Walk with St. Paul through Asia Minor

The early Christian period begins in 100AD to 600 AD : In Turkey and Greece, there are dozens of Roman catacombs, ancient baptisteries, early churches built by Constantine and archeological sites connected with the early church fathers and major councils.St. Paul travelled for about 20 years and during that time he also accomplished his first missionary journey to Asia Minor, partly on foot, partly by boat. After Jesus Christ, St. Paul is definitely the most important person in the history of western Christianity (even though there were other preachers, such as St. Thomas and St. Andrew that carried the message of Christ to other parts of the Roman Empire). Christianity would have died out when the Jewish Rebellion of 66 AD was crushed and Jerusalem burned if it had not been for St. Paul and his preachings. At the time Paul preached, the life of Jesus had not been condensed into the present day Bible; even the four ‘gospels’ or short biographies, which form the main part of the Bible weren’t finalized until after 100 AD so Paul had no standard text; he also had never met Jesus personally. As he was a Roman Citizen and from Tarsus, he was a product of the Greek-speaking Hellenistic tradition, and probably educated, which was shared by everyone living around the Eastern Mediterranean. It was because of this universal state and culture that travel was so comparatively easy, thus, so did Christianity.

Topics: Early Christian history, Biblical Archaeology, Apostolic Age, Early Church, the Acts (Book of Acts)

Overview : 9 nights/10 days featuring Istanbul “The New Rome” Christian Byzantium

Biblio Traveler Advisory: Mix & Match the destination with Cappadocia


The Lycus Valley  (Colassae-Hierapolis) is one of the particular interest in the Asia Minor, not only from its importance in early Christianity, but also because  it is the basis of collaborative archaeological-theological project between Turkish and Australian scholars.  The valley was the centre of three Christian communities in the first century CE, Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colossae. With a multitude of people and cultures travelling through the area, there was exposure to different philosophies: Jewish legalism, Greek speculation, and the mysticism of the Orient, to name a few. Along with differing philosophies came “false teachings and heretics”. Some efforts had been made to impose Jewish practices on the Colossian believers such as circumcision, dietary regulations, religious festivals, and other heresies plaguing the church at Colossae.Asceticism and Gnosticism (the doctrine attacked the adequacy and supremacy of Christ;)was issue in the early church as well. Paul had never visited Colossae when he composed his epistle to the church here, and it is doubtful that he had ever visited the city-but he does imply that Epaphras founded the church, along with those at Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col 1:7-8; 4:12-13).  This was probably during Paul’s third missionary journey, when he preached in Ephesus for two years, “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10 )

Highlights: Tomb of Apostle Philip

Amid the remains of a fourth-or-fifth-century church at Hierapolis, one of the most significant Christian sites in Turky, Francesco D’Andria  found this first-century Roman tomb that the believes once held the remains of the Apostle Philip.

Adada “Kings Road” Very important ancient-pagan center once, Adada is home to three major roman temples which are still standing along with the smallest ancient theatre in Anatolia. The known history of Adada dates back to 190-164 B.C based on a treaty signed with Termessus city. Located close to village of Sagrak, the ancient city lies 90 kilometers from Egirdir, on the road to that climbs towards the plateau and leads to Sutculer.  Here the Roman road is traceable 600-700 meters to the south of rock valley. The paved part of the Roman road from Adada to Perge can be traced. The paved road known as the ”King’s Road” streches from the city center all the way to the mountain’s skirts.Walk  down along the well-preserved section of ancient roman road where St. Paul actually must have walked himself during his missionary journey.

Psidian Antioch Amid the remains of Antioch, beneath a ruined Byzantine church, which is the traditonal site of the Synagogue in which Paul preached, a 1st-century building has been discovered that may have been the synagogue.  Of the sixteen ancient cities in Turkey named Antioch, only two are of any significance to bible students today. Psidian Antioch as one of these two, is where St. Paul visited on his first evangelistic journey (Acts 13:13-14) and his fiest recorded sermon was preached here (Acts 13:!5-51). Paul’s letter to the Galatians would have been directed to the Christians in Antioch of Psidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Paul the Apostle and Barnabas visited Antioch of Psidia in the course of Paul’s first missionary journey, and Paul’s sermon in the Jewish Synagogue caused a great stir among the citizens, but the ensuing conflict with the Jews led to his expulsion, together with Barnabas, from the city. The two returned later, and appointed elders from the community there. Antioch is not mentioned by name in relation to Paul’s other missionary journeys, but he visit the region in both his second, and his third journeys. Paul’s”persecutions and sufferings” at Antioch are spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:11. St. Paul’s journey up to Psidian Antioch takes six days journey up to Psidian Antioch. The time Paul reached the site,he found a Roman colony, where population was a diverse mixture of Phrygian, Greek, Jewish and Roman:

”It was hence that Roman soldiers, officals, and couriers were dispatched over the whole area, and it was hence, according to Acts 13:49, that Paul’s mission radited over the whole region. The Jews of Antioch continued their persecution of Paul  even when he was in Lystra.” Recent  excavation have revealed a 1st century building underneath the church which has been identified as the Synagogue. In the church, a mosaic floor has been found with Psalm 42:4 inscribed on it.

