Acts 13:1-3 Saul (now referred to by his Greek name, Paul), Barnabas and John Mark (the young nephew of Barnabas – see Colossians 4:10) are commissioned by the Holy Spirit and the Christian community in Antioch, and set out on their first missionary journey in 46AD.
Acts 13:4 They sail from Seleucia to Cyprus (see 1 on Map 23). Seleucia Pereia, near the mouth of the River Orontes, was the port for Antioch, founded by Seleucus Nicator – one of Alexander the Great’s generals – in c.300BC.
The Roman port at Seleucia Pereia (Acts 13:4)
Remains of the two breakwaters forming the Roman port can still be seen today on the beach near the entrance to Titus’s Tunnel, built by the Roman emperor to divert floodwaters from the nearby mountains away from the Roman city.
Acts 13:5 On arrival in Cyprus, Saul (from this point onwards referred to by his Greek name, Paul) and Barnabas preach at the Jewish synagogues in Salamis.
Map 23 Paul's First Missionary Journey
Salamis was an important port and commercial centre with a large Jewish community (see Map 23). Paul, as a professional craftsman who made tents and awnings, would have been very much at home in the Roman agora (the market place). He may well have set up a temporary market stall and discussed Christianity with passers-by and customers who came to have their awnings and shelters repaired in order to protect themselves from the sun.
Modern-day travellers to the Turkish Cypriot administered region of Northern Cyprus can visit the Tomb of St Barnabas – a native of Salamis – and can see a collection of icons venerating Barnabas in the nearby chapel and museum. At Salamis itself, there are extensive remains of the Roman city, including the agora, a well-preserved Roman gymnasium and baths, a restored theatre, a stadium and the Temple of Zeus.
Ruins at Roman Salamis, Cyprus (George Groulas)