Caesarea – The Site of Major Events In the Life Paul

There are actually two cities that share the name of Caesarea. One is located near springs that feed the Jordan River and the other is Caesarea Maritima, that is found along the shores of the Mediterranean. This Caesarea was a port constructed by King Herod the Great. From its earliest times, it was predominantly a Roman settlement with a Gentile majority. In 6AD when the Romans took full control, it eventually became their capital.

Caesarea is a significant site in Christian history because this is where Pontius Pilate governed during the time that Jesus walked on earth. Today it’s known as a town on the Mediterranean coast where you can find the Caesarea National Park. Here, a Roman amphitheater and the remains of Herod’s palace are present, the same place where Paul was kept prisoner for over two years. We will explore a little about Paul, his time in Caesarea and what to expect if visiting modern day Caesarea.

The Apostle Paul

Paul, whose first name was Saul, was a devout Jew who unabashedly persecuted the early followers of Christ. His name was later changed to Paul when he had a revelation that convicted him of the truth of Jesus Christ and from here, spent the rest of his life spreading the news of Christ the Savior; writing various letters to different church congregations around the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Paul in Caesarea

Prior to arriving in Caesarea, Paul traveled to Jerusalem where he was soon arrested by Roman troops and escorted out of the city. Upon landing in Caesarea, he appeared before the Roman governor and was kept under guard for five days at Herod’s Palace where he awaited trial. He was accused by the Jews of public disorder in Jerusalem because he was believed to have brought Gentiles into the inner courts of the temple which was considered a capital offense.

Once trial proceeded, Paul defends himself and admits that he is a follower of Jesus; presenting a powerful speech before Governor Felix, Festus and King Agrippa but still ends up under house arrest by the governor as he felt further evidence was needed. As to what happened over the two years of his imprisonment, many argue over the exact details but it is believed that this is the time when Paul wrote the four epistles.

Outside of Paul’s trial and imprisonment, Caesarea is also the site known for Paul baptizing the Roman centurion Cornelius who was the first gentile to convert to Christianity, as well as being the place where Paul set off to preach the good news in communities all over the Mediterranean region prior to his two years of imprisonment.

Modern Day Caesarea

Modern day Caesarea is a diamond in the rough with much to offer. Its well engineered structures are why sites like the seacoast theater still remain to this day. If you stand in the center of the seacoast theater and speak normally, those sitting in the surrounding seats can still hear you clearly. That’s pretty impressive!

If your visit takes you along the shores of the beach near the sea palace of Pontius Pilate, you will find a hippodrome where one can learn about Roman horse races. Here you will also learn of how this amphitheater was used to feed Christians and Jews to the lions. Some of the unpleasant stories of history’s past. A Roman administrative center, bathhouse, public toilet, moat and fortress are also among the structures that still remain in this area. The most impressive though, is the port built by King Herod called the Sebastos. It was the largest seaport on the eastern Mediterranean made from volcanic ash called pozzolana.

In conclusion, today, modern day Caesarea is a bustling city of upper class community and a popular vacation spot. Boutiques and restaurants nestle themselves amongst the archeological remains, making Caesarea a visual storybook as old stones come to life and tell of times past.

The Apostle Paul’s Mission To Thessalonica

Thessalonica or Thessaloniki, was founded by Macedons King Cassander and is named after Alexander the Great’s half sister, Thessalonike. In 168 B.C. it became a city of the Roman Republic and a critical trading hub for the Roman Empire. Over time it eventually became the capital city of the Roman district it was located in; containing an amphitheater where gladiator shows were held as well as where circus shows were put on to amuse the public.

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

On Paul’s journey to Greece, it was Timothy and Silas that accompanied Paul to Thessalonica. Upon arrival, they visited the chief Jewish synagogue for three Sabbaths explaining why Jesus is the Old Testament Savior (Acts 17:2-4); focusing on the resurrection of Christ. After hearing Paul’s message, many joined Paul and his companions but others were in an upheaval about what Paul was preaching. This led to a mob starting within the city that soon went after Paul, Silas and Timothy; resulting in them later escaping the city under the cover of night.

