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The meaning of Asia in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

a'-shi-a (Asia): A Roman province embracing the greater part of western Asia Minor, including the older countries of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and a part of Phrygia, also several of the independent coast cities, the Troad, and apparently the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Patmos, Cos and others near the Asia Minor coast (Acts 16:6; Acts 19:10, Acts 19:27). It is exceedingly difficult to determine the exact boundaries of the several countries which later constituted the Roman province, for they seem to have been somewhat vague to the ancients themselves, and were constantly shifting; it is therefore impossible to trace the exact borders of the province of Asia. Its history previous to 133 BC coincides with that of Asia Minor of which it was a part. However, in that year, Attalus III (Philometer), king of Pergamos, bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Empire. It was not until 129 BC that the province of Asia was really formed by Rome. Its first capital was Pergamos, the old capital of Mysia, but in the time of Augustus, when Asia had become the most wealthy province of the Empire, the seat of the government was transferred to Ephesus. Smyrna was also an important rival of Ephesus. The governor of Asia was a pro-consul, chosen by lot by the Roman senate from among the former consuls who had been out of office for at least five years, and he seldom continued in office for more than a single year. The diet of the province, composed of representatives from its various districts, met each year in the different cities. Over it presided the asiarch, whose duty it was, among other things, to offer sacrifices for the welfare of the emperor and his family.

In 285 AD the province was reduced in size, as Caria, Lydia, Mysia and Phrygia were separated from it, and apart from the cities of the coast little remained. The history of Asia consists almost entirely of the history of its important cities, which were Adramyttium, Assos, Cnidus, Ephesus, Laodicea, Miletus, Pergamos, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira, Troas, etc.

E. J. Banks


See more on the meaning of Asia in the Bible:
Asia {Easton's Bible Dictionary}
Asia {Hitchcock's Bible Name}

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