Acts 16:12
And from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) The chief city of that part of Macedonia.—More accurately, a chief (or first) city of the border-country of Macedonia. The description is not without difficulty, and has been noted by adverse critics as an instance of St. Luke’s inaccuracy. The city of Philippi, rebuilt by the father of Alexander the Great, and bearing his name in lieu of Krenides ( = the fountains), was situated on the Gangites, a tributary of the Strymon; but it was not the chief city of any one of the four sub-divisions of the Roman province of Macedonia, that rank being assigned to Amphipolis, Thessalonica, Pella, and Pelagonia. As there is no definite article in the Greek, it is possible that St. Luke simply meant to say it was a chief town of the district, the epithet Prôte ( = first) being often found on the coins of cities which were not capitals. The more probable explanation, however, is that he uses the Greek word translated “part,” in the sense of “border-land,” as in the LXX. of Ezekiel 35:7, Ruth 3:7, and that it was the first city of that frontier district, either as the most important or as being the first to which they came in the route by which they travelled. This was precisely the position of Philippi, which, together with Pella and other towns, had been garrisoned by the Romans as outposts against the neighbouring tribes of Thrace. It had been established as a colony by Augustus after the defeat of Brutus and Cassius, and its full title, as seen on the coins of the city, was Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis.

A colony.—The English reader needs to be reminded that a Roman colonia differed from the modern in being essentially a military position. Portions of the conquered territory were commonly assigned to veteran soldiers, and the settlement thus formed was considered politically as an integral part of Rome, all decrees of the emperor or senate being as binding there as in the capital itself. The colonies thus formed were as the “propugnacula imperii” (Cic. de leg. Agrar. c. 27), “populi Romani quasi effigies parvæ simulacraque” (Aul. Gell. xvi. 13). Here, then, in the first European city to which St. Paul came, there was something like an earnest of his future victories. Himself a Roman citizen, he was brought into direct contact with Romans. (See Note on Acts 16:21.)

16:6-15 The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means of grace by them, are in particular under Divine conduct and direction. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek to do, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to be for the best. People greatly need help for their souls, it is their duty to look out for it, and to invite those among them who can help them. And God's calls must be complied with readily. A solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, if possible, upon the sabbath day. If we have not synagogues, we must be thankful for more private places, and resort to them; not forsaking the assembling together, as our opportunities are. Among the hearers of Paul was a woman, named Lydia. She had an honest calling, which the historian notices to her praise. Yet though she had a calling to mind, she found time to improve advantages for her soul. It will not excuse us from religious duties, to say, We have a trade to mind; for have not we also a God to serve, and souls to look after? Religion does not call us from our business in the world, but directs us in it. Pride, prejudice, and sin shut out the truths of God, till his grace makes way for them into the understanding and affections; and the Lord alone can open the heart to receive and believe his word. We must believe in Jesus Christ; there is no coming to God as a Father, but by the Son as Mediator.And from thence to Philippi - The former name of this city was Dathos. It was repaired and adorned by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, and after him was called Philippi. It was famous for having been the place where several battles were fought during the civil wars of the Romans, and, among others, for the decisive battle between Brutus and Antony. At this place Brutus killed himself. To the church in this place Paul afterward wrote the Epistle which bears its name.

Which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia - This whole region had been conquered by the Romans under Paulus Aemilius. By him it was divided into four parts or provinces (Livy). The Syriac version renders it "a city of the first part of Macedonia," and there is a medal extant which also describes this region by this name. It has been proposed, therefore, to alter the Greek text in accordance with this, since it is known that Amphipolis was made the chief city by Paulus Aemilius. But it may be remarked that, although Amphipolis was the chief city in the time of Paulus Aemilius, it may have happened that in the lapse of 220 years from that time Philippi might have become the most extensive and splendid city. The Greek here may also mean simply that this was the first city to which they arrived in their travels.

And a colony - This is a Latin word, and means that this was a Roman colony. The word denotes "a city or province" which was planted or occupied by Roman citizens. It is a strong confirmation of the fact here stated by Luke, that Philippi had the rank and dignity of a Roman colony, as coins are still extant, in which Philippi is distinctly referred to as a colony. Such coins exist from the reign of Augustus to the reign of Caracalla.

Certain days - Some days.

12. Philippi … the chief—rather, perhaps, "the first"

city of that part of Macedonia—The meaning appears to be—the first city one comes to, proceeding from Neapolis. The sense given in our version hardly consists with fact.

a colony—that is, possessing all the privileges of Roman citizenship, and, as such, both exempted from scourging and (in ordinary cases) from arrest, and entitled to appeal from the local magistrate to the emperor. Though the Pisidian Antioch and Troas were also "colonies," the fact is mentioned in this history of Philippi only on account of the frequent references to Roman privileges and duties in the sequel of the chapter.

Ac 16:12-34. At Philippi, Lydia Is Gained and with Her Household Baptized—An Evil Spirit Is Expelled, Paul and Silas Are Scourged, Imprisoned, and Manacled, but Miraculously Set Free, and the Jailer with All His Household Converted and Baptized.

