GREAT LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF PHILIP THE EVANGELIST by Willie A. Alvarenga
All Scripture quotations have been taken from the ASV 1901
We are thankful to God for giving us His inspired Word (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21), which is able to make us complete unto every good work (II Tim. 3:17). Accordingly, God is able to help His children by giving us in His Word all the things that pertain to life and godliness (II Pet. 1:3). His inspired Word is filled with great examples of godly men whom we find in the pages of the Bible that we may emulate their example. These great examples are found in the 31, 102 verses of the entire Word of God. God’s concern for His children is for each of them to conduct their lives in a manner that is pleasing in His sight. For these reason, He was been very careful to provide us enough examples that we may imitate them. Any child of God who takes the time to study the lives of these godly me and at the same time, emulate their example, will be blessed, and their conduct will become one that is pleasing in the sight of God. As we study the New Testament, we find several passages that encourage us to be imitators of godly examples (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; III Jn. 11; I Pet. 2:21).
In this lesson we will study a portrait of Philip the evangelist and not the Apostle, who also bears the same name. As we take the time to examine this material, let me encourage us to be doers of God’s Word and not hearers only (Jas. 1:22-25). It is only through the practice of God’s Word in our lives that we can experience a blessed life (Lk. 11:28). In this lesson, we will study great and practical lessons that we learn from the life of Philip. I am truly convinced that the church of Christ needs more Philips today. If the church is to grow in number, we must imitate the life of those who had a great deal of concern about the lost souls of this world; Philip, the evangelist, was one of those men.
PHILIP WAS A FAITHFUL MAN WILLING TO SERVE THE CHURCH
Everything we learn about the life of Philip the evangelist, we learn from the book of Acts. His name is mentioned 16 times in this book. In chapter six of the book of Acts we learn that he was a faithful man willing to serve the church as one of her deacons (Acts 6:3-6). In verse 3 we see that Philip, along with the other 6 men, were of good report, meaning they were a great example to others. They were also full of the Spirit, which in context, may denote both the ability to perform miracles as we see Philip doing in chapter 8, as well as men who had the fruit of the Spirit in their lives (Gal. 5:22-23). They were wise men who knew how to conduct themselves before men (Col. 4:6; Matt. 5:16). They were also dependable man, which means the church could count on their faithful work. The fact that he was willing to accept the responsibility tells us very much about his character and conduct as a faithful Christian. We stand in need of faithful men who are willing to serve the church in the capacity of deacons. The church needs faithful men of good report, men who possess the fruit of the Spirit and who are wise in the way they conduct their lives. The church for which Jesus died on the cross will be blessed by the presence of faithful men who can serve like Philip did. Are you willing to be a man like Philip? There are many congregations that have several faithful men who serve in the capacity of deacons. May God bless them as they continue to serve faithfully in God’s church!
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO PREACHED CHRIST EVERYWHERE HE WENT
(Acts 8:5, 35)
We will now spend several minutes in chapter 8 of the book of Acts. In this chapter, we will see several traits of the faithful life of Philip. He was a faithful man who preached Christ everywhere he went. Luke, the historian, provides us with the following verses: “And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ” (Acts 8:4). We also read, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus”. Why did Philip emphasize Jesus in his preaching? The answer can be found by reasoning correctly regarding the only way to eternal salvation. The Bible tells us that Jesus must be preached because He is the only way to salvation (Jn. 10:9; 11:25-26; 14:6; Acts 4:12; II Tim. 2:10). Jesus is the only light for those who live in darkness (Jn. 8:12; 9:5). According to the teaching of the Bible, eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ (Jn. 11:25-26; 1 Jn. 5:11; II Tim. 2:10). Philip preached Jesus because Christ is the head of the church, which is His body (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23).
The Apostle Paul was also a man who was determined to preach Christ and Him crucified (I Cor. 2:2; II Cor. 4:5). Throughout the life of Paul, we see a Christ-centered message. This is the same thing we see in the life of Philip the evangelist. Through the example of Philip, gospel preachers are encouraged to preach Christ and nothing else. He is the only way to heaven and the only solution to the sin problem (Jn. 1:29; Eph. 1:7). Thank God for faithful gospel preachers like Philip, who preached Christ to the world! Thank God for faithful gospel preachers who still preach Christ to a lost and dying world!
