Early Church Fathers
Acts of Saint Philip the Apostle When He Went to Upper Hellas.
And it came to pass in those days, when Philip entered into the city of Athens called Hellas, there assembled to him three hundred philosophers, saying: Let us go and see what his wisdom is; for they say about the wise men of Asia, that their wisdom is great. For they thought that Philip was a philosopher, since he was travelling in the dress of a recluse; and they did not know that he was an apostle of Christ. For the dress which Jesus gave to His disciples was a mantle only, and a linen cloth.1 Thus, then, Philip was going about. On this account, therefore, when the philosophers of Hellas saw him, they were afraid. They assembled therefore into one place, and said to each other: Come, let us look into our books, lest somehow this stranger overcome us, and put us to shame.
And having done so, they came together to the same place, and say to Philip: We have doctrines of our fathers in which we are pleased, seeking after knowledge; but if thou hast anything new, O stranger, show it to us without envy boldly: for we have need of nothing else, but only to hear something new.2
And Philip answering, said to them: O philosophers of Hellas, if you wish to hear some new thing, and are desirous of something new, you ought to throw away from you the disposition of the old man; as my Lord said, It is impossible to put new wine into old bottles, since the bottle is burst, and the wine spilled, and the bottle destroyed.3 But they put new wine into fresh bottles, so that both may be preserved. And these things the Lord said in parables, teaching us in His holy wisdom, that many will love the new wine, not having a bottle fresh and new. And I love you, 0 men of Hellas, and I congratulate you for having said, We love something new. For instruction really new and fresh my Lord has brought into the world, in order that He might sweep away all worldly instruction.
The philosophers say: Who is it that thou callest thy Lord? Philip says: My Lord is Jesus in heaven. And they said to him: Show him to our comprehension without envy, that we also may believe in him. And Philip said: He with whom I am about to make you acquainted as Lord, is above every name; here is no other.4 And this only I say: As you have said, Do not refuse us through envy, let it not be that I should refuse you; but rather in great exultation and in great joy I have to reveal to you that name, for I have no other work in this world than this proclamation.5 For when my Lord came into this world, He chose us, being twelve in number, having filled us with the Holy Spirit; from His light He made us know who He was, and commanded us to preach all salvation through Him, because there is no other name named out of heaven than this.6 On this account I have come to you, to make you fully assured, not in word only, but also in the showing forth of wonderful works in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And when the philosophers heard this, they say to Philip: This name that has been heard of by us froth thee we have never found in the books of our fathers; now, therefore, how can we know about thy words? And moreover, in addition, they say to him: Allow us three days, that we may consult with each other about this name; for we lay no little stress upon this-to apostatize from our fathers' religion. Philip therefore says to them: Consult as you wish; for there is no deceit in the matter.
And the three hundred philosophers having assembled, spoke with each other, saying: You know that this man has brought a strange philosophy, and the words spoken by him bring us to distraction. What, then, shall we do about him, or about the name of him who is called Jesus, the king of the ages, whom he speaks of? And moreover they say to each other: Assuredly we cannot reason with him, but the high priest of the Jews can. If therefore it seem good, let us send to him, in order that he may stand up to this stranger, and that we may learn accurately the name that is preached.
They wrote therefore to Jerusalem after this manner:-The philosophers of Hellas to Ananias, the great high priest of the Jews in Jerusalem. There being between thee and us at all times great7 ...as thou knowest that we Athenians are searchers after truth. A certain foreigner has come to Hellas, Philip by name; and, in a word, he has disturbed us exceedingly, both by words and by extraordinary miracles, and he introduces a glorious name, Jesus, professing himself to be his disciple. And he does also wonders of which we write to you, in that he has cast out demons that have been long in men, and makes the deaf hear, the blind see; and what is more wonderful-which also we should have first mentioned-he has raised up men after they were dead, that have fairly completed the number of their days.8 And the fame of him has gone abroad into all Hellas and Macedonia; and there are many coming to him from the cities round about, bringing those who are ill with various diseases, and he heals them all through the name of Jesus. On this account, therefore, come to us without any reluctance, that thou thyself mayst announce to us what Jesus, this name which be teaches, means. For on this account also we have sent this letter to thee, O high priest.
And when he had read, he was filled with great wrath, and rent his clothes, and said: Has that deceiver gone even to Athens, among the philosophers, to lead them astray? And the Mansemat-that is, Satan-entered into Ananias unawares, and filled him with anger and rage; and he said: If I allow that Philip himself, and those with him, to live, the law will be entirely destroyed, and their teaching will likely fill the whole earth. And the high priest went into his own house, and the teachers of the law, and the Pharisees; and they consulted with each other, saying: What shall we do about these things?9 And they say to the high priest Ananias: Stand up and arm thyself, and five hundred able men out of the people, and go away to Athens, and by all means kill Philip, and thus thou shall overturn his teaching.
