Day 329: The Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts 8:1-4 Stephen’s death set off widespread antagonism and violence toward Christians, with Saul among the key perpetrators. Many Christians fled Jerusalem and spread throughout Judea and Samaria. The dispersion had an unintended effect, however, of hastening the expansion and growth of the Christian community through the witness of these refugees and the introduction of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It also fulfilled our Lord’s words that the faith be taken from Judea to Samaria. As Tertullian observed, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians” (Apol., 50, 13: PL 1, 603). (CCC 852)

Ch 8:1 Except the apostles: The Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, possibly to minister to the Christians remaining there and to govern the Church from the Holy City. (CCC 1575)

Ch 8:5-8 According to the plan of Christ, the Gospel was now taken beyond Judea to Samaria.

Philip: This Philip is the deacon rather than the Apostle. He, like Stephen, performed mighty works of healing. (CCC 1086)

Ch 8:9-25 There is a danger in naively confusing seemingly miraculous works with true religion. Magic and sorcery deceive through sleight-of-hand or dark powers, whereas true miracles are works of God. Simon was one such magician who was amazed by the works of the Apostles and was baptized, but he never quite made the distinction. He lacked true faith: He sought not union with Christ but the power to work miracles like the Apostles. For reasons of vanity and ambition, he sought these powers, forgetting that miracles are worked to strengthen faith and are motives of credibility for faith. To his credit, he repented of his sin. The buying or selling of spiritual things or of Church offices is called simony, after Simon Magus. Stipends for Sacraments or contributions toward the expenses involved in a liturgy, however, are not considered simony because the spiritual benefit is not contingent upon the monetary gift. (CCC 2121-2122)

Ch 8:14-19 The Spirit had not yet fallen: The practice of Baptism and the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit correspond to the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Confirmation, respectively. Both, along with the Eucharist, are essential rites of initiation into the Church but sacramentally distinct. (CCC 699, 1288, 1315-1321, 2777)

Ch 8:26-40 Eunuch: Such a castrated male often held high governmental offices; he apparently made pilgrimages to Jerusalem but, as a eunuch, could neither enter the Temple nor become part of the Jewish community (cf. Dt 23:1). There exist no such obstacles to Baptism in the New Covenant. The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch reveals not only the power of Scripture but also the need for the teaching authority of the Church to interpret it. (CCC 334)

Ch 8:32-35 This passage is from the Song of the Suffering Servant (cf. Is 53:7-8), a messianic prophecy that applies directly to Christ. The Suffering Servant, a rejected Messiah, sacrifices his own life to atone for the sins of all people. (CCC 601)

Ch 8:36 Water is an essential sign of Baptism. Sacraments effect what they signify, which is, in the case of baptism, the cleansing of all sin. By active participation in the rites, the faithful can more fully appropriate the graces conferred in the Sacraments. (CCC 1234)

Ch 8:36 Other ancient authorities add verse 37: “And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” The belief that Jesus is the Son of God is the basis of the Christian identity.

(CCC 454)

Romans 13:1-7 Christian faith and good citizenship go hand in hand and should never be opposed to one another. The Church recognizes that civil authority is necessary to provide order in a community, protect the rights of all, and to ensure the common good. As sharers in this responsibility, Christians are morally obligated to live in obedience to the civil law as long as it is just, i.e., does not transgress the moral law or offend human dignity. (CCC 1897-1900, 1918-1927, 2238, 2240)

Ch 13:4 Bear the sword: Paul here refers to the death penalty, which for citizens of Rome at that time was by decapitation, and implicitly acknowledged its use for criminal acts. The Church today acknowledges the licit use of capital punishment under very extraordinary and restricted circumstances when there are no other mans available to protect society from the perpetrator. Today, the death penalty virtually does not need to be applied in industrialized nations, where criminal justice systems can efficiently keep dangerous criminals securely imprisoned. (CCC 2266-2267)

