One might ask why a person interested in the Bible world would want to visit the Black Sea coast of Turkey. A few weeks ago, while there, I gave some of the reasons here. A summary before proceeding might be advisable. My visit was limited to a region of about 100+ miles from about 20 miles east of Samsun to Sinop.
Both Samsun and Sinop are located in the the region known as the Roman province of Pontus in Asia Minor. By New Testament times the provinces of Bythinia and Pontus were combined and governed as a single province.
There were 13 cities in the province of Pontus (Wilson, Biblical Turkey, 332).
The New Testament mentions Pontus only three times. The first reference is in Acts 2. Note the association with Peter.
- Jews from Pontus were visiting Jerusalem during Pentecost when the gospel was first announced by Peter (Acts 2:5,9). It is likely that some of these men became obedient to the gospel before returning home.
Beside Peter’s address to Christians in Pontus in his first epistle, the only person named in association with Pontus is Aquila.
- A Jew by the name of Aquila was a native of Pontus. He had gone to Rome, but was commanded to leave Rome under the decree of the Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54). Reaching Corinth, he and his wife Priscilla, met the apostle Paul (Acts 18:2). We are not told whether Priscilla was from Pontus, Rome, or some other place.
- When Paul left Corinth, Aquila and Pricilla went with him to Ephesus and remained there. When they heard the eloquent Alexandrian preacher Apollos who knew only John’s baptism, they privately taught him the “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:18, 26). I think the inference is that they encouraged Apollos to go to Corinth.
- Paul mentions Aquila and Priscila (Prisca) in his letter to the Corinthians which was written from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19).
- During Paul’s third journey, when he wrote to the saints at Rome from Greece (Corinth) during the reign of the Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68), he sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3). This means that by this time they found it safe to reside in Rome.
- In his final letter from Rome, Paul tells Timothy to “Greet Prisca and Aquila” (2 Timothy 4:19).
We have evidence that the name Aquila was known in Pontus. In the 1909 Dictionary of the Bible (ed. James Hastings), A. Souter says,
an inscription has recently been found referring to one Aquila at Sinope, one of the principal cities of the Roman province Pontus.
Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a reference to the husband of Priscilla. It simply means that the name was known in the region.
Our photo today was made on a dreary, rainy day near Sinop. Notice that the highway is high in the mountains overlooking the Black Sea. At several points there is no coastal road. This is an important fact that we will speak more about in a future post.