The Disciples: Philip

Philip is a Greek name meaning friend and friend of horses.  Many believe the disciple Philip may have spoken Greek.

We first meet Philip right after Jesus has called Andrew and Simon Peter to follow him.  It is possible that Philip was one of two {the unnamed} disciple who was following John the Baptist.  When John the Baptist saw Jesus and said “Look the son of God”, we are told the two discples left John to follow Jesus.  We are told one of those disciples was Andrew, who went in search of his brother {Peter}.  The other is unnamed, however the next scripture states Jesus went searching for Philip.

“The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.”  {John 1:43}

Jesus went into Galilee, but we are not told what Philip was doing there.  Nothing we are told Jesus “findeth Philip”. Why would Jesus be searching for Philip unless he was one of the disciples who left John to follow Jesus?   

Scripture does not tell us what Philip’s occupation was, but many scholars believe he was a tradesman of some type.

“Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.”  {John 1:44}

Philip would have known Andrew and Peter and were probably friends. Again, this friendship and the fact we know Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist, make it likely Philip was the other disciple.

Notice the very next thing we are told about Philip.

“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  {John 1:45}

Philip finds his friends and tells him about Jesus.  He believes Jesus is the Messiah because he tells his friend, “we have found him, of whom Moses…and the prophets, did write.”

“And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.”   {John 1:46}

Philip invites his friend to come and see Jesus and what he has to say.

Later, Jesus has been inundated by a multitude of people.

“When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?…  Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.”   {John 6:5,7}

A great multitude has followed Jesus and he needs to feed them.  Jesus turns to Philip to inquire where to find bread to feed the men. Philip states that either what they have on hand or are able to financially acquire is not enough to feed this crowd. Although Philip has been with Jesus and witnessed his miracles, he is unbelieving in the power of the Messiah.  However, Jesus takes the two loaves and five fish of a little boy and shows his power by multiplying it.

We do not see Philip for a while, until right before the crucifixion.  Jesus has raised Lazarus from the grave and is now approached by the Pharisees, probably while at the temple.

“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.”  {John 12:20-21}

Philip runs to Simon Peter

The Greeks approach Philip, which emphasize the idea he is of Greek birth.  They want to see Jesus.

“Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”  {John 12:22-23}

Philip told Andrew what the men wanted and together the two men went to tell Jesus, who states His time has come.

A short time later, Jesus is with his disciples in the Upper Room {Last Supper} and telling them about the kingdom of God.

“Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?”  {John 14:8-9}

Philip and Jesus

The NIV puts Philip’s words this way, “show us the Father and it will be enough for us”.  Again, after three years of following Jesus, Philip wants proof.

Jesus tells him, “if you have seen me you’ve seen the father.  This should be good enough for you.”

Philip is last mentioned in the list of disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  {Acts 1:13}

There are four more mentions of Philip in the book of Acts.  Most Bible scholars believe this to be Philip the Evangelist, who is a different person from Philip the disciple.  Scripture does not indicate if they are the same or different people.

So what happened to Philip the disciple?

We have to turn to the historical record for additional information. The Acts of Philip, “Philip was sent with his sister Mariamne and Bartholomew to preach in Greece, Phrygia, and Syria.”

It seems Philip went to Greece and the surrounding areas to spread the gospel.  Being of Greek heritage, this would make sense. 

Philip leaves to spread the message

The Act goes on to say, “According to this account, through a miraculous healing and his preaching Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside-down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip’s preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. Another legend is that he was martyred by beheading in the city of Hierapolis.”

Philip is often associated with the Latin cross, as the patron saint of hatters, and with the cross of Philip, which is a sideways cross.

Relics of Philip are in a crypt of Basilica Santi Apostoli, Rome.

In 2011, archeologist found a tomb which they believed is the tomb of Philip in Denizli, Turkey.

How many times do we have the unbelief of Philip in Jesus power?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.