This Sunday School Lesson teaches children the story in Acts 8 about Philip and the Ethiopian. This was an important moment in the early church and Philip was obedient to God’s Spirit when he shared the Good News with a stranger. Students will be challenged to listen for God’s leading and immediately obey.
This Bible lesson was first written for Sunday School but could also serve as a children’s church lesson based on Acts 8.
Bible Story: Philip’s Divine Appointment with an Ethiopian Eunuch
Scripture: Acts 8:26-40
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Boxed cake mix, shampoo bottle, construction paper/card stock in ellow, black, red, white and green, Map of New Testament Bible times.
Learning Goal: Students will learn the importance of hearing God’s voice and immediately obeying His directions.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate understanding by reenacting the story and answering review questions. Students will also be able to share the Good News while practicing with other classmates.
Learning Activity #1: For an activity for students as they arrive have them make their own wordless books. Provide yellow, black, red, white and green pieces of construction paper or cardstock. Another option would be to make bracelets with the yellow, black, red, clear and green beads. As the students make the book/bracelet discuss what each color represents. When completed have students pair up and share the wordless book with each other as a way to practice sharing the Good News.
Learning Activity #2: After the story allow students to reenact the story. After they reenact the story let them practice sharing the Good News.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: John 10:27
Bible Lesson: Philip’s Divine Appointment with an Ethiopian Official
(Give Bibles to any student who needs one. This is a guide to help teach this lesson. As the Holy Spirit directs you in your planning He will show you how to best present the story to your class.)
(Have your cake mix and shampoo bottle where students can see them.) Why is it important to follow instructions? (Allow answers.) This cake mix has instructions on it. It even has pictures to help us understand even better what we should do. (Discuss several different outcomes by skipping certain instructions on the box. Not turning on the oven-raw cake, using motor oil instead of cooking oil, etc.) Even shampoo bottles have instructions on them. What would happen if we lathered up our hair and didn’t rinse?
In our daily life if we make a mistake and don’t follow a cake recipe correctly we may have to throw it away. As believers if we don’t follow God’s instructions for our lives we miss out on something more important than eating a piece of cake. We miss out on His best for us and the blessing we receive as a result of our obedience.
How do we know what God’s instructions to us are? He gave us His instructions to us in the Bible. We can know what we are supposed to do to please Him and we can know what doesn’t please Him. We can know how to have eternal life by reading His Word. We can also know what our purpose on this earth is by reading God’s Word and spending time with Him. We can also know God’s instructions from pastors and teachers who teach God’s truth to us.
The Bible is our instruction manual for this life and if you and I have been saved by faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection we have the gift of the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. He gives us instructions if we have learned to recognize His voice.
(Introduce Memory Verse here.)
If we are a believer and we choose not to spend time each day in the Bible and prayer we are skipping a very important instruction in our lives. (Isaiah 50:4 “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”) As believers we belong to God and He has work for each one of His children to do. Remind me what Jesus commanded each of His disciples to do before He returned to heaven? (Go into all the world and make disciples. Matthew 28:19-20)
In order to be able to do God’s Work we need to be obedient to His voice and direction every day of our lives.
We have an example of someone who heard clearly God’s instructions and immediately obeyed. Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 8:26. Choose a volunteer to read.
(If you taught Acts 8:1-25 review with the class what they remember about Philip from last week.)
Philip obeyed Jesus’ instructions and left Jerusalem and went to Samaria to preach the Good News. Crowds of people saw God’s power working through Philip and when they heard the Good News about Jesus they believed in Him. Because Philip obeyed Jesus’ instructions many lives were changed in Samaria because they heard the Good News about Jesus and believed in Him.
While in Samaria what did the angel of the Lord instruct Philip to do? (Go south to the road-the desert road-that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.) Show a map of where Philip is and where the angel told him to go.
Philip received instructions and didn’t hesitate to obey. He immediately obeyed this message from God. He didn’t ask questions or argue with God. He didn’t tell God he would do it later, he went immediately where God told him to go.
What is your response when God clearly tells you what to do? Do you obey immediately or do you make excuses and delay your obedience to God’s instructions?
It’s important to stop and think about how to recognize if God has clearly instructed you what to do. Has there ever been a time when you know God clearly spoke to you and told you what to do? (Allow students willing to share to answer.) Sometimes people think that God only spoke to the people in the Bible. Maybe children might think that God only speaks to adults? 1 Samuel 3:1-18 shows us that God spoke to a young boy named Samuel. At first Samuel didn’t know it was God. When the priest Eli realized that it was God speaking to Samuel he told him what to do. Samuel heard God’s voice at a young age. God speaks to children today too.
No matter how old we are, how would we ever know if the God of the universe is speaking to us? Whatever we think He is saying to us would have to be in agreement with what the Bible teaches. If we think God told us to sin we are not hearing God’s voice.
The first time we hear God’s voice He is calling us to be saved from our sins. He helps us to understand that we are sinners and that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. He was buried and rose again so anyone who believes in Him can be forgiven and have eternal life.
The moment a person believes in Jesus we become one of His sheep. (John 10) A sheep will only follow the voice of their shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd of His sheep. “When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger in fact, they will run from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:4-5
Believers become familiar with the Shepherd’s voice by spending time with Him every day reading His Word and talking with Him. The more a believer spends time with Jesus the easier it is to recognize if He is giving us instructions or not. When we obey Jesus’ instructions He continues to guide us in the direction God has for us in our lives.
