There are two Philip’s mentioned in the New Testament. The apostle is mentioned for the last time in Acts 1:13. In Acts 6:5 we are introduced to another Philip, often called Philip the Evangelist. The Bible is filled with wonderful, great men of God. Philip the Evangelist was one of them. Consider …
1) Philip as a man.
Ac 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
He is mentioned in the text after Stephen together with a few others who were chosen for the diaconal role. Look at that small word before “Philip” … ‘also’. Used here it means that like Stephen was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”, so were the others. When examining Stephen and his life, we saw that faith addressed salvation and being Born Again means to be filled with the Holy Spirit and His power to serve. Philip was in this category. Remember the people chose these men because their character and personality oozed the Fruits of the Spirit. People were witnesses to the living testimony these men lived out for Jesus. Beloved, this is the type of men and women we need to be looking out for as leadership material for our churches. It is a noble thing to aspire to leadership in God’s Kingdom, but the qualifications need to be there. These are addressed in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, Acts 20 and other places.
2) Philip was a man on the move. To provide the context, please read:
Ac 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Thus Saul is the man who became the great Apostle Paul! Once Stephen was martyred, under Saul’s command, a great onslaught broke out against the Church. The magnitude was immense … picture a house to house search for Christians! This drove many to flee to other places for safety, yet wherever they went they preached Christ!
Ac 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Philip was one … preaching to Samaritans (non-Jews). The power of the Spirit was with him … there were crowds, there were miracles, there were exorcisms and there were healings. Remember the purpose for these wonders? To authenticate the message. He preached to Gentiles … to people who had no prior knowledge of the Old Testament like the Jews had. They were total pagans. So, the preaching of the Gospel was accompanied by various signs and wonders in dramatic fashion. It was God proving to the hearers that what they were hearing was indeed form the true God. Notice the response of the people in verse 8. I don’t want to be a parrot, but in our day, God anoints the Gospel preached truthfully by holy men. Strangely, yet gloriously the Spirit applies the preached Word to hearts, convicting consciences of personal sin and God’s holiness coupled to the truth of Jesus’ substitutional death. We really need to be in prayer for pastors, preachers, missionaries and evangelists to know the holiness of God as they preached to sinful hearts!
3) Philip was a man sensitive to heavens leading.
Ac 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.
This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship. Heaven had plans for Philip. He was already an evangelist to the pagans in Samaria, now his new assignment was an African. The instruction from God was through an angel. The target was an Ethiopian Eunuch … but who was this man? He was the Minister of Finances in the Treasury of Candace, queen of Ethiopia! Not only was he a key member in the cabinet, he had the queen’s ear! He was a Jewish proselyte … a convert to Judaism who had been to Jerusalem to worship. God choses a man for salvation and He sends an angel to tell Philip to move south from where he is to the Desert Road. It’s fascinating how God sets up divine appointments! This is what we need to be praying for and once we have prayed we ought to be looking for those divine appointments God makes for us to serve Him. Just think of this man returning to Ethiopia as one Born Again! Philip will win him for Jesus but he will go and win souls in his home country in Africa! Just think–the Gospel reaches Africa before it reached Europe!
For today, there are three take-a-ways …
(a) Pray for sensitivity to heaven’s leading. Too often today we plan and strategize God’s nudging out of our gospel calculations. Maybe we need to learn the art of what Eli said to young Samuel … “speak Lord, thy servant listens.”
(b) Pray for a willing spirit to be where God wants you to be. So few these days want to move to wherever God wants and needs them. The safest place on earth is where God wants you to serve Him.
(c) Pray for Divine Appointments. When you are sensitive to heavens leading and when you are willing to go where God wants you to go, He will provide you with willing attentive listeners, eager to hear the gospel as this Eunuch was.
Dear God, shape our evangelism skills. Set a spiritual fire under us so that we burn to go and share the wonderful news that Jesus saves. O God, here I am. Use me for Jesus’ sake. Amen.