Today’s Reading: Acts 21
In order to talk about Acts 21 today, I have to tell you a story with a big gap. Technology has made the world a neighborhood. Because of technology, people get famous real fast today. If you have a smart phone, you have a camera. And with social media, you have an audience. And if enough people watch it, you can be viral.
Did you know that 42 percent of the world population is twenty-four years old and younger? If that’s true, then technology is their life. All that being possible, remember that viral doesn’t last long. It’s fake fame. They call it your “fifteen minutes of fame.”
The authentic has longevity to it. It’s the difference between buying a ten-dollar, knock-off Rolex watch on the streets and the authentic ten thousand dollar one in a high-end jewelry store. Which one lasts longer? The authentic has longevity.
I want to show you someone who lasted a long time because he was authentic. His name was Philip, and his story starts in Acts 6 and goes through Acts 8. Let me tell you his quick viral story and then a huge gap.
He became the first deacon in the church. Then he led an all-city revival in Samaria. He also led to the Lord a number-one occult leader named Simon. Then he got into a conversation with an angel, and the angel sent him to talk to an Ethiopian, who many believe is responsible for the gospel going to Africa. Philip led him to Christ and baptized him. And for his finale . . . after Philip baptized him, he vanished!
Two men went into the water, and only one, the Ethiopian, came out: “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him” (Acts 8:39). That seems to be the last time we see Philip.
The book of Acts spans thirty-two years, from AD 30 to AD 62. Acts 6 (Philip’s introduction) happened in AD 31. That was when he became a deacon. By the time we reach Acts 21, our chapter for today’s reading, it was AD 59. And something crazy happened in AD 59. Philip showed up again!
He reappeared after twenty-eight years: “On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses” (Acts 21:8-9).
That’s the Acts 6–8 Philip. Today we are reading about the twenty-eight-years-later Philip. If it’s real, it lasts.
I see three key words in those Acts 21 verses that make him a legacy and a legend: balance, current, priority.
Balance: His home life was just as important as his church life. The passage says that Paul was “entering the house of Philip.” Philip was thirty years older and his home was a refuge for Paul on his journey. I love that when Paul needed a home to go to in Caesarea, he could go to Philip’s. Philip wasn’t some bitter, retired pastor who got burned by the ministry or the church. He was not divorced and living with his third wife.
Current: Philip was not just about what God had done in his life, but about what God was still doing. He was called “Philip the evangelist.” He was not Philip the deacon or the baptizer. That was chapters 6–8 Philip, this is chapter 21 Philip. If he had the same old names, then it would have been the same old stories.
If anyone would have had old stories, it would have been Philip: “Yeah, I was the first deacon . . .” Every time Philip saw a water baptism in his church, he would have said, “That’s great, but let me tell you about what happened at my water baptism thirty years ago.” But that wasn’t Philip. He was current!
We need to stop with what we did and tell what we are we doing now for Jesus. We need to be current with the people in our lives. We must never make Christianity ancient when Jesus is alive and active right now!
Priority: Good stuff does not come without work. I see good stuff when I read about Philip’s children. Two words stand out: virgin and prophetesses. Those are big words because they describe moral purity and calling. Those two things don’t happen on accident. Someone took time with those four girls for them to be virgins and prophetesses.
Philip wasn’t just ministering to widows in Acts 6 and to an Ethiopian in Acts 8. He was influencing his daughters in Acts 21. That is a lesson for all of us.
I find it interesting that the book of Acts is not called the book of Truths. It isn’t about knowing stuff; it’s about doing stuff. Knowledge of the Bible does not guarantee application or action of Bible verses. To know does not mean we will necessarily do.
How do we make an impact after three decades? We pursue balance, stay current, and have strong priorities.
That’s why we are reading about Philip in Acts 21. It is a challenge for all of us. It’s a challenge for me with my four children. I hope it is for you today, too.