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PHILIP fĭl’ ĭp (Φίλιππος, G5805, fond of horses or horse-lover). This proper name occurs thirty-eight times in the NT and denotes four different men.

Philip Herod I

(Mark 6:17), son of Herod the Great and Mariamne (daughter of Simon the High Priest), is distinguished from Philip the Tetrarch—although there is reason to believe his name was not Philip. Josephus calls him Herod (Jos. Antiq. XVIII. v. 4). He married his niece Herodias (sister of Agrippa I and granddaughter of Herod the Great) by whom he had a daughter, Salome. Philip’s wife left him and contracted an adulterous union with his half-brother, Herod Antipas (Matt 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19). Philip was next in line to succeed Antipater, but because of his mother’s alleged treachery toward her husband (Jos. Wars I. xxx. 7), this was changed by later wills. Philip lived as a private citizen in comparative obscurity, apparently at Rome.


A. H. M. Jones, The Herods of Judaea (1938), 176; W. Lillie, “Salome or Herodias?”, LXV, ExpT (1953f.), 251.

Philip Herod II,

son of Herod the Great and his fifth wife (Cleopatra of Jerusalem), was reared at Rome like his two half-brothers, Antipas and Archelaus. In accordance with his father’s latest will, Philip was appointed (4 b.c.) by Augustus to Batanaea, Trachonitis, Auronitis (Gaulonitis), and portions of Jamnia (Jos. Antiq. XVII. viii. 1; xi. 4). The land areas of this territory were all located NE of Pal. Philip ruled over a sparsely populated region stretching N and E from the Sea of Galilee toward Damascus. He married Salome, daughter of Herod Philip I and Herodias.

Luke describes Philip’s kingdom as “the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis” (3:1). Τραχωνι̂τις, G5551, (rough, stony district) is a part of the Trans-Jordan plateau (OT Bashan; modern Hauran) S of Damascus. Its most distinctive feature is a black pear-shaped mass of petrified volcanic lava that rises 20-40 ft. and covers an area of c. 350 square miles. The population of Trachonitis was chiefly Greek and Syrian. On two occasions it had been colonized by Herod the Great: once with 2,000 Idumeans, and again with Jewish warriors from Babylon. Jesus visited here once during His Galilean ministry (Matt 16:13; Mark 8:27). Philo uses Trachonitis to describe the entire territory ruled by Philip. The word occurs only once in the NT (Luke 3:1).

Precisely what Luke meant by Ituraea is unknown. One does not even know whether ̓Ιτουραι̂ος, G2714, is a noun or an adjectival form (land or people). As a geographical area Ituraea possibly overlapped or even covered Trachonitis, because Ituraea included all districts NE of Pal. Today it prob. is impossible to recover the exact boundaries. References in ancient lit. are frequently ambiguous and confusing.

Philip’s coins, unlike those of his brothers, bore the image of the Rom. emperor. (This was the first time a Jewish ruler had done this.) Josephus states that he founded Caesarea Philippi (Jos. Wars II. ix. 1), but the fact is Philip rebuilt Panias (modern Banyas at the foot of Mt. Hermon) in Graeco-Roman style and renamed it (Matt 16:13; Mark 8:27). He also transformed the village of Bethsaida into a city and renamed it Julias in honor of Augustus’ profligate daughter. This city became his capital.

Philip was the best of Herod’s sons. He enjoyed a peaceful reign of thirty-seven years. From the absence of details it is customary to summarize it as one of tranquility and prosperity. Unlike the rest of his family, Philip was noted for justice and moderation. His rule is distinguished for equity. He was very considerate of his subjects. He displayed such justice and benevolence that he gained their affection and respect. He was much loved by his people. He seemed to be free from the intriguing spirit of his brothers. It has been suggested that maybe he inherited this trait from his mother’s family. He died at Julias in the winter of a.d. 33/34 (30th year of Tiberius) without heirs.

After Philip’s death, his territory was annexed to the Rom. province of Syria for three years (Jos. Antiq. XVIII. iv. 6), but in a.d. 37 it was assigned to his nephew, Agrippa I (37-44).


Ephemeris Epigraphica (1881), 537ff.; E. Schürer (ed.), The Jewish People in the Time of Christ, I (1905), ii, 325-344; F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, I (1938), 47; D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1957), 223f.

