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.
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.
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)