Acts 9:30 Saul (also known by his Greek name, Paul) is born in c.5AD and brought up at Tarsus in the Roman province of Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey) (see Map 21).
Map 21 Paul's Early Journeys
Acts 22:25-29 Saul (his Jewish name) belongs to a wealthy Jewish family and is a Roman citizen by birth. Unlike most of the other apostles, Paul does not marry, and remains single throughout his life (see 1 Corinthians 7:8 & 9:5).
Tarsus was an important Roman port on the River Cydnus, where the Roman general Mark Antony first met Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, in 41BC (see Map 21). It lay on a busy trading route leading inland across rugged mountains through a narrow gorge known as the Cilician Gates.
This pass formed the gateway to the interior of Asia Minor. Alexander the Great’s army moved down through the Cilician Gates from the Anatolian Plateau and entered Tarsus prior to the decisive Battle of Issus in 333BC, and Paul passed this way several times on his journeys to and from Cilicia (see Galatians 1:21, Acts 15:40-41& Acts 19:1). The Romans appreciated the strategic importance of this routeway as the city guarded the entrance to the interior of the province of Asia. Tarsus was also a centre of great learning, with renowned schools of philosophy and rhetoric.
Remains of Roman Tarsus (Acts 9:30)
Little remains of the splendour of Roman times in the modern Turkish town of Tarsus, but a small archaeological site in the town centre contains a paved Roman street and the ruins of a few stoas (buildings with colonnaded walkways). Remains of the Roman baths can be found adjacent to the Eski Camii, an old Byzantine church converted into a mosque.
St Paul’s Well, an ancient well in the old part of the city, is said to lie adjacent to the birthplace of St Paul.
St Paul's Well, Tarsus
St Paul’s Church is a 19th century Greek Orthodox church, now open as a museum. There are some interesting Roman artefacts in the garden at the rear, and other Roman remains at the Archaeology Museum