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Philippians Background - 01-11-1984

Topic: logospedia,lp
Format: mp3,pdf
Publication Date: 01-11-1984

Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962.  

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.

He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International  and served as assistant to the president. 

Philippi is above the Aegean Sea in Macedonia. On the map, the word “Thrace” is above it.
Thrace is off to the right and above. Macedonia is the area that encompasses Beroea,
Thessalonica, Philippi, and larger areas to the west and north of that. Philippi actually lies nine
miles inland, north of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia. Right on the coast next to Philippi is
Neapolis, port city. If a boat comes in, it gets off at Neapolis and goes over mountain range to
Philippi, nine miles north.
Very important road – Via Egnatia or Egnatian Way – famous military and commercial road
built right through the city of Philippi. It spanned both Thrace and Macedonia, from the east
coast of Byzantium on the Bosphorus, extreme east end of Thrace. The road zigzagged through
Philippi and Thessalonica all the way to the west coast of Macedonia. Extended from Thrace,
through Macedonia; from Byzantium to the coast of Macedonia on the west.
That distance through Thrace is 493 English miles, which made it possible for travel and trade to
go through Philippi and these other cities. It made it possible to carry goods from Rome across
the sea to Macedonia and then by land all the way to the Bosphorus. Then after crossing the
Bosphorus, a person could go any place in the east that he wanted to go. Very important
highway at that time.
Philippi is located in the northern area of Greece – Macedonia. The southern area of Greece is
called Achaia. Along the west coast of Greece is Apearus.
Originally Philippi was called Krenides (springs or fountains) because there were many springs
and fountain in that area.
359 B.C. – Philip II (Philip of Macedon, Father of Alexander the Great) became king of
Macedonia. He knew that city of Krenides would add stability and influence to his kingdom. It
was in an extremely fertile area. It would guard his eastern border against Thracian advances
(same Barbaric tribes from Thrace who came down and threatened Galatians at one time in
history). Above all, the mines would perhaps meet his most pressing need - gold.
356 B.C. – Philip captured Krenides, fortified it and named it Philippi.
108 B.C. – Roman army defeated Macedonian forces at Pydna in Macedonia. At that time,
Macedonia was organized as a semi-independent republican federation, divided into four districts
and governed by annual officials. Capital of the first district of Macedonia, which includes
Philippi, was Amphipolis (one of the cities Paul traveled through on his way to Thessalonica
from Philippi). Acts 16:12 – Philippi was a city of the first district of Macedonia, Amphipolis
was the capital of it.
146 B.C. – After a number of revolts, Macedonia reorganized as a Roman province. Thessalonica
became the capital for all of Macedonia. At no time was Philippi ever the capital.
42 B.C. – Philippi was the site of a great battle that sounded the death knell of Romans. When
Paul traveled to Philippi he went by boat from Trōas to the island of Samothracia to Neapolis,
port city. As one left the city, he started up a hill and there would be a mountain range along the
coast. Plain, a basin on the other side of the mountain, and then another range of mountains. As
one looked across the plain, he would see the city of Philippi on one of the hillsides on the other
The marshy plain was the site of a great battle where Brutus and Casius (the men who had killed
Julius Caesar) were defeated by Octavian and Mark Antony. After the battle, Philippi was made
a Roman colony – military settlement. “And it’s a colony” – military settlement. It was
Octavian that made it a Roman colony.
31 B.C. – Octavian defeated Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in Epirus (on map - west
coast, on south side of inlet). On north side of inlet – Nicopolis.
Many of the people who lived in Italy and had sided with Mark Antony were forced to leave
Italy. They went to a number of cities like, and including, Philippi. These dispossessed people
were allowed to establish themselves in these cities.
27 B.C. – Octavian was given the title of Augustus, which means consecrated, majestic,
magnificent; that which inspires awe and reverence. Octavian divided Roman provinces into
senatorial and imperial provinces. Thus, the Roman Empire consisted of subject kingdoms,
senatorial provinces, and imperial provinces.
