Paul is said to be a “man of Tarsus” in Acts 9:11, ASV). Tarsus was the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, located on what is today the southern coast of Turkey. It was a cultural and intellectual center in the first century. Fant and Reddish quote Strabo’s description of Tarsus as having “surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where there have been schools and lectures of philosophers” (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p. 324).
Not much can be seen of the Tarsus of Paul’s day, because the modern city with its population of 350,000+ is built on the ancient ruins. One exception to this is “St. Paul’s Well,” a well that dates back to Roman times.
Visitors to this site are told that Paul certainly drank of this well, and therefore the waters are said to have curative properties. It would be more accurate to say that because the well certainly dates back to Roman times that Paul may have drunk from this well; the fact that it goes back to the time of Paul is what gives it special value to students of Scripture.
There is an info sign on the premises:
Though Tarsus was Paul’s home, as a youth he was “brought up in this city [Jerusalem], educated with strictness under Gamaliel according to the law of our ancestors” (Acts 22:3 NET). After his conversion there was a period where again Paul was in Tarsus (Acts 9:30), prior to his work in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26).
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