The Apostles – Becoming Unified Through Diversity

Lesson 5: “Philip - A Pragmatist Who Became A True Believer”


“Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” John 14:9


"The Son of Joseph"

·        It seems likely that Philip and Andrew knew each other well, for they are seen together in the Gospels. They were both from Bethsaida (John 1:44). Their comments in John 6 are right together. They are involved with the Greeks in John 12:20-22. (Philip's name was Greek.) These two are likely the unnamed disciples in John 21:2. In light of this, compare their comments in John 1:41,45. Like Andrew, Philip's comment hints at a spiritual awareness, but as we'll see, Philip had difficulty comprehending Jesus' claim to be the Son of God.

·        If Philip did meet Jesus near Bethany, he probably had many questions about Jesus, and who he was, and what Jesus came to do. These questions stuck with Philip for some time.


A test of faith

·        As the crowds gathered in John 6, and as evening came, Jesus took the opportunity to test Philip. Are we prepared for when God brings tests and trials our way? (John 6:5,6)

·        Philip's pragmatic tendencies surfaced immediately (John 6:7) Remember, by this time Philip had witnessed the miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11), the healing of the Cana boy (John 4:43-54), and the confrontation about healing a paralyzed man on the Sabbath (John 5) Even though other healings had taken place as well (John 6:1-2), Philip responded out of pure logic. Again, compare with Andrew. Philip's instinct was that nothing could be done.


"Lord, show us the Father"

·        It's true that the Jews could not accept Jesus' claim that He was God Incarnate. But it is surprising that the disciples didn't understand this at first either. We now skip ahead to the night of the Last Supper. Jesus said he was leaving them (John 13:33), and the disciples were troubled (14:1), and Jesus sought to comfort them (14:1-4)

·        Thomas asked what the other disciples were probably thinking (14:5) Jesus' answer gave Philip another chance to build his faith (14:6-7)

·        However, Philip's answer showed he still didn't quite understand (14:8)

·        Jesus' reply to Philip explains what the Gospel is all about (14:9-11) Philip believed Jesus was the son of Joseph, and he probably was the promised Messiah. But Philip didn't seem to grasp the concept that Christ was both God and man (see John 1:1,14)

·        What did Philip miss? How can we know Jesus was who he said he was? (see John 17:20-26)

·        We don't know exactly when, but Philip did come to a full realization of who Jesus was, and he meant to humanity. Tradition tells us Philip preached in Asia Minor.


3 Principles


#1) In view of His claims, Jesus Christ cannot be just a great moral teacher

#2) Every person who sincerely and humbly seeks to know who Jesus really is will find a satisfactory answer

#3) Doubts and questions are normal, even for true Christians, particularly at certain points in our lives


For next week read Matt. 10:3; John 1:43-51; John 21:1-2