Picking Up The Threads
A good historian not only gets their facts right, but they also tell a compelling story. Read William Manchester’s The Last Lion on Churchill or Ron Chernov’s Alexander Hamilton, the book Lin-Manuel Miranda based his hit musical on, and you’ll see what I mean. Both Manchester and Chernov tell historically accurate stories but they also use literary techniques that seize and hold our attention. Luke does the same in his two volumes in the New Testament.
His first volume, the Gospel of Luke, narrates Jesus’s life from birth to the climactic events of His death, resurrection and ascension. Luke’s second volume, the Book of Acts, carries the Story forward as the ascended Christ by His Spirit takes the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond, especially through Peter and Paul. But Luke also tells the stories of other evangelists besides the apostles. Remember Philip?
Luke introduces him in Acts 6 in the episode of the first major church fight. The Jerusalem church members chose him as one of the leaders with the skills to administrate the daily feeding of the Greek-speaking widows (Act 6). He is definitely one of the “good guys” as Luke presents him as a man “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).
After the martyrdom of Stephen the persecution generated by Saul causes Philip to flee to Samaria where he proclaims Jesus as the Messiah and does miracles and exorcisms to prove it (Act 8:5-13). Then the Spirit guides him away from the explosive growth of believers in Samaria to share the Gospel from Isaiah 53 down in Gaza with one Ethiopian, a major official in the queen’s court. Luke then tell us how the Spirit took Philip away from this encounter to share the Good News about grace in Azotus, ancient Ashdod of the Old Testament Philistine stories, and then to Caesarea up the coast (Acts 8:40).
What happened to Philip in Caesarea? How long did he stay in Caesarea? What ministry did he have there? What about his family? We have questions, but until Luke picks up the threads in the story we don’t have the answers until he shares with us about Paul’s brief stop in Caesarea on the way to Jerusalem. Guess who stayed in Philip’s home, a home filled with four, gifted, single daughters?
“Completing the voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais. Greeting the brothers, we stayed with them for a day. Departing the next day, we came to Caesarea and entered the home of Philip, the Evangelist, one of the seven, and we stayed with him. Now Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied.” Acts 21:7-9
LORD, help me to never get over the thrill that you can take a persecutor like Paul and the persecuted like Philip and turn them into brothers enjoying hospitality together. Help me also to encourage my sisters in Christ who are gifted by the Spirit to encourage and exhort in their spheres of influence, and to especially encourage singles to realize the roles you have for them in your family.
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