We are all familiar with the name Philip in the Bible, but how many know that there are several Philips? There is Philip the Apostle, [Matthew 10:3] and Philip the Deacon, or Evangelist [Acts 6:5], who were followers of Christ. Two of the Herods were also called Philip. One was Philip of Ituraea who beautified the Biblical town of Caesarea Philippi. He seems to have been the best of Herod the Great’s three sons.
The city of Philippi, a Macedonian town, was named after Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. It was in this town that Paul, with Silas, Luke and Timothy, met with the women at the river for prayer. [Acts 16:13]. Paul and Silas also were imprisoned in Philippi. [Acts 16:23]. Later he would pen the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians. It is one of the most personal of all Paul’s letters.
The church that Paul established in Philippi represented the first major penetration of the Gospel into Gentile territory. It was the first church in Europe. The writer had the privilege some years ago of visiting the ruins of Philippi. Paul’s miraculous release from prison was accompanied by a “great earthquake” [Acts 16:26]. Philippi was eventually destroyed by volcanic activity.
PHILIP THE APOSTLE
His hometown was Bethsaida of Galilee and no doubt he was a close friend of Andrew and Peter who lived in the same fishing village [John 1:44]. It is almost certain that he was first a disciple of John the Baptist. It was when Jesus came to John to be baptized that Philip was called by Jesus to “follow me” [John 1:43]. He became a disciple of Christ and is listed fifth in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Philip found Nathanael and told him he had found the Messiah. Nathanael was somewhat skeptical but Philip’s response was “come and see” [John 1:46]. Thus Nathanael met Christ.
Philip is often characterized as being timid and retiring. At times he seemed to have difficulty in grasping the meaning of the Kingdom of God [John 14:8-14]. He served as a sort of contact man for the Greeks and is well-known for bringing Gentiles to Jesus [John 12:20ff].
The last Scriptural mention of Philip is in the upper room with the disciples before Pentecost [Acts 1:13]. His days after this are shrouded in legend and mystery, but the best tradition says that he did mission work in Asia Minor. The historian Eusebius says that he was “a great light of Asia” and that he was buried at Hierapolis in modern day Turkey.
PHILIP THE EVANGELIST
This Philip does not occur in the Gospels, but his story is told by Luke in the Book of Acts. He was one of the famous seven deacons said to be “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” [Acts 6:2]. He was a Hellenist, a Greek-speaking Jew, and as a deacon in the early Church served under the Apostles.
After the martyr death of Stephen, many of the Christians were scattered because of the ensuing persecution. The deacons, like Philip, began to preach as missionaries. It is said that Philip preached in Samaria with great success. “The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” [Acts 8:6].
Some of Philip’s converts were Simon the sorcerer of Samaria [Acts 8:9-13] and the Ethiopian eunuch [Acts 8:26-40]. Most of his ministry seems to have been centred along the Mediterranean seaboard where, following the Lord’s command, he preached to the Gentiles. It can be seen how Paul dwelt at Philip’s house in Caesarea. [Acts 21:8]. Philip had four unmarried daughters who were also engaged in the Lord’s work. Little else is known of Philip’s later life.
“FISHERS OF MEN”
“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” [Matthew 4:19]
It was no coincidence that the first disciples of Jesus were fishermen. No occupation, not even the shepherd, exercises and develops the elements of soul-winning more than fishing. There are two main types of biblical fishing – angling and dragnet fishing. Both are found in Habakkuk 1:15.
The angler is a picture of the individual soul-winner. He is an individual fishing for single fish. He must be persistent and patient. He uses a fine line that suggests tact. And he takes care not to let himself be seen.
Drag net fishing is a picture of the united congregational effort to win souls. There are four classes of people involved – The rowers (elders) put the boat in the right place. Some, on board, cast the net (preachers and teachers) The rope haulers (prayer warriors) keep the net in position. The stone throwers (those who get the fish into the area of the net). There is something for every Christian to do. Let us all follow Christ and become fishers of men.