This page gives information about each town or city visited by Paul in his missionary journeys, as well as the routes and the approximate distance between each place. For each location there are up to four links. The first is a link to the page on Wikipedia, if it exists. The second and third are links to Google Maps. The second is a link to the road map, showing the terrain and nearby places. The third is a link to a closer satellite view of the actual site. The fourth is a link to the set of thumbnail photographs on the Holy Land Photos site, which contains hundreds of photographs of New Testament sites. For some locations there is also a link to a local website.
The distances and time to walk is taken from Google directions. The number of days is calculated assuming walking for eight hours each day. Distances and time of sea voyages is not included.
Also described is the journey to Rome, as well as some other locations which have a connection with the Apostle Paul. These include the three cities of the Lycus Valley, Colossae, Hieropolis and Laodicea.
All Bible references are from the Book of Acts, unless otherwise stated.
Paul's First Missionary Journey
Antioch in Syria (13:1)
Antioch in Syria, also known as Antioch on the Orontes, is now the city of Antakya in the Hatay province of Turkey. It founded by Seleucus I around 300 BC, as the capital of the Kingdom of Syria. It was the first predominantly Gentile church, where the believers were first called 'Christians' (Acts 11:19-26), and became one of the most important Christian centres. The church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas out on their missionary journeys (13:1-3). After each journey, Paul returned to this church.
From Antioch to Seleucia is around 35 km, which would take around 7 hours (1 day) to walk.
Selucia is the port for Syrian Antioch, known as Seleucia by the Sea. It is now the village of Çevlik near the town of Samandag in the Hatay Province of Turkey.
The site of Salamis lies on the east coast of Cyprus, about 6 km north of Famagusta, in the Turkish part of Cyprus. There are extensive archaeologial remains from the Roman period, including a theatre and gymnasium.
Luke records that Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the Word of God in the synagogues. However, no trace of these has been found. There is a tradition that Barnabas, who came from Cyprus, was martyred in Salamis around AD 61.
It is not known which route Paul and Barnabas took from Salamis to Paphos, across the island of Cyprus. The total distance is around 165 km, which would take about 34 hours (4 days) to walk. Luke records that they travelled through the whole island (Acts 13:6), so the distance would probably be much further.
Modern Paphos is a coastal city in the south-west of Cyprus. Old Paphos, or Palaepaphos, is now known as the village of Kouklia in Greek, which is around 15 km south-east of modern Paphos. It was believed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Remains of the sanctuary to Aphrodite still remain.
It was in Paphos that Paul and Barnabas encountered Bar-Jesus, a Jewish false prophet and magician, who tried to turn the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus from the faith (Acts 13:6-12). The residence of the Roman governor was the House of Theseus in the Paphos Archaeological Park in the modern city of Paphos. This was a large house which contains Roman mosaics, including one of Theseus.
An inscription containing the name 'Sergius Paulus' was discovered in Pisidian Antioch, where there is evidence that he had family roots. It is possible that he encouraged Paul to travel to Pisidian Antioch, and gave Paul letters of introduction to his family.
Paul and Barnabas travelled from Cyprus by ship, landing at one of the ports on the south coast near Perga, probably Attalia.
Attalia was the port for Perga, where Paul probably landed from Cyprus. It is now the city of Antalya. He sailed from here back to Antioch at the end of his first journey (14:25).
From Attalia to Perga the route is about 18 km, taking around 3.5 hours to walk.
Perga in Pamphylia (13:13)
Perga was an ancient city in the region of Pamphylia. It was the religious centre. Substantial archaeological remains still exist, including a theatre and stadium. Although no remains of a synagogue have been found, there is evidence for the existence of a synagogue from inscriptions.
From Perga to Antioch the distance is 190 km, which would take around 40 hours (5 days) walking. This was an arduous journey over the difficult terrain of the Taurus Mountains. There were no Roman roads connecting these two towns. The route would be along stony roads or footpaths, which would be frequented by robbers and thieves. They would pass the town of Pednelissos, where there may have been a Jewish synagogue. However, no excavations have been done here.
