Cities of the Decapolis

July 18, 2018

I’m currently presenting a visualized survey of the Bible, with tonight’s lesson dealing with the Life of Christ. Following Jesus’ Galilean Ministry, He pursued a plan to invest more time alone with the Apostles, preparing them for the great work they were to do. This period is known as the Retirement Ministry, “retiring” from the crowds to be with the apostles. One region Jesus traveled during this time was the Decapolis. “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis” (Mark 7:31). This largely Gentile area was comprised of ten cities (hence the name) which were given autonomy by Rome.

One of the cities of the Decapolis was Jerash (Gerasa).

Hadrian Gate at entrance to Jerash, one of the cities of the Decapolis. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view down the Cardo of Jerash.

Cardo at Jerash. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Another city of the Decapolis was Hippos. From here you can see the Sea of Galilee.

Hippos of the Decapolis. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We’ve previously written here on Hippos.

Back to our text of Mark 7:31. Here was the site of one of Jesus’ many miracles, which gave proof of His deity:

Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mark 7:31-37).

Click images for larger view.

Assos, In the Steps of Paul

November 18, 2015

On Paul’s return trip on his 3rd Missionary Journey, after departing from Troas, he walked on to Assos and rejoined his traveling companions there. Today at noon (ETS meeting, ATL) Dr. Mark Wilson did a very informative presentation on that segment of Paul’s travel.

11 Now when he [Paul] had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man [Eutychus] in alive, and they were not a little comforted. 13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene (Acts 20:11-14).

At the acropolis of Assos there are some well-preserved ruins of the temple of Athena.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the Acropolis:

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

While the distance from Troas to Assos as the crow flies is about 20 miles, Dr. Wilson pointed out that the Roman road on which Paul would have traveled would have been about 31 miles, and would have taken two days.

Map by

Map by

Mark said that Assos was one of his top 10 favorite places in Turkey to visit. I have to agree!

I have a previous post on Assos here.

2014 in review

December 30, 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ruth the Moabitess

November 15, 2014

After studying the book of Judges, especially with the material recorded in chapters 17-21, the book of Ruth is so refreshing, like a breath of fresh air! This 4 chapter book tells how Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons left Bethlehem in time of famine for the fields of Moab, sojourning there for ten years. The sons married women of Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Elimelech and both sons died. When Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem, Ruth made the choice to go with her. She said,

Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:16-17).

The text narrates how Ruth met and married Boaz, describing Ruth as a hard worker, showing kindness to her mother-in-law, and known throughout the town as a virtuous woman, and depicting Boaz as equally magnanimous, walking in the fear of the LORD. But the real reason Ruth is in the Bible does not become apparent until the closing verses. Starting with Judah’s son Perez as his beginning point, the writer informs us:

Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron. 19 Hezron fathered Ram, who fathered Amminadab.  Amminadab fathered Nahshon, who fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz, who fathered Obed.  And Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered David (Ruth 4:18-22).

Ruth is thus seen in the lineage of the Messiah! Her story is one link in the chain of God’s Old Testament promise to bring Christ into the world to accomplish His great redemptive work. Matthew begins his gospel record with the genealogy of Christ, including Ruth: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse” (1:5).

Our photo, taken on the NW shore of the Dead Sea, looks across to the mountains of Moab, Ruth’s home.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

OT Moab is today the territory of Jordan.

Click image for larger view.


New Resource: The Big Picture

December 4, 2012

Ferrell Jenkins reviews and recommends a new resource, The Big Picture: A Guide to Learning the Bible’s Story, by Marc Hinds. You may read that review here, including ordering instructions.

I received my copy in yesterday’s mail, and would like to also give my recommendation. This book will be a great resource for beginners as well as for those needing to see the unity and connectivity of the Scriptures.  Marc is a careful student, and capable preacher/teacher.

From Sept. through early Nov., in about an 8 week period, we conducted 6 meetings in several states and Canada. Then on Nov. 12 I had a total knee replacement, with subsequent complications that required more surgery. But things seem to be leveling off now. That has hindered my ability to post on this blog, but we hope to be more regular now. Thanks for your patience.

The Continuity of God’s Plan

January 23, 2012

During most of the decade of the ’80’s we lived and preached in Lexington, AL., a small town in northwest Alabama just below the Tennessee state line. When we moved there we soon heard of a church member, Mr. Beavers (already deceased), whose “gift for gab” was legendary. It was about a 40 minute ride from Lexington to Florence. A company van provided transportation so he and other area workers rode back and forth every day.

It was said that when Mr. Beavers got in the van he started talking. And he talked all the way to work. Then nine hours later at the end of the workday when they loaded up to return home, he start talking again–without fail taking up at the very point he left off that morning! I always thought that was amazing. If my train of thought is interrupted I might have to ask, “Now what was I saying?” But Mr. Beavers could remember consistently, with the passing of nine hours.

