Pisidian Antioch (Yalvac)

(Acts 13:13-53; 16:6; 18:23; 2 Tim. 3:11-17)  

Later in the life of Seleucus Nicator I, the successor of Alexander the Great that organized Asia Minor, the city of Antioch of Pisidia was founded. He located the city strategically one hundred miles north of Perga, long after (25 years) the founding of such cities as Antioch on the Orontes and the nearby port of Seleucia. Part of the so called “lake district” of southwest Asia Minor, the strategic value of Pisidian Antioch was the guard like position it held at 3500 feet above sea level in the Taurus Mountains.  

The position guarded the road access from the south, as well as the so called “high road” from Ephesus to Syria. It was settled and maintained as the military command center of southern Galatia, and was located in the proximity of the border of Pisidia and Phrygia. Because it was near the border, the historian Strabo referred to the place as “near” Pisidia. The city was set atop a precipice described by Sir William Ramsey on his visit at the beginning of the twentieth century as “an oblong plateau varying from 50 feet to 200 feet above the plain…nearly two miles in circumference.”  

By 25 BCE the city had become a colony of Rome. Westerners had poured into the city, retired soldiers with a military pension, merchants and those seeking a quieter life than those close to Rome. The expatriate Romans enjoyed full citizenship, something not attained for their indigenous counterparts until later, yet the whole city flourished and enjoyed peace and prosperity in the generation leading up to Paul and Barnabas’ visit. The frequent host of Roman governors on travels from west to east, the city hosted festivals and games, and the money attracted greater investment in this, a center of Galatian activity.  

On the First Mission Journey, Paul and Barnabas left the area of Perga without John Mark and proceeded to Antioch, where they entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. The address given there caused the reaction that later characterized Paul’s mission journeys, some had a revival, others a riot! Driven from the city, Paul and Barnabas moved on to Iconium, experiencing an early moment of joy in the journey. It was here that Paul was moved by the hardness of his fellow countrymen and “turned to the Gentiles”, a decision that would mark a concern of the Jerusalem Church for years to come.  

Today, modern Yalvac is settled by a large agricultural and rural settlement amidst the still rich and fertile plains and pasturelands.