I’ve got to be honest, although I’m loving learning more about the women in Acts, it’s hard covering them because Luke doesn’t provide us with a lot of details. In fact, many of the women are merely mentioned by name or by a single sentence describing them. Thus is the case of the Daughters of Philip.
I was familiar with the Daughters of Philip, but it wasn’t until I went to share about them that I realized there’s only one verse dedicated to them. Because of that, I’ve decided to combine them with the Wives of Tyre who are also mentioned in the 21st chapter of Acts. The stories, though, separate, tie together in a common thread of encouraging Paul and warning him of what was to come.
Acts 21 opens by describing Paul’s journey from Ephasus to Tyre where the ship stopped to unload cargo. Paul and his missionary companions found disciples in Tyre and stayed there for a week. During that time, the disciples told Paul through the Spirit to not go on to Jerusalem.
But at the end of the week, they continued on their way. Verse 5 says, “When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.” (NIV)
They all said goodbye, the missionaries boarded the ship, and the Tyre disciples returned home.
The next stop on the ship’s journey was Ptolemais. They stayed for a day and greeted the believers there.
They left the next day and reached Caesarea where Philip the evangelist lived. He was one of the seven deacons chosen to distribute food, but now he was known for his evangelistic work. Verse 9 tells us that he had four daughters who prophesied.
Paul and his companions stayed with Philip and his daughters for many days.
While Paul was in Caesarea, a prophet named Ababus came down from Judea and prophesied to Paul that the Holy Spirit was warning that the Jews at Jerusalem would bind Paul and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. When Paul’s companions and the others with them heard this, they pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but he would not listen, saying that he was ready not only to be bound, but to die.
At the end of their time in Caesarea, they packed up and went on their way to Jerusalem and some of the disciples from Caesarea went with them.
The Rest of the Story
Luke provides us with such little detail about the Wives of Tyre and the Daughters of Philip, but let’s look at what he tells us and go from there.
I found it interesting the differences between the Bible translations for verse 4 where it talks about Paul and the believers of Tyre. KJV and NKJV say they found disciples there. Other translations say they sought out or looked up disciples. Regardless, it’s obvious that they didn’t know these believers but had to seek them out and find them. And yet, these disciples were led by the Holy Spirit to warn Paul of what lay ahead for him if he went on to Jerusalem.
I absolutely love verse 5. “When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed.”
What a beautiful picture! For a week these local believers had accommodated these traveling missionaries. They’d spent many hours together, sharing, worshiping, encouraging each other. Imagine the adjustments they’d made opening up their home and their schedule in order to provide for strangers passing through. They could have merely waved from their front door as the missionaries went on their way. Instead, the entire congregation, husbands, wives, and children, all dropped what they were doing in order to escort the missionaries back to the ship.
During that week, bonds were formed. They’d become like family, and they hated to say goodbye. So they extended their visit as long as they could, then they joined together in a prayer service at the shore.
The missionaries continued on their journey and landed at Caesarea where they spent many days with another family, this time Philip and his unmarried daughters.
At first glance, we might assume Philip just had four young daughters who had not yet reached marrying age. But this is not the case. The words used for virgins indicates that they had chosen a life of singleness in order to devote themselves more fully to the work of the Lord.
Luke calls them prophetesses. What does that mean in this context? It, of course, refers to predicting the future, but it also means those who speak and share messages from God. They could have accompanied their father as he traveled around preaching. Perhaps they preached themselves, finding groups of women and sharing with them. They would have had access to both Jews and Gentiles. Imagine the impact they could have had witnessing and sharing with lost women as well as new believers.
We’ll never know the scope of their influence, but they are examples of the roles that women played in the early church. Women were not sitting idly at home while the men were doing all the heavy lifting. Women like the Wives of Tyre and Daughters of Philip were actively involved in spreading the gospel and supporting the work of the apostles and missionaries.
The Bible doesn’t always provide us with full biographies of the women. Most of the time, a sentence or two is all that remains of their work. But that doesn’t mean that their work wasn’t important. Just because something is done in the shadows or behind the scenes doesn’t lesson it’s impact. In fact, oftentimes, the most powerful work is done without anyone even knowing. But God knows. He sees.
Perhaps you’re feeling discouraged today, like nothing you can do will make any difference. My friend, please know that God has you where you are for a reason. Those women in Tyre may have done nothing more than pray for Paul and his companions, but what a wonderful thing that was for them to do. Imagine how it must have encouraged them to see the women leave their household chores, pack up the kids, and travel through the city and to the shore in order to spend time praying over Paul.
Those missionaries knew the sacrifice that was made by those women. Why else would Luke make a point to mention it wasn’t just the men that did it, it was their wives and children as well? He knew what an ordeal it was for them to do that, and he wanted to record how special it was to see entire families worshiping and praying together over God’s workers.
You may not be gifted with prophesy, but God has gifted you for His work. You can open your home like the Wives of Tyre. You can pray for the salvation of souls and for the workers involved in evangelistic endeavors. You can provide encouraging words for those whose paths cross yours.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 tells us, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
Lord God, thank You for Your many reminders of how Bible women served You and how we can serve You now. Open our eyes to the opportunities You provide for us to advance Your kingdom. Give us a spirit of encouragement so that we might bless those around us. Fill us to overflowing with Your love. Forgive us those times we convince ourselves that we’re not important and that we can’t serve You. Erase those thoughts from our minds. Allow us to be used in mighty ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. Give us the courage and the strength to do whatever it is You’ve called us to do. We love You so very much. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at a different type of women, Bernice and Drusilla.
Their Story: Acts 21
Bible Study Review
- What did the Wives of Tyre do?
- Who was Philip?
- What was special about his daughters?
Thoughts to Ponder
- How did the Wives of Tyre bless Paul?
- How might the Daughters of Philip have served?
- Why did everyone warn Paul about going to Jerusalem?
- How are you serving God where you’re at right now?
- What unique gifts do you have that could be used to serve in the future?
- Are you praying for God’s servants?
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