Philip & Bartholomew

For the past five weeks we have been talking about the kind of people that Jesus can use. This is the underling question of our study of the twelve disciples of Jesus that we are involved in. In the world today for every position that one may apply for there is a list of qualifications that must be met before that person can be considered. Preparing people to have the qualifications for the field they wish to pursue is in itself a large industry. We are all born with our natural talents but if you do not have a degree or certificate saying that those talents are developed then you will be turned down for someone who does. I am not saying that this is wrong, or that someone with hound dog hang on-ness can’t overcome the prerequisite of qualification for their field of interest, but if you expect someone to take you seriously you had better have the paper that says you are.

When we look at some of the better known people in the Bible that God has used, knowing the great work they accomplished, but looking at the kind of people they were, we wonder how they were chosen by God.

Noah who for 120 years built an ark and preached God’s warning to a sinful people that judgment was coming. That the heavens would open up and pour down water and the springs of the earth would gush open and the earth would be completely destroyed by a flood. All the while the people mocked him and thought him to be a fool. What great faith Noah had in the face of an unbelieving world to build a boat miles from any water. To faithfully labor for 120 years while all laughed and mocked him. Yet Noah was a drunkard. (Genesis 6-9)

Abraham was a doubter and impatient for the promise of God that he would be the father of a great nation. In his impatience he committed adultery with a maid servant named Hagar. Abraham was a liar when he went down to Egypt and told the Pharaoh that his wife was his sister. Yet he was also a great man of faith and proved his faith by offering his son on the altar to God. God blessed Abraham and provided the sacrifice and Abraham’s son Isaac went on to build that great nation God had promised. (Genesis 22:1-18)

Jacob, Isaac’s son, was a conniving deceitful man who stole the birthright from his brother Esau. Jacob deceived his father in law Laban many times over the years that he worked to marry his daughter. God blessed Jacob and renamed him Israel, the name of God’s chosen nation. (Genesis 35:9-22)

Moses who led God’s people out of bondage in Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and gave them the Law of God, was a murderer. He struck down an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew and buried him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-2)

Arron, Moses’ brother was the high priest of God for the Israelite nation. Arron was the holy man who spoke to God for the people. Yet while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law Arron became unfaithful and allowed the people to build a Golden Calf to worship. (Exodus 32:1-10)

These men and more like them throughout the Bible appear in their weaknesses to be the march of the unqualified but these were the kind of people that God could use to accomplish His purpose.

We have seen that there are four list in the Scriptures of the disciples. In Matthew 10:2-5, Mark 3:14-19, Luke 6:13-16 and Acts 1:13. These list are divided into three groups of four each. The past two weeks we looked at the first list. Group one, the most intimate group which Jesus spent most of His time training. Three of this group were in the inner circle and at Jesus’ side. The members of this group are Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. The inner three were Simon Peter, James and John. This group, group one were the most intimate and now we are going to look at group two. As we said the groups diminish in there closeness to Jesus and group two were close to Jesus but not like the closeness of Group one.

The members of Group two are, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew. I again mention that in the four list the members may not line up in the same order but Simon Peter is the first in every list and Judas is last. In the three Groups the first name of each group is the same. In this group, group two, Philip is always listed first, he was the leader of group two.

Philip was a Jew but he is named in the Scriptures by his Greek name. The name Philip means “Lover of Horses.” Philip lived in the town of Bethsaida which is also where Simon Peter and Andrew were living. Peter, Andrew, James and John were all fisherman together along with the father of James and John Zebedee. Because Philip is mentioned with them in John 21:2 he probably was a fisherman too.

Philip is mention four times in the Gospel of John and from that we can gain some insights into his character. Philip is first mentioned in John 1:43. “The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” We notice that in this verse Jesus found Philip and then commanded him to “Follow Me.” Philip was the first disciple that Jesus commanded to follow Him. Which Philip immediately obeyed. This shows that Philip had a seeking heart. Philip was aware of the Scriptures in reference to the promise of the coming Messiah and like many of the devout he was waiting for that day when the Messiah would appear. Philip went and found his friend Bartholomew 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.” (John 1:45) I find it interesting that Jesus found Philip but when he went to his friend Bartholomew Philip said “we have found Him.” First we see that Philip knew who Jesus was. He did not have to be convinced as the others of the twelve were. He knew in his heart that Jesus was the Son of God. It is typical that when something as wondrous as coming face to face with God that you most want to go and tell someone about it. The first thing Philip did was go and tell his friend Bartholomew. This is the key to the heart of an evangelist, the overwhelming desire to share the good news of a discovery. What better discovery can a man find than that of the Savior? What better news can one share than the experience of being in the presence of God? Philip had a seeking heart and what he was seeking found him, Jesus. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9) Philip in his excitement challenged Bartholomew and said “Come and see.”

The next time we see Philip is in John 6:5. “Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (John 6:5) Jesus had been healing the sick and teaching all day showing many wonders and signs. Now the evening was coming and there was a crowd of 5,000 men. Which means there was probably 5,000 women and maybe even more with the children. At least there were 15,000 people that were hungry. Jesus turns to Philip and asked him where they were to buy bread to feed this multitude. I think from this we can determine that Philip was the disciple that was in charge of the provision of the disciples. I am sure that each of the twelve had their individual responsibilities and making sure there was ample supply of food was Philips. In looking at verse 6 we see that Jesus was testing Philip’s faith. Jesus knew what He would do but wanted to see if Philip had faith in Him. Jesus had already turned the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. (John 2:1-12) Jesus had just spent the day healing and preforming signs and wonders. And we see in verse 7 Philip’s response. “Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” This shows us that Philip was pragmatic and rather materialistic. Philip was counting up the available resource and came to the conclusion that the task was too great and could not be accomplished. Philip’s vision was not a sense of the possible but a sense of the impossible. He was looking at the physical resources and not seeing the spiritual blessing that can pour from heaven.

