As a black woman, living in America, its good to know that even though some don’t acknowledge our existence, God does. In fact, we’re in the Bible. Oh, I’m not talking about in the Old Testament, I’m talking New Testament. Go with me to Acts 8:28 which says, ‘…behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship…’ Here we see an African man on his way back to his home country of Ethiopia, when he stops by a nearby travel center where he decides to relax and read. While reading Isaiah 53:6-8, he gets confused because it says, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ While pondering its meaning, a guest notices he appears to be struggling, and asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch responds, ‘…“How can I, unless someone guides me?”, and later invites, ‘…Philip to come up and sit with him.’ The two begin to talk about Isaiah 53:6-8 when the eunuch asks, ‘…of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip, full of excitement, begins to tell him about Jesus. The eunuch is now excited and asks, “…What hinders me from being baptized?” The two quickly go to a nearby swimming pool where Philip commences to baptize the eunuch; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
An Ethiopian CFO
After hearing that account, you can walk away only enthused about the eunuch receiving salvation. But if you are an African or an African American, then these verses mean so much more. For starters, this wasn’t your ordinary eunuch. According to The Encyclopedia of the Bible, a eunuch is a male officer of the king’s court, who’s primary responsibility is to oversee the women on the staff1. Understanding this may come across as sexist, but that was his role. With that being said, this particular eunuch was the queen’s Chief Financial Officer. Therefore, this was a highly educated, wealthy, and influential man. Now, when we insert what we know about his background and apply today’s vernacular, the verse could read, ‘…behold, an [African] man [from] Ethiopia, a [Chief Financial Officer]…of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who [oversaw the queen’s portfolio which included stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, art, and private investments2]…came to Jerusalem to worship.’ As a black woman, this tickled me because this meant that not only was this a black man, but a highly educated, wealthy and influential black man, smack dab in the middle of the New Testament. But it gets better.
This is a highly educated, wealthy, and influential black man who reads the Word of God. So much so, that he takes the time to read the Bible, at a rest stop, in the middle of the desert where he’s met by Philip. Philip was a Jewish refugee, who’d recently been forced out of Jerusalem due to religious persecution, which meant he was now an unemployed waiter. While fleeing, ‘…an angel of the Lord spoke to [him], saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” In other words, God sent an angel to tell a Jewish man to go talk to a highly educated, wealthy, and influential black man about the Word of God! But don’t miss the irony. God sent a Jewish waiter to help a black CFO. I point out the color issue only because we, as a people, have saw ourselves as less than. We’ve been the servers, the waiters, and the refugees. But not so in this instance.
A Black Man Makes Spiritual History
On another note, I know there are some that will say that black people are the originators of the Word of God. To you, I choose not to argue because honestly, I don’t know. Oh, I know about Cush, the descendants of Noah and I’m well aware of the Ethiopians mentioned in the book of the prophets, the king of Ethiopia mentioned in 2 Kings and yes, I’m totally aware that Moses went black and never went back with an Ethiopian woman in Numbers 12. But a New Testament mention? Though I am not degree'd in African Studies, I do know that this was the first mention of any black man receiving the Holy Spirit.
‘…the eunuch said, “…What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God…so…Philip…baptized him.’ (Acts 8:36-38)
Notice I said Holy Spirit, not the Word of God. Our African brother and sisters had the Word of God, as evidenced by the eunuch’s reading of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. However, they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit. How do we know this? Because the Holy Spirit didn’t come until AFTER the death of Jesus, which meant this exchange happened approximately five to seven years after Pentecost. Therefore, the first mention of a black man specifically receiving the Holy Spirit was an Ethiopian CFO. But I should also note that there were Egyptians present at the time of Pentecost as cited in Acts 2:10. But even in that instance, the Holy Spirit came through a Jew.
Financial Empowerment for a Nation
Getting back to the point. God sent an angel to tell a Jewish waiter to go baptize a black CFO because He wanted to ensure this CFO was filled with His Holy Spirit! God could’ve sent Philip to any black man. One that was in a village, at a well, or one sitting by the road begging. But He didn’t. God sent Philip to a Chief Financial Officer that oversaw a royal portfolio which included: stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, art, and private investments. That is significant because now you have a Bible-reading, Holy Spirit-filled, tongue-talking CFO, taking the Holy Spirit back to his native country. But not just to a tribe or village because unfortunately, that’s what comes to mind when some think about Africa. But to his king and queen’s kingdom. The best part about it is that he no longer needed a ‘white man’ to teach him; he was now filled with the Teacher; the Holy Spirit who’d open up the scriptures for him. Because of the nature of his vocation, he would now be privy to life-changing biblical financial strategies.
When I tell you Acts 8 has changed my life, it has changed my life, as I pray that it does for you. Never again will I allow someone to tell me Christianity is a white man’s religion because I found a part of my heritage in the scriptures.
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1 – Encyclopedia of the Bible. Arndt, 323, 324; AIs, 121; K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (1966), 165, 166.
2 – “Portfolio”. Investopedia. Investopedia LLC. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.