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This page was last updated on 24 May 2016.
Paul’s journey


The map below shows Paul’s journey:

Click here for a larger picture (1.3 Mbyte).


Acts 20:5-6 - Trip to Troas
While I mention Philippi frequently, I do measure from the coast/Neapolis.
The minimum possible distance navigating between the 3 islands on the route is 118 miles. That’s an almost a straight line. To give the 50 day view a maximum possibility of being proven true, I plotted the red route; 132 miles which I rounded up to a very generous 150 miles. That way the calculated speed will be higher and that increases the chance Paul made the trip within 50 days.

Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to them to Troas in five days; where we stayed seven days.
Acts 20:7 And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

The journey by ship was between the harbors of Neapolis and Ceasarea.
Philippi is 9 miles land inwards so I use the nearest harbor, Neapolis.

Quote from Christian History

Walking speed depended on the climate, season, and terrain, but one could generally walk about 20 miles in a day. Itineraries and travelogues of ancient Egyptians suggest that such a rate was typical for millennia. People walking the Persian Royal Road from Persepolis to Sardis (1,560 miles) averaged 18 miles a day.

About a 3 hour walk, so it’s likely Paul arrived in the harbor before dawn when the ship left. That means 1 of the 5 days is used up (Sabbath+walk).
That leaves 4 days for a  150 mile travel. 150/4=37.5 mile/day.
To give a 50 day Pentecost every chance possible I’ll double that speed.
75 mile/day.

I just hope that the reader sees, that I’m not bending the numbers into my favor but actually the opposite… So there is no need quibbling about a certain route is bit shorter and similar inaccuracies.


In the colored table  you see the number of days clearly mentioned in Acts. In the white table you see the possible traveling distance by boat based on 75 miles/day plus a 4 other speeds. With all those generous assumptions the trip to Jerusalem is possible within 50 days because all calculated distances are well above 1000 miles.

Before I move on to the next part of the analysis a short note on Acts 21:8-10; the many days at Phillip. I have no exact number, but 7 days is mentioned 3 times but never called many I assumed 8 days to be many. I don’t know the exact number, so I’ll use 8 and 7 days.


20:13-14 - Paul walks to Assos

Acts 20:13 And we went before to ship, and sailed to Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.
Acts 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

The green line in the first map is the 44 mile boat trip. 0.6 day.
There are no known ancient routes between the cities. A straight line is 22 miles but that would mean climbing mountains. The most logical route is trough the valley; 24 miles. 1.2 day.
If Paul left a few hours before the ship left he would have arrived at the same time the ship arrive. Because it benefits the 50-day theory, I’ll only use the ship miles for my calculations and assume no delays.


Acts 20:17 - Stay at Miletus

Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hurried, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

When Paul arrived in the harbor of Miletus, he sent someone to Ephesus to pick up the elders.
The exact route is unknown, but using a good estimate can be made. The dotted lines are known ancient roads. As you see they are all in the valleys because walking in the mountains slows you down. Unfortunately there is no known road connecting the northern and southern route crossing the river in the valley. But all things considering it doesn’t make any difference where the crossing from one route to another is made. I used the red line. Also for the last part connecting Ephesus to the road. The route is 49 miles long. 98 mile round trip.

Quote from Christian History

Walking speed depended on the climate, season, and terrain, but one could generally walk about 20 miles in a day. Itineraries and travelogues of ancient Egyptians suggest that such a rate was typical for millennia. People walking the Persian Royal Road from Persepolis to Sardis (1,560 miles) averaged 18 miles a day.

49/20=2.5 days.
I’ll assume the man Paul sent was a great walker and did the trip in 2 days.
The trip back obviously took longer because it’s unlikely the elders could do 24 miles a day. So for the return trip I count 3 full days. Or 16.3 miles a day. Very fair I think.

That brings the round trip on 2+3=5 days.
Acts 20:18-21:1 is about Paul teaching the elders. No duration is mentioned but very likely Paul didn’t sent for them for a speech of just one hour. If we assume Paul’s teaching was very short or was at night when they wouldn’t have traveled anyway the total duration of the stop is 5 days. When assuming a full day teaching it’s 6 days. So I’ll use 5 and 6 days.


Acts 21:1-7 - plotting the route

This section is mainly about finding the needed details to plot the route Paul sailed as accurate as possible. Read this in combination with the locations discussed earlier on this page. All mentioned places are plotted on the map at the top of this page.

Acts 21:1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course to Coos, and the day following to Rhodes, and from there to Patara:
Acts 21:2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
Acts 21:3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
Acts 21:4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
Acts 21:6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
Acts 21:7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brothers, and stayed with them one day.

The verses above show much about Paul’s route but not much duration is mentioned; which isn’t a problem because we are mainly looking for rest days. Changing ship in Patara might have taken some time which should be recorded as rest. But again, I give the 50-day theory the unfair advantage.


Acts 21:17 - Walking to Jerusalem


Quote from Christian History

Walking speed depended on the climate, season, and terrain, but one could generally walk about 20 miles in a day. Itineraries and travelogues of ancient Egyptians suggest that such a rate was typical for millennia. People walking the Persian Royal Road from Persepolis to Sardis (1,560 miles) averaged 18 miles a day.

Using known ancient routes,, the trip would be at least 65 miles, or 3.3 days. I marked the route (black dotted lines) with a few red dots. I doubt the elders (21:18) could do 20 mile/day. I’ll use 4 and 3 days.

As the map shows, there are many routes to Jerusalem. The Ceasarea-Lydda route was a main route. Usually the better roads. From there to Jerusalem were several possible routes. I picked the shortest one. So all things considered ‘my’ route is the shortest and fastest.
But I can see reasons Paul didn’t take the most efficient route. Paul was warned several times by either a prophet or directly by the Spirit, that people tried to ambush him. For that reason it’s possible Paul took the minor roads to avoid the chance of being spotted on the more busy roads.
That would add more traveling days.

I don’t know where Philip lived. If Philip didn’t live near an (efficient) route it would add traveling days.

Considering all that the total Ceasarea-Jerusalem route was likely quite a bit longer than the optimum 65 miles.


21:26-27 - 7 days of purification

On to the last part of the Pentecost count….

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Acts 21:27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
Acts 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teaches all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and has polluted this holy place.
Acts 21:29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

Being a devout believer, Paul did a 7 day purification ritual. Just before it ended he was arrested. Such rituals were done just before a Feast. So I count a full 7 days for the ritual.

John 11:55 And the Jews' passover was near at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

As you can see in the table just below,  I moved “Arrival in Jerusalem” to the ‘Rest’ column. Strictly speaking that’s wrong because walking isn’t resting. But because the boat trip is only measured until the last harbor ‘Ceasarea’ (near Philip’s house), I used that method to subtract  those days as possible traveling days by boat.

The ‘Late’ column shows how many days Paul would have been late for Pentecost, traveling at different average sailing speeds.


Faster ship

Yes, much faster ships existed during the time of Paul’s journey. High speeds ships were mostly for the rich, military and pirates. Click.

Enough talk. Below a table with two high speed ships.

The negative numbers are days Paul would have been early for Pentecost using that speed and number of rest days. The positive numbers are the days Paul would have been overdue.

The table shows that even under optimum conditions, Paul would have a slim chance to be on time if he had sailed a ship, that was much faster than anything existing at that time.

Finally to wrap this section up slightly slower ships.


Adding more travel days?

The above proves the trip wasn’t possible in 50 days and it gets even worse when the insane minimums are relaxed a bit.

Let’s look at a possible scenario:

That’s a total of 14 days that should be added.

We aren’t done yet :-)
Remember that the calculated speed was 37.5 mile/day. Using that number we get the following results:

Not 101-103 days, but that’s of no importance to my position because the only thing I have to prove, is that Paul traveled more than 50 days. The remaining days are just unmentioned days in Scripture. Maybe all of them were spend at Philip….


Paul wasn’t on time for Pentecost

That’s likely one of the claims when admitting the above counting shows Paul didn’t make it in 50 days.

There isn’t a single indication Paul was late. If he was really 9 days late he could have skipped the visit at Phillip’s house and might have been on time anyway. And even then when assuming very unrealistic numbers.