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Volume 5 | The Early Church

Becoming a Light in the Darkness


Experience the Bible for yourself! This in-depth video Bible study-shot on location and featuring teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan-will help you understand the New Testament better by giving you abetter understanding of the Old Testament.

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Synagogue of Korazin

Korazin was one of the cities where "most of his miracles had been performed" (Matt. 11:20). Typical of Galilean towns of the time, the synagogue occupied a prominent place on an elevated platform in the center of town, symbolizing the i...MORE

Sardis

- Sardis stood in the middle of the Hermus River Valley, just over fifty miles east of the Mediterranean Sea in what is now the country of Turkey. The main east-west trade route came through this valley.- On a spur of Mount Tmolus, on the north si...MORE

The Amazing Galileans

Jesus focused his ministry in one small place in Israel: Galilee, in the three cities of Korazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida. Although many people today assume that Galileans were simple, uneducated peasants who lived in an isolated area, the truth ...MORE

The High Place and Altar at Dan

The high place at Dan, in northern Israel, dates to 920 BC, when Israel was divided into the northern (Israel) and the southern (Judah) kingdoms.The high place measured 62 feet square and was surrounded by a wall. On top of the high place were b...MORE

The History of Jerusalem

2,000 BC- God sends Abraham to the area of Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac.1,000 BC- David captures Jerusalem, names it the City of David, and makes it his capital.950 BC- Solomon spends seven years building the temple, then spends thirty years bu...MORE

Robinson's Arch

The beginning of this arch, named after the British explorer who discovered it, still stands on the stones of Herod's retaining wall of the Temple Mount. Herod's distinctive style is demonstrated by the massive stones of the courses below the arch...MORE

Marriage

Marriage Customs In ancient Israel, when it was time for a man and woman to marry, both fathers would negotiate the bride price to compensate the bride-to-be's family. After exchanging a glass of wine to conceal the agreement, the couple was form...MORE

Mount Hermon

This high mountain range reaches more than 9,000 feet above sea level, is 28 miles in length, and is more than 10 miles wide. It is covered with snow more than eight months a year. Water from melting snow is the main source of water for the Jordan...MORE

Pergamum

Pergamum (now Bergama) is located in the northern part of the Roman province of Asia Minor, along the Caicus River about ten miles from the Aegean Sea. From the third century BC until well into the fourth century AD, its kings controlled a major t...MORE

The Temple of Domitian

Built on the slope of the hill south of Ephesus and extending into the center of the city, this prominent temple could be seen from nearly everywhere in Ephesus, including the land and harbor entrances. The Ephesians, who built it to honor their e...MORE

The Theater at Ephesus

In the world of the early believers, the theater was a significant institution for communicating the Hellenistic view of the world. Every major city in the Roman world had a theater, and the theater in Ephesus was spectacular. The Greek king Lysim...MORE

Laodicea

History The leading city in the valley during the first century, Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60. According to Roman writer Tacticus, Rome offered to pay for the city to be rebuilt, but the people declined, saying that they were w...MORE

Mount Hermon

Mountain on the northern border of Israel. More than 9,000 feet above sea level, it is often covered with snow. Water from this mountain forms the Jordan River.

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Robinson's Arch

One of the largest masonry arches (75 feet tall, more than 45 feet across) in the ancient world; supported a massive staircase that ran from the Tyropean Valley and the Lower City to the Royal Stoa (the place of buying and selling, the location of...MORE

Cities

Gezer, Dan, Arad-these place names have little meaning for most Bible readers. But they did mean something to the writers of the Text. These places brought certain pictures and events to mind, much like the names "New York," "Hicksv...MORE

Religious Groups

Throughout the Old and New Testament, various religious groups emerged within Jewish culture.In Old Testament times, God established a group called the Nazarites, people who lived a unique lifestyle and reminded Israel to remain set apart for God....MORE

City Life

Most cities from the biblical period were fairly small, and people lived in closely knit, well-defined communities. Jerusalem of David's time covered 9-10 acres with a population of 1,500-2,000 persons. Jerusalem during Jesus' time occupied about ...MORE

A Galilean Kitchen

This kitchen is near the door of the house. A domed oven has been reconstructed; it was probably used for heating and cooking when the weather was cold. There would be similar ovens outside for use at other times.The outer part of the oven gathere...MORE

From Galilee to Asia

From Galilee to AsiaThe remains of the towns and villages of Galilee give evidence to the simple lifestyle of the Jewish people of the first century. Few were wealthy or poor. Most were hardworking people living comfortable lives as extended famil...MORE

Dionysus Temple and Cult Center

Originally built in the third century before Christ, this small, beautiful temple was remodeled by the Romans. It was approached by a twenty-five-step stairway at the end of a 770-foot terrace. Here, people worshiped Dionysus, the fertility god of...MORE

