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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Philip the Apostle

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Of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter ("by dwelling", apo; but of Capernaum "by birth", ek; Greswell): John 1:44-45. Associated with Andrew; both, alone of the apostles, have Greek names. Jesus Himself called Philip. When "wishing (Greek) to go forth into Galilee. He findeth Philip and saith (with His deeply significant call), Follow Me." The first instance of Jesus calling a disciple: it was on the morrow after the naming of Peter, and the next but one after Andrew's and the other disciple's visit, the fourth day after John the Baptist's witness concerning Christ (John 1:19; John 1:35; John 1:40). The Lord probably knew Philip before, as the latter knew Hint as "son of Joseph" (expressing the ordinary belief), John 1:45. Converted himself, Philip sought to convert others; "Philip findeth Nathanael and saith ... We have found Him (implying his sharing with Andrew, whose words he repeats, in the hope of Messiah, John 1:41) of whom Moses in the law did write, Jesus of Nazareth."

Sincere in aim, defective in knowledge; for it was Christ who found him, not he Christ (Isaiah 65:1); and Jesus was Son of God, not of Joseph His reputed father, husband of Mary. To Nathanael's objection, "can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip replied with the best argument, experimental proof, "come and see" (Psalms 66:16; Psalms 34:8). Probably they had before communed together of the divine promise of Messiah. Philip stands at the head of the second group of the twelve (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14); coupled with his friend and convert Nathanael, Bartholomew. (See BARTHOLOMEW.) Clemens Alex. (Strom. 2:25) identifies him with the disciple who said, "suffer me first to go and (wait until my father dies, and) bury my father" (Matthew 8:21); but Jesus said, cf6 "let the dead (in sin) bury their (literal) dead: follow thou Me" (the same words as at his first call), cf6 "go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (1 Kings 19:20; Leviticus 10:3; Leviticus 10:6; Ezekiel 24:16-18).

To Philip Jesus put the question concerning the crowd faint with hunger, "from whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? to prove Philip (so Deuteronomy 8:2; Matthew 4:4) for Jesus Himself knew what lie would do" (John 6:5-9). Philip failed, on being tested, through unbelief; "two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one of them may take a little" (Numbers 11:21-22). Philip was probably the one whose duty was to provide for the daily sustenance of the twelve; or rather Luke's (Luke 9:10) notice that the desert where Jesus fed the multitude "was belonging to Bethsaida" gives us the key to the query being put to Philip; he belonged to Bethsaida (John 1:44): who then was so likely as Philip to know where bread was to be got? An undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. Andrew here (John 6:8) as in John 1 appears in connection with Philip.

In John 12:20-22 Greek proselytes coming to Jerusalem for the Passover, attracted by Philip's Greek name, and his residence in Galilee bordering on the Gentiles, applied to him of the twelve, saying, We would see Jesus. Instead of going direct to Jesus, he first tells his fellow townsman Andrew (a mark of humility and discreet reverence), who had been the first to come to Jesus; then both together tell Jesus. The Lord then spoke of His Father as about to honour any who would serve Jesus, and cried: "cf6 Father, glorify Thy name; a voice came, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again"; "He that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me" (John 12:28; John 12:45).

This saying sank deep into Philip's mind; hence when Jesus said, cf6 "if ye had known Me ye should have known the Father, henceforth ye know and have seen Him," Philip in childlike simplicity asked,"Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (John 14:8-11). As he had led Nathanael and the Greeks to "see" Jesus, so now Jesus reveals to Philip himself what, long as he had been with Jesus, he had not seen, namely,cf6 "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father ... I am in the Father, and the Father in Me " (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15, "the image of the invisible God"; John 1:18). He was probably of the fishing party with his friend and convert Nathanael (John 21:2). He was in the upper room with the praying disciples after the ascension (Acts 1:13).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Philip the Apostle'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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