“Always a Student” Part 2
Read Acts 8:26-34
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?”, Philip asked. Acts 8:30
The question ‘Why?’ is asked in an effort to deepen understanding on a given subject. There’s something about having understanding that resolves internal grappling and puts human beings at ease. In this way, understanding can be regarded as a motivator to seek knowledge and can also represent a reassuring form of closure.
In the book of Acts chapter 8, the disciple Philip provided much needed understanding to an Ethiopian Eunuch during an impromptu meeting. After having a divine encounter, Philip sets out for Gaza where he finds the important official en route (v26). Instructed by the Holy Spirit, Philip is commissioned to go near and overtake the chariot where the Ethiopian is reading from the Book of Isaiah. Rather than introducing himself formally, Philip’s initial words are, “Do you understand what you are reading?” This question sparks a conversation which results in the Eunuch taking a major step to go deeper in his faith (v36 – v38)
From this conversation we can learn three characteristics about understanding:
1) Understanding is Intentional
Philip doesn’t ask, “what is your name” or “where are you going”. Instead, Philip very intentionally pinpoints the concept of understanding in his address. Philip does this because the Spirit had an agenda to accomplish. By asking this question, Philip directs the discussion down a very specific path. Since no one just happens to understand things by accident, when you are intentional you undertake the specific acts to seek out that which can transform your level of comprehension.
2) Understanding comes from the Spirit
Understanding is a virtue to be sought after. That is to say, it is not something we can assume we possess from the outset. This is why Proverbs admonishes us with the verse, “with all thy getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).” Similarly, 1 Corinthians 2:12 tells us that it is the Spirit who gives understanding. Given that Philip on his own could not do the work to fully explain the passage of scripture to the Eunuch, through the Spirit, Philip could provide the understanding that would meet the Eunuch’s need for further explanation of the passage.
3) Understanding is an Entry Point
Understanding is an entry point to cultivate the seed of the Word. Once Philip was invited to come up and sit with the Eunuch, he could impart on him the understanding to lead him to take a further course of action. Although the Eunuch was already reading, the Word had no impact on him until he understood it. With understanding, we realize that there is further work to be done because it is the purpose of the Word to do a work in us. When you have understanding, you will participate in what God is doing even if it means interrupting your own plans like both Philip and the Eunuch.
In your studies, continue to seek understanding because in the Kingdom of God you are always a student.
Reflection: Do you understand what to do with what God has given you?
Prayer: Father God, I thank You for speaking to me through Your Word. I know that Your Word is intended to do a work in me. I pray for the understanding that I may participate in the work You are doing in my life so that I can go to the next level in my faith. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who gives me understanding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Deborah Nimoh