Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Philippian Jailer

Many Bible scholars believe that the Jailor was a retired veteran Roman soldier. The city of Philippi was a major city that had been chartered as a "Roman Colonial City". Old soldiers sought retirement in these cities. The position of Jailer was most suitable for a veteran, and a fit soldier would have been the likely choice of the Roman officials. I suspect that this was not an elected position, but an appointed one. Who would have been better suited for the job, than a man who had commanded in combat and proved his ability with men and the sword in the face of Rome's enemies, and lived to tell of it?

An understanding of the Philippi will help us to understand the Jailer more. In 360 B.C. colonists from Thasos established "Krenides" The people were threatened by the Thacians in 356, and asked King Philip II for support. Philip conquered it, fortified it, and named it after himself (Philippi). It became the capital city for a while of Macedonia. The capital later moved to Pella. In 336 Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was assassinated in at his daughter's wedding.

In 42 BC the armies of Marcus Antonious and Octavian joined to defeat the rebels who had assassinated Julius Caesar at the Battle of Philippi. Brutus and Cassius committed suicide there. The historian Appian of Alexander wrote and execellent account of the battle in second century After the battle, the two victors spent a fortune on the city and granted it the status of "Roman Colony" the ruins of which can be seen this day.

This was the first European city to have accepted Christianity, and it became a metropolis of Christianity. Its location on the Via Egnatia made it important to travelers and trade, and more especially, for the spread of the Gospel. Virtually all land traffic from the Middle East to Europe went through Philippi along this Roman road. A common route was the one that Paul took, landing at the port of Neopolis, and traveling 12 miles north to Philippi and the Via Egnatia. It is certain that Paul used it for his second and third missionary journeys. It is, I believe, more that just coincidence that Pax Romana played a significant role in the spread of early Christianity through: a common language (Greek from Alexander's conquests); superior network of roads, shipping, communications and the most advanced level of trade ever known; and a code of Roman Law backed by the best professional army the world had known - which also acted as a channel for the Good News within the ranks of the Legionaries. The news of Salvation by belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, often known as the Roman Road to Salvation.

The Philippian Jailer - 19 July

The Collect

O God, who didst burst the bands of Paul and Silas as they praised thee in prison by thy mighty hand, and didst spare the life of the Philippian Jailer to serve thee by thy divine mercy; we beseech thee to protect us and let thy mercy be upon us; so that we, and our households, may join with the Jailer and all thy saints, in perfect assurance of salvation, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

The Lesson - Acts 16: 23-40

The Holy Gospel - St. John 3:16-18


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