Biblical Archaeology Review 39:6, November/December 2013

Why Perga?

Paul’s perilous passage through Pisidia

By Mark R. Fairchild

“Then Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos [in Cyprus] and came to Perga in Pamphylia [in southern Anatolia] …They passed on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia [in central Anatolia].”

(Acts 13:13–14)

Why Perga? Paul and Barnabas returned to Perga (Greek, Perge) where Paul preached (“spoke the word”) and then “went down to Attalia and from there they sailed to [Syrian] Antioch” (Acts 14:26).

These are the only references to Perga in the Acts of the Apostles—or elsewhere in the New Testament, for that matter.

To cover the 200 miles from Cyprus to Perga on his first missionary journey, Paul would have boarded a commercial vessel. Passenger ships for the general public did not exist in the first century. Shipping was almost exclusively for commercial or military purposes. Consequently, travelers made arrangements with merchants to board cargo vessels.1

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