Thursday, August 27, 2009


So, the guys I meet with on Thursday morning were trying to give some historical context to the Book of Acts, and I was assigned to research and report back on the city of Antioch.

Hadn't had an assignment like this since my college days.

Anyway, I found some pretty interesting tidbits.

Antioch still exists today, though much smaller in size, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey . . . but just barely. A stone thrown in the wrong direction could very easily end up in Syria.

And, that's sorta been the story of the place for the last few thousand years. It's been a crossroads (sometimes a point of collision) between different nations and empires.

I was surprised to learn that, in Biblical times, Antioch was the third largest city in the world--behind only Rome and Alexandria (in Egypt).

It's roots go back to the famous Greek conqueror Alexander, who named that aforementioned city in Egypt. Turns out, about 300 BC, he gave some territory to one of his loyal generals. And, that guy founded a Macedonian colony which he named for his father: Antioch.

By the time of Christ, that colony had grown into a thriving metropolis of 500,000 people. It was a particularly attractive place for exiled Jews (and early Christians) to live, because the city fathers liberally extended citizenship rights to them. Historians estimate fully 25% of the population consisted of exiled Jews and their descendants by the time of the crucifixion--the largest concentration outside of Israel. So, Antioch would have been something of a magnet for fleeing apostles and disciples.

Kinda explains how the city became a springboard for all of Paul's missions, huh?

Learn something new every day . . .

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