By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Men in the New Testament

  • In Greek, Philip means "lover of horses."
  • In antiquity, the horse was a symbol for freedom as well as nobility. •
  • Among the references to someone named Philip in the New Testament, two people stand out. One is Philip the Apostle; the other is Philip the Evangelist.
  • We know from the Gospel of John that Philip the Apostle was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
  • When Philip found Nathanael, he told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (See John 1:42-45) Presumably, he then introduced Nathanael to Jesus.
  • Philip is included in the apostle lists in the three Synoptic Gospels and Acts, but his name is not necessarily in the same order.
  • Philip plays the largest role in the Gospel of John.
  • Jesus tested Philip during the multiplication of bread by asking him, "Where will we find bread for all these people?" Philip replied that 200 denarii would not be enough to feed them all.
  • According to John, Jesus was very close to Philip.
  • When people wanted to see Jesus, they spoke to Philip. He informed Andrew, and together they went to see Jesus. Jesus responded to the request by saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (See John 12:20-23)
  • Philip had another conversation with Jesus at the time of Passover. When Jesus said, "If you knew me, you would also know my Father…," Philip replied, "Lord, show us the Father, that will be enough." (See John 14:7-8)
  • Jesus rebuked him, answering, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?"
  • We know from Acts 1:13 that Philip was present at the time of Pentecost.
  • According to later traditions, he and his brother and sister were sent to preach in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia.
  • Philip was supposedly martyred in Hierapolis. According to legend, Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city, for which he and his family were arrested and tortured.
  • Philip and his brother were crucified upside down. When Philip continued to preach from the cross, the crowd released his brother. Philip, however, refused to be released, so he died on the cross.
  • Others claim he was beheaded in Hierapolis.
  • Neither claim has ever been verified.
  • Philip the Evangelist is introduced in Acts 6:5 where he was chosen, along with Stephen, to assist with the daily distribution of food. The requirement at that time was to appoint someone who was known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We can, therefore, assume that Philip had these qualities.
  • After Stephen's martyrdom, all, except the apostles, fled Jerusalem in response to the persecution of Jesus' followers (probably led by Paul).
  • Philip preached and performed many miracles in Samaria.
  • During that time, he met and converted many, including Simon Magus. However, none of them received the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came from Jerusalem and laid hands on them. (This suggests that it was not Philip the Apostle.) (See Acts 8:9-17)
  • Upon leaving Samaria, an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
  • Philip obeyed and on the way, he met the Ethiopian eunuch, who was sitting in his chariot, reading from the book of Isaiah the prophet.
  • Philip was instructed to go to the chariot and stay near it. He ran up to it, and asked the man if he understood what he was reading.
  • The man admitted that he did not, whereupon he invited Philip into his chariot so that Philip could tell him what the prophet was talking about.
  • Philip, then, instructed him about the good news of Jesus.
  • When they came to water, the eunuch asked Philip, "What can stand in the way of my being baptized?" Apparently, Philip couldn't think of a reason, so they stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized the eunuch.
  • At that moment, the "Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch could not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing." (Scholars have no explanation for Philip's being "snatched away" by the Holy Spirit other than to say it parallels others who were suddenly transported elsewhere.) (See Acts 8:26-39)
  • Next thing we hear is that Philip is in Ashdod, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
  • He is again mentioned in Acts 21:8-9 when Paul and his companions stayed at his house.
  • By that time Philip had four daughters.
  • A late tradition claims that he finally settled in Anatolia, where he became a bishop of the church.
  • Tradition has it that he died peacefully.
  • Early on, some commentators believed the Apostle and the Evangelist were one and the same. That, however, is highly unlikely.
  • It is not known whether either of these Philips was the author of the Gospel of Philip.

Bible Characters