February 3, 2011

The Apostle Paul On the Island of Lesvos (Mytilene)

"When he [Paul] met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mytilene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios" (Acts 20:14, 15).

The Apostle Paul landed in Mytilene in 52 AD and spent the night there after departing Assos and on his way to Chios. This was his third apostolic journey which went from Corinth to Judaea.

It may be gathered from the circumstances of this voyage that the wind was blowing from the N.W.; and it is worthwhile to notice that in the harbor or in the roadstead of Mytilene the ship would be sheltered from that wind. Moreover, it appears that Paul was there at the time of the dark moon, and this was a sufficient reason for spending the night there before going through the intricate passages to the south (see Conybeare and Howson's Life of Saint Paul, p. 210).

During the Roman occupation the island was used as a place of exile for eminent figures who had fallen into disfavor. It appears there was no Christian church established here in the apostolic age. No mention is made of it in ecclesiastical history until a late period; and in the second century heathenism was so rife in Mytilene that a man was annually sacrificed here to Dionysius. 57 early Christian basilicas have been discovered on the island however, indicating a complete conversion of the island early on. Beginning in the fifth century we have a bishop of Mytilene present at a council.