Some of the apostles get special attention in the gospels, and some get no story at all (we’re looking at you, Simon the Zealot). But a few of the twelve fall somewhere in the middle—Philip is a good example of an apostle that doesn’t get much face time, but still pipes up here and there.
I’ve always liked Philip. He comes across as a pragmatic guy who isn’t always counting on a miracle from Jesus for things to work out (Jn 6:5–7). Plus, he’s that kind of guy who asks the dumb questions so the rest of the class doesn’t have to (Jn 14:8–11).
The apostle Philip: the infographic
Quick facts about the apostle Philip
- Philip knows the Old Testament. When Jesus calls Philip, he tells his friend Nathaniel that he has found “Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote” (Jn 1:38–41). When Philip mentions “the Law,” he refers to the first five books of your Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The “prophets” refers to a good chunk of the rest of the Old Testament.
- Philip brings others to Jesus. Like the apostle Andrew, when Philip meets Jesus, he immediately tells someone else about the Lord. We see Philip bringing his friend Nathaniel (which may be another name for the apostle Bartholomew) to Jesus in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, and later on he and Andrew bring some God-fearing Greeks to Jesus, too.
- Philip seems to be a pragmatist. Remember that time Jesus fed 5,000 men (and a lot more women and kids) with just five loaves and two fish? Before He did that, He tested Philip’s faith and asked him how they might feed the multitude. Philip’s response: “200 days’ wages couldn’t buy these people so much as a snack!”
- Philip must be an approachable guy. Some non-Jews were celebrating the Passover and wanted to meet Jesus. Of all the disciples, they approach Philip first. It could be because Philip is a Greek name (it means “lover of horses”). It could be because Philip’s hometown had a lot of Greek residents. Whatever the reason, they felt comfortable approaching Philip.
- Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father, which doesn’t make him look too good. Jesus asks him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:8–9).But you kind of have to thank Philip. He asked, and we’ve benefited from the answer for about 2,000 years.
- Philip only speaks in the Gospel of John. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all list him as one of the twelve, but like Thomas and Judas/Thaddeus, his only speaking roles are in the last gospel.
- Philip’s name is coupled with Bartholomew and Thomas in some of the lists of the twelve: it’s possible that he worked closely with these two (Mt 10:3; Lk 6:14; Ac 1:13).
- Philip is from Bethsaida, Peter and Andrew’s hometown (Jn 1:44).
- Philip’s tomb was reportedly found in Hierapolis, where tradition says Philip was martyred.
Meet the rest of the apostles
You can learn more about Philip and the rest of the apostles in our complete guide. Don’t miss it!