Origins of the Turkish Church

The origins of the Turkish church can be traced back to the events in Judea immediately after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Jews from Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day (Acts 2:9 – 10). All of these people witnessed the Holy Spirit’s outpouring and Peter’s following sermon. Certainly, three thousand people were among them who are believers of Jesus on that day. (Acts 2:41).

First Christians in Anatolia

These were the first Christians in Anatolia when they returned home. A letter from Abgar V, king of Edessa, is one of the most interesting accounts documented by the early church father Eusebius in his Church History (1.13). Abgar, who was dying of a disease, wrote a letter to Jesus, pleading with him to cure him. Jesus replied that he would not be able to come, but that a disciple would be sent later.

The apostles sent Thaddeus after Pentecost. The king was immediately cured after he prayed for Abgar. The kingdom converted to Christianity after Abgar and his people believed in Jesus. Syriac Christianity, which is still practiced in the Mardin region, has its historical roots in this tradition.

Despite Jesus’ instruction to spread the gospel outside of Jerusalem (to the ends of the earth) (Acts 1:8), this did not happen until Stephen’s martyrdom. Saul, a willing accessary to this crime, was found by Jews from Cilicia and Asia (Acts 6:9ff.; 7:58 – 8:1).

Tarsus and Jerusalem

Despite being a Tarsus citizen, Saul had been brought to Jerusalem as a child to undergo formal Judaism training (Acts 21:39; 22:3). Saul was drastically converted on the road to Damascus, and after spending time in Arabia and Jerusalem, he returned to Tarsus (Acts 9:30; Gal.1:21). Meanwhile, those who had been dispersed by Stephen’s death journeyed as far north as Antioch, preaching first to Jews and then to Gentiles.

Many people soon joined a church and began to believe in the Lord (Acts 11:19 – 24). Barnabas brought Saul from Tarsus to help disciple these new believers, and these new believers were first referred to as Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:25 – 26).

If you book one of our Biblical Tours, you may get a more clear insight about them as well as ancient cities, churches and buildings.