1. New Testament References:
One of the Twelve Apostles. Philip belonged to Bethsaida of Galilee (Joh 1:44; 12:21). Along with Andrew and other fellow-townsmen, he had journeyed to Bethany to hear the teaching of John the Baptist, and there he received his first call from Christ, "Follow me" (Joh 1:43). Like Andrew, Philip immediately won a fresh follower, Nathanael, for Jesus (Joh 1:45). It is probable that he was present at most of the events recorded of Jesus' return journey from Bethany to Galilee, and that the information relating to these was supplied to John by him and Andrew (compare ANDREW). His final ordination to the Twelve is recorded in Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:14; Ac 1:13. At the feeding of the 5,000, Philip was asked the question by Jesus, "Whence are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" (Joh 6:5-7). He was appealed to by the Greeks when they desired to interview Jesus at the Passover (Joh 12:20-33). During the address of Jesus to His disciples after the Last Supper, Philip made the request, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (Joh 14:8).
2. Apocryphal References:
According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles," Philip was of the house of Zebulun (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles,II , 50). Clement of Alexandria (Strom., iii.4, 25, and iv.9, 73) gives the tradition identifying him with the unknown disciple who asked permission to go and bury his father ere he followed Jesus (compare Mt 8:21; Lu 9:59), and says that he died a natural death. Owing to confusion with Philip the evangelist, there is much obscurity in the accounts of Apocrypha literature concerning the earlier missionary activities of Philip the apostle. The "Acts of Philip" tell of a religious controversy between the apostle and a Judean high priest before the philosophers of Athens. Later Latin documents mention Gaul (Galatia) as his field. As to his sending Joseph of Arimathea thence to Britain, see JOSEPH OF ARIMATHAEA. The evidence seems conclusive that the latter part of his life was spent in Phrygia. This is supported by Polycrates (bishop of Ephesus in the 2nd century), who states that he died at Hierapolis, by Theodoret, and by the parts of the Contendings of the Apostles dealing with Philip. Thus, according to "The Preaching of Philip and Peter" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles,II , 146), Phrygia was assigned to Philip as a mission field by the risen Christ when He appeared to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, and "The Martyrdom of Philip in Phrygia" (Budge,II , 156) tells of his preaching, miracles and crucifixion there.
Philip was regarded in early times as the author of "The Gospel of Philip," a Gnostic work of the 2nd century, part of which was preserved by Epiphanius (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 40, 41).
See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.
As with Andrew, Philip's Greek name implies he had Greek connections, and this is strengthened by the fact that he acted as the spokesman of the Greeks at the Passover. Of a weaker mold than Andrew, he was yet the one to whom the Greeks would first appeal; he himself possessed an inquirer's spirit and could therefore sympathize with their doubts and difficulties. The practical, strong-minded Andrew was naturally the man to win the impetuous, swift-thinking Peter; but the slower Philip, versed in the Scriptures (compare Joh 1:45), appealed more to the critical Nathanael and the cultured Greeks. Cautious and deliberate himself, and desirous of submitting all truth to the test of sensuous experience (compare Joh 14:8), he concluded the same criterion would be acceptable to Nathanael also (compare Joh 1:46). It was the presence of this materialistic trend of mind in Philip that induced Jesus, in order to awaken in His disciple a larger and more spiritual faith, to put the question in Joh 6:6, seeking "to prove him." This innate diffidence which affected Philip's religious beliefs found expression in his outer life and conduct also. It was not merely modesty, but also a certain lack of self-reliance, that made him turn to Andrew for advice when the Greeks wished to see Jesus. The story of his later life is, however, sufficient to show that he overcame those initial defects in his character, and fulfilled nobly the charge that his risen Lord laid upon him (compare Mt 28:16-20).
C. M. Kerr