Good morning. Before we begin, let’s do a quick review of the 4 apostles we’ve already covered… I will give you a brief description and see if you can guess who I am talking about.
This man was a disciple of John the Baptist before he became an apostle of Jesus. He was enthusiastic about introducing others to Christ, including his own brother. He brought a little boy’s lunch to Jesus, which the Lord then used to feed 5,000 people. Tradition states that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Who was he?
This apostle is often confused with Jesus’ brother because they both have the same name and were both prominent leaders in the early church. He was a member of the “inner circle” of apostles. He and his brother sometimes acted inappropriately and had to be chastised by Jesus. He was the first apostle to be martyred, was put to death by the sword, and was the only apostle whose death is actually recorded in the Bible. Who is he?
This apostle may have also been a disciple of John the Baptist prior to meeting Jesus. He is believed to have been the youngest of the apostles. He wrote 5 books of the Bible, in which he often referred to himself anonymously as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He took care of Jesus’ mother Mary after the crucifixion. Tradition states that he moved to Ephesus, survived being cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, was exiled to the island of Patmos, and eventually died of old age. Who was he?
This apostle was known for his impulsive behavior which sometimes got him into trouble. He briefly walked on the water before starting to sink. He was the first apostle to identify Jesus as the Christ. He cut off the ear of the high priest during Jesus’ arrest. He denied knowing Jesus 3 times, but was later restored for making these denials. After the resurrection he became the leader of the apostles and a pillar of the New Testament church. Tradition states the he was crucified upside down. Who was he?
Great job! Today’s message will highlight the first of yet another pair of apostles who were also brothers. Their names were Philip and Bartholomew. This sermon will be about Philip, and next week we will talk about Bartholomew.
I. GENERAL INFORMATION
The apostle Philip is not referred to by any other name in the Bible. The name Philip comes from the Greek and it means “he who loves horses”. He was well-versed in the Scriptures and may have been able to speak the Greek language. Philip was born in Bethsaida, and therefore was a Galilean like most of the other apostles. His brother Bartholomew was also an apostle. Philip is often mentioned in conjunction with the apostle Andrew, suggesting that they may have been close friends.
When Jesus proposed buying food to feed the crowd of 5,000, Philip objected by stating that the cost would be too high (John 6:5-7). His response shows that Philip was a practical thinker. He also understood things very literally, which sometimes led to confusion. Philip was a helpful person who sought to assist those who were in need.
Philip did not write any of the Bible. He is frequently confused with an evangelist named Philip who was chosen as one of the first deacons of the New Testament church (Acts 6:5). It was this man (Philip the Evangelist), not Philip the Apostle, who preached in Samaria and later baptized an Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).
II. HIS MINISTRY WITH JESUS
Toward the begin of His ministry Jesus traveled to Galilee where he found Philip and called him to become an apostle. Philip quickly went to tell his brother that he’d found the Messiah and urged him to come along also. When his brother expressed doubt about Jesus’ identity, Philip challenged him to come and meet Jesus for himself. In the end, both Philip and Bartholomew (also called Nathaniel) became apostles (John 1:43-51).
Several months later Jesus tested Philip with a question during the feeding of the 5,000. Philip did not anticipate the great miracle that Jesus was about to perform. Instead he pointed out that the apostles simply didn’t have enough money to buy food for everyone present that day (John 6:1-14). Sometime thereafter Philip listened to the request of some Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus, and then he and Andrew carried their petition to Jesus (John 12:20-26).
On the night of the Last Supper, after Jesus had washed their feet, Jesus began to teach and to comfort the apostles. He told them that He was “the way, the truth, and the life”. Philip was obviously confused by the Lord’s words and so he asked Jesus to show them the Father (God Almighty). Jesus responded by saying that those who had seen Him had seen the Father, for He and the Father were one (John 14:1-11).
Like the other apostles, Philip saw and heard many remarkable things during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Though he is not specifically mentioned that often, he was present with the others during numerous events detailed in the gospels. Philip personally witnessed the resurrected Christ on multiple occasions, including His ascension into Heaven.
III. HIS MINISTRY AFTER JESUS WAS GONE
Philip remained with the apostles in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:13). After the Holy Spirit fell upon them, there are various theories about Philip’s life and death. Some historians believe that he journeyed to Scythia, which is modern-day Ukraine, where he boldly preached the gospel message. Others state that he went to Phrygia, located in modern-day Turkey. Perhaps he went to both places for a while.
It is generally agreed that Philip was martyred for his faith in Hierapolis, though the exact method of his execution is disputed. Some say that he was crucified on an abnormally tall cross, others contend that he was stoned to death, and still others believe that he was impaled with iron hooks and hung upside down by his ankles to die of exposure. Whatever the case, Philip’s cause of death was gruesome and cruel.
In the opening passage of today’s message, Moses asked to see God. As you may recall, the LORD hid Moses behind a rock and allowed him to see only His backside as He passed by (Exodus 33). In the New Testament, Philip asked a similar question. He wanted Jesus to show him (and the other apostles) the Father. Philip wanted to see God for himself, not realizing that seeing Jesus was the same as seeing the Father. The irony is that Philip was actually looking at God in the flesh while he was asking Him to see God…
But let’s not be too hard on poor Philip. Afterall, his heart’s desire was to see the Father. That’s not a bad thing is it? How many of us truly want to see God? Sure we say we do, but do we really? God’s magnificent holiness is so great that mere mortals can not look upon it and survive. In His glorious presence, all of our hidden secrets are exposed and our abject sinfulness becomes apparent. One of the ramifications of seeing God is the troubling revelation of our own depravity. Philip wanted to know the truth, even if it made him uncomfortable.
Many people don’t want to see or acknowledge the absolute truth of God. They would much rather promote their own ideas as truth, and create a belief system of their own choosing. They are quite happy to allow God to remain unseen. People want to feel good about themselves, but the truth is that we are not good - only God is. Salvation in the name of Jesus Christ is the hope for sinners like you and me.
My prayer for us is that we too have a sincere desire to see God. As the popular praise chorus says, “Open the eyes of my heart LORD, I want to see you.” Because the truth is, if we turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face then the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace!