Where is it and History
Antioch is roughly 15 miles inland from the Medeterranean sea, in present day Turkey, north of Syria. The city was founded by Seleucus 1 in 300 BC, and had a port named after the founder called Selecus. The population of Antioch was made up of Greeks from Athens and Macedonia, also while having a fairly large Jewish population. The Jewish population was in a quarter called the Kerateion.
Rome took the city as part of their empire. It became the third great city of the empire next to Rome and Alexander. Antioch continued to be one of the most important cities on the eastern side of the Roman Empire. It was seen as a more suitable capital for the eastern part of the empire than Alexandria could be, due to Alexandria being isolated in Egypt. The Romans tried to make Antioch an eastern Rome. In 47 BC, Julius Caesar visited and confirmed Antioch their freedom. A great temple to Jupiter Capitolinus was erected, along with a Roman type of forum.
The Roman client, King Herod, erected a long stoa on the east. Under Augustus, when the city had more than half a million inhabitants, the Circus of Antioch was built, which was a Roman hippodrome. Hippodromes are large stadiums for horse racing.
In 256 AD, the town was raided by the Persionas under Shapur I, with many people killed in the theatre. The following year Roman emperor Valerian recaptured the city.
Roles and Importance
Antioch became home to the first Christian church outside of Israel. It was also the first place in which followers of Jesus were referred to as Christians.
Barnabas was sent to Antioch and brought Paul to help new converts. (Acts 11:19-26). They both stayed there for a year, while Paul began and ended his second missionary journey from there. When the prophet Agabus predicted a famine for Israel, the church in Antioch sent financial aid to Jerusalem to aid their fellow believers. Peter also visited Antioch (Galatians 2:11).
Antioch appears in 14 Bible verses: Acts 6:5, Acts 11:19, Acts 11:20, Acts 11:22, Acts 11:26, Acts 11:27, Acts 13:1, Acts 14:26, Acts 15:22, Acts 15:23, Acts 15:30, Acts 15:35, Acts 18:22 and Gal 2:11.
The city of Antioch was also a major city on the different trade routes that went into Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia. There were many different cultures/People groups living in this city. There were people from all over the known world coming through the city, due to the trade route. Antioch being one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire, meant that people from all over the Roman Empire would be coming to this city and going back to their home cities. This was a key city in spreading the gospel and Christianity.
Check out the construction of Roman Cities during the Biblical times.