In the first three (Synoptic) Gospels Apostle Philips name appears only in the list of 12 Apostles. In all the three lists Apostle Philips name comes together with the name of Apostle Bartholomew (Mt 10, 3; Mk 3, 18 & Lk 6, 14). The Acts of the Apostles also gives the list of the Apostles. In it Philips name comes together with the Apostle Thomas (Acts 1, 13).
But we know more about Philip from the Gospel according to John. Jesus called Andrew and his brother Simon first and then on the next day he called Philip.
In the first chapter of Johns Gospel we read about Philips call and about his first missionary activity The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, Come with me! Philip was from Bethsaida, the town where Andrew and Peter lived. Philip found Nathanael and told him, we have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.
Can anything good come from Nazareth? Nathanael asked. Come and see, answered Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he said about him, Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him!
Nathanael asked him, How do you know me? Jesus answered, I saw you when you were under the fig-tree before Philip called you.
Teacher, answered Nathanael, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel. (Jn. 1, 43-49).
This encounter of Jesus with Philip and Nathanael tells us a lot. First, Philip too like Andrew and Simon hails from the village of Bathsaida. Second, Philip followed enthusiastically Jesus call to follow him. And third, from the day one Philip started his apostolic ministry. He brought Nathanael to Jesus.
The second reference to Philip in Johns Gospel is in the context of a miracle. Jesus does a miracle of feeding 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes.
Jesus looked round and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, so he asked Philip, Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people? He said this to test Philip; actually he already knew what he would do.
Philip answered, For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread.
Another of his disciples, Andrew, who was Simon Peters brother, said, There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But they will certainly not be enough for all these people.
Make the people sit down, Jesus told them. (There was a lot of grass there.) So all the people sat down; there were about five thousand men. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God, and distributed it to the people who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted. When they were all full, he said to his disciples, Gather the pieces left over; let us not waste any. So they gathered them all up and filled twelve baskets with the pieces left over from the five barley loaves which the people had eaten (Jn. 6, 5-13).
Here Jesus first speaks to Philip about feeding the people. Perhaps Jesus had entrusted the responsibility of feeding Jesus and his followers to Philip. But Philip cannot even imagine feeding a crowd of 5000 people. So he says to Jesus, For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread
So Philip must have been surprised when Jesus told him to make people sit on the ground. Then, after everyone has eaten their full, seeing the 12 baskets filled left over food with other people Philip must have felt or said, This man was really the Son of God.
Philip must have been a very sociable person. On the last visit of Jesus to Jerusalem we notice the apostolic ministry of Philip.
Jesus has made glorious entry into Jerusalem with people welcoming him singing hosannas. Then, some Greek speaking people wanted to meet Jesus. But they did not go straight to Jesus. They came to Philip with their request that they want to meet Jesus.
John in his Gospel has given a picturesque description of the scene.
Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, Sir, we want to see Jesus.
Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory. I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains (Jn. 12, 20-24). Perhaps Philip taking those Greeks to Jesus must have said to them, come and see.
Lastly, during the Last Supper of Jesus with the twelve Apostles, the conversation between Jesus and Philip is noteworthy.
Jesus answered him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Now that you have known me, he said to them, you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and you have seen him.
Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father; that is all we need.
Jesus answered, For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Why, then, do you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe, Philip, that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I have spoken to you, Jesus said to his disciples, do not come from me. The Father, who remains in me, does his own work (Jn. 14, 6-10).
From all that we read in Johns Gospel about Philip we can see that most probably Philip was a very sociable and open-minded person. We get an idea of Philips simplicity from the conversation between Philip and Jesus.
The Christians around the world according to different rites celebrate Philips feast on different days in the month of May.(Contact:
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