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The Epistle to the Philippians (1).
pp. 192 - 197
The ministry of the Apostle Paul at Philippi marks the entrance of the gospel into
Europe and is described in Acts 16: 12-40. The city, which was a Roman colony, first
received its name from Philip of Macedon who took it from the Thasians around
B.C.360. In B.C.168 it became part of the Roman empire. Luke describes it as "a city of
Macedonia, the first of the district, a Roman colony" (Acts 16: 12 R.V.). There was a
dignity in this title, for this permitted the use of the Roman law in local affairs, and
sometimes exemption from tribute and taxation. Even more than this the Ius Italicum
gave them the privilege by which ownership, transfer of land, payment of taxes, local
administration, and law, became the same as if they were on Italian soil.
Luke, in the Acts, makes it clear that a Jewish community existed there before the
Apostle's visit, and it is interesting to note the high status of women in Macedonia.
W. Tarn and G. T. Griffith in Hellenistic Civilization, pp. 98, 99 state "if Macedonia
produced perhaps the most competent group of men the world had yet seen, the women
were in all respects the men's counterparts; they played a large part in affairs, received
envoys and obtained concessions for them from their husbands, built temples, founded
cities, engaged mercenaries, commanded armies, held fortresses, and acted on occasion
as regents or even co-rulers". Jewish women, we know, met for prayer at Philippi, of
which Lydia, a proselyte of Judaism was one.
Date and Place of Composition.
The traditional dating of the epistle is associated with Paul's imprisonment at Rome.
This view was current in the second century, and was virtually unchallenged until the end
of the eighteenth century. From this time onwards two other places have been advanced
as the origin of this letter. They are Caesarea and Ephesus. Oeder of Leipzig in 1731
first propounded the Caesarea origin, though today it has been practically abandoned.
We will, however, consider it. Later, Ephesus was put forward as the place where the
epistle was written by Adolf Deissman in 1897 and is sponsored by some modern
scholars like Dr. G. S. Duncan. The reader may ask if this is of vital importance, and
the answer is "yes", for a Caesarean or Ephesian origin for the Philippian epistle would
remove it from the prison epistles written after Acts 28: relating to the Mystery and
put it into the Acts period, where Israel and Israel's hope are still dominating.
Those who uphold the Caesarean origin make much of the word praetorian, translated
`palace' in the A.V. of Phil. 1: 13, and point out that this word describes Herod's official
residence at Caesarea. But the same word is used of Pilate's residence as Roman
procurator at Jerusalem, and it is also used of the Emperor's palace on the Palatine hill in
Rome (as A.V.), and it could equally refer to the residence of the proconsul of Asia in
Ephesus, or any governor of a province. This argument therefore cancels out, and no
secure foundation can be based on it.