Paul’s First Missionary Journey through Perga and Pisidian Antioch

Explore the route with a web-exclusive slideshow

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2013. It has been updated.—Ed.

Paul’s first missionary journey took him from Cyprus into the heart of Anatolia. Why did Paul and Barnabas choose the treacherous path through Perga to Pisidian Antioch? In “Why Perga? Paul’s Perilous Passage through Pisidia” in the November/December 2013 issue of BAR, Mark R. Fairchild explores archaeological evidence of the likely presence of Jewish communities on the way.

Take a closer look at Paul’s first missionary journey through Turkey in this web-exclusive slideshow of photographs by BAR author Mark R. Fairchild.

All photos courtesy of Mark R. Fairchild.

After sailing from Cyprus to the Turkish coast, Paul and Barnabas visit the city of Perga before traveling to Pisidian Antioch and other cities on the Anatolian interior. When they head back to the coast, the travelers follow the same route. Why did they choose such a treacherous route for Paul’s first missionary journey? Mark R. Fairchild explores unexcavated sites along the Kestros River Valley, exposing evidence of Jewish populations en route. Acts indicates that Paul deliberately traveled to cities with Jewish populations. Perga was a major city, and the presence of a Jewish community there made it an ideal base for Paul’s first missionary journey through Anatolia. Fairchild argues that Paul and Barnabas could have taken an easy but roundabout path along established Roman roads, but opted to travel along the rugged Kestros Valley because of the hospitality of local Jewish communities.

  • Paul and Barnabas would have sailed from Cyprus to one of these ports on the Turkish coast before traveling to Perga.

  • Mark R. Fairchild suggests that Paul traveled from Perga up the Kestros River Valley to Pisidian Antioch, the route indicated in green.

BAS Library Members: Read “Why Perga? Paul’s Perilous Passage through Pisidia” by Mark R. Fairchild as it appears in the November/December issue of BAR.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Sign up today.

In the free eBook Paul: Jewish Law and Early Christianity, learn about the cultural contexts for the theology of Paul and how Jewish traditions and law extended into early Christianity through Paul’s dual roles as a Christian missionary and a Pharisee.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in November 2013.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Biblical Riot at Ephesus: The Archaeological Context

Galatians 3:28—Neither Jew nor Greek, Slave nor Free, Male and Female by Karin Neutel

The Quest for the Historical Paul by James Tabor

Barnabas: An Encouraging Early Church Leader by Robin Gallaher Branch

Visiting Turkey: Museums of Archaeology Dazzle by Mark Wilson


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  • Gary says

    I love the details. I am somewhat concerned that we continue to say “Paul led the First Missionary Journey” when it was clearly led by Barnabas and Saul/Paul was an intern as was John Mark.

    Barnabas went to recruit Saul from Tarsus and then included him in his study group at Antioch. When the Holy Spirit said, “Set aside Barnabas and Saul,” it was obvious that Barnabas was the head man. Later, of course, the pagans called Barnabas Zeus as the “top god” in Acts 14.

  • Kate says

    Fairchild’s map is rather inaccurate and not linked to the photos, which suggest that St P went via the ‘Royal road’ thru’ the Çandır canyon and the unnamed site at Sütçüler and Adada. If this is the case, he did not go to Sagalassos, which is far off the N-S route. Milyas is misplaced (if he means Milli, it is SW from Pednelissos), Cremna, Adada, Parlais and the important road junction at Gönen are unplaced and Eğirdir lake was in fact 2 lakes – Hoyran and Eğirdir – until recently.

  • Madelon says

    These are wonderful pictures of an area I haven’t yet visited. Is it possible to get permission to use for a Bible Study?

    Thank you,

    Madelon Maupin (Friend of Levant’s)

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