1. One of the twelve apostles, a native of Bethsaida in Galilee (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18). Tradition has it that he was the one who requested of Jesus that he might first go and bury his father (Matt. 8:21, 22).
The Man of a Timid, Retiring Disposition
Unlike Andrew and John, Philip did not approach Jesus, but waited till He accosted him and invited him to join His company. Andrew and John found Jesus—Jesus found Philip, whose name is a Greek one both by custom and derivation. A Jewish name he must have had, since all the apostles were Jews, but what it was remains unknown.
In three lists Philip is bracketed with Nathanael as companion and fellow worker. Both were Galileans. This Philip must not be confused with Philip the Deacon, considered below. We never read of the later Philip before Pentecost, nor of Philip the Apostle after Pentecost.
The conversion and call of Philip are expressed simply: “Jesus ... findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me” (John 1:43). The call to faith and to follow came at once, and Philip was ready for both. The impressive feature of his conversion is that as soon as Christ found him, Philip sought to bring others to Christ. The convert became a soul winner. “Come and see,” he said to Nathanael, and he won his friend.
When the hungry multitude gathered around Christ at the Sea of Galilee, Philip was tested by Christ (John 6:5). Philip was singled out for a test of his faith, and for a great opportunity, which he lost, and with it lost a blessing. Instead of telling the Master that He was able to feed the hungry crowd, Philip made a mental calculation of how much food would be necessary to give each person a portion, and how much it would cost, and declared the project to be impossible. The seeking Greeks were led to Philip but although he sympathized with their request to see Christ, he was afraid and almost lost another opportunity (John 12:21). Yet Philip experienced familiar friendship with Jesus, for did He not call him by name? Slow to apprehend truth, he missed much, but Jesus had nothing but kind words for him (John 14:8). Tradition tells us that Philip died as a martyr at Heirapolis.
2. A son of Herod the Great and husband of Herodias. This was the royal Philip, who, disinherited by his father, lived a private life (Matt. 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19).
3. Another son of the above Herod who was tetrarch of Iturea (Luke 3:1).
4. One of the seven deacons of the Church at Jerusalem who had four daughters (Acts 6:5; 8; 21:8).
The Man Who Loved to Evangelize
Philip was not content to serve tables, he loved to preach the Word, and was most successful in revival work. He was not a man to act on his own authority. He was a God-sent and Spirit-controlled evangelist (Acts 8:26-30). When the Spirit said, “Go,” he obeyed with alacrity.
I. After the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip preached in Samaria with great success (Acts 8:4-8).
II. He led the Ethiopian to Christ and was the means of introducing Christianity to a heathen country (Acts 8:26-39).
III. He preached from city to city until he reached Caesarea (Acts 8:40).
IV. His four daughters were also preachers.
V. He had a godly home (Acts 21:8), in which Paul loved to stay, for he and Philip were like-minded.