A district of northern Asia Minor along the Euxine Sea (Black Sea). The name evidently was applied in pre-Christian times to that part of northern Asia Minor bordering Pontus Euxinus, as the sea was sometimes called. Pontus ran from the lower course of the Halys River on the W (near Bithynia) eastward along the coast toward the SE limit of the sea. Along the fertile coastline the climate is warm in the summer and mild in the winter. The interior forms the NE corner of the central plateau, broken by many river valleys, and in these grain was grown. The mountain slopes were forested and produced timber for shipbuilding. Along the coast the influence of Greek colonies was felt, but the people of the interior had close ties to Armenia to the E.
After being under Persian influence for a time, the separate kingdom of Pontus was set up in the fourth century B.C.E. There was a succession of kings called Mithradates, and close ties with Rome developed. However, Mithradates VI Eupator challenged Roman power and expanded his kingdom greatly. After a series of wars, the Romans under Pompey defeated him about 66 B.C.E. Much of Pontus was then united with Bithynia to the W into a combined province called Bithynia and Pontus. But the eastern section was added to the province of Galatia (Galatian Pontus). Later, some of this eastern part was given to Polemon (c. 36 B.C.E.) to form part of the Kingdom of Polemon. (MAP, Vol. 1, p. 195) Thus in the first century C.E. the term “Pontus” referred either to the entire geographic area along the coast or to that part found in the combined province of Bithynia and Pontus or even to the eastern section that had become part of Galatia and the Kingdom of Polemon.
The first-century Jewish writer Philo said that Jews had spread to every part of Pontus. Jews from Pontus were present in Jerusalem on Pentecost 33 C.E. (Ac 2:9) Possibly some of these Jews of Pontus who heard Peter’s speech became Christians and returned to their home territory. Some 30 years later, Peter addressed his first canonical letter (c. 62-64 C.E.) to “temporary residents scattered about in Pontus” and other parts of Asia Minor. (1Pe 1:1) Since he mentioned “older men” who were to shepherd the flock, Christian congregations likely existed in Pontus. (1Pe 5:1, 2) The Jew named Aquila who was a native of Pontus traveled to Rome and then to Corinth, where he met the apostle Paul.—Ac 18:1, 2.