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.