Lessons from the Two Famous Deacons of Acts - Stephen and Philip

While Stephen and Philip had similar backgrounds, characters, and talents, their lives were vastly different. Stephen was martyred at his best adult age like Jesus. Philip lived to a good old age with four daughters who were preachers. Whose life do you want to live? What are their lessons for our lives?
The lives of Stephen and Philip are described in the Book of Acts 6-8.

They shared the following similarities:

  1.  of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, 
  2.  whom we will appoint to this duty of Deacons, distribution of foods Act 6:3
  3.  were Greek-speaking Hebrews.
  4.  Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip Act 6:5
  5. Work of Stephen:
    1. And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Act 6:8
    2. Members of the synagogue of Freedmen could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (Act 6:9-10)
    3. the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Act 6:15
  6. Work of Philip:
    1. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.  And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. Act 8:5-7.
    2. Philip met with an angel and sent him to bring the gospel to the Ethiopian Officer Act 8:26-38.
    3. Philip experience time-travel in Act 8:40 after the baptism of the Ethiopian.
Their Different Endings:
  1. Stephen was stoned to death after preaching his last message on the God of the Hebrew and their dealings with the prophets of God. He condemned the people for their rebellion and killing of God's prophets. In a way, Stephen actually planned out his martyrdom!He left behind the famous words, just like Jesus, in  Act 7:60  "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 
  2. Philip lived up to ripe old age as we can see and infer from Act 21:8-9  On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.  9  He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.
So we can see that while both were true men of God who have great testimonies, Stephen was a martyr when young and Philip was an evangelist that lived to a ripe old age.

Lessons for Us:
  1. It is not for us to wish ourselves to be Stephen or Philip. 
  2. As God has different plans for Stephen and Philip, God has a different and unique plan for our lives. It is our responsibility to find out God's plan for us. Some may live short but meaningful and powerful lives. Some may live long and also meaningful and powerful lives. 
  3. Living meaningful and powerful lives seems to be dependent on us, being faithful to Him and His Words and the Holy Spirit as both Stephen and Philip had shown us.
Hence, worry not, but make sure we are faithful to His calling for us and live our lives to the maximum with His leading.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Aug 2016