Antioch in Pisidia (13:14)
The site of Pisidian Antioch is near the Turkish town of Yalvac at the western edge of the Anatolian Plateau. It was located at a crossroads, so became an important trading and communication centre. The city was established in the third or fourth century BC, and designated as a Roman colony in the province of Galatia by the Emperor Augustus in 25 BC, after which many buildings had been constructed. Excavated remains include a monumental gate, streets, a small theatre, a Temple to Augustus and a bathhouse. There are also remains of a large church dedicated to St Paul, also known as the 'Great Basilica'. It has been claimed that the church was originally built on the site of the Jewish synagogue where Paul preached (Acts 13:16-41). Antioch remained an important centre of the church for several centuries.
The route from Antioch to Iconium is along the Via Sebaste, the major Roman road from the East, which ran from Antioch in Syria to Tarsus, then through the Cilician Gates to the cities of Galatia, then to Ephesus, and on to Rome. Roman roads were far safer to travel on, as bandits were kept under control. Travel could be faster as the roads were paved. One danger was that Roman soldiers were permitted to commandeer donkeys without any recompense, or even set people to work on repairs to the road. The distance from Antioch to Iconium is 152 km, taking 31 hours to walk (4 days).
Iconium is the Greek name for the the modern city of Konya in central Turkey. It is the centre of Islamic Sufi mysticism, and made famous by its whirling dervishes and the teachings of Mevlana. Because the site is now a large city, little archaeological work is possible.
Iconium became a Christian centre for several centuries. By tradition it is the birthplace of Thecla, described in the apocryphal work, 'The Acts of Paul and Thecla'.
The route from Iconium to Lystra continues along the Via Sebaste. The distance is 37 km, taking nearly 8 hours (1 day) to walk
Lystra is in central Anatolia. It was made a Roman colony in 6 BC and later included in the Province of Galatia. In the NT, it is remembered as the birthplace of Timothy (16:2).
The ruins of the ancient city lie on a hill called 'Alusumas' which has not been excavated.
It was in Lystra that Paul healed the lame man, and were worshipped as Greek gods (14:8-18). There was a story that the Hermes and Zeus had previously visited the town, but had not been well received. Perhaps the residents did not want to make the same mistake again?
“There is a swamp not far from there, once habitable land but now the haunt of diving-birds and marsh-loving coots. Jupiter (Zeus) went there, disguised as a mortal, and Mercury (Hermes), the descendant of Atlas, setting aside his wings, went with his father, carrying the caduceus (herald’s staff with two entwined snakes). A thousand houses they approached, looking for a place to rest: a thousand houses were locked and bolted. But one received them: it was humble it is true, roofed with reeds and stems from the marsh, but godly Baucis and the equally aged Philemon, had been wedded in that cottage in their younger years, and there had grown old together. They made light of poverty by acknowledging it, and bearing it without discontent of mind. It was no matter if you asked for owner or servant there: those two were the whole household: they gave orders and carried them out equally. So when the gods from heaven met the humble household gods, and stooping down, passed the low doorway, the old man pulled out a bench, and requested them to rest their limbs, while over the bench Baucis threw a rough blanket… ” (Ovid Metamorphoses 8:620)
The route from Lystra to Derbe continues along the Via Sebaste, for around 100 km, taking 20 hours (2.5 days) to walk.
The location of Derbe remains uncertain. It could be near Kerti Huyuku which is lies 24 km north-east of Karaman. There is a distinctive mound lying in a plain, but no excavations have taken place.
Return to Antioch
After leaving Derbe, Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps, returning through Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia (14:21), Perga and Attalia (14:25), where they found a ship travelling to Antioch in Syria. The total distance from Derbe to Attalia is around 500 km, which would take a total of 100 hours (8.5 days) to walk.
The total distance walked by Paul and Barnabas on the First Missionary Journey would be 165 km across Cyprus, 500 km from Attalia to Derbe, another 500 km for the return trip, as well as 35 km each way from Antioch to Seleucia. The total distance walked on the First Missionary Journey is nearly 1300 km (800 miles), which would take 24 days.
Paul's Second Missionary Journey
At the start of his second journey, Paul set out with Silas from Antioch in Syria. After the split with Barnabas over John Mark, they travelled through unnamed cities of Syria and Cilicia (15:41). The first named places visited were the cities of Galatia, Lystra and Derbe, where churches had been established on the First Missionary Journey (16:1).
Tarsus, the birth-place of Paul, lay on the main route, the Via Sebaste, from Syrian Antioch to Galatia, so it is most likely that Paul and Silas at least passed through the city, even though Luke does not mention this.
