Philip the Evangelist

Profile of Philip, Eager Servant of God

Philip the Evangelist
Philip the Evangelist explains the Scriptures to the Ethiopian man. Public Domain

Philip the evangelist was an eager servant who grew into greater responsibility with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Philip first appears in the book of Acts, chapter six, when members of the early church argued over the fairness of food distribution to widows. The Hellenistic Jews complained that their widows were overlooked by the Hebraic Jews when the food was passed out.

The twelve apostles did not want to take time away from teaching and prayer to oversee this charity, so they asked the congregation to choose seven men "full of the Spirit and wisdom." The group picked Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Later, when the church was persecuted after the stoning of Stephen, Philip fled to a city in Samaria and told the people about Jesus Christ. Because of the exorcisms and healings Philip did, many believed and were baptized. Even a sorcerer named Simon came to Christ. Peter and John followed Philip to Samaria, baptizing the new believers, who received the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after, an angel appeared to Philip, telling him to go to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There Philip found an Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot, reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. When Philip explained what the prophecy meant, he told the eunuch about Jesus. They came to some water, and the eunuch insisted on being baptized.

Then something miraculous happened. As they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. Philip reappeared at the city of Azotus (Ashdod), then traveled north, preaching the gospel until he reached Caesarea.

Nothing more is heard of Philip for 18 or 19 years, until the apostle Paul stopped in Caesarea on his way to Jerusalem. Paul and his companions stayed at the house of Philip, who by that time had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

Accomplishments of Philip the Evangelist:

Philip helped spread the gospel to Africa through his conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.

He also took the good news of Jesus to Samaria, a land scorned by the Jews. He followed in the footsteps of Jesus, who offered salvation to the Samaritan woman at the well.

Strengths of Philip the Evangelist:

Philip was obedient to the apostles and the Holy Spirit. He did what he was commanded to and went where he was sent with no objection.

Life Lessons:

  • Philip willingly accepted a troublesome task, dealing with arguing factions to make sure everyone was treated fairly. When we understand our daily duties as being pleasing to God, we gain his strength to persevere.
  • In his work at Caesarea, Philip toiled in obscurity for nearly 20 years. When Luke, the writer of Acts, encountered him again, he called him Philip the evangelist. If no one seems to recognize your faithful service, always remember that God does.

References to Philip in the Bible:

Philip's story is told in Acts chapters 6, 8, and 21.

Key Verses:

But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12, NIV)

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

(Acts 8:39, NIV)

(Sources: Smith's Bible Dictionary, William Smith; The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger; Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor.)