Subject kingdoms – like Palestine had been under Herod when he was king. After Herod the
Great’s death, it was divided up into a couple of tetrachs and ethnarch. These became different
types of imperial provinces.
Senatorial provinces – ruled by proconsul.
Imperial provinces ruled by:
1) consular legate
2) praetor
3) prefect
(see Galatian background notes)
Augustus was one that divided the empire up this way. This division of provinces into senatorial
and imperial provinces was a crafty move on his part under the pretense of his removing
“burdens” of unstable and dangerous provinces from the responsibility of the Senate. Augustus
took over control. He said to the Senate, “Now you don’t want to mess around with these
belligerent provinces. Why don’t you let me, as the emperor, handle those and you handle the
peaceful ones?” The action gave the emperor direct control over the army, which solidified his
power because the senatorial provinces were usually more peaceful provinces so they had little
or no need for a standing army. They were run by proconsuls who were appointed by the Senate
but had control over all the imperial provinces where all the major armies were.
Macedonia – at one time a senatorial province and they wanted to become an imperial province
but by the time Paul got there, they were again a senatorial province.
44 A.D. – Philippi had been a colony, military settlement, since the time of the battle of Octavian
and Antony against Brutus and Casius. Later, Philippi received the much coveted Italic Rite
which was only conferred upon certain colonies. The Italic Rite was granted to a community and
in effect made the community a part of the city of Rome itself; so Philippi was considered a part
of the city of Rome. The free people in the city were granted Roman citizenship and the
privileges that went along with it. Automatically, all the free people in the city became citizens
of the city of Rome.
Roman colonies were not governed by the proconsul of the province of which they existed; so
the proconsul of Macedonia had no jurisdiction over the city of Philippi. Instead, they were
governed by their own magistrates.
Acts 16:20 – Paul and Silas brought to magistrate.
The history of Philippi continued to the time of the Moslems.
Language and Culture:
Culture – Read and study Acts 16. It gives an excellent picture of Philippi at the time of Paul’s
visit. It was an old Greek city and Roman colony. Prosperous community, not likely to rock the
boat of Caesar.
Although the gold mines had played out years before, the economy was solidly based on
agriculture. The plain below the city successfully provided grapes for wine, mulberry for silk,
cotton, fruits, vegetables, rice, and poppies. Artisans and tradesmen catered to the local
populous as well as the larger market made available by trade and travel.
Population – Primarily Roman and Greek, although there were some native Thracians, as well as
a few people from other nations. In all likelihood, people of Philippi were bilingual (Greek and
Latin). Language pertinent to law and government – Latin. Inscription on coins – Latin. Latin
was predominant but as everywhere in the Roman world, Greek was the sign of education and
No synagogue in Philippi. When Paul went to Philippi, he went down to the riverside to find
Judeans. (Lydia – Acts 16:13-15. Verse 15 implies that she was divorced or widowed because
she and her household were baptized.)
Number of Judeans in Philippi were small because it was military colony and not a major trading
center. Therefore, Aramiac would have been a rare spoken language in the colony, although it
would have been spoken by the few Judeans that were there. That is not the case with other
cities Paul traveled to, where he wrote later on, because most had synagogues. To have a
synagogue, there had to be at least 10 heads of households. The city itself was typically Roman.
Just because Aramiac wasn’t a well-spoken language doesn’t mean Paul wouldn’t have written
in Aramiac. That was his native tongue, but it just shows again the great need for Greek and
Latin versions to be produced.
The city had a marketplace, forum, theatre, public toilets, prison and numerous shrines and
Varied. Standard Greco-Roman, Pantheon and Thracian gods. Worshipped Cybale, mother
goddess. Bacchus, god of wine. Also had temples to Egyptian gods and goddesses — Isis,
Serapis, Harpokrates.
