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Philip of Bethsaida

Philip (Greek: Philippos tis Bēthsaidaswas born c. AD 10 (3770–3771 in the Hebrew calendar) in the Roman district of Galilee. He was a fisherman from the city of Bethsaida and worked with Andrew and  Peter (John 1:44; 12:21). Philip of Bethsaida should not be confused with the evangelist Philip of Jerusalem, whom the apostles appointed a deacon with Stephen to manage the church's distribution to widows (Acts 6:5).

Philip the Apostle

The synoptic gospel writers simply listed Philip among Jesus' twelve apostles without giving any further details about him (cf. Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14). John, however, provided a little more about his calling as a disciple:

 

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth" (John 1:43-45).


Philip was a very practical man. When they ran out of food for the crowd of 5,000, Philip was the apostle whom Jesus chose to test. Jesus knew he was going to multiply the fishes and the loaves of bread supernaturally just as the prophet Elisha had done (John 6:5-6; cf. 2 Kgs. 4:42-44). Philip answered him, "Six months' wages [200 denarii] would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little" (v. 7). However, Jesus continued to feed the multitude with five loaves and two small fish. 

 

Bringing People to Jesus & Showing the Father

Like Andrew, Philip does not get much coverage in the Bible. Yet, when he does appear, Philip is always asking the practical questions and leading people to know God through Jesus. He served as a Jewish liaison to the Greek community. Although he was Galilean, Philip had a Greek name (Philippos; G5376, "lover of horses"), spoke in the koinē Greek dialect, and had a rapport with the Hellenistic Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem. He informed Andrew that certain Greeks wished to meet Jesus, and they went together to tell him about it (John 12:21). Jesus knew that Greeks usually took issue with resurrection (cf. Acts 17:31-32; 1 Cor. 1:23), so he challenged these men on the topic: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor" (John 12:23b, 25-26). Jesus was teaching them about the doctrines of discipleship and salvation—made perfect in his resurrection and glorification.

During the Last Supper, Philip inquired of Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied" (John 14:8). Jesus responded, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works" (vv. 9-10). Philip's question gave Jesus the opportunity to teach us about the unity of the Father and the Son (see "Tri-Unity: Jew & Gentile Views"). Although the New Testament writers did not mention Philip so much, the apostle's brief appearances lead us to know the some of the most important theological concepts.

Prayer

Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the universe, you gave to your apostle Philip the grace and strength to bear witness to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life: Grant that we, being mindful of his victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

Bibliography
 

The Book of Common Prayer. Huntington Beach, CA: Anglican Liturgy Press, 2019. p. 628http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/BCP2019.pdf.

Houdmann, S. Michael. "Who Was Philip in the Bible?" Colorado Springs: Got Questions, 2021.  https://www.gotquestions.org/Philip-in-the-Bible.html.

 

Kranz, Jeffrey. The Beginner's Guide to the Bible. Bellingham, WA: OverviewBible, 2021.

 

Laurie, Greg. "Who Was the Apostle Philip?" Christianity.com. Richmond: Salem Web Network, 2011. https://www.christianity.com/jesus/life-of-jesus/disciples/what-do-we-know-about-the-apostle-philip.html.

Nelson, Ryan. "Who Was Philip the Apostle? The Beginner's Guide." Bellingham, WA: OverviewBible, 2019. https://overviewbible.com/philip-the-apostle.

Strong, James. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Updated and Expanded Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.