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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Acts 8:4-8; 8:26-40

Story Summary

After Stephen was stoned, the believers scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. In this story, we learn more about one of the 7 original deacons that were set apart, named Philip. Philip went to a town in Samaria (where the Northern Kingdom was) and ministered there. An angel came to Philip and told him to go south, towards the desert road to Gaza. Look at a map of the area and you can see that Samaria is north of Jerusalem, and Gaza is southwest of Jerusalem. Philip didn't know why he was supposed to go to that road, who he was supposed to see, or what was supposed to happen. But he went anyway. Which Old Testament figure does that sound like? (How about Abram?)

As he traveled towards Gaza, he met an important man from Ethiopia (check that out on a map to see how far he traveled). This man was in charge of the treasury (all the money) in Ethiopia for Candace the Queen. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship for some reason. There are many theories about this man's status: whether he was a Gentile convert to Judaism, whether he was a descendant from the Queen of Sheba referenced in the Old Testament, whether he was part of the lost tribe of Dan, etc. For the purposes of this lesson, we know that he wanted to worship in Jerusalem for some reason, and since he was reading the book of Isaiah, we can infer that he had some knowledge and commitment to Judaism.

As Philip saw this Ethiopian man and his chariot, the Holy Spirit told him to approach it. This was the reason he was sent southward! Philip overheard the Ethiopian reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. "'How can I?' he said. 'I need someone to explain it to me.' So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." (Acts 8:31)

Then Philip proceeded to explain to the Ethiopian that the portion of Isaiah he was reading was actually about Jesus. And he explained the Gospel (Good News) to him. The Ethiopian apparently accepted his message, because as soon has he saw water, he asked Philip if there was any reason he shouldn't be baptized. So they went down to the water and Philip baptized him. Then something miraculous happened. As soon as they came up out of the water, Philip immediately disappeared and he found himself in Azotus! (refer back to the Bible map to see where this was). Philip spent some time there preaching and went up to Caesarea, which was up north off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Remember Acts 1:8? "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (ESV)

In this story, we see the believers scattered from Jerusalem because of the stoning of Stephen and subsequent persecution of the believers, into Judea and Samaria, Philip ministering in Samaria and then converting a man outside of Israel ("the ends of the earth").

What You Will Need

Supplies
New Testament map (showing Jerusalem, Samaria, Gaza, Caesarea, and Ethiopia)

Resource Sheet

Philip baptizes the Ethiopian Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Philip baptizing the Ethiopian he met when God told him to go south.

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Is there a subject in school that is difficult for you to understand? Who helps you understand it?

In our story today, we are going to meet a man who was reading the Bible, but couldn't understand what he was reading.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Acts 8:26-40

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What was Philip doing in Samaria? (he was part of the Christians that were "scattered" because of persecution and Stephen's stoning)
  • Where did God tell Philip to go? (south, towards Gaza)
  • Who did Philip meet on the way? (an important man from Ethiopia)
  • What was this man's job in Ethiopia? (he was in charge of all the money for the queen)
  • What was the man riding in? (a chariot)
  • What did God tell Philip to do when he saw him? (to approach the chariot)
  • What did Philip hear the Ethiopian doing? (reading from the book of Isaiah)
  • Did the Ethiopian understand what he was reading? (no, he asked Philip to help him understand)
  • What did Philip tell the Ethiopian about what he was reading in Isaiah? (that it was really about Jesus, and then he told him about the Gospel)
  • What did the Ethiopian want to do when he saw water? (be baptized)
  • What happened to Philip as soon they came up out of the water? (he immediately found himself in another town - Azotus)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, the Ethiopian official heard the Good News that Jesus came to earth, died for our sins, and raised from the dead and is alive today. Then he immediately accepted the message and was baptized.
  • If someone asked you what the Good News about Jesus is, could you tell them?
  • Have you accepted the Gospel and been baptized?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Reinforcement Activities

Chair-iot Races

Scripture On his way home he was sitting in his chariot. He was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 8:28

Supplies two light weight chairs, four stong adults

  • Divide into two teams.
  • Put two adults on each team.
  • The adults will carry the chair, with a student sitting in it down to the finish line.
  • The first team to get all of the students to the finish line, wins.

Explain Old Testament Scriptures

Scripture So Philip ran up to the chariot. He heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you’re reading?” Philip asked. “How can I?” he said. “I need someone to explain it to me.” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:30-31

Supplies Bibles

  • Have the children look up the scriptures below in their Bibles. You can either have all the students look up each one and choose one child to read it, or give each scripture to a different student to read (just keep in mind that not all students will be comfortable reading aloud).
  • After they read the scripture, lead a discussion about how these Old Testament scriptures pointed to Jesus.
  • Start with Isaiah 53:7-8, which is the passage the Ethiopian official was reading.

Chariot races #2

Scripture On his way home he was sitting in his chariot. He was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. Acts 8:28

Supplies 2 wagons

  • Divide into two groups.
  • Have students take turns pulling another student in the chariot wagon.
  • The first team to get all of their students to the finish line, wins.

Follow the Instructions

Scripture An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. “Go south to the desert road,” he said. “It’s the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Acts 8:26

Supplies paper, pens

  • Choose a student to give instructions to the rest of the class on how to draw a basic house.
  • Choose a student that is not very detailed oriented.
  • Tell the students to take what the instructor says very literally in their drawings.
  • The students cannot ask questions, simply follow the directions.
  • Following directions is very important.
  • Philip followed the angel's instructions, even through he didn't know exactly where he was going and why.

Baptizing Ketchup Ethiopian

Heads up! Check your ketchup packets to see if they will float. If not, try a different type.

Scripture As they traveled along the road, they came to some water. The official said, “Look! Here is water! Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Acts 8:36

Supplies water bottles, ketchup packets or other sauce packets, permanent markers

  • Test your ketchup packets to make sure they float.
  • If desired, use permanent markers to draw a picture of the Ethiopian on the back of the ketchup packets.
  • Place one packet into the water bottle.
  • The packet will sink to the bottom when you squeeze the bottle.
  • Release and the bottle and the packet will rise to the top.

Lego Chariots

Scripture On his way home he was sitting in his chariot. He was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. Acts 8:28

Supplies legos, wheels

  • Provide legos and wheels for the students to make chariots.
  • Encourage them to be creative.