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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Founded by Alexander the Great, 332 B.C., successively the Greek, Roman, and Christian capital of Lower Egypt. Its harbors, formed by the island Pharos and the headland Lochias, were suitable alike for commerce and war. It was a chief grain port of Rome, and the grain vessels were large and handsome; usually sailing direct to Puteoli, but from severity of weather at times, as the vessel that carried Paul, sailing under the coast of Asia Minor (Acts 27). At Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:5) the centurion found this Alexandrian. ship bound for Italy; in Acts 27:10 Paul speaks of the "lading," without stating what it was; but in Acts 27:38 it comes out casually. The tackling had been thrown out long before, but the cargo was kept until it could be kept no longer, and then first we learn it was wheat, the very freight which an Alexandrian vessel usually (as we know from secular authors) carried to Rome: an undesigned propriety, and so a mark of truth.

The population of Alexandria had three prominent elements, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians. The Jews enjoyed equal privileges with the Macedonians, so that they became fixed there, and while regarding Jerusalem as "the holy city," the metropolis of the Jews throughout the world, and having a synagogue there (Acts 6:9), they had their own Greek version of the Old Testament. the Septuagint, and their own temple at Leontopolis. At Alexandia the Hebrew divine Old Testament revelation was brought into contact with Grecian philosophy. Philo's doctrine of the word prepared men for receiving the teaching of John 1 as to the Word, the Son of God, distinct in one sense yet one with God; and his allegorizing prepared the way for appreciating similar teachings in the inspired writings (e.g. Galatians 4:22-31; Hebrew 7).

Hence Apollos, born at Alexandia, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, being instructed in the way of the Lord and fervent in the spirit, taught diligently (Greek accurately) the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John (Acts 18:25); i.e., his Alexandrine education would familiarize him with Philo's idea of the word as the mediating instrument of creation and providence; and John the Baptist's inspired announcement of the personal Messiah would enable him to "teach accurately the things of the Lord" up to that point, when Aquila's and Priscilla's teaching more perfectly informed him of the whole accomplished Christian way of salvation. Mark is said to have been the first who preached and founded a Christian church in Alexandia. Various forms of Gnostic and Arian error subsequently arose there. (See ALLEGORY.)

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Alexandria'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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