Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Was Philip transported miraculously after the Ethiopian was baptized?

After Philip baptized the Ethiopian treasurer, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea” (Acts 8:39-40NIV). Was Philip miraculously transported to Azotus, a town that may have been 30 km away? Luke, the author of Acts, would have heard about this event directly from Philip as he stayed with him in Caesarea (Acts 21:8-9).

What happened to Philip is described by the Greek word harpazo (Strongs #726), which is translated above as “suddenly took. The other occasion this word is used by Luke is when Paul was in Jerusalem and the Jews accused him of speaking against their religion: “The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks” (Acts 23:10). Here harpazo is translated “take by force”. In both cases someone is suddenly moved away from where they were – it is as though someone has seized them. In the second case it was via means of the troops and in the first case it was via means of the Holy Spirit.

In this brief account we are told that Philip left the Ethiopian suddenly after the baptism at the direction of the Holy Spirit. There is no clear evidence in the text that any other miracle was involved and such a miracle is not necessary to explain what happened. For example, Philip could have been shown that he had to leave the Ethiopian immediately and then travelled by the normal means of transport to Azotus. After all, that’s what happened when Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to travel to Macedonia instead of to Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-10). In Paul’s case, they “got ready at once to leave for Macedonia”.

Philip’s sudden departure meant that the Ethiopian was unable to thank or reward Philip for his help. Instead of being occupied with the person God used to assist in his conversion, he was occupied with Christ as “he went on his way rejoicing”, which is much more important than Philip’s mode of travel.

Written, June 2012

18 responses

  1. Joshua Jones

    Thank God for understanding.


    July 20, 2016 at 11:02 pm

  2. JJ

    who else disappeared then reappeared in the Bible?


    May 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

  3. E. Flint

    This explanation is very reasonable. Thank you.


    August 8, 2017 at 6:40 am

  4. AJith

    Clearly the txt says, ethiopian did not see philip.


    November 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    • Thanks for the comment Ajith.

      Yes, the Bible said that the eunuch did not see Philip any longer after Philip left. This is not surprising as the eunuch was traveling south towards Ethiopia, while Philip traveled north to the town of Azotus (Ashdod). So they went is opposite directions.


      November 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

  5. Adriko

    Thanks, was researching on getting caught away


    February 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm

  6. Pingback: Philip’s Transport – Brent's Musings

  7. Lyness bwalya

    Wow what great and mighty power we have as children of The Most High God. Thanks for the revelation.


    September 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

  8. Lyness bwalya



    September 9, 2018 at 5:48 pm

  9. Martha D MAY

    What about the means to travel? Must the needy be forgotten 4ever? Wheel not revive us again?


    October 21, 2018 at 5:22 pm

  10. Alejandro ibarra

    Just totally ignored the original question. Was he miraculously transported by the spirit of the Lord? Yes rejoice that the Eunuch was saved Hallelujah! God is great! But the original question is was Philip taken away by the Spirit? Answer yes he was. It was an immediate departure. For it says “the Eunuch could not see him [Philip] anymore”. It was a sudden and miraculous departure that only the Spirit of the Lord can do! If you read it in the physical sense you won’t see it, but if you read it in the Spirit, it will be clear as day! Shine a little light on it. And all will be clear! God bless u all! Peace be unto you all! I love you all!


    November 19, 2018 at 12:24 am

    • Thanks for the comment.

      The Bible says that, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” (Acts 8:39). But it doesn’t say how he was taken away. Some believe that it was miraculous. But this is an inference, and not a certainty.

      Barnes says, “It is not wise to suppose the existence of a miracle except where the effect cannot otherwise be accounted for, and except where there is a plain statement that there was a miracle”.

      When Luke describes the miraculous disappearance of Jesus, he doesn’t use the Greek word harpazo (Strongs #726), which is used in Acts 8:39.

      So, whether it was miraculous is a debatable matter.


      December 14, 2018 at 7:23 pm

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  12. louie

    I believe that Phillip was directed away and Phillip began his journey to Azotus


    May 11, 2019 at 12:28 pm

  13. It is clear in the context of the text that Philip had gone through a type of supernatural transportation. If you continue reading it says that Philip found himself at Azotus. Please stop spreading misinformation about the scriptures and just let people see the text for what is says.


    November 18, 2019 at 2:05 am

  14. Thanks for the comment.

    The Bible says, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again”. None of these words mean “a type of supernatural transportation”. Just because he left suddenly doesn’t mean he didn’t use the normal means of transport. Whatever the means of transport, the eunuch wouldn’t see Philip again if they travelled in opposite directions.


    January 7, 2020 at 7:10 pm

  15. Jonah Reeves

    I agree with brother George Hawke. What matters here is the Ethiopian was saved.


    April 26, 2020 at 3:38 am

  16. I think it happened exactly how the Bible explained it after all we are talking about the holy spirit


    June 29, 2020 at 1:17 pm

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