Derbe and Lystra


Derbe was a city in the district of Lycaonia in the Roman province of Galatia in south-central Asia Minor. It sat on a major route connecting Iconium to Laranda and was about 60 miles (97 km) from Lystra. Paul and Barnabas fled to Derbe and Lystra on his first missionary journey when city officials of Iconium plotted to stone them (Acts 14:6-21). Paul does not mention suffering any persecution in Derbe (2 Tim 3:11).


From 1888 through 1956, it was believed that Gudelisin was the site of Derbe, based on its proximity to Lystra. However in 1956, an inscription was found at the site Kerti Huyuk, 30 miles (48 km) east of the formerly accepted site, showing it to be the true Derbe. A second inscription was later found, marking the grave of a bishop of Derbe. This shows great Christian influence in Derbe centuries after Paul visited the city.

Mudbrick Houses

Mudbrick construction (shown here and in the picture above) is a typical building style throughout the ancient and modern Middle East. Using this method, mudbrick walls are built on top of a stone foundation. The roof is then constructed using wooden beams, some sort of matting such as palm fronds or straw, and some sort of sealant such as mortar or clay. Since the roof and mudbricks are made of a material that is either perishable or easily eroded, archaeologists often find only the stone foundations of ancient buildings.


Lystra (probably the hometown of Timothy) served as a market town of Lycaonia in south-central modern-day Turkey. Paul preached here on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-22). After he healed a lame man, the superstitious citizens immediately assumed that he was Hermes (messenger of Zeus) and Barnabas was Zeus himself (same as the Roman god Jupiter). There was a temple to Zeus near the gates of the city, and a statue of Hermes dedicated to Zeus was found here as well.

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Related Websites

See also Pisidian Antioch.

Derbe (Catholic Encyclopedia). Informative and concise article on Derbe’s history and location.

Derbe (Pilgrim Tours). This page doesn’t have any photos, but it provides some helpful information.

Derbe (NET Bible). Collects dictionary-style information from a variety of sources.

Lystra (Catholic Encyclopedia). Informative and concise article on Lystra’s history and location.

Lystra — the home of Timothy (Ferrell’s Travel Blog). This article discusses the biblical events surrounding Lystra, and it also features a lovely photo.

Lystra (McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia). This encyclopedia entry offers an interesting look into what has been historically written about Lystra.