Caesarea Philippi Three to four miles east of Dan, near the eastern edge of Jordan, sits an ancient city once called Paneas. Now called Banias, it sits adjacent from a grotto dedicated to Pan.
Banias stood on an elevated plateau, among ravines and water courses, where the mountains southwest of Hermon met a plain above Lake Huleh.
Banias, with its thick, strong walls, was embellished and enlarged by Philip – son of Herod – who served as tetrarch of Trachonitis.
It was called Caesarea in honor of Tiberius Caesar. The name Philippi was added in order to distinguish it from the site Caesarea on the Mediterranean. It therefore became Caesarea Philippi.
It was near Caesarea Philippi that Jesus announced he would establish a church, and announced that the apostle Simon, who he renamed Peter, would have authority over it.
Christ asked “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” It was Peter who answered: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
In response, Christ said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”
When Jesus was in the area, it was ruled by Philip, the son of Herod the Great.
Philip had renamed the city to be called “Caesarea.”
In order to distinguish it from the coastal region Caesarea Maritima,
the site then became known as Caesarea Philippi.
It was at Caesarea Philippi where the cult of Pan flourished. On the eastern side of a large cave, people found the remains to shrines of Pan and found inscriptions aging back to the second century which bore his name.
Philip built the city on a large plateau at the food of Mount Hermon in a place where the headwaters of the Jordan River emerged from a grotto.
This was the place where, in ancient times, people worshiped the pagan nature gods Ba’al and Pan.
In the grotto, visitors can find a shrine to Pan and the nymph Echo.
Though Herod built a temple nearby dedicated to the Roman emperor Augustus,
the building of the city was entirely up to Philip.
In Caesarea Philippi Peter referenced Jesus as the Messiah, as told in the Scriptures:
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”
28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets.”
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
30 And he charged them to tell no one about him.
After Jerusalem was destroyed, it was in Caesarea Philippi where Titus made captured Jews fight and kill each other in gladiator fights.
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