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Abilene, from the Greek word meaning a plain, or meadow, was an ancient region of Syria east of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Abilene took its name from its chief town, Abila, which was located in the Suk Wady Barada about 18 miles / 29 kilometers northwest of Damascus. Although Jesus Christ very likely traveled through the area a number of times (Abilene is located just north of Galilee where He lived nearly His entire human lifetime at Nazareth and Capernaum), Abilene is mentioned specifically by name in The Bible only once, by Luke, in reference to the regional governments at the time that John The Baptist was beginning his ministry to "Prepare the way of the Lord."

Syria Abilene In The New Testament

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod [see The Herods] being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

"He said therefore to the multitudes that came out to be baptized [see Baptism] by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance [see Faith and Works], and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham [see Abraham, Man Of Faith] as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

"And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?"

"And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."

"Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"

"And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you."

"Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."

"As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people." (Luke 3:1-18 RSV)

Fact Finder: How and why was John the Baptist arrested and killed?
Mark 6:17-29

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