Oct 19 – Henry Martyn, Translator + Missionary to India & Persia

Oct 19 - Henry Martyn

Henry Martyn
Translator + Missionary to India & Persia
19 October 1812

click here for books by or about Henry Martyn


From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of henry martynHenry Martyn was born in 1781, studied at Cambridge, and became Senior Wrangler. (That is, he won the Cambridge University annual mathematics problem-solving competition, and was accordingly recognized as the University’s best undergraduate mathematician. “Wrangling” is a British University expression for solving mathematical problems.) He had, moreover, a considerable facility in languages. Under the encouragement of Charles Simeon (see 12 Nov 1836), he abandoned his intention of going into law and instead went to India as a chaplain in 1806. In the six remaining years of his life, he translated the New Testament into Hindi and Persian, revised an Arabic translation of the New Testament, and translated the Psalter into Persian and the Prayer Book into Hindi. In 1811 he left India for Persia, hoping to do further translations and to improve his existing ones, there and in Arabia. But travel in those days was not a healthy occupation, and he fell ill and eventually died at Tokat on October 16, 1812. (The American Calendar commemorates him on 19 October.) He was buried by the Armenian church there, with the honors ordinarily reserved for one of their own bishops. His diary (vol. 1, vol. 2) has been called “one of the most precious treasures of Anglican devotion.”

by James Kiefer

Oct 19 – William Carey, Translator + Missionary to India

Oct 19 - William Carey

William Carey
Translator + Missionary to India
19 October 1834

click here for books by or about William Carey


From the SCLM Lectionary

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marat...

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marathi and Bengali in Calcutta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Carey was an English Baptist missionary and was a major figure in developing the Protestant missionary movement of the nineteenth century.

Born a son of the Church of England in 1761, Carey took an early interest in his studies and excelled at languages, a gift that would serve him in his ministry. After his village schooling, Carey apprenticed as a cobbler where he came into contact with a fellow worker who was a Nonconformist. Carey was challenged by this relationship and he eventually left the Church of England and became a Congregationalist. Carey developed into a master cobbler, married, and with his wife, Dorothy, had six children, only three of which survived childhood. During his years as a master cobbler, Carey’s interest in languages became a passionate avocation; he learned Italian, French, Dutch, and Hebrew, while increasing his mastery of Latin, a language he had taught himself as a youngster.

Carey’s spiritual quest continued. He was re-baptized in 1783 and was a Baptist for the remainder of his life. He became a schoolmaster and served as a Baptist pastor while struggling with his responsibility to foreign missions. He was among the founders in 1792 of what would become the Baptist Missionary Society. Finally, in 1793, Carey and company set out for India.

After transitional periods in Calcutta and Midnapore, Carey and his fellow missionaries settled in Serampore in 1800 where Carey would spend the rest of his life. He was appointed a professor at Fort Williams College, which had been founded to educate the children of civil servants. While teaching, Carey translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit and the New Testament into other Indian languages and dialects, in addition to providing translations of other Christian literature. Carey also completed a Bengali-English dictionary and other linguistic tools to support missionary work.

In 1818, Carey’s mission established Serampore College for the dual purpose of training indigenous ministers and providing a classical education to anyone regardless of caste or national origin.

William Carey died on June 9, 1834, and was buried in Serampore.

Trees and Taxes

470px-General_Sherman_tree_looking_up

By Jim Bahn (Sherman Tree Uploaded by hike395) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Those who organized the Revised Common Lectionary think they’re so clever. As so many churches make a push for members to begin or increase their giving, they throw in readings like this one from Matthew about paying taxes:

“The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away” (Matthew 22:15-22).

The Pharisees thought they would surely trap Jesus by forcing him to either confirm that the Roman emperor was due taxes or else anger Rome and provide himself a ticket to jail without passing “Go.” Does the emperor deserve this money, or does it belong to God? But unless these Pharisees are also ready to answer the question for themselves, they are barking up the wrong tree.

There’s a lot of this—barking up wrong trees—going around the United States right now as simplistic and often despicable campaign ads and debate performances intentionally churn up negative emotions about opposition in order to win votes by default.

