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Summary: Study of the lives of teh 12 Disciples

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12 Disciples – Philip & Bartholomew

Monday 23rd October 06

Philip is the 5th disciple mentioned in Matthew 10:3

John 1:43 - 51

The name ‘Philip’ means “fond of horses”

1. Occupation & Call

Jesus called Philip personally and Philip trusted Him and followed Him. Philip proved his faith by seeking to share it with his friend Nathanael.

Some students believe that Nathanael and Bartholomew are the same person. John never mentions Bartholomew in his Gospel, but the other three writers name Bartholomew and not Nathanael. Philip is linked with Bartholomew in the lists of names (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14), so it is possible that the two men were “paired off” and served together. It was not unusual in that day for one man to have two different names.

2. Philip Finds his friend (John 1:45)

When Philip witnessed to Nathanael, the evidence he gave was Moses and the Prophets (John 1:45). Perhaps Jesus gave Philip a “quick course” in the Old Testament messianic prophecies, as He did with the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:13ff). It is always good to tie our personal witness to the Word of God.

John 21:2 suggests that at least seven of our Lord’s disciples were fishermen, including Nathanael. Fishermen are courageous and stick to the job, no matter how difficult it may be. But Nathanael started out a doubter: he did not believe that anything worthwhile could come out of Nazareth. Our Lord was born in Bethlehem, but He grew up in Nazareth and bore that stigma (Matt. 2:19-23). To be called “a Nazarene” (Acts 24:5) meant to be looked down on and rejected.

When Nathanael hesitated and argued, Philip adopted our Lord’s own words: “Come and see” (John 1:39). Later on, Jesus would invite, “Come and drink!” (John 7:37) and, “Come and dine!” (John 21:12) “Come” is the great invitation of God’s grace.

3. Nathanael Believes (John 1:47 – 49)

When Nathanael came to Jesus, he discovered that the Lord already knew all about him! What a shock! By calling him “an Israelite in whom is no guile,”

When Jesus revealed His knowledge of Nathanael, where he had been and what he had been doing, this was enough to convince the man that Jesus indeed was “the Son of God, the King of Israel.” His experience was like that of the Samaritan woman at the well. “When He [Messiah] is come, He will tell us all things. . . . Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did” (John 4:25, 29).

4. Philip is tested (John 6:5 – 7)

The problem, of course, was how to meet the needs of such a vast crowd of people. Four solutions were proposed.

First, the disciples suggested that Jesus send the people away (Mark 6:35-36). Get rid of the problem (see Matt. 15:23). But Jesus knew that the hungry people would faint on the way if somebody did not feed them. It was evening (Matt. 14:15), and that was no time for travel.

The second solution came from Philip in response to our Lord’s “test question” (John 6:5): raise enough money to buy food for the people. Philip “counted the cost” and decided they would need the equivalent of 200 days’ wages! And even that would not provide bread enough to satisfy the hunger of all the men, women, and children (Matt. 14:21). Too often, we think that money is the answer to every need. Of course, Jesus was simply testing the strength of Philip’s faith.


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