Lesson 10 For
September 5th 2015.
PHILIP AS MISSIONERY.
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Third Quatter 2015
August 29—September 4
Philip as Missionary
Read for This Week’s
2 Cor. 4:18,
6:1-7, Acts 8,21:7-10.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to
the ends of the earth (Acts
World mission was the main concern of the risen
Christ during the 40 days between His crucifixion and ascension. The New
Testament preserves at least five of His Great Commission statements:
Acts 1:5-8. Together they constitute the greatest assignment ever
given to Christians. Among the commands was a geographical strategy for
mission outreach, from its Jerusalem base to all Judea and Samaria, then
ultimately to the ends of the earth. This was a command that they,
indeed, took seriously and set out to fulfill.
This geographical strategy is prominent in the mission work of Philip
the evangelist. According to Acts 8, his work extended outward from
Jerusalem in expanding circles. That is, it kept spreading farther and
farther as time progressed.
Who was this Philip the evangelist? What does the Word of God tell us
about him and the work that he did during the earliest days of the
church? Finally, what lessons can we take away for ourselves from the
inspired record of this early missionary?
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath,
Philip the Evangelist
While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal (2
Cor. 4:18, NKJV). Think about what Paul is saying here,
especially as we study this week about Philip the evangelist, someone of
whom we know little except for the few references in the Bible. As we
will see, though, Philip did a good work even though most of what he
accomplished we know little about. Who are some people whom you know of
who have done great things for God but with little outward recognition?
Why is it always important to keep the principle of Paul’s words in
mind, especially if we do a work that doesn’t garner much acclaim or
attention? See also
1 Cor. 4:13.
Philip was a popular Greek name that means
horse lover. In the
New Testament there are four persons called by that name. Two had the
Herod and were part of the Herodian ruling
family, which exerted a generally harsh rule over Israel in New
Testament times. The remaining Philips had outstanding roles in mission.
The first, Philip of Bethsaida, was a disciple who was instrumental
in bringing Nathanael to Jesus (John
1:43-46). Later he brought Greeks to Jesus (John
The second Philip was designated
the evangelist in
Acts 21:8 to distinguish him from Philip the disciple. He first
appeared in the Jerusalem church as a
6:2-5) who turned evangelist and missionary (Acts
8:12). His missionary service, extending over twenty years
and supplemented by his four prophesying daughters, is mentioned in
Acts. We know little else of his background.
It was Philip who preached the gospel to the Samaritans; it was
Philip who had the courage to baptize the Ethiopian eunuch. For a time
the history of these two workers (Philip and Paul) had been closely
intertwined. It was the violent persecution of Saul the Pharisee that
had scattered the church at Jerusalem, and destroyed the effectiveness
of the organization of the seven deacons. The flight from Jerusalem had
led Philip to change his manner of labor, and resulted in his pursuing
the same calling to which Paul gave his life. Precious hours were these
that Paul and Philip spent in each other’s society; thrilling were the
memories that they recalled of the days when the light which had shone
upon the face of Stephen upturned to Heaven as he suffered martyrdom
flashed in its glory upon Saul the persecutor, bringing him, a helpless
suppliant, to the feet of Jesus.—Ellen G. White,
Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 204.
Waiting on Tables
Acts 4:34-37. What kind of picture of the early church is presented
No question, things were for a time going quite well among the early
believers. Of course, everyone is fallen, and before long some tensions
started to rise.
Acts 6:1-7. What problems arose, and how did the church deal with
Rapid growth of the Jerusalem church brought with it social tension.
Philip was appointed to a team to deal with it. Converts included
underprivileged and economically challenged persons whose participation
in the daily common meals placed increasing demands on church leaders. A
murmuring about unfair distribution of food to Greek-speaking widows
emerged. This was especially sensitive because of reminders by the
Hebrew prophets not to neglect widows and orphans.
To resolve this serious issue, all 12 apostles gathered the believers
and proposed the appointment of seven men, full of the Holy Spirit and
wisdom, who would literally
deaconize (Greek for serve) tables so
the 12 could
deaconize the Word (see
4). All seven had Greek names, perhaps indicating a balancing of
welfare service for the neglected Greek-speaking widows. Among them was
Philip, the first time that this Philip is mentioned in the Bible.
