Pioneering With Paul Part I — Perga To Athens -- By: Donald W. Burdick

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 02:3 (Summer 1973)
Article: Pioneering With Paul Part I — Perga To Athens
Author: Donald W. Burdick

Pioneering With Paul Part I — Perga To Athens

Donald W. Burdick

[Dr. Donald W. Burdick is head of the New Testament Department of the Conservative Baptist Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He served as translator and editorial committee member for the New International Bible, sponsored by the New York Bible Society, and is a contributor to the Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Dr. Burdick is also the author of Tongues: To Speak or Not to Speak and The Epistles of John and is editor of the Conservative Seminarian.]

An in-depth visit to the Pauline missionary sites is worth more to the student of the New Testament than a thousand books on the subject. This is the judgment with which one returns from tracing the steps of the great Apostle. While such a statement may be an exaggeration, it does illustrate the immeasurable value of walking where Paul walked and seeing what he saw. For two and one-half months in the spring of 1972, it was my privilege to enjoy such an experience. The purpose of this two-part series is to help you, through my eyes, view some of the places where Paul traveled with the gospel. We will “take a look” at several highlights from each of his journeys.

Paul’s First Missionary Journey

After traversing the island of Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas sailed the 180 miles of sea that separated Paphos and Perga in Pamphylia. Luke does not tell us whether or not they ministered in Perga on this first visit, but he does report that on their return trip they “preached the word” there (Acts 14:25).

I spent a Sunday morning wandering among the ruins of this ancient Pamphylian metropolis. The extent and preservation of the ruins enable us to picture something of the impressive beauty of Perga in Paul’s day.

Excavations at Perga were conducted on behalf of the Turkish Historical Society in 1946, and from 1953 to 1957, and again in 1967. The Greco-Roman city lay at the foot of an acropolis and was roughly rectangular in shape. It was surrounded on three sides by cut stone walls that stood 40 feet high. Even today some of the towers of the east wall are still over 35 feet in height.

The city gate is flanked by two round towers that retain most of their original 40-foot height. From these two towers a curved wall fans out on either side, forming a horseshoe-shaped courtyard. The interior of these walls was once covered with a facade of white marble. Large niches in the walls contained statues of the founders of Perga and of such pagan deities as Hermes and Aphrodite.

Beyond this magnificant gateway the...

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