Patara was the Greek name for an ancient seaport city on the southwest coast of Lycia, on the mainland of Asia Minor (Turkey), east of the island of Rhodes, which is in The Mediterranean Sea (see map below). Patara was an important trade hub due to its location on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and at the mouth of the Xanthus River. The apostle Paul landed at Patara on his return from his third missionary journey (see Paul's First Missionary Journey,
Paul's Second Missionary Journey and
Paul's Third Missionary Journey) where he boarded a larger vessel for the voyage across the open sea, by way of Cyprus, to the coast of Phoenicia. He arrived there, at Tyre, a few days later.
Paul stopped at Patara on the homeward voyage of his third missionary journey. The account graphically describes the dangers that Paul (and all of the other apostles in their own travels - see What Happened To The Apostles?) faced each day, not just from nature in the course of his travels, but from vicious unbelievers. It also makes clear his determination to let nothing, short of death (he was eventually martyred - see Martyrs), stop him from preaching the Truth - but even then, although Paul is now, for now, dead (see What Happens When You Die?), his recorded preaching of the Gospel continues by means of those who he taught, not just in his time, but through all time. Paul well understood this, that the race was not a sprint, but a relay in which those who ran the first lap will be victorious with those who eventually carry the "baton" (i.e. the successive responsibility to get the Truth out there) across the finish line (i.e. in the case of The Elect, the first resurrection at The Return Of Jesus Christ - see Resurrections).
"And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail."
"When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. And when our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey; and they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way till we were outside the city; and kneeling down on the beach we prayed and bade one another farewell. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home."
"When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the brethren and stayed with them for one day. On the morrow we departed and came to Caesarea; and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied."
"While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"
"When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, "The will of the Lord be done."
"After these days we made ready and went up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge."
"When we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:1-18 RSV)
Fact Finder: The James that the apostle Paul met with in Acts 21:18 could not have been the apostle James, the brother of John, because that James had been killed earlier by Herod Agrippa I (see The Herods) about 44 A.D. (Acts 12:2). What physical relation was the James of Acts 21:8 to Jesus Christ?
Galatians 1:19, Matthew 13:55, Acts 12:17
See also Mary's Other Children