Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Iconium

Iconium was a city in south-central Asia Minor that played a very important part in the life of the Apostle Paul. According to Acts 14:1-6 Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in this region on what is known as his first missionary journey. From information contained in the New Testament, it seems that Paul revisited Iconium on both his second and third missionary journeys.

Iconium was located near the Tarsus Mountains on a very high and very fertile plateau. This area contained a number of streams that provided water in abundance. Since Iconium was not conducive to military protection it became a very prosperous city of commerce. It also served as a very agricultural center. Iconium was also on the major trade route between Ephesus and Syria. Iconium also served as a major crossroad for the Roman Empire. Historical records tell us that five (5) major roads radiated from Iconium.

Christians remember that the events in this city played a major role in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. Acts 14 tells us that Paul and Barnabas arrived in Iconium after a contingent of antagonistic Jews drove them out of the city of Pisidian Antioch. Paul and Barnabas had been received well and had been successful in preaching to the Gentiles. The Jews had decided to kill the pair and when Paul and Barnabas learned of the deadly conspiracy they fled to Derbe and to Lystra, neighboring cities of Iconium. Again, Paul and Barnabas enjoyed great success in preaching in these cities.

Jews traveled from Iconium to Lystra and successfully stirred up the city of Lystra against Paul. The citizens of Lystra egged on by antagonistic Jews from Iconium stoned Paul and left him for dead on the outskirts of the city. Paul writes of his persecution in Iconium to Timothy (who was from Lystra) in II Timothy 3:11.

Luke tells us in Acts 14 that the Jews from Antioch and Iconium persuaded the crowds at Lystra to stone Paul and after they did, they dragged his body of the city, supposing him to be dead. Many credible, reliable, and fundamental theologians (including myself) believe that Paul did die from the stoning. In II Corinthians 12:2 Paul speaks of being "being caught up to the third heavens and he entered into Paradise where he heard things that he could not share or speak of. We think when the Iconium's persuaded the people of Lystra to stone Paul and leave him for dead outside of the city this experience took place.

We don't know how long Paul laid dead after his stoning. We don't know how long it took the blood-thirsty crowd to dissipate. We don't know how long after all the dust settled and the would be-murderers departed the scene that the disciples were brave enough to gather around him, but when they did, Paul stood up, brushed the dust off of himself and walked into Iconium and then departed for Derbe with Barnabas. But while Paul laid dead he was apparently caught up and taken into the third heavens.


Angela Felsted said...

You are very clever to use names of places in the Bible for the A-Z challenge. And I like that you've put a map up so I can see exactly the area you're referring to.

Trudy said...

Hi Gregg, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I don't recall ever hearing the name of this city, Iconium. I have heard of all the others you mentioned, and which appear on the map. I LOVE Paul and am so familiar with him but am really stunned that I do not recall ever hearing this city name.

I suppose it is true then, you DO learn something new each day.

Blessings to you!

Brianna said...

This is great information! Is it okay if I go back and add a link to this post on Barnabas's Blog? It will give the reader a better understanding of time and place and additional information on Paul's stoning.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Gregg - I am fairly new to your blog and I appreciate the information you've posted here. I won't always have the time to comment but I will be reading. Thanks.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hope you're having a successful challenge Gregg as you deserve full credit for combining Bible names and places with the letters,
This was a fantastic post, well done.


Anonymous said...

An impressive "I"! :)

Cathy M. said...

Interesting understanding of Paul's "third heaven" experience. I'd always presumed Paul was probably unconscious. As a rule, I don't accept claims of folks who die and come back, as I see a conflict with Hebrews 9:27. I suppose there is room for an apostolic exception. See you on "J" day.

Arlee Bird said...

So many place names get lost to me from my reading of the Bible and I don't remember them. I have sometimes read with a map beside me to which to refer just to help me gain a sense of place. There are so many places mentioned that it's hard to keep track of them. You are providing some wonderful education in this Challenge.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Ciara said...

I'll be returning. So many places int he Bible are lost in my head. I found this informative.

I'm a fellow A-Z challenger and new follower. :)

Seams Inspired said...

Such an informative and uplifting post, Gregg! You've put so much into this one. Now, after this A to Z challenge is about some posts on Heaven and the different levels??? Please, pretty please?

I'm on my way to look up the scriptural references, because I need a refresher. Thanks! Happy Monday! :o)

~Ron... *The Old Geezer said...

Gregg, thanks for sharing some interesting info about the city of Iconium. And I always thought Iconium was that stuff the bad guys used to stop Superman. Boy did I learn something new today :-)

Penned Pebbles said...

Awesome 'I' post. I had not heard that 'third heaven' experience interpretation before. Thought-provoking! I'll have to poke around in scripture some... Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I have never thought about that connection before Gregg. Thank you for a great post!

Susan said...

Hi Gregg,

Making my way back through your older blog entries as I have time, and they are always rewarding!