St. Philip the Apostle is honored on May 3.
The next day he [Jesus] decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” ―John 1:43
While Matthew, Mark, and Luke merely list Philip as one of the twelve apostles, John’s Gospel gives some more intriguing insights. According to John’s Gospel, Philip was one of the first apostles to be called. He seemed to have no feeling of doubt; following Jesus was the right thing to do. He even sought out his friend Nathanael right away to share the news with him.
Although Philip initially accepted Jesus as the Messiah with ease, a few hints later on in John’s Gospel illustrate a lack of spiritual understanding. For example, just before the miracle of the loaves and fish, Jesus tested Philip’s faith. Jesus asked Philip where they might be able to buy enough food to feed the enormous crowd. Philip, wrapped up in being rational, expressed doubt, fretting that two hundred days of work would not raise enough money to feed such a crowd. He seemed to lack the mystical instinct to trust Jesus in handling the overwhelming situation.
In another instance, Philip again seemed to be pulled toward reason rather than divine trust. During the Last Supper, Jesus was trying to explain his unity with God, the Father, and how they were one. Philip, however, feeling confused, asked Jesus to show them the Father. Philip evidently desired or needed more definite proof in order to understand and accept what Jesus was saying.
The last mention of Philip the Apostle occurs in the Acts of the Apostles as having been in the upper room prior to the descent of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, although he had a difficult time grasping some spiritual matters, his devotion to Jesus still stood firm.
Philip the Apostle is often confused with another Philip―Philip the Deacon (Oct. 11), whose narratives are found within the Acts of the Apostles. Although some earlier theologians believed them to be the same, it is now believed that they were separate persons. Philip the Apostle is believed to have preached the Gospel in Phrygia and was possibly martyred in Hierapolis. However, the place and date of his death are uncertain.
A Biblical Novena to St. Philip the Apostle
St. Philip the Apostle is honored (along with St. James) on May 3. Intriguingly, he is the patron saint of hatmakers and pastry chefs! Due to his dialogue with Jesus during the multiplication of the fish and loaves, he might also be a saint to call out to during times of shortages; shortages of food, time, money, etc. Below are nine Bible verses relevant to St. Philip the Apostle. Perhaps you would like to read and contemplate one passage a day for nine consecutive days. Make your need known to St. Philip, and request his prayers for you.
- Matthew 10:1–15
- Mark 3:13–19
- Luke 6:12–16
- John 1:43–48
- John 6:1–7
- John 12:20–23
- John 14:8–10
- Mark 16:14–20
- Acts 1:6–14