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Holman Bible Dictionary
History In ancient times the site was in a gold mining area. After 400 B.C., Philip II of Macedon seized the mines, fortified the city, and named it for himself. Philippi, along with the rest of Macedonia, came under Roman control after 200 B.C. In 42 B.C., Philippi was the site of a decisive battle that sealed the fate of Rome as a republic and set the stage for the establishment of an empire. The forces of Octavian (later to be Augustus Caesar, the first emperor) and Antony defeated the army of Brutus and Cassius. In honor of the victory, Antony settled some Roman soldiers there and made Philippi a Roman colony. After defeating Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., the victorious Octavian dispossessed the supporters of Antony from Italy, but he allowed him to settle in places like Philippi. Octavian refounded Philippi as a Roman colony.
Paul and Philippi Paul first visited Philippi on his second missionary journey in response to his Macedonian vision (Acts 16:9 ). They and his companions sailed from Troas across the Aegean Sea to Neapolis, on the eastern shore of Macedonia (Acts 16:11 ). Then they journeyed a few miles inland to “Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony” (Acts 16:12 ).
On the sabbath, Paul went to a prayer meeting on the river bank. When Paul spoke, Lydia and others opened their hearts to the Lord (Acts 16:13-15 ). As a rule, Paul first went to the Jewish synagogue when he came to a new city. The fact that he did not do this in Philippi probably shows that Philippi had no synagogue.
The Roman character of the city is apparent from Paul's other experiences in Philippi. He healed a possessed slave girl whose owners charged that Jews troubled the city by teaching customs unlawful for Romans to observe (Acts 16:20-21 ). The city magistrates ordered Paul and Silas to be beaten and turned over to the jailer (Acts 16:20 ,Acts 16:20,16:22-23 ). After Paul's miraculous deliverance and the jailer's conversion, the magistrates sent the jailer word to release Paul (Acts 16:35-36 ). Paul informed the messengers that he was a Roman citizen. Since he had been beaten and imprisoned unlawfully, Paul insisted that the magistrates themselves come and release him (Acts 16:37 ). The very nervous magistrates went to the jail. They pled with Paul not only to leave the jail but also to leave town (Acts 16:38-40 ). See Paul; Roman Law; Philippians .
Robert J. Dean
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Philippi'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/p/philippi.html. 1991.