There are a number of Roman remains, including a temple to the emperor, Cleopatra's Gate, and traces of the Via Sebaste.
Phrygia and Galatia
Paul and Silas travelled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, visiting Derbe and Lystra, where Timothy joined them (16:1-5). They probably continued to Pisidian Antioch along the Via Sebaste, which was in the region of Phrygia.
From Syrian Antioch to Pisidian Antioch, the distance is 657 km, taking 136 hours (17 days) walking.
It can be assumed that Paul's original intention was to continue along the Via Sebaste as far as Ephesus. However, the Holy Spirit did not allow them to enter the Province of Asia, which was on the west coast of Anatolia (modern Turkey), containing the port city of Ephesus. Heading north, they were also forbidden by the Spirit from entering Bithynia, on the north coast, so they passed by Mysia and came to Troas (16:6-8). Mysia was the region directly south of the Sea of Marmara.
Although the exact route taken by Paul and Silas is unknown, the most direct distance from Pisidian Antioch to Troas is 577 km, taking 118 hours (15 days) walking.
Troas, or Alexandria Troas, was the seaport about 25 km south of Troas, the well-known ancient city of Troy, famous in the Greek epics. It is here that Paul received the call to cross over to Macedonia (16:9). It is near the modern village of Dalyan, in the Çanakkale Province of Turkey. It was a significant port for travelling between Anatolia and Macedonia (northern Greece). Some remains of the port and city have been found, including a bath-house, a theatre, gymnasium and stadium, but they are overgrown or covered with sand. Not much excavation has been done. The circuit of the original walls, surrounding a large area, can still be traced. A church existed here for several centuries. It appears that Luke joined Paul, Silas and Timothy in Troas, as this marks the beginning of one of the 'we passages' in the Book of Acts.
Paul visited Troas again on his Third Journey when Eutychus fell asleep while Paul was speaking, and fell out of the window (20:9).
Paul and Silas took a ship from Alexandria Troas to Neapolis, the port for Philippi in Macedonia. They stopped overnight on the island of Samothrace. It was the normal practice for ships to stop in a harbour overnight.
Samothrace is a small mountainous island, now belonging to Greece, lying between Alexandria-Troas and Macedonia. The port is on the north-western side of the island, with the ruins of the old city, Palaeopolis, lying to the east along the coast. Paul probably stayed one night at the port on the two-day voyage to Neapolis from Alexandria-Troas.
Neapolis was the port for the city of Philippi. It is now the town of Kavala in northern Greece. It was an important centre, lying on the Via Egnatia, the major Roman road through Macedonia, but few remains of the ancient city still exist today.
The distance from Neapolis to Philippi is around 16 km, which is about 3 hours walking.
Philippi was a Roman colony on the Via Egnatia. The site of ancient Philippi has extensive archaeological remains. A road passes through the site of Philipi dividing it into a northern and southern section. The northern section includes the theatre and acropolis. The southern section contains the large Roman forum, including the 'bema' where Paul and Silas were brought before the city authorities (16:19), as well as shops, temples, and other administrative buildings. There is also a later octagonal Byzantine church and bishop's palace.
A church has been built at the traditional site of the baptism of Lydia next to the River Krenides. Near the forum is a cave which has been claimed since the fifth century to be the site of the prison where Paul and Silas were held. Portions of the Via Egnatia are still preserved.
Paul maintained a close relationship with the church in Philippi, which supported him financially. When in prison in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to this church.
From Philippi to Amphipolis is around 52 km, taking about 10 hours to walk. The journey would be along the Via Egnatia.
Luke records that they passed through the two cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia without giving any further details. It is not known whether Paul stopped any longer than one night in each place, or did any missionary work there. Both cities lay on the Via Egnatia, the direct route between Philippi and Thessalonica.
Amphipolis was a large city, with extensive archaeological remains. There is a large burial mound and the famous lion of Amphipolis.
The route from Amphipolis to Apollonia continued along the Via Egnatia. The distance was about 60 km, taking 12 hours (1.5 days) to walk.
Apollonia was a small town lying on the Via Egnatia, south of Lake Bolbe, which Paul and Silas passed through when travelling from Philippi to Thessalonica. No excavations have taken place here.
