Philip, the Evangelist
One of "the seven" chosen to have the oversight of "the daily ministration" of the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem (Ac 6:5). Whether Philip, bearing a Greek name, was a Hellenist, is not known, but his missionary work reveals to us one free from the religious prejudices of the strict Hebrew.
The martyrdom of Stephen was the beginning of a systematic persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered over Judea and Samaria (Ac 8:1), and even as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (Ac 11:19). Thus, the influence of the new teaching was extended, and a beginning made to the missionary movement. The story of Philip's missionary labors is told in Ac 8:5 ff. He went to the chief city of Samaria, called Sebaste in honor of Augustus (Greek Sebastos). The Samaritans, of mixed Israelite and Gentile blood, had, in consequence of their being rigidly excluded from the Jewish church since the return from exile, built on Mt. Gerizim a rival sanctuary to the temple. To them Philip proclaimed the Christ and wrought signs, with the result that multitudes gave heed, and "were baptized, both men and women." They had been under the influence of a certain sorcerer, Simon, who himself also believed and was baptized, moved, as the sequel proved, by the desire to learn the secret of Philip's ability to perform miracles (see SIMON MAGUS). The apostles (Ac 8:14) at Jerusalem sanctioned the admission of Samaritans into the church by sending Peter and John, who not only confirmed the work of Philip, but also themselves preached in many Samaritan villages.
The next incident recorded is the conversion of a Gentile, who was, however, a worshipper of the God of Israel, a eunuch under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. As he was returning from worshipping in the temple at Jerusalem, he was met by Philip on the road to Gaza. Philip expounded to him that portion of Isa 53:1-12 which he had been reading aloud as he sat in his chariot, and preached unto him Jesus. It is another sign of Philip's insight into the universality of Christianity that he baptized this eunuch who could not have been admitted into full membership in the Jewish church (De 23:1).
See ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH.
After this incident, Philip went to Azotus (Ashdod), and then traveled north to Caesarea, preaching in the cities on his way. There he settled, for Luke records that Paul and his company abode in the house of Philip, "the evangelist," "one of the seven," for some days (Ac 21:8 ff). This occurred more than 20 years after the incidents recorded in Ac 8:1-40. Both at this time and during Paul's imprisonment at Caesarea, Luke had the opportunity of hearing about Philip's work from his own lips. Luke records that Philip had 4 daughters who were preachers (Ac 21:9).
The Jewish rebellion, which finally resulted in the fall of Jerusalem, drove many Christians out of Palestine, and among them Philip and his daughters. One tradition connects Philip and his daughters with Hierapolis in Asia, but in all probability the evangelist is confounded with the apostle. Another tradition represents them as dwelling at Tralles, Philip being the first bishop of the Christian community.
S. F. Hunter