Paul himself did not spend much time in Thessalonica upon his first visit but nevertheless it is one of the churches that thrived the most according to the New Testament. After leaving Thessalonica, Silas and Timothy stayed in nearby Berea whereas Paul distanced himself. Eventually, he tried to revisit but was thwarted by Satan. (1Thess 2:18) Sending Timothy to check in with the church, Paul learns of its health which leads him to write his first letter in Corinth to the church. It wasn’t until a few years later that Paul was able to revisit. (Acts 20:1-6, Phil 4:16)

The apostle Paul’s mission to Thessalonica was to share with the people that Jesus was the Messiah.

Modern Thessaloniki

If your planning to visit Thessaloniki you will find a thriving and flourishing metropolis that houses many museums, shops and exquisite churches that speak volumes about their history. The central marketplace will offer lots of shops to browse through, the theater Odeion and not far from there you can walk beneath the Arch of Galerius; an infamous persecutor of Christians whose emperor status was established in Thessalonica towards the end of the 3rd century A.D. The Church of Agios is also a nearby where Galerius is known to have ordered the soldier Dimitrios to be put to death. The crypt of the Church of Agios is open to visitors who which to descend its steps.

Modern Thessalonki is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life and is actually considered to be Greece’s cultural capital. Whether visiting for cultural purposes, exploring its history or simply to enjoy its sandy beaches, you will love what you see and be glad you came.

Popular Attractions of Corinth, the Beloved City of Paul

The ancient city of Corinth was well known as a place of trade as its location, in the center of the Greek Islands, was surrounded by rich soils, natural water sources and harbored two major ports (Lechaeum to the north and Cenchreae to the east); dominating trade in the Corinthian and Saronic Gulf. When Paul came to Corinth, what he discovered was just over 100 years old and roughly five times the size of Athens. Here Paul shared the gospel of Jesus Christ and ministered to the people of Corinth. Today, the ancient city sits just outside of modern day Corinth where you can find historical remains like the ruins of the Temple of Apollo.

Here are some of the most popular attractions of Corinth today.

The Corinth Canal

The Corinth Canal is what separates the Peloponnese from the mainland in Greece which some argue makes the peninsula an island. It connects the Corinth Gulf with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea, giving ships a route through the Isthmus of Corinth. It is a man made waterway built with the purpose of eliminating an extensive route around the Peloponnese peninsula. Prior to 1893, when the canal was completed, almost ten attempts were made to fulfill a vision that first started with Periander, a tyrant of Corinth in 602 B.C.

More than 2000 years later, this canal is the city’s main attraction. In order to get the best view you’ll want to see it from the land bridge, the Isthmus of Corinth . One of its most intriguing features, however, is the submersible bridge at the north-west end. This bridge can be lowered below the surface, allowing smaller ships and sailing boats to pass through, though it is too narrow for large ships.

Corinth Canal in Greece

Corinth Canal in Greece

Ancient Corinth Itself

Today, the ancient city of Corinth, sits about five kilometers northeast of it’s modern day sister city. A significant archaeological site revealing many wonderful treasures, it was once one of the most powerful cities as it monopolized two major sea ports, Lechaeum and Cenchreae, which eventually led to Corinth becoming a city-state. Something that ancient Corinth is commonly known for is being where Paul preached to the Corinthians and was inspired to write letters that we know as the first and second Corinthians of the New Testament; affirming the reality of Christ’s resurrection as the foundation of Christianity. With a history that stretches over 8000 years, Corinth is one of Greeces oldest cities where you will discover ruins of temples, baths, a forum and basilica and of course, one of its most common attractions, the Temple of Apollo.

Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo today is only a remnant of what it used to be. Built over an existing temple in the seventh century B.C., the Temple of Apollo was originally constructed with a total of 38 columns; 6 columns at either end and 15 columns lengthwise. Now, only 7 of its limestone columns remain; sitting atop Temple Hill where it is seen across the way from ancient Corinth. Named after the deity Apollo, the Greeks viewed him as the most beautiful and influential of all gods making this site an important monument in Greek mythology and it is one of the few Archaic Greek temples in the world left standing.

