Photo by Marsyas
Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia established by Philip II, king of Macedon (and father of Alexander the Great), in 356 B.C. The purpose of founding the city was to establish a base through which to take control of nearby gold mines. The city was also started so that a military garrison could be placed at such a strategic passage. The modern day municipality of Filippoi is located near the ruins of the ancient city.
References to Philippi can be found in writings discussing Rome's civil war that came after Julius Caesar's assassination. After Caesar's murder Octavian and Marc Antony (his heirs) confront his assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius during a battle held in the city in 42 B.C. Soon after their victory 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..
12. And from there we went to Philippi, which is the primary city in that part of Macedonia, and a colony. And we stayed in this city for a number of days . . . 14. And a certain woman who worshiped God was listening; she was named Lydia and was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira; whose heart the Lord opened to receive the things spoken by Paul.
15. And after she and her household were baptized, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and lodge there." And she constrained us. (Acts 16:12 - 15, HBFV)
While in the city 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 the city during his third missionary journey.
The fellowship in Philippi was the first EUROPEAN church founded by Paul. This was likely one of the primary reasons why this particular church had a unique, strong bond with the apostle. Although composed primarily of those who were poor, the church sent supplies to Paul several times.
10. But I rejoiced greatly in the Lord, that at last your care for me has revived - although you were already thinking of me, but you lacked an opportunity to provide. 11. I am not saying this in respect to being destitute; for I have learned that in whatever circumstances I am, to be content. 14. But you did well to communicate with me in my distress. 15. For you Philippians also know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I came from Macedonia, not one church communicated with me in regard to giving and receiving, except you alone. 16. And when I was in Thessalonica, you sent to supply my need both once and twice. (Phil. 4:10 - 11, 14 - 16, HBFV, see also 2Corinthians 11:9)
Paul's letter to believers living in Philippi, which is found in the New Testament, was written between 61 and 63 A.D.