To Philippi (eis Philippous). The plural like Athēnai (Athens) is probably due to separate sections of the city united (Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 220). The city (ancient name Krenides or Wells) was renamed after himself by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. It was situated about a mile east of the small stream Gangites which flows into the river Strymon some thirty miles away. In this valley the Battle of Philippi was fought b.c. 42 between the Second Triumvirate (Octavius, Antonius, Lepidus) and Brutus and Cassius. In memory of the victory Octavius made it a colony (kolōnia) with all the privileges of Roman citizenship, such as freedom from scourging, freedom from arrest save in extreme cases, and the right of appeal to the emperor. This Latin word occurs here alone in the N.T. Octavius planted here a colony of Roman veterans with farms attached, a military outpost and a miniature of Rome itself. The language was Latin. Here Paul is face to face with the Roman power and empire in a new sense. He was a new Alexander, come from Asia to conquer Europe for Christ, a new Caesar to build the Kingdom of Christ on the work of Alexander and Caesar. One need not think that Paul was conscious of all that was involved in destiny for the world. Philippi was on the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads, that ran from here to Dyrrachium on the shores of the Adriatic, a road that linked the east with the west.
The first of the district (prōtē tēs meridos). Philippi was not the first city of Macedonia nor does Luke say so. That honour belonged to Thessalonica and even Amphipolis was larger than Philippi. It is not clear whether by meris Luke means a formal division of the province, though the Koiné has examples of this geographical sense (papyri). There is no article with prōtē and Luke may not mean to stress unduly the position of Philippi in comparison with Amphipolis. But it was certainly a leading city of this district of Macedonia.
We were tarrying (ēmen diatribontes). Periphrastic imperfect active.