St. Philip, apostle

May 4, 2018

The Pastor's Page

St. PhilipSt. Philip is one of the original twelve apostles, and his name is included on four lists, three in the gospels (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; and Lk 6:14), and one in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:13). He is sometimes paired with other apostles: with St. Bartholomew (Mt 10:3) and St. Thomas (Acts 1:13) on the lists, with Andrew when he approached Jesus on behalf of some Greeks (Jn 12:22), and he shares a feast day with St. James the Less on May 3. The name Philip is derived from the Greek word philippos which means “lover of horses.”

Philip came from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44; 12:21), a fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, the same town as Andrew and Peter. He may have been a disciple of John the Baptist at first. Jesus personally invited Philip, “Follow me” (Jn 1:43), and he immediately became his follower. Then Philip went and found Nathanael, called him (Jn 1:48), and suggested that he go to see Jesus. Philip made a powerful profession of faith in Jesus when he declared: “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth” (Jn 1:45).

Jesus and Philip spoke briefly before the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish. To demonstrate the enormity of the miracle to come, Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (Jn 6:5), and Philip replied, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little” (Jn 6:7).

On another occasion a number of Hellenes, Greek speaking Jews, had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. They approached Philip, possibly because he was the apostle who was most fluent in Greek, and made the request, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). “Philp went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus” (Jn 12:22).

At the Last Supper Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (Jn 14:8). Jesus explained, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

Philip is listed among the apostles who were in the Upper Room on Pentecost and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13; 2:1-4). Church historians believe that Philip made a missionary journey to Phrygia, an area in west-central Asia Minor or Turkey, and possibly to Greece. There are differing accounts of his martyrdom. One tradition holds that he was stoned to death in Phrygia, while another holds that he was killed in Hierapolis, a prominent city in southwestern Asia Minor, under the persecution of Domitian, either crucified, possibly upside down, or thrust through with a lance. His remains were eventually transferred to Rome where he was entombed in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

Philip the apostle is not to be confused with Philip the deacon (Acts 6:5) who preached in Samaria (Acts 8:4-8) and had a dramatic encounter with an Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40).

St. Philip is the patron saint of Luxembourg and Uruguay. His symbols are a walking stick, a book or scroll, loaves of bread, a budded cross, a spear or lance, and a pile of stones.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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