Philippi was originally known as Krenides (“The Little Fountains”) because of the numerous nearby springs, Philippi (“city of Philip”) received its name from Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great). Due to its nearby gold mines, Philip conquered the region in the fourth century B.C. In the second century B.C., Philippi became part of the Roman province of Macedonia.
Philippi existed in relative obscurity for the next two centuries until 42 B.C., when the forces of Antony and Octavian defeated those of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi, thus ending the Roman Republic and ushering in the Roman Empire. After the battle, Philippi became a Roman colony (cf. Acts 16:12), and many veterans of the Roman army settled there.
One commentary states, “As a colony, Philippi had autonomy from the provincial government and the same rights granted to cities in Italy, including the use of Roman law, exemption from some taxes, and Roman citizenship for its residents (Acts 16:21). Being a colony was also the source of much civic pride for the Philippians, who used Latin as their official language, adopted Roman customs, and modeled their city government after that of Italian cities. Acts and Philippians both reflect Philippi’s status as a Roman colony.”
Paul’s description of Christians as citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20) was appropriate, because the Philippians prided themselves on being citizens of Rome (cf. Acts 16:21). The Philippians may well have known some of the members of the palace guard (Phil. 1:13) and Caesar’s household (4:22).
Philippi evidently had a very small Jewish population. Because there were not enough men to form a synagogue (the requirement was for 10 Jewish men who were heads of a household), some devout women met outside the city at a place of prayer (Acts 16:13) alongside the Gangites River. Paul preached the gospel to them and Lydia, a wealthy merchant dealing in expensive purple dyed goods (Acts 16:14), became a believer (Acts 16:14–15). It is likely that the Philippian church initially met in her large home.
More to come. I encourage you to read the Book of Philippians today. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!