There are faces in the crowds of Scripture that are not as famous as Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul might be, but are nonetheless worthy of a formal introduction. Meet Philip.
This is not the Philip who was one of the Twelve, but rather Philip who was one of the Seven. In Acts 6:5 we meet him briefly by name in the list of men, noted for their godliness, who assisted the large church in Jerusalem in an important administrative affair requiring great maturity and grace. Philip was a man who was able to handle admin work with great godliness representing the Church to those in great need and engrossed in great conflict.
Shortly thereafter great persecution arose in Jerusalem, and Philip was among those who left Jerusalem to move away from the persecution. It was, however, not an act of fear, but an awakening to the need for Christ to be preached beyond the mega-church in Jerusalem. Philip’s chosen destination was Samaria where many were converted under his preaching (Acts 8:5ff). From there God sent him to the area of the Gaza strip where he shared the Gospel with the Ethiopian Minister of Finance who as reading the prophet Isaiah’s teachings about Jesus (Acts 8:26ff).
Being transported by God to Azotus, Philip preaching the Gospel from there all the way to Caesarea (the one on the Mediterranean sea). This was the same city as where Peter had preached by invitation of Cornelius (Acts 10:1ff). Years later, though, when Paul is travelling through Caesarea, he stayed with the saints there, but in the home of Philip (Acts 21:8). It appears that Philip might well have become the pastor of the church after Peter’s brief ministry there.
Luke refers to Philip as “the evangelist”. This is not synonymous with the task of evangelism that every believer has in witnessing about Jesus to those around us. Rather it is the more specialised gift to the Church as a form of church leadership. In the progression of spiritual leadership positions in Ephesians 4:11 “the evangelists” are listed as those between the Apostolic and Prophetic ministries of the NT apostles and prophets, and the pastor and teacher ministries of every local church’s shepherds and preachers. Philip was a man gifted by God to the church in Caesarea to reach the lost in the city, establishing the converts as a fully functioning church. In 2 Timothy 2:5 the work of an Evangelist is the work of people like Timothy who followed up on the ministry of Paul and continued that ministry of establishing healthy churches where there are none. Philip was such a man.
As far as Philip’s family is concerned, we find that he had four daughters, all unmarried, and all with the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9). That is all we’re told, but it reminds us how often it is those who are raised in Gospel-centred homes who themselves are used by God to uphold the faith in the ministry of the church.
Now you know Philip. Thank the Lord for people like him that played a role in our church, and imitate the faithfulness of this man known for a good reputation, faithful service, and long-term ministry in reaching the lost and contributing the the work of the local church.