The Mystery of Philips Four Daughters: Acts 21:7-9
“7) When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 8) 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. 9) Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.” Acts‬ ‭21‬:‭7‬-‭9‬
We now come to an intriguing portion of Scripture. As Paul and his team journeyed toward Jerusalem, they came to the home of Philip the evangelist and stayed with him for seven days.
He was one of the seven deacons chosen in Acts 6:5. He was also the Philip featured in Acts 8:4-40. The Holy Spirit worked through him in extraordinary ways. According to Acts 8:6-7; 13, God used him to perform many signs and great miracles as he preached the gospel. He became a significant leader in the early church.
It also happened that he had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. (See Acts 21:9) The gift includes a speaking forth of God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit. It can be either “foretelling” future events, or “forth-telling” a message of God to His people. According to 1 Corinthians 14:1-6, prophecy is a gift to the church and is used in public.
It should be noted that there is no gender distinction for spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. They are distributed to the entire body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
This seems to be at odds with Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 where he required women to remain silent in the church. It is one of the tensions in the New Testament without a clear solution. Colossians 4:15 also mentions “Nympha and the church that is in her house.” 1 Timothy 8:8-13 and Titus 2:1-5 leaves the door open for an office of deaconess in the church.
The mystery is solved for me under a discussion of church leadership. It appears that head pastors and overseers were godly men. All other gifts and ministries were under their headship and authority. I do not see the New Testament baring women from being anointed by the Holy Spirit or exercising anointed spiritual gifts when under proper authority.
John 15:1-16 is gender neutral. Jesus wants all of His followers to abide in Him and bear much fruit. There is no distinction in this text between men and women. Jesus views us all as His “Bride.”
In fact, much of the modern mission force around the world is comprised of single women. I celebrate them and take my hat off to them. We owe them a debt of gratitude beyond description.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global