Philip the Spirit-filled evangelist and his wife were blessed with four commendable daughters who were used by God in the early Christian Church. They exercised the prophetic gift and charismatic gifts that characterised them as prophetesses. The establishment of the prophetic institution was necessitated by God interacting with His people.
There is no recorded knowledge of the sisters' mother, which implies at the time in 58 AD their father may have been a widower and they themselves cared for him and their home. Daughters were under the legal domination of their father until marriage. Unmarried females were expected to help in domestic skills and by the age of 12 years they had the ability to become competent home-makers.
Daughters were expected to remain virgins until marriage which usually happened at an early age. It is not known if any of Philip's daughters married later in life, for the words 'virgin daughters' could have meant that they, still living at home, were not yet married. However, they were known as prominent Christian women.
Their father was very familiar amongst Christ's disciples with whom he gathered during Pentecost, the event of the descent of The Holy Spirit upon those who believed in Christ's death, resurrection and ascension, and he was chosen as one of The Seven, set apart for distinct ministry in the early Christian Church.
Philip had eventually settled in Caesarea, a coastal city, north of Jerusalem, where he continued to be a powerful evangelist of Christ's message. His four daughter's lived with Christian influence in their locale among heathens, although many Christians were resident citizens.
The sisters lived in a close knit Christian community which grew rapidly, because they knew the Church was a fulfilment of God-given Jewish prophesy. Caesarea was a Gentile City, the Roman Capital of Judea where the Military headquarters for the Roman forces made an impact amongst the mixed Jewish, Gentile community, because of the many outbursts and disturbances to do with the clashing of the religious cultures. The haven, well-known as one of the finest seaports was a maritime city amongst a population of 40,000 people.
Caesarea had been a Philistine harbour city, rebuilt by King Herod between 25 and 13 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Since there was no natural harbour, a breakwater was built for docking vessels which prooved to be a magnificent feat of engineering. Caesarea was also home of Pontius Pilate while he held the position of Governor, Roman ruler over Judea who also presided over the trial of Jesus in Jerusalem in 4B.C.
Influence of the Greeks and Romans meant that cities and towns in Palestine were more carefully planned. The girls lived in this city where aqueducts brought piped water from Mt. Carmel for public baths and efficient drainage works, 30 miles away.
The Romans made it possible for all to travel safely by land or sea to every part of the empire. The Apostle Paul was always travelling through the girl's home city. Philip and his daughters became close with the Apostle to the Gentiles, as he frequently passed through the coastal city during his Christian life.
The sisters' home city had a main street through the centre of the city, lined with shops, theatres. Houses were built in blocks of four, so fellowship with others was often. Other Christians knew that Philip's four unmarried daughters were dedicated in special official service before the Lord to the people of The Kingdom. The prophetic messages of the sisters did not contradict the belief and the truth known about God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, bringing people out of bondage.
Their father had been in Caesarea for over 25 years when Paul returned from his 3rd missionary journey with Luke and a Christian group travelling from Ephesus to Jerusalem and stayed at their home for a number of days. The sisters were hosts to the apostolic company. It was Luke who recorded the spiritual gifts of the four sisters, their active participation in God's work.
Philip's four daughters confirm the public ministry of gifted women. The four godly living sisters exercised spiritual gifts, called specifically, made qualified by The Holyb Spirit to be God's interpreters and were known for their utter devotion to their Lord. They not only declared God-given messages of the future but expounded the Word of God for edification of those who heard them. They certainly had more than merely a domesticated ministry in the Body of Christ. Their prophecies were fulfilled and their own moral lives ensured that they need not fear the judgement to come, for they did not profit from nor strengthen the hand of evil doers.
Gifted by The Holy Spirit the sisters had insight to the will of God and often delivered His messages as if God was speaking personally, messages which focused on the triumph of Jesus Christ their Saviour, and the empowerment Christians have to live at peace with each other. The sisters themselves had no rivalry between each other and carried out God's will and purpose.
Prophets and prophetesses were official spiritual leaders in the community who also were called teachers, the four sisters may have been called teachers also. Females from God's point of view were as men, created in His image. These sisters are among several women of sincere faith recorded in The Bible for others to be encouraged to live a life devoted to Christ. It is not recorded if they had musical gifts, although it has been known of some prophets.
Later when Paul was imprisoned for 2 years in Caesarea after his trial before Felix, the Roman successor of Pontius Pilate (52-59 A.D.), prior to being sent to Rome, no doubt the four devout sisters visited Paul when he was held captive. The sisters also would have known Cornelius, who was an Officer of Roman troops, who converted to Christianity as Peter went to Caesarea when The Holy Spirit prompted him to do so and The Spirit descended upon Cornelius also, confirming once more that Gentiles were to permitted into God's Kingdom.
The conversion of Gentiles was fulfilling Christ's commission. The four sisters belonged to an early church which was established where trade routes brought merchants and ambassadors. The Christian Church grew by personal testimonies such as given by these four women. Baptism in their district was a common event that the sisters witnessed and the observance of holy days other than corporate worshipping on the first day of the week, was not necessary for them. They made no attempt to apply the legislation of Jewish Ceremonies to their life, but did celebrate the Lord's Supper at Passover, as a memorial to Christ's death and resurrection.
This was shared in their home with other Christians as each guest brought a dish of food for the common table. Romans and Jews in Caesarea who were not believers of Christ speculated that Christians were participating in a secret rite when they met for corporate worship meetings or observed the Lord's Supper and at the turn of the first century, all Christian assemblies were by Roman law declared to be open to the public.
Great persecution of Christians from the Roman Empire did not begin until Nero, (54-68 A.D) in the City of Rome, all other persecution mainly came from Jews who still followed the Old Law and Covenant given to Moses, and rejected Jesus as the Son of God, for Christians boldly proclaimed they were the new Israel.
The sisters identified themselves as God's chosen children of His Kingdom on the basis of personal salvation and were truly committed to Christ. This means they would have spread the Truth of Christ to others as did many other women in ministry. They took seriously Jesus' words and obeyed God, in doing so contradicted and opposed so-called Christian who spread false teaching.
The four prophetesses from Caesarea completed their work for God during the growth of the early Christian Church. They were living examples of the Christian belief that behaviour was also vital. Philip's daughters did not bring their father shame by living immorally, disobediently nor by misbehaving sexually, so honouring their father and God.
The lives of Philip's daughters gives insight to the history of the Christian Church, especially in influential cities and of the work of The Holy Spirit in the lives of every day people. Many believers change the world with the same message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour for all who accept Him as did these four sisters. These four sisters represent countless numbers of faithful servants throughout the generations who go nameless before others, but not before God.
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