But then I think of God’s redemptive plan, which in His eternal wisdom he formulated before the foundation of the earth. He began to reveal that plan in Gen. 3:15, with the first promise of Christ, when sin first entered the world. Little by little through the Old Testament there is the unfolding of God’s plan. Then we come to the book of Malachi, the final prophet in our Old Testament. Malachi prophesied ca. 432 BC. There would be more than 400 years of biblical silence, that is, where there would be no more revelation from God, until that silence is broken as the Gospel records report. But God never forgot His plan. Note the connection between Malachi and Luke (Luke goes back the farthest in his record re: the birth of John), when the angel Gabriel told the aged priest Zacharias that he and his barren wife Elizabeth were to have a son:

The Continuity of God's Plan. Chart by Leon Mauldin.

The Old Testament concluded with a prophecy of John’s birth, figuratively referenced here as Elijah the prophet. He would be the forerunner to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. But although 400+ passed after Malachi’s prophecy, when God renewed revelation, He took up right where He left off, thus continuing the unfolding of His plan to bring Christ into the world. Amazing!

DVD of Sandra Waldron’s Memorial Service

October 16, 2011

I previously posted a tribute to Sandra Waldron, wife of evangelist Bob Waldron, on Leon’s Message Board which you may see here.

Bob and Sandra Waldron

I have recently received a DVD of the memorial service for Sandra, conducted by Bob Waldron and myself, in Athens, AL, on Tues., Sept. 13, 2011.

Bob requested that I make this available for those who would be interested. When I converted the DVD for uploading, it was rendered into three parts, which are here below in consecutive order:


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The Fullness of the Time

September 24, 2010

Galatians 4:4 states, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…”

The appropriate time determined by God that Jesus would become flesh is called the fullness of the time. A careful reading of the Old Testament Scriptures necessitates the conclusion that all was anticipatory of the coming of Christ.  To read the Old Testament with understanding, is to witness the unfolding of God’s plan to bring Christ into the world.  The only hope of all humanity is the redemption that is in Jesus.

There are many passages that demonstrate this; some are more plain and direct than others. Texts such as Isa. 53 clearly speak of Christ and His suffering, death, and resurrection. But even in places such as Gen. 5, and Gen. 11, when you come to those long lists of names, they are there for a purpose.  No effort is made to list everybody, but the generations are traced from Adam through Seth down to Noah (Gen. 5).  Then we continue from Noah through Shem down to Terah the father of Abram (Abraham (Gen. 11).  We want to bear in mind when we read such passages that we are working toward the fullness of the time.

Our God is sovereign.  He rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:17). Following the purging of idolatry from His people through the Babylonian captivity, there was the emergence of the synagogue. During the Medo-Perisan period, it was only a remnant of the Jews who returned to the land of Israel.  The rest remained in the areas where they had been dispersed.

Medo-Persian Empire. Geographical setting as OT revelation concluded. Map ©Scott Richardson.

Where was the first place the Apostle Paul would preach as he entered a city?  The synagogue!  For centuries at such locations scattered throughout the world there had been the reading and teaching of the Law.  Paul’s job was to tell them the good news, that their Scriptures had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ!  But God had been preparing them (the Jews) for that point in time throughout their history.  The fullness of the time had come!

With the fall of Persia and the rise of Greece the hand of God continued to be seen.  With the advance of Grecian culture by Alexander the Great, the Greek language became universal.  Though the Hebrew language was becoming largely unspoken (a dead language), during the Grecian period the Scriptures were translated into Greek (this translation was called the Septuagint). So anyone who could read Greek could read the OT Scriptures!  Most all of the quotations by Jesus and the NT writers were from this Greek translation.  Then when it was time to preach the good news of salvation in the name of Jesus, beginning in Acts 2, there was a universal language by which the Gospel would be proclaimed–Greek.  When the NT Scriptures were written, they were written in Koine (common) Greek!  The fullness of the time had come!

Grecian Empire. Greek became the universal language. Map ©Scott Richardson.

Next in history there was the rise of the Roman Empire.  Rome put an end to piracy at sea, and built roads and bridges such as the world had never seen.  Never before was it possible to safely and efficiently travel such great distances by land and sea, as was the case by the 1st century, just in time for the Gospel to be preached “to every creature” (Mk. 16:16; Col. 1:23).

Roman Empire. Setting for the Gospel preaching in 1st century AD. Map ©Scott Richardson.

So you see, even working through the kingdoms of men (without their knowledge), God was making all things ready for the coming of His Son.  Our God is an awesome God.

A resource I would recommend for your further study is The Theme of the Bible, by Ferrell Jenkins. It is available at the Florida College Bookstore at

Maps in today’s post are by my friend Scott Richardson. You may view & order his biblical study supplies at

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