The apostles argued that additional leadership was needed so that
they should not be overworked by the administration of the resources
necessary for communal life. They emphasized that their call was to
devote themselves to the Word of God and to prayer.
What are some of the potentially divisive issues
in your own local church, and how can you allow God to use you to help
Philip in Samaria
Saul, a future apostle and missionary, makes his first appearance in
the Bible at the stoning of the deacon Stephen, the first Christian
martyr. This wave of persecution only helped further the spread of the
Acts 8:1-6. What was the result of the persecution of the church in
Samaria was the first stop on the geographical spread of
Christianity. Samaritans considered themselves descendants of Israelites
left behind when Assyria exiled most of the Israelites in 722 B.C. The
Jews, however, considered Samaritans to be descendants of foreigners the
Assyrians forcibly settled in Israel. Jewish-Samaritan relationships
during the New Testament era were marked by tensions and outbreaks of
violence. However, as we saw earlier, Jesus had already paved the way
for mission work there when He dealt with the woman at the well, who, in
turn, began to
evangelize her own people.
Philip’s call to wait on tables now became that of a missionary
evangelist to the Samaritans. As a refugee fleeing religious persecution
in Jerusalem, he did not waste his time. He proclaimed that the Messiah,
awaited by both Jews and Samaritans, had come (Acts
Acts 8:6-15. How successful was Philip’s ministry in Samaria?
Philip was used mightily of the Lord in this early foreign mission
field. The statement of the woman at the well, that
Jews have no
dealings with Samaritans (John
4:9, NKJV) had now become a thing of the past.
What animosities, grudges, and prejudices that
have poisoned your soul need to become
things of the past? Isn’t
it time to let it all go?
Wednesday September 2
With the Ethiopian
Acts 8:26-39, Philip’s next contact was with the Ethiopian treasury
administrator, bringing mission another step toward
the end of the
1:8, NKJV). Philip was the link between Samaria and the Gaza
mission. From Samaria, north of Jerusalem, Philip was called to Gaza,
which is south of the city. His work in the north focused on a group;
here it focused on a single person. In Samaria, Philip could proclaim
Christ only from the five books of Moses, for this was all the
Samaritans accepted; here he could also use the book of Isaiah, probably
in Greek translation.
Acts 8:26-39. As you do, answer the following questions:
What were the texts in Isaiah (from Isaiah 53) that the Ethiopian was
reading, and why would they have given Philip the perfect opportunity to
In contrast to Philip’s work in Samaria, where he did miracles (Acts
8:6), all he did with the Ethiopian was study the Bible. What point
can we take away from this for ourselves as we minister to others?
The Spirit of the Lord called Philip away as soon as he had finished
good news about Jesus and had baptized the
Ethiopian. Philip had no opportunity to transmit his beliefs and
teachings to his new convert. The Ethiopian was left to embrace the
Christian faith in the context of his African culture, guided by the Old
Testament and the Spirit of God, which had already been working in him,
for he already was a worshiper of the Lord and a believer in His Word.
Philip explained to the Ethiopian crucial Old
Testament texts about the death of Jesus. Why must Jesus, His death and
resurrection, be central to the message we give to the world? What is
our message without Him?
Philip as Evangelist, Father, and Host
Philip, clearly, was anointed to do the Lord’s work. Commentators are
divided on what
the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip
8:39) means, whether he was simply told to go to Azotus (vs.
40) or was miraculously transported there. Either way, the crucial point
for us is that Philip was a man surrendered to the Holy Spirit; and
thus, God was able to use him to do a great work for Him.
Acts 8:40. What does it tell us about Philip that helps us to
understand why he was named the
Acts 21:7-10. What can we learn about Philip from these few verses?
At this stage of the story we learn that Philip was a family man with
four unmarried daughters. Philip’s call out of the deaconate into
evangelism involved him in extensive travel. We know about the journey
from Jerusalem to Samaria, then on to Gaza, followed by
all the towns
on the 50-mile (80-kilometer) coastline between Azotus and Caesarea.
