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Pagan god Pan Vs. Jesus at Caesarea Philippi


Part I   –  Rock at Caesarea Philippi
Part II –  Near, not in Caesarea ??   Relevant ???
                 Seeing the Context at Caesarea Philippi
Part III - Keys of the Kingdom - Office and Succession
Part IV - Pagan god Pan Vs Jesus

Part V -  Christ Defeats Pan

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Part IV - Pagan god Pan Vs Jesus


Caesarea Philippi was originally called Paneas because it was the center for the worship of the Greek god Pan.  Today, the area is called Banias which is an Arabic variant of Paneas.   

Stanley L. Jaki in his book AND ON THIS ROCK writes: 

Pan’s cult … was a celebration of fertility.  That the celebration readily took on forms of plain orgy is suggested by Pan’s most characteristic features: a head decorated with horns, a leery and lustful smile, and the prancing legs of a goat.

The name Pan, a contraction from Paon, gave origin to the word panic, which may have first referred to the stampeding of a herd.  Its further meaning as human fright was a logical outgrowth of the unbridled lust that made Pan’s sanctuary first an alluring and then a frightening experience to many. [pages 24-28] 


The niches carved out in the rock at Caesarea Philippi were for statues of their pagan gods.  In Jesus’s time a person would have found a wooden statue of Pan in each of these niches.  We can make many contrasts between the Pagan god of Pan and the One True God, Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit make up our Triune God. 

The Encyclopedia Encarta gives the following information on Pan.

“Pan (mythology), in Greek mythology, god of shepherds and flocks. He was believed to be responsible for their fertility. … Pan was especially fond of remote mountains and caves and was believed to be responsible for the sudden, inexplicable fear, or panic, …

In the 2nd century ad the Greek essayist Plutarch recorded that during the reign of Emperor Tiberius travelers sailing along the west coast of Greece heard a loud voice proclaiming the death of the great god Pan. In Christian legend, this story was associated with the Passion of Christ, which occurred during the reign of Tiberius, and was held to portend the victory of Christ over the pagan gods.”

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While Pan was the Pagan god of shepherds, Jesus is the True Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His flock. John 10:1-14.   

While Pan was considered the god of fertility by the pagans, Jesus is truly the “Author of Life,” Acts 3:15, and He gives everlasting life to those who follow Him.  See John 11:20-26 

Pan was considered responsible for panic and fear. 

In the Book of Hebrew we read how Satan holds people in bondage through fear.  Because of temptation a person often fears the pain that comes with dying to oneself in order to do God’s Will.  And unfortunately we often choose sin thinking that it is the path of pleasure without suffering.  Of course, when people do sin they inevitably bring about suffering at some point into their own lives and they often cause suffering in those closest to them.  However, Jesus broke that bondage of sin and fear, so that by His grace we are enabled to die to our selfishness so that we might have new life in Jesus Christ. 

Hebrews 2:14-15  
“ … through death he [Jesus]  might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.”  

John 19:16-18
“So they took Jesus … out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.  There they crucified him …”

Jesus’s death and Resurrection destroys Satan’s power over us which is the fear of death and the fear of dying to ourselves.  This fear is represented by Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, and it was there that Jesus defeated Satan and ransomed us by paying the price of our sins.  Golgotha is also called Calvary, since Calvary comes from the Latin word for “skull.”  And right next to Calvary is the Resurrection Tomb.


Matthew 16:18-19
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

While the translation above is more literal, some translators use “the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.



The Jaws of Death

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Due to an earthquake this cave is presently filled with small stones.  However, in Jesus day it was filled with still water that went to an unfathomable depth.  [See Josephus's Jewish Antiquities XX, 9, 4]  No sounding line had been found which could reach bottom.  It was over 800 feet deep.  The pagans would drop their dead animal sacrifices into this cave.  The presence of its blood downstream was seen as a sign that the gods accepted it.


Jesuss defeat of Satan is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 which recorded that the Messiah would crush the head of the Serpent.    See Separate Article on Genesis 3:15

The Jordan River has immense theological significance in both the Old and New Testaments.  The water that flows from Caesarea Philippi forms one of the three sources of the Jordan River.  By far, Caesarea Philippi is the most scenic.  In a short distance downstream it forms into the waterfall and the swift stream that are pictured below.

Wall at Caesarea Philippi with a Water Pool in Front

Waterfall which is a little downstream



1 John 4:18
“perfect love drives out fear” 

To continue to see how Jesus gives us the aid we need to drive out the fear in our everyday lives see

Part V -  Christ Defeats Pan

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