Introduction: In all four of the Biblical lists in the gospels Philip is the fifth name on every list, and he is likely the leader of the second group of four. Philip was from Bethsaida (the city of Peter and Andrew). He probably attended the same synagogue as Peter and Andrew and was likely acquainted with Peter, Andrew, James, and John long before they met Christ. There is also strong evidence that Philip was a fisherman along with Nathanael and Thomas. So, the core group of the apostles were from the same small region and were also engaged in the same occupation. This just goes to show what a close group the apostles really were.
Again this draws our attention to the reality that Jesus didn’t come and choose the most outstanding individuals. Instead he came to a small fishing village and chose a group of average people with differing personalities who were already friends. It is not the apostles that are extraordinary, it is Jesus who trained them, gifted them, and empowered them who gets all the glory. He was choosing them for an extraordinarily difficult task, but they were ordinary men who discovered that with Christ all things are possible.
Most of what we know concerning Philip appears in the book of John. He often appears with Nathanael (Bartholomew) and so they were likely close friends, yet he is unique among all the apostles. From what were read about Philip in John we find that Philip was likely the classic box checker. He was all about facts and figures which led him to be a pessimist who rarely thought outside the box. Rather than finding ways to do things he often pointed out the reasons why things couldn’t be done. He is the classic pessimist of the group.
Jesus Finds Philip
Jesus Finds Philip
Apparently, Philip had been in the wilderness with John the Baptist as well.
The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”
Peter, Andrew, and John had been directed to Jesus by John the Baptist and had left the ministry of John to follow the Messiah. Philip is the first apostle that Jesus actually seeks out. However, Jesus probably sought him out because he knew the heart of Philip.
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
So, it appears that Philip and Nathanael had already been studying the scriptures so that when the Messiah came they would be able to identify and follow him, and when Philip finds Jesus (or Jesus finds Philip) he immediately reveals something else that is true about himself - he has the heart of an evangelist - by going and finding Nathanael and telling him about the Messiah for whom they had been seeking.
Note: Friendships are important in leading others to Christ.
And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
Philip found it easy to believe in Jesus because he knew the Scriptures and was expectantly waiting the coming Messiah. This was out of character for Philip who we usually see as a skeptic, but because he had submitted his heart and mind to truth he was able to readily receive Christ.
We already know that Philip was a student of the Old Testament and had submitted his heart and mind to the truth of the Word of God. This enabled him to receive Christ immediately without hesitation, and it is in that we see Philip’s natural tendencies beginning to come out.
After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
Philip was apparently the administrator and organizer of the group. We know that Judas was the treasurer and so it makes sense that Philip, being the “by the book” box checker he was, was in charge of the logistics of the group. And so Jesus asks Philip where they might buy food. Jesus asked him this, John tells us, not asking for a plan (because Jesus already knew what he was going to do) but in order that Philip would see for himself what kind of person he was.
Philip has likely already been thinking about this problem since it was late in the day and he knew the people would be hungry. He knew there wasn’t a Culver’s close by in those days and even if there were they definitely didn’t have enough money for everyone and so he says, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” In other words, “We don’t even have enough to buy everyone a little lunchable, let alone actually feed them.” All Philip could see was that according to the books there was no way they could provide food for these people.
From a human perspective Philip was right but he failed to remember that Jesus had already turned water into wine providing something where there was nothing to start with. So when Jesus asked him if it could be done he simply responded, “No way!”