Tag Archives: Apostle Peter

Hidden treasure

The discovery of hidden treasure is fairly common in and near ancient sites. Individuals may not have a bank account, but they keep the funds they have stored in what they consider a safe place.

The photo below shows a clay jar with a hoard of silver coins displayed in the Samsun (Turkey) Archaeological Museum. These coins date from the Roman Imperial Period (69-79 A.D. and 238/244 A.D.). The earliest coins are not far removed from the time of the delivery of Peter’s Epistles to saints in Pontus and other Roman provinces (1 Peter 1:1). For more information about the delivery of Peter’s Epistles, see here.

For more information about the museum, check here and here.

Hoard of Roman coins displayed in Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman coins displayed in Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Photos such as this remind us of several Biblical passages. For today, consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy regarding what he was to teach those who set their hope on the uncertainty of riches.

 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)

Speaking at Florida College Annual Lectures

Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. I am scheduled to present an illustrated lecture on Biblical Coastal Towns of Turkey in Puckett Auditorium at the Florida College Annual Lectures. Normally in these sessions, in which I have participated in for many years, I present material on lesser-visited places that are important to Bible study.

There are several important coastal towns in Turkey that are mentioned in the Bible, mostly in connection with the journeys of Paul. These include Troas, Assos, Ephesus, Miletus, Patara, Myra, Attalia, Perga, and Seleucia. I have chosen to discuss two Black Sea cities (Sinope and Samsun) that are related to the discussion of the route of delivery of the Epistles of Peter, and to two cities on the Mediterranean Sea (Patara and Myra). I was able to visit all of these cities during the past year.

The photo below was made a few miles east of Sinope along the Black Sea (ancient Euxine). The territory is mountainous and the road is often far enough inland that the sea is not visible. Here the road runs along the sea, but still considerably above it. To the south, the mountains are much higher.

Sheep on the road east of Sinope, above the Black Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sheep on the road east of Sinope, above the Black Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 10 — Photo Illustrations

Joppa (Yafo, Jaffa) is about 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Yafo is on the south side of Tel Aviv.

Joppa has a history dating back to the 15th century B.C. when it is mentioned in the town lists of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

In this post I will limit my comments to some of the significant events of the Book of Acts related to Joppa.

  • Tabitha (Dorcas) lived in Joppa. When she died the disciples sent for Peter who was a Lydda. He came to Joppa and raised Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). (Acts 10:6).
  • Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43). His house was by the sea (Acts 10:6). A house near the port is shown as the house of Simon, but there is no way to know this with certainty.
  • Peter received the housetop vision and learned that he was to go to Caesarea to preach the gospel to the Gentiles at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:23).

On one of the narrow streets of Joppa is a fairly modern house identified as the House of Simon the Tanner. Directly behind the house stands the lighthouse standing watch over the harbor. We take claims like this one with a grain of salt. But I often tell members of my tour groups, “It may not have been here, but it was not far from here.”

The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At least some houses during Bible times were build with a flat roof which could serve some practical uses. In the case of Peter it provided a good place to pray and to fall into a trance.

Could there be an “Internet Use Disorder”?

A headline in today’s New York Times caught my attention. It says, “Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device.” The article by Matt Richtel begins,

Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.

In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.

A leader from each of the giants in this field is quoted. Facebook, Twitter,  Zynga (FarmVille), Google (YouTube).

This is a worthwhile article which you may read in full here.

A few weeks back, Dr. Rod Decker commented on an article by Kevin Bauder. If this subject intrigues you, you might enjoy reading what they have said. Click here for Decker, and here for Bauder.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Note Peter’s admonition in his reminder epistle to Christians.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 NAU)

Meanwhile, be sure to check back here tomorrow. 🙂

Acts 3 — Photo Illustrations

We begin today with a photo of the Second Temple Model of Jerusalem. This is the time of Jesus and the early days of the church. The wonderful model is now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum. Our view of the model shows pre-70 A.D. Jerusalem from the southwest (assuming we were photographing the city; not the modern setting of the model).

To the right of the photo is the dome of the Shrine of the Book. In the distance between the trees you will see Israel’s Knesset building.

Model of the city of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Model of the city of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 3 begins with the account of Peter and John going up to the temple.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1 NAU)

Following 1967 an excavation of area around the southern wall of the temple enclosure was conducted by Prof. Benjamin Mazar. Mazar describes the monumental stairway that was uncovered.

