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

9 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 might power we have has children of The Most High God.Thanks for the revalation.

    September 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

  8. Lyness bwalya

    awesome

    September 9, 2018 at 5:48 pm

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