12, 13. we were in that city abiding certain days—waiting till the sabbath came round: their whole stay must have extended to some weeks. As their rule was to begin with the Jews and proselytes, they did nothing till the time when they knew that they would convene for worship.

Philippi; a city so called from Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, who repaired a ruined town, and caused it to be called by his name. The chief city of that part of Macedonia; or the first city in the passage from Samothracia unto Macedonia.

A colony; where many Roman citizens went to inhabit, and whose inhabitants had the freedom of the city of Rome. To the church in this city Paul wrote an Epistle. And from thence to Philippi,.... This place is by Appianus called Datos, which was its original name; and by Diodorus Siculus, Crenidae (c), from the fountains of water, which were many and wholesome, that were about it; and it had its name Philippi, from Philip king of Macedon, father of Alexander the great, who rebuilt it (d): it is now vulgarly called Chrixopolis, that is, Chrysopolis, from the veins and mines of gold found about it; it was famous for a battle here fought between Augustus Caesar and Anthony on the one side, and Brutus and Cassius on the other, in which the latter were vanquished:

which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia; which is called Edonis, in which Ptolomy places it;

and a colony: that is, of the Romans; see Acts 16:37 and which Pliny (e) also calls a colony:

and we were in that city abiding many days; without doing anything, having no opportunity, or door opened to them to preach the Gospel; which must be a great trial of their faith, after Paul had seen such a vision, by which they were so strongly assured it was the will of God they should come and preach the Gospel here, and after they had travelled so far by sea and land; though some observe, that the word used signifies not only to abide, but to exercise themselves, by teaching and preaching the word, which it is supposed they did with success; and that the women they after met with by the river side, were such, at least some of them, who had been converted under their ministry; but the former seems to be the truest sense.

(c) Ptolom. Geograph. l. 3. c. 13. (d) Pausaniae Eliac. 2. l. 6. p. 352. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 11. (e) Ib.

And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 16:12. ἐκεῖθέν τε εἰς Φ.: on or near the site of Krenides (Wells or Fountains), so called from its founder Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. Near Philippi, Octavius and Anthony had decisively defeated Brutus and Cassius, and to that event it owed the honour of being made a Roman colony with the jus Italicum (R.V., “a Roman colony”), or in other words, “a miniature likeness of the great Roman people,” cf. Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 51. Hence both in St. Luke’s account of the place, and in St. Paul’s Epistle we are constantly face to face with the political life of Rome, with the power and pride of Roman citizenship. But its geographical position really invested Philippi with its chief importance, thoroughfare as it was on the great Egnatian Way for the two continents of Europe and Asia. At Philippi we are standing at the confluence of the stream of Europe and Asiatic life; we see reflected in the evangelisation of Philippi as in a mirror the history of the passage of Christianity from the East to the West, Lightfoot, Phil., p. 49; Renan, St. Paul, p. 140; McGiffert, Apostolic Christianity, p. 239; Speaker’s Commentary, vol. iii., 580; C. and H., p. 202 ff.—πρώτη τῆς μερίδος, see Additional note.—κολωνία: “a Roman colony,” R.V., there were many Greek colonies, ἀποικία or ἐποικία, but κολ. denoted a Roman colony, i.e., a colony enjoying the jus Italicum like Philippi at this time, governed by Roman law, and on the model of Rome; see “Colony” in B.D.2 and Hastings’ B.D.—ἦμενδιατρ., see above on Acts 1:10; characteristic Lucan construction.12. and from thence to Philippi] As the same verb is used for the whole description of the journey, it seems that the whole was made by ship.

which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony] Better and more in accord with the oldest MSS. “which is a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a colony.” (So R. V.) Philippi and the country round had long been famous by reason of the neighbouring gold mines. At the time of St Paul’s visit it was held by the Romans, and a colony had been founded there by Augustus. The civil magistrates and the military authorities were Roman. Hence the fear when they heard that prisoners whom they had scourged were Roman citizens. For a history of Philippi, see Dict. of the Bible.

It should be borne in mind that a Roman colony was not like what we now call a colony. The inhabitants did not settle as they pleased, but were sent out by authority from Rome, marching to their destination like an army with banners, and they reproduced, where they settled, a close resemblance of Roman rule and life. They were planted on the frontiers of the empire for protection, and as a check upon the provincial magistrates. The names of those who went were still enrolled in the lists of the tribes of Rome. Latin was their language, and they used the Roman coinage, and had their chief magistrates sent out or appointed from the mother city. Thus were they very closely united with Rome, and entirely free from any intrusion on the part of the governors of the provinces.Acts 16:12. Πρώτη τῆς μερίδος, first of that part) The Hither (nearer) part of Macedonia, towards Asia, contained Neapolis: the more remote part contained Philippi: the river Strymon flowed between. No cause is assigned why they passed by Neapolis: perhaps there was no synagogue there, at least no reason for stopping there. The first town after that, which was also, according to the order of their way, in that part of Macedonia, was Philippi. The article has a demonstrative force. It is a needless conjecture, to propose reading πρώτης for πρώτη τῆς. See Baumg. I. H. E., 318.—κολωνία) A colony, viz. a Roman one.[95] Xiphilinus acutes the penult, κολωνία.[96]

[95] And therefore the Greek term ἀποικία is not used, but the Latin, colonia.—E. and T.