The route from Apollonia to Thessalonica continues along the Via Egnatia. It is around 53 km, taking 11 hours (1.5 days) to walk.
Thessalonica is now the large city of Thessaloniki, the second city in modern Greece. When Paul visited, it was the capital of the province of Macedonia, lying on the Via Egnatia, as well as being an important port. Most of the remains of the ancient city lie under the modern city, so very little excavation, apart from the agora, has been done.
Paul was able to establish a church in Thessalonica, in spite of Jewish opposition which forced him to leave the city. He wrote two letters to this church, probably from Athens or Corinth.
After Thessalonica, Paul and Silas left the Via Egnatia, and travelled to Beroea. The distance was about 75 km, which would take about 15 hours (2 days) walking.
Berea or Beroea, is now the small town of Veria. There are more recent mosaics recording Paul's visit, and remains of Roman roads. There is an old synagogue, which may have been built over the location of the ancient synagogue visited by Paul.
After trouble was stirred up by Jews from Thessalonica, Paul had to leave Beroea. The believers took him to an unnamed location on the coast, where he caught a ship to Athens. The nearest port to Beroea would have been Methoni. The distance would be around 40 km, taking about 8 hours (1 day) to walk. He would arrive in Athens at the port of Piraeus, which is about 10 km away, which would take 2 hours to walk.
Athens has been the cultural and political centre of Greece for thousands of years. It is well known for its outstanding archaeological remains, including the Acropolis, temples and Agoras.
Luke recorded that Paul argued with people in the market-place (agora) every day (17:17). This is known as the Greek or Classical Agora today.
Paul gave his famous speech to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in front of the Areopagus on Mars Hill (17:16-31), very close to the Acropolis. There is a tablet recording Paul's speech inset into the rock.
Leaving Athens, Paul travelled to Corinth. The distance would be about 85 km, taking 17 hours (2 days) walking. The route would follow the coast for much of the journey.
The ancient city of Corinth lies about 8 km south-west of the modern city of Corinth. It lies at the foot of the Acrocorinth, the mountain which overlooks the city. A large archaeological site contains the ruins of the city, including the prominent temple to Apollo, the 'bema' where Paul would have been brought before the governor Gallio (18:12), a theatre, as well as shops and fountains.
The two cities that Paul spent the most time in were Corinth and Ephesus. He was in Corinth around AD 51, for nearly two years, and was able to establish a church there, with which he had a rather troubled relationship.
There is a large collection of artifacts from the ancient city of Corinth in the museum on the site. These include the lintel from the synagogue. The Erastus inscription can be found near the theatre.
The city of Corinth had two ports, including Cenchreae to the east. From Corinth to Cenchreae the distance is about 12 km, which would take about 2.5 hours to walk.
Cenchreae is now known as the Kechrees Archaeological Site. A road called Apostolou Pavlou leads from the village of Kechries to the old harbour. This was the main port of Corinth facing east, from where ships would sail to Athens, Ephesus, Egypt, and other cities of the east.
Following earthquakes, much of the remains of the port city of Cenchreae is now under water. However, remains of the quay and a church are still visible.
It was from this port that Paul sailed to Ephesus, after having his hair cut to fulfil a vow (18:18).
In the Book of Romans, Paul commended Phoebe, a deacon from the church in Cenchreae (Rom 16:1), so a church must have been established there by the time Paul wrote to the Romans during his visit to Corinth on the Third Missionary Journey.
Towards the end of the Second Missionary Journey, Paul visited Ephesus briefly, and promised to return, before sailing on to Caesarea.
Paul returned for a longer stay in Ephesus during his Third Missionary Journey (19:1-41).
The harbour of Caesarea was constructed by Herod the Great between 22 BC and 10 BC. It became the main port for Judea, and the seat of the Roman government. It was here that Paul was brought so his case could be heard by Felix and then by Festus, leading to his appeal to the emperor (25:12), and by Agrippa II.
The extensive remains of the harbour and city are now known as Caesarea Maritima.
From Caesarea to Jerusalem, the distance is 110 km, which takes about 23 hours (3 days) walking. After his arrest, Paul was brought from Jerusalem to Caesarea by Roman soldiers on horseback, which took 2 days (23:31-32).
Luke only gives a brief summary of this part of the journey, from Caesarea, to Jerusalem, and up to Antioch.
