St. Philip the Apostle was present at many important moments of Jesusí ministry. He was among the first of the Apostles to be called and he told St. Nathanael about Jesus. In this lesson we will study the life of St. Philip as presented in the Gospels, in the writings of the Church Fathers, and in the Catechism. We will also learn several prayers to him and have an engaging activity in honor of St. Philip.
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As mentioned in the Introduction, scholars are divided on whether the St. Philip who preached in Samaria and baptized the Ethiopian was St. Philip the Apostle or St. Philip the Deacon. We will go through several writers’ opinions and then examine a new archeological discovery.
Although St. Luke does not state that St. Philip the Deacon preached instead of St. Philip the Apostle, it is implied when he writes that all of the other disciples left Jerusalem except the Apostles in Acts 8:1. It is implied again when St. Luke wrote: “Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John.” (Acts 8:14) Both statements suggest that St. Philip was with the rest of the Apostles in Jerusalem while St. Philip the Deacon evangelized in Samaria. The baptism of the Ethiopian comes directly after the Samarians receive the Holy Spirit and so the assumption is that the same St. Philip is featured in both incidents. However, many early Church Fathers explicitly state that St. Philip the Apostle did one or both of these incidents.
As an example, Tertullian (160-220 A.D.) wrote that St. Philip the Apostle baptized the Ethiopian:
“The Spirit had commanded Philip to turn his course that way…God had of His own will sent an Apostle…” (Tertullian. 1842. pg. 276)
Several modern scholars, after reading the early Church Fathers and the Acts of the Apostles, suggest that St. Philip the Deacon and St. Philip the Apostle were the same person. C. Bernard Ruffin in his The Twelvepoints out that -
“…most of the early church Fathers insisted that Philip the apostle and Philip the deacon were the same man. Eusebius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Polycrates and Tertullian all said this. Since the college of deacons served the Hellenistic wing of the Church, it was conceivable that the Twelve felt that one of their number should be a part of that body, so as to ensure orthodoxy.” (Ruffin. 1984. pg. 104)
Christopher R. Matthews agrees, pointing out the importance of St. Philip in the Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke:
“…Luke views Philip as second to no one in terms of the importance and accuracy of his message.” (Matthews. 2002. pg. 44)
In Acts, St. Luke shows St. Philip performing exorcisms, healing the lame and the paralyzed. Only St. Philip’s fellow Apostle – St. Peter - healed the paralyzed. Only St. Peter, St. Philip and St. Pa...
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