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Paul, the apostle, has been a servant of Jesus for some two-dozen years. He is on the last leg of his final “missionary journey” and he and his companions have arrived back on the coast of Palestine.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 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 21:7-9)

There are a couple of things in this text that would be easy to just pass over, but let’s not!

First, notice who they stay with–“Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven.” That’s the Philip who was appointed, back in Acts 6, to help provide food for the widows in Jerusalem. From that simple ministry of serving, Philip went on to have a ministry of great impact in Samaria. Many came to faith as they heard the message Philip preached and saw the signs and wonders that were done through him (Acts 8:4-8). We are later told that, after an encounter with an Ethiopian, that “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:39-40).

Then notice Philip’s daughters–four prophetesses. Given the way that Luke uses this language, this means that these young ladies were habitually prompted by the Spirit to share a word from the Lord. To give them such a title suggests that this was a relatively common occurrence. (After all, you wouldn’t refer to someone as a “teacher” who, at one time, spoke for a few minutes to a class nor would you identify a friend as a “swimmer” if he had, one summer afternoon, fallen into the pool and frantically pulled himself to the edge.)

Where is all this going? Just a simple thought.

Philip’s daughters were living a rich, experiential life with the Spirit of God. The Spirit was making himself known in a manifest way through them. And that drives me to ask: How did they get there? Where did they come to think that such was even part of the Christian life? So many years after Pentecost (and all the weird things that happened then and there). So far from Jerusalem (the center of this Jesus-movement).

On Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on the followers of Jesus, Peter stood and explained:

This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “And it shall be in the last days,” God says, “that I will pour forth of my Spirit on all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of my Spirit and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:16-18)

So here’s what I see.

Peter comes to understand life in the Spirit through his relationship with Jesus and his experience at Pentecost. But Peter knows it doesn’t end there. Peter declares that a rich experiential life with the Spirit of God is one of the gifts that Jesus has come to pour out on all of his followers. And Philip apparently understood that; he was discipled into that kind of life. So that when he leaves Jerusalem (when the persecution arises after Stephen’s martyrdom), he preaches and ministers in the power of the Spirit. But Philip knows that it doesn’t end there. When Philip settles in Caesarea, he has a family and he teaches his children–his four daughters–that they, too, can enjoy this rich experiential life with God through the Spirit.

Jesus to Peter. Peter to Philip. Philip to his daughters. They are all in the same stream. The dots connect . . . it’s the working of the Spirit.

And it causes me to wonder whether I am living in that stream.


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