Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.And there was great joy in that city.(Acts 8:5-9)
Who is Phillip? Not one of the Apostles, nor yet was he an evangelist, Phillip was one of the first Deacons of the church, he served God and the church in practical matters, having been appointed to his service as a beautiful solution to a problem which arose,regarding diversity.
When the church was started,(and I mean Church with a capital C-The Church!), there was a huge influx of new converts dwelling in Jerusalem from all over the Roman empire, who remained in Jerusalem after the feast of Pentecost, to grow in their new faith. This presented practical problems, which in turn led to ‘diversity’ problems.
These people were newly born again and Spirit filled, but they were still people. The love of Christ did lead them to open their homes and meet the needs of their new born brothers and sisters, some of the congregation even sold property and gave it for distribution among them. They also organized widows relief outreach.
But this is where the problem arose. Though the earliest christians were almost all Jewish, there were at least two different cliques among them. Those converts to Christ who already lived in Israel, Judea and Jerusalem were one faction, and those of the diaspora, greek speaking Jews, who had come for the feast and found Jesus through the preaching of Peter were the other.
In the distribution of relief to the widows, done in the name of Jesus, tensions arose over whether or not the Judean widows were being preferred over the greek speaking diasporic widows. Even in the setting of the early church, and the fact that all of the early christians had been Jews, there is still the temptation to be factious!
But the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit , and knew what to do, they commanded the congregation to chose 7 men, full of the Holy Ghost to take care of this matter. The solution is beautiful, for the congregation chose seven men indeed, and all of them had Greek names! Truly the Love of God had been shed broad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost.
Phillip and Stephan were among them. Phillip was one of the servants of the church, but obviously the the office of deacon was used to prepare him for other things. Paul would later write that the office of serving the church would do exactly that,
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.(I Timothy 3:13)
When the first persecution was launched by a young lawyer and pharisee named Saul against the early church , Phillip was driven out of Jerusalem, but this only became an opportunity for He and others to spread the Word.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.(Acts 8:4)
Thus was Jesus’ commission furthered for in Acts 1 He outlined the progress of the gospel in concentric circles out of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purposes!