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  GREECE January 2004
 Talbot Bible Lands Tour    
(NASB) Scripture
Acts 16:12
The Macedonian Vision
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.
Acts 20:6
Paul in Macedonia and Greece
6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days.
Phil. 1:1
1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:
1Thess. 2:2
Paul's Ministry
2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.

Paul surely traveled on the Via Egnatia from Neapolis to Philippi.  It was built in the 2nd century BC and is named after the person who ordered its construction, Consul Gaius Ignatius. It was the extension into Greece of the Via Appia, it starts from Dyrachio and Apollonia on the Adriatic coast (in modern Albania) , goes along Northern Greece ( Epirus , Macedonia, Thrace ) and finishes in Kipsela (in modern Turkey) on the Aegean coast. The Egnatia Road has played an important role in Greek History during the Roman and Byzantine.  Philippi is about 10 miles south west of Kavala, between Mt. Pangaio and Mt. Orvilos, both have gold and silver mines.  It was first founded by colonists from the island of Thasos in 359 BC, and was then called Krenides. The ancient city was built on the marshes of the south east plain of Drama.  The first settlers were threatened by the Thracians in 356 BC and received aid from Philip II, King of Macedonia. Because of it's economic and strategic importance, Philip fortified the city and gave it his name.   The city was taken by the Romans in 168 BC.  In 42 BC Cassius and Brutus fought against Octavian and Antony.  Octavian and Antony prevailed which led to Philippi becoming a colony of importance.  [1]  When Paul visited in 49 AD it was a well developed Roman city. Philippi is believed to be the site of Pauls first recorded preaching in Greece.

The main purpose of the letter to the Philippians is to express joy and thankfulness to them for their sacrificial giving.


The buildings were enclosed by a strong wall, constructed in the time of Philip.  The Via Egnatia passes through the city, to the north was the theater, dating from the time of Philip II and smaller open air sanctuaries.  On the south side was a Roman market and a Roman bath.  Much of this dates from the second century AD after the time of Paul.  There are ruins of several basilicas that were built in the 6th century AD.  Due to there being no synagogue Paul left the city and went to the river bank where he found Lydia and other women gathering for prayer (Acts 16:13-15).  Lydia a seller of purple fabric became the first to be baptized on European soil.   A small Christian church and baptismal font has been built on the spot, and the place and church are called Lydia. 

The church of Lydia and the Gaggitis River are about 1/2 mile from the ancient ruins of Philippi.  The museum is about another 1/2 mile beyond the ruins. 

Pauls stay at Philippi was not always peaceful.  He and Silas were arrested and imprisoned after casting out the demon from the slave girl who had a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-24).   The slave girl with prophetic powers could be seen as suggesting the victory of Christianity over the religion, or gods, of the Romans.  If some thought she owed her powers to the spirit of the serpent Python which was associated with the ancient Greek oracle of Delphi known for prophecies  the Pythia priestess of the god Apollo.  Previously according to mythology, the Delphi oracle had been in the possession of another deity, Ghea, or Mother Earth.  The power of Christ was able to conquer all so called gods. [2] Click on pictures for a larger view

While in prison, they were beaten without a charge being filed, in spite of their Roman citizenship. The authorities, upon hearing of their citizenship, released them and asked them to leave the city. Paul left Luke in charge of the work in Philippi, perhaps with Timothy as his assistant.

At Philippi we saw the bema (steps or podium) where Paul preached to the Philippians as well as the prison cell where he and Silas were held. During the course of Pauls third missionary journey (52-56 AD), he revisited the cities of Macedonia.  This is one of the largest archeological sites in the Macedonian region of Greece and includes a large theater. The Greeks always built their theaters into the side of a hill whereas Roman theaters were built on a flat plain. In Pauls time, Philippi had 150,000 inhabitants including many foreigners as well as Greeks. Philippi is built on two levels: lower and upper. Unfortunately the two levels are divided by a busy highway that runs east and west parallel to the Via Egnatia with the bema and Agora on one side and the prison and theater, etc. on the other. The city was abandoned in the 7th century due to earthquakes and Slav raids, and was desolated by the Turks in the 14th century.

They traveled by way of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica Acts 17:1.  We drove near Amphipolis but did not visit.  Amphipolis was a colony of Athens, of strategic importance, near the Strymon river, Lake Volvi, and the Pangaion gold mines.  Amphipolis was founded in 438/ 437 BC.  The city is intersected by the Via Egnatia  In 442 BC Amphipolis broke away from its mother city, Athens, and remained independent until its incorporation into the kingdom of Macedonia by Philip II in 357 BC.   After the Roman conquest of Macedonia (168 BC) Amphipolis was made the capital of Macedonia Prima, one of the four divisions into which Macedonia was divided. There are ruins of four basilicas and one church dating from the 5th and 6th centuries AD.  The lion of Amphipolis is a burial monument dating to the 4th century BC. It probably belonged to Laomedon, a general and close friend of Alexander the Great.[3] Apollonia is near the present day village of Nea Apollonia, another city on the Via Egnatia, about 30 miles west of Amphipolis.[4]

Gangitis River at Philippi*

Paul and Lydia stained glass in Philippi Church of Lydia

Gangitis River at Philippi*
Lydia baptismal area

philippi/Lydia 8.JPG
Lydia baptismal area

philippi/Philippi 006.jpg
Lydia baptismal area

philippi/Heroon.JPG Octagonal church. The building is square in plan as seen from outside and octagonal in the interior.

philippi/Heroon 2.JPG
The nucleus of the whole structure is the vaulted tomb-heroon of the Late Hellenistic period.

philippi/Heroon 3.JPG
The octagonal church was built in ca. 400 A.D. and replaced the first small church dedicated to Apostle Paul.

Basilica B*
Philippi acropolis closeup*
Philippi acropolis from east*
Philippi alleged place of Paul's prison*
Basilica A from above 500 AD*
Basilica A from north 500 AD*
Church of Lydia*
Excavations with acropolis*
Excavations from above*

Forum north end*  This was the administrative center during the Roman period, organized around a central square

Forum with acropolis in background*
philippi/Philipp forumsouth.jpg
Forum south end*
Bema area*

Philippi theater* probably built by Philip II in the middle of the 4th century.  

Via Egnatia*

Palestra area of wrestling*  It contained central courtyard, a small amphitheater, and a large part is covered by what is called Basilica B, 540 AD. 

Shops, forum and acropolis*
Shops near forum*
philippi/Philippi 016.jpg
philippi/Toilets 7.JPG
philippi/Philippi 017.jpg
Basilica B 540 AD
philippi/Basilica B.JPG
Basilica B
philippi/Basilica B 3.JPG
Basilica B 540 AD
philippi/Basilica B 6.JPG
Close up of Basilica B wall 540 AD
philippi/Basilica C.JPG
Basilica C
philippi/Basilica C 2.JPG
Basilica C 6th Century AD
philippi/Basilica C 3.JPG
Basilica C 6th Century AD
philippi/Philippi 022.jpg
Phillip inscription
philippi/Philippi 015.jpg
Byzantine capital
philippi/Theatre 13.JPG
philippi/Theatre 2.JPG
philippi/Philippi 026.jpg
Excavation below the stadium
philippi/Theatre 5.JPG
philippi/Theatre excavation 3.JPG
Looking down on excavation from stadium above
philippi/Philippi 010.jpg
philippi/Forum 16.JPG

[1] Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles, 54
[2] ibid., 60

[3] Hellinic Ministry of Culture: Amphipolis

[4] Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles, 69

*Pictures from and some from Daniel Roh

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