The John Wesley Fellowship began in 1977, with Steve Harper and yours truly being two of the first John Wesley Fellows chosen. I have told the story of Ed Robb and AFTE this past Fall on the blog so I will not repeat it. Here are some of the senior fellows attending the meeting. […]
The two most important Biblical sites in Greece from an archaeological point of view are Corinth and Philippi. There is very little to see at either Berea or Thessalonike from the first century era. But Philippi is an embarrassment of riches and this post will focus on it.
As this stele attests, the Philippians had a proud heritage, and it is not a surprise that Luke calls the city the ‘first’ city of the area, even though Thessalonike was much bigger and more of the governmental center of the region. First in honor rating is probably what Luke meant.
It would be hard to over estimate the importance of Paul converting a high status woman like Lydia who could provide a household where the fledgling Christian church could meet. As I will argue in my forthcoming Eerdmans commentary, Lydia was a dyer of purple cloth using the murex dye from sea shells. This whole enterprise of producing royal purple garments was franchised by the Emperor himself to people like Lydia. These persons were said to be among the household of Caesar, and this may explain the greetings at the end of Philippians from that group. Lydia may well have been in Rome on business. More certainly as Phil. 4 makes evident there were women leaders in this church working side by side with Paul in the Gospel, which is why it was urgent for Paul to address their squabble in this letter. Philippians is the letter which most clearly contrasts the commonwealth and citizenship we have in heaven where Jesus is Lord, to the one more familiar to proud Roman citizens in Philippi. Paul was not opposed to civic virtue or Roman citizenship, indeed he used his own when he needed to, including using his get out of jail free card there. But Paul wanted the Philippians to set there sights on something higher and better.