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In the time of the early Church, Cilicia was a Roman Province (see also Ancient Empires - Rome) in southeast Asia Minor (today Turkey). One of the prominent cities of Cilicia was Tarsus, the birthplace of Saul, who, later, as the apostle Paul traveled through the region during his major missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey).

Paul's First Missionary Journey

"And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches"

Men of Cilicia were among those who martyred Stephen (to understand how the meaning of "martyr" changed, see Martyrs).

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen." (Acts 6:8-9 KJV)

Among the men of Cilicia who martyred Stephen was Saul, a man with a murderous hatred toward Christians - and yet a man who, after his conversion, became one of the greatest Christians that the world will ever know (see Paul's Ministry)

"And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul." (Acts 7:58 KJV)

Paul later became a major Christian missionary to Cilicia and throughout that region of what is today Turkey.

"And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." (Acts 15:40-41 KJV)

Paul was from Tarsus in Cilicia. The King James use of the word "mean" ("I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city") is used to denote that it was no "ordinary" city i.e. Tarsus was a prominent center of commerce and learning.

"But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people" (Acts 21:39 KJV)

"I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day." (Acts 22:3 KJV)

When Paul was later arrested by the Romans for preaching the Gospel, he was identified according to the Roman Province of his birth.

"Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia" (Acts 23:33-34 KJV)

On his shipwreck voyage to Rome (see The Shipwreck of The Alexandrian Voyager), Paul sailed past Cilicia.

"And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein." (Acts 27:4-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: Paul identified himself by two Israelite tribes, Judah (Jew) and Benjamin (Benjamite). Why?
See Saul The Benjamite, Paul The Christian Jew

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