Philip the evangelist
When Paul was on his final journey to Jerusalem he spent some time at the home of a man named Philip.
On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
We are told two things about him: he was an evangelist and he was one of the seven.
Chapter eight of Acts contains the record of his evangelistic activity. It begins with a successful campaign of preaching the gospel in Samaria.
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.
Afterward an angel directed him a place where he would meet an Ethiopian official who was interested in learning about God.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.
And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
Philip explained the gospel to him and he became a believer.
And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
He then began a preaching tour that led him to Caesarea where he evidently stayed.
He is also called one of the seven. Chapter six tells us what this means.
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
In chapter six he is appointed to a group that was placed in charge of food distribution. In chapter eight he is an evangelist. How did such a change come about? The answer is found in the first part of chapter eight.
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
If Philip hadn’t been forced by persecution to leave Jerusalem he might have spent the rest of his life overseeing the distribution of food and never preached the gospel to the Samaritans or the Ethiopian eunuch.
God uses many methods to call people to carry out the work he has given them to do. Sometimes they are sent out as official representatives of a church, as Paul was.
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Sometimes he speaks to them directly as he did to Samuel.
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
1 Samuel 3:10
And sometimes, as he did with Philip, he sends some event that completely disrupts their lives but leads to opportunities to serve God that they wouldn’t otherwise have experienced.
Philip wasn’t the first person this happened to. Joseph was sold into slavery by is brothers and ended up becoming the second highest ruler of Egypt. Daniel was taken to Babylon as a slave and ended up exerting a godly influence on the king. If you are a Christian and you are experiencing some crisis that has completely upset your life you should consider the possibility that God is in the process of leading you into a new area of service for him.
There are many places in the world today where Christians are being persecuted and many of them have been forced to flee from their homes just as the Christians in Jerusalem were. We should pray that these people will find new homes but we should also pray that like the first persecution victims they will preach the word everywhere they go. The persecutors are trying to destroy the truth but God can use their efforts to spread the truth instead.
Posted on November 12, 2012, in Bible study, practical lessons and tagged baptism, Caesarea, Christ, Ethiopean, Ethiopian eunich, eunich, evangelism, evangelist, food distribution, Holy Spirit, persecution, Philip, Samaria, Simon the magician, unclean spirits. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.