In the course of our excavations in the area facing the Western Hulda Gate, we uncovered a gigantic stairway which led from the Lower City (Ophel) to the gates. It is two hundred and fifteen feet wide; the foundation steps were cut into the natural bedrock on the slopes of the Temple Mount. The stairs were constructed of wide, trimmed and smoothed stone paving blocks, fitted together snugly. The stairway comprised thirty steps set alternately in wide and narrow rows. (The Mountain of the Lord, 143).

The Monumental Stairway led to the Double Gate which led into the temple precinct. We can safely say that Jesus and His disciples used these steps to enter the temple precinct.

Monumental Stairway leading to the temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Monumental Stairway leading to the temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, author of The Quest, calls attention to the virtual model of the Temple Mount in the time of Jesus. The brief video is helpful in understanding the area. Click here.

Perhaps another day we can discuss the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2, 10).

Roman artifacts in the Samsun Archaeology Museum

Our main interest in visiting the Black Sea coastal cities of Samsun and Sinop is because they are part of the ancient Roman province of Pontus. Somewhere in Pontus, probably Amisos (now Samsun), was the beginning point for the messenger who carried Peter’s first epistle to the elect of the diaspora residing in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1).

The Archaeology Museum in Samsun has only a few items from the first century Roman period on display, but they are significant.

A marble head of Augustus is displayed prominently. Augustus was the Roman Emperor from 30 B.C. to A.D. 14. He is mentioned only once in the New Testament, but his influence in the eastern part of the Empire is evident in many way. The apostles traveled along roads built in the days of Augustus.

Luke records that the decree for a census to be taken of all the inhabited earth went out from Augustus.

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. (Luke 2:1 NAU)

This accounts for Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Roman Emperor Augustus. Displayed in Samsun Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Augustus. Displayed in Samsun Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I was surprised at the many references to Augustus on this blog. Just put the word Augustus in the search box to locate posts that mention him.

There is a first century image is that of a young athlete in the museum. He is full height, with arms missing.

Young Roman athlete in Samsun Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Young Roman athlete in Samsun Archaeology Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Apostle Paul used several illustrations from athletics. He told the young preacher Timothy that discipline and self control were necessary in his work as a preacher.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 ESV)

Visiting the Black Sea coast of Turkey

One might ask why a person interested in the Bible world would want to visit the Black Sea coast of Turkey. A few weeks ago, while there, I gave some of the reasons here. A summary before proceeding might be advisable. My visit was limited to a region of about 100+ miles from about 20 miles east of Samsun to Sinop.

Both Samsun and Sinop are located in the the region known as the Roman province of Pontus in Asia Minor. By New Testament times the provinces of Bythinia and Pontus were combined and governed as a single province.

Roman Provinces of Asia Minor in New Testament Times. BibleAtlas.org.

Roman Provinces of Asia Minor in New Testament Times. BibleAtlas.org.

There were 13 cities in the province of Pontus (Wilson, Biblical Turkey, 332).

The New Testament mentions Pontus only three times. The first reference is in Acts 2. Note the association with Peter.

  • Jews from Pontus were visiting Jerusalem during Pentecost when the gospel was first announced by Peter (Acts 2:5,9). It is likely that some of these men became obedient to the gospel before returning home.

Beside Peter’s address to Christians in Pontus in his first epistle, the only person named in association with Pontus is Aquila.

  • A Jew by the name of Aquila was a native of Pontus. He had gone to Rome, but was commanded to leave Rome under the decree of the Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54). Reaching Corinth, he and his wife Priscilla, met the apostle Paul (Acts 18:2). We are not told whether Priscilla was from Pontus, Rome, or some other place.
  • When Paul left Corinth, Aquila and Pricilla went with him to Ephesus and remained there. When they heard the eloquent Alexandrian preacher Apollos who knew only John’s baptism, they privately taught him the “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:18, 26). I think the inference is that they encouraged Apollos to go to Corinth.
  • Paul mentions Aquila and Priscila (Prisca) in his letter to the Corinthians which was written from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19).
  • During Paul’s third journey, when he wrote to the saints at Rome from Greece (Corinth) during the reign of the Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68), he sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:3). This means that by this time they found it safe to reside in Rome.
  • In his final letter from Rome, Paul tells Timothy to “Greet Prisca and Aquila” (2 Timothy 4:19).

