By Jefferson White
Parsagard Press 2001
In the middle of the first century, the Apostle Paul spent more than two decades traveling, and planting churches, throughout the eastern Roman empire. The details of his journeys are found in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles and in Paul’s letters.
What is fascinating about those sources is the sheer amount of historical detail contained in them. Paul’s travels took him to many different cities and provinces, and into contact with many different kinds of people. Astonishingly, the many dozens of political, social, personal, and geographical details found in the record of those journeys can be confirmed today by objective historical evidence.
Alone among those books written for the general reader, Evidence and Paul’s Journeys examines the details of this historical evidence in depth.
A Sampling of the Evidence:
Archeologists have discovered a first century inscription at Delphi, in central Greece, referring to Gallio as the Roman Proconsul of Greece. The year of Gallio’s proconsulship corresponds to 52 AD, which is the approximate date of Paul’s trial before Gallio as recorded in Acts.
In the ancient world, Ephesus was known both as a center of magic and as a university town. But the city’s chief claim to fame was that it contained of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the temple of the goddess Artemis, or Diana.
In an archeological excavation of Corinth in 1929, a first century pavement was uncovered which contains the following inscription: "Erastus, Procurator and Aedile, laid this pavement at his own expense." Was this the Erastus who was the companion of Paul?
According to Acts, the crowd began calling Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes. Archeological evidence reveals that this Zeus-Hermes combination was the local cult of the city of Lystra. There is also a reason why they would have identified Barnabus with Zeus and Paul with Hermes.
This passage presents an historical problem. According to Josephus, Felix was brought to Rome for trial, but escaped punishment because of the influence of his brother Pallas. However, according to the Roman historian Tacitus, Pallas was removed from power by the Emperor Nero in 55 AD, which would be the year before Paul’s Judean trial. So it seems unlikely that Pallas could have helped his brother. Does this call into question the Acts' account of the date of the Procurator’s return to Rome?
If the eight individuals named by Paul in his letter to Rome had been listed by Luke as accompanying Paul to Jerusalem on his final journey to that city, we would strongly suspect that Luke had copied those names from Paul's Roman letter. But only two of the eight names appear on both lists. And in the case of one individual, Sopater, this is his only appearance in the New Testament.