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PISIDIA (pĭ-sĭd'ĭ-a, Gr. Pisidia). One of the small Roman provinces in southern Asia Minor, just north of Pamphylia and lying along the coast. It was mountainous but more densely populated than the rough coastal areas, especially because it contained the important city of Antioch. Because of this, Paul visited the city twice. On his first journey (Acts.13.14-Acts.13.50; niv “Pisidian Antioch”) he preached a lengthy sermon in the synagogue, testifying of Christ. A week later “almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord” (Acts.13.44). Then the jealous Jews stirred up both the honorable women and the chief men of the city (Acts.13.50), and Paul and Barnabas were forced out of this greatest Pisidian city. On his second journey Paul revisited Pisidia and Antioch, “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to faith” (Acts.14.21-Acts.14.24).

PISIDIA pĭ sĭd’ e ə (Πισίδια). A contour map of Asia Minor shows that the Taurus range forms a rampart behind Cilicia and Pamphylia, and walls off the open coastline, with its Greek ports and cosmopolitan cities, from the central Asia Minor plateau. Pisidia is a mountainous district, some 120 m. long by 50 wide, at the western end of this upland chain, forming a hinterland to Pamphylia. The nature of the terrain, where the Taurus breaks into a tangle of ridges and valleys, made it the natural home of independent and predatory mountain tribesmen, who resisted successfully the attempts of the Persians, during their occupancy of Asia Minor, to subdue them, and equally defied the Persians’ Hel. successors. They professed submission to Alexander, but it could have been little more than in name. To establish some form of control over the highland tribes, the Seleucid kings founded Antioch (called Pisidian Antioch [Acts 13:14] to distinguish it from the royal capital of Syria, and from the Phrygian Antioch on the Maeander). For similar reasons of security, Amyntas of Galatia strengthened Antioch toward the end of his reign (26/25 b.c.), and established a system of strong points linked with military roads in the area. Paul’s reference to “danger from robbers” (2 Cor 11:26) in his list of tribulations, could well refer to the continued insecurity of the mountain roads of the region even after Antioch had become a bastion of the empire’s military power in Asia. Paul traversed the area twice. Amyntas had acquired the Pisidian highlands as part of the kingdom of Galatia assigned to him by Antony in 38 b.c., and it was in the course of his campaign against the mountain tribesmen that the king was killed.

Sulpicius Quirinius, famous in connection with the Lukan census in Pal. was commissioned by Augustus to establish order in the area. In the course of his systematic organization of the Rom. frontiers a difficult and illdocumented process that occupied fully twenty significant years of his principate, Augustus gave considerable attention to the pacification of the perennially rebellious mountaineers who formed islands and enclaves in his frontier system. Drusus and Tiberius sought to tame the Alpine clans N of Italy and Quirinius undertook the same laborious task in Pisidia. He seems to have established some sort of peace and his subsequent organization incorporated the mountain region in the province of Galatia.

In a.d. 74 Vespasian attached a considerable part of Pisidia to the province of Pamphylia, where no large military force was stationed. The reorganization might suggest that by this time the slow pressure of the Rom. peace had tamed the lawless natives. In the 2nd cent., numerous market towns sprang up, but there is no evidence of Christian penetration of the wild hill country before the time of Constantine, and the conversion, if the term may be used, of the empire to Christianity. Paul’s visits were urban, and the political and military bastion of Pisidian Antioch on its high plateau and in the midst of a great road system was typical of Pauline strategy.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(ten Pisidian (Ac 14:24); in Ac 13:14, Codices Sinaitica, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi give Antiocheian ten Pisidian, "the Pisidian Antioch," the other manuscripts, Antiocheian tes Pisidias, "Antioch of Pisidia." The former, but not the latter, reading correctly describes the condition of affairs at the time when Paul traveled in the country; see below):