Temple of Apollo in Corinth

Temple_of_Apollo_in_Corinth

The Corinth Archeological Museum

The Corinth Archeological Museum is a small museum that houses finds from ancient Corinth’s archeological site. It was built in 1932 with additional add ons built in the 1950’s. The museum consists of four display rooms and a large courtyard. It’s main attractions are Corinthian pottery and ceramics, headless marble statues, mosaic floors and Neolithic finds that date back to the beginning of Corinth’s foundation. Everything that has been discovered in archeological digs of ancient Corinth and even neighboring areas have been collected and displayed at this museum.

Acrocorinth

Nestled on a steep rock you will find Acrocorinth, a castle rising above the southwestern side of Ancient Corinth. In medieval times it was a fortified acropolis, ensured through a system of three enclosures and separated by walls which were reinforced by towers and bastions. A prime example of fortified architecture, it bears construction details and decorative elements from centuries long ago. Inside its walls, the interior of the castle has preserved remains of a Venetian basilica, mosques, fountains and an underground Byzantine cistern; just to name a few.

Pauls beloved city of Corinth is just one of the gems that will inspire you among the Greek Islands. It’s historical roots are vastly rich and you’ll notice that even modern day culture is inspired and influenced by its ancient timeline. Follow the journeys of Paul through Greece on a Christian guided tour.

The Journey of Paul Through Greece

Although Paul was never one of the 12 disciples, he was considered an equal and noted as the Apostle of the Nations. One of his most famous religious routes was in Greece where he spread the word of Gods Kingdom; leaving behind a legacy that we read about today in the New Testament. Paul is known for his relatable personality and spreading the word of Christianity more than anyone else of his time. The journey of Paul through Greece is a historical pilgrimage of Gods faithful servant sharing the good news of Christ.

Pauls Journey to Philippi

Philippi was a leading city northwest of the nearby island, Thasos, in eastern Macedonia. It sat on a major Roman road known as the Via Egnatia and because of its strategic location it became a route for trade despite the fact that it was so close to the sea port of Neapolis. Philippi, previously known as Crenides, was established by Philip the ll in 356 BC but later abandoned in the 14th century after Ottoman conquest. It was started so that a military garrison could be placed for strategic passage. The modern day municipality of Filippoi is located near the ruins of the ancient city. Writings can be found discussing Rome’s civil war that came after Julius Caesar’s assassination.

It was in Philippi that Paul and his companion Silas are known for being imprisoned (Acts 16:23) and their jailor and his family being saved. During Paul’s time in Philippi, Paul shared the good news and even cast out demons. (Acts 16:16-40) Because of this, Paul and Silas were accused of provoking in the city and having unusual habits according to the Romans. Both men were flogged and put into prison, but later a large earthquake caused the doors of their prison cell to open. The jailor who was overseeing them became fearful that he would be accused of letting them get away and tried to commit suicide. Paul and Silas prevented him from harming himself and because of this, the jailor turned his life over to God and along with his family, was saved and baptized. Paul continued to stay in Philippi, accommodated at the jailors house as well as a woman by the name of Lydia, who was a wealthy widow that Paul came across and witnessed to in his travels. Lydia was one of the first to be baptized upon hearing Paul speak in Europe and is where Paul stayed before leaving for Thessaloniki.

 

Theatre of Philippi

Pauls Journey to Thessalonica

Thessalonica, now known as Thessaloniki, was located at an intersection of two major roads known as Ignatia Way (road leading from Italy eastward) and Danube (road from the Aegean). Its location made it a prominent city and in 168 BC it became the capital of the second district of Macedonia and later became the capital and major port of the entire Roman province of Macedonia in 146 BC. Today, Thessaloniki sits atop Thessalonica and is the second most important city of Greece being home to a million people.