High in nearby mountains – tribe of Satrae, who had an oracle to Thracian, Dionysus. Dionysus
was a prophet god not to be confused with the Greek god of wine. It was likely the woman
possessed of divination, Python in Acts 16, was a prophetess of Dionysus. The python was a
guardian spirit of an oracle of Delphi who was slain by Apollo, the sun god. Thus, Apollo was
the god associated with the giving of orcales and at Delphi he was worshipped as the Pythian
god. Plutar, a greek philosopher of the first century (which makes it contemporary with New
Testament writing) wrote that the “utterances of prophets and prophetesses were genuinely
beyond their conscious control.”
Christianity in Philippi:
Acts 16:6-12 – Paul’s second itinerary. He traveled through Derbe and Lystra where he had
been on his first itinerary and he picked up Timothy. He had Silas with him.
they – Paul, Silas, Timothy
Mysia – above Asia
Trōas – on coast of Aegean Sea in the province of Mysia
Verse 10 – we indicates he picked up Luke, the writer of Acts
Immediately when Paul saw the vision (v. 10), they endeavored to go into Macedonia. Journey
was by ship. Roman ships had no time table. They left any time of day or night. When they left
depended upon weather, tides, moon, and especially good or bad omens. The ship that Paul,
Silas, Timothy, and Luke traveled on left Trōas and sailed to the island of Samothracia (60
miles). Next day, sailed about 70 miles to Neapolis. The trip took two days. Must have been
good weather. Acts 20:6 – later trip he took from Philippi to Troas, going with the current, took
them five days to get there.
When they got there on the sabbath, he went down by the river and found Lydia. Lydia was “a
seller of purple” – purple dye which came from murax shellfish. Takes 12,000 of these to
produce 1.5 grams of dye. Red-purple or blue-purple. That explains why these were royal
While at Philippi met possessed damsel. Paul casts out spirits so they were taken to magistrates,
whipped and put in prison. Witnessed to jailor, etc.
Only record in Acts of Paul going to Philippi except Acts 20:1-6 – traveled through Macedonia
on the way to Corinth and then again leaving Corinth, traveled back through Macedonia on his
way to Jerusalem. When he gets to Jerusalem, he is imprisoned, taken to Caesarea where he
spends two years in jail and from there to Rome. Acts 25:21 – Paul appealed to Caesar. (This is
different Caesar. Octavian was not around at this time – Acts 28:16-23,30 – when we came to
A lot of things happened during these two years while he was there. It never says when his trial
came up and when he was released. To be released he had to have had a trial sometime because
he had appealed to Caesar. We don’t know what had happened during that two-year period, but
what we know is that while he was in chains, bound to that soldier, before his trial came up Paul
wrote Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.
Imprisonment of the Apostle Paul is mentioned in Philippians 1:7, 13, 14, 16; 2:23.
Philippians 1:19 – Paul was already saved but at this time of his life he needed deliverance from
prison. It was through their prayer and supply of the spirit that Paul would get his deliverance.
After Paul was released, after that two years was up, he again traveled.
I Timothy 1:3 – Paul traveled through Ephesus into Macedonia. Titus 1:5 – Must have been in
Crete and left Titus there. Titus 3:12 – Spent winter in Nicopolis.
Romans 15:24,28 – Paul had intended to go to Spain and probably did during this time before he
went back to Rome.
Philippians tells us very clearly that this was written during his imprisonment at Rome.
Ephesians 6:20-22 implies that it was written at that same time while he was in prison.
v. 20 – ambassador in bonds – “bonds” refers to his being bound as an ambassador. There
is a greater bonding than being in prison and that is being bound to be an ambassador.
Colossians 4:3, 7, 10, 18 – “bonds”
These three, the greatest epistles, were written from prison in Rome, from Paul being in bonds.
Philippians 1:13; 4:22 – indicates it was from Rome.
Acts 28; Colossians 4:14 – Luke was with Paul when he wrote Colossians. Indicates it was from
Philemon written sometime after Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon 23,24 – Luke not
with him when he writes Philemon. Also mentions Demas.
Colossians 4 – Demas was with Paul at Rome. Philippians 1:1; 2:19 – Timothy was with Paul
when he wrote these epistles. Timothy was still with Paul when he wrote Philemon.
