Witness to the End of the World: A Missional Reading of Acts 8:26-40 -- By: Franklin S. Jabini

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 13:1 (Mar 2012)
Article: Witness to the End of the World: A Missional Reading of Acts 8:26-40
Author: Franklin S. Jabini


Witness to the End of the World:
A Missional Reading of Acts 8:26-40

Franklin S. Jabini1

Abstract

In Acts 1:8, Christ told his disciples that they will be his witness ‘to the ends of the earth’. The article argued that Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 was the beginning of a witness among people who were considered to live at the end of the world. In this article, the biblical account was read from a missional exegetical perspective, and. it discussed the sharing of Christ in a personal encounter and the Christ-centred message based on a translation of the Word of God. This event opened the door for an African to join the worldwide church, the body of Christ. The article concludes with the identification of five general principles that are significant for the church today in light of this passage.

Introduction

In the first half of Acts chapter 8, Luke described how Philip introduced the gospel to the Samaritans.2 In the second half of the chapter, he described an encounter that Philip had with an individual from Africa.

Bevan & Schroeder (2004:13, 21-22) listed the events of Acts 8 as stage four in their Seven Stages of Mission in Acts. This stage is where the ‘Jewish identity of the community is transformed into the church as the community recognizes the Spirit among the Samaritans, in the Ethiopian eunuch’ (p. 13). The two events in this chapter seem to be two different stages in the advance of the missions of the church. If my understanding is correct, the encounter with the eunuch is the beginning of missions to the end of the world. On the day of Pentecost, Jews were present from Egypt and Libya in North Africa (Acts 2:10). However, it is not clear from this passage whether they accepted the good news preached to them on that day. Even if that was the case, they were from the Jewish communities in North Africa.

This paper will analyse the encounter in Acts 8:26-40, the preaching of the gospel to an African, from a missional perspective. In the following pages, I will attempt to understand the identity of the man (the Ethiopian eunuch), the method, and the message of the encounter. In light of this, the paper concludes with five general principles for the contemporary church.

1. The Man

Acts 8:2...

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