We see Philip again when Jesus enters Jerusalem. “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:20-21) The Greeks went to Philip probably because he was known by his Greek name. People feel more comfortable with people who seem more like their own culture. These Greeks were in Jerusalem for the Passover and so where believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus’ entry was the news of the day and they wanted to meet him. Again we see the pragmatism of Philip as he played by the book. Philip’s mindset was still back in Matthew Chapter 10. In Matthew we read, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6) These were Greeks not lost sheep of Israel. Somehow in the three years he had spent with Jesus he had missed the message of Grace. He had missed the meaning of the Samaritan women at Jacobs well. (John 4:7-30) Philip missed the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That the gospel of the Kingdom was for the Jew first and then for the Greek. (Romans 1:16) Philip’s pragmatism shows again as he was indecisive and didn’t know if this was the thing to do, take Greeks to see Jesus. If the Greeks had gone to Peter he would have charged right to Jesus and introduced the Greeks. Philip showed a small focus and decided to lead the Greeks to Andrew and not Jesus. It was Andrew who led the Greeks to Jesus, as Andrew was always bring people to Jesus.

On the last night of Jesus’s life, the disciples knowing that He would no longer be with them, were being comforted by their Master. Philip again displays his small faith in John 14:8. “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Philip had spent three years of training with the great teacher the Master Jesus Christ, whom Philip had proclaimed to Bartholomew that he had found. Yet Philip had never put it together that Jesus was God. Jesus questioned Philip that had he been so long with Him and had not understood that Jesus and the Father were one. Three years of intense training and Philip missed the truth, “so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38)

It is believed that after the ascension of Christ Jesus, Philip traveled into Scythia (south Russia) and remained there for twenty years preaching the Gospel. Eventually, in the company of the apostle Bartholomew, the apostle Philip went to Asia Minor and labored in Hierapolis, near Laodicea and Colosse, in what is modern day Turkey. Philip was crucified, however, Bartholomew escaped martyrdom, when for some special reason, the magistrates caused him to be taken down from the cross and dismissed. Philip was around 87 years of age when martyred in Hierapolis.

Bartholomew, whose first name is Nathanael, is said to be a man who was full of faith. He was a devout Jew who knew the Scriptures well and was a friend of Philip. He and Philip used to spend much time together in conversation about the Scriptures. Bartholomew knew much about the prophets and their prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. He was a seeker of truth much as John was.

We first see Bartholomew in John 1:45 after Philip had met Jesus and went to tell his friend Bartholomew. Bartholomew’s reaction to the news that Philip had given him was skepticism and he remarked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) Nazareth was a wild and unrefined town on the outskirts of Galilee. Nazareth was the last stop before entering the Gentile world.The people of Nazareth we not educated as well as the people who lived closer to the larger town centers. Bartholomew knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem and therefore was not willing to believe that this man Jesus from Nazareth was the Messiah. Bartholomew allowed his prejudices to cause unbelief in what his friend Philip was reporting to him. Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. The world is plagued with people who have preconceived opinions not based upon true fact. Philip did not argue with Bartholomew but invited him to “Come See” for himself about Jesus. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47) This is a remarkable greeting that Jesus had given to Bartholomew. Jesus was saying that he was a true Jew. Not just of Jewish birth but a God fearing obedient Jew. Jesus also found no hypocrisy in Bartholomew. He was a what you see is what you get type of person. He wasn’t trying to be one thing while being another. Bartholomew wasn’t yet ready to believe so Jesus amazed him by speaking words that could only be known by someone with supernatural abilities. “Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” (John 1:48) What was Bartholomew doing under a fig tree? Fig trees branches would spread out over a wide area. Many a fig tree were planted near a dwelling in order to give shade and keep the home cooler. In the heat of the day people would go out and sit beneath a fig tree to have quite time, to meditate, and to pray in the coolness of the shade. This is probably what Bartholomew was doing and Jesus had known that. Bartholomew was amazed that Jesus, who as far as he knew, had never before this moment seen him and knew what he had been doing. “Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49) Instantly Bartholomew knew who Jesus was.

In the company of the apostle Philip, the apostle Bartholomew went to Asia Minor and labored in Hierapolis, near Laodicea and Colosse, in what is modern day Turkey. It is there that Philip was martyred.

From there, Bartholomew went eastward to India and then to greater Armenia. He labored in the area around the south end of the Caspian Sea. A popular tradition among the Armenians is that the apostle Jude (Thaddaeus) was the first to evangelize their region throughout the years of 43 to 66 AD and that the apostle Bartholomew joined him in 60 AD.

The modern name of the district where Bartholomew died is Azerbaijan and the place of his death, called in New Testament times Albanopolis, is now Derbend which is on the west coast of the Caspian Sea. The apostle Bartholomew is said to have been martyred in the year 68 AD. Traditionally he met his death by being flayed or skinned alive, and then beheaded.

Now we have met two more of the Lord’s Men. The first two of Group two. Philip, who is not to be confused with Philip the Evangelist of Acts 21:8, but he did have an evangelistic heart as he quickly went to his friend Bartholomew and told him of Jesus. Like the others we have met Philip had his faults. He was pragmatic and materialistic which caused him to have a small focus on the mission of Christ. He did not see the full picture of God’s grace. Philip was prone to a small faith. After the finial sending on the day of Pentecost he stayed the course and ran the race to the point of death.

And Bartholomew who was full of faith and also had problems with prejudices and skepticism. But he too carried the message of the coming Kingdom of God. Philip and Bartholomew became a part of the twelve who turned the world downside up.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 17,2014

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