Philippians 1

Writing in Chains


Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi (Philippians 1:1).

Paul first visited the city of Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12), passing through it again on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:6). The Greek historian Appian aptly described the city of Philippi as the gate between Europe and Asia. It is located 10 miles (16 km) inland from the port city of Neapolis. Philippi was nearly the terminus of the Via Egnatia, a military road that joined Rome and the East, and provided a much-valued line of communication.


Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:5).

“Partnership” (Gk. koinōnia) often refers to monetary support (e.g., Rom 15:26). This certainly was part of the partnership Paul received from the Philippians (cf. Phil 4:15-18). This hoard of Greek silver coins is slightly earlier than the time of Paul, but given that coins were often used for decades or even centuries, this kind of coin may have been known to Paul’s audience. This display was photographed at the Antalya Museum, and the coins likely come from southern Galatia.

House Arrest

In my imprisonment (Philippians 1:7).

Rather than being housed as a common criminal while awaiting trial in Rome, Paul was permitted to live in his own rented house, though bound with a chain and in the company of a guard (Acts 28:16, 30; cf. Eph. 6:20). These houses at Herculaneum, a residential town south of Rome, illustrate ordinary housing in Paul’s day. A view along a street like this one may have been quite familiar to him. Ancient authors complained of the noise at night, as merchants took advantage of the lighter foot traffic to haul wares in and out on rickety carts.

The Praetorian Guard

My imprisonment for Christ has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard (Philippians 1:13).

If Paul wrote this letter during the imprisonment in Rome that is recorded in Acts, then he would have been living in his own rented quarters (Acts 28:30). However, he would have had close contact with Caesar’s elite guard, which would fit with the report here. Palatine Hill, the foundations of which are visible in this photo, is where the palace of the emperor was located.

Paul's Return

That your boasting may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again (Philippians 1:26).

The Via Egnatia (Egnatian Way) was an important road which led from the Adriatic Sea, across modern Albania and Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey. It was constructed in the 2nd century BC. When Paul traveled to and from Philippi, he would have used this road. Note the ruts left in the stones from heavy cart traffic in this area.

Imprisonment in Philippi

Having the same struggle which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me (Philippians 1:30).

Paul refers to the imprisonment which he experienced before their eyes in Philippi (Acts 16). Some of the believers in Philippi might have been likewise imprisoned for their faith. The cave-like structure shown here is touted as the traditional prison of Paul at Philippi. It was a cistern that archaeologists found in 1876 near Basilica A. When Basilica A was ruined, Christians used the cistern as a place of worship, and a chapel was later built on the site.

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