Philip obeyed God’s instructions immediately and began walking where the Lord instructed him to go. As he traveled down the desert road he heard the rumbling of horses carrying a chariot coming in his direction.
Sitting in that chariot was a man all the way from Ethiopia. (Show Ethiopia the map) He was an important official (leader) in the land of Ethiopia. He was a treasurer for Candace Queen of Ethiopia. A treasurer is someone who takes care of money. This man had travelled all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship God. This man was not yet a believer in Jesus but he was a man who was seeking God and wanted to do what pleased Him. To travel the distance he did to worship in Jerusalem shows he had a desire to know God and love Him.
Did you know that everyone who comes to church has not been saved? Many people come to church just like this Ethiopian man. They have a desire to know God and want to please Him and they come to church because that’s the place they hope to learn more about Him. Sometimes people come to church because they know it’s the right thing to do but they have never placed their faith in Jesus.
While the Ethiopian is traveling in his chariot he is reading Scripture. As he is traveling and reading the Holy Spirit gives Philip another instruction. Let’s read what He says in Acts 8:29. In order to understand this instruction let’s act it out. (Put two chairs in the center of where you are teaching. Have a student sit in the chariot with a bible open in his/her lap. Have another student jog in place next to the chariot.)
Imagine if today God told us to jog alongside of a bus to keep up with someone reading a passage of Scripture today. How do you think we would have responded? If God actually told us to do that we would definitely need to pray for strength to be able to run and keep up! Maybe Philip did that as he ran alongside the chariot. We don’t know because it’s not written in the Scriptures.
Running alongside the chariot Philip heard the Ethiopian reading Isaiah out loud. Do you ever read God’s Word out loud? Sometimes if I am having a hard time focusing in my quiet time I read out loud. It helps me to stay focused. As Philip hears this man reading God’s Word he has the wisdom to know the right thing to ask. When we are obedient to God’s instructions He gives us wisdom to know what to say in our circumstances. Let’s see what Philip asks in Acts 8:30.
Philip is such an exciting example as an obedient follower of Jesus! Sharing the Good News is like knocking on doors of people’s hearts. Sometimes God tells you to share with someone and they don’t even seem to hear what you said. It’s like the door stayed closed and you are not able to lead that person to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Sometimes you share the Good News and the person says ‘I have wanted to know how to be saved but no one has told me how’. That’s like a door that swings wide open for you to share the Good News and pray with that person to become a believer in Jesus!
Philip has the opportunity to share Jesus fly open when the Ethiopian says, “How can I understand unless someone explain it to me?”
Let’s pause and see some of the possible answers that Philip could say. He could have said, “There’s this apostle back in Jerusalem named Peter. He is an incredible speaker and he is very knowledgeable about God’s Word. You should go listen to him.” Maybe he could have said, “I would love to share with you about that passage but I am hungry and tired from traveling this hot desert road. Can you meet me tomorrow at this same time?”
Thankfully, Philip was following his Shepherd and obeyed His instructions. He had wisdom to see that this man was truly seeking God. When he was invited to sit in the chariot he immediately accepted.
The passage the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah was from chapter 53. Have volunteers read Acts 8:32-33.
The Ethiopian turns to Philip and says, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet Isaiah talking about, himself or someone else?”
Again the door is wide open for Philip to continue to share the Good News with this man and he begins using this passage of Scriptures and told him the Good News about Jesus.
Because Philip explained the Scriptures to this man he now understood. He saw some water and said, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Some versions leave 37 out.) (Acts 9:37 NKJV) “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.”
The Ethiopian gave orders for the chariot to stop. He and Philip climbed out. Philip took the Ethiopian man down to the water and baptized him.
This Ethiopian man’s life was changed forever because he believed in the Lord Jesus. He now understood what God had written in Isaiah about Jesus. He believed in Jesus and his sins were forgiven. To show that he truly believed and was a believer in Jesus he was immediately baptized.
This man had an important job working for Queen Candace in Ethiopia. Because Philip was immediately obedient to God’s instructions he was returning to Ethiopia as a believer in Jesus. We have no idea how many people’s lives would be changed in this country because of his faith in Jesus.
Let’s imagine for a minute what might have happened if Philip didn’t obey immediately and begin to travel on that road. Perhaps the chariot would not have been there and the Ethiopian man would have returned to his country never hearing the Good News about Jesus. Philip’s example teaches us the importance for believers to obey Jesus’ voice immediately. We do not know how God is working in the lives of those around us. This week let’s pray that each day we would listen carefully for God’s instructions and be quick to obey what He tells us to do.
Close in prayer.
- Where can a believer find God’s instructions for his/her life? (The Bible)
- Who gave Philip a message to travel to Gaza? (An angel of the Lord)
- What did Philip see when he was traveling on the desert road? (An Ethiopian riding in a chariot reading the Book of Isaiah)
- What was the Ethiopian’s job? (He was treasurer for the Queen)
- Who told Philip to stay near the chariot? (The Holy Spirit)
- How did Philip help the Ethiopian man? (He explained the Bible to him and how Jesus is the Promised Savior that was written about in Isaiah.)
- Why did the Ethiopian want to be baptized? (He believed in the Lord Jesus.)
- Who took Philip away so the Ethiopian didn’t see him anymore? (The Spirit)
- Why was it important for Philip to immediately obey the Lord’s instructions? (The Ethiopian man may not have heard the Good News and been saved)