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the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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(Νικόπολις, ‘City of victory’)

In days of almost constant warfare, when many triumphs had to be commemorated, this was a favourite name for newly founded cities. T. Zahn enumerates no fewer than nine Nicopoleis (Introd. to NT, Eng. translation , 1909, ii. 53 f.), of which one in Cappadocia, a second in Egypt, and a third in Thrace had some importance. Chrysostom and Theodoret took the last of these to be the place referred to in Titus 3:12. But by far the most famous Nicopolis was the city in Epirus which Augustus founded after the battle of Actium. He intended it to be ‘at once a permanent memorial of the great naval victory and the centre of a newly flourishing Hellenic life’ (T. Mommsen, Provinces of Rom. Empire, new ed., 1909, i. 295). It was laid out where the victor’s headquarters had been stationed just before the battle, at the narrowest part of the promontory which separates the Ambracian Gulf from the Ionian Sea. Augustus peopled it, after the fashion set by Alexander’s successors, by uniting the inhabitants of a large number of minor townships in one great urban domain. He made it a free city like Athens or Sparta, and instituted so-called Actian Games, which he put on the same level as the four ancient Hellenic festivals. Nicopolis became the foremost city of Western Greece, and (at some uncertain date) the capital of the new province of Epirus. Tacitus calls it urbem Achaiae (Ann. ii. 53, for the year a.d. 18), but Epictetus, its most famous citizen (born c. [Note: . circa, about.] a.d. 60), speaks of an ἐπίτροπος Ἠπείρου residing in Nicopolis and governing the land (Diss. III. iv. 1).

It was natural that St. Paul should sooner or later think of this splendid Graeco-Roman city and its neighbourhood as a field for evangelistic work. In an epistolary fragment which has been preserved, he bids Titus, who has been labouring in Crete, give diligence to join him at Nicopolis, as he has decided to winter there (Titus 3:12). Some Manuscripts of the epistle (A and P) have the subscription, ‘It was written from Nicopolis,’ and these are followed by the Greek commentators (Chrys. Theod. et al.); but the Apostle would have said ὧδε, not ἐκεῖ, if he had been actually writing in the city. It has been generally assumed that St. Paul, after being acquitted by his Roman judges, resumed his labours in the East, and that his letter summoning Titus to Nicopolis belongs to this period. It has further been conjectured that the Apostle made his way, as he intended, to Nicopolis, and that his second arrest took place there (Conybeare-Howson, St. Paul, new ed., 1877, ii. 571 f.). But the evidence for a release is far from convincing, and the question arises whether the Nicopolis episode can be fitted into his biography without this doubtful ‘final phase.’ In reference to Titus 3:12 f., H. von Soden says: ‘This is all intelligible in itself and as a part of the life of St. Paul, and the fulness of particulars gives an impression of authenticity’ (The History of Early Christian Literature, Eng. translation , 1906, p. 316). It seems certain that Titus’ work in Crete (Titus 1:5) cannot have begun till after the writing of 2 Cor., for he was occupied with the settlement of difficulties in the Corinthian Church. But St. Paul may have visited the island with his fellow-worker, and left him to labour there, shortly before his final visit to Corinth. As regards Acts 20:2, it has been suggested that the writer knew very little about the details of St. Paul’s life at the time to which this passage refers (A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, 1897, p. 411 n. [Note: . note.] ), and a short campaign in Crete may well have been one of his activities during that period. On this hypothesis, the letter to Titus, in its original, comparatively brief form, must have been written before St. Paul’s stay of three winter months in Corinth (20:3). Titus probably hastened, as directed, to Nicopolis, but some new turn of events prevented St. Paul from carrying out his purpose of wintering in that city, though he may have paid it a brief visit. Nothing is known about its actual evangelization, either at that time or later. After falling into decay, the city was restored by Julian; and Justinian repaired the havoc wrought by the Goths; but in the Middle Ages it was supplanted by Prevesa, three miles to the south. Its ruins are extensive.

James Strahan.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nicopolis'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​n/nicopolis.html. 1906-1918.
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