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).
March 1, 2020
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
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
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
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
Let us continue praying for Ashley Ray Law's mother who is
recovering now from open heart surgery that went well.
Our gospel meeting at the Tebeau Street church of Christ that
had been scheduled for March 22-25 with Gene Taylor as
the guest speaker has postponed, as a precautionary health measure.
WordPress version of this week's bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal
1) Hear the
gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John
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)
Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
(Older version of Gospel Observer website without
pictures, but back to March 1990)