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Biographical Sketch Directory Index


      Philip’s feet hurt. The road to Gaza was rocky and the ground was hot enough that his sandals were hardly a deterrent. Yet he pressed on, journeying toward an uncertain destination even as he was a man on a mission, a man with a commission.

    Philip didn’t realize it until later, but he was a shepherd who had left the herd to find one lost sheep.

    Perhaps he passed the time by singing psalms. Maybe he carried a few Scripture passages for reading. Surely he reminisced about the time someone led him to faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah of Israel. Out there, in the middle of nowhere, Philip knew only that, wherever he was going, he was headed straight into the will of God.

    Then he spotted the caravan. It included someone important, judging from the large chariot near the front. Philip began to trot before breaking into a full jog and smile as his Savior’s words flashed through his mind:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

    Perhaps this narrative is similar to how Philip’s most famous evangelization effort played out. (Acts 8:26-40) records how Philip the evangelist–not to be confused with Philip the apostle–obediently followed the Lord’s leading down the lonely and barren road to Gaza only to intercept one man, an Ethiopian eunuch, and lead him to Christ. Philip had been evangelizing in Samaria after persecution, triggered by Stephen’s stoning, which scattered many believers from Jerusalem.

    It becomes obvious that Philip had the faith required to be a stop-gap Christian, standing when few others dared, and proclaiming when few others shared. God used Philip to build a Gospel bridge first from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria, where the dreaded "half-breeds" lived, and finally to Ethiopia–to the remotest parts of the earth.

    "It must have been difficult for Philip to leave a place where dozens or perhaps hundreds were coming to Christ," writes author V. Gilbert Beers. "But his faithfulness in going opened the way for Ethiopia to hear the Gospel through one of the nation’s own people, a high-ranking government official."

    Where the faith of Peter was the rock on which Christ built His Church and the preaching of Paul added many more tiers, Philip was a subcontractor of souls. His labor required a hard hat, the helmet of salvation.

    Philip’s story in Acts begins with his election as a table-server in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5) and closes with his entertaining Paul in his Caesarea home. (Acts 21:8) In between, we learn of Philip’s committed ministry to Samaria (Acts 8:4-25) and to the Ethiopian eunuch.

    "Viewed as history, it provides Luke (the writer of Acts) with a significant transition from the ministry of Peter to that of Paul," writes commentator E. M. Blaiklock. "He is like Stephen in doctrine and outlook, like Paul in his evangelism, a clearly marked character with something of the Old Testament prophet about him. Note the freshness of his methods. He moved here and there under the influence of the Spirit. His boldness, too, is notable."

    Philip wasn’t mighty in spirit because he performed signs and wonders. (Acts 8:6-8) Rather, he made his mark in simple obedience. Wherever the Spirit led, he followed; whatever the Spirit prompted, he said; however deep the fortitude required, he, through the Spirit, mustered it.

    It is clear that prayer and study of God’s Word were routine for Philip. How else would he have been sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s directives? How else could he have explained (Isaiah 53) and preached Christ to the Ethiopian?

    "Philip was not only a faithful preacher; he was also an obedient personal worker. Like his Master, he was willing to leave the crowds and deal with one lost soul. The angel could have told this Ethiopian official how to be saved, but God has not given the commission to angels: He has given it to His people," writes Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe. "It is every Christian’s business to share the Gospel with others, and to do it without fear or apology.

    "This Ethiopian represents many people today who are religious, read the Scriptures, and seek the truth, yet do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are sincere, but they are lost! They need someone to show them the way."

    The Bible says when Philip saw the Ethiopian from a distance, he ran (v. 30) to him. Never mind his hurting feet. Never mind the heat. He was a subcontractor of souls working in rough terrain but shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. And Philip knew what God says one chapter before Isaiah 53, where the Ethiopian was reading: