Acts 8:31
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
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(31) How can I, except some man should guide me?—The words of the inquirer imply, as has been said above, that the prophecy was new to him. It is as though, in turning over, or perhaps unrolling, the MS., this was the passage which, in its strange, touching portraiture of the Man of Sorrows, had riveted his attention, and on which he was consequently dwelling with the prayer that some authorised interpreter would unfold its meaning. The word for “guide” connects itself with the title of “a guide of the blind,” which the Rabbis were fond of claiming (Matthew 15:14; Romans 2:19).

8:26-40 Philip was directed to go to a desert. Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to his ministers in very unlikely places. We should study to do good to those we come into company with by travelling. We should not be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. As to those of whom we know nothing else, we know this, that they have souls. It is wisdom for men of business to redeem time for holy duties; to fill up every minute with something which will turn to a good account. In reading the word of God, we should often pause, to inquire of whom and of what the sacred writers spake; but especially our thoughts should be employed about the Redeemer. The Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, of the exact fulfilment of the Scripture, was made to understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and salvation, and desired to be numbered among the disciples of Christ. Those who seek the truth, and employ their time in searching the Scriptures, will be sure to reap advantages. The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Lord, grant this to every one of us; then shall we go on our way rejoicing.And he said ... - This was a general acknowledgment of his need of direction. It evinced a humble state of mind. It was an acknowledgment, also, originating probably from this particular passage which he was reading. He did not understand how it could be applied to the Messiah; how the description of his humiliation and condemnation Acts 8:33 could be reconciled to the prevalent ideas of his being a prince and a conqueror. The same sentiment is expressed by Paul in Romans 10:14. The circumstance, the state of mind in the eunuch, and the result, strongly remind one of the declaration in Psalm 25:9, "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way."

And he desired ... - He was willing to receive instruction, even from a stranger. The rich and the great may often receive valuable instruction from a stranger, and from a poor, unknown man.

31. How can I, except some man guide me?—Beautiful expression at once of humility and docility; the invitation to Philip which immediately followed, to "come up and sit with him," being but the natural expression of this. A wonderful modesty and humility in so great a man: he takes well Philip’s interposing, and questioning with him; he acknowledges his ignorance, and desires further instruction, and condescends to be taught by one so much his inferior. And he said, how can I, except some man should guide me?.... Which shows that he was of an excellent spirit and temper; since instead of answering in a haughty and disdainful manner, as great men are too apt to do; and instead of charging Philip with, impertinence and insolence, in interrupting him whilst reading, and putting such a question to him, he expresses himself with great and uncommon modesty; with a sense and confession of his ignorance and incapacity and of the necessity and usefulness of the instructions of men, appointed of God to open and explain the Scriptures: and though he wanted such a guide, and could have been glad of one, yet he was willing to use all diligence himself in reading, that he, might, if possible, come at some knowledge of the truth; which was very commendable in him; and no doubt but the spirit he was in was much owing to his reading the word, and to the Spirit of God disposing his mind in this manner:

and he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him; which is an instance of his great humanity and courteousness, and of his meekness and condescension, as well as of his vehement thirst after the knowledge of the Scriptures; he concluding, or at least hoping by Philip's question, and by the air and look of the man, that he was one that might be useful to him this way.

And he said, How can I, except some man should {k} guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

(k) To show me the way to understand it.

Acts 8:31. γὰρ; “elegans particula hoc sensu quid quaeris?” implies, Why do you ask? for how should I be able? (cf. Matthew 27:23, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:22); see Simcox, Language of N. T. Greek, p. 172; Grimm-Thayer, sub v., I.—ἂν δυναίμην: optative with ἂν; occurs only in Luke, both in his Gospel and Acts, expressing what would happen on the fulfilment of some supposed condition: see, for a full list of passages, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 80; Simcox, u. s., p. 112: twice in direct questions, here and in Acts 17:18, but only in this passage is the condition expressed, cf. also Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., pp. 33 and 66 (1893).—ὁδηγήσῃ, see critical notes, and Blass, Grammatik, p. 210; if we read future indicative it will be an instance of a future supposition thus expressed with more probability, Burton, u. s., pp. 104, 105, 109, and see also Simcox, note on the passage, u. s., p. 112. Burton compares Luke 19:40 (W.H[219]), see also Viteau, u. s., pp. 4, 111, 226, whilst Blass maintains that there is no one certain example of this usage of εάν with future indicative. The word used here (“insignis modestia eunuchi,” Calvin) is used also by our Lord Himself for the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance, John 16:13, and also in the LXX, as in the Psalms, of divine guidance.—παρεκάλεσέν: “he besought,” R.V. (“desired” A.V.), the word is rightly taken to denote both the humility and the earnestness of the eunuch (Bengel): a verb frequent both in St. Luke and St. Paul, six or seven times in Gospel, twenty-two or twenty-three times in Acts.—τε: note the closing connecting particle, showing the necessary result of the question (Weiss).

[219] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.31. except some man [one] should [shall] guide me] The eunuch, living far away from the received expounders of the Scriptures, feels that in a dark passage like that which he was reading he has need of trained instruction. He uses therefore the word which is employed for the guidance given by teacher to pupil. Our Lord uses it [Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39] reproachfully of the blind guidance which the scribes and Pharisees in His day were giving to the people who came to them for instruction. He uses the same word for the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). It was a marked feature in the teaching of the Jews that explanations of Scripture were received from generation to generation, and that only was highly valued by them which a man had received from his teachers. Such a system accounts for the permanence of all their traditions.

And he desired [besought] Philip that he would come up and sit with him] The verb implies a very earnest request, and betokens the great desire which the eunuch had for more enlightenment.Acts 8:31. Γὰρ) An elegant particle, in this sense: Why ask me this question? [i.e. virtually, I do not, for how could I unless, etc.] He confesses his ignorance.—ἐὰν μή τις, unless some one) He who has the first knowledge of Jesus, can understand the prophets even without a human guide.—παρεκάλεσέ τε, and he besought) There was in the Eunuch modesty and an eager desire to learn.Verse 31. - One shall for man should, A.V. and T.R.; he besought Philip to come up and sit with him for he desired Philip that he would, etc., A.V. He besought, etc. Tim humility and thirst for instruction of this great courtier are very remarkable, and the instance of the joint use of the written Word and the living teacher is noteworthy. How can I((πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην)?

Lit., for how should I be able? the for connecting the question with an implied negative: "No; for how could I understand except," etc.

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