Acts 8:27

27 So Philip got ready and went. Now an Ethiopian eunuch, who was an important official in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia, was on his way home. He had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was going back home in his carriage. As he rode along, he was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Acts 8:27 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 8:27

And he arose and went
As soon as he had his orders, he immediately obeyed them; he made no dispute about the matter, though he was directed only part of his way, and had no account of what he went about, or was to do;

and behold, a man of Ethiopia;
or "a man, an Ethiopian"; an Hebraism, such as "a man a Jew", ( Zechariah 8:23 ) wherefore his being called a man, is no contradiction to his being an eunuch; for the word "man" does not regard his sex, but with the other the country of which he was; and it is the same as if he had only been called an Ethiopian, which signifies one of a black countenance; for Ethiopia was not so called from Ethiops, the son of Vulcan, who is said to reign over it, but from the colour of its inhabitants; ( Jeremiah 13:23 ) ( Amos 9:7 ) . This country in the Hebrew language is called Cush, and the people of it Cushites, from Cush the son of Ham, ( Genesis 10:6 ) And so Josephus says F9, that the Ethiopians over whom he (Cush) reigned, are now by themselves, and by all in Asia, called Chuseans; and so likewise the inhabitants of upper Ethiopia, or the Abyssines, are to this day called Cussinns, by the Portuguese. Geographers make mention of two Ethiopias, one in Africa, divided into upper and lower, and which is here meant; and the other in Asia and a part of Arabia, and which is the Ethiopia spoken of in the Old Testament: a note of admiration is prefixed, to observe to us what was remarkable in providence that just at this time, and in this way, such a man should be travelling; and what was still a greater wonder of grace, that such an one should be the object of God's peculiar favour, and should be chosen and called, have the Gospel preached to him, and be admitted to an ordinance of it; whereby some prophecies began to have their accomplishment in part, ( Psalms 68:31 ) ( Zephaniah 3:10 )

An eunuch of great authority;
he might be one that was literally so, it being common for eastern princes and great men to have such persons as guards over their wives, to preserve their chastity; and so hereby was a fulfilment in part of ( Isaiah 56:3-5 ) though this word is used to denote a person in office: so Potiphar is called (oyro) , an eunuch, though he had a wife, and which we rightly render an officer; and the Chaldee paraphrase renders it, (abr) , "a prince", or great man, ( Genesis 39:1 ) . So Balaam is said F11 to be one of the king's eunuchs, and yet Jannes and Jambres are said to be his sons; and the word Dynastes here used, which we translate "of great authority", may be considered as explanative of the word eunuch; to teach us, that this word was not expressive of his case, but a title of office: it is reported of this eunuch, that after his conversion he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Zeylan and Arabia Felix, and in the island of Traprobane in the Red sea, and at last suffered martyrdom F12: this great person said to be

under Candace queen of the Ethiopians;
that is, of those Ethiopians who inhabited the island of Meroe; for Candace, or Candaoce, as Pliny F13 reads it, was a common name of the queens of that island, as Pharaoh was of the Egyptian kings, and Caesar of the Roman emperors: the word Candace signifies a governor of children, that is, servants; it is derived from the Ethiopic word (ynq) , "Kani", which signifies to govern; and from (qd) , "Dak, a child", or servant; and the king of the Abyssines is to this day called Prestar Chan, or Kan, a prince of servants, who is commonly and corruptly called Prester John; and Chan, or Kan, is a well known name for an emperor or governor in the eastern countries as with the Tartars and Persians, witness the late famous Kouli Kan. Some say F14, her proper name was Judith, others Lacasa F15, and others Hendake, or Indich; which, as Ludolphus F16 observes, is no other than Candace; though this last name Indich, according to Zaga Zabo, an ambassador of the king of the Ethiopians, was the name of the eunuch himself; his words, as reported by Damianus a Goes F17, are these;

``we, almost before all other Christians, received baptism from the eunuch of Candace, queen of Ethiopia, whose name was Indich:''

who had the charge of all her treasure;
was her lord treasurer; which shows, that he was not an eunuch to her on account of chastity, but an high officer in her kingdom: the word Gaza here used, signifies in the Persian language treasure, or treasury F18. The Ethiopic version takes it for the name of a place, and renders it, "and he was governor of the city of Gaza", but very wrongly: "and had come to Jerusalem for to worship"; hence he seems to have been either a Jew by birth, or rather a proselyte to the Jewish religion; and had been at Jerusalem at one of their annual feasts, the passover, "pentecost", or tabernacles, to worship the God of Israel, whom he believed to be the only true God.


F9 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 2.
F11 Heb. Chron. Mosis, fol. 4. 2. & 6. 2.
F12 Fabricii Lux Evangelii, p. 115, 708.
F13 Hist. Nat. l. 6. c. 29. Vid. Alexand. ab Alex. l. 1. c. 2.
F14 Godignus de rebus Abysainis, p. 117. apud Castel. Lex Polyglott. col. 4003.
F15 Mariani Reatini Catalog. Reg. Aethiop. in De Dieu in loc.
F16 Hist. Ethiop. l. 3. c. 2.
F17 In De Dieu in loc.
F18 Mela, v. 1. p. 22. Alex. ab Alex. l. 2. c. 2.

Acts 8:27 In-Context

25 After they had given their testimony and proclaimed the Lord's message, Peter and John went back to Jerusalem. On their way they preached the Good News in many villages of Samaria.
26 An angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This road is not used nowadays.)
27 So Philip got ready and went. Now an Ethiopian eunuch, who was an important official in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia, was on his way home. He had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was going back home in his carriage. As he rode along, he was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to that carriage and stay close to it."
Scripture taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.