Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Monday, June 27, 2016

Antioch in Pisidia

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, 
and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath.  Acts. 13: 14

Around 50 AD Paul visited Antioch of Pisidia on his first journey and his first recorded sermon was preached there.  The journey from Perga would have been about 110 miles.  A beautiful trip, but mountainous and not an easy one!  Everyone on our trip was commenting about how much we had to walk and that their Fitbits were doing really great!  Paul's Fitbit would have been off the charts!

There are 16 cities in ancient Turkey named Antioch!  Named after Antiochus.

As a Roman colony, Antioch of Pisidia was settled by veterans of the Roman army in their retirement.

A very modern city, Paul would have felt much at home, as a Jewish-Roman citizen from Tarsus.

The garlanded bull was the symbol of the Hellenistic moon goddess Men.

This theatre was built during the Hellenistic period and then expanded by the Romans.  It could hold between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

Numerous shops lined the street.

At the highest point of the city, Emperor Augustus built the Augustus Temple.   The front of the temple had a stairway of twelve steps leading up to its porch.

The remains of the Roman aqueduct that brought water from the moutains.  The aqueducts ended at a huge fountain from which water was distributed to the entire city.

Roman baths, dating to the 1st century

A fourth century Byzantine church dedicated to Paul was built on top of the synagogue where Paul preached to the people at Pisidian Antioch.

"As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people begged them to say more about these same things the next Sabbath.  After the service, many Jews and a lot of the Gentiles who worshiped God went with them.  Paul and Barnabas begged them all to remain faithful to God, who had treated them with undeserved grace.

The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord.  When the Jewish people saw the crowds, they were very jealous.  They insulted Paul and spoke against everything he said.

But Paul and Barnabas bravely said:  
We had to tell God's message to you before we told it to anyone else.  But you rejected the message!  This proves that you don't deserve eternal life.  Now we are going to the Gentiles.  The Lord has given us this command,
"I have placed you here 
             as a light for the Gentiles
You are to take the saving power of God
                           to people everywhere on earth."

This message made the Gentiles glad, and they praised what they had heard about the Lord.  Everyone who had been chosen for eternal life then put their faith in the Lord.

The message about the Lord spread all over this region.  But the Jewish leaders went to some of the important men in the town and to some respected women who were religious.  They turned them against Paul and Barnabas and started making trouble for them.  They even chased them out of this part of the country.

Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet and went on to the city of Iconium.  But the Lord's followers in Antioch were very happy and were filled with the Holy Spirit."  Acts 13: 42-50

The Bible's message can be so very simple anyone can believe without knowing much.  But it is layered too and one can continue to learn more and more through the years.  It's study can never be exhausted.  It is truly "alive and active!"  God speaks to us directly through it!!  He comforts, encourages, refreshes, directs us.  Only God could have authored such a Book!

We often read the Bible through Western lenses.  Even Paul had to be "de-programmed" from his very Jewish legalistic lenses.  

The kingdom of God is about how we walk with Him.  The "halakhah", the way you live your life day to day with God.

A thunderstorm was brewing.
As a Kansan, I have lots of respect for thunderstorms.
I was relieved when it was decided to head for the bus.

We went to a small museum at Yalvac, a town nearby.
Here you can see an inscription that shows the whole word "Paulli" and portions of the word "Sergii".

Because  Antioch of Pisidia was definitely 'off the beaten path' in Paul's day (as well as now), you might wonder why Paul visited this city.  Just prior to his visit, Paul had preached on the island of Cyprus and met Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:6-7).  He became a believer.  "The family of Sergii Paulli had large estates in the vicinity of Pisidian Antioch.  It may have been that Sergius Paulus requested Paul to travel there to speak to other members of his family that resided there - maybe even giving him a letter of introduction.  This, and other inscriptions, strongly hint at the possibility of this type of connection - indeed, even providing a reason as to why Paul traveled to this city."  - Dr. Carl Rasmussen, Holy Land Photos.

The city is mentioned again in 2 Timothy 3.
"Timothy, you know what I teach and how I live.  You know what I want to do and what I believe.  You have seen how patient and loving I am, and how in the past I put up with trouble and suffering in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.  Yet the Lord rescued me from all those terrible troubles.  In fact, anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and wants to live right will have trouble from  others....Keep on being faithful... Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word.   All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live."

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