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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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Juno Definition

Roman goddess of marriage, very jealous wife of Zeus, queen of gods.

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Jupiter Definition

Roman god of the sky, supreme god. Son of Saturn.

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Kanaf Definition

Corner; also, wing.

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Ixthus Definition

Early Christian believers often used the "fish" symbol. This may be because Jesus called his disciples to be "fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19). Or, perhaps the Greek word for fish, ixthus, was an acrostic for Jesus Christ, Son of G...

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Idol Definition

Anything that is worshiped instead of the true God. In Bible times, idols were often statues of false gods made of wood, stone, or metal. Idolatry is the worship of idols.

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Hippodrome Definition

Greek, hippus ("horse") and dramas ("course"). Referred to a horse racing course or circus. Herod built hippodromes in Caesarea, Jericho, and Jerusalem, where horse races, chariot races, and Olympic-style games were held as par...

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Holy Place Definition

The Priests' court; a rectangular room between the worship court and the Holy of Holies that contained the table of show bread, golden lamp stand, and the altar of incense.

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Hyssop Definition

A plant whose twigs were used in ceremonial sprinkling.

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Lower City Definition

The district of Jerusalem that housed most of the common people during Jesus' day. It was built on the slope of the Western Hill, reaching into the Tyropean Valley; where Jesus sent the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes in the Pool of Siloam...

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Maccabee Definition

Family of high priest Mattathias and his son Judah, who revolted against oppressive Antiochus, king of Syria, a Selucid Greek; Judah cleansed the Temple after defilement by the Syrians. The Jews remained free, ruled by the Maccabees (family name: ...

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Minerva Definition

Roman goddess of wisdom and skill. Daughter of Zeus.

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Mount of Olives Definition

This mountain, standing about 2,641 feet above sea level, stands east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It is approximately 325 feet higher than the Temple area and the highest peak in the area. Jesus entered Jerusalem, gave his final teachin...

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Movements of Jesus' Day

Four views of JudaismIn Jesus' day, there were varying philosophies within the Jewish faith.  While some Jews embraced the Roman rulers, others resisted with violence.  And whereas some Jewish believers lived a simple, isolated lifestyle...

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Messianic Banquet Definition

One way to describe the great banquet (also called the wedding feast of the lamb) that will occur when the Messiah comes.

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Mercury Definition

Roman god of trade, messenger. Son of Zeus and Maia.

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Macellum Definition

Market where food is sold.

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Maenad Definition

From Greek "raving" or "frantic," refers to female followers of Dionysus.

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Hestia Definition

Greek goddess of the hearth and home. Sister of Zeus.

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Hermes Definition

Greek god of trade, messenger. Son of Zeus and Maia.

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Exedra Definition

Semicircular recess usually with seats, found in Greek and Byzantine buildings.

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First Jewish Revolt Definition

Revolt against Rome by the Jewish people that resulted in the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.

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Flutes Definition

Vertical channels cut in the sides of columns.

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Essenes Definition

A highly organized religious group that renounced the priestly establishment and saw themselves as God's soldiers. They strengthened their bodies, minds, and spirits for the battle they believed would usher in the new age. The Dead Sea Scrolls fou...

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Elders Definition

Older men who were leaders of God's chosen people.

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Diolkos Definition

From Greek, "to haul," road over which sailors hauled goods from one harbor to another.

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Dionysus Definition

Greek god of wine, fertility, and vegetation, god of the theater. Son of Zeus and Semele, the Theban princess.

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Drusilla Definition

The daughter of Agrippa l.

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Forum Definition

Roman marketplace.

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Frieze Definition

A design or series of low-relief sculptures forming an ornamental, horizontal band around a room or between the architrave and cornice of a building.

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Hazzan Definition

Synagogue leader or administrator who cared for the facility and how it was used.

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Hellenism Definition

Name for the culture and worldview of the Greeks. It was antithetically opposed to the God-centered worldview of the Jews. Hellenism makes the human being the ultimate reality. The human mind is the basis for truth, the human body is the ultimate ...

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Hera Definition

Greek goddess of marriage, very jealous wife of Zeus, queen of gods.

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Hades Definition

1) The place of the dead (Matt. 16:13%u201420).2) Greek god of the underworld. Brother of Zeus and Poseidon.

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Gymnasium Definition

Greek and Roman schools.

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Frigidarium Definition

Cold room in Roman baths.

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Gallus Definition

(plural- Galli) - Priests of Cybele and Attis.

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Grotto of Pan Definition

A cult center to the fertility god Pan at Caesarea Philippi.

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Nehemiah Definition

A Hebrew leader of the 5th century BC.

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Neptune Definition

Roman god of the sea and earthquakes. Brother of Zeus and Hades

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Skene Definition

Stage of Roman theater.

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South Wall Definition

This wall, located on the southern side of Jerusalem, was more than 900 feet long and more than 150 feet high. Pilgrims entered the temple primarily through this entrance%u2014the Double Gates%u2014after climbing the Southern Stairs%u2014a broad s...

