Slide 1


“Magistrates”: most common Greek title for the Latin duoviri

the two Roman officials of Philippi (Latin “praetor”)


- not Greek commercial agora

- here: nearby central agora, Roman forum

230 feet by 485 feet (70 meters by 150 meters)

intersected by the Via Egnatia that ran through Philippi

Slide 2


Jewish- Roman contrast (16:20-21):

-       Common ancient anti- Judaism (cf. 16:37)

-       Maybe Claudius’s decree recent (18:2)

Romans complained: Jews converting people


-       Many native non- Romans, but few Jews in Philippi

-       Other immigrants from E. had settled there, increasing xenophobia

Slide 3



-       Over 80% of its inscriptions are in Latin

-       Citizens: Roman rights, law; exempt from tribute, constitution followed Rome’s


Non- citizens beaten before trial to secure evidence (beating called coercitio)

Lower class: few legal protections

Lictors: Roman magistrates’ attendants

-       Carried rods in bundles, used here

Stripping standard before public beatings

Public stripping, beatings: humiliating (1 Thess 2)

Slide 4

Prison Ministry


Slide 5


-       Ability to glorify God amidst suffering and shame praised in Judaism

-       Greco- Roman philosophers praised the wisdom of being content and thankful in one’s situation

-       Midnight: usually middle of one’s sleep, not prayers

-       Ps 119:61-62: persecuted, but praise at midnight


-       Jewish story: Abram delivered by earthquake in Ps-Philo 6:17

-       Most ancients recognized earthquakes as divine activity, often judgment

-       Earthquake-prone area

-       But: broke bonds w/o harming anyone

-       Some prison escapes by earthquakes (e.g. Turkey 2011; Haiti 2013; Indonesia 2013)

Slide 6

Thwarted suicide (16:27)

Execution was penalty for letting prisoners escape

Romans considered suicide a noble alternative

- to execution

- not some things

Josephus depicts honorably

Falling on sword (vs. hanging)

Christian theology has historically rejected suicide

Everyone would have rejected as solution to depression or anything from which one could recover

Slide 7


“Sirs”: “Lords”:

- respectable title

- but corrected in 16:31: the true Lord

How to be “saved”

-       Jailor had heard of charges

-       Slave:  “ proclaim to us the way of salvation”

Slide 8

16: 31-32

- Romans expected the whole household to follow the religion of its head

- also expected the head to lead his household to the worship of Roman gods


-He washed them, they washed him (Chrysostom)

-In view of 16:20-21, the jailer risks getting in much trouble here

. Josephus: centurion ate with prisoner


-Why freed?

. earthquake as sign?

. intercession of wealthy (though foreign) Lydia?

. public humiliation deemed sufficient

Slide 9

Roman citizenship (16:37)

- in provinces: mark of high status

- if no documents with them, would be on record in Tarsus

- Falsely claiming citizenship: capital offense

- Paul’s family probably received as descendants of freed Roman slaves

Julian law forbade binding or beating Roman citizens without trial

Maybe jailer informed them: citizenship taken seriously in Philippi

Slide 10

Objections to Paul’s citizenship

1.    Paul’s Silence- but:

Argument from silence

Paul attaches no intrinsic significance- even in Acts

Paul avoids “boasting”- except when “compelled”

Might presuppose it in Phil 1:7, 30 (share outcome of his trial)

Slide 11

2.    Luke seeks to establish Paul’s high status

-       Yes, but motive not= proof

-       i.e., he might seek to establish it without seeking to fabricate it

Paul’s Pharisaism also high status- yet true (Phil 3:5)

Slide 12

3.    Citizenship reserved for municipal etite

-       Reserved for municipal elite, closed to Jews (so Stegemann)

-       Stegemann misreads the evidence

-       1173 Roman citizens in Ephesus’ inscriptions

Various ways to achieve citizenship

-       including manumission

-       1000’s of slaves in Rome each year, while difficult for officials in east

Slide 13

4.    Jews who were Roman citizens would have to participate in pagan practices (Stegemann)

- Josephus and Roman Jewish inscriptions show that this is false

- an entire community of Jewish Roman citizens in Rome (Philo Embassy 155-57)

Slide 14

5.    Paul never uses tria nomina in his letters, unlike inscriptions

-       But: only official documents require it

-       Inscriptions sought honor- Paul did not

-       Greek Roman citizens in the East gave their names in Greek ways

-       Of 50 Jewish Roman citizen inscriptions in Rome: none use tria nomina

-       Letter not= inscriptions

-       Pliny always uses 1-2 names

-       Correspondents often used just one

Slide 15

6.    Beaten with rods: not allowed for citizens

-       But Luke (who reports his citizenship) also reports such a beating

-       Verres and others inflicted such beatings on known citizens

-       Florus inflicted even on equestrians ( a rank shared by some governors!)

Slide 16

Why not reveal citizenship before beating?

-       Would yield a prolonged case (bad publicity)

-       Officials could require certification from Tarsus

-       Officials might finally decide against him anyway

-       After officials violate law, Paul has upper hand

-       Maybe: this provincial Jew did not expect vindication till he experienced it in Corinth

Slide 17

Arguments favoring Paul’s Roman citizenship

Name favors it

Ludemann; Fitzmyer


-       Nearly always cognomen in inscriptions

-       When prawnomen, usually a reused cognomen from family

-       People usually went by cognomen

-       Respectable Roman name

-       Would suggest (not prove) citizenship- sufficient for many in East to assume it

-       Paul got Roman name somewhere

-       Not merely for decoration in Jerusalem!

