Antioch of Syria, or is that Turkey?

Antioch of Syria on the Orontes River was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 B.C. Antioch became a Roman city in 64 B.C. and capital of the new province of Syria. It became the third largest city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria.

After Jerusalem, Antioch was the second great center of Christianity in New Testament times and where the disciples of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3; 14:26-28; 15:1-41; 18:22-23; Gal. 2).

Antioch is now called Antakya and is part of the HatayProvince of Turkey, but is near the border with Syria. The area became part of Turkey in 1939.

The photo below was made from the bridge crossing the Orontes River with a view east toward Mount Silipius. Click on the photo for an image suitable for use in presentations.

Antakya, Turkey. Antioch of Syria of the New Testament. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View east toward Mount Silpius from the Orontes River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A church called the Cave Church of St. Peter honors Peter’s visit to the city (Gal. 2). This is a late Roman Catholic addition to the city, having become a Catholic church in 1946. Not the best choice, I think. Peter’s association with Antioch did not turn out too well. At first he ate with the new Gentile converts, but under pressure from James of Jerusalem played the hypocrite and withdrew from the Gentiles.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (Galatians 2:11-13 ESV)

I suggest you read Galatians 1 and 2, for a more complete account of this event.

From here the great journeys of Paul to take the Gospel to the Gentile world began (Acts 13:1-2).

2 responses to “Antioch of Syria, or is that Turkey?

  1. Hi Ferrell,
    I enjoyed being reminded of Antakya. One of my favorite places in Turkey.
    What great mosaics the museum has not many steps from your photo, and travelling down to the coast, to where the port of Antioch at Seleucis was. There is the artificial harbor, the huge water diversion canal to protect the harbor from being blown out by rains, and at the top of the this canal-tunnel is an inscription and the mausoleum of Titus and Vespasian, with a view out over the harbor and the coastline. The setting of the coastal plane and Samandag Mountain to the south, dividing Turkey from Syria down that coastline is remarkable. In 1976 I took a cement ship from Lattakia, just south of that mountain range inside of Syria to Cyprus to spend the Christmas holidays with the Galatis family, in Nicosia.

    I wanted to ask you whether you think the brothers from James pressured Peter or if Peter was being sifted again, as Jesus promised, as a man of unclear motivation, who had too often struggled between great aspirations to do right, but unstable because he was affected so easily by the opinions of men? I ask this because James had been so clear in Acts 15, or do you think this Galatians 2 event, happened before the Acts 15 Jerusalem council?
    I have read that Antioch was one of the first and few of the cities of 1st century times with street lighting.

  2. In the 1930s the Baltimore Museum of Art, among other institutions, excavated Antioch and now here in Baltimore one can admire some of the most spectacular mosaics of the Roman world fit for the eastern capital of the Roman empire. There is a recreation of the view of the city at the time of Paul from Mt. Silpius at this address for those who wish to see it. http://www.archaeologyillustrated.com/node/41

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