Acts 8:26-40

Acts_128Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

The Acts of the Apostles (Acts in shorthand) is the fifth book of the New Testament, and speaks of the history of the early Christian church. As such, Acts is sometimes thought to be more practical in terms of the everyday worshiping practices of Christians than the earlier books.

Acts 8:26-40 largely concerns the dialogue between Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch.

26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. (King James Version)

This passage is very important for showing acceptance of transgender persons, because the eunuch was likely of quasi-Jewish heritage (Acts 8:27-28), thus his sexuality and gender identity would have been a major concern in the Jewish community. By Philip’s acceptance of the eunuch after baptism, the passage carries a powerful message, which is that those who might have been rejected from the faith under the Old Testament due to sexuality or gender identity issues would be welcomed under Christianity. (Childs) Acts 8:37 (which is sometimes omitted) clarifies the condition of acceptance.

Return to Religion, Faith, and the Transgender Person


Childs, James M. “Transsexualism: Some Theological and Ethical Perspectives” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 48.1 (Spring, 2009): 30-31.