Reply To: Who was Philip the disciple

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Philip was a disciple of Jesus. Philip’s first act as a disciple of Jesus was to recruit yet another disciple.

But the few other glimpses of Philip in the New Testament suggest a man who was not quite sure of himself. John shared four episodes involving Philip and Jesus.

In the first one, Jesus issued the call to Philip to become His disciple. As Andrew had done with Peter, Philip’s first impulse was to share the invitation with another—in this case, Nathanael from Cana. At first, Nathanael was skeptical, but Philip persisted; he didn’t argue with Nathanael but simply told him to come and see for himself. Apparently Philip’s faith in Jesus was strong enough to convince him that one encounter would forever change Nathanael’s opinion of the Nazarene.

The other three episodes suggest a certain lack of confidence on Philip’s part. When Jesus wanted to feed the crowd that had gathered on the shores of Galilee, He asked Philip where they could find bread— perhaps because Philip was from nearby Bethsaida and knew the area well. Philip, however, was stumped by what he believed was the greater problem: Even if there were a place to buy enough bread, there was no way Jesus could afford the massive sum of money that would be required. Seeing only the problem, Philip missed the obvious answer to Jesus’ question—it was staring him in the face.

Later John noted that some Greeks approached Philip, seeking an audience with Jesus. For some reason, Philip did not take the matter directly to the Master, but went instead to Andrew, who then informed Jesus of the situation.

In one final scene shortly before Jesus’ death, Philip found his courage and addressed the Master, asking Him to show them the Father—not realizing that, as Jesus would tell him, “Anyone who has seen [Jesus] has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Despite what was perhaps a quiet performance in the Gospels, Philip’s faithfulness to Christ is confirmed by his presence among the disciples after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. He was there when the disciples faced their first major decision: how to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:13).