Faith in  Christ   leads to action


 page 9 of 14


Jesus Our Lord and the Model for Us

course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days” (Acts 16:11-12 NRSV). “The first-century city [Philippi] was not large: a conservative estimate based on the size of the theatre would suggest fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.”[1] Despite its size, Philippi had prominence in its district of Macedonia. “Thus when Paul made his first visit to Europe he purposely neglected the port city of Neapolis to begin preaching the gospel in the small but more important city of Philippi of the first district of Macedonia.”[2] Romans were the most numerous residents of the city, although some Macedonian Greeks and some Jews also resided in Philippi, which exhibited civic pride under Rome.[3]

            Philippi and its surroundings were of historical significance for the Roman Empire. “Our interest in the city stems particularly from 42 BCE, in which year two battles where fought nearby in the plain. . . . Following these victories Octavian honored Philippi by ‘refounding’ it as a Roman military colony, thus endowing its populace with Roman citizenship.”[4] After the battles, Roman military veterans took residence in the city and the agricultural around Philippi, thus increasing Roman influence in the area.[5

            It was in Philippi that Paul referenced his Roman citizenship, but not until after he and Silas had been flogged and imprisoned for part of a night for a public disturbance which occurred after Paul commanded an evil spirit to depart from a female slave who brought business for her owners because of her fortune telling (Acts 16:16-24). “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the

[1] Bockmuehl, Epistle, 2.
[2] Hawthorne, Philippians, xxxiii.
[3] Hawthorne, Philippians, xxxiii-xxxiv.
[4] Fee, Paul’s Letter, 25.
[5] Fee, Paul’s Letter, 25-26.

Act_17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.