The Footsteps of Paul Blog

Joining the Dots on St Paul’s Footsteps

Posted By: Chris Posted In: Blog, Footsteps of Paul: The book of Acts Date Posted: September 27th, 2012 Comments: 2

Photo (Susanne D.) Chris at the Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

Issue #23 – “Exploring New Testament Greece”

With just a few weeks left in Turkey before returning to New Zealand and a bundle of frequent flyer miles with Aegean Airlines, we had a clear “Macedonian call” to cross the Aegean Sea and check out some of the places where Paul and his young associates planted churches in Greece.

Day 1: The first leg of our one week trip was a fast ferry from our adopted home town of Fethiye to the Greek island of Rhodes. From the port we made it by local bus to the airport and then flew to Athens.

We had booked into a 2 star hotel via, took a local bus from the airport and, with some much needed help by the locals, who didn’t speak a word of English, made it to the Diros Hotel. At night it lights up. Well it actually lights up as Di os, which is “God” in Spanish – a good sign! Old and uncomfortable and in a rough part of down town, but roomy, clean and central to the sights and sites of Athens.

Athens has some very cool little cafes

Day 2: First thing next morning was a brisk walk up Mars Hill, the place Paul was invited to address the local intellectuals. It was not difficult to find. It sits atop the massive Acropolis (“High Fortress”), alongside the famous Parthenon.

Mars Hill is just that today – a rocky hill. The Areopogas has long gone, but at the entrance is a large bronze plaque with Acts 17:24-28 etched in Greek:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Reading Acts 17 on Mars Hill

What a joy to sit and read the very words Paul preached in exactly the spot 2000 years ago.

Then it was onward and upward to the Parthenon, after having been relieved of 12 euros each and then carried along with the thousands of tourists all pressed together as we walked up steps that lead to the ruins of ancient temples built and dedicated to the pantheon of gods the Greeks used to worship.

Day 3 was a half day tour to ancient Corinth, a two hour bus trip away. In Paul’s day Athens was in the province of Macedonia and Corinth in Achaia.

Temple to Zeus, Corinth. 6th century BC. Seriously old!

Such a tour cost us 55 euros each and although the ruins of Corinth are small and unspectacular today, it was a huge privilege to sit under the shade of a tree, close by the remains of a temple to Zeus, and read Acts 18 as well as portions of 1 & 2 Corinthians. Knowing the Corinthians were a particularly charismatic bunch of believers we prayed for more Holy Spirit manifestations in our own lives.

Day 4 was a 40 minute flight from Athens, northward to Thessaloniki. We were booked into the El Greco hotel which had one more star than the Diros, and was nice. Now, there is less to see of ancient Thessaloniki than ancient Corinth but what is still standing is outstanding. We discovered we could walk to the two most significant remains – The Arch of Galerius and, close by, The Rotunda, a Constantine era church. We sat and read 1 & 2 Thessalonians, considered the very first of Paul’s letters. We prayed that Thessaloniki would once again have an expectation of the immanent return of Jesus.

Susanne at the Galerius Arch, Thessaloniki

The Rotunda – St George’s Church, 3rd century AD. Thesssaloniki.

Day 5 We did a day trip to Ancient Philippi and the nearby port town of Neapolis (Acts 16:11), the port where Paul, Silas and Luke entered Europe after Paul’s “Macedonian call” dream . We got a local bus from the central bus station bound for Kavalta (ancient Neapolis), a 13 euro, 2 hour trip. From there we caught a local bus to Drama, a 1.6 euro, 20 minute drive, asking to be let off at the Archeological Park; ancient Philippi. What a beautiful site – the ancients sure picked the best spots to build.

Port of Neapolis (modern day Kavalta), the entry point of the gospel to Europe and no plaque or anything to commemorate that!

We wandered around the still paved agora – “market place” where Paul and Silas delivered the slave girl from a spirit of divination (Acts 16:18). We checked out Paul’s prison where he and Silas sung hymns at midnight and where their jailor had cried, “What must I do to be saved!” So amazing to sit and read Luke’s account in Acts 16 of the first convert (Lydia) and the first church plant in Europe. What a change that wrought in the continent in the years and centuries to follow. We didn’t find the river where Paul shared the gospel with Lydia, but we did see a sign to the Lydia Guest House! What a privilege to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, a letter written from prison as he encourages the fledgling church to imitate Christ’s humility, to have no confidence in the flesh and to press on toward the goal.

Philippian prison where Paul & Silas sung hymns.

Overlooking ancient Philippi

Then it was time to catch the bus back to Kavalta, then another to Thessaloniki, then another to our hotel. A long, tiring, spectacularly rewarding day.

Day 6 we checked out of the El Greco, caught a bus to the airport and flew back to Rhodes. From the Rhodes airport we caught a local bus to beautiful Rhodes Town, about an hour, then another bus to Lindos, about 1.5 hours. Lindos is the place that tradition holds is the port into which Paul came into on his return to Jerusalem after his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 21:1)

Lindos is as pretty as a post card. A “white village” set at the foot of a craggy rock mount (acropolis) with huge stone battlements all around and ruins of temples and a Byzantine church within. One side of the acropolis overlooks the village, the other, the deep blue Mediterranean. And over to one side, a beautifully sheltered port. Supposedly the very place Paul’s ship called in at. We arrived at sunset and took as many photos as we could on two cameras before darkness fell.

Lindos port, Rhodes with St Paul's Chapel on the far right.

St Paul's Chapel, Lindos, Rhodes.

At St Paul’s chapel there is a plaque in Greek which reads: “Rhodes worships here where stood Paul, the Apostle of the Nations”

Pretty Lindos, Rhodes, Greece

This is an idyllic spot were it not for the crowds of tourists! Would be so much better to visit in the non summer months. We stayed in a basic motel unit called Lindos Luxury Studios. Not actually luxurious at all but adequate for us to sleep one night because next day we were heading back to Rhodes Town, on to the ferry again and back to Fethiye. This had been Day 7.

What a memorable week. Visiting such places has given us a sort of 3D understanding of the letters that were written to the churches of those locations, not so many years ago. The Book of Acts has come alive for us as never before and it has been such a privilege to be able to join the dots and complete following the footsteps of Paul.

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let the discussion begin!

  • Nate Green - 30 September, 2012 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Great series, Chris! I’m going to miss these biblical travelogues.

  • Gabrielel - 30 September, 2012 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Very cool, what a packed week!! The rotunda church looks amazing, very funky =)

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