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Who was Philip in the Bible?


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Philip in the Bible
Question: "Who was Philip in the Bible?"

There are four different men named Philip mentioned in the Bible. Phillip was the name of two of King Herod the Great’s sons by different wives (Luke 3:1 and Matthew 14:3). The other two Philips in the Bible were servants of Christ and instrumental in the early church: Philip the disciple and apostle of Christ, and Philip the evangelist.

The disciple named Philip was, along with Peter and Andrew, from Bethsaida in Galilee (John 1:44; 12:21). Jesus called Philip, who had been a disciple of John the Baptist’s (John 1:43), and then Philip went and found Nathanael and told him about Jesus. Nathanael also became Jesus’ disciple. The Bible does not contain much biographical detail about Philip or any of the other disciples, but John records several times when Philip spoke to Jesus.

Philip’s first recorded act as a disciple of Jesus was to go and tell his friend Nathanael. Later, Philip was approached by some Gentiles, more specifically, Greeks from Bethsaida who asked Philip to introduce them to Jesus (John 12:20–22). Philip was the disciple who calculated the amount of money it would take to feed the 5,000 (John 6:7). After the Last Supper, Philip requested that Jesus show them the Father, leading to Jesus’ statement, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8–9). The last time the Bible mentions the disciple Philip is as one of those gathered in Jerusalem to pray after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:13). Tradition states that Philip went to Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey) as a missionary and was martyred there in Hierapolis.

The other Philip is usually distinguished from the disciple of the same name by calling him “Philip the evangelist” or “Philip the deacon.” It is often assumed that this Philip was one of the seventy-two men whom Jesus sent out in Luke 10:1, although the Bible doesn’t make that connection. We do know that Philip was one of the original seven deacons selected to serve in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5). Philip had a heart for evangelism, and, when the “great persecution” arose in Acts 8:1, Philip left Jerusalem to become an evangelist in Samaria (Acts 8:5–12). After the church in Samaria was started, Philip was used by the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch, a member of the court of Candace, the Ethiopian queen. Philip found the eunuch sitting in his chariot, reading Isaiah and trying to make sense of the prophet’s words. Philip offered to explain, and the eunuch invited him to come up and sit with him. In the end, the eunuch was saved and baptized (Acts 8:26–39). Immediately following the baptism, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away to Azotus, where he continued to preach the gospel in the towns from there to Caesarea (Acts 8:40).

Twenty years later, Philip is mentioned again, still in Caesarea (Acts 21:8–9). Paul and Luke and others were traveling to Jerusalem, and they stopped at Philip’s home in Caesarea. They stayed with Philip for several days. Philip had four virgin daughters at that time, all of whom had the gift of prophecy. That is the last time the Bible mentions the evangelist Philip.

Recommended Resource: The Great Lives from God's Word Series by Chuck Swindoll

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Who was Philip in the Bible?

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