Antioch was the capital city of the Roman providence of Syria. It was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It's population exceeded 500,000 people and was made up of native Syrians, Romans, Judeans, and Greeks. It was said that if you sat in the market place at Antioch you could study the customs of the world. It was what we would call today a "global city."
Antioch's main street, four miles in length, was lined with magnificent mansions. It was highly cultured, but its social life was debased, sensual, and devilish. It was a city of races, of games, dances, drunkenness, processions, and festivals.
Under Roman rule Antioch had given up its own identity and subjected itself totally to Rome. Unlike Jerusalem and Judea who maintained their own nationality, culture, language and beliefs, Antioch accepted Caesar and Roman culture in place of its own.
Antioch became the first outreach center for the move of God's Word among the Gentiles and the "home base" from which Paul shared the knowledge of the mystery of the grace of God and the riches of the gospel of "Christ in You!" It was in Antioch that the unbelieving Gentiles first named the believers "Christians" because they were always talking about Christ being "in them." Paul began his ministry journeys from Antioch and continually returned to this city throughout the book of Acts. It is evident here in Antioch (as in other worldly cities mentioned in the Word of God) that there is no place so debased that God cannot reach out to people with the truth of His wonderful Word.
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