Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939) was an archaeologist and biblical skeptic. He taught at the University of Edinburgh and believed that Bible writers made facts and stories up. The book of Acts, he declared, was full of errors, and to prove this contention, he traveled to Asia Minor to demonstrate Luke’s unreliability.
He understood he could not prove or disprove miracle accounts, but if he could show Luke to be a sloppy historian on facts that could be verified
(geographical and historical), he felt he could discredit Luke’s unverifiable stories.
Ramsay the skeptic returned to Great Britain a believer. Every one of Luke’s facts checked out. He found Luke to use specific and accurate terminology that reflected a careful chronicle of events. There were proconsuls in senatorial provinces, asiarchs in Ephesus, politarchs in Thessalonica. His conclusion was that Luke was a highly reliable historian, rendering the story of the early church in the book of Acts a remarkably clear one.
The title politarch in Acts 17:6 is particularly striking because, until Ramsay’s investigation, the term was unknown in Greek literature outside Acts. Ramsay found five inscriptions with the term in the city.
Ramsay wrote several important books reflecting his archaeological findings such as The Church in the Roman Empire, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen and The Cities of St. Paul.
What Ramsay’s story demonstrates is the Bible will withstand any investigation from those willing to honestly look at the evidence.