After November 4th, I’m going to be in need of a major detox.

Sometimes I wonder if all of the wretchedness in campaign season is motivated by the candidates’ desire to have an overall low voter turnout—to dissuade conscientious people from the thought that their votes make a difference, leaving a select groups of voters to bring about more controlled and predictable results. Wherever the actual practices come from, those in power too often put humanity and progress at risk for the sake of maintaining power.

I was glad to see that the mayor of my old stomping grounds, Vancouver, Washington (no, not the one in Canada) recently risked at least some popularity by boycotting a prayer breakfast which is to be keynoted by, “former Army Lt. Gen. William G. ‘Jerry’ Boykin, who in interviews, speeches and writings has said that the war on terrorism is a Christian war against Satan and that followers of Islam are ‘under an obligation to destroy our Constitution.’”[1] But the mayor’s boycott is merely a political stunt if it does nothing to bring about acceptance, tolerance, and compassion, for which he claims the community strives.

It’s possible to hear Jesus’ phrase, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and think that Jesus is making a quick getaway from an uncomfortable situation—when, in fact, he’s saying something quite radical: namely that where, when, and to whom we give our time, money, votes, energy, and compassion matters…

…and that we must think for ourselves how we go about making those decisions. To that extent, he’s not only talking about taxes, but about priorities. In a world where so much is too often sacrificed for the sake of power and control, how are we to give to God what is God’s?

Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree.

 

[1] http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/oct/15/leavitt-will-boycott-fridays-prayer-breakfast/

Oct 18 – Saint Luke, Physician + Evangelist

Oct 18 - Luke the Evangelist

Saint Luke
Physician + Evangelist
18 October NT

click here for books by or about Saint Luke


From the Satucket Lectionary

St. LukeAlmost all that we know about Luke comes from the New Testament. He was a physician (Col 4:14), a companion of Paul on some of his missionary journeys (Acts 16:10ff; 20:5ff; 27-28). Material found in his Gospel and not elsewhere includes much of the account of Our Lord’s birth and infancy and boyhood, some of the most moving parables, such as that of the Good Samaritan and that of the Prodigal Son, and three of the sayings of Christ on the Cross: “Father, forgive them,” “Thou shalt be with me in Paradise,” and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

In Luke’s account of the Gospel, we find an emphasis on the human love of Christ, on His compassion for sinners and for suffering and unhappy persons, for outcasts such as the Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers, shepherds (not a respected profession), and for the poor. The role of women in Christ’s ministry is more emphasized in Luke than in the other Gospel writings.

In the book of Acts, we find the early Christian community poised from the start to carry out its commission, confident and aware of Divine guidance. We see how the early Christians at first preached only to Jews, then to Samaritans (a borderline case), then to outright Gentiles like Cornelius, and finally explicitly recognized that Gentiles and Jews are called on equal terms to the service and fellowship of Christ.

St. Luke, from an old Book of Common PrayerLuke makes many casual references throughout his writings (especially in Acts) to local customs and practices, often with demonstrable and noteworthy precision. To mention just one example, he refers to two centurions by name, Cornelius in Acts 10 and Julius in Acts 27, and he calls them both by nomen only, rather than by nomen and cognomen (Sergius Paulus in Acts 13;7) or cognomen only (Gallio in Acts 18:12), as he does when speaking of civilian officials. It is a distinction that would have been routine at the time that Luke is writing about, but one that had largely died out by, say, 70 AD. His preserving it shows either that (1) he wrote fairly close to the events he described, or (2) he was describing persons and events on which he had good information, or (3) he was an expert historical novelist, with an ear for the authentic-sounding detail.

Luke is commonly thought to be the only non-Jewish New Testament writer. His writings place the life of Christ and the development of the early Church in the larger context of the Roman Empire and society. On the other hand, his writings are focused on Jerusalem and on the Temple. His Gospel begins and ends in the Temple, and chapters nine through nineteen portray Jesus as journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem. Similarly, the Book of Acts describes the Church in Jerusalem (and worshipping in the Temple) and then describes the missionary journeys of Paul as excursions from and returns to Jerusalem.


