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Philippi

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(Greek Phílippoi , Latin Philippi ).

Philippi was a Macedonian town, on the borders of Thracia. Situated on the summit of a hill, it dominated a large and fertile plain, intersected by the Egnatian Way. It was north-west of Mount Pangea, near the River Gangites, and the Ægean Sea. In 358 B. C. it was taken, enlarged, and fortified by the King of Macedonia, Philip II, hence its name Philippi. Octavius Augustus (42 B. C. ) conferred on it his jus Italicum ( Acts 14:12 ), which made the town a miniature Rome, and granted it the institutions and privileges of the citizens of Rome. That is why we find at Philippi, along with a remnant of the Macedonians, Roman colonists together with some Jews, the latter, however, so few that they had no synagogue, but only a place of prayer ( proseuché ). Philippi was the first European town in which St. Paul preached the Faith. He arrived there with Silas, Timothy, and Luke about the end of 52 A. D. , on the occasion of his second Apostolic voyage. The Acts mention in particular a woman called Lydia of Thyatira, a seller of purple, in whose house St. Paul probably dwelt during his stay at Philippi. His labours were rewarded by many conversions ( Acts 16 ), the most important taking place among women of rank, who seem to have retained their influence for a long time. The Epistle to the Philippians deals in a special manner with a dispute that arose between two of them, Evodia and Syntyche (iv, 2). In a disturbance of the populace, Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and cast into prison, from which being miraculously delivered, they set out for Thessalonica. Luke, however, continued to work for five years.

The Philippians remained very attached and grateful to their Apostle and on several occasions sent him pecuniary aid (twice to Thessalonica, Philippians 4:14-16 ; once to Corinth, 2 Corinthians 11:8-9 ; and once to Rome, Philippians 4:10-18 ). See EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS ). Paul returned there later; he visited them on his second journey, about 58, after leaving Ephesus ( Acts 20:1-2 ). It is believed that he wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthinas at Philippi, whither he returned on his way back to Jerusalem, passing Easter week there ( Acts 20:5-6 ). He always kept in close communication with the inhabitants. Having been arrested at Cæsarea and brought to Rome, he wrote to them the Epistle we have in the New Testament, in which he dwells at great length on his predilection for them (i, 3, 7; iv, 1; etc.). Paul probably wrote them more letters than we possess; Polycarp, in his epistle to the Philippians (II, 1 sq.), seems to allude to several letters (though the Greek word, ’epistolaí , is used also in speaking of a single letter), and Paul himself (Phil., iii, 1) seems to refer to previous writings. He hoped (i, 26; ii, 24) to revisit Philippi after his captivity, and he may have written there his First Epistle to Timothy (Tim., i, 3). Little is known of the subsequent history of the town. Later it was destroyed by the Turks ; today nothing remains but some ruins.


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