“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Antioch of Syria (Mike Willis)
2) News & Notes
Antioch of Syria
There were a number of cities built by various Seleucid kings which bore the name Antioch in honor of rulers who wore the name of Antiochus. Two of them were Antioch of Syria and Antioch of Pisidia.
Alexander the Great was the first to imagine the city of Antioch, according to the fourth-century writer Libanius. After defeating the Persians at the Battle of Issus in 333 B.C., he stopped at the future site of Antioch, drank from the water of its sweet well, and declared that it “tasted like his mother’s milk.” He resolved to build a city on the site. He died before accomplishing this.
After the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.), his kingdom was divided among his generals. The northern area was given to Seleucus Nicator (358-281 B.C.). Seleucus built his capital on the Orontes and named it after his father, Antiochus. Seleucus Nicator made Jewish people citizens of those cities which he built, including Antioch (Josephus, Antiquities, XII. 3.1).
The Seleucid kingdom was ruled from Antioch until 64 B.C. The Seleucids vied with the Ptolemies in Egypt for control of Palestine from 323 to 198 B.C., when Antiochus the Great won control of the region and held it until the Romans moved into the region. Seleucid rule was at first welcome by the Jewish people, but the situation soon changed. During the reign of the tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.), the Jews in Jerusalem were ordered to offer pagan sacrifices on their altar in the Temple, leading to the Maccabean rebellion. The situation of the Antiochian Jews must have been quite difficult. With the coming of the Romans, their situation improved and Jews in Antioch enjoyed the status of a politeuma, a “political state” according to Josephus.
Antioch became an important military center after it was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 64 B.C. by Pompey. He made Antioch the capital of Syria and used it as a staging area for wars against its eastern adversaries. The Romans expanded the development of Antioch under Augustus (27 B.C. – A.D. 14) and Tiberius (A.D. 14-37), colonnading its main north-south street and building numerous public buildings. Herod the Great paid to pave with marble the main thoroughfare in Antioch. Tiberius Caesar later built the colonnades that are there. During the Jewish rebellion, Herod Agrippa II and other Jews opposing the rebellion, met Vespasian in Antioch (Josephus, Wars of the Jews III.2.4). Perhaps this is the reason that Vespasian and Titus continued to act favorably toward the Jews in Antioch, even after the Jewish rebellion (Josephus, Antiquities XII.3.1). After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Titus enjoyed a triumphal entry into the city of Antioch in celebration of his defeating the Jews. Josephus tells of a serious threat to the Jews in Antioch in Wars of the Jews VII.3.2-4).
After the destruction of Seleucia Ctesiphon in 165 B.C., Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman world, ranking behind Rome and Alexandria, Egypt (Josephus, Wars of the Jews III.2.4). Estimates of its population range from 600,000 to 100,000 (Pacwa, 265). The Christian orator John Chrysostom (345-407) estimates that its population was 200,000 during his time. The city was located on a major trade route from the Middle East to Palestine and Egypt, causing it to be a thriving commercial center in the first century.
Antioch played an important part in first century Christianity. Nicolas, one of the seven appointed to serve the daily ministration to the widows, was a proselyte from Antioch (Acts 6:5). After the persecution following the martyrdom of Stephen, those who scattered from Jerusalem took the gospel to Antioch where they began preaching the gospel with much success to the Greeks (Acts 11:19-20). When news of this reached Jerusalem, the saints sent Barnabas to investigate the situation. When he saw that things there were in order, he brought Saul to join him in the work at Antioch. They labored together for a full year in Antioch. Perhaps it was during this time that Paul suffered persecution at Antioch (2 Tim. 3:11). During this time, the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). This new church sent relief to help the poor among the saints at Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30).
From Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3) and to that church Paul reported on all of his missionary activities (Acts 14:26; 18:22).
The church at Antioch played a determinative role in working out whether or not Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul took Titus as a test case and with other brethren (including Barnabas) went to Jerusalem for what is generally called the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15). Though it was revealed that Gentiles could be saved without keeping the Law, Galatians 2:1-14 records a major conflict that occurred in the church when Peter came to Antioch and refused to have table fellowship with Gentiles. Paul resisted him.
Undoubtedly the church at Antioch played a significant part in shaping Christianity into a world religion instead of just another sect of Judaism.
Modern scholarship suggests that Matthew might have been written at Antioch and some think that Luke might also have penned his gospel at Antioch.
Antioch was the home of the famed Christian orator, John Chrysostom, who wrote Homilies Against the Jews. Another famous “Christian” character was Simeon Stylites, who was supposedly buried in Antioch. He lived for thirty years on a 60-foot-high column in the mountains east of the city.
Today the city is known an Antakya, a bustling small city that occupies much of the ancient site. There are ruins of the walls, the hippodrome, a large structure that might be the foundation of Diocletian’s palace, masonry works to control flooding, and aquaducts. However, most of the ancient city lies below the present town of Antakya. The most important artifacts that have been found are the magnificent mosaics found during the 1932-1939 Princeton University and Sorbonne (Paris) excavations (housed at the Antakya Museum, the Louvre, and the Princeton museum). Over 300 mosaics were found and removed; one of the earliest was moved to Worcester Art Museum and reconstructed (http://www.worcesterart.org/Exhibitions/Past/th.html). There is a little evidence of a Jewish population in Antioch.
Visitors are shown Saint Peter’s church, a natural cave on the western slope of Mt. Staurin (the mountain of the Cross), the eastern extension of Mt. Silpius. The cave is thought to have taken its present-day appearance during the medieval centuries after the crusader’s conquest of Antioch in 1098. A stone chair on the altar of the church was put there to commemorate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter to celebrate that he was the first bishop of the city, an apparent Catholic myth.
Heintz, Florent. “Polygot Antioch.” Archaeology Odyssey 3:06 (Nov/Dec 2000), 46-55.
Pacwa, Mitchell C. “Antioch of Syria.” Anchor Bible Dictionary, I: 265-269. New York: Doubleday: 1992.
Tate, Georges. “Antioch on the Orontes,” The Oxford Encylopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, I: 144-145. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
— Via Truth Magazine, Volume LIV, Number 2, February 2010
News & Notes
Mrs. Abbott (Jonathan’s mother) is now in the hospital where she began dialysis yesterday. She will continue with this 3 days a week.
Bud Montero has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but it was found in its early stage so the prognosis is good. It will be taken care of in four sessions with a noninvasive, robotic cyberknife that makes no incision. Treatments will begin in a couple weeks.
After about 2.5 weeks following her brain surgery, Ann Vandevander finally awoke, recognizing her husband and able to move her fingers and toes. As mentioned, she will be spending a total of up to possibly 60 days in the hospital before being released.
Let us continue praying for Ashley Ray Law’s mother who is recovering now from open heart surgery that went well.
The church at Hoboken will be having a gospel meeting March 5-8 with Keith Crews as their speaker. Sunday: 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m. Weeknights: 7:30 p.m. The church meets at 5101 Main Street, Hoboken, Georgia.
Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ, which had been scheduled for March 22-25 with Gene Taylor as the guest speaker, has now been postponed as a precautionary health measure.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services:9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)