When Paul traveled to Thessalonica he was aware that there was a Jewish synagogue and so set foot in pursuit of the city. The city itself was unlike Philippi, but the encounters with the people were somewhat familiar. Paul and Silas preached the good news and many gentiles and Jews believed and were saved. It’s not known how many were the first Christians, but a church was soon established in Thessalonica upon its liberation. Paul’s message spread and those who were not favorable of his preaching provoked riots and problems began to ensue. Late in the evening, Paul and Silas left the city in a hurry from a small opening out of a high spot in the walls; most likely a small door. This is where Vlatades monastery was later established and it is east of this location where a spring used to be that Paul is known to have stopped for a drink. Roughly around the time the church was built in Paul’s honor, this spring became well known as ‘Apostle Paul’s Holy Water’.

 

Ruins of ancient Thessalonica marketplace

Pauls Journey to Veria

Veria was a bustling city with a large population and a flourishing synagogue. Upon arrival, Paul and his companions visited the synagogue. Known as a city of friendly people, Veria openly received Paul’s words and listened with great intent. Among some of these people were those of upper class, Hebrews, converts and a great number of women. The spot where Paul is known to have stood and preached is called ‘Apostle Paul’s Podium” which is now a monument. Word eventually spread back to Thessalonica and enemies of Veria were sent to provoke turmoil in its city. It was at this time that Paul left Veria while his companions Silas and Timothy remained. As a gift, the city of Veria gave Paul a new companion by the name of Sopatros, son of Pyrrhus, who accompanied him for a long while after Pauls return to Asia.

Pauls Journey to Athens

Paul is believed to have traveled to Athens by boat from the city of Berea and docking at the large port of Piraeus. At the time, this was where the main port of Athens was located; between Kifissos river bed and the small church of Agios Georgios. It was originally built in the 5th century BC and continues to thrive today. In ancient times, Piraeus was connected to Athens by the Long Walls which were six miles long and 600 feet apart.

From here, Paul took foot and traveled the road to Athens. Far from the typical, appealing luster of previous cities, Athens stood in contrast as it was frequently pillaged during this time. The Romans deserted the city and the descent of idols was becoming obvious to passerbys. While waiting for his companions Silas and Timothy, Paul walked through the city discussing with locals in the synagogue and marketplace. Here he spread the world of God and was called to the High Court on Areopagus, a hill west of the Athenian Acropolis known as Mars Hill, where he formally preached in greater detail. While some epicurean and stoic philosophers thought of him as a ‘newsmonger’, Paul was never chased like that in Vilas and Thessalonica. In 1887, Apostle Paul’s church was established in close proximity to the heart of Athens. Two years later, Queen Olga issued for foundations to be set for a new and larger church.

 

Church of Agios Georgios

Pauls Journey to Corinth

Corinth was known as the cosmopolitan city of its time. It is here that you will find many popular attractions of Corinth such as the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. Greek writers in the 4th and 5th centuries characterized this city as one of commercialized love and a ‘Corinthian girl’, which meant prostitute. The church of Corinth during Paul’s day struggled with worldliness and sexual sin which were both typical of this cosmopolitan city.

How Paul actually traveled to Corinth is unknown, but it was in Corinth that he developed friendships with Aquila and Priscilla while traveling through Agora. It was with them that Paul worked alongside, preaching to both Jews and Greeks. Most of the Jews did not accept that Jesus was the Messiah, but Paul continued to share the good news and many were saved. At one point, Paul stayed with Titus Justus who lived close to the synagogue. Among some of the believers there, was Crispus, the chief priest of the synagogue who was baptized along with his family.

During Paul’s stay in Corinth, the Corinthian Jews in Bema united against him, dragging him to court and accusing him of illegally trying to convert people to follow his preaching. A few weeks later, the proconsul dismissed the charges against him as a dispute of Jewish law and it was around this time that Paul decided to leave to Ephesus. After saying his goodbyes, Paul left and was accompanied by Silas, Timothy, Aquilas and Priscilla.

Following the Journey of Paul in Greece offers rich history and insight to some of the great stories of biblical times. Walking where Paul and his companions were known to set foot is an experience of a lifetime that will leave any traveler greatly fulfilled.