October 11: Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

The baptism of the eunuch by Rembrandt, 1626, Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

About this commemoration

Philip, who has been traditionally referred to as a Deacon and an Evangelist, was one of seven honest men appointed, some sources say ordained, by the apostles to distribute bread and alms to the widows and the poor in Jerusalem.

After the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip went to Samaria to preach the gospel. In his travels south to Gaza he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch, a servant of the Ethiopian queen, reading the Isaiah text on the Suffering Servant. They traveled together, and in the course of their journey the Ethiopian was converted and baptized by Philip.

Subsequently, Philip traveled as a missionary from Ashdod northwards and settled in Caesarea. It was in Caesarea that he hosted St. Paul. Philip’s activities at the end of his life are the subject of speculation, but some sources place him as a bishop at Lydia in Asia Minor. His feast day in the Eastern Church is October 11, and in the West usually June 6. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion also keep his feast on October 11.


I  Holy God, no one is excluded from thy love, and thy truth transformeth the minds of all who seek thee: As thy servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of thy salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so grant unto us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming thy love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Holy God, no one is excluded from your love, and your truth transforms the minds of all who seek you: As your servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of your salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so give us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming your love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 67

Lessons:  Isaiah 53:7–11, Acts 8:26–40, and Matthew 28:18–20

Preface of Apostles and Ordinations

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

Also of interest

North American Association for the Diaconate


On Reviving the Diaconate in the Episcopal Church by Richard Fabian


Lifting Up the Servants of God:
The Deacon, Servant Ministry, and the Future of the Church by Dr. Thomas Ferguson


We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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10 thoughts on “October 11: Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

  1. How about a mention of his daughters, who were also prophets (Acts 21.9)? That makes him a forerunner of women’s ordination, as well as an evangelist.
    The heart of the Isaiah 53 passage is quoted in the Acts reading. It’s a nice passage, but not worth reading twice in the same service. Isaiah 56:1-8, which speaks of the eunuch and foreigner being welcomed in the house of the Lord, would work better.

  2. There’s only one source (in the historical sense) for this, and it says Philip and the others were ‘chosen’ (eklegomai) by the multitude, ie elected. Following this, the apostles laid their hands on them and prayed for them, which seems reasonably summed up by the word ‘ordained’. So ‘appointed, some sources say ordained’ is a bit misleading.

    The collect could also use a bit of tweaking. Philip was not led to ‘bring the stranger to Baptism’ but to bring others to salvation through Jesus Christ. Baptism matters, but not this much! I guess it shows the truth of the old adage about worship being too important to be left to the liturgists…

  3. I like your site a lot… I do an Daily Office called “Eight Sacred Pauses – Praying the Hours” and I would like to include your “Holy Women, Holy Men” submission on some days (I also include Catholic saints and others). I would provide credit as well as a link to your site. Can I have your permission?

    Thank you,
    Brother Will

    • Brother Will,
      We are so glad that you like the resources. They are, however, copyrighted material from the book Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints owned by Church Publishing, Inc. This blog is printed with their permission and for research for The Episcopal Church. Please link us to your blog, but you would need to write Church Publishing for their permission to reproduce any texts.
      Keep the faith!
      The Blogging Team

  4. October 11: Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

    This is a good observance, and deserves to be in the calendar. All my comments are about HOW it’s presented, not WHETHER it should be. It seems to me that some later issues are getting into the story here, and for our purposes it seems best to present Philip with as few of these complications as possible – I recommend staying closer to the biblical text than it is now.
    1. In the very first sentence the clause, “who has been traditionally referred to as a Deacon and an Evangelist” seems to “second guess” the title. I’d eliminate the whole clause. The rest of the sentence doesn’t need it, and the clause doesn’t add anything in its own right (other than the tacit implication, “…but we’re not really confident about it”).
    2. The same goes for saying, “some sources say ordained.” Acts 6: 3 has the community picking seven guys, [the verb is “episkeptomai” (AV, “look ye out”; NRSV, “select” ) whom the twelve propose to “kathistemi,” (which AV and NRSV both render “appoint, and which the twelve then do in verse 5”)]. Verse 5 reports that the whole community “chose” the seven (using the verb “eklegomai”), whom the community sets before the twelve, and the twelve then pray for with laying on of hands. Why analyze the nature of the appointment any further in the context of a devotional commemoration?
    3. “Seven honest men” is not quite what the text says in the Acts of the Apostles. “Seven men of honest report” is how AV says it, while NRSV translates the same with, “seven men of good standing.” The emphasis, I think, is not on whether the seven are crooks (or honest), but rather on how much confidence, reliability or credibility they carry with the “multitude of disciples” (as it says in AV; NRSV says “the whole community”) that selected them. What’s important about the seven, themselves, in their own right, is that they are “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” – qualifications not mentioned in HWHM.
    4. Acts 8:5-7 presents Philip as an evangelist, an exorcist and healer, worker of “signs”, and baptizing many in the city of Samaria, occasioning John and Peter’s mission from Jerusalem to come and lay hands so the newly baptized would receive the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-17). Not much of this is mentioned in the commemoration, either.
    “In his travels south” sounds so casual, it hides the idea that Philip undertook this trip in response to an angelic word (Acts 8:26). I find that to be of interest! (I don’t quite understand it, but I’m more than willing to hold it in wonder!) Shouldn’t it be included? The same goes for “he encountered” the Ethiopian eunuch: Acts tells us there was an explicit divine prompting to join the chariot – it wasn’t precipitated simply as a chance encounter. Granted, these are not the experiences of everyday people calling AAA for travel maps, but they’re not irrelevancies, either. Being snatched away by the Spirit once the baptizing took place, then finding himself at Azotus, is yet another amazing detail. I don’t know why, but it’s expressed that way on purpose.
    5. The piece about being bishop of Lydia is clearly identified as speculative, so I have no problem with that. The conclusion of the bio, about who observes the feast, and when, seems cumbersome. A simpler statement might be, “We, like the Eastern Churches and many Anglican Provinces, remember Philip today; other Christian traditions do so on June 6.” However, I feel this is not important enough with which to conclude the entire write-up.
    6. Regarding the Collect: Positive and negative ways of saying the same thing make a difference. “No one is excluded from your love,” sounds one way. “Your love embraces all whom you have made,” sounds less grudging to my ears. Similarly, “to bring the stranger to Baptism,” sounds like an us/them statement of the sort, “THOSE STRANGERS have a place, too, in OUR BAPTISM.” I wish it could be put in a less in-group/out-group mode of expression. Third, “your truth transforms the minds” is really a boon for the rationalists among us, but does it encompass the wholeness of a person, or a people, much less all of creation? The “transformation” part is good; restricting it to “the mind” – Gnostic, dualistic, reductionist.

  5. Ferial days – well DUH on me! Thanks. A friend of mine says there should be a hymn that starts “Hail thee Ferial Day, blest day when Jesus did nothing!”

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