I Timothy 1:3 – Paul and Timothy traveled together.
Ephesians 6:21, 22 – Sending Tychicus unto Ephesians. Ephesus is in Asia.
Colossians 4:7-9 – Not only going to Ephesus but going to Colosse; both are in Asia.
Onesimus, from Colosse, went with Tychicus.
Philemon 10-12 – Must have sent Onesimus back. We know from Colossians he went
with Tychicus back to Colosse and Ephesus.
Philemon 23, 24 – Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Lucas must all be in Colosse because
he’s giving greetings, salutations.
Colossians 4:10 – Aristarchus, Marcus, v. 12 – Epaphras. v. 14 – Luke and Demas. All
these are with Paul when he writes Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, but when
Philemon is written they are gone. That narrows down the time in which the epistles could
have been written.
The entire Mystery package – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians – was written by Paul from
Rome. The great mystery is mentioned in each of the epistles. Ephesians 3 explains in detail
what the Mystery is. Colossians 1:26,27 – riches of glory of the Mystery; Christ in you, the hope
of glory. Colossians corrects the doctrinal error which crept into the church due to the misuse of
revelation given in the book of Ephesians. It’s correcting the doctrinal error regarding the
Philippians corrects the practical error and therefore, Philippians doesn’t mention the Mystery by
name but the practical application of the Mystery.
Ephesians 4 – endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit – the practical application of the one body.
In Philippians, there is a strong emphasis on being like-minded or practically carrying out the
Mystery, maintaining that unity of the spirit. Like-mindedness and joy prevade that particular
epistle of Philippians.
Interesting that the Mystery is mentioned in I Corinthians 2:7; 4:1 – stewards of the Mystery;
I Corinthians 15 – treats gathering together as part of Mystery; Romans – closing chapter, last
verses – Mystery was secret; now being revealed.
Romans, Corinthians, Galatians – written while Paul was at Ephesus, at Macedonia, and Corinth
at the time of Acts 19:20 when the Word grew mightily and prevailed. Did Paul teach it at that
time in those areas? It doesn’t say; but if Paul was going to correct the practical error that crept
in due to the misuse of the revelation in Ephesians, then at Philippi, they must have known the
doctrine so they could get into the error. Same way at Colosse – Colosse was a part of Asia
where all Asia heard the Word of the Lord. Yet, if they already heard the doctrine, why would
Ephesians have to be written to Ephesus?
Ephesians 1:1 – who are at Ephesus – not in many manuscripts. Omitted in literals and expanded
translation by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille.
All epistles are encyclical – circulated to all Churches. This one had no label. Perhaps Ephesus
was its original destination because that’s where the Word grew and prevailed (Acts 19). But
there, they received the doctrinal epistle, the apex of all revelation, the book of Ephesians. In
Colosse, a few miles away, they were into doctrinal error regarding the Mystery, the one Body.
In Philippi they were practicing error regarding the one Body, not maintaining that unity of the
Philippians – reproof epistle. Corrects practical error.
Ephesians 1-3 – Doctrinal
Ephesians 4-6 – Practical
Many parallels between Ephesians 4-6 and Philippians. Philippians deals extensively with
putting on the mind of Christ, being likeminded and having the joy that results from the unity of
Romans, Corinthians, Galatians – all addressed to the saints or churches of Galatia.
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians – addressed to the faithful – saints in Christ Jesus. To be in
Christ Jesus is to be in fellowship and identified with the exalted one. Not addressed to the
neophytes in the Word, but those who have gone on, who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
The first three epistles, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, deal with the individual sinner being
made righteous in Christ. The latter three show unified body with Christ as the head. Thus,
where Corinthians deals with individuals who practically abuse their sonship rights, Philippians
deals with believers who do not put on the mind of Christ and become like-minded.
Two major key concepts in Philippians:
1. Like-mindedness
2. Joy and rejoicing (as a result of being like-minded)