THE REMAINS OF ANTIQUITY TESTIFY (Philippi)
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
The ship left the port of Athens at night. Calm seas allowed land lovers to have a peaceful sleep. Next morning, a cold front brought rain showers and rougher seas, allowing some to experience sea sickness, but calmness soon re-appeared, and following a delicious breakfast, the ship docked in Kavala, a thriving city biblically noted as Neopolis. With sack lunches in hand, a tour bus began the fairly short inland trip to the ancient city of Philippi. Along the mountain road one could view below the ancient Roman highway made of cobblestone, and wide enough for one automobile. Here Roman soldiers of old marched four abreast, and chariots were driven to this ancient Roman colony outpost.
The ruins of Philippi are situated at the base of mountain into the side of which was constructed an amphitheater, attesting to the many civic gatherings and entertainment events its citizens enjoyed. The city ruins constitute approximately two blocks in width and three or four blocks long. Surely, one would find some evidence of the apostle Paul’s visit to this place. They were there.
There was a large open area around which were the remnants of shops and municipal buildings. This would be the place where the demon-possessed woman harassed the apostle until he drove it from her. Also, there was on the western outskirts of the town a small, swift stream still flowing freely. It was deep in places, and in some areas narrow enough that an athletic person could jump across it. This is the stream where some of the ancients gathered to pray, and Paul preached here and won and baptized Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira.
Ruins of the prison at Philippi still stand. The cubical cells of thick rock construction gives vision of Paul and Silas singing and praising God in the dead of night with wounds on their back still smarting severely from the lashes of the whip laid on them. They had deprived men of the city their fundraising opportunities by exorcising the demon possessed woman who no longer could serve them as before. It was here that God sent an earthquake, loosed the prisoner’s bands, and brought the jailor to his knees, and Christ Jesus into his heart.
At one end of the colony excavations there remains ruins of a church house dating back to the third century A wall, marble flooring, and a deep water baptistery constructed in the form of a cross all testified of the influence of Paul, Silas, the jailor and his house, and so many others that led to its construction and use. The marvelous book of Philippians testifies of the worship that ensued for decades.
I thanked God for Paul, Silas, and so many unnamed others whose lives counted for Christ Jesus: His person, words, and works. Antiquity still testifies: this is the place; this is where it happened, and we are blessed as a result.
’Iššāh [and] Chawwāh
Today’s words will not please the militant feminists of our day, but God has done more for women than the so-called “feminist movement” could even dream of. Adam actually gave two names to the woman that God provided for him. The first, of course, was Woman (Gen_2:23), the Hebrew ’Iššāh (H802), which Adam himself defined as “taken out of Man.” She is, quite literally, a part of man. (See February 8 for another use of ’iššāh.)
While Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture all held women in low regard, God and His Word hold them in the highest. The OT specifically teaches that women are spiritually equal to men. The Mosaic Law was given to all Israel, women as well as men (Deu_1:1). Both were to teach it to their children (Deu_6:4-7; Pro_6:20). The protection of the law applied equally to women (cf. Exo_21:28-32). Women had inheritance rights (Num_36:1-12). Men and women alike participated in the Jewish religious feasts (Exo_12:3; Deu_16:9-15). The single greatest spiritual vow, the Nazirite vow, was open to both men and women (Num_6:2). Women were involved in spiritual service (Exo_38:8; Neh_7:67). Nor did God hesitate to deal directly with women (Gen_3:13; Gen_16:7-13; Jdg_13:3).
The second name Adam gave this Woman was Eve, a name that should truly bless the heart of every woman. It is the Hebrew Chawwāh (H2332), which is related to chāyāh (H2421, “to be alive”) and Adam expounds as “the mother of all living” (Gen_3:20), as she gave birth (life) to the entire human race (Gen_4:1-2). What a truth! Every wife is both an ’iššāh, who is dependent on a man for her living, and a Chawwāh, on whom every man is dependent for his life. The warm-hearted Walt Disney movie The Lion King contained a song titled “The Circle of Life,” but what we see here is the real circle of life. And God did (and continues to do) all this through one institution, marriage.
To each dear, godly lady who might be reading this, may God richly bless you as you bring life into this world for His glory.
Scriptures for Study: Read the verses mentioned in today’s study, meditating on the place God has given women and the implications of that truth.