What writer wrote more pages of the New Testament than anyone else? If you say Paul, try again. In my pocket Bible, Acts and the Gospel of Luke occupy a total of sixty pages, while all the letters traditionally attributed to Paul (not counting Hebrews) total fifty-six.

The writer of the Third Gospel and the Book of Acts does not give his name in his writings. (Except for Nehemiah, no Biblical writer of a narrative book does.) He does claim to be a traveling companion of Paul, and his interests and vocabulary suggest that he is a physician. Since Paul tells us that he had a companion named Luke who was a physician, the conclusion that Luke is the writer we are looking for is reasonable.

Was the two-volume work Luke-Acts in fact written by a companion of Paul? Scholars are not agreed on the answer.

By and large, most German writers favor a negative answer. Their reasons are that (1) the chronology of Paul’s life found in the Book of Acts presents certain apparent conflicts with that found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and that (2) the writer seems unfamiliar with the geography of Israel.

On the other hand, most English scholars favor an affirmative answer. Their reasons are that the “We” sections in Acts (the sections in which the author explicitly claims to have been present at the events he describes) contain a wealth of circumstantial detail that make invention extremely unlikely. (Thus, for example, Mr. James Smith of Jordan Hill, FRS, having sailed a vessel over the same route described in Acts 27-28, argues in his book, The Voyage and Shipwreck of Saint Paul, that the account must have been written by someone who had sailed that route. It used to be a popular theory that the writer had somehow gotten his hands on a travel diary of the real “Luke” and incorporated it into his work. However, a detailed analysis of the writing style of various sections of the work shows none of the differences that would be expected on this theory. Scholars on the affirmative side generally answer the negative objections mentioned above by supposing that (1) the conferences mentioned in Acts 15 and Galatians 2 are not the same conference, and that (2) Luke uses the word “Judea” sometimes to mean the southern portion of the land of Israel, and sometimes to mean the whole land. For some comments on the historical reliability of the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke, go to the following URLs:
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy1.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy2.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy3.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy4.html

 

Oct 17 – Ignatius of Antioch – Bishop + Martyr

Oct 17 - Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch
Bishop + Martyr
17 October 107

click here for books about or by Ignatius of Antioch


From the Satucket Lectionary

Ignatius of AntiochAfter the Apostles, Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch in Syria. His predecessor, of whom little is known, was named Euodius. Whether he knew any of the Apostles directly is uncertain. Little is known of his life except for the very end of it. Early in the second century (perhaps around 107 AD, during the reign of the Emperor Trajan), he was arrested by the Imperial authorities, condemned to death, and transported to Rome to die in the arena. By thus dealing with a leader, the rulers hoped to terrify the rank and file. Instead, Ignatius took the opportunity to encourage them, speaking to groups of Christians at every town along the way. When the prison escort reached the west coast of Asia Minor, it halted before taking ship, and delegations from several Asian churches were able to visit Ignatius, to speak with him at length, to assist him with items for his journey, and to bid him an affectionate farewell and commend him to the grace of God. In response he wrote seven letters that have been preserved: five to congregations that had greeted him, en masse or by delegates (Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Philadelphians, and Smyrnaeans), one to the congregation that would greet him at his destination (Romans), and one to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and disciple of the Apostle John.
His letters are available in several modern translations. Perhaps the most accessible is the Penguin Paperback, Early Christian Writings, translated by Maxwell Staniforth. The themes with which he is chiefly concerned are (1) the importance of maintaining Christian unity in love and sound doctrine (with warnings against factionalism and against the heresy of Docetism — the belief that Christ was not fully human and did not have a material body or really suffer and die), (2) the role of the clergy as a focus of Christian unity, (3) Christian martyrdom as a glorious privilege, eagerly to be grasped.