[96] So ACDE; and so Lachm. But B has κολώνεια, acuted on the antepenult.—E. and T.Verse 12. - A city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a Roman colony for the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony, A.V.: this for that, A.V.; tarrying for abiding, A.V. A city of Macedonia, etc. This is a difficult sentence. The natural way of construing the words undoubtedly is, as in the A.V., "which is the chief city of the [or, ' that'] district of Macedonia, and a colony." The only difficulty in the way of so taking it is that when AEmilius Paulus, as related by Livy (45:29), divided the conquered kingdom of Macedonia into four districts (regiones or partes), Amphi-pelts was made the capital of the district in which Philippi was situated. But the epithet πρώτη does not necessarily mean the capital; it is found on coins applied to cities which were not capitals. Besides, in the interval of above two hundred years between Aemilius Paulus and St. Paul (from s.c. 167 to A.D. ), it is very probable that the city of Philippi, with its gold-mines and its privileges as a colony, may have really become the capital. And so Lewin, following Wetstein, understands it (vol. it. p. 209). We know that in the reign of Theodosius the Younger, when Macedonia was divided into two provinces, Philippi became the ecclesiastical head of Macedonia Prima. It had been made a colony by Augustus Caesar, with the name "Col. Jul. Aug. Philip.," i.e. Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis ('Dict. of Greek and Roman Geog.'). It must, therefore, anyhow have been a place of first-rate importance at this time. Those, however, who do not accept this explanation, couple κολωνία with πόλις, "which is the first colony-city," etc, Others take πρώτη in a local sense, "the first city you come to in Macedonia" (Conybeare and Howson, Alford, Bengel, etc.). The R.V. seems to take ἥτις ἐστὶ... Μακεδονίας πόλις together, and πρώτη τῆς μερίδος as a further description of it - a most awkward construction. Alford renders it, "which is the first Macedonian city of the district.' But the natural way of construing a passage is almost always the best, and nothing prevents us from believing that St. Luke, who knew Philippi intimately, was strictly accurate in calling it "the chief city of the district of Macedonia," i.e. the district in which it was situated. That μέρις is the technical name of the division of a province appears from the title μεριδάρχης, applied by Josephus to a certain Apollonius, governor, under Antiochus Epiphanes, of the district in which Samaria was included ('Ant. Jud.,' 12. 5:5). The ancient name of Philippi was Dates first, then Krenides - the springs, or wells; and the word used by Livy of the districts of Macedonia, pars prima, secunda, etc., is an exact translation of μέρις It received the name of Philippi, from Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, who extracted a great revenue from its gold-mines. Its great historical celebrity arises from the battle in the plain of Philippi, in which the republican party, under Brutus and Cassius, received its death-blow from Octavius and Antony. (For a full description of Philippi, and of the privileges of a colony, see Conybeare and Howson, vol. 1:311, etc., and Lewin, vol. 1. Acts 11.) This. Alford, following certain manuscripts, reads αὐτῇ, "in the city itself," as distinguished from the place outside the city, where the προσευχή was. But, perhaps, St. Luke uses the word "this" from Philippi being the place of his own residence, and where he may have drawn up the narrative on the spot. Chief (πρώτη)

Some explain, the first city to which they came in Macedonia.

A colony (κολωνία)

Roman towns were of two classes: municipia, or free towns, and colonies. The distinction, however, was not sharply maintained, so that, in some cases, we find the same town bearing both names. The two names involved no difference of right or of privilege. The historical difference between a colony and a free town is, that the free towns were taken into the state from without, while the colonies were offshoots from within. "The municipal cities insensibly equalled the rank and splendor of the colonies; and in the reign of Hadrian it was disputed which was the preferable condition, of those societies which had issued from, or those which had been received into, the bosom of Rome" (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall").

The colony was used for three different purposes in the course of Roman history: as a fortified outpost in a conquered country; as a means of providing for the poor of Rome; and as a settlement for veterans who had served their time. It is with the third class, established by Augustus, that we have to do here. The Romans divided mankind into citizens and strangers. An inhabitant of Italy was a citizen; an inhabitant of any other part of the empire was a peregrinus, or stranger. The colonial policy abolished this distinction so far as privileges were concerned. The idea of a colony was, that it was another Rome transferred to the soil of another country. In his establishment of colonies, Augustus, in some instances, expelled the existing inhabitants and founded entirely new towns with his colonists; in others, he merely added his settlers to the existing population of the town then receiving the rank and title of a colony. In some instances a place received these without receiving any new citizens at all. Both classes of citizens were in possession of the same privileges, the principal of which were, exemption from scourging, freedom from arrest, except in extreme cases, and, in all cases, the right of appeal from the magistrate to the emperor. The names of the colonists were still enrolled in one of the Roman tribes. The traveller heard the Latin language and was amenable to the Roman law. The coinage of the city had Latin inscriptions. The affairs of the colony were regulated by their own magistrates, named Duumviri, who took pride in calling themselves by the Roman title of praetors (see on Acts 16:20).

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