except that after the man is baptized, God leaves him on his own to figure out the rest of the faith. the explanation i have heard for this is that before he was baptized he didn’t have the holy spirit to interpret so he needed philip but after baptism he had the spirity and no longer needed an apostle to interpret the faith.


#8

[quote=bengal_fan]i have heard that explanation and it does make sense except that after the man is baptized, God leaves him on his own to figure out the rest of the faith.
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God left him on his own at that moment. We cannot infer from that one story that he or any other Christian from Ethiopia never had after that a person duly authorized to explain the scriptures to them.

Now, of course, you may say that this is an argument based on negative evidence. But consider much of the rest of the New Testament and the writings of the apostolic fathers. We read (in Irenaeus, I believe, perhaps also Eusebius) of apostles going out to what they knew as the ends of the earth. We read of Paul giving instructions to his one of his sucessors, Timothy, on how he is to chose successors to himself.

This was fairly common, even in the age of the apostles. I don’t think that the purpose of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch was to show us that we are only to depend upon the Holy Spirit to learn the true meaning of the scriptures.


#9

[quote=SeanG]I don’t think that the purpose of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch was to show us that we are only to depend upon the Holy Spirit to learn the true meaning of the scriptures.
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of course you don’t because of the tradition you adhere to. my point is that it is a possible interpretation of the passage. some might claim that philip “ordained” the ethiopian. if that is not the case then he would have been left on his own at least for a time as he was heading back to ethiopia and the early church didn’t have anyone go there for some time after this (by some time i don’t mean hundreds of years, i mean a significant amount of time for the ethiopian to go back and share his faith and for others to begin to interpret the scriptures, albeit only old testament, how ever the “spirit led them”). i still am not convinced that this can’t be used as an argument for scripture alone (at least scripture alone when one has become a Christian and the Holy Spirit dwells within them).


#10

[quote=bengal_fan]of course you don’t because of the tradition you adhere to. my point is that it is a possible interpretation of the passage. some might claim that philip “ordained” the ethiopian. if that is not the case then he would have been left on his own at least for a time as he was heading back to ethiopia and the early church didn’t have anyone go there for some time after this (by some time i don’t mean hundreds of years, i mean a significant amount of time for the ethiopian to go back and share his faith and for others to begin to interpret the scriptures, albeit only old testament, how ever the “spirit led them”). i still am not convinced that this can’t be used as an argument for scripture alone (at least scripture alone when one has become a Christian and the Holy Spirit dwells within them).
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I agree - but I do think we’re missing the Church’s true explanation of the passage. Hopefully someone with that information will come along, I’ll see what I can dig up as to what the Church believes.


#11

I’m attaching a link to an article which I think may shed insight…

cathinsight.com/apologetics/adventism/inter.htm

I’d post it here, but I think it’s just a bit too long.


#12

jennifer,
thanks for the article. the only problem i see with it is that he doesn’t address what happened after philip interpreted the scripture and baptized him. immediately philip was taken away and the man was left with the old testament and the holy spirit to live his new life. does my question with this make sense? how do we resolve this with the rest of scripture (including the scripture that article uses)? if we are not to privately interpret scripture, was this eunuch not supposed to read the scriptures anymore? did philip ordain him so that he could be an interpreter of scripture (and maybe the first bishop of ethiopia although i have never heard this even though i have heard that when the church reached ethiopia early on there were people there who knew the name Jesus and traced it back to the eunuch)? if anyone knows how the church interprets the events after the baptism (and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which takes place at baptism as well as the remission of original sin) then please speak. thanks


#13

[quote=bengal_fan]jennifer,
was this eunuch not supposed to read the scriptures anymore?

No, we are to read the scriptures often. I don’t think the bible or the Church has the answers as to what happens to the eunich AFTER St. Philip leaves him b/c it isn’t important to the story.
I think what’s important is that like the eunich, we should stand humbly before God and take His spirit-filled interpretation from His body, the CC.
See 2 Pet: 1:20 - and what could this mean in light of 2 Tim 3:16? That while of course scripture is profitable for teaching, it is second to interpretation by authority.

There is no guarantee that every one of us will have the ability to infallibly interpret scripture 1 Cor 12:8. All of these passages, along with the scripture taken as a whole, not just 2 Tim 3:16 by itself at the expense of everything else, shows why we need a teaching magisterium to lead us ultimately to the truth.

if anyone knows how the church interprets the events after the baptism (and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which takes place at baptism as well as the remission of original sin) then please speak. thanks

I know that this is what the Church believes as to why we need authoritative interpretation but I didn’t look up the Cathechism regarding if there is anything about the events AFTER the eunich is left alone by St. Philip, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.
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