Principles from Philips Ministry
Philip is one of the seven men of “good reputation…full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom”
chosen in acts 6 for the purpose of serving the body in what was essentially the soup kitchen of
Jerusalem. These men were chosen by the congregation and appointed by the apostles. These men although under the apostles an not the “leaders/ preachers” of the church did not neglect however the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ( Philip was faithful in the seemingly “un-glamorous” part of ministry - Serving tables.)
Sadly, Stephen, one of the seven, was martyred by Paul, who was at that time Saul, not long after the ordination. Stephen was not the only person who was martyred and the church in Jerusalem and Judea was being hunted out and persecuted by Saul (Act 8:3). “The congregation at Jerusalem was sadly disrupted” (Lenski 315) . Because of this “those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4b).
Acts 8:5 say “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.” In many ways this was a bold move on the part of Philip (Bruce 177) . There was a “longstanding cleavage, going back to early times” between Judea and Samaria (Bruce 176) . Yet even though there was a racial division the people of Samaria still listened to Philips preaching. (Philip had courage to go where needed.)
The fact that the crowd was of “one accord” and “giving attention” to what was said by Philip in verse 6. Is a testimony to the fact that God approved of Philips boldness and work. Not only was Philip preaching the word, but he was also performing signs that authenticated the message (Walvoord and Zuck 372) . Many believed the “good news.” His “message in Samaria was the Messiah that it, that Jesus was the Christ” (Harrison 1138) . (Philip simple preached that Jesus was God and repentance.)
As a result of God using Philip many were baptized in a profession of faith both men and women alike. (The gospel is not gender specific like many false religions.) While in Samaria Philip ran into a man by the name of Simon who was practicing magic and claiming to be someone of great power. He [Simon] prayed on the fears and superstitions of the people to make himself great.News of Philips ministry, the work being done in Samaria, reached the ears of the Apostles in verse 14, And in verse 15 the Apostles Peter and John came down and prayed that the new believers might receive the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to note that, Philip is not mentioned once in verses 14- 25. He seems to just fade out of the picture while Simon comes back into the picture and tries to buy the Holy Spirit. (“Philip’s aim in his ministry was just the reverse of Simon’s aim in his sorcery. The latter sought popularity and influence for himself; the former sought to attract men to the Savior. And, accordingly any increase in the knowledge, any confirmation in the faith of the Savior, was to Philip a matter of pure joy, because he sought people’s souls, and not their suffrages” ( Hasting 123) .)
Philip comes back into the picture in verse 26 of Acts 8. While Peter and John went back to Jerusalem, Philip was called by “an angel of the Lord” to the dessert of Gaza. While there Philip sees an Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot and is told by the “Spirit” to go up and join it. (Philip was sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.)
When Philip drew near the chariot he over heard the eunuch, who was an official in the court of Queen Candace, reading from Isaiah 53. Upon hearing this Philip asks the eunuch is he understands what the passage is referring to. (Philip uses an innocent question to initiate sharing the gospel.)
In response the eunuch invites Philip onto the chariot. Where “beginning from this scripture he preached Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:35). And so, “Philips persuasive exposition of the Servant’s [Jesus’] passion found it’s way home to the Ethiopian’s heart; apparently he also told him…that the appropriate response to such good news was repentance and baptism for the remission of sinsand the reception of the Holy Spirit” (Bruce 189) . (Philip used the prophecy of the suffering servant, the scriptures, to preach Jesus.) This can be seen because, upon seeing the some water the eunuch requested to be baptized. In response to the eunuchs request Peter said “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:37). And so the Eunuch was baptized.
The fact that Philip was so willing to witness to a gentle is interesting because it “put him face to face with the question of receiving Gentiles into the church. The apostle had not as yet encountered the question: ‘on what terms and in what manner are Gentiles to be received?’”( Lenski 337) (Philip was on a mission from God…he did what he was commanded to do. And fulfilled the commission found in Act 1:8.)“When he came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch no longer saw him,” (Acts 8:39). Peter was taken to “Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Ceasarea” (Acts 8:40). (Preaching/ Evangelizing was a habitual thing for Philip.)
Ceasarea is where Philip seems to stop and make a home. The next time we see him is in Acts 21:8 twenty years later (Bruce 191) . Philip’s dedication to the gospel and training people in the ways of Christ does not stop however. Because in Acts 21:9 it tells us that Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses. (Philip gave attention to the training of his family in the ways of God.) In Summary, Philips ministry was an incredible one. He went from being a somewhat no name deacon to a full fledge evangelist. In many ways, “Philip was his [Paul’s] precursor in application of the same, both in zealous missionary operations and, especially, in opening the door of the church to non-Jewish believers” (Hastings 118)
And on top of everything, Philip proved himself to be a humble man. He went out as a commissioned missionary approved by the congregation and apostles in Jerusalem – even though he was going out on his own, he was still willing to be under the apostles authority.
Bruce, F.F. Commentary on The Book of The Acts. Grand Rapids: EERDMANS, 1981.
Harrison, Everett F. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.
Hasting, James. Greater Men and Women of The Bible. Vol. 6. Edinburgh: T. And T. Clark, 1916.
Lenski, R.C.H. Commentary on the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers, 1934.
Zuck, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Colorado Springs: Davic C. Cook, 1989.