An ancient city of Asia Minor lying about 2,320 feet (707 meters) above sea level. Iconium is presently known as Konya (Konia), located about 150 miles (c. 240 kilometers) S of Ankara on the southwestern edge of the central Turkish plateau. In the surrounding area, watered by streams flowing from mountains a few miles to the W, grain, sugar beets and flax are cultivated. Konya also has many irrigated gardens and fruit orchards. Although given the title Claudiconium during the rule of Emperor Claudius, not until Hadrian’s time (in the second century C.E.) was the city constituted a Roman colony.
In the first century C.E. Iconium was one of the principal cities in the Roman province of Galatia and lay astride the main trade route from Ephesus to Syria. The city had an influential Jewish population. Paul and Barnabas, after being forced to leave Pisidian Antioch, preached in the city of Iconium and its synagogue and there aided many Jews and Greeks to become believers. But when an attempt was made to stone them, they fled from Iconium to Lystra. Soon Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and stirred up the crowds there so that they stoned Paul. Thereafter Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe and then courageously returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the brothers and appointing “older men” to positions of responsibility in the congregations established in these cities.—Acts 13:50, 51; 14:1-7, 19-23.
Later, after the circumcision issue arose and was settled by the apostles and older men of the Jerusalem congregation, Paul seems to have revisited Iconium. It was on this second missionary journey that Paul took along Timothy, a young man having a fine reputation among the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.—Acts 16:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:10, 11.
Iconium was on the border between Phrygia and Lycaonia. This may explain why certain ancient writers, including Strabo and Cicero, assigned it to Lycaonia, whereas Xenophon called it the last city of Phrygia. From a geographical standpoint, Iconium belonged to Lycaonia, but, as indicated by archaeological discoveries, it was Phrygian in culture and speech. Inscriptions found at the site in 1910 show that Phrygian was the language used there for two centuries after Paul’s time. Appropriately, therefore, the writer of Acts did not include Iconium as part of Lycaonia, where the “Lycaonian tongue” was spoken.—Acts 14:6, 11.