The historical and cultural relations between Anatolia and the Biblical world start at the beginning of the Old Testament (Genesis 2:14) with the Tigris and the Euphrates, two of the rivers which flow through the Garden of Eden and forms Mesopotamia . The regional name Mesopotamia comes from the ancient Greek root words (meso) "middle" and (potamia) "river" and literally means "(Land) between rivers". "The mountains of Ararat" on which the Ark came to rest, Noah's descendants by Japheth who populated this land, the Sea Peoples who devastated it and finally ended up in Palestine, the journeys of Paul and the letters of John are a few of the hallmarks which bind the history of Anatolia to the Bible. This long relation in its later history was supplemented by the great controversies of early Christianity which involved the Churches of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Palestine and their solution in the Ecumenical Councils which were all held in Anatolia. Christianity has a long history in Anatolia , which is the birthplace of numerous Christian Apostles and Saints, such as Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, Polycarp of Smyrna and many others.

Two out of the five centers (Patriarchates) of the ancient Pentarchy are in Turkey: Constantinople (Istanbul) and Antioch (Antakya). Antioch was also the place where the followers of Jesus were called "Christians" for the first time in history, as well as being the site of one of the earliest and oldest surviving churches, established by Saint Peter himself. For a thousand years, the Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world.

Turkey is also home to the Seven Churches of Asia, where the Revelations to John were sent. Apostle John is reputed to have taken Virgin Mary to Ephesus in western Turkey, where she spent the last days of her life in a small house, known as the House of the Virgin Mary, which still survives today and has been recognized as a holy site for pilgrimage by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as being a Muslim shrine. The cave of the Seven Sleepers is also located in Ephesus.

All of the first seven Ecumenical Councils which are recognized by both the Western and Eastern churches were held in present-day Turkey. Of these, the Nicene Creed, declared with the First Council of Nicaea (İznik) in 325, is of utmost importance and has provided the essential definitions of present-day Christianity.

The historical and cultural relations between Anatolia and the Biblical world start at the beginning of the Old Testament(Genesis 2:14) with the Tigris and the Euphrates, two of the rivers which flow through the Garden of Eden and forms Mesopotamia .

Today the Christian population of Turkey includes an estimated 45,000 Armenian Orthodox, 17,000 Assyrian- Syriac Orthodox, 8,000 Assyrians of the Chaldean Catholic, 3,000- 4,000 Greek Orthodox, and smaller numbers of Bulgarians, Georgians, and Protestants.

Approximately 60% of the names of the places mentioned in the Bible are in Turkey. Below you can find the list of the most important sacred and religious places in Turkey.


Paul’s journeys through Anatolia, Macedonia and Greece are recorded in the second and longer part of the Acts of the Apostles, written in Greek by the evangelist Luke, author of the Third Gospel perhaps a few decades after the martyrdom of Paul. Acts continues Luke’s history of Christian origin and tells us the story of the early church and how it spread from Jews to Gentiles, largely through the efforts of Paul.

Paul could see what had been left from the Hellenistic age and what was built at the time of early Romen rulers: Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius and Nero, and by Herod The Great in the East.


Paul is born some time, perhaps a few years after Jesus was born. His family was Jewish and from them he inherited Roman citizenship. Paul was privileged to have been born a Roman citizen at a time when it was not yet a universal right for people in the Empire.

Paul is born some time, perhaps a few years after Jesus was born. His family was Jewish and from them he inherited Roman citizenship. Paul was privileged to have been born a Roman citizen at a time when it was not yet a universal right for people in the Empire.

According to Josephus, the Jews were given some privileges by the Romans as early as the time of Julius Caesar and these privileges were confirmed by subsequent Roman rules, along with the right to observe their own rites after they were released from military service.

The second way by which Roman citizenship could be gained was manumission.

Manumitted by their masters or they bought their freedom and thus were given Roman citizenship.

Early roman rulers like Pompey, Caesar, Mark Antony or Augustus gave Roman citizenship to the elite of some cities. It has been claimed that Tarsus may have been one of these with Paul’s parents included among those who were granted this right.

The most important privilege that Roman citizenship conferred on a subject was that he enjoyed legal protection and could not be scourged and had the right of appeal to a higher authority, such as to the emperor in person, hence Paul’s journey to Rome to appeal to Nero. Even if they were condemned to death, Roman citizens could not be crucified.

Paul’s cognomen in Latin means the ’little’ or ‘short’ one and it has been suggested that the word might also have been an allusion to his size. It has been speculated that it may have been chosen because of its similarity to Saul in Hebrew, his unofficial name by which he was called in the family and Jewish community. This was the name of the first king of Jews, traditionally, about a millenium earlier. When Paul was born, the use of two names, a Gentile name along with a Jewish name, seems to have been acceptable.

The use of a single name was a common Greek tradition and this is the reason, why the Bible lacks the complete names of the persons it mentions.

Paul was a rare name even among Gentiles.

His first Gentile convert known by name, Sergius Paulus, in Cyprus. If Paul’s trial at the court in Rome had been recounted in Acts we would have learned the apostle’s full name.

He was born in a land where and at a time when boys usually learned and carried on their fathers occupation. Paul’s profession was common trade and practiced everywhere in the Middle East. The nature of his work is clearly stated as tentmaking in Acts 18.3 when he stayed with Priscilla and Aquila.

Literally skenopoios, the Greek word used for Paul’s profession, means tentmaking. The profession would require looms and material for weaving which would not have been convenient to carry for a person like Paul who was usually on the move.

Paul’s family may have made their Money equipping the Roman legions, who used large tents, eight men sharing one, made of leather panels sewn together, in the shape of a camping tent. Scholars have calculated that a tent of this type required 70 goatskins which would make the number of goats required for a single legion some 50,000 and this has been suggested that Paul’s unkown ancestor may have been granted Roman citizenship for his cooperation in providing Roman legion with such tents.

