15 June. Acts 17:1

15 June. Paul and Silas travel through Amphipolis & Apollonia

"Paul and Silas travelled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica..."

          (Acts 17:1)

 

 

A brief interlude today between Paul's extraordinary adventures in Philippi and Thessalonica.

It's about 80 miles / 130 km from Philippi to Thessalonica - about 2 hours by car. But it would have taken Paul and Silas three or four days to cover this distance on foot, with at least two nights staying in towns or villages on the way. Yet Luke covers it in half a verse!

Why? First of all, Luke wasn't there on the spot to record what happened. While Luke talks about "we" and "us" while Paul is in Philippi, there is no mention of "us" in Thessalonica. So we can assume that Paul left Luke behind in Philippi. This might suggest that Luke came from Philippi and was, indeed, the "Man from Macedonia" that Paul saw in his dream, urging him to visit Greece and Europe for the first time (see Acts 16:9).

Secondly, there are no major cities on the Egnatian Way between Philippi and Thessalonica, so Paul and Silas may have covered this section of their missionary journey in the shortest time possible.

There are, however, some tantalising physical remains along the route that suggest that Paul and Silas succeeded in establishing Christian communities in both Amphipolis and Apollonia.

Amphipolis was a small but important town on the Via Egnatia in Paul’s day, although the modern highway bypasses the town. Founded in 437BC by Athenian settlers, the city was built on a plateau a short distance inland from the Aegean Sea, overlooking the valley of the River Strymon. The city was conquered by Philip II of Macedon in 357BC and subsequently became an important centre in the Macedonian kingdom. After the Roman conquest of Macedonia in 168BC, Amphipolis became the capital of the first meris (administrative district) of Macedonia.

The Acropolis of Roman Amphipolis – on the hillside above the modern road – can still be visited today, together with the ruins of a gymnasium and Roman baths. There is evidence of an early Christian community here, including a number of early Byzantine churches. These were built shortly after the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred to nearby Constantinople by the first Christian emperor, Constantine, in the 4th Century AD.

A range of artefacts from Roman Amphipolis – including an early Christian gravestone inscribed with a cross and the word ‘Emmanuel’ – can be seen in the modern Archaeological Museum at the far end of the village, adjacent to the site of the Roman city.

The magnificent stone carved statue known as the Lion of Amphipolis would have stood alongside the old Via Egnatia at the foot of the plateau when Paul visited, just as it does today (see the photo).

At Apollonia (named in honour of a temple to Apollo), little remains from Roman times, though a plaque on an old church claims that Paul preached at this spot as he passed along the old Via Egnatia.

The photo shows the Lion of Amphipolis alongside the Via Egnatia.

You can see more photos of Amphipolis @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/paul-travels-to-amphipol…/


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