1. Situation and History:

Pisidia, as a strict geographical term, was the name given to the huge block of mountain country stretching northward from the Taurus range where the latter overlooked the Pamphylian coast land, to the valleys which connected Apamea with Antioch, and Antioch with Iconium. It was bounded by Lycia on the West, by the Phrygian country on the North, and by Isauria on the East; but there is no natural boundary between Pisidia and Isauria, and the frontier was never strictly drawn. The name is used in its geographical sense in the Anabasis of Xenophon, who informs us that the Pisidians were independent of the king of Persia at the end of the 5th century BC. Alexander the Great had difficulty in reducing the Pisidian cities, and throughout ancient history we find the Pisidian mountains described as the home of a turbulent and warlike people, given to robbery and pillage. The task of subjugating them was entrusted by the Romans to the Galatian king Amyntas, and, at his death in 25 BC, Pisidia passed with the rest of his possessions into the Roman province Galatia. Augustus now took seriously in hand the pacification of Pisidia and the Isaurian mountains on the East Five military colonies were founded in Pisidia and the eastern mountains--Cremna, Comama, Olbasa, Parlais and Lystra--and all were connected by military roads with the main garrison city Antioch, which lay in Galatian Phrygia, near the northern border of Pisidia. An inscription discovered in 1912 shows that Quirinius, who is mentioned in Lu 2:2 as governor of Syria in the year of Christ’s birth, was an honorary magistrate of the colony of Antioch; his connection with Antioch dates from his campaign against the Homonades--who had resisted and killed Amyntas--about 8 BC (see Ramsay in The Expositor, November, 1912, 385 ff, 406). The military system set up in Pisidia was based on that of Antioch, and from this fact, and from its proximity to Pisidia, Antioch derived its title "the Pisidian," which served to distinguish it from the other cities called Antioch. It is by a mistake arising from confusion with a later political arrangement that Antioch is designated "of Pisidia" in the majority of the manuscripts.

Pisidia remained part of the province Galatia till 74 AD, when the greater (southern) part of it was assigned to the new double province Lycia-Pamphylia, and the cities in this portion of Pisidia now ranked as Pamphylian. The northern part of Pisidia continued to belong to Galatia, until, in the time of Diocletian, the southern part of the province Galatia (including the cities of Antioch and Iconium), with parts of Lycaonia and Asia, were formed Into a province called Pisidia, with Antioch as capital. Antioch was now for the first time correctly described as a city "of Pisidia," although there is reason to believe that the term "Pisidia" had already been extended northward in popular usage to include part at least of the Phrygian region of Galatia. This perhaps explains the reading "Antioch of Pisidia" in the Codex Bezae, whose readings usually reflect the conditions of the 2nd century of our era in Asia Minor. This use of the term was of course political and administrative; Antioch continued to be a city of Phrygia in the ethnical sense and a recently discovered inscription proves that the Phrygian language was spoken in the neighborhood of Antioch as late as the 3rd century of our era (see also Calder in Journal of Roman Studies, 1912, 84).

2. Paul in Pisidia:

Paul crossed Pisidia on the journey from Perga to Antioch referred to in Ac 13:14, and again on the return journey, Ac 14:24. Of those journeys no details are recorded in Acts, but it has been suggested by Conybeare and Howson that the "perils of rivers" and "perils of robbers" mentioned by Paul in 2Co 11:26 refer to his journeys across Pisidia, and Ramsay has pointed out in confirmation of this view that a considerable number of Pisidian inscriptions refer to the armed policemen and soldiers who kept the peace in this region, while others refer to a conflict with robbers, or to an escape from drowning in a river (The Church in the Roman Empire, 23 f; compare Journal of Roman Studies, 1912, 82 f). Adada, a city off Paul’s route from Perga to Antioch, is called by the Turks Kara Baulo; "Baulo" is the Turkish pronunciation of "Paulos," and the name is doubtless reminiscent of an early tradition connecting the city with Paul. Pisidia had remained unaffected by Hellenic civilization, and the Roman occupation at the time of Paul was purely military. It is therefore unlikely that Paul preached in Pisidia. Except on the extreme Northwest, none of the Christian inscriptions of Pisidia--in glaring contrast with those of Phrygia--date before the legal recognition of Christianity under Constantine.


Murray, Handbook of Asia Minor, 150 ff; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 18 ff; Lanckoronski, Stadte Pamphyliens und Pisidiens; Sterrett, Epigraphical Journey and Wolfe Expedition. A few inscriptions containing Pisidian names with native inflections have been published by Ramsay in Revue des universites du midi, 1895, 353 ff.