He writes:

I am God’s wheat, ground fine by the lion’s teeth to be made purest bread for Christ.No early pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God.

by James Kiefer

Oct 16 – Latimer & Nicholas – Bishops + Martyrs

Oct 16 - Latimer and Ridley

Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley
Bishops + Martyrs
16 October 1555

click here for books about or by Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley


From the Satucket Lectionary

When Henry the Eighth of England died, he left three heirs: his son Edward and his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Edward succeeded to the throne and was a staunch Protestant (or at least his advisors were). Under his rule, the church services, previously in Latin, were translated into English, and other changes were made. When Edward died, the throne passed to his sister Mary, who was firmly Roman Catholic in her beliefs. She determined to return England to union with the Pope. With more diplomacy, she might have succeeded. But she was headstrong and would take no advice. Her mother had been Spanish, and she determined to marry the heir to the throne of Spain, not realizing how much her people (of all religious persuasions) feared that this would make England a province of the Spanish Empire. She insisted that the best way to deal with heresy was to burn as many heretics as possible. (It is worth noting that her husband was opposed to this.) In the course of a five-year reign, she lost all the English holdings on the continent of Europe, she lost the affection of her people, and she lost any chance of a peaceful religious settlement in England. Of the nearly three hundred persons burned by her orders, the most famous are the Oxford Martyrs, commemorated today.

Hugh Latimer was famous as a preacher. He was Bishop of Worcester (pronounced WOOS-ter) in the time of King Henry, but resigned in protest against the King’s refusal to allow the Protestant reforms that Latimer desired. Latimer’s sermons speak little of doctrine; he preferred to urge men to upright living and devoutness in prayer. But when Mary came to the throne, he was arrested, tried for heresy, and burned together with his friend Nicholas Ridley. His last words at the stake are well known: “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God’s grace shall never be put out.”

portrait of nicholas ridleyNicholas Ridley became an adherent of the Protestant cause while a student at Cambridge. He was a friend of Archbishop Cranmer and became private chaplain first to Cranmer and then to King Henry. Under the reign of Edward, he became bishop of Rochester, and was part of the committee that drew up the first English Book of Common Prayer. When Mary came to the throne, he was arrested, tried, and burned with Latimer at Oxford on 16 October 1555.

Martyrdom of Latimer & Ridley
Martyrdom of Latimer & Ridley
Cross in Broad St., Oxford, marking the spot where Latimer & Ridley died. [Photo by the web author.]

 

by James Kiefer

Oct 15 – Teresa of Avila – Reformer + Contemplative

Oct 15 - Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila
Reformer + Contemplative
15 October 1582

click here for books about or by Teresa of Avila


A Prayer

O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


From the Satucket Lectionary

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada (later known as Teresa de Jesus) was born in Avila, Spain, 28 March 1515, one of ten children whose mother died when she was fifteen. Her family was of partly Jewish ancestry. Teresa, having read the letters of Jerome, decided to become a nun, and when she was 20, she entered the Carmelite convent in Avila. There she fell seriously ill, was in a coma for a while, and partially paralyzed for three years. In her early years as a nun, she was, by her account, assiduous in prayer while sick but lax and lukewarm in her prayers and devotions when the sickness had passed. However, her prayer life eventually deepened, she began to have visions and a vivid sense of the presence of God, and was converted to a life of extreme devotion.

In 1560 she resolved to reform the monastery that had, she thought, departed from the order’s original intention and become insufficiently austere. Her proposed reforms included strict enclosure (the nuns were not to go to parties and social gatherings in town, or to have social visitors at the convent, but to stay in the convent and pray and study most of their waking hours) and discalcing (literally, taking off one’s shoes, a symbol of poverty, humility, and the simple life, uncluttered by luxuries and other distractions). In 1562 she opened a new monastery in Avila, over much opposition in the town and from the older monastery. At length Teresa was given permission to proceed with her reforms, and she travelled throughout Spain establishing seventeen houses of Carmelites of the Strict (or Reformed) Observance (the others are called Carmelites of the Ancient Observance). The reformed houses were small, poor, disciplined, and strictly enclosed. Teresa died 4 October 1582. (She is commemorated on the 15th–why not the 14th, I wonder–because the Pope changed the calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian system, a difference of 10 days, on the day after her death.)

