Acts 8:36

36 As they traveled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official said, "Here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized?"

Acts 8:36 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 8:36

And as they went on their way
In the road from Jerusalem to Gaza; Philip preaching, and the eunuch hearing, and conversing in a religious and spiritual way together; and Beza says in one exemplar it is added, "conferring one with another"; about the person and office of Christ, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; as appears by what follows, both by the eunuch's request to be admitted to baptism, and his confession of faith:

they came unto a certain water;
which some say was at Bethhoron, in the tribe of Judah or Benjamin; and others think it was the river Eleutherus; the former is more likely; concerning which Jerom F6 gives this account:

``Bethzur in the tribe of Judah, or Benjamin, and now called Bethhoron, is a village as we go from Aella (or Jerusalem) to Hebron, twenty miles from it; near which is a fountain, springing up at the bottom of a mountain, and is swallowed up in the same ground in which it is produced; and the Acts of the Apostles relate, that the eunuch of queen Candace was baptized here by Philip.''

This place was about two miles from Hebron; since that, according to the same writer F7, was twenty two miles from Jerusalem. Borchardus

F8 seems to place it further off from Hebron:

``from Hebron are three "leucas", or six miles, northward, declining a little to the west, to Nehel Escol, that is, "the brook of the cluster", from whence the spies carried the cluster of grapes; to the left of this valley, for the space of a mile, or half a leuca, runs a river, in which Philip baptized the, eunuch of queen Candace, not far from Sicelech.''

And, according to Jerom F9, Escol lay in the way from Bethzur to Hebron. This account of the historian sets aside that weak piece of criticism on Ac# 8:38
used by some persons; as if when Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, no more is meant, than that they went to the water side, or descended to the bank and brink of the river; seeing, here it is said, they came to a certain place of water; they came to the river itself, or the river side, and after this went down into it.

And the eunuch said, see here is water, what doth hinder me to be
This question shows, that he had some knowledge of the ordinance of baptism, which he had received from the ministry and conversation of Philip; and that he had some desire after it, as regenerate persons have, after divine things, after Christ, his word, and ordinances; and that he was willing to take the first opportunity of submitting to it, but was jealous lest he should not be qualified for it; and therefore modestly proposes the affair to Philip, and desires to be examined and judged by him: and it also suggests, that there are some things which might be a just bar to this ordinance, as want of grace, and a disorderly life and conversation, which were the hindrances to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who came to John's baptism; and these are sufficient ones, even though persons may be born in a Christian land, and of believing parents, and have had a good education; yea, though they may have much notional light and speculative knowledge: but where the good work of grace is begun, and when a soul is spiritually enlightened, and has evangelical repentance for sin, and true faith in Christ, and sincere love to him, nothing should hinder: not any thing on his side; not a sense of his own unworthiness, which will never be otherwise, but rather increase; nor the corruptions of his heart and nature, which will always remain, as long as he is in the body; nor fears of falling away, since there cannot be more danger after baptism than before, and Christ is the same who is always able to keep from it; nor the reproaches of the world, which should be esteemed above riches; and more especially, since to be ashamed of Christ, his word, or ordinances, is highly resented by him; nor the opposition of relations and friends, who, though they are to be regarded and listened to in civil matters, yet should have no sway in religious ones to move from the cause of Christ; nor any difficulty in the ordinance itself, since it is but water baptism, and not a bloody one, such as Christ was baptized with, and some of his followers have been called unto: nor should anything hinder on the side of the administrator, when the above is the case; as not being circumcised, but Gentiles, as in the times of the apostles, ( Acts 10:47 ) so not the former life and conversation of the person, though it has been ever so wicked, as the instances of the crucifiers of Christ, of the jailor, of Saul the persecutor, and many of the Corinthians, show; nor the weakness of grace; the day of small things is not to be despised, nor a bruised reed to be broken, or smoking flax to be quenched: agreeably to this the Ethiopic version renders it, "who doth hinder"

F6 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 89. 6.
F7 Ib. fol. 87. E.
F8 Decscript. Terrae Sanct. c. 9.
F9 Epitaph. Paulae, fol, 59. 6. H.

Acts 8:36 In-Context

34 The official asked Philip, "Tell me, of whom is the prophet saying this? Of himself or of someone else?"
35 Then Philip began to speak; starting from this passage of scripture, he told him the Good News about Jesus.
36 As they traveled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official said, "Here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized?"
38 The official ordered the carriage to stop, and both Philip and the official went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. [Some manuscripts add verse 37:] Philip said to him, "You may be baptized if you believe with all your heart." "I do," he answered; "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
Scripture taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.