The city of Caesarea Philippi was on the southwestern slope of Mount Hermon and the northernmost extent of Jesus' ministry. Here, about 25 miles north-east of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus could be alone with His disciples -- outside the domain of Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, and within the area of Philip the Tetrarch. The population was not Jewish, so Jesus could teach the twelve in peace. Here, on a road outside of the city, Jesus asked one of the most profound questions that could ever be posed, "Who do men say that I am?" It is interesting to see where Jesus chose to ask this question, for there are few areas in all of the world with more religious associations than Caesarea Philippi.
An overview of Ceasarea Phillipi with the afternoon sun at our backs. If Jesus were standing with His disciples in front of this sheer cliff, it would explain His use of the metaphor "rock" used in His conversation with Peter. The word He used was Petra, a term that would be used to describe such a bluff. (Cf. Matt 7:24,25, ". . .who built his house upon the rock Petra.")
A cave near Caesarea Philippi is said to be the birthplace of the Greek god Pan, the god of nature, fields, forests, mountains, flocks and shepherds. "He is son of Hermes by one or another nymph; his mother was so scared by his appearance that she abandoned him at birth and Hermes introduced him to Olympus. His name is probably related to the same root as Latin pasco, and thus means 'shepherd.'" (Richard Stoneman, Greek Mythology, p. 136). The cult of Pan originated in Arcadia, a pastoral region in Greece. Greek travelers, finding the landscape was like their homeland, established this area of worship to Pan. During the Hellenistic period, a sanctuary was built to Pan. There are five niches hewn out of rock to the right of the cave -- at one time they probably held statues -- three of the niches bear inscriptions in Greek mentioning Pan, Echo and Galerius (one of Pan's priests).
Two thousand years ago this cave was a spring. A large earthquake about 700 CE moved the springs to a nearby location and dried this cave of it's water flow. This cave is said to be the birthplace of "Pan".
An overview of Ceasarea Phillipi with the foundations of the Temple of Pan.
Looking to the right of the Cave of Pan you can see the remains of the temple of Pan. That's Chad with his camera taking a picture.