Iconium, from the Greek Ikonion, was the capital city of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor (today Turkey), situated about 120 miles / 195 kilometers inland from The Mediterranean Sea. In New Testament times, it was one of the major cities of the Roman province of Galatia (see Ancient Empires - Rome). Iconium's location, on a major road that led to Ephesus and Rome to the west, made it a natural part of the stepping-stone spread of the Gospel (literally, the Gospel spread by word of mouth, by people generally traveling on foot, day by day, mile by mile - no printing press, no radio, no TV, no Internet). It was visited by Paul and his associates during all three of his missionary travels (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey).
Paul In Iconium
Although generally successful, Paul's efforts in Iconium, as with nearly everywhere else, did not come without opposition from his fellow Jews. Very often, the Jewish community split right down the middle, for and against, him.
"Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish Synagogue, and so spoke that a great company believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." (Acts 14:1-3 RSV)
"But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city; and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed." (Acts 14:20-23 RSV)
"And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium." (Acts 16:1-2 RSV)
"Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:10-12 RSV)
Fact Finder: Was the apostle Paul ever stoned and left for dead for preaching the Gospel?
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