And having put on the high priest's robe, he came to Hellas in great pomp, with the five hundred men. And Philip was in the house of a certain chief man of the city, with the brethren who had believed. And the high priest and those with him, and the three hundred philosophers, went up to the gateway of the house where Philip was; and it was told Philip that they were outside. And he rose up and went out. And when the high priest saw him, he says to him: 0 Philip, sorcerer and magician, for I know thee, that in Jerusalem thy master the deceiver called thee Son of Thunder.10 Was not the whole of Judaea sufficient for you, but you have come here also to deceive men who are searchers after wisdom? And Philip said: Would that, O Ananias, thy covering of unbelief were taken away from thy heart, that thou mightst know my words, and from them learn whether I am a deceiver, or thou!
Ananias having heard this, said to Philip: I shall give answer to all. And Philip said: Speak. The high priest says: O men of Hellas, this Philip believes in a man called Jesus, who was born among us, who also taught this heresy, and destroyed the law and the temple, and brought to nought the purification through Moses, and the new moons, because he says, These have not been commanded by God. And when we saw that he thus destroyed the law, we stood up against him, and crucified him, that his teaching might not be fulfilled. For many changes were brought in by him; and he gave an evil testimony, for he ate all things in common, and mixed with blood, after the manner of the Gentiles.11 And having given him up, we put him to death, and buried him in a tomb; and these disciples of his having stolen him, have proclaimed everywhere that he has risen from the dead, and have led astray a great multitude by professing that he is at the right hand of God in heaven.12 But now these men, themselves having the circumcision as we also have, have not followed it, since they began to do many deeds of power in Jerusalem through the name of Jesus; and having been cast out of Jerusalem, they go about the world, and deceive all men by the magic of that Jesus, as also now this Philip has come to you to deceive you by the same means. But I shall carry him away with myself to Jerusalem, because Archelaus the king is also searching for him to kill him.
And when the multitude standing round heard this, those indeed who had been confirmed in the faith were not shaken nor made to waver; for they knew that Philip would conquer in the glory of Jesus. Philip therefore stated his case in the power of Christ with great boldness, exulting and saying: I, O men of Athens, and those of you who are philosophers, have come to you, not to teach you with words, bat by the showing forth of miracles; and in part you have quickly seen13 the things that have come to pass through me, in that name by which the high priest himself is cast off.14 For, behold, I shall cry to my God, and teach you, and you will prove the words of both.
The high priest having heard this, ran to Philip, wishing to scourge him, and that same hour his whole hand was dried up, and his eyes were blinded; and in like manner also the five hundred who were with him were also themselves blinded. And they reviled and cursed the high priest, saying: Coming oat of Jerusalem we said to thee Refrain: for, being men, we cannot fight against God15 But we entreat thee, O Philip, apostle of the God Jesus, give us the light that is through him, that we also may truly be his slaves.
And Philip, having seen what had come to pass, said: O weak nature! which has thrown itself upon as, but straightway has been brought down low into itself; O bitter sea! which rouses its warts against us, and thinks to cast us out, bat which by itself lulls its waves to rest. Now therefore, O our good steward Jesus, the holy light, Thou hast not overlooked us who are all together crying up to Thee in all good works, but hast come to finish them through us. Now therefore come, Lord Jesus; reprove the folly of these men.
The high priest says to Philip: Dost thou then think to turn us away from the traditions of our fathers, and the God of the desert, and Moses; and dost thou imagine that thou wilt make us followers of Jesus the Nazarene? Then Philip says to him: Behold, I shall pray to my God to come and manifest Himself before thee and the five hundred, and before all here; for perhaps thou will change thy mind, and believe. But if even to the end thou remain in unbelief, there is coming upon thee an extraordinary thing. which shall be spoken of to generations of generations-that also thou shall go down alive, down into Hades, before the face of all seeing thee, because thou yet abidest in unbelief, because also thou seekest to turn away this multitude from the true life. And Philip prayed, saying: O holy Father of the holy Son Jesus Christ, who hast granted to me to believe in Him, send Thy beloved Son Jesus Christ to reprove the unbelieving high priest, that Thy name may be glorified in Christ the Beloved.
And while Philip was yet crying oat this, suddenly the heavens were opened, and Jesus appeared coming down in most excellent glory, and in lightning; and His face was shining sevenfold more than the sun, and His garments were whiter than snow, so that also all the idols of Athens fell suddenly to the ground. And the people fled in anguish; and the demons dwelling among them cried out: Behold, we also flee because of Him who has appeared to the city, Jesus the Son of God. Then Philip says to the high priest: Hearest thou the demons crying out because of Him who has been seen, and believest thou not in Him who is present that He is Lord of all? The high priest says: I have no other God than the one in the desert.
And as Jesus was going up into heaven there happened a very great earthquake, so that the place on which they stood was cleft; and the crowds ran and fell at the feet of the apostle, crying out: Have mercy upon us, O man of God! In like manner also the five hundred men cried out themselves also again: Have mercy upon us, O Philip, that we may know time, and through thee Jesus the light of life: for we said to this unbelieving high priest, Being sinful men, we cannot fight against God.
