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 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).
Derbe and Lystra
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 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 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 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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Derbe (Christian Travel Study Programs) Concisely summarizes the biblical significance of Derbe and the modern search for the site.
Mission in Derbe (The Unbound Bible) Briefly describes the location of the city and summarizes what happened there on Paul’s first missionary journey. Some comments on Paul’s visit there on his second missionary journey is available here.
Lystra (Christian Travel Study Programs) Summarizes the events that happened to Paul at Lystra on his first missionary journey.
Mission in Lystra (The Unbound Bible) Provides some facts about Lystra’s population in the first century and a summary of what happened there on Paul’s first missionary journey. Some comments on Paul’s visit there on his second missionary journey is available here.
Derbe (Catholic Encyclopedia) Informative and concise article on Derbe’s history and location.
Lystra (Catholic Encyclopedia) Informative and concise article on Lystra’s history and location.
Derbe Bible Study (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Detailed discussion of Derbe’s history, location, and biblical significance. Includes bibliography.
Lystra Bible Study (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Detailed discussion of Lystra’s history, location, and biblical significance. Provides insights into the local inhabitants’ worship of Paul and Barnabas.