Philippi was originally established by Greek colonists from Thasos in 360 B.C. Its original name was Krenides. In 356 B.C. Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, took over the city and renamed it Philippi. The city was located in Macedonia on the main road between Rome and the eastern territories; the Egnatian Way.

Philippi was a Roman colony populated in part by retired Roman soldiers. The people enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizenship. The church here was largely Gentile.

Philippi was the first European City in which Paul preached. The congregation at Philippi supported Paul's ministry and remained close to Paul.