An Overview of New Testament Geography
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Student Goals: Notes:
  1. Since borders frequently shifted, there are some differences between the political geography at the time of the birth of Jesus (ca. 4 BCE), the death of Jesus (ca. 30 CE), the ministry of Paul (ca. 40-64 CE), and the writing of the other NT books (ca. 70-100 CE).
  2. The names of the ROMAN PROVINCES (or other significant regions) are in bold capital letters below; their first-century capital cities are in bold italics; other important cities and towns are in small bold print.

PALESTINE (and Its Environs) during the Lifetimes of Jesus & Paul; mostly ruled by the Herodian Dynasty:

Palestine in NT TimesGALILEE – part of the Kingdom of Herod the Great, 40-4 BCE; part of the Tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, 4 BCE – 39 CE

SAMARIA – core of ancient (Northern) Kingdom of Israel; place of early Christian expansion (John 4; Acts 1:8; 8:1-25; 9:31; 15:3)

JUDEA – at times a separate province; at other times a sub-province of the Roman Province of SYRIA

JORDAN RIVER VALLEY and PEREA (Trans-Jordan) – the region "across" the Jordan river from Judea; also ruled by Herod Antipas, 4 BCE – 39 CE

IDUMEA – the region south of Judea, conquered by the Maccabean Jews in the 2nd cent. BC

DECAPOLIS = "Ten Cities" – a league of ten semi-independent Greek cities next to but not part of first-century Israel (Matt 4:25; Mark 5:20; 7:31)

Roman PROVINCES important during the Expansion of Christianity in the First Century:

Roman Empire: First CenturySYRIA – province including most of the Holy Land up until 70 CE, except when parts are ruled by various Herods

CILICIA – region of very early Christian missionary activity (Gal 1:21; Acts 6:9; 15:23, 41; 23:34); today's SE Turkey CYPRUS – island in Eastern Mediterranean; homeland of Barnabas; first stop on first missionary journey of Barnabas & Paul (Acts 4:36; 11:19-20; 13:4-12; 15:39; etc.) PAMPHYLIA – small coastal region south of Galatia

LYCIA small coastal region, southwest of Pamphylia

GALATIA – distinguish the pre-Roman Kingdom of Galatia (later called "Northern Galatia"), with capital Ancyra, and the probable area of Pauline ministry in "Southern Galatia," incl. the regions of PISIDIA & LYCAONIA MACEDONIA – area of "Europe" where Pauline mission first spreads (Rom 15:26; 1Cor 16:5; 2Cor 1:16; Acts 16:617:15) ACHAIA – core region of ancient "Greece" (1 Thess 1:7-8; Rom 15:26; Acts 18:12, 27; 19:21) ASIA (MINOR) – heavily populated region, in modern-day South-Western Turkey; many famous cities, incl. most of the "Seven Cities of Revelation" (Rev 2-3); ancient center in Pergamum CRETE – large Mediterranean island south of Aegean Sea; visited by Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:7-21; Titus 1:5)

MALTA & SICILY – Mediterranean islands south of Italy; also visited by Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:3928:10;  28:11-12)

ITALIA – central Roman province covering most of modern-day Italy (Acts 10:1; 18:2; 27:1-6; 28:11-15)

Key Places in Paul's Ministry


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