Even though Paul started his life as a Jewish-born man of Tarsus and turned into a Christian hunter in his adulthood, he was confronted by Jesus, and then he became an apostle of Jesus. The cities visited by the Apostle Paul in Asia Minor were Tarsus, Antioch in Pisidia, Alexandria Troas, Ephesus, Lystra, Miletus, Derbe, and Iconium. These critical locations played an important role in the spread of Christianity in Anatolia.
Tarsus was the birthplace of the Apostle Paul and naturally was his initial destination in Asia Minor. Apostle Paul had three long missionary journeys during his lifetime. Paul visited several cities around Asia Minor and some of them are mentioned in the Holy Bible. Let’s look at the cities visited by Apostle Paul in Asia Minor.
Tarsus City became the capital of the Cilicia province of the Roman Empire after Pompey conquered the city in 67 BC, Pompey. According to Acts of Apostles, Saint Paul was born here as Saul. Paul loved his city, and we can clearly see this in Acts 21:39 as he says “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people”.
Antioch in Pisidia
The city is located on the crossroad of several ancient and modern routes in Asia Minor between the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Central Anatolian provinces. Paul arrived here after crossing the Taurus Mountains. Today Antioch in Pisidia is called Yalvaç of Isparta city of Turkey. Paul the Apostle and Barnabas visited Antioch in Pisidia on their first missionary journey. Paul gave a speech in cities synagogue. His message was well-received, and many people, both Jews and Gentiles, became believers. However, Paul’s success angered some of the locals, who provoked opposition against him and his followers, leading to his expulsion from the city. After leaving some early Christian converts here Paul left, but he came back and visited them on his second and third journeys.
Alexandria Troas was located in a strategic location between Asia Minor and Europe. Alexandria Troas was Apostle Paul’s sailing point while going and returning to Europe for the first time. Eutychus of Troas fell down of a window while listening to Paul and this is mentioned in Acts 20:10. Apostle Paul received a vision from God instructing him to evangelize in Macedonia. Paul followed this calling after founding a church in Alexandria Troas.
Ephesus was the capital of the Asia Minor province of the Roman Empire. Ephesus, being one of the most crowded and important cities of the Roman Empire, played an important role in early Christianity and Apostle Paul’s missions. Paul preached in the Jewish synagogue of Ephesus and the hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus. Demetrios the silversmith started a riot to banish Paul from Ephesus and succeeded in doing so.
Lystra City is in the Konya region of modern Turkey. Apostle Paul visited Lystra with Saint Barnabas and met one of his early disciples Saint Timothy here. Apostle Paul healed a handicapped man in this city by performing a miracle. local people to believe that they were gods. However, when Paul and Barnabas attempted to explain that they were merely messengers of the true God, the people turned against them, and Paul was stoned and left for dead.
Miletus was mentioned in Acts 20:15–38. Paul stopped in Miletus during his third missionary journey. Apostle met the elders of Ephesus Church in the great harbor of Miletus and had his final speech in Asia Minor. He also left his disciple Trophimus in Miletus since he was sick and could not go on tiring sea travel.
Derbe town is nearby modern Turkey’s Konya city. Apostle Paul visited Derbe during two of his three missionary journeys. Apostle had once Silas and once Barnabas with him during visiting Derbe.
Apostle Paul visited Iconium on his first and second missionary journeys. His visits were in about 47–48 with Barnabas on his first and Silas on his second journey. The preaching and ideas of Apostle Paul created a big disturbance in Iconium which resulted in the stoning of Paul and his companions. Despite the opposition, Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium for some time, strengthening the faith of the believers and starting a Christian community.
Antioch city is Antakya of today’s Turkey. Antioch was one of the early centers of Christianity. Barnabas and Paul visited Antioch on their first out of three missionary journeys.
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I personally think there is great to learn from Apostle Paul and his journeys around Asia Minor. I also feel proud to live nearby Ephesus and spend significant time around the places Paul used to preach. Contact me to learn more about cities visited by Apostle Paul in Asia Minor and to hire a Biblical tour guide in Turkey. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.