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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 The reference to Abilene identifies the political structure and leaders (of the Roman occupying forces - see Ancient Empires - Rome) of the land of Israel at that time.

"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod [i.e. Herod Antipas, see The Herods] being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness."

"And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance [see The Origin of Baptism] for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye 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."

"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of Vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance [see Faith and Works], and begin not to say within yourselves, We have [see Abraham] to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."

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

"He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."

"Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?"

"And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you."

"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?"

"And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."

"And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people." (Luke 3:1-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: How and why was John the Baptist arrested and killed?
Mark 6:17-29
See also John's Last Days

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