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO BROUGHT MUCH JOY TO THE LIVES OF MANY (Acts 8:8)
Another great lesson we learn from Philip is that he was a man who brought much joy to those whom he preached. In Acts 8:8 we read, “And there was much joy in that city.” In Acts 8:39 we also read, “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.” We must ask two questions: why was there much joy in the city of Samaria? And, why did the Ethiopian eunuch go on his way rejoicing? The answer to these questions is simple: Those people in Samaria and the Ethiopian eunuch had obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. When men obey the gospel, great things happen: 1. People show God they love Him (Jn. 14:15), 2. People receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Eph. 1:7), 3. People are added to the Body of Christ (Acts 2:47; Gal. 3:27), 4. People receive the hope of eternal life (Tit. 1:2; 1 Jn. 5:11). Brothers and sisters, these are great reasons to go on our way rejoicing! When we preach the gospel of Christ to our friends and family, and they obey this gospel, much joy is being brought to their lives. Perhaps you have seen the joy manifested in the faces of those who are coming up out of the waters of baptism. I still remember how happy I was and still am when I was baptized into Christ. I am sure you do too! Brethren, this is a great experience! Are you striving to bring joy to a lost and dying world?
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO PREACHED THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
(Acts 8:12, 35; 21:8)
If there was a man who took the great commission seriously, this man was Philip the evangelist! Jesus instructed His Apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15). Philip the evangelist took this commission seriously and proclaimed the gospel to many people. In Acts 8:12 we read, “But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:35 says, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus.” From these two Scriptures we learn that Philip was indeed an evangelist (Acts 21:8). An evangelist is one who carries the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world. The gospel was preached to Philip, and then, in turn, he became an evangelist. Someone once said, “The preaching of the gospel to the whole world will never be accomplished, unless the evangelized becomes an evangelist.” Brethren, this is so true! We must become evangelists who carry the antidote to the sin problem. We must never be ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). We must always keep in mind that the gospel is the only power of God unto salvation. As we examine the book of Acts, we realize how much emphasis was put upon the preaching of the gospel of Christ. According to the Apostle Paul, the gospel consists in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (I Cor. 15:1-4). This is the message that was preached by Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:22-36). It was also preached throughout the book of Acts in all of the conversions for which we have a record. Sadly, this message is not being proclaimed by many today. Many congregations are not hearing the old Jerusalem gospel being proclaimed anymore. We must go back to the Bible and preach the gospel to every creature!
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO KNEW HOW TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO MANY, AS WELL AS ONE (Acts 8:5, 40; 26-39)
As we consider the evangelistic life of Philip, we learn that he knew how to preach the gospel to many people, as well as just one person. He preached the gospel to many people in Samaria (Acts 8:5), Azotus and Caesarea (Acts 8:40). He also preached the gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). As Christians, we must learn from this example and be ready to preach the gospel to groups of people, as well as to a single person. We must develop the skills to share the good news of salvation in any context or place where we find people willing to study. We must be willing to hold Bible studies in the homes of people where two or more will be present, as well as Bible studies where only one person will be present. The more we preach the gospel, the more experience we will gain. Are you ready to study the Bible with many as well as with just one person? Jesus, Paul, Peter and many more had the ability to teach the Word of God to many or to just one person. Let us emulate their godly example!
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO EMULATED CHRIST
Philip was a man who imitated the life of Christ. Through the teaching of the Apostle Peter, we are encourage to follow the example of Jesus (I Pet. 2:21). Jesus was an obedient man (Heb. 10:9; Jn. 4:34). As we consider the life of Philip, we also see a man who obeyed God. When Philip was instructed by the angel and the Holy Spirit to approach the Ethiopian eunuch, he arose and went running. If I could pick one word to describe this, it would be obedience (Acts 8:26-30). Jesus remembered the reason why He came to the various towns where he preached. Mark 1:38 says, “And he saith unto them, Let us go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth.” (Mk. 1:38). Philip, also, remembered why he was there at Samaria, Azotus and Caesarea (Acts 8:5, 40). He preached the gospel of Christ everywhere he went and so must we! The lamented Johnny Ramsey once said, “When Christ is the point of focus we will proclaim His message, follow His example and obey His commands. Nothing short of that can save the church” (Ramsey, 92). This is exactly what Philip the evangelist did. He preached His message, followed His example, and obeyed His commands! Are we imitating the life of Christ and Philip?
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO KNEW HOW TO BEGIN A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE GOSPEL
Every effective evangelist will know how to begin a conversation with those with whom he intends to study the gospel. Philip approached the man and began the conversation by asking one question, Undestandest thou what thou readest? (Acts 8:30). He knew this question would be a good one to begin sharing the good news of salvation. If you notice, Philip did not ask a question that would close the door to a possible study. We must learn how to begin a conversation with those we intend to study. We must be careful not to ask or say things that will hinder our opportunity to preach the gospel to that particular person. Jesus Christ began the conversation with the Samaritan woman of John 4 by asking her for a drink of water. This petition opened up the door for not just a conversation about salvation, but also for an opportunity to stay two days in Samaria, preaching the Word (Jn. 4:40). When preparing to study with others, you must take the time to think carefully about the questions and things you will say to the people you study with. If you are not careful, you may end up closing the door for future opportunities to share the gospel of Christ with the lost. Let us emulate the ability Philip had to study with people and always be wise to know what to say as we begin Bible studies.
