We are told that Paul and company traveled by land and passed through the regions of Phoenicia and Samaria. Phoenicia was basically a strip of land along the Mediterranean coast running from just south of Antioch to Galilee. There was a well-traveled Roman road through it. It is interesting to speculate if Paul had ever been through these lands. He had traveled to Jerusalem from Antioch once before of course, to bring the famine relief, but we don’t know if he traveled overland to do so. If he went by sea on that occasion, then Paul had never been through this part of the Eastern empire. [N.B.: I am assuming that he did not go by land when, as a young man, he came to Jerusalem from Tarsus]
There are several fairly important cities in Phoenicia including Berytus, Sidon and Tyre. So I may be able to find some coins from those places, and in the right time period, in future. At the southern end of Phoenicia the coast road encounters Mount Carmel and must veer eastwards into the Galilee and then on to Samaria. There is a major road through eastern Samaria all the way to Jerusalem. However with the exception of Scythopolis no major cities.
Once in Jerusalem the meeting took place between the Antioch contingent and the church there, headed by James (the Just) and Peter. And it was decided that the Gentiles would not have to adopt all of the laws which were mandated for the Jews, but only those related to foods and fornication and idol worship. This judgment was set down in a letter and given to the Antiocheans to take back to the church there. Pauline scholars give a date of 49-50 A.D. for this meeting.
SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY: 50 to 52 A.D. PAUL (with Silas & Timothy)
Now we come to study Paul’s second missionary journey. The first trip, with Barnabas, was more or less exploratory in nature; a way to get some idea of what evangelizing in the “Gentile World” would entail. But the Second Journey was, in a sense, a full-scale effort to carry the message of the Risen Christ beyond Galatia (into Europe in fact), but beginning with the cities already visited by Paul and Barnabas. Whilst in Jerusalem, Paul had been given a renewed directive from James and the other leaders to go farther into the West. They had also sent with Paul a new companion, Silas, replacing Barnabas. This new journey was probably begun in the Spring of 50 A.D. from Antioch.
50 A.D. GALATIA (including Lycaonia)
As can be seen on a map, Derbe (the furthest point east previously traveled) can be reached via the Cilician Gates through the Taurus Mountains, coming from the south, from Tarsus. Hence, rather than going by ship from Antioch-Seleucia to Perga, and thence to Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, etc., as before, the travelers went overland.
Consequently, Paul and Silas came first to Derbe and then Lystra in the Lycaonian region of Galatia. In the latter town Paul enlisted the young half-Greek/half-Jew Timothy (who he seems to have known beforehand). Quite a bit of controversy occurs eventually because Paul chose to circumcise Timothy; but this may have been done because, by tradition, what determines Jewishness is the mother’s ethnicity not the father’s. And in the case of Timothy his mother was in fact the Jew. At all events, the trio went from one municipality to the next building upon the work already done by Paul and Barnabas; eventually arriving at the largest city, Pisidian Antioch.
“And they, having made a progress through the Phrygian region of the province Galatia, and having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the word in the province Asia, and having reached a point over against Mysia, were attempting to make their way into the province Bithynia; and the spirit of Jesus suffered them not; and, neglecting Mysia, they came down to the harbor Troas”. Acts 16:6-8 (clarifying and explanatory words added in italics from Ramsay, 1897).
50 A.D. ASIA: Phrygia, etc.
In the first century A.D. the western province of Asia incorporated the regions of Mysia, the Troad, Lydia, Caria, Cibyra on the eastern boundary of Caria, and Phrygia. Many Pauline scholars have attempted to trace Paul’s Second Journey with the information contained in the above paragraph from Acts. It is not easy and there really is no definitive answer. The suggested route that I have found most convincing is that proposed by Dr. Robert Jewett (1997), et al. He writes, “Paul departed…on a route that brought him ‘opposite Mysia’ to a junction that could lead to Bithynia (see Acts 16:7). The only possible location for this junction is evident when one studies the system of Roman roads detailed on the Calder and Bean map. Dorylaeum is the city opposite Mysia which has a major highway leading north into Bithynia”.
Once the travelers were told to go to Troas, the most direct route from Dorylaeum, utilizing the all-weather Roman roads, would have taken them next to Cotiaeum, another sizeable city just to the southwest. Thence from Cotiaeum they would have reached the fair-sized city of Aezani. It was large enough to have two agoras, baths with a gymnasium, a stadium, two temples, and a theater.
Coin of Claudius. Asia: Phrygia, Aezani, orichalcum 21 mm. This coin from Aezani is made of an ancient form of brass called orichalcum. It cannot be dated (like most of Claudius’ provincial coins) to a specific year; however the portrait on the obverse shows a Claudius still quite young-ish looking compared with his appearance in the later years of his reign. It features on the reverse a full figure of Zeus standing. Paul and company could have easily seen this base metal coin once they were at Aezani in transit.
From Aezani the road would have taken them to another mid-sized city Ancyra: not to be confused with the much larger, much more important Ancyra in northern Galatia; today’s capital of Turkey, Ankara. From here on Paul’s route becomes much more conjectural because we have no maps of the ancient province of Asia showing the Roman roads in this particular area south of Mysia and north of Lydia. Nonetheless, Dr. Jewett has an hypothesis arrived at by starting out at Troas and working his way eastwards to Ancyra.
Dr. Jewett reasons that an important city and port such as Troas (also known as Alexandria Troas) would have had a road to the eastwards into the fertile farming area of the Skamandros Valley. This is level country quite suitable to good road-building. A route then begins to take shape: Troas to Skamandros, then Skepsis, and then on to Argiza, and Periphrasis (both Roman mining centers). Going back now to Ancyra, if we follow the River Mekestos (or Macestus) westwards, it passes through equally level country. We can begin to trace out a way connecting to our route coming eastwards. The key point of contact and connection appears to be a small Roman city called Achyraus; and Achyraus was more generally important for being on the major road from Pergamum to Apollonia in far northern Mysia.
Given the small size of these towns (villages in some cases) west of Ancyra, the brethren must have been in full traveling mode, not stopping to prosyletize, but being merely desirous of reaching their destination Troas on the coast. There do not appear to be any coins minted in these small cities or towns. There are coins extant minted in Dorylaeum, Cotiaeum and Ancyra in our time period but they are somewhat rare.
50 A.D. TROAS
Now, once we have our travelers at Alexandria Troas, the route of the journey becomes very well known for it was from here that they took ship for Greece in Europe. Troas was a wealthy and populous city in that region called the Troad. Archaeologists have discovered ruins of a theatre, gymnasium, the agora or market, and the important temple of Apollo. It is worth noting that Apollo was the dominant deity for the whole of the Troad. The Pocket Guide states that no coins were minted at Troas during the first century A.D. What coins then, would Paul and company have seen? Illium, site of ancient Troy, just to the north was quite productive at this time. Some of the bronze coins from Illium could have been seen and handled by Paul. In addition there were also denarii minted at Rome as well as in Asia, and cistophori from Ephesus, minted under Claudius.
At Troas Paul had a dream of a man of Macedonia who said, “'Come over to Macedonia and help us'. When he had seen the vision we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them”. Acts 16:9,10
“We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony”. Acts 16:11, 12a.
50 A.D. PHILIPPI
It is worth noting that at this point in the narrative of Acts, “we” is used for the first time. Many New Testament scholars have assumed from this that the supposed writer of Acts, Luke, joined the company of travelers at Troas. Samothrace is a small island, visited perhaps to pick up freight. Neapolis (meaning “new city”) is the port city for Philippi, and Philippi itself is about 8 miles inland to the northwest.