The Macedonian Vision
|12 and from there to Philippi, which is a
leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were
staying in this city for some days.
Paul in Macedonia and Greece
|6 We sailed from Philippi after the days
of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and
there we stayed seven days.
|1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints
in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including
the overseers and deacons:
|2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in
Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in
our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.
Paul surely traveled on the Via Egnatia from Neapolis to
Philippi. It was built in the 2nd century BC and is named after the person
who ordered its construction, Consul Gaius Ignatius. It was the extension into
Greece of the Via Appia, it starts from Dyrachio and Apollonia on the Adriatic
coast (in modern Albania) , goes along Northern Greece ( Epirus , Macedonia,
Thrace ) and finishes in Kipsela (in modern Turkey) on the Aegean coast. The
Egnatia Road has played an important role in Greek History during the Roman and
Byzantine. Philippi is about 10 miles south west of Kavala, between Mt. Pangaio
and Mt. Orvilos, both have gold and silver mines. It was first founded by
colonists from the island of Thasos in 359 BC, and was then called Krenides. The
ancient city was built on the marshes of the south east plain of Drama. The
first settlers were threatened by the Thracians in 356 BC and received aid
from Philip II, King of Macedonia. Because of it's economic and strategic
importance, Philip fortified the city and gave it his name. The city was taken
by the Romans in 168 BC. In 42 BC Cassius and Brutus fought against Octavian
and Antony. Octavian and Antony prevailed which led to Philippi becoming a
colony of importance.
When Paul visited in 49 AD it was a well developed Roman city.
Philippi is believed to be the site of Pauls first recorded preaching in
The main purpose of the letter to the Philippians
is to express joy and thankfulness to them for their sacrificial giving.
The buildings were enclosed by a strong wall, constructed in the time of Philip. The Via Egnatia passes through
the city, to the north was the theater, dating from the time of Philip II and
smaller open air sanctuaries. On the south side was a Roman market and a Roman
bath. Much of this dates from the second century AD after the time of Paul.
There are ruins of several basilicas that were built in the 6th
century AD. Due to there being no synagogue Paul left the city and went to the
river bank where he found Lydia and other women gathering for prayer (Acts
16:13-15). Lydia a seller of purple fabric became the first to be baptized on
European soil. A small Christian church and baptismal font has been built on
the spot, and the place and church are called Lydia.
The church of Lydia and the Gaggitis River are about 1/2 mile from the ancient ruins
of Philippi. The museum is about another 1/2 mile beyond the ruins.
Pauls stay at Philippi was not always peaceful. He and Silas were arrested and
imprisoned after casting out the demon from the slave girl who had a spirit of
divination (Acts 16:16-24). The slave girl with prophetic powers could be seen
as suggesting the victory of Christianity over the religion, or gods, of the
Romans. If some thought she owed her powers to the spirit of the serpent Python
which was associated with the ancient Greek oracle of Delphi known for
prophecies the Pythia priestess of the god Apollo. Previously according to
mythology, the Delphi oracle had been in the possession of another deity, Ghea,
or Mother Earth. The power of Christ was able to conquer all so called gods.
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While in prison, they were beaten without a charge being filed, in spite of their Roman
citizenship. The authorities, upon hearing of their citizenship, released them
and asked them to leave the city. Paul left Luke in charge of the work in
Philippi, perhaps with Timothy as his assistant.
At Philippi we saw the bema (steps or podium) where Paul
preached to the Philippians as well as the prison cell where he and Silas were
held. During the course of Pauls third missionary journey (52-56 AD), he
revisited the cities of Macedonia. This is one of the largest archeological
sites in the Macedonian region of Greece and includes a large theater. The
Greeks always built their theaters into the side of a hill whereas Roman
theaters were built on a flat plain. In Pauls time, Philippi had 150,000
inhabitants including many foreigners as well as Greeks. Philippi is built on
two levels: lower and upper. Unfortunately the two levels are divided by a busy
highway that runs east and west parallel to the Via Egnatia with the bema and
Agora on one side and the prison and theater, etc. on the other. The city was
abandoned in the 7th century due to earthquakes and Slav raids, and was
desolated by the Turks in the 14th century.
They traveled by way of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to
Thessalonica Acts 17:1. We drove near Amphipolis but did not visit.
Amphipolis was a colony of Athens, of strategic importance, near the Strymon
river, Lake Volvi, and the Pangaion gold mines. Amphipolis was founded in 438/
437 BC. The city is intersected by the Via Egnatia In 442 BC Amphipolis broke
away from its mother city, Athens, and remained independent until its
incorporation into the kingdom of Macedonia by Philip II in 357 BC. After the
Roman conquest of Macedonia (168 BC) Amphipolis was made the capital of
Macedonia Prima, one of the four divisions into which Macedonia was divided.
There are ruins of four basilicas and one church dating from the 5th
and 6th centuries AD. The lion of Amphipolis is a burial monument
dating to the 4th century BC. It probably belonged to Laomedon, a general and
close friend of Alexander the Great.
Apollonia is near the present day village of Nea Apollonia, another city on the
Via Egnatia, about 30 miles west of Amphipolis.