Ch 13:6-7 The obligation to pay taxes and to respect the civil government is mitigated only when it conflicts with our duty to God and to keeping the moral law. (CCC 2240)

Ch 13:8-14 The moral law must be kept, but we should do so out of love for God and neighbor rather than merely out of fear or obligation. To love our neighbor as ourselves includes the whole body of natural law. Christ will judge us at the end of time on our deeds, especially acts of charity. Paul used the cycles of darkness and daylight as a metaphor for the evils of the present age and the dawning of eternal life. (CCC 1227, 1425)

Ch 13:14 Put on the Lord Jesus Christ: This image stresses the intimate union we must have with Christ that is likened to putting on a garment. (CCC 1227, 1425)

Ch 14:1-12 Matters of personal preference that are not sinful should not disrupt the Christian community. All should live to serve Christ and to die for Christ. The New Commandment of Love requires no less than mutual respect and understanding among the faithful. God will be the ultimate judge of our actions. (CCC 1971)

Ch 14:1-4 Paul defended the freedom of those who, because of their preference for abstaining from meat and observing some Jewish devotional and legal practices, are said to be “weak in faith.” Most likely these were Jewish converts to Christianity. Dietary choice is a matter of legitimate diversity and must not become a divisive issue within the community. (CCC 582)

Ch 14:5-6 Some Jewish Christians still observed the Sabbath, which was a holy day and day of rest under the Old Law. They also kept Sunday as the Christian day of worship since it was the day of the Resurrection and, therefore, the Lord’s Day. Paul advised the Gentile Christians not to complain about the Jewish Christians since their Sabbath worship was still done to honor God and, therefore, not a detraction from the Sunday observance. (CCC 348, 2171, 2175, 2190)

Ch 14:7 Because the Christian community is spiritually united to each other through the Communion of Saints, every actual sin, therefore, damages this unity and at the same time, every good deed builds and strengthens the Communion of Saints. (CCC 953, 1475)

Ch 14:9 In his divinity, Christ transcends time and space. Having risen from the dead, he is the Lord of all creation and all human history, and, in a special way, he meant to rule the human heart, giving full meaning to human life. (CCC 668)

Ch 14:11 God deserves our praise and adoration simply because he is God, even apart from any consideration of his mighty works. (CCC 2649)

Ch 14:13-23 Paul warned about the danger of causing scandal to others, using the example of eating foods that for some was still considered to be unclean. Even though a deed may be objectively innocent and acceptable, we may give scandal if another person mistakenly thinks this same action is sinful. We must not give even the appearance of evil or sin for the sake of those who might be led into sin or whose faith may be weakened. Heaven is compared to a banquet of peace and joy rather than merely an enjoyable meal.

Stumbling block: the object of scandal

For whom Christ died: Redemption is applied equally to all; both Jewish and Gentile Christians should offer each other fraternal support. (CCC 1789, 2770, 2819)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 67: Witness in Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:4-13:1)

As a result of Stephen's martyrdom, the Church in Jerusalem in scattered (Acts 8:1). Rather than being discouraged, the Christians take advantage of their situation to bring the gospel to the regions of Judea and Samaria and even Galilee and Syria. It is during this time, in the city of Antioch, that the believers are first called Christians (Acts 11:26).



  • So...Acts of the Apostles is INCREDIBLE

  • Let’s highlight a couple of things

  • It might be odd that we started off in Acts 8:1, “And…” which basically connects Acts 7:60

  • So you might have thought, “Wait, what? What happened again?”

  • This was when Stephen had been stoned

  • Acts 7:59-60, “...the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul...and he [Stephen] cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

  • And the next verse is Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death.”