It is not known whether Paul travelled to Antioch by sea, or by land. If he took the land route, the distance from Jerusalem to Antioch is 650 km, taking 136 hours (17 days) walking.
Paul again returns to the church that sent him out, at the end of the Second Missionary journey, but according to Luke, sets out immediately on the Third Missionary Journey.
The total distance covered by Paul and his companions on the Second Missionary Journey would be
about 2400 km (1500 miles) which would take about 500 hours (62 days) walking. This would include 1250 km from Antioch in Syria to Troas, 175 km from Philippi to Thessalonica, 75 km from Thessalonica to Beroea,
85 km from Athens to Corinth, 110 km from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and 650 km from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Paul's Third Missionary Journey
Again departing from Antioch in Syria, Paul travelled through Galatia and Phrygia (18:23). These are the cities where he had established churches on the First Missionary Journey, and visited on the Second Journey. Although the exact route taken is not known, it is most likely that once again he travelled along the Via Sebaste, through Tarsus, the cities of Galatia and Antioch in Pisidia. Luke records that Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus (19:1).
The most direct route from Antioch in Syria to Ephesus is along the Via Sebaste, which ran the whole way between those two cities. The distance is 1045 km, which would take 214 hours (26 days) walking. However it is likely that Paul visited other towns and cities which lay off the main route, increasing the total distance considerably.
The famous tourist destination of the ruins of Ephesus contains a large archaeological site, containing the theatre where the riot took place during Paul's visit, the agora, the Celsus Library, the temple to Domitian, and many other buildings.
During the first century, the harbour was close to the centre of the city. However silting of the river has caused the sea to retreat, so it is now about 10 km away. All that remains of the harbour is an area of marshland.
The remains of the temple to Artemis is close by, near the town of Selcuk. A single pillar, restored by archaeologists, is the only object still standing. Also in Selcuk is a museum containing artifacts discovered in Ephesus, and the remains of the Basilica dedicated to the Apostle John, where he was buried.
Also nearby is the house of Mary, where it is claimed the mother of Jesus lived towards the end of her life.
Paul spent more than two years in Ephesus (19:10), so the Word of God spread through the whole region of Asia.
After the riot, Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia (20:1), visiting churches in that region, which would include Philippi, Thessalonica, and perhaps Beroea, before travelling to Greece. Luke gives very little information, so it is not known whether he travelled by sea, or by land to Macedonia. By land, the distance from Ephesus to Philippi is around 700 km, which would take about 150 hours (19 days) walking. From Philippi to Corinth the distance is another 600 km, which would take about 120 hours (15 days) walking.
Greece (Corinth) (20:2-3)
Paul returned to Greece, almost certainly to the church in Corinth, which he had established on his Second Journey. During the three months he spent there, he wrote the Letter to the Romans.
Back to Macedonia - Philippi (20:3)
Originally intending to sail directly to Syria, Paul heard about plots against him from the Jews, so decided to return via Macedonia (20:3).
On this journey he was carrying the financial collection that he had been making amongst the Gentile churches. He was accompanied by representatives from these churches, as he made his way back to Jerusalem (20:4).
From Corinth back to Philippi the distance is again 600 km, taking 120 hours (15 days). Luke rejoins Paul at this point, which marks the start of the second 'we passage'. The account of the journey now contains far more detail than before.
If all the journeys were done by land, the total distance from Ephesus to Macedonia, down to Corinth, and back to Macedonia would be about 1900 km (1200 miles), taking 390 hours (49 days), which Luke summarises in four verses (20:1-4).
Again, it is not known whether the journey from Philippi to Troas was made by land or by sea. Previously, Paul had made that journey by sea, via the island of Samothrace. They were travelling in the Spring, soon after Passover (20:6), so a sea journey would not be so dangerous as in the winter.
Paul and Luke rejoined the other representatives in Alexandria-Troas (20:6), which Paul had visited before during his Second Journey. This time he stayed for a week, teaching the church. This is when the young man Eutychus fell out of the window asleep.
Paul travelled to Assos by land (20:13). The distance is about 50 km, which would take about 10 hours (a long day's walk). However the terrain was quite mountainous and potentially dangerous from bandits.