Features of the Gymnasium in Sardis

The Palaestra In this large (six hundred by one hundred fifty feet) open area in front of the Marble Court, physical education was done on the sand floor. Smaller rooms around the outside were also used for physical training, conditioning (weights...MORE

To be a Talmid

Living in CapernaumDuring his ministry, Jesus chose to live in Capernaum, a small town near the Sea of Galilee.During his ministry, Jesus chose to live in Capernaum, a small town near the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum served as a military post for the...MORE

Where Satan Lives

The City of PergamumPergamum, at one time the capital city of the Roman province of Asia Minor, was known for its spectacular architecture and many beautiful temples dedicated to a variety of gods. The apostle John wrote a letter to the Christians...MORE

The Great Altar of Zeus

Around 250 BC, the people of Pergamum won a great victory against the Galatians. In memory of that event, they built a great altar to Zeus, who was considered to be king of the gods, life-giver, the lord of all, the creator of all; titles that bel...MORE

Scenes from Caesarea Philippi:The Grotto of Pan

Against the cliff and in the large cave on the left, in the third century BC, was a cult center to the fertility god Pan. This center probably was built to compete with the high place at Dan, about three miles away.The presence of the spring formi...MORE

Synagogues of Jesus' Time

Synagogues continued to be a focal point for Jewish life during the first century. By the time Jesus' ministry began, a synagogue was found in most towns of Galilee. The Gospels specifically mention those of Nazareth (Matt. 13:54) and Capernaum (M...MORE

Artemis of the Ephesians

Who was Artemis The supposed goddess of fertility Who worshipped her? She was probably the most worshiped deity in Asia and perhaps the world during Paul's time. What was worship like? Hundreds of eunuch priests, virgin priestesses, a...MORE

Nicolations

In Revelation 2:25, the apostle John condemns those who follow the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitians. Balaam is known for his role in encouraging the Israelites to participate in the feasts and sexual immorality of the Canaanite idols, whic...MORE

Confronting the Hellenism of Today

Confronting the Hellenism of Today "Man," said the Greek philosopher Protagoras (481-411 BC), "is the measure of all things of what is and what is not." This philosophy provided the foundation for Hellenism, which was devoted...MORE

The Salt of the Earth

The City of SardisLocated on Mount Tmolus in southern Turkey, the city of Sardis stood at the crossroads of Asia Minor, the most prosperous, powerful, fertile, and pagan province of the entire Roman Empire. First-century Sardis had a unique blend ...MORE

A Galilean Family Room

This room was the center of family life. It was probably used for eating, for storing food, and for socializing with extended family. Guests could be invited in if the weather was inappropriate for dining outdoors in the courtyard.A small wooden t...MORE

The Entrance to the Gate at Dan

These massive fortifications date to the time of the divided kingdom of Israel. The gate complex was probably constructed by Jeroboam and strengthened by Ahab.The gate entrance is parallel to the city wall on the right. The city itself is buried i...MORE

Ephesus

The port city of Ephesus, located on what is now the western coast of Turkey, was the crown jewel of Asia Minor. It had the population of nearly 250,000 people and was home to more than twenty pagan temples. Artistic beauty, cultural learning, ero...MORE

"Go Into All The World"

Jesus commanded his followers to "go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation?" (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). It took his followers a while to understand the good news and what all the world meant, but as the Holy Spirit ope...MORE

Emperor Worship

The Demands of Emperor WorshipThe demands of Emporer WorshipEvery person in Ephesus and other cities that worshiped the emperor was expected to:- Participate in festivals honoring the emperor(s). This included offering incense on altars carried by...MORE

Capernaum

The town of Capernaum stood near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, situated along the busy Via Maris trade route, also known as the 'Way of the Sea.'The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would live by "the way to the sea,&qu...MORE

Acknowledging Jesus as Lord

As the early church grew, believers had two choices: (1) to go along with the pagan world in order not to create offense and endanger themselves and their families; or (2) to stand firm and declare that Jesus was Lord and risk suffering, even deat...MORE

Timeline of Events in Asia Minor

2000-1000 BC - Hittite Empire920-586 BC - Divided kingdom of Israel586 BC - Babylonian captivity500 BC - Jews' return from captivity325 BC - Alexander the Great's conquest261 BC - Laodicea founded220 BC - Antiochus settles Jews from Babylon in Asi...MORE

Caesarea

Port city and provincial capital of the Roman province of Judea. Herod built a spectacular man-made harbor with two breakwaters to link the country with world commerce.

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Caesarea

Herod seized an opportunity to control world trade by building a seaport on Israel's coast, where the sea routes and the predominant land route intersected. Caesarea was a glorious city, covered with marble, and symbolizing the vast wealth that He...MORE