The Disciples: Philip, who listened to the voice

Like Peter, Andrew, James, and John, Philip was a native of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. He was one of the earliest disciples, for he received his calling from Jesus the day after they did. The likelihood is that he, too, was a fisherman. He was also responsible for introducing another of the apostles, Bartholomew, to Jesus. He is mentioned in connection with the feeding of the five thousand, where Jesus asks him, “‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ But this he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little’” (Jn 6:5-7). Again, he is shown in discourse with Jesus shortly before the crucifixion. “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it will be sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Jn 14:8-9).

Although the first three Gospels record his name (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), it is in the Gospel of John that Philip becomes a living personality. The Gospel of John shows Philip as one of the first to whom Jesus addressed the words, follow me: The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and 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.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. – John 1:43-46 This story tells us two important things about Philip. First, it shows his right approach to the sceptic and his simple faith in Christ. Second, it shows that he had a missionary instinct.

Finally, Philip is listed among the apostles and disciples who were praying in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Philip was a man with a warm heart and a pessimistic head. Yet, this simple Galilean gave all he had. In return God used him. According to tradition, Philip preached in Phrygia in the Roman province of Asia (today western Turkey).  He is said to have had two daughters who remained celibate throughout their lives, in order that they too might give themselves completely to a life of service

Some scholars disagree that the Philip in Acts 6:5, one of the seven ordained deacons is the same Philip. Some do believe this is the Apostle. If this is the same Philip, he had a successful campaign in Samaria, he led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ (Acts 8:26) and he stayed with Paul in Caesarea (Acts 21:8) and was one of the major figures in the missionary enterprise of the early church. It is said that he died a martyr, in Hierapolis by hanging. While he was dying, he requested that his body be wrapped not in linen but in papyrus for he was not worthy that even his dead body should be treated as the body of Jesus had been treated.

The emblem of Philip is a basket, because of his part in the feeding of the five thousand. It is he that stressed the cross as a sign of Christianity and victory. The Tau cross and the spear indicate the manner in which he surrendered his life for Him who is the Bread of Life.

How do you invite people to come to Jesus? So often I reckon I complicate it. Philip had it right, giving the simple invitation to Come and See.

PRAYER: Lord God thank you for the call you make on our lives to follow you. Help us to take seriously the call to invite others. May we live our lives for you, and, in such a way that others will want to Come and See you for themselves. Lord, please shine through. In Jesus Name, AMEN

SONG: Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?


(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)