Teresa is reported to have been very attractive in person, witty, candid, and affectionate. She is remembered both for her practical achievements and organizing skill and for her life of contemplative prayer. Her books are read as aids to the spiritual life by many Christians of all denominations. Her Life is her autobiography to 1562; The Way of Perfection is a treatise on the Christian walk, written primarily for her sisters but of help to others as well; The Book of Foundations deals with establishing, organizing and overseeing the daily functioning of religious communities; The Interior Castle  (or The Castle of the Soul) deals with the life of Christ in the heart of the believer. Most of these are available in paperback. 31 of her poems and 458 of her letters survive. Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is 15 October. The Lutheran Church (ELCA) commemorates her on December 14 together with St. John of the Cross.

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

by James Kiefer

Oct 14 – Samuel Schereschewsky – Scholar + Translator + Bishop

Oct 14 - Samuel Schereschewsky

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky
Scholar + Translator + Bishop
14 October 1906

click here for books about Samuel Schereschewsky


From the Satucket Lectionary

Portrait of Samuel Isaac Joseph SchereschewskySamuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was born in Lithuania in 1831, went to Germany to study for the rabbinate, there became a Christian, emigrated to America, trained for the priesthood, and in 1859 was sent by the Episcopal Church to China, where he devoted himself from 1862 to 1875 to translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese. In 1877 he was elected Bishop of Shanghai, where he founded St. John’s University, and began his translation of the Bible into Wenli (the classical Chinese style of writing). He developed Parkinson’s disease, was largely paralyzed, resigned his position as Bishop of Shanghai, and spent the rest of his life completing his Wenli Bible, the last 2000 pages of which he typed with the one finger that he could still move.

Four years before his death in 1906, he said: “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”

by James Kiefer

Largely because of the quote above, Bishop Schereschewsky has been chosen “patron saint’ of the Anglican internet mailing list, sometimes known as the “cyberparish of St. Sam’s”. You can find out more about him at their web site:http://www.stsams.org/patron.htm

 

Redeeming Columbus?

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus – by Orson Scott Card

by Ken Howard

Few figures have fallen further than Christopher Columbus in the estimation of the general public. Once lauded as a courageous explorer and the discoverer of the new world, Columbus is now lambasted as a royal toady, sucking up to Queen Isabella of Spain to garner financial and political support for an ill-planned get-rich scheme, whose avarice and racism ultimately led to the decimation of the indigenous tribal populations and the enslavement of those who survived the slaughter. Even his eponymous federal holiday has suffered from his disgrace: while few are willing to go as far as giving up a day off from work, many have lobbied their respective state legislatures to change the name of the holiday to less onerous appellations, such as “Native American Day” or the somewhat ambiguous “Discovery Day.”  Just a couple of Sunday’s ago, we found comedian John Oliver, on his weekly show Last Week Tonight featuring Columbus Day in his occasional segment, “Why is this still a thing?”

However, if we dig underneath the trending opinions of the day, we would discover that real Christopher Columbus was a mixed bag: neither saint nor Satan.  Columbus was a Christian: a closet converso, some say, whose ancestors had converted from Judaism to Christianity to escape the Papal Inquisition of the 13th century, and who was now seeking the favor of Ferdinand and Isabella not long after the two monarchs had kicked of the not-unexpected Spanish Inquisition, which focused its suspicion largely on converted Jews. So at the very least, one might credit him with a certain degree of chutzpah.

Columbus was – as all historical figures are – a product of his age. Particularly, his thinking had fallen victim to influence of religious paradigm of his age, the Christendom paradigm, under which Church and Empire merged, and as the Church began to pull the levers of the Empire to achieve its ecclesiastical ends, it became something that the earliest followers of the Way would not have recognized, having transformed itself from an trans-religious movement centered in the love of Christ, to a hierarchical institution, proselytizing new members and enforcing the uniformity of its existing members through the use of power and (implicitly) violence.