Paul’s letters show that he was well educated in the scriptures, and familiar with Greco-Roman culture.


The modern country of Turkey is home to all seven of the churches mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. At the time it was written, around 100 AD, the churches were located in a region of the Roman Empire known as Asia Minor.

Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, is the last book in the New Testament. While the rest of the New Testament is made of narratives and instructional letters, Revelation is an apocalyptic work. It consists of visions, predicts future dramatic events, and uses a great deal of symbolic language. Interpretation of the Book of Revelation is a task that has kept Biblical scholars busy for centuries.

However, Revelation begins like most other New Testament books: as a letter from a prominent church leader to various churches. The author of Revelation identifies himself as John, who had been exiled to the island of Patmos for his Christian faith. This John is generally believed to be St. John the Apostle, the beloved disciple of Jesus and the author of the Gospel of John.

In the opening chapter of Revelation, John sends his greetings then describes a vision he had on Patmos. The remainder of the book consists of his descriptions of what he saw and heard. John relates that while he was “in the Spirit” one Sunday, he heard a voice say, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Turning around, John saw the voice belonged to a brilliant white figure, clothed in a white robe and with eyes blazing like fire. The figure told him the trembling John not to be afraid, and identified himself as the Risen Christ: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” The vision again commanded John to write everything that he will hear and see.

John’s vision that was recorded in Revelation began with specific messages to seven different Christian communities in modern-day Turkey. Some are addressed to the “angel” of that city, the meaning may symbolize the spirit of that city or refer to an actual heavenly or earthly messenger (the Greek word for angel also means “messenger”).

The messages also speak of stars and lampstands, which is explained in Chapter 1: “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Adramyttium Acts 27:2 Antioch Acts 11:19-27; 13:1; 14:26, 15:22-35, Gal. 2:11, II Tim.3:11 Assos Acts 20:13,14 Attalia Acts 14:25 Bithniya Province (Nicaea) Acts 16:7, I Pet 1:1 Cappadocia Acts 2:5,2:9, I Pet 1:1 Carchemish II Chro. 35:20, Isa 10:9, Jer 46:2 Cnidus Acts 27:7 Colossae Col. 1:2 Derbe Acts 14:6 - 20;4 Ephesus Acts 18:19-24; 19:1-35; 20:16-17; 21:29, 1 Cor. 15:32, 16:8, I Tim. 1:3 II Tim. 1:18, 4:12, Rev. 1:11, 2:1 Euphrates River Gen. 2:14; Jer. 13:4, 6, Rev. 9:4; 16:2 Galatia Province Acts 16:6; 18:23, I Cor. 16:1, Gal 1:2; 3:1, II Tim 4:10, I Pet 1:1 Harran II Kings 19:12, Isa. 37:12, Ezek. 27:23, Acts 7:2-4 Hierapolis Col 4:13 Iconium Acts 13:51; 14:1-21; 16:2, II Tim. 3:11 Laodicea Col 2:1; 4:13-16, Rev. 1:11; 3:14 Lystra Acts 14:6-21; 16:1-2, II Tim. 3:11 Miletus Acts 20:15-17, II Tim. 4:20 Mt. Ararat Gen 8:4, II Kings 19:37, Isa 37:38 Myra Acts 27:5-6 Patara Acts 21:1-2 Perga Acts 13:13-14; 14:25 Pergamum Rev. 1:11; 2:12 Philadelphia Rev. 1:11; 3:7 Pisidian Antioch Acts 13:14; 14:19-21, I Tim. 3:11 Sardis Rev. 1:11; 3:1-4 Seleucia Acts 13:4 Smyrna Rev. 1:11; 2:8 Tarsus Acts 9:11; 9:30; 11:25; 21:39; 22:3 Thyatira Acts 16:14, Rev. 1:11; 2:18-24 Tigris River Gen. 2:14, Daniel 10:4 Troas Acts 16:8-11; 20:5, 6, II Tim. 4:13 II Cor. 2:12 Troy Acts 16:8-11; 20:5, 6, II Tim. 4:13 II Cor. 2:12


In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Council of Nicaea (787), represented an attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the state church of the Roman Empire. The East-West Schism, formally dated to 1054, was still almost three centuries off from the last of these councils, but already by 787 the major western sees, although still in communion with the state church of the Byzantine Empire, were all outside the empire, and the Pope was to crown Charlemagne as emperor 13 years later.

Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches all claim to trace their clergy by apostolic succession back to this period and beyond, to the earlier period referred to as Early Christianity. However, breaks of unity that still persist today had occurred even during this period.

The Church of the East accepted the first two of these seven councils, but rejected the third, the First Council of Ephesus (431). The Quinisext Council (692), which attempted to establish the Pentarchy and which is not generally considered one of the first seven ecumenical councils is not accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, which also considers that there have been many more ecumenical councils after the first seven.

This era begins with the First Council of Nicaea, which enunciated the Nicene Creed that in its original form and as modified by the First Council of Constantinople of 381 was seen as the touchstone of orthodoxy on the doctrine of the Trinity. At this point, though the emperors had already ceased to reside habitually at Rome, the church in that city was seen as the first church among churches.

In 330 Constantine built his “New Rome”, which became known as Constantinople, in the East. All of the seven councils were held in the East, specifically in Anatolia and the neighbouring city of Constantinople.

The Councils

The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, as commonly understood, are:

  1. First Council of Nicaea (325)
  2. First Council of Constantinople (381)
  3. Council of Ephesus (431)
  4. Council of Chalcedon (451)
  5. Second Council of Constantinople (553)
  6. Third Council of Constantinople (680)
  7. Second Council of Nicaea (787) - coming soon