  • So that’s in case you were wondering

  • And right after this, Acts 8:1, “...And on that day a great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem…”

  • So here, starting with Stephen, Christians were the persecuted

  • In ONE VERSE, Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death…”

  • That’s one

  • “...And on that day a great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem…”

  • That’s two...PERSECUTION

  • “...And they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

  • Now those are THREE movements

  • Firstly, here is Saul consenting to Stephen’s death

  • Secondly, here is the PERSECUTION arising in Jerusalem

  • Thirdly, here is the SCATTERING of Christians throughout the region of Judea and Samaria

  • Remember what Jesus had said, “You will receive the Holy Spirit, then you will proclaim-basically bring- the Gospel starting here in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria to the ends of the Earth.”

  • This is Jesus’ words being fulfilled

  • BUT…

  • What is the CONTEXT in which they are being fulfilled?


  • GOSH!!

  • We need to pray about this, especially as Christians in the 21st century

  • Sometimes we think, “Well, if I’m going to have the blessing of God....if I’m going to live out the plan, the will of God, it’s going to be prettier.”

  • Right?

  • There’s going to be LESS PAIN

  • There’s going to be LESS PERSECUTION

  • There’s going to be ONLY BLESSING

  • What happens?

  • Here in Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death.”

  • The Church is PERSECUTED

  • That SPARKS the next step of evangelization

  • That SPARKS the next step of the growth of the Church, not just in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria

  • And FURTHER PERSECUTION will SPARK even more growth to the ends of the Earth

  • We have to realize that suffering, obstacles, and persecution DO NOT MEAN THINGS HAVE GONE WRONG

  • Sometimes, that’s just how it goes


  • So we have the little piece here of Philip, one of those who were sent

  • He gets sent out and he begins preaching the Word in Samaria

  • He comes upon Simon, who was a magician who amazed everybody

  • BUT…

  • All of a sudden, they see the POWER of the Holy Spirit

  • Even Simon himself becomes a Christian

  • Peter and John come to that same region in Samaria

  • And here we have the term SIMONY

  • SIMONY is the buying and selling of religious things, sacred things, or blessings, that kind of idea

  • It is a SIN and it comes from Acts Ch 8

  • Here’s Simon the Magician who says, “I want to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles.”

  • Peter has VERY STERN WORDS for him

  • The Church also has VERY STERN WORDS for anyone who would want to buy or sell holy things or buy or sell blessings

  • It is a sin called SIMONY named after Simon Magus

  • Kind of fun

  • Could you imagine your NAME becoming the name of a SIN?

  • It’s fascinating to Fr. Mike

  • The conclusion of Acts Ch 8 is one of Fr. Mike’s favorite stories

  • The Ethiopian Eunuch

  • So here’s this man, and he’s a eunuch

  • So basically he is unable to become a Jew because of his status of being a eunuch

  • He is not allowed to be a person of the OLD COVENANT

  • BUT…

  • He is a GOD-FEARER

  • He has come to Jerusalem to worship even though he can’t participate FULLY in the worship with the people of Israel

  • So he’s fascinated by the Book of the Prophet Isaiah here

  • And Philip...I LOVE THIS

  • The Holy Spirit MOVES Philip to go up to the chariot and ask the question, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

  • And the Ethiopian Eunuch responds, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”


  • The book we have been reading…

  • THE 73 BOOKS we have been reading...and we’re not done yet...we have 30 plus days

  • But the 73 BOOKS we have been going through, they are God’s INFALLIBLE WORD



  • BUT…

  • We all know that they can be MISINTERPRETED

  • We all know that God’s word can be USED and DISTORTED


  • So here’s God’s INFALLIBLE WORD

  • What God’s INFALLIBLE WORD needs for us to impact our lives in a way that is INFALLIBLE is an INFALLIBLE INTERPRETER OF THE WORD


  • Because if I can get the interpretation WRONG, then it is kind of useless, right?

  • So what we need is what the Ethiopian Eunuch pointed out

  • “How am I supposed to understand this unless someone can guide me, unless someone can teach me?”


