P.1831 - §4 Jesus and the twelve were on their way to visit Abner and his associates, who were preaching and teaching in Philadelphia. Of all the cities of Perea, in Philadelphia the largest group of Jews and gentiles, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, embraced the teachings of the seventy, thereby entering into the kingdom of heaven. The synagogue of Philadelphia had never been subject to the supervision of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem and therefore had never been closed to the teachings of Jesus and his associates. At this very time, Abner was teaching three times a day in the Philadelphia synagogue.

P.1831 - §5 This very synagogue later on became a Christian church and was the missionary headquarters for the promulgation of the gospel through the regions to the east. It was long a stronghold of the Master's teachings and stood alone in this region as a center of Christian learning for centuries.

P.1831 - §6 The Jews at Jerusalem had always had trouble with the Jews of Philadelphia. And after the death and resurrection of Jesus the Jerusalem church, of which James the Lord's brother was head, began to have serious difficulties with the Philadelphia congregation of believers. Abner became the head of the Philadelphia church, continuing as such until his death. And this estrangement with Jerusalem explains why nothing is heard of Abner and his work in the Gospel records of the New Testament. This feud between Jerusalem and Philadelphia lasted throughout the lifetimes of James and Abner and continued for some time after the destruction of Jerusalem. Philadelphia was really the headquarters of the early church in the south and east as Antioch was in the north and west.

Abner's Church?

In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon or Rabat Amon by the Ammonites (è·Ñ·¼ê â·Þ¼Õ¹ß, Standard Hebrew Rabbat ¿Ammon, Tiberian Hebrew Rabbao ¿Ammôn). It was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians, and then the Greeks. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Hellenic ruler of Egypt, renamed it Philadelphia. The city became part of the Nabataean kingdom until 106 AD when Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis.

In 324 AD, Christianity became the religion of the empire and Philadelphia became the seat of a bishopric during the beginning of the Byzantine era. One of the churches of this period can be seen on the city's Citadel.

Matt Neibaur, June 12, 2008

World's oldest Christian church discovered in Jordan,, June 11, 2008.

Archaeologists unearth 'first church in the world' in Rehab, June 9, 2008, Rula Samain. (earliest report)

Is this Christianity's first church?, Mailonline, June 11, 2008 (most photos)

World's Oldest Christian Church?, Newsfeed Researcher, June 11, 2008 (most details)

These article note:

We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ."

A mosaic found in the church describes these Christians as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine". Mr Husan said they believed to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan.

This article notes the seventy, whose head was Abner. It would be a wonderful discovery if UB readers could find any reference to Abner at this site, because Abner is not mentioned outside the UB.

Amman on wikipedia