Today we went to Antioch, which is the site of the first Gentile church. It was truly amazing to be in the church where Paul pastured for over a year. I can only imagine the sermons he preached and the worship that they had there. The Bible says that Barnabas worked with Paul and that Peter came to Antioch to visit. Tradition has it that Peter was the first bishop of Antioch and so the church is named after him.
It is hard to describe what it is like to be in the church that Paul pastored. I think it will be hard to fully integrate the power of a place like that. I know it makes it hard to sleep some nights thinking about all of the events of the day. The church is nothing to look at; it is a glorified cave. Christians were persecuted so they went into to hills above the city to worship and the church was in those hills.
During the time of Paul Antioch was one of the largest cities in the area; it was a true cultural center. It was kind of like New York is today. For example Mark Anthony and Cleopatra came to Antioch to be married. The city had over 400,000 making it a large city in those days. Due to many earthquakes over the years, one, which killed 250,000 Antioch, is no longer the cultural center it was in antiquity. To help us get a sense of the beauty and wonder of the city during Paul’s time we went to a museum in downtown Antioch.
We saw some of the most beautiful mosaics. Most were from the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. and some of the other artifacts were from the time of the Assyrians (7th century B.C.) and the Hittites (14th century B.C.). These were a wonder and I took a lot of photos to help us get a sense of what the city was like.
To see today’s photos click here.