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Spring of Gihon Definition

Spring in the Kidron Valley near Jerusalem. It was the main water source for the city during Old Testament times. Hezekiah built a tunnel that directed the spring's water inside the city walls. Gihon means "gushing out."

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Siloam Inscription Definition

After workers built the tunnel of Hezekiah, they carved a description of its creation in the stone roof. The inscription tells how two teams of workers, digging from opposite directions, met in the middle. It is unusual because the story is told f...

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Shofar Definition

A trumpet-like instrument made of ram's horn blown by priests to announce sacred events such as time of sacrifice.

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Sebastoi Definition

In Greek means "revered one," same as Latin Augustus.

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Septuagint Definition

<p>Means "70." Greek translation of the Old Testament made during the rule of the Ptolemies over the Jews. Frequently quoted by the authors of the New Testament.</p>

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Serapis Definition

Egyptian god of fertility and medicine, ruler of the dead. Worshiped by the Greeks and Romans also.

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Stadium Definition

Long building used for foot races and other athletic contests.

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Stoa Definition

Porch not attached to a larger building.

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Caldarium Definition

Hot room in Roman baths.

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Gezer Definition

City that controlled the Via Maris trade route. It was located near the coastal plain and the Aijalon Valley.

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Mars Definition

Roman god of war. Son of Zeus and Hera.

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Barclay's Gate Definition

Provided access to the Gentile Court from Tyropean Street.

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Abomination Definition

Anything associated with the worship of other gods and any behavior that perverts the lifestyle God intended human beings to live. Leviticus 18 contains a list of unlawful behaviors (e.g., incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality). As he demons...

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The Storeroom

This storeroom was where the occupants kept their all-important farming tools. Most families needed to provide their own food. Small gardens, vineyards with grapes and olive trees, and some small livestock provided most of their diet.Hanging on th...

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Syncretism Definition

Combining different forms of belief or practice. The Israelites practiced syncretism when they tried to worship both God and Baal.

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Tepidarium Definition

Warm room in Roman baths.

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Scaenae Frans Definition

Elaborately ornamented front of the stage building in a Roman theater.

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Refractory Definition

Eating area in communal living.

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Pan Definition

Greek and Roman god of the shepherds and goatherds, associated with fertility. Son of Hermes.

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Patriarch Definition

Any of the very early Biblical personages regarded as the fathers of the human race, comprising those from Adam to Noah, and those between the Deluge and the birth of Abraham.

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Peloponnese Definition

The peninsula forming the southern part of Greece.

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Palaestra Definition

Courtyard of gymnasium used for exercise, wrestling, and boxing.

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Orchestra Definition

Large circular space in Greek theater used for chorus and actors.

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Nike Definition

Greek god of victory, pictured with a wreath. Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Styx.

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North Wall Definition

The Antonia fortress was located here. Built by Herod the Great, this fortress guarded the northern side of Jerusalem and held Roman troops during Jesus' time who watched the temple activities. Paul was probably brought to the Antonia after his ar...

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Odeion Definition

Small theater used for concerts and council meetings.

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Peristyle Definition

Row of columns surrounding a building or open court.

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Phoebus Definition

Roman god of light, music, and poetry. He is often pictured with bow and arrow; Son of Zeus and Leto.

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Propylon Definition

Entrance gate to sacred enclosure.

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Prytaneion Definition

Administrative building in a city, dedicated to Hestia.

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Rabbi Definition

A teacher or master. In Jesus' day, a student would give up his entire life in order to be with his teacher. The disciple didn't only seek to know what the teacher knew, as is usually the case today. It was not enough just to know what the rabbi s...

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Potter's Workshop Definition

Here, archaeologists have found a basin for preparing clay, a base for a potter's wheel, and two kilns. The clay jars, which helped to preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls for nearly two thousand years, were probably made here.

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Poseidon Definition

Greek god of the sea and earthquakes. Brother of Zeus and Hades.

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Pluto Definition

Roman god of the underworld. Brother of Zeus and Poseidon.

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Portico Definition

Stoa or colonnade.

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Diana Definition

Roman god of marriage, chastity, hunting, and moonlight. Twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus and Leto.

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Demeter Definition

Greek god of earth. Daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

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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...

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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...

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Sardis Definition

- 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...

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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...

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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...

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"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...

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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...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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 bui...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 ...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Caesarea Definition

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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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...

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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 ...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Bernice Definition

The great-granddaughter of Herod the Great. She accompanied Agrippa ll and heard Paul's conversion testimony (Acts 25:13,23; 26:1).

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Bethsaida Definition

One of the three main towns of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. This small, prosperous fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee was renamed Julias and rebuilt by Herod Philip. Home of apostles Peter, Philip, and Andrew. Near this villag...

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Boule Definition

City council.