At the time of Paul's visit Assos was a larger town which has now shrunk to be the village of Behramkale, or Behram. It had an important strategic harbour. There is a significant archaeological site with wide-ranging views to the sea, containing a temple to Athene, a theatre, an agora and some remains of the ancient harbour below.
Luke does not describe any ministry that Paul did there. In Assos Paul rejoined his companions on the ship travelling to Mitylene on the island of Lesbos.
Mitylene is the port city on the island of Lesbos, which is now in Greece. Paul and his companions stopped in the harbour here overnight as they travelled between the islands from Macedonia to Miletus.
Luke records that they sailed from Mitylene and arrived opposite Chios the following day (20:15). It is not clear whether they landed on the island, or stayed at anchor overnight. The main town and the island have the same name, which now belongs to Greece.
Samos is the main town on the island of Samos, which now also belongs to Greece, even though it is very close to the coast of Turkey.
Luke records that they 'touched at Samos', probably meaning that the ship docked there overnight, then continued the journey to Miletus the following day.
In Paul's time, Miletus was a significant port for the province of Asia. However, like Ephesus, the harbour had become silted up, and the remains of Miletus now lie several kilometres from the sea. In Paul's time it was situated on a peninsular as an important trading centre.
There are substantial archaeological remains of the city of Miletus near the village of Balat in Aydin Province of Turkey. These include a theatre, the agora and the bath-house. An eroded carved lion remains, one of the two lions which used to guard the entrance to the harbour. In the theatre is an inscription which says, "the place of the Jews who are also God–worshipers", which may indicate the presence of the people who Luke refers to as 'God-fearers' - Gentiles who attended the synagogue, but who had not become Jewish proselytes.
It was in Miletus that Paul summoned the elders of the church of Ephesus, which is 45 km to the north. After warning them about false teachers rising up from within the church, he took a tearful farewell (20:36-38).
Cos, or Kos, is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands close to the coast of Turkey. The ship Paul was travelling on stopped in the harbour of Cos overnight, before continuing to Rhodes the following day.
Rhodes is the largest of the Greek Dodecanese Islands off the coast of Turkey. The ship Paul was travelling on stopped in the harbour of Rhodes overnight, before continuing to Patara the following day.
Patara is an ancient harbour city located on the southwestern coast of the province of Lycia in modern Turkey. Paul had to change ships in Patara, where he found one bound for Phoenicia (21:2).
The historic Phoenician city of Tyre is in modern Lebanon. Paul stopped here for a week while the ship was unloading, where he met with the believers, who warned him not to continue to Jerusalem (21:4). The ship then continued to Ptolemais.
Ptolemais is now the city of Acre in Israel. The ship Paul was travelling on stopped in the harbour here overnight, where Paul greeted the believers, before the ship continued to Caesarea.
This was the main port for Judea, which Paul arrived at on his Second Missionary Journey. While staying in the house of Philip the Evangelist, the prophet Agabas warned him not to go to Jerusalem.
The final part of the journey was on foot from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
The Second Missionary Journey concluded in Jerusalem, where Paul was welcomed by the believers. James urged him to pay for a rite of purification in the temple, to show his solidarity with law-keeping Jewish believers. However this led directly to his arrest, being accused of bringing Gentiles into the temple (21:18ff). Paul would also have delivered the collection he had made for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem, but that is not mentioned in the Book of Acts.
Much of the final part of the Third Journey was by ship. The total distance walked would be 1045 km from Syrian Antioch to Ephesus, then another 1300 km from Ephesus to Corinth, via Philippi, and 600 km back to Philippi. Finally there was 100 km from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The total would be 3050 km (1900 miles) which would take 630 hours (78 days) walking. The distance walked would be shorter if Paul used ships to travel some of the sections.
Other locations connected with Paul
1. The three cities of the Lycus valley
During his Third Missionary Journey, Paul spent at least two years in Ephesus. During this time, the Word of God spread throughout the Province of Asia (19:10), as a result it is likely that churches were established in towns and cities throughout the province, even though Paul did not visit these himself. About 150 km (100 miles) inland from Ephesus are three towns in the valley of the River Lycus: Colossae, Laodicea and Hieropolis (now Pamukkale), situated near the place where the Lycus flows into the River Maeander. These cities were in the old kingdom of Phrygia, which later became part of the Roman province of Asia. They are now close to the modern city of Denizli. Hieropolis and Laodicea were only (10 km) (six miles) apart, facing each other across the Lycus River. Colossae was 20 km (12 miles) further upstream and was smaller than the other two towns. Paul mentions the other two towns in his letter to the Colossians. (Col 4:13-16).
