February 21, 2014

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe                                 


Lesson III.A.3: Philip En Route to Caesarea (8:40)




 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

“Philip was found” is an expression confirming the miraculous manner of his conveyance away from Gaza to his current location “at Azotus”“the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip.” Azotus was the city of Ashdod, an ancient Philistine capital about twenty miles from Gaza. As he traveled to Caesarea he proclaimed the gospel in all the towns along the way.  Like Peter and John, Philip “preached his way home” (Acts 8:25). Among the cities visited may have been Lydda and Joppa (Tel Aviv is there today), where Peter (Acts 9:32) may have followed up and confirmed Philip’s work, just as he had previously done in Samaria. Caesarea was a Gentile city and the official residence of the procurator of Judea.

“Caesarea” was a seaport on the Mediterranean coast, fifty miles north of Ashdod. It was built by Herod the Great in 13 b.c.  Here Philip appears to have settled down and raised a family, because twenty years later we find he is still there [“And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed , and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 8:8-9).]. An evangelist can be either resident or itinerant; Philip carried on both kinds of ministries.

The area around Azotus and Caesarea was later visited by Peter (Acts 9:32-43). Even though Philip the evangelist resided in Caesarea, the Lord called Peter from Joppa to give the gospel to Cornelius in Caesarea (Acts 10-11).

As you trace the extension of the gospel during this transition period (Acts 2-10), you see how the Holy Spirit reaches out to the whole world. In Acts 8 the Ethiopian who was converted was a descendent of Ham (Gen. 10:6, where “Cush” refers to Ethiopia). In Acts 9, Saul of Tarsus will be saved, a Jew, and therefore a descendent of Shem (Gen. 10:21). In Acts 10 the Gentiles find Christ, and they are the descendents of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5). The whole world was peopled by Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 10:1); and God wants the whole world—all of their descendents—to hear the message of the gospel (Mat. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). The gospel has gone to Judea and to Samaria and is moving out. The eunuch has carried it down to Ethiopia. Philip is carrying it along the coast to Caesarea.