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Iconium (See also wiki article Iconium.)

ICONIUM, now called Konia, is an ancient city of continuous importance from early times to the present day. Situated at the western edge of the vast central plain of Asia Minor, and well watered, it has always been a busy place. It is surrounded by beautiful orchards, which cover the meanness of its modern buildings. About the beginning of the Christian era it was on the border of the two ethnic districts, Lycaonia and Phrygia. It was in reality the easternmost city of Phrygia, and the inhabitants considered themselves Phrygians, but ancient writers commonly speak of it as a city of Lycaonia (q.v.), the fate of which it generally shared. In the 3rd cent. BC it was ruled by the Seleucids, and about 164 BC, probably, it passed under the power of the Galatae (Asiatic Celts). It was the property of the Pontic kings from about 130 BC, was set free during the Mithridatic wars, and in 39 BC was given by Mark Antony to Polemon, king of Cilicia Tracheia. In 36 BC Antony gave it to Amyntas, who was at that time made king of Galatia (q.v.). On his death in 25 BC the whole of his kingdom became the Roman province of Galatia. Iconium could thus be spoken of as Lycaonian, Phrygian, or Galatic, according to the speaker's point of view. In the time of the Emperor Claudius, it, along with Derbe, received the honorary prefix Claudio-, becoming Claudi-conium, but it was not till Hadrian's time (AD 117-138) that it became a Roman colony (q.v.). It was 18 miles distant from Lystra, and a direct route passed between them.

The gospel was brought to Iconium by Paul and Barnabas, who visited it twice on the first missionary journey (Ac.13.51, 14.21). The presence of Jews there is confirmed by the evidence of inscriptions. According to the ' south Galatian hypothesis,' now most widely held, it was within 'the Phrygo-Galatic region' of Ac.16.6 and the 'Galatic region and Phrygia' of Ac.18.23. It was therefore visited four times in all by St. Paul, who addressed it among other cities in his Epistle to the Galatians. During the absence of Paul it had been visited by Judaizers, who pretended that Paul was a mere messenger of the earlier Apostles, and contended that the Jewish ceremonial law was binding on the Christian converts. Paul's Epistle appears to have been successful, and the Galatians afterwards contributed to the collection for the poor Christians of Jerusalem. The alternative view (the 'north Galatian hypothesis') is that Iconium is not really included in the Acts narrative after 16.2ff, and that the words quoted above from Ac.16.6 and 18.23 refer to the territory of Galatia proper, which lay far north of Iconium, and that the Epistle to the Galatians, being addressed to that northern district, had no connexion with Iconium. In any case, the (province) Galatia which is addressed in 1P.1.2 will by that time (late 1st cent.) have included Iconium. The large number of Christian inscriptions which have been found there reveal the existence of a vigorous Christian life in the 3rd and following centuries. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - A. So. - E. G. K.]