Then Philip says: There is no hatred in us, but the grace of Christ will make you receive your sight; but I will make the high priest receive his sight before you, that at this you may the more believe. And a voice out of heaven was brought to Philip: O Philip, son once of thunder, but now of meekness, whatever thou mayst ask of my Father, He shall do for thee. And all the crowd was terror-struck at the voice, for the sound of it was greater than that of thunder. Then Philip says to the high priest: In the name of the power of the voice of my Lord, receive thy sight, Ananias. And immediately he received his sight, and looked round, and said: What is there in the magic of Jesus, that this Philip within a short time has made me blind, and again within a short time has made me receive my sight? Dost thou then, said Philip, believe in Jesus? The high priest says: You do not think, do you, that you can bewitch me, and persuade me? And the five hundred who were with him, having heard that their high priest, having received his sight, was yet unbelieving, said to the bystanders to pray Philip that he should make them receive their sight, that, said they, we may cut off this unbelieving high priest.
And Philip said: Do not avenge yourselves upon the wicked. And he says to the high priest: There will be a certain great sign upon thee. He says to Philip: I know that thou art a sorcerer and a disciple of Jesus: thou dost not bewitch me. And the apostle said to Jesus: Sabarthan, Sabathabt, Bramanuch, come quickly. And immediately the earth was cleft in the place where Ananias was, and swallowed him up as far as the knees. And Ananias cried out: O great is the power of the true witchcraft, because it has cleft the earth, when Philip threatened it in Hebrew, and adjured it; and it holds me even to the knees, and by the heels some hooks as it were drag me downwards, that I may believe in Philip; but he cannot persuade me, for from Jerusalem I know his magic tricks.
And Philip, enraged, said: O earth, lay fast hold of him, even to the navel. And immediately it dragged him down. And he said: The one of my feet underneath is turned into ice, and the other is frightfully hot; but by thy magic, Philip, I will not be overcome. Except, therefore, that I am sore tortured underneath, I do not believe at all. And the crowds wished to stone him. And Philip says: Not so; for this has in the meantime happened, that he has been swallowed up as far as the navel, that the salvation of your souls may be effected, because he would almost have drawn you by his wicked words into unbelief. But if even he repented, I should bring him up out of the earth to the salvation of his soul; but assuredly he is not worthy of salvation. If, then, he remain in unbelief, you shall see him sunk down into the abyss, unless the Lord intends to raise those who are in Hades, that they may confess that Jesus is Lord. For in that day every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord,16 and that there is one glory of the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Spirit for evermore.
And Philip, having said this, extended his right band, stretching it through the air over the five hundred men in the name of Jesus. And their eyes were opened, and they all praised God with one mouth, saying: We bless Thee, O Christ Jesus, the God of Philip, that thou hast driven the blindness away from us, and hast given us Thy light, the Gospel. And Philip rejoiced exceedingly at their words, because they were thus confirmed in the faith. And after this, Philip, having turned to the high priest, said: Confess thou also in a pure heart that Jesus is Lord, that thou mayst be saved, like those with thee. But the high priest laughed at Philip, and remained in unbelief.
Philip then, seeing that he remained in unbelief, having looked at him, says to the earth: Open thy mouth, and swallow him up as far as his neck in the presence of those who have believed in Christ Jesus. And in the same hour the earth, having opened its mouth, received him as far as the neck. And the multitude communed with each other on account of the wonders that had happened.
A certain chief man of the city came crying out, and saying: O blessed apostle, a certain demon has assailed my son, and cried out, saying to me, Since thou hast allowed a foreigner to come into your city, thou who hast been the first to do away with17 our worship and our sacrifices, what shall I do for thee, except to kill this thine only begotten son? And after he said this, he strangled my son. Now therefore, I beseech thee, O apostle of Christ, do not allow my joy to be turned into sorrow, because I also have believed thy words.
And the apostle, having heard this, said: I wonder at the activity of the demons, that it is active in every place, and dares to assail those to whose help I have not been able to come,18 as now they have tried you, wishing to cause you to offend. And he says to the man: Bring me thy son, and I will give him to thee alive, through my Christ. And rejoicing, he ran to bring his son. And when he came near his house, he cried out, saying: My son, I have come to thee to carry thee to the apostle, so that he may present thee to me living. And he ordered his slaves to carry the bed; and his son was twenty-three years old. And when Philip saw him, he was moved; and he turned to the high priest, and said: This has happened as a chance for thee: if, therefore, I shall raise him up, wilt thou henceforth believe? And he says: I know your magic arts, that thou wilt raise him up; but I will not believe thee. And Philip, enraged, said: A curse upon thee! then go down altogether into the abyss before the face of all these. And at the same hour he went down into Hades alive, except that the high priest's robe flew off from him; and because of this, from that day, no one knew what became of the priest's robe. And the apostle turned round and prayed for the boy; and having driven the demon away from him, he raised him up, and set him beside his father alive.
And the multitude having beheld this, cried out: The God of Philip is the only God, who has punished the unbelief of the high priest, and driven away the demon front the young man, and raised him up from the dead. And the five hundred having seen the high priest swallowed up into the abyss, and the oilier miracles. besought Philip, and he gave them the seal in Christ. And Philip abode in Athens two years; and having founded a church, appointed a bishop and a presbyter, and so went away to Parthia, preaching Christ. To whom be glory for ever. Amen.