St Philip and St James



St Philip and St James
St Philip and St James

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Virtually all we know about these two apostles is to be found in the New Testament, and even that information is not extensive.

St Philip

Philip is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts solely in the lists of the 12 apostles, but in John’s Gospel he figures more prominently. We meet him first as Jesus gathers his disciples around him (John 1:43). He then brings Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:45-49). His home town was Bethsaida, as it was also for Andrew and Peter. Philip appears next at the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:5-7). After the Palm Sunday's entry into Jerusalem, some Greeks ask Philip to take them to Jesus (John 12:21-22). Later in the Gospel, during Jesus’ long discourse at the Last Supper, he asks Jesus about the way to the Father (John 14:8-9). We then read no more about Philip.

The Philip in Acts was was another Philip, who was possibly one of the 70 Jesus sent out during his ministry and was a deacon in the church in Jerusalem. not Philip the disciple/apostle. Tradition states that Philip the disciple went to Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey) as a missionary and was martyred there in Hierapolis. Philip the evangelist from Acts went to Samaria.

BORN: 5 AD, Bethsaida.

DIED: 80 AD, Hierapolis, Turkey.

St James

Our information about James is scantier, and more complicated. Two disciples named James are distinguished in the New Testament by their fathers, James son of Zebedee, and James son of Alphaeus, who is commemorated today with Philip. His mother is identified as Mary, the wife of Cleophas, one of the women weeping with Jesus mother, at the foot of the cross. Cleophas was Jesus Uncle so he is Jesus cousin. He may be the same one called Jesus brother, but this is not certain so the Church clearly separates three people called James: (1) the son of Zebedee and brother of John (commorated 25 July); (2) James of Jerusalem, brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem after the resurrection (commemorated 23 October); and (3) James, son of Alphaeus, commemorated with Philip as an apostle (today, 1 May), sometimes called James the Less. So if he is separate from James, the brother of Jesus, we know little about him apart from his inclusion in the lists of the 12 apostles, and even the oblique reference to “Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses” (Mark 15:40) at the crucifixion may not be about him.

BORN: Unknown.

DIED: 62 AD, Ostrakine.

The commemoration of Philip and James on the same day is very ancient, and may go back to the dedication of a basilica to both apostles, where the supposed remains of Philip were buried.