Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi

Samothrace, Neapolis and Philippi

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Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi
ACTS 16 COMMENTARY
Acts 16:6-10 Phrygia, Bithynia, Mysia

Acts 16:11-15 Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi

Acts 16:16-18 Spirit of Divination
Acts 16:19-29 Paul and Silas
ACTS 16:11-12  11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.

Where is "Samothrace" (Acts 16:11)?
Samothrace is a volcanic Island in the Aegean Sea about half way between Troas and Neapolis. Only 11 miles (18 kilometers) long, Samothrace is small, but tall (over 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) at its peak). The ship carrying Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke "ran a straight course" (Acts 16:11) for Samothrace, most likely spent the night there, and then sailed from Samothrace to Neapolis the "next day" (Acts 16:11).

Where are "Neapolis" (Acts 16:11) and "Philippi" (Acts 16:12)?
Founded by Philip II, the king of Macedon and the father of Alexander the Great, Philippi was "the foremost city" (Acts 16:11) of eastern Macedonia, which today straddles northern Greece and the Republic of Macedonia further north. Neapolis was the port of Philippi, which was located 8 miles (13 kilometers) inland and just north of the Gangitis River.

ACTS 16:13  13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

Why would "prayer" be "customarily made" at "riverside ... outside" (Acts 16:13) Philippi?
Ten Jewish men were required to establish a synagogue, and until ten Jewish men could gather in a town, the Jews gathered for prayer on Sabbath under the open sky. Philippi most likely had neither the required ten Jewish men nor a synagogue, so "on the Sabbath day" (Acts 16:13) Paul's entourage went to preach to the Jewish "women" (Acts 16:13) who met for prayer, apparently by "the riverside" (Acts 16:13).

ACTS 16:14-15  14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

What is meant by "a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira" (Acts 16:14)?
Thyatira was a city in present day western Turkey famous for its purple dye, which was extracted from the hypobranchial (mucus) gland of mollusks (shell fish), notably Murex. Because it took about a quarter million of these shell fish to extract 1 ounce (28 grams) of pure purple dye, purple dye, the color of royalty, was extremely rare, and therefore very expensive. Lydia is likely to have been a well-to-do merchant who had crossed the Aegean Sea to run a business selling purple dye or purple-dyed clothes to the wealthy in Philippi.

What enabled Lydia "to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14)?
"The Lord opened her heart" (Acts 16:14).

Is this still true today?
Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him..." (John 6:44). The ability to understand and heed what is written in the Bible is given by God, who deserves all of the credit and glory for it.

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