We have evidence that the name Aquila was known in Pontus. In the 1909 Dictionary of the Bible (ed. James Hastings), A. Souter says,

an inscription has recently been found referring to one Aquila at Sinope, one of the principal cities of the Roman province Pontus.

Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a reference to the husband of Priscilla. It simply means that the name was known in the region.

Our photo today was made on a dreary, rainy day near Sinop. Notice that the highway is high in the mountains overlooking the Black Sea. At several points there is no coastal road. This is an important fact that we will speak more about in a future post.

A shepherd overlooking the Black Sea near Sinop, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A shepherd overlooking the Black Sea near Sinop, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Black Sea coastal town of Sinop

We drove the 100 miles from Samsun to Sinop today. The distance on the road map is deceptive. about one half of the distance is in serious mountain territory. The drive took three hours each way. We had a 6:15 p.m. flight from Samsun to Istanbul, so our time was limited. The drive was educational and helped us to understand some things we had only read about before.

I don’t have the time to explain the reasons for going to this town, except to say that it is in the region of the ancient Roman province of Pontus (1 Peter 1:1).

Later I hope to show you some photos and explain the importance of the town to the study of Peter’s epistles.

Homeward bound tomorrow after a great (nearly) four weeks in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus.

Pontus and Peter’s Epistles

Pontus is mentioned only three times in the New Testament.

  • Devout Jews were present in Jerusalem from Pontus on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Some of these individuals who accepted the message of Peter on Pentecost might later have been the recipients of his letters.
  • Aquila was a native of Pontus. He had moved to Rome, but being ordered to leave by the Emperor Claudius he came to Corinth where he, along with his wife Priscilla, met Paul (Acts 18:2).
  • Peter addressed his epistles to Christians residing in five different Roman provinces, including Pontus.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen (1 Peter 1:1 NAU)

Scholars suggest that the order of the Roman provinces is indicative of the order in which Peter’s epistle was delivered by the messenger. Colin Hemer argues for Amasus (Amisos) as the starting point on the Black Sea coast for the messenger. Amisos is now identified with the Turkish city of Samsun, a prosperous town of over half a million inhabitants (“The Address of 1 Peter.” Expository Times, 89:239-243). Mark Wilson agrees (Bibical Turkey, 338).

The photo below was made from the harbor of Samsun. The hill in the distance marks the ancient acropolis of Amisos.

Harbor at Samsun with acropolis of ancient Amisos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Harbor at Samsun with acropolis of ancient Amiisos, Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Even the Romans brought their armies to this region of Asia Minor through the ancient port city of Amisos. This was much easier than traveling overland.

Amisos is mentioned under the same Sampsames in the Apocrypha book of 1 Maccabees 15:23 (RSV).

Tomorrow we hope to visit the Pontic city of Sinop (Sinope), about 100 miles west of Amisos.

Plan to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas at Lystra

It is often been pointed out that the common designation of The Acts of the Apostles is a bit of an overstatement. Primarily the book of Acts is the story of some of the acts of the apostles Peter and Paul. Luke seems to be telling us that Paul is every bit as genuine an apostle as Peter. Peter can heal a man lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:2). So can Paul (Acts 14:8-10).

When the Lystrans saw the healing of the lame man they began to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes. Luke’s account says that the priest of Zeus prepared to offer sacrifices with the crowds.

13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out (Acts 14:13-14 NAU)

The photo below provides a good illustration of what happened at Lystra. It is an architectural relief fragment showing preparation for a sacrifice. The large marble fragment belongs to the early part of the second century. It comes from Rome, but is now displayed in the Louvre.

The bull is being brought for sacrifice. It is thought that this represents only part of the original scene. A panel to the right should show the priest and the altar. Perhaps the laurel wreaths worn by the two characters on the left indicates the departure or return of the Roman emperor.

Roman architectural relief shows preparation for sacrifice. Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman relief shows preparation for sacrifice. Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The motif on this altar is common in the Greco-Roman world. The photo below shows a similar bull’s head on what appears to be part of an architectural frieze in the Augustan Imperial Sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch.

Frieze from the Augustan Imperial sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Frieze from the Augustan Imperial sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch. Photo by F. Jenkins.