  • Here is the role of Philip, in this case

  • It’s INCREDIBLE to realize that God has given us that

  • He has not only given us his INFALLIBLE WORD

  • He has given us the TEACHING OFFICE OF THE CHURCH, which is called the MAGISTERIUM

  • To be able to guide the discernment

  • To guide the interpretation

  • To guide our understanding of the Church

  • We are going to see this actually play out over the next couple of chapters

  • After Saul has his conversion, there’s going to be a number of moments where it’s like, “How do I understand this?”

  • How do I understand BAPTISM?

  • How do I understand CIRCUMCISION?

  • And the Church is going to be able to ANSWER THAT QUESTION

  • It’s just a really BEAUTIFUL THING

  • Again, not trying to make too strong of a case there (Don’t worry, in case you haven’t noticed over the last 329 days, I kinda DO try to make a strong case for the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church 🇻🇦⛪️...but don’t take MY word for it, watch this video where someone who looks a bit familiar explains a bit about the Magisterium of the Church Why Catholics Use Scripture and Tradition 😁)

  • BUT…

  • It’s compelling and worth praying about

  • One quick note about Romans

  • What is happening in The Letter of St. Paul to the Romans?

  • Well, one of the things that’s happening...there’s many things, obviously

  • BUT…

  • One of the things that is happening is there is this CALL TO LOVE

  • St. Paul has been talking this whole time about FREEDOM

  • If you’re free from the Law, you are not bound to the Law

  • You are now living by the Law of Love

  • You are now living by the Law of the Spirit

  • So that doesn’t mean you have LICENSE

  • That doesn’t mean you can do ANYTHING

  • Because you have to LOVE each other

  • Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

  • This is a very interesting piece

  • He applies this to the reality that there is some contention and discussion

  • Are there foods that you can eat, like are there foods that Christians can’t eat?

  • For example, are there foods that were offered in pagan temples that now Christians can’t eat because they were part of a religious ceremony offered to a false god?

  • The idea is that some people would say, “That’s completely fine, no big deal. Just eat the meat.”

  • Others would say, “Oh no, that’s SCANDALOUS, because that meat was offered to an idol, it was offered to a false god.”

  • St. Paul is saying, “Ok, whether you eat it or whether you don’t eat it, that’s irrelevant. The most important thing is does your eating of this meat hurt the faith of someone else? Or does the not eating of this meat hurt the faith of someone else? So take into account the people around you.”

  • He’s basically saying in this case, “You can do whatever.” KEEP IN MIND JUST THIS CASE

  • BUT…

  • If what you choose to do is going to hurt the faith of your brother or your sister, then don’t do it

  • Why?


  • It almost seems too easy

  • It almost seems too common sense

  • It almost seems too clear

  • AND YET…

  • When we try to apply it to our OWN lives it’s just so difficult

  • Does that mean I don’t do anything

  • Or do I have to do EVERYTHING because this is going to scandalize my brother or sister

  • We say NO

  • BUT…

  • We just come back down to this

  • The LAW is the LAW OF LOVE

  • If it’s going to HELP my brother or sister, then why not I do it

  • If it’s going to HURT my brother or sister, then why would I do it

  • It means living a DYNAMIC life

  • It’s not about being RIGID

  • It’s not about RULES

  • It’s about saying, “Will this help or will this hurt? If it hurts, I won’t do it. If it helps, maybe I will.”

  • I hope that makes sense!!

  • Romans Ch 13 and 14 is FULL OF GEMS



  • One last note…

  • Romans 13:11-12, “...For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…”

  • It’s just…


  • We’ll let that be the last word today

  • Just to live as in daylight

  • To walk in the light

  • And to recognize that the Lord LOVES YOU!!

  • GOD LOVES YOU, who are listening right now






Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and give you praise. Thank you for being with us today. Thank you for feeding us with your Word, with your Spirit. Thank you for being present to us and shaping our hearts and lighting them on fire. Help us to love you and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Help us to love each other well. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”