Gods, Gold And The Glory Of Philippi -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 17:4 (Fall 2004)
Article: Gods, Gold And The Glory Of Philippi
Author: Gordon Franz


Gods, Gold And The Glory Of Philippi

Gordon Franz

The Apostle Paul’s visit to Macedonia marked the first time he set foot on European soil (Acts 16:11). However, this was not the first time the gospel was proclaimed in Europe (cf. Acts 2:10). In fact, the “Macedonian call” (Acts 16:9) seems to imply that there were already believers in Macedonia that needed help in evangelizing their province. Macedonia then became a beachhead for Paul and his company to take the gospel further into Europe. As one writer has commented, “Out of Macedonia, Alexander the Great once went to conquer the Eastern world but later from Macedonia the power of the gospel went to conquer the Western world of Paul’s day” (Swift 1984:250).

Philippi was a major city of the Macedonians, and played an important role in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. He also had an effective and lasting ministry in the lives of the believers in the Lord Jesus in Philippi.

Historical Overview

The earliest city that occupied the site of Philippi was called Datos. In 360 BC Greeks from the island of Thasos colonized it. They changed the name to Krenides, meaning “with many springs” because of the abundance of springs in the area (Diodorus of Sicily, Library of History 16.3.7; LCL 7:243). It was also famous for the fertile plain that stretched out before it, as well as Mt. Pangaion to the southwest. To the east of Philippi was the Orbelos mountain range.

In the mountains of that area there were gold and silver mines (Strabo Geography 7, fr 34; LCL 3:355). It was these mines that caused friction between the Thracian tribes and the colonists from Thasos. In 356 BC, the colonists invited Philip II, the king of Macedonia, to help defend them from the Thracian tribes. Seeing the strategic importance of this city as well as the gold and silver mines, Philip II was more than happy to assist them. In the process of helping, he took over the city, enlarged and refortified its walls and renamed the city Philippi in his honor.

Modern harbor at Kavala (ancient Neapolis) where Paul first landed in Macedonia (Acts 16:11). Macedonia was the northern part of Greece, with Neapolis being its easternmost port.

Diodorus of Sicily, a Greek historian of the first century BC, writing in his Library of History, describes what happened next.

And then, turning to the gold min...

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