At the location of the city of Colossae is a mound (hüyük) which has not been excavated. This would be the location of the acropolis. There is also evidence of a theatre. Colossae was a large city in the fifth century BC, but had lost its importance before the first century AD. Colossae had cold-water streams which were piped to Laodiceaa.
Paul wrote two letters to Colossae, one to the church, and one to Philemon who lived in Colossae. Paul evidently had never visited the city (Col 1:9; 2:1), but Epaphras brought the gospel message to Colossae, to Laodicea, and to Hierapolis. Paul hoped to visit the city, for he requested Philemon to prepare a guestroom for him in anticipation of a visit (Phil 1:23).
The ruins of the city of Hieropolis are close to the popular tourist destination of Pamukkale (meaning 'cotton castle'), created by mineral deposits from the thermal springs.
Hieropolis was probably founded in the early second century BC by Eumenes II (197–159 BC), the king of Pergamum. It seems to have functioned as a spa and religious center, near the commercial centre of Laodicea. Hierapolis was famous for the wool and cloth that were produced there, especially its purple dye that was made from plants that grew in the area and that was enhanced by the mineral content of the thermal springs. Water from the springs was piped to Laodicea. By the time the water reached there it was lukewarm, and the high mineral content made the water most distasteful.
There is no evidence that Paul ever visited Hieropolis. However, he did pass close to the city on several occasions. The church was probably established by Epaphras (Col 4:13).
Hieropolis became an important Christian centre. The tomb of the Apostle Philip was identified in 2011, who was martyred in Hieropolis. In later centuries, an octagonal tomb named 'The Martryium' was erected on the location of his martyrdom.
Laodicea had been founded by the Seleucid kings during the third century BC. By the first century AD, it had become was a large, wealthy and important commercial centre, replacing Hieropolis and Colossae as the most important of the three cities. It was located at a key road junction on the Via Sebaste, with roads joining from all directions.
The ruins of Laodicea are located near the modern town of Denizili. The site has been well-excavated, showing remains of theatres, temples, a gymnasium and churches. Pipes which brought water from Hieropolis have been found showing severe blocking by mineral deposits. The hot water from Hieropolis was lukewarm and the high mineral content would not be pleasant to drink.
The church in Laodicea was probably established by Epahras. Paul urged the Colossians to read the letter to Laodicea (Col 4:16). This is an otherwise unknown letter, which could be a reference to the letter to the Ephesians.
2. The Journey to Rome
Most of the journey to Rome was on a three separate ships, one of which was shipwrecked near Malta. Luke was accompanying Paul,so great detail is given about the journey. Several times in the account, Luke records that sailing was difficult because the wind was against them (27:4, 7), before conditions worsened with moderate, then violent winds (27:13-14), growing into many days of 'no small tempest' (27:20). This is one of the most detailed descriptions of a sea voyage in the whole of Roman history.
Paul joined a ship of Adramyttium at Caesarea, the main port of Judah, where he had been held as as prisoner, and his case had been heard by Felix, Festus, and Agrippa II. Adramyttium (modern Edremit) is in the province of Mysia in north-western Turkey, which was probably the ship's final destination. It was smaller coastal trading vessel (27:2), which mostly sailed in sight of land, frequently calling in at ports. Paul stayed on the ship as far as Myra in Lycia (27:5).
Sidon was and still is an important port city, now in Lebanon.
The lee of Cyprus (27:4)
To gain protection from winds, they sailed under the lee of Cyprus, through the wide strait to the east of Cyprus and west of Syria.
Sea off Cilicia and Pampylia (27:5)
After passing the most easterly point of the island of Cyprus, they headed west between Cyprus and the mainland. Cilicia was on the south coast of modern Turkey, including the city of Tarsus. Pamphylia was the region west of Cilicia, including the city of Perga.
Myra in Lycia (27:4)
Myra was a port in the province of Lycia, where they changed ships. The second ship was from Alexandria, Egypt, and was sailing for Italy, carrying wheat (27:38). This would be a larger grain ship for sailing longer distances.
