Seven Churches

Jesus’ Letter to Laodicea

Jesus’ Letter to Laodicea

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write… Revelation 3:14-22 NIV

Laodicea was the seventh and last of the seven churches in the book of Revelation to whom the Apostle John wrote letters. The quite extensive, excavated ruins of Laodicea are located near the village of Eskihisar, Turkey. Strategically situated on seven hills it was founded in 261 BC in the geographical area known as Phrygia by a Greek king, Antiochus II. It was named after his wife Laodice. Remnants of the city include an amphitheater, smaller theatre called an odeon, and the largest stadium in Asia Minor seating 25,000 people. Known as the “Gateway to Phrygia” it was one of Asia Minor’s most flourishing cities primarily because of its trade route location on what was known as the Royal Road which ran from the Susa, the capital of Persia, all the way to Sardis. It was a main banking center for the area, had a medical school, and was a center for the worship of the pagan deity Zeus. It had textile factories supplying the Greco-Roman world with sleeved tunics and hooded cloaks made from the fine black wool supplied by sheep in the area. The city was so wealthy, that when it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, it declined Roman assistance opting to rebuild at its own expense, the only city in Asia to do so.

Jesus’ Letter to Philadelphia

Jesus’ Letter to Philadelphia

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write… Revelation 3:7 NIV

Philadelphia was the sixth of the seven churches in the book of Revelation to whom the Apostle John wrote letters. The only preserved remains of Philadelphia are the pillars of a 6th Century AD Byzantine church located on a city block in what is now the modern city of Alasehir, Turkey. Philadelphia was founded in 189 BC by King Attalus I of Pergamum as a military outpost to protect the junction where two major trade routes intersected. It also was strategically located near the border of Phrygia, where the Greco-Roman world of the West met the “uncivilized” barbarian world of the East. As such it was also intended to be a kind of mission base for spreading the civilized worldview of Hellenism and the Greek language.

Jesus’ Letter to Sardis

Sardis was the fifth of the seven churches in the book of Revelation to whom the Apostle John wrote letters. Sardis is located near the village of Salihli, Turkey. Extensive 20th century archeological excavations have unearthed the ruins of the acropolis with the Temple to Artemis, a Roman era gymnasium complex with baths, Jewish synagogue, and Byzantine era shops. Settled in 1400 BC on the wide fertile plain of Hermus along the banks of the river Pactolus, Sardis developed into a prosperous city known for its fruit, wool and pagan temples of Delphi, Artemis, and Didyma. It became a center for trade as a crossroads of major north/south, east/west trade routes and the western terminus of the Royal Road that linked Sardis with Susa, the capital of Persia.

Jesus’ Letter to Thyatira

To the angel of the church in Thyatira write. Revelation 2:18 NIV

Thyatira was the fourth of the seven churches in the book of Revelation to whom the Apostle John wrote from the Isle of Patmos. Located in the modern day city of Akhisar, Turkey, the only significant remains of the ancient city are preserved in a fenced area the size of a city block near the center of town. The two major features of the site are the ruins of a Roman columned street and the walls of a 6th century administrative building which is thought to have at one time served as a church. That would not be unusual as the city of Thyatira was almost completely Christianized by 200 AD and continued with a strong Christian presence onward for centuries. Bishops from Thyatira are known to have attended the Councils of Nicea in 325 and of Ephesus in 432. This strong Christian presence and witness endured for nearly two millennium, right up until 1922 when the last vestige of Christianity, the Greek Orthodox population, was deported by the Turkish government.

Jesus’ Letter to Pergamum

To the angel of the church in Pergamum write. Revelation 2:12 NIV

Pergamum was the third of the seven churches that Jesus addressed in His letters dictated to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. It is located adjacent to the modern day city of Bergama, Turkey, approximately 70 miles north of Smyrna (Izmir). Pergamum, or Pergamon to which it is sometimes referred, was at its zenith a city of 200,000 inhabitants and was briefly the Roman capital of Asia Minor before the capital was moved to Ephesus. Indications are that there was a small Jewish population in the city from which undoubtedly an embattled band of believers grew, in spite of the oppression of the worship of pagan idols and the pursuit of worldly wisdom that engulfed the city.

Pliny the Elder declared Pergamum “the most famous place in Asia” and it was not without reason. At the time the city could boast of being the world center for the worship of the deities Zeus (king of the gods), Asclepius (the god of healing), and Athena (goddess of wisdom).

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