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Belial Definition

Hebrew meaning "useless." Came to be applied to the devil by the Essenes and the early Christians (2 Cor. 6).

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Basilica Definition

"From the king"; Roman public hall built with side halls lower than the center hall.

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Atrium Definition

Court of a Roman house, roofed at the sides and open in the middle; also the entrance to a Byzantine church.

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Baal Definition

Canaanite god of fertility. He is often portrayed as the god of storms, lightning, thunder, and rain. He was worshiped in horrible ways. The name means "lord" or "master." Israel was seduced into worshiping him.

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Bacchus Definition

Roman god of wine, fertility, and vegetation, god of the theater. Son of Zeus and Semele, the Theban princess.

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Bouleuterion Definition

Meeting place of the Boule.

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Capital Definition

The topmost part of a column.

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Colonnades Definition

Rows of columns spaced evenly apart that support arches or a roof. First-century Roman streets often had colonnades on both sides.

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Dagon Definition

A Philistine god. Recent evidence indicates that he was the grain god responsible for fertility.

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Decapolis Definition

Ten Hellenistic cities established at the time of Alexander the Great east of the Sea of Galilee and north of Perea. Later, the Roman emperor Pompey organized the cities into a league named the Decapolis, largely populated by Roman army troops. In...

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Church Definition

A group of the followers of Jesus that meets in a certain place. Jesus calls the church his body. Most of the books of the New Testament are letters to churches.

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Ceres Definition

Roman god of earth. Daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

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Caravenserai Definition

Courtyard with rooms for lodging.

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Caryatid Definition

Column in the form of a female figure.

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Centurion Definition

An officer in the Roman army in charge of 100 soldiers.

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Athena Definition

Greek goddess of wisdom and skill. Daughter of Zeus.

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Astragal Definition

Molding on top of base or column.

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The Gate at Dan

Just past the entrance to the gate at Dan, a large stone extends into the street. Just beyond it, along the wall, archaeologists uncovered a cultic high place containing five standing stones. Just beyond and to the left of the large stones, agains...

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The Making of a City

The environment of the Middle East, including Israel, is harsh and mostly unsuitable for settlement. For a location to be habitable, three conditions were needed:1. Fresh Water - Although rainfall is plentiful in some regions of Israel, most rain ...

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Theater at Beth Shean-Stage

Though covered by wooden panels today, it was originally covered with stone. It is built on arches with drainage channels beneath it.Behind the stage stood scaenae frons a backdrop for the stage, including a row of granite and marble columns and s...

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The City of Dan

LocationThe city of Dan, originally called Laish, is located in northern Israel. To the east are the remarkable slopes of Mount Hermon, and the city of Caesarea Phillippi. About 30 miles south of Dan lays the Sea of Galilee.ArchaeologyArcheologist...

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Synagogues

Imagine Jesus standing on a synagogue platform and unrolling the Torah scrolls. As the community listens, he reads the familiar scriptures and pauses. Everything about the synagogue service has been routine until now, and then Jesus begins his lif...

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Robinson's Arch Definition

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...

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Scenes from Caesarea Philippi: Living Water

This stream is one of several that run out of the cliff at Caesarea Philippi. Originally, the springs ran from the cave known as the Grotto of Pan. The presence of a religious cult here is probably due to these springs of fresh water.Peter's confe...

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Synagogue Today

The Synagogue ContinuesThe early Christians continued to attend synagogues, although they had a new interpretation of the Torah since Jesus had been revealed as Messiah (Acts 13:14). The new community of Jesus was born out of the synagogue, and th...

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Aeolia Capitolina Definition

Hadrian, the Roman emperor, destroyed Jerusalem after defeating the Jews during the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 132-135). He renamed it Aelia Capitolina and erected a temple to the Roman god Jupiter.

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Amphitheater Definition

Elliptical or circularspace surounded by seats; used by Romans for gladiator contests.

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Artemis Definition

Greek god of marriage, chastity, hunting, and moonlight. Twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus and Leto.

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Asclepius Definition

Greek and Roman god of healing. Son of Apollo and Coronis (the daughter of King Phlegyas in Thesaly). He has four daughters: Iaso, Aceso, Panacea, and Hygeia.

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Asherah Definition

Canaanite goddess of fertility. She is portrayed as a nude female, sometimes pregnant, with exaggerated breasts that she holds out as symbols of her fertility. The Bible indicates that she was worshiped near trees and poles, called Asherah poles....

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Apse Definition

Semicircular recess in a wall, especially in a church or Roman law court.

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Apotheosis Definition

A Roman emperor was declared to be divine when a witness came forward claiming to have seen the emperor ascend to heaven or claiming to have seen the emperor's father ascend to heaven (making the current emperor the "Son of God"). This p...

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Anatolia Definition

Land of the rising sun or "the East" refers to the Asiatic part of Turkey.

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Vomitorium Definition

Covered exit in a Roman theater.

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