In Acts 13, we find Paul the apostle traveling around the Mediterranean region. This chapter is typical of the last half of Acts, in that it mentions a series of minute details about local geography and people:
- v.1: mentions several names. Listing these men serves no theological or political benefit, only historical and biographical.
- v.4: “they went down to Seleucia”: From Antioch, Seleucia is down to the ocean.
- v.4: they sailed from Seleucia to Cyprus, a correct sailing route.
- v.5: “they arrived in Salamis” which was a port on the east side of Cyprus
- v.6: “they had gone through the island to Paphos”: this city was on the west side of the island of Cyprus
- v.7: Sergio Paulus was the proconsul: It mentions this man, his first and last name, and his title. He is known to historians, for in 1887, archaeologists found a stone with his name chiseled into it. The details in this verse place Paul in a city with a known leader and dates it to the early 40’s AD. This is about 20 years after Jesus, too early for myths to develop, since eyewitnesses were still alive.
- v.13: They sail from Paphos to Perga, which would be a correct sailing route.
- v.16: Paul is in a synagogue and begins to speak. He stands up and “motions with his hand.” There is no reason to mention this tiny detail unless there was an eyewitness there who saw it.
The second half of Acts has hundreds of these types of details. Such minute facts show that the writer had an intimate knowledge of the land, the people, the leaders around the Mediterranean. The details serve no theological or political purpose, and do not help with any plot line in the story. If this were a historical novel, as critics suggest, it would be a very poor one, for the plot line does not allow for much of a novel, and the details serve no purpose in a fictional story.
The only purpose for these details is to show that it was from an eyewitness who was in that region in the first century.