🔼The name Neapolis: Summary
- New City
- From (1) the adjective νεος (neos), new, and (2) the noun πολις (polis), city.
🔼The name Neapolis in the Bible
There were quite a few cities and settlements named Neapolis (= New City) in the ancient world. Creating colonies was all the fad but coming up with snazzy new names apparently wasn't. This is also how the world begot Naples (= Napoli = Neapolis) and the scores of Newtons (= New Town, same thing), Neustadts and Novigrads (idem).
The Neapolis that is mentioned in the Bible is present day Kavala, a city on the coast of modern Greece but Macedonia back then. It's situated about 14 kilometer south-east of Philippi, and its two-fold claim to fame began when it provided the renegades Brutus and Cassius with a military base, right before they were defeated by Mark Anthony and Octavian, at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. About a century later, with less fanfare but comparable effect, the apostle Paul entered Europe via Neapolis and brought Christianity with him (Acts 16:11).
Paul and Silas had picked up Timothy at Lystra and toured the Phrygian and Galatian region, but in Troas a vision had appeared to Paul in which a Macedonian man pleaded for them to come to Macedonia. As soon as passage was available, the men had boarded a ship headed for the island of Samothrace, and for Neapolis the following day. From there they went to Philippi and that Sabbath, they met and converted a female purple trader named Lydia.
🔼The Battle of Philippi
For a more detailed discussion of the famous Battle of Philippi and why "the importance of the Battle of Philippi in relation to the New Testament cannot be overstated", read our article on the name Philippi. But to sum it up: mankind's systems of government swing between two extremes; either (1) the individual serves the state or (2) the state follows the individual.
🔼(1) The individual serves the state
In a society where the individual serves the state, the state is inevitably run by one self-declared superman, who employs privileged cronies to keep the rest under control; a pyramid with a shiny top, a slanted hierarchy and a huge base. Individual people of the base are effectively worthless and get routinely fed to lions or enemy armies, and their only function is to produce surplus, which the elite extracts and appropriates.
The supreme ruler is usually best friends with the gods, replaces them even and certainly rules with their consent or in their name. Hence the superman demands blind obedience of everybody and effectively turns his society into a mechanical beast, a machine in which no individuality, spontaneity or even creativity and self-expression is allowed, and everything that happens, happens because it was forcibly brought about. Propaganda is the superman's best friend, and serves to make the base-people believe in the benevolence and supremacy of the superman and the justice and even benefit of their abuse.
Counter to common intuition, these are the societies that depend heavily on the "belief" of their subjects. Magic words like "brotherhood, glory, motherland, beloved leader, holy empire" are specifically designed to bring about that belief. Competing societies are dubbed inferior: dirty barbarians and misguided pagans, and when they resist our superman in any way or form, they are declared madmen, saboteurs and terrorists.
Societies like this are quickly recognized by their similar house styles: from Imperial Rome to Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin: shiny uniforms and soldiers in their identical formations below their similar symbols and regalia, the Stockholm-syndrome nationalism of the oppressed masses and the subsequent pervasive persecution of "radicals" such as Jews and non-formal Christians. Even the formal church is an obvious offshoot of Imperial Rome: its popes and patriarchs nothing but political emperors tinged with a mere sprinkle of perceived mysticism, complete with a ruling elite, uniforms, regalia, and indoctrinated centurions who stand in front of congregations that sit silently like compliant legions waiting for the next orders.
🔼(2) The state follows the individual
A society that acknowledges the immeasurable value of each human individual is based on natural and spontaneous order (that what happens in an ant hill — Proverbs 6:6-8), self-ownership and voluntary contribution. In a society like that, every individual is seated at the highest rung of society; with no earthly superior between the individual and the Creator (John 14:6-7).
In effect, all individuals of such a society are anointed kings and high priests (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6, 5:10), and have the Law of the Creator speaking abundantly clear in the Holy of Holies of their own hearts (John 10:27-28, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 4:12, 10:16). A society like that has neither need for an earthly government (Revelation 21:23), nor for religious institutions (Revelation 21:22), nor for any social caste system or formal hierarchy (1 Corinthians 15:24).
The word for the individual-as-king is Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in Greek, and although Jesus of Nazareth obviously personifies this idea, Paul was its prominent theoretical proponent. But both Jesus and Paul strongly emphasized that the Christ — that is any person who is anointed to be king under God (2 Corinthians 1:21, Hebrews 1:9, 1 John 2:20) — will not take up arms against the oppressor, but will resist all evil patiently, peacefully and with nothing sharper than mere wit. The Good News is transmitted by simple enthusiasm, and rushes through the minds of men like dawn after a night of storms. Evil empires don't need to be battled with the same weaponry that makes them invincible. It's enough to simply not partake, to simply not be scared and to simply not ignore the needs and dignity of one's fellow man.
At Philippi, the Roman Republic rid itself of the last of its internal opposition and in consequence murdered its own living soul. Brutus and Cassius were Romans who called themselves the Liberators (namely Rome from totalitarian rule) and were defeated at Philippi by Mark Anthony and Octavian, who would be Caesar Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD. With Rome's internal opposition silenced, the free world had to battle the Roman cancer from without. In 6 AD, the Illyrians tried it by might and were, just like the Jews in 70 AD, defeated and bulldozed over.
The resistance nevertheless continued, until it nearly died out in the 4th century AD, when Constantine cleverly side-tracked it by grafting the key names and terms of the freedom movement upon the totalitarian structure of the Sol Invictus cult, and modern Christianity became a typical Roman totalitarian system of blind belief, complete with its time honor pantheon of demigods, now dubbed "saints". Up to this day, the actual resistance movement, embodied by Jesus and provided with a theoretical base by Paul, lives on without a name, without signature buildings or symbols, without forms or liturgy, without anything else than total freedom under God.
🔼Etymology of the name Neapolis
The name Neapolis consists of two elements. The first part comes from the familiar adjective νεος (neos), meaning new:
The adjective νεος (neos) means new and hence young or fresh. It may derive from a verb that means to pile or fill up, and ultimately be related to words like ναος (naos), temple, and ναυς (naus), ship.
The second part of our name is the noun πολις (polis), meaning city:
The noun πολις (polis) means city, i.e. the whole of human economy that goes on in one walled urban nucleus plus its supporting agricultural lands and settlements.
Noun πολιτης (polites) means citizen, which is a person who exists and operates within a so perpetuated community. Hence the verb πολιτευω (politeuo) means to live as or behave like a citizen, to be civilized, to be in tune with others. Noun πολιευμα (politeuma) denotes whatever act can be associated with the verb πολιτευω (politeuo); whatever doings keep the city together. Noun συμπολιτης (sumpolites) means fellow-citizen.
Noun πολιτεια (politeia) denotes citizenship or city-hood, πολιταρχης (politarches) means city ruler or magistrate, κωμοπολις (komopolis) describes a medium-sized but not-walled urban center. and μητροπολις (metropolis) means mother-city.
The name Neapolis means New City.