Slide 18

2. Only a citizen could appear to emperor, be sent to Rome

- This happened to Paul- his letters support Acts on this point (though all before or after the time)

- Paul wanted to visit Rome (Rom 15)

- Paul expected Judean opposition (Rom 15)

- Later, Paul is in custody in Rome (Phil 1)

- Luke would hardly invest lengthy Roman custody starting earlier (in Judea) than necessary (shame)

Slide 19


-       Luke’s implicit information fits the claim

. Synagogue of freedpersons (6:9)

. Luke would not invent slave background (rather, more honorable method)

-       Supporting arguments

. Paul succeeds in reaching Roman citizens

. Paul targets Roman colonies (and ultimately Rome)

Slide 20

Paul’s Roman Name (Acts 13:9)

Fits “Saul”

-       Double names very common

. Papyri, inscriptions

-       Greek-speaking Jews: Aramaic and Greek names

-       Roman citizens could add signum

-       Most concur that Paul’s s is “Saul”

-       Names often translated meaning or (as here) shared similar sound

Slide 21

Tria Nomina

Nomen: inherited clan name


-       Originally distinguishing name in clan (30 used)

-       By late Republic, only ½ used

-       Thus cognomen became new distinguishing name


-       Shared as nickname

-       In Empire: primary identifying name

-       Often named for father or ancestors

-       “Paul” was usually a cognomen, and usually used only by citizens

Slide 22


Cicero and Quintilian: a Roman citizen cried out that he was a citizen during a scourging, so humiliating his opressors

By waiting till after beating (cf. 22-29) to inform them, placed the magistrates in awkward legal position

Now the magistrates, not the missionaries, forced to negotiate

Reports of their deed could even disqualify them from office, and (in theory, at least) deprive Philippi of its status as a Roman colony!

Help secure the future safety of the fledgling Christian community

Slide 23


Magistrates had no legal authority to expel Roman citizens without trial

But a trial would bring up their own breach of law; thus they are reduced to pleading!

Luke may also put best face on their painful expulsion

Slide 24

Turmoil in Thessalonica


Slide 25


Traveling Via Egnatia

Amphipolis on the Strymon

-       33mi (over 50 km) past Philippi

Apollonia (a day’s travel beyond it)

-       27 miles (some 40km) further


-       35 miles/55 km further

Slide 26

Road continued further W. into Illyricum

-       acts only reports Paul’s turn to S., off this road, to Berea (17:10)

-       Illyricum probably later (Rom 15:19)


-       Usually no more than 20 feet (6 meters) wide

-       But better and safew than most European roads before 1850

Slide 27


Macedonia’s largest port

Capital of its old second district

Now residence of provincial governor

As many as 200,000 residents

Slide 28

Synagogue (17:2)

Non- Greek cults in Thessalonica: Judaism, cult of Serapis and Isis

Cf. also Cabiri (Samothrace)

3 weeks in synagogue

-       But longer in Thessalonica

-       Received support from Philippi (Phil. 4:15-16), c. 95 miles/145km away

-       Until then, manual labor (1 Thess 2:9)

Slide 29


Macedonia women had earlier gained a reputation for their influence

e.g., Olympias, Alexander’s mother

- upper- class women: patrons within church or synagogue

- higher status than was available to them in society at large

No circ. for women; easier for them to convert

Slide 30


idle unemployed of the marketplace

-       Problem in Thess (1Th4:11; 2Th3)

-       Could be stirred to mob action, as other ancient examples attest

Jewish inhabitants

-       Small minority in Thessalonica

-       So recruited help to oppose Paul

-       “the people”: demos, the citizen body

-       “free city”: gathered citizen body acted judicially

Slide 31



-       common Greek name

-       but also among Hellenized Jews

Probably a Jewish host with whom they stayed while working there

Delatores, or accusers: necessary to open a case under Roman law

Slide 32


Proclaiming another king (i.e. the Messiah, v. 3): treason against the majesty of the Emperor

-       indicating signs of this new ruler’s coming (see 1-2 Thess.): predictions of current

 Emperor’s demise, violating imperial edicts

-       Jesus crucified on charge of sedition

-       Citizens pledged loyalty to Caesar- and to report treason

-       Gospel’s opponents misunderstand (cf. 17:18)

Slide 33


-       Precise designation for Thessalonica’s city officials, “politarchs” (also v.6)

-       Title “politarchs” virtually restricted to Macedonia; 5-6 in Paul’s day

-       Rome gave them freedom to run the city, though they had to ultimately answer to Rome for inappropriate actions

-       Local officials in the eastern Mediterranean responsible for enforcing loyalty to Caesar

Slide 34


-       Their host (v.6) held responsible for their actions

-       Hence required to post bond for them, as if they were members of his household

-       A fine was a lenient penalty as far as Roman courts went, and a bond to curtail troublemakers not unusual

-       But given the charge (v.7), had Paul himself been caught, perhaps death

-       The politarchs’ decisions would stand till they left office (cf. 1 Thess. 2:18)


Last modified: Saturday, April 13, 2019, 10:55 PM