On the occasion of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem five days before Passover of 33 C.E. (Mark 11:7-11), some Greeks wanted to see Jesus. They requested Philip to introduce them, possibly attracted to the apostle because of his Greek name, or perhaps simply because he happened to be the one who was available to ask. At any rate, Philip evidently did not feel qualified to answer the request of these Greeks (evidently proselytes). He first conferred with Andrew, with whom he is elsewhere mentioned (John 6:7, 8) and who perhaps had more confidential relations with Jesus. (Compare Mark 13:3.) Together they presented the petition, not the petitioners, to Jesus for his consideration. (John 12:20-22) This circumspect, somewhat cautious, attitude is reflected in Philip’s response to Jesus’ question about feeding the multitude, and even in his request (made after Peter’s and Thomas’ rather blunt questions) that Jesus show them the Father, “and it is enough for us.” (John 6:5-7; 13:36, 37; 14:5-9) His tactful manner stands in contrast to Peter’s directness and bluntness, and thus the brief accounts involving Philip reveal something of the variety of personality to be found among Jesus’ chosen apostles.
Because of his close association with Nathanael (Bartholomew) and with the sons of Zebedee, Philip may have been one of the two unidentified disciples who were on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when the resurrected Jesus appeared.—John 21:2.
2. A first-century evangelist and missionary. Together with Stephen, Philip was among the seven “certified men . . . full of spirit and wisdom” chosen for the impartial daily distribution of food among the Greek- and Hebrew-speaking Christians in Jerusalem. (Acts 6:1-6) The account of Philip’s activity (as also that of Stephen) after this special service ended confirms the high spiritual quality of the men forming this chosen administrative body, for Philip did a work similar to that later effected by the apostle Paul, though more limited in scope.
When the persecution scattered all except the apostles, who remained in Jerusalem, Philip went to Samaria and there declared the good news of the Kingdom and, with the miraculous power of holy spirit, cast out demons and cured the paralyzed and lame. Overjoyed, multitudes accepted the message and were baptized, including a certain Simon who had been practicing the magical arts. (Acts 8:4-13) So when the apostles “heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them,” that these baptized believers might receive the free gift of the holy spirit.—Acts 8:14-17.
Philip was then led by Jehovah’s spirit to meet the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza, and there, in a short time, this “man in power under Candace queen of the Ethiopians” put faith in Jesus and asked Philip to baptize him. (Acts 8:26-38) From there he made his way to Ashdod and on to Caesarea, “declaring the good news to all the cities” along the way. (Acts 8:39, 40) These brief accounts illustrate the work of an “evangelizer.”—Acts 21:8.
It was in this international crossroads of Caesarea some twenty years later that Philip was found still active in the ministry, and still known for having been “one of the seven men” selected by the apostles. As reported by Luke, when he and Paul stayed in Philip’s home for a time, about the year 56 C.E., “this man [Philip] had four daughters, virgins, that prophesied.” (Acts 21:8-10) That the four daughters were of sufficient age to engage in prophetic speaking may mean that Philip was already a married man at the time of his earlier activity.
3. Husband of Herodias and father of Salome. He was living in Rome at the time his wife adulterously left him to become the wife of his half-brother Herod Antipas. (Matt. 14:3, 4; Mark 6:17, 18; Luke 3:19, 20) Philip was a son of Herod the Great by his third wife, Mariamne II the daughter of the high priest Simon. He was, therefore, half Jew and half Idumaean.
4. The district ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis at the time John the Baptist began his ministry in the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” 29 C.E. (Luke 3:1-3) Philip was a son of Herod the Great by his fifth wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem, and was, therefore, half brother of Herod Antipas, Archelaus and Philip No. 3 above.
At the time of the apostle Paul’s second missionary tour this city was “the principal [or, first] city of the district of Macedonia,” though apparently not its capital. It was located in the eastern part of the district, at the N end of the Aegean Sea, not far from the district of Thracia. Paul, coming by boat from Troas, landed at Philippi’s seaport town, Neapolis, and traveled about ten miles (16 kilometers) NW along the Via Egnatia or Egnatian Way, the great commercial and military road from Asia to Rome, which ran through a mountain pass some 1,600 feet (488 meters) above sea level, and down into the Philippian plain.—Acts 16:11, 12.
The city was situated on a hill rising out of the plain, near the river Gangites (modern Angista). On the S was an extensive marsh. Philippi’s acropolis was on a large rock formation in the NE part of the city. Excavations of the ruins indicate that the Egnatian Way ran through the middle of the city and alongside it was a fair-sized forum. Amphipolis, to which Paul traveled after leaving Philippi, was apparently the capital of the district, and lay about thirty miles (48 kilometers) S-SW of Philippi. From Amphipolis, Paul went S approximately thirty miles (48 kilometers) to Apollonia, thence to Thessalonica some thirty-eight miles (61 kilometers) W, where he stayed for about three weeks before heading SW through Beroea to take a boat for Athens.
Philippi was originally called Crenides (Krenides, place of small fountains). Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) took the city from the Thracians about the middle of the fourth century B.C.E. and named it after himself. There were rich gold mines in the area, and gold coins were issued in Philip’s name. About 168 B.C.E. the Roman consul Aemilius Paullus defeated Perseus, the last of the Macedonian kings, and took Philippi and surrounding territory. In 146 B.C.E. all Macedonia was formed into a single Roman province. The battle in which Octavian and Mark Antony defeated the armies of Brutus and Cassius, assassins of Julius Caesar, took place on the plain of Philippi (in 42 B.C.E.). Afterward, as a memorial of his great victory, Augustus made Philippi a Roman “colony.” (Acts 16:12) Some years later, when Octavian was made Caesar Augustus by the Roman senate, he called the town Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis.
Its designation as a Roman colony granted the city freedom from taxes, and other privileges, among them possibly being a secondary form of Roman citizenship. The citizens therefore had a stronger attachment to and sentiment toward Rome than would otherwise have been the case. This may explain why the masters of the girl from whom the apostle Paul exorcised a demon of divination stressed the point before the magistrates, “We are Romans,” in their accusations against Paul and Silas. (Acts 16:16-24) It also would be very understandable to the Philippian Christians when Paul later wrote exhorting them to be “behaving as citizens” worthily of the good news of the Christ, and reminding them that “our citizenship exists in the heavens,” for worldly, Roman citizenship would be highly prized in Philippi, even something about which to boast.—Phil. 1:27; 3:20, Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
Philippi was privileged to be the first city in Europe to hear Paul preach the good news, in about