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO KNEW THE SCRIPTURES (Acts 8:30-35)
There is no doubt that Philip was a diligent student of the Word. When he was asked by the eunuch to explain the words from the prophet Isaiah, he did not hesitate to do it. In Acts 8:30 we learn that Philip heard the eunuch read the prophet Isaiah and then asked the Ethiopian whether he understood the things he was reading. The reason why the eunuch asked Philip to come up and sit with him was for the purpose of Philip explaining the passage to him (Acts 8:34-35). As Christians, we must be ready to answer questions during a Bible study (I Pet. 3:15). In order to accomplish this, we must be diligent students of the Word (II Tim. 2:15; II Pet. 3:18). We must take time to read the Scriptures (I Tim. 4:13). We must desire the pure milk of the Word (I Pet. 2:2). I am afraid that one of the reasons why most members of the church do not go out to preach the gospel is because they do not know how to answer Bible questions. Most members have not taken the time to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word (II Pet. 3:18). Friends, Bible ignorance will not only destroy us, but it will destroy the life of those to whom we will not preach the gospel (Hos. 4:6). We must be mighty in the Scriptures as Apollos was (Acts 18:24), since this ability will help us to show from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 18:28). I strongly believe that Philip was a successful evangelist because he knew the Scriptures by heart. Let us emulate this example in our lives!
PHILIP WAS A GODLY MAN WHITH A GODLY FAMILY (Acts 21:8-9)
In Acts 21:8 we read, “And on the morrow we departed, and came unto Caesarea: and entering into house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we abode with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters, who prophesied.” The fact that Philip had four daughters who prophesied says a lot about his godly family. The ability for these daughters to prophesy was foretold in Joel 2:28-32. Peter spoke about this in Acts 2:17, which reads, “And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” The ability for these daughters to prophesy did not violate the command not to preach or to have dominion over man (cf. I Tim. 2:11; I Cor. 14:34). To argue that these daughters preached in a public setting, violating the divine instructions by Paul, is to be guilty of not handling aright the Word of truth (cf. II Tim. 2:15). Let us remember that if the interpretation of a particular passage contradicts others, then such interpretation is incorrect and must be evaluated once again for a better interpretation that is in harmony with the general context of the Bible. From the passages we have here, we can see that Philip had a godly family. From Acts 21:8-9 we can be sure of the following: 1. Philip was a good example to his family, 2. He instructed his daughters in the Word of God, 3. His whole house was devoted to the service of the Lord. There is no way on earth that a Christian can have a godly family without imitating the life of Philip.
PHILIP WAS A MAN WHO PRACTICED HOSPITALITY (Acts 21:8-10)
In Acts 21:8 we are told that Philip opened the doors of his house to other evangelists. The text says, “And on the morrow we departed, and came unto Caesarea: and entering into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we abode with him.” Acts 21:10 says, “And as we tarried there some days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.” These two passages show how Philip was a godly man who practiced hospitality as commanded by God in His Word (Heb. 13:2; Rom. 12:13). He was willing to allow others to stay at his house. The Greek term “some days” denotes many days, that is, more than one or two. Hospitality was very necessary back in those days as we saw several evangelists traveling from one place to another preaching the Gospel of Christ. We need more Christians like Philip, who are willing to open the doors of their houses to those who labor in the Lord. Sadly, many today are not willing to do what Philip did. There are several Christians who are always looking for excuses not to practice hospitality, instead of looking for opportunities to help others in the kingdom. When faithful Christians practice hospitality, they do the following: 1. They show brotherly love, which is expected of every child of God (Jon. 13:34-35), 2. They imitate the life of those who practiced hospitality in the Bible (Acts 21:8-10), 3. They show obedience to God who expects us to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2), 4. They enjoy the blessings of practicing pure New Testament Christianity! Have you enjoyed these blessings in your life by practicing hospitality?
There is no doubt in our minds that the church needs more Philips today. We need faithful men who will serve the Lord in His kingdom; men who are willing to be of good report; men who will preach Christ at every opportunity they have; men who will bring much joy to those whom he preaches; men who know very well how to preach the gospel to the masses; men who know the Scriptures by heart; men who have godly families; men who practice hospitality. May the Lord give us more men with the same traits as that of Philip. If the church of Christ is to grow in number and be edified, then we must strive to emulate the godly example of Philip the evangelist.
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1901 American Standard Bible, Print.
Pepper, Clayton. Introduction to Soul Winning (Madison, TN: Christian Lighthouse, Inc.).
Ramsey, Johnny (1982). Back to Bible Preaching (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications).