Cappadocia was the easternmost province of the ancient Roman Empire in eastern Asia Minor. Part of the region was dominated by mountains and highlands; the rest featured a fertile plain all the way to the Euphrates River. Though there isn’t much detail about the territory in the Bible, the New Testament does make mention of Cappadocia as a place where some believers were, evidence of the widespread growth of Christianity in the first century.
Cappadocia—The Day of Pentecost
The first mention of Cappadocia is in Luke’s account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Acts 2:1–4 states, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The large gathering of Jews at that time included people from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), including “residents of . . . Cappadocia” (verse 9).
Cappadocia—Peter’s First Letter
Believers in Cappadocia are mentioned specifically by Peter. He pens his first letter to “God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance” (1 Peter 1:1–2). During this time, believers were being brutally persecuted and found refuge in places like Cappadocia. There, the believers continued to multiply.
Cappadocia—Later Christian Expansion
After the apostolic age, Cappadocia became an important hub of Christian activity. The Cappadocian Fathers of the fourth century lived in the region and were integral to the defense of Christian doctrine against the falsehoods of Arianism.
Cappadocia eventually became part of the Byzantine Empire, as did all of Asia Minor, but in the eleventh century fell to the Turks. Today, visitors to Cappadocia can tour underground cites and see many churches and ancient homes cut out of rock.