Damascus, the capital of modern Syria that is located roughly 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Jerusalem, is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth. Evidence of a significant population living in the area dates to at least the second millennium B.C.
In the KJV Bible, Damascus is directly named at least sixty times. The city's first Biblical mention is in the book of Genesis, where it is connected with Abraham's military victory over a confederation of kings led by Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:15).
Some of the earliest New Testament successes in spreading the gospel were found in Damascus. A man named Saul, who would be renamed Paul, traveled to the city in 33 A.D. to haul off to jail all those in the synagogues who believed in Jesus (Acts 9:2). On his way God struck him blind and began to stir him to repentance.
The Lord, after Saul had fasted for three days, contacted a disciple named Ananias who lived in the city. He commissioned him not only to visit and heal Saul of his blindness but also to baptize him (Acts 9:10 - 18). After Saul received God's spirit, it was only natural that he would make the city his first evangelistic effort. His teachings and the ability to prove that Jesus was the Messiah was so powerful, however, that Jews in Damascus sought to murder him (Acts 9:20 - 25)!
Pella is located east of the Jordan River in a region called the Decapolis ("the ten cities" - see Matthew 4:25, Mark 5:20, 7:31). Although there is no direct reference to this city in the Bible, it is linked to Jesus' statement regarding the fleeing of his church into Judea when Jerusalem is attacked.
21. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those within her go out, and let not those in the countries come into her (Luke 21:21, see also Matthew 24:16 and Mark 13:14).
When the Jews began, in 66 A.D., to revolt against Roman rule, thousands of Christians fled Jerusalem to Pella. The early church historian Eusebius (c. 260 to 340) wrote the following about believers taking refuge in the city.
"The whole body of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella."