Alexandria, located in Africa in the country of Egypt, is named after its founder, Alexander the Great, who began it around 331 B.C. The city, among the many things it was known for, possessed a library of 700,000 volumes containing a wealth of information. It also boasted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, a giant lighthouse that stood between 393 and 450 feet tall. The city additionally is the place where the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into the Greek language (called the Septuagint) in the third century B.C.
The city or its residents are mentioned four times in the KJV New Testament (Acts 6:9, 18:24, 27:6, 28:11). Alexandria is the birthplace of Apollos (Acts 18:24), a gifted Christian preacher and teacher who helped spread the gospel and who greatly helped the fledgling church in Corinth. According to the Wells Bible Atlas, it was John Mark who started a Christian church in Alexandria. Foxe's Book of Martyrs states he died in the city when those who worshipped the false god Serapis dragged him through the streets.
Cyrene is located in Africa on the northeastern Mediterranean shore of modern-day Libya. Founded around 630 B.C. as a Greek settlement, it became, in the first century, the capital city of the Roman province of Cyrenaica.
It was a man from Cyrene named Simon who was forced by the Romans to help carry Jesus' cross to Golgotha after he was too weak to do so himself (Matthew 27:32). Cyrenians were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when the Christian church was born (Acts 2:10) and were among the many baptized that day. Those from Cyrene were also some of the earliest Christians who preached the gospel to non-Jews (Acts 11:20, 13:1).
Puteoli was an important Roman port within Italy that was located roughly 170 miles (274 kilometers) from Rome. It was near the end of what is called Paul's fourth missionary journey that, on his way to Rome as a prisoner, he landed in Puteoli and met with fellow Christians for an entire week.
12. Now after landing at Syracuse, we remained for three days. 13. After setting a course from there, we arrived at Rhegium; and after one day the south wind blew, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14. There (in Italy) we found brethren, who entreated us to remain with them for seven days. And so, after that we came to Rome (Acts 28:12 - 14, HBFV)
After arriving in mainland Italy, Paul picked up the Appian Way north of the city and travelled the remainder of his journey on foot.
Rome was the political, economic and military center of the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. Since its 753 B.C. founding in Italy, it had grew to a wealthy major metropolis with an estimated population of 1.2 million (half of which were slaves). "Strangers of Rome" (Acts 2:10) were among the many at Jerusalem during the day of Pentecost when God poured out His spirit and thousands became converted.
The life of Jesus and the early New Testament church spanned several emperors. Augustus ruled the empire in 5 B.C. when Christ was born into the world and his successor, Tiberius, reigned when Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D. Caligula ruled when a Centurion named Cornelius became the first recorded non-Jew to become a Christian (Acts 10). Claudius was Emperor when, in 44 A.D., the Apostle Paul began the first of what would become five missionary journeys. He was also the ruler who expelled Priscilla, Aquila and other Jews from the city of Rome (Acts 18:1 - 2). Emperor Nero, in 67 A.D., began the first of Rome's persecutions against believers. He approved the killing of a whole host of saints, including Paul and Peter, in this capital city of Italy. Emperor Domitian exiled the last living original apostle, John, to the island of Patmos around 95 A.D. It took his successor, Nerva, to release John from the island and allow him to spend his remaining days in Ephesus.
The New Testament delineates no less than six Roman homes used as gathering places for Christians in Italy to meet, eat and worship the Eternal. Aquila and Priscilla who, like the apostle Paul, were tentmakers (Acts 18:3), hosted a fellowship in their home (Romans 16:3 - 5). Additionally, believers named Aristobulus, Narcissus, Asyncritus and Philogus maintained a house church (Romans 16:10 - 15). Paul himself, in his first imprisonment in Rome, was allowed the liberty of being guarded in a house that doubled as a place for believers to meet (Acts 28:16, 23, 29 - 31). In spite of the circumstances under which he was held, Paul wrote at least five of his fourteen epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and 2Timothy) from the city.