Philip the apostle,

In the synoptics, Philip is merely mentioned, but in the fourth gospel he (1) is one of the first (i.e., fourth) to be called (1:43); (2) is instrumental in bringing Nathanael to Jesus (1:45-49); and (3) is mentioned personally in connection with the feeding of the 5,000 (6:5-7), as also in one of Jesus’ major discourses (14:8). He is portrayed as a naive, rather shy, but sober-minded person. Philip was timid and retiring; yet he informed Nathanael that he had discovered the Messiah foretold in the OT (John 1:45). Prior to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus tested Philip by asking, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat” (John 6:5)? Possibly it was Philip’s responsibility to provide food (Bengel); or perhaps his faith was weak (Chrysostom).

Philip may have received his Gr. name in honor of Philip the Tetrarch (Luke 3:1). His name might explain why the Greeks who came to the Passover sought him out on Palm Sunday as mediator between them and Christ (John 12:20-23).

Philip was reluctant to believe wholeheartedly in the kingdom because he failed to understand it: (1) He was anxious about 200 denarii to buy bread in the presence of the Bread of Life; (2) he sought for additional revelation (“Show us the Father,” John 14:8) when the substance of the incarnation already had been given him. Yet amid defective knowledge and imperfect spiritual insight he acquired a true missionary spirit and was instrumental in leading others to Christ. He is mentioned as being among those in the Upper Room who were awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:13).

Philip was claimed (erroneously) as the author of the Gospel of Philip (2nd cent. a.d.), a work used by the Egyp. Gnostics (Epiphanius, Heresies xxvi. 13). He is prominent in Pistis Sophia, a Gnostic gospel that circulated perhaps in the latter portion of the 2nd cent. a.d.

Concerning his life and work after Pentecost, Eusebius declares that he lived as one of the great lights of Asia and is buried at Hierapolis along with his two virgin daughters. Traditions are divergent concerning his labors prior to his settlement at Hierapolis. Apparently he spent the latter part of his life in Phrygia and died at Hierapolis. Conflicting also are the traditions regarding the manner of his death.

His relics are in the Church of the Apostles at Rome. In the Roman Church his feast is celebrated May 1; in the Gr. Church November 14. His symbol is a cross with a loaf of bread on either side (John 6:7).


W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, I (1895-1897), ii, 552; B. P. Grenfell and A. B. Hunt (eds.), The Hibeh Papyri, I (1906), 62. 1; M. R. James, The Apocryphal NT (1924), 439-453.

Philip the evangelist and deacon

Most of Philip’s preaching was to the Gentiles along the Mediterranean seaboard. In this sense he was a forerunner of Paul. Philip preached in every port city from Ashdod (Azotus) to Caesarea on the sea (8:40). Apparently he settled there, since about twenty years later Paul (on his last journey to Jerusalem) was a guest in Philip’s home in this city (Acts 21:8, 9). Philip had four unmarried daughters (παρθένοι) living at home who had the gift of prophecy. (They were female preachers.) Philip’s house was pointed out to travelers in the time of Jerome.

Philip was one of the heroic first to admit non-Jewish believers into the fellowship of the Church. Prior to this, the Samaritans were excluded and even denied the privilege of becoming Jewish proselytes. It was Philip (not the apostles) who took the first step in (1) overcoming Jewish prejudice, and (2) the interracial expansion of the Church in accordance with the Lord’s command.

There are diverse traditions both as to where Philip lived at the time of his death, and the manner of his death. According to most forms of tradition, he died of natural causes at Tralles, in Lydia. (Basil reports that he was bishop there; vide Menol. I. cxi in Migne CXVII, 103.) Others connect Philip with Hierapolis in Asia and affirm that there he suffered martyrdom. In the Roman Church his feast is June 6.


J. Hastings, The Greater Men and Women of the Bible, Vol. VI (1916), 115-134.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Philippos, "lover of horses"):

(1) The father of Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:1; 6:2), king of Macedonia in 359-336 BC. His influence for Greece and for mankind in general lay in hastening the decadence of the Greek city-state and in the preparations he left to Alexander for the diffusion throughout the world of the varied phases of Greek intellectual life.

(2) A Phrygian left by Antiochus Epiphanes as governor at Jerusalem (circa 170 BC) and described in 2 Macc 5:22 as "more barbarous" than Antiochus himself, burning fugitive Jews who had assembled in caves near by "to keep the sabbath day secretly" (2 Macc 6:11) and taking special measures to check the opposition of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 8:8). There is some ground for identifying him with--

(3) A friend or foster-brother of Antiochus (2 Macc 9:29), appointed by Antiochus on his deathbed as regent. Lysias already held the office of regent, having brought up the son of Antiochus from his youth, and on the death of his father set him up as king under the name of Eupator. The accounts of the rivalries of the regents and of the fate of Philip as recorded in 1 Macc 6:56; 2 Macc 9:29; Josephus, Ant, XII, ix, 7, are not easily reconciled.

(4) Philip V, king of Macedonia in 220-179 BC. He is mentioned in 1 Macc 8:5 as an example of the great power of the Romans with whom Judas Maccabeus made a league on conditions described (op. cit.). The conflict of Philip with the Romans coincided in time with that of Hannibal, after whose defeat at Zama the Romans were able to give undivided attention to the affairs of Macedonia. Philip was defeated by the Romans under Flaminius, at Cynoscephalae (197 BC), and compelled to accept the terms of the conquerors. He died in 179, and was succeeded by his son Perseus, last king of Macedonia, who lost his crown in his contest with the Romans.

See Perseus.


1. New Testament References:

2. Apocryphal References:

According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles," Philip was of the house of Zebulun (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50). Clement of Alexandria (Strom., iii.4, 25, and iv.9, 73) gives the tradition identifying him with the unknown disciple who asked permission to go and bury his father ere he followed Jesus (compare Mt 8:21; Lu 9:59), and says that he died a natural death. Owing to confusion with Philip the evangelist, there is much obscurity in the accounts of Apocrypha literature concerning the earlier missionary activities of Philip the apostle. The "Ac of Philip" tell of a religious controversy between the apostle and a Judean high priest before the philosophers of Athens. Later Latin documents mention Gaul (Galatia) as his field. As to his sending Joseph of Arimathea thence to Britain, see Joseph of Arimathaea. The evidence seems conclusive that the latter part of his life was spent in Phrygia. This is supported by Polycrates (bishop of Ephesus in the 2nd century), who states that he died at Hierapolis, by Theodoret, and by the parts of the Contendings of the Apostles dealing with Philip. Thus, according to "The Preaching of Philip and Peter" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 146), Phrygia was assigned to Philip as a mission field by the risen Christ when He appeared to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, and "The Martyrdom of Philip in Phrygia" (Budge, II, 156) tells of his preaching, miracles and crucifixion there.

Philip was regarded in early times as the author of "The Gospel of Philip," a Gnostic work of the 2nd century, part of which was preserved by Epiphanius (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 40, 41).

See Apocryphal Gospels.

3. Character:

As with Andrew, Philip’s Greek name implies he had Greek connections, and this is strengthened by the fact that he acted as the spokesman of the Greeks at the Passover. Of a weaker mold than Andrew, he was yet the one to whom the Greeks would first appeal; he himself possessed an inquirer’s spirit and could therefore sympathize with their doubts and difficulties. The practical, strong-minded Andrew was naturally the man to win the impetuous, swift-thinking Peter; but the slower Philip, versed in the Scriptures (compare Joh 1:45), appealed more to the critical Nathanael and the cultured Greeks. Cautious and deliberate himself, and desirous of submitting all truth to the test of sensuous experience (compare Joh 14:8), he concluded the same criterion would be acceptable to Nathanael also (compare Joh 1:46). It was the presence of this materialistic trend of mind in Philip that induced Jesus, in order to awaken in His disciple a larger and more spiritual faith, to put the question in Joh 6:6, seeking "to prove him." This innate diffidence which affected Philip’s religious beliefs found expression in his outer life and conduct also. It was not merely modesty, but also a certain lack of self-reliance, that made him turn to Andrew for advice when the Greeks wished to see Jesus. The story of his later life is, however, sufficient to show that he overcame those initial defects in his character, and fulfilled nobly the charge that his risen Lord laid upon him (compare Mt 28:16-20).

("tetrarch," Lu 3:1).

See Herod.

See also

  • Herod