Myra is now named Demre in the Antalya province of Turkey. Myra became an important Christian community. It was associated with Nicholas of Myra, who became St Nicolas (or Santa Claus).
Cnidus, or modern Knidos, lies at the end of a long narrow peninsular, south of modern Bodrum in Turkey. From Myra the ship sailed north of the island of Rhodes, and struggled against a headwind blowing from the north-west, past Cnidus.
Lee of Crete off Salmone (27:7)
After passing Cnidus, they fought against the wind until they passed Cape Salmone, at the eastern tip of Crete. They then passed under the lee of Crete, so became sheltered by the island from the north-west wind.
Fair Havens near Lasea (27:8)
Fair Havens, (or Kaloi Limenes in Greek), is on the south coast of the island of Crete. It is a natural harbour still used today. The ship carrying Paul probably called in here for water and provisions for the voyage.
The harbour at Fair Havens was not suitable to spend the winter in (27:12), as it offered little or no protection from winds blowing from the east.
Phoenix was a port, near the modern town of Foinikas on the south coast of Crete. It had a westward-facing harbour, which would be a suitable place to spend the winter, sheltered from the easterly winds (27:12).
The ship carrying Paul failed in its attempt to reach Phoenix. At first, the wind blew from the south, but then a violent north-easterly wind, which Luke names as the Euraquilo, blew them away from the island (27:13-15). While in Fair Havens, they were protected from the north-easterly wind by the mountains. However, once they passed Cape Matala, the point to the west of Fair Havens, they were exposed to that wind, which would blow strongly down the valley between the mountains and out to sea. They were not able to fight against this wind, and had to give way to it (27:15).
Island of Cauda (27:16)
Cauda is a small island, now named Gavdos. It is actually the southernmost piece of land in Europe. The ship carrying Paul did not land there, but was able to run under the lee of the island to find protection from the north-east wind, and to get the ship's boat under control. This was a small boat normally towed behind the ship, used to get to shore when the ship was anchored. It would have been very difficult to empty the water out of the boat, and to get it on board the ship. They also undergirded the ship. This was done by passing ropes around the ship to hold its timbers together and prevent the ship from splitting apart in rough seas.
The Syrtis (27:17)
After finding a brief period of shelter from the island of Cauda, they continued to be blown by the wind from the north-east, and were fearful of being driven to the Syrtis (27:17). This is a large gulf on the north coast of Africa, now known as the Gulf of Sidra off Libya. It was known to have quicksands, where the ship could become marooned, without any hope of rescue. By using the ships anchor, which would be dragged behind the ship to slow its progress through the violent waves, they were able keep a westerly course, to avoid the dangers of the Syrtis.
Sea of Adria (27:27)
The Sea of Adria is the main portion of the Mediterranean, south of the Adriatic Sea. For two weeks, the ship was drifting west across the sea. Their only hope would be to be cast up on Malta, otherwise the ship would continue to drift towards modern Tunisia.
There are a number of bays on the island of Malta which have been suggested to be the location of Paul's landing. The most well-known is St. Paul's Bay.
After staying three months on Malta, they set sail on a ship from Alexandria, Egypt, which had been sheltering over the winter in Malta (28:11). This was the third ship on the journey to Rome.
Syracuse is an important historical city on the east coast of Sicily, which still retains the same name today, and has many archaeological remains from the Roman period. The ship carrying Paul stayed there three days, presumably to load or unload cargo.
Rhegium is now the modern city of Reggio Calabria at the tip of southern Italy, overlooking the Messina Strait to Sicily. They ship carrying Paul stayed in the harbour there overnight.
Puteoli is now the Italian town of Pozzuoli, and was an important Roman port, now part of the city of Naples. It lay on the Via Appia, which was the major Roman road which led to Rome. Paul left the ship here, and was taken up the Via Appia to Rome.
Forum of Appius and Three Taverns (28:15)
These were both stopping places on the Via Appia where the believers from Rome travelled to meet Paul and to escort him into the city, in the same way as a visiting dignitary would be welcomed. The Forum of Appius, or Forum Appii, was about 69 km (43 miles) from Rome.
The Three Taverns was an important road junction about 50 km (31 miles) from Rome. It was the final stopping place before reaching the city. It took its name from the three shops: the general store, the blacksmith's, and the refreshment-house.