A district of northern Asia Minor along the Euxine (Black Sea). The name evidently was applied first to that part of Cappadocia 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 hot in the summer and severe 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 Eupator challenged Roman power and expanded his kingdom greatly. After a series of wars the Romans under Pompey defeated him about 64 B.C.E. Much of Pontus was then united with Bithynia to the W into a combined province called Bithynia et 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. 37 B.C.E.) to form part of the Kingdom of Polemon. (See maps of Asia Minor, pages 146, 147.) Thus in the first century C.E. the term “Pontus” refers 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. (Acts 2:9) Possibly some of these Jews of Pontus who heard Peter’s speech became Christians and returned to their home territory. Some thirty 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. (1 Pet. 1:1) Since he mentioned “older men” who were to shepherd the flock, Christian congregations likely existed in Pontus. (1 Pet. 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.—Acts 18:1, 2