There were probably unrecorded journeys. Like all the pioneering
missionaries, he would have been harassed, inconvenienced, and subjected
ups and downs such commitments entail. Still, he managed
his family to the extent that four daughters were deemed by the Holy
Spirit suitable to receive the gift of prophecy. This testifies to good
parenting and true godliness in this pioneering Christian missionary
The text reveals that the apostle Paul stayed with Philip
of days (Acts
21:10 NIV). Twenty-five years earlier, Paul, then named Saul,
had been an aggressive and fierce persecutor of the Christians (Acts
9:1-2). His persecution of Jerusalem believers forced Philip
to flee to Samaria (Acts
8:1-5). Now, years later, persecutor and persecuted meet in
the home of Philip, who hosts Paul’s visit. What an interesting meeting
of brothers and fellow workers with Christ in the great cause of
bringing the gospel to the non-Jewish world!
In our work for others, why is it so crucial
never to forget our first obligation: our families?
Further Study: Ellen G. White,
Gospel in Samaria, The Acts of the Apostles,
When they were scattered by persecution they went forth filled
with missionary zeal. They realized the responsibility of their mission.
They knew that they held in their hands the bread of life for a
famishing world; and they were constrained by the love of Christ to
break this bread to all who were in need.—Ellen G. White,
The Acts of the Apostles, page 106.
And when His disciples were driven from Jerusalem, some found in
Samaria a safe asylum. The Samaritans welcomed these messengers of the
gospel, and the Jewish converts gathered a precious harvest from among
those who had once been their bitterest enemies.—Pages 106, 107.
- As we’ve seen, the gospel breaks down barriers between
people. At least, that is the ideal; the reality has at times
been radically different. What is it about human beings, even
among Christians—among those who understand that we are all the
same before God, who understand that the Cross is the great
equalizer—that we allow cultural, social, and other barriers to
divide us to the great extent that they still do? How can the
Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is so universal, discourage
- As we saw, the persecution of the early church caused
believers to flee, and as a result, the gospel started spreading
in ways that it might not have done without persecution. Though
God was able to bring good out of it, we must remember that
religious persecution is never good, never right, never
justified. What should our attitude be toward those who are
facing religious persecution, even if we don’t agree with their
religious beliefs? (See
Inside Story ~
Cambodia ~ By Chhenghorn Thean
Despair to Hope—Part 2
That night she sold five books for $5 each. She was convinced
that God is the true God. But a month later her husband told her to
stop selling books.
Your work is bringing shame on me, he
Cheng’s husband demanded that she stop believing in Jesus and
stop selling books.
I can’t do that, she told him.
believe in Jesus; I have seen His power at work. And I am selling
books to feed myself because you refuse to give me any money.
If you refuse to give up this nonsense, I will leave you,
he said. But Cheng refused to give up her new faith. When she was
baptized a few months later, her husband left her and went to live
with his mother and his sons.
For several years Cheng has tried to visit her sons, but she
hasn’t been allowed to see them. Although her life is difficult,
Cheng has not let her personal troubles discourage her. She
continues to sell literature to support herself and invites people
to the church when they show interest in the books she sells. When
people are too poor to buy a book, she urges them to come to the
church to meet God. She shares her testimony with them and testifies
that God is faithful to those who trust Him.
One woman who used to pay Cheng to paint her nails asked Cheng
why she had become a Christian. Cheng smiled and told the woman that
God is a loving and powerful God, and He answers her prayers. As the
two women stood talking outside the woman’s home, the woman realized
that one of her precious earrings was missing.
We must find it!
the woman said, feverishly searching in the dirt for the missing
I inherited this from my mother. I must find it.
The two women searched together for the earring. Cheng knew that
if they didn’t find the earring, the woman might accuse Cheng and
the church. The woman was so impressed that Cheng’s God could help
her find her earring, that she asked Cheng to take her to her church
Cheng was crushed when her husband told her that he no longer
wants her for his wife. But Cheng put her trust in God, and recently
she met a Global Mission pioneer, and the two plan to marry.
Truly God has provided all my needs, she says with a gentle
Chhenghorn Thean is a top literature evangelist and soul winner
in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.