Continue reading

Oct 11 – Philip – Deacon + Evangelist

Oct. Philip the Evangelist

Philip
Deacon + Evangelist
11 October NT

click here for books about Saint Philip


From the Satucket Lectionary

In the sixth chapter of Acts, we read that the Apostles commissioned seven men in the congregation at Jerusalem to supervise the church’s ministry to the needs of its widows and other poor. (This is generally considered to be the beginning of the office of Deacon in the Church, although the Scriptures do not use this term in referring to the original seven men.) Two of these have gained lasting fame. One was Stephen, who became the Church’s first martyr. The other was Philip, whose story we find in Acts 8:5-40; 21:8-9. After the death of Stephen, there was a general persecution of the Church at Jerusalem, and many Christians fled to escape it. Philip fled to Samaria, where he preached the Gospel to the Samaritans, a group who had split off from the Jewish people about six centuries earlier, had intermarried with other peoples, and were considered outsiders by most Jews. They received the message with eagerness, and soon Peter and John came to Samaria to bless the new converts.

After this, Philip was sent by God to walk along the road from Jerusalem southwest to Gaza, where he met a eunuch (a term meaning literally a castrated man, but also used to mean simply an official of a royal court) of the Queen of Ethiopia (probably meaning Nubia — what we now call the Sudan), returning home after worshipping in Jerusalem. The man was reading from Isaiah 53 (“He was wounded for our transgressions”), and Philip told him about Jesus, and persuaded him that the words were a prophecy of the saving work of Jesus. The man was baptized, and went on his way rejoicing, while Philip went north to Caesarea, the major seaport of Israel, and its secular capital.

When Paul (accompanied by Luke) was going up to Jerusalem for the last time, he paused at Caesarea and spent several days with Philip. (This may be the source of some of the information Luke used in writing the early chapters of Acts.) We are told that Philip had four daughters who prophesied. (This is relevant to discussions of the role of women in the Church.)

Was Philip the Deacon the same person as Philip the Apostle (see 1 May)?

No, they were different. There were Twelve Apostles, and they said, “Our work is to preach the Gospel, not to administer the budget. Choose seven men to administer the budget.” Obviously they meant seven men other than themselves.

Moreover, when Philip went to Samaria, and preached and made converts, he baptized them, but none of them received the Holy Spirit. It was not until Peter and John came from Jerusalem and laid hands on them that they received the Spirit. Surely this means that Philip was not an Apostle–not one of the Twelve.

Yes, they were the same person.

We have ancient testimony identifying them. Papias of Hierapolis, a second-century writer who had spoken with some of the apostles, speaks of the Philip of Acts 21 as one of the Apostles. Polycrates, a second-century bishop of Ephesus, says that Philip, “one of the Twelve”, was buried at Hierapolis along with two aged virgin daughters of his, and that a third daughter, a prophetess, was buried at Ephesus. It seems unlikely that two Philips would both have unmarried daughters of whom at least one was known as a prophetess.

If eleven of the Twelve Apostles refused the work of administering the church’s welfare program, but one, for special reasons, accepted it, it is not clear that Luke would have felt bound to point this out. The Jerusalem community may have thought it desirable to have one man serve both as one of the Twelve and one of the Seven, so as to provide a link, a liason, between the two groups. Philip, who specifically named in John’s account of the feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6:5), is likely to have had special abilities in organizing the feeding of the hungry, and related matters. Moreover, the Seven were originally appointed because the Greek-speaking Jews complained that their widows were being neglected. Philip had a Greek name (“lover of horses”), which at least suggests some kind of Hellenistic element in his background. Even more to the point, we note that earlier, when a group of Greek-speaking Jews wanted a chance to speak with Jesus, they went first to Philip (Jn 12:20f). Clearly Philip was a good choice for dealing with Hellenists.

As for the objection that Philip’s Samaritan converts receive the laying on of hands, not from Philip, but from Peter and John, it must be noted that Peter and John were there specifically as representatives of the Apostles gathered at Jerusalem. It may very well be that Philip wanted to make sure that the receiving of a group of Samaritans into the Church, a gesture certain to stir up violent emotions in some Christians, had the official support of the College of Apostles.

by James Kiefer