Philip the evangelist – the disciple in whose footsteps I wish to walk

Recently I wrote an article about the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8. Seeing this man’s sincere desire to understand the prophecy from Isaiah chapter 53 concerning the Lord Jesus, God commands Philip to go down the road leading down to Jerusalem at Gaza to explain to the eunuch the meaning of these passages in the book of the prophet. The eunuch was returning from Jerusalem, where he had worshipped. The events that happened in that place made the city and the whole country astonished: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the birth of the Church, the martyrdom of Stephen, the persecution against the faithful, whose number had risen to over five thousand, not counting women. When the eunuch arrived to worship, all Jerusalem was already filled with the doctrine of the apostles, so Philip’s message was not foreign to the court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.

We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. (Acts 5:28)(NASB)

I am impressed by the eunuch, but I am more impressed by God, who rewarded the faith of this man with salvation. God is found by those who seek Him. How well the words of the author of the book of Hebrews fit here:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)(NASB)

Also, I am impressed with Philip’s personality. In fact, in this article I wanted to write about him. What an example of Christ’s disciple is this Philip! When the angel spoke to him to go forth to proclaim the gospel to the eunuch, Philip was in the city of Samaria, where he repented and baptized men and women after his preaching. Philip came to Samaria following the persecution that began in Jerusalem after Stephen’s martyrdom. Like Stephen, Philip was a man full of the Holy Spirit. He was one of the seven men who were elected to serve at tables (deacons) in the Church of Jerusalem (see chapter 6).

But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:12)(NASB)

To reach Samaria on the road where the eunuch passed, Philip had to travel about 80-90 km. As soon as he received the commission from the Lord…

Philip got up and went (Acts 8:27)(NASB)

When reached the eunuch’s chariot, Philip asked him if he understood what he read:

Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. “In humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.” The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” (Acts 8:30-34)(NASB)

The answer of Philip was not delayed:

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. (Acts 8:35)(NASB)

Because he knew the Scriptures well, Philip was able to give the eunuch the interpretation of the passage from Isaiah. I wonder if Philip hadn’t known the Scriptures thoroughly, could God have used him in such a wonderful way? We all like to read how the Holy Spirit snatched Philip after he preached the gospel to the eunuch, and we want God to use us with the same power. But how many of us value the study of the Holy Scriptures, the teaching? God will never be able to use a Christian who has no spiritual discipline to study the Bible and pray. You can no longer use the excuse that you don’t like language and literature or to read books. It is imperative for any Christian to study deeply the teaching of Jesus, and this involves a great deal of dedication and discipline.

Another important thing was that Philip preached to him the baptism in water as a part of the Gospel.

As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36)(NASB)

It happens that when proclaiming the gospel, many Christians today hesitate to talk to people about baptism. Maybe they do not give it too much weight, or they are afraid to scare the person. However, both Philip in Samaria and Peter at Pentecost preached to men the baptism with the Gospel. They gave importance to the Savior’s command which said,

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16:16)(NASB)

What a dedicated man was Philip! How beautifully he made himself available to God in the Church of Jerusalem, then in the city of Samaria, then in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch. Then we see him preaching the Gospel in all the cities on the road from Azot to Caesarea.

But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:40)(NASB)

A man dedicated to God will always preach the gospel. This is the call of any disciple of Christ.

Philip didn’t entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life. He was a soldier of Christ, who sought to please the One who enlisted him as a soldier. Perhaps you will say that he did not have a family, and that he was able to make himself fully available to God. It is not so – Philip was a married man.

On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. (Acts 21:8-9)(NASB)

He was not just married, but he also had 4 children. These verses reveal another beautiful side of Philip. As a head of the family, he knew how to arrange his priorities in life. The family did not prevent him from proclaiming the gospel. Moreover, he set aside time for his daughters, and he taught them the Scriptures deeply, raising prophetesses from them. Philip served God with the whole family, and his house was always open to host the servants of the Lord Jesus.

I am deeply touched by this disciple of Christ, and I wish to follow in his footsteps.

Translated by Elizaveta Bîrlădeanu