Philip: the Reluctant Missionary of Turkey
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
On a Saturday, Jesus went to Bethesda, a pool in Jerusalem with healing powers where a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled assembled, including one man who had been crippled for forty-eight years. Upon seeing him, Jesus asked why he was not getting in the water. The man explained that he had no one to place him in the water. With that Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk.
There were at least two laws broken that day. First, the man was carrying his mat, which went against the work restrictions imposed upon Jews in observation of the Sabbath. Second, there was the healing that Jesus performed on the Sabbath.
It was the man's carrying of the mat that attracted the attention of Jewish authorities, leading to the interrogation of Jesus as the man who had cured on the Sabbath. When approached by the Jews, Jesus's response was revolutionary callling himself the Son of God and essentially implying that he stood greater than the Sabbath.
The confrontation inspired the immediate admiration from countless Jews as well as the scorn of Jewish authorities. Following this event, according to John, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee to the top of a mountain where he was followed by at least five thousand men. Seeing them, Jesus asked Philip the Apostle where they could buy enough food to feed the multitude.
The question was a trick, as Jesus knew the correct answer. He was testing Philip, and Philip would fail responding, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit."
Too little is known about Philip to allow us to understand why the question tripped him up or why Jesus chose to ask it to him. Philip is thought to have been born in 3 A.D. in Bethsaida where John the Baptist taught and preached. As such, it appears that Philip was one of John's followers. In John 1:43-51, after recruiting Peter and Andrew, Jesus goes to Galilee where he finds Philip and tells him, "Follow me." Philip unhesitatingly does and then brought Nathanael to Jesus.
When Jesus told the apostles he was leaving, Philip once again got tripped up by asking him to show them the Father. The question obviously irritated Jesus who answered, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?"
It is possible that Philip was actually Greek, as his name is Greek, and he apparently spoke the language. This would explain why the Greeks approached him specifically when desiring to meet Jesus. Philip famously took them to Andrew who then introduced them to Jesus, signaling the arrival of the time for Jesus to enter into his sacrifice.
Philip's post-Gospel ministry was long and impactful despite his utter distress when he received his assignment to Scythia (present day southeastern portion of Ukraine, southern Russia, and western Kazakhstan). His reaction was so negative that Mariamne, who has been called his sister but was actually Philip's wife, an apostle, and possibly Lazarus's sister, had to pray for Jesus's intervention in support of Philip.
Philip ultimately went to Greece and then to Scythia with Mariamne and Bartholomew where they ministered to the nomads living there.
According to the Acts of Philip dated to the second or third century, the Apostle died in Hieropolis after having converted the local councilman's wife to Christianity. The conversion so enraged the tyrant that he had Philip crucified along with the disciple Bartholomew, and Mariamne tortured in the vilest ways. Philip preached from the cross upside down, moving all to release him, but he refused. Bartholomew was taken down from the cross, making him the only apostle to survive a crucifixion.
One fascinating point regarding Philips crucifixion revolves around the fact that Hieropolis sits on a fault line. One of the alleged embellishments in the Acts of Philips deals with the miraculous occurrence of a massive earthquake that was willed by Phillip as he was being crucified. The earthquake swallowed up the pagan temple as well as 7,000 of its followers. Even though the earthquake and the temple's destruction have been dismissed as whimsical, an earthquake did take place in 60 A.D., around the time of Philip's ministry, and it did indeed destroy the local templ, which had been built directly on the fault line so that it may benefit from the vapors rising from the earth's crust. Philip, in his anger, is said to have willed the earthquake upon his enemies, causing them to be swallowed up, and their temple destroyed. The curse earned Jesus's reprimand and forty years in purgatory for Philip for having used evil to fight evil against Jesus's teachings.
Philip's body was taken down from the cross by Bartholomew and Mariamne. He was buried in Hieropolis. His remains were subsequently transferred to Constantinople then to the Church of the Dodici Apostoli in Rome. He was survived by his wife Mariamne and their four prophetess daughters.
Philip's tomb in Hieropolis, Turkey, was discovered in 2011 by Francesco D'Andria.
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Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.