Lystra is known for being the hometown of St. Timothy, who St. Paul wanted to look after the church in Ephesus. Here, St. Paul preached on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-22). After he healed a lame man, the superstitious citizens immediately assumed that he was Hermes (messenger of Zeus) and Barnabas was Zeus himself (same as the Roman god Jupiter).  Lystra is located about 18 miles soutwest of Iconium and it was not positively identified until the discovery of an insription in that area in 1885. The town now a place of ruins in a small valley watered by a small river flowing to the east. Lystra had once been a military outpost of Rome but declined in population and importance after the area was subdued. It was off the main roads, and its inhabitants spoke their native Lycaonian language rather than the Greek used by most citizens of the Roman Empire in Paul’s day (Acts 14:11) “To Paul and Barnabas, Lystra seemed to be a good place to wait out the storm of opposition stirred up in Iconium. In Lystra they starting preaching again and when Paul healed a crippled man the people thought they were gods and said “The gods have become like men and have come down to us”, and they called Barnabas – Zeus, and Paul – Hermes. Paul and Barnabas corrected them and preached the gospel. But Jews from Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia came to Lystra and turned its citizens against the missionaries. Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city, thinking he was dead. When the disciples came to him he rose up and he and Barnabas left for Derbe. “ The day following Paul’s stoning at Lystra, the missionaries journeyed to another secluded city, Derbe, located about 70 miles southeast of Lystra. Paul preached in Derbe and “made many disciples” (Acts 14:21), one of them was (Gaius) who later accompanied Paul on his journey through Greece (Acts 20:4). Only recently has it been identified with certainty, and we have little information about the site. Paul preached the Gospel and made numerpus disciples in Derbe. Then he started to go back home, the city of Antioch in Syria(Today’s Antakya, Turkey) So he retraced his steps to dangerous Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Psidia. In each town Paul established priests to say Mass and celebrate the sacrements. Paul and Barnabas then went back to Perge to preach Gospel and then continued to the seaport of Attilia (Today’s Antalya, Turkey) on the Mediterranean coast and sailed back to Antioch in Syria. This ended Paul’s first missionary journey. A year or so later Paul, now accompanied by Silas, began his second missionary journey, and visited Derbe once again to give the church there renewed assurance and support. This shows Paul’s serious ties with Derbe. Later on, when Paul was travelling from Greece to Macedonia, he was accompanied by a number of helpers. One of these was Gaius from Derbe, again showing Paul’s influence in Derbe. Derbe was a distinctive church ruin is believed to be the home of the last Bishop of Derbe in  A.D 1001. In ancient times, Derbe was used as a refuge for traveling Christians. Its church was burned and buried under a mountain of soil by the Roman Emperor Diocletian during the Diocletian Persecution  just prior to the year 300 AD. After the destruction of Derbe, there was a mass exodus of the population. Many went to Western Europe, ettling in modern day France.

Perge was very important port city in ancient times as well as one of the earliest centers for the spreding of Christianity in this region. St. Paul visited the city on his first missionary journeys, in 47 AD, together with St. Barnabas and John Mark. “..St. Paul and his companions took ship from Paphos, Cyprus, and made for Perge in Pamphylia; here John Mark had left them, and went back to Jerusalem. They passed on from Perge, and reached Pisidian Antioch, where they went and took their seats in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. They preached the word of the Lord in Perge, and went down to Attelia, taking ship there for Antioch on the Orontes.” (Acts 14,24).

At Perge, Acts says, John Mark left Paul and Barnabas to return to Jerusalem without preaching in Perge. No reason is given, but several theories have been suggested: that he was no longer able to handle the hardships of missionary travel, that he was unwilling to take the gospel to Gentiles, or, as suggested by Paul Maier in his book “First Christians,” he resented Paul taking over leadership of the mission from his cousin Barnabas.  ”(Paul and Barnabas would, however, preach the gospel in Perge on their way back to Attalia near the end of this journey, but no details are given —( Acts 14:25)

Antalya (Attelia) The city of Attelia, was founded in 150 BC and became part of the Roman Province of Pamphylia Secunda, whose capital was Perge. Christianity started to spread to the region in the 1st century as the city was visited by Paul and Barnabas, as recorded in the acts of the Apostles :  ”Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia.And when they had spoken the word in Perge, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch.”