Some notes on Isaiah 55-56 and Acts 8

September 23, 2008

I.      Isaiah 40-56:8 (40-66)

·       The portion of Isaiah is prophecies relating to the people of God’s return from Babylon, i.e. the redeemed of the Lord’s freedom from exile

·       These passages feature some of the most staggering language about who God is and what He does. Four themes are consistent in this section:

             o      The greatness of God (consider 40:25-31; 42:5-9; 45:5-7; 51:12-16)

             o      Faith language such as “fear not” and “wait” (consider 40:31; 41:10; 43:1; 51:5)

             o      The Servant of the Lord in context of salvation, forgiveness of sin, and God’s rightouesness (consider 48:9-11; 49:5-7; 51:4-8; 52:13-53:12

             o      The salvation of the nations (consider 42:6-9; 45:22; 49:6; 55:5; 56:6-8)


§       Isaiah 55:1-56:8

                o      The salvation of the Lord will soon come, His deliverance will be revealed (56:1)

                o      The salvation of the Lord extends to foreigners, even to eunuchs. The “eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths” refers to God-fearing Gentiles, for the Lord will “gather yet others to him besides those already gathered” (56:3-8).



II.    Acts 8:26-40

·       To put the book of Acts in context we must begin with the command of Jesus in 1:8. Our Lord said, “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” (1:8, emphasis mine).

·       Luke patterns his book to be the going forth of that command. After being witnesses in Jerusalem (1:1-7:60) the narrative picks up after Stephen’s martyrdom and we see explicitly that Christians were scattered “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (8:1; also 8:4, 25). And then in chapter 9 we see the conversion of Paul who was called to minister the gospel to Gentiles (9:15). The next is Peter’s vision and numerous Gentile conversions (10:1-48), followed by the missionary activity of Paul (13:1-3).

·       But before all this happens notice the narrative insert by Luke in 8:26-40. We see the gospel coming to a Gentile, God-fearing eunuch who is reading the book of Isaiah.

Okay, so what does this mean?


            Luke was reading the prophet Isaiah and understanding the mission of the church to be the fulfillment of those prophecies. We must understand that our calling to preach the gospel is not disconnected from the Lord’s consummation of His purposes! When we read the glorious words of Isaiah and see the amazing activity of the church in Acts we should not pass it off as a bygone era. Rather, it is continuing to the glory of God until the time He has appointed, and we are dissolved into the continuation and graciously called to be a part of its fulfillment.




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