Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia established by the king of Macedon, Philip II, in 356 B.C. The objective of founding the town was to take control of the neighboring gold mines and to establish a garrison at a strategic passage. The modern day municipality of Filippoi is located near the ruins of the ancient city.
References to Philippi appear in writings concerning the Roman civil war that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar. After Caesar's murder his heirs, Mark Antony and Octavian, confront his assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. Antony and Octavian are victorious in battle. The city becomes a Roman colony and capital of the province of Macedonia.
While in Troas during his second missionary journey Paul sees a vision of a man in Macedonia (Greece) asking for help (Acts 16:8-9). He, Silas and others immediately set sail for Neapolis. From there they travel to Philippi, where a woman named Lydia hears Paul's preaching and is soon baptized along with her entire household.
11 So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; 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.
13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. 14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.' And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:12-15, NASB)
While in Philippi Paul casts a demon out of a female slave. Her masters, however, did not want the demon cast out of the girl and have the two evangelists arrested, beaten and put in prison. They are freed, however, when a miraculous earthquake causes the cells and bonds to open! Apostle Paul also traveled through Philippi during his third missionary journey.
The church in Philippi was the first EUROPEAN church founded by Paul. This was no doubt one of the reasons the Philippians had a unique, strong bond with him. Although composed primarily of those who were poor, the Philippian church sent supplies to Paul several times (Philippians 4:15-16, 2Corinthians 11:9). Paul's letter to the church, which is found in the New Testament, was written between 61 and 63 A.D.