PhilipGalileeLike nearly all of the Apostles, Philip hailed from the city of Bethsaida in Galilee, the region in northern Israel where Jesus’ ministry was centred.

The interesting thing about Philip, one of the Twelve, is that he was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him. John’s Gospel tells us, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Normally God reaches people through people, but this was an exception to the rule.

We don’t know a lot about Philip. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us no details about him. All the vignettes of Philip appear in the Gospel of John. But from that Gospel, we discover that he was a completely different kind of person than Peter, Andrew, James, or John. He is often paired with Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew), whom he brought to Jesus.

It also would appear from John’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand that Philip may have been in charge of the supplies and food, the road manager of sorts. He was the kind of guy who was practical, always thinking about the bottom line. And on this occasion, Jesus, trying to stretch Philip’s faith, posed a question to him as the crowd gathered: “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip responded, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little” (verse 7). 

Philip is commonly associated with the symbol of the Latin cross.

Other symbols assigned to Philip include: the cross with the two loaves (because of his answer to the Lord in John 6:7), a basket filled with bread, a spear with the patriarchal cross, and a cross with a carpenter's square.

Map PhilipThe journeys of Philip the Evangelist as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, although some can be misleading, as many hagiographers confused Philip the Apostle with Philip the Evangelist.

  • Acts 8:16-40 - Philip went down to the city of Samaria [4] and preached Christ to the people there. His words met with a ready and sympathetic response from the large crowds who listened to him and saw the miracles which he performed.
  • An angel of the Lord said to "Get up and go south down the road which runs from Jerusalem to Gaza [5], out in the desert." Philip began his journey and came across an Ethiopian eunuch, a minister and in fact the treasurer to Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, was on his way home after coming to Jerusalem to worship. He was sitting in his carriage reading the prophet Isaiah. Philip (Acts 8:30-38 following) explains a prophecy of Isaiah, preaches the Gospel of Jesus, and at the eunuch's request, baptises him. (the baptised Ethiopian carries the Gospel on to Africa).
  • Philip continued to Azotus [6] and as he passed through the countryside he went on telling the good news in all the cities on to Caesarea [7].

He may have been martyred in Hierapolis – a city in the province of Phrygia (now modern Turkey) – where he was preaching with his sister Mariamne and the apostle Bartholomew.  It is believed he was crucified - through a miraculous healing and his preaching, Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside-down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip's preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. Another legend is that he was martyred by beheading in the city of Hierapolis.

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