The Seven Churches of Revelation

Did you know that the seven churches of revelation, mentioned in the bible, can all be found in Turkey?  It is said that the seven revelations are related to cities as opposed to churches, and it is still possible to walk around the historic ruins of many of these cities.

Ephesus (Revelation 2: 1-7) – The church known for having laboured hard and not fainted, separating themselves from the wicked, admonished for having forsaken its first love (2:4)

Ephesus was a Greek city on the coast of Ionia, southwest of present-day Izmir, and was built in the 10th century BC. Celebrated for it’s Temple of Artemis, there are many other vast buildings, such as the Library of Celsus and a theatre capable of holding 25,000.

The ruins are a major tourist attraction and one of the largest archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Archaeological research of Ephesus began in 1863 by British Architect John Turtle Wood, and sponsored by the British Museum.

Smyrna (Revelation 2: 8-11) – The church admired for its tribulation and poverty, forecast to suffer persecution (2:10)

Smyrna was a Greek city on the Aegean coast of Anatolia and was renamed as the modern-day city of Izmir.  Two sites of the ancient city can still be found – Old Smyrna and Smyrna proper.  Old Smyrna was located on a small peninsula and is approximately 700 metres inland of the Tepekule neighbourhood of Bayraklı. Smyrna proper is located on the slopes of Mount Pagos.

Research at both sites is a collaboration between the Izmir Archaelogoy Museum and Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir.

Pergamum (Revelation 2: 12-17) – The church located at “Satan’s Seat”, needed to repent of allowing false teachers (2: 16)

Pergamum was located in the Anatolian region, in present-day Bergama. The city had strategic value as it overlooked the Caicus River Valley.  The site has many fine examples of Hellenistic and Roman art; however, the star of the show is an altar thought by many scholars to be the “throne of Satan,” as referred to by the prophet John in the Book of Revelations. Pergamum is also home to a theatre, said to be one of the steepest in the world, and with a capacity of 10,000.  The church, a basilica shaped building constructed under the reign of Hadrian, was dedicated to St. John in the 4th Century.

Thyatira (Revelation 2: 18-29) – The church known for its charity, whose “latter” works are greater than the former”, held the teachings of a false prophetess (2:20)

Thyatira was the name of an ancient Greek city in Asia Minor, now the modern-day city of Akhisar, south of Istanbul.  According to the Book of Revelations, a woman names Jezebel taught and seduced the Christians of Thyatira to sexual immoralities and eat offerings that were sacrificed to Idols.  There remained a community at Thyatira until 1922, when the Greek Orthodox population were deported.

Sardis (Revelation 3: 1-6) – The church that has a good name, cautioned to fortify itself and return to God through repentance

Sardis was an ancient city, located on the site of the modern-day Sart, Manisa Province, and was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. The early Lydian kingdom was advanced on the industrial arts and first discovered the secret if separating gold from silver, making the name synonymous with wealth. Sardis was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th Century AD but rebuilt. However, by the 19th Century, the city was in ruins. The first archaeological exploration of the site took place between 1910 and 1914, but was halted by WW1, followed by the Turkish War of Independence. Some of the discoveries can be found at the Museum of Manisa, whilst earlier finds can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Philadelphia (Revelation 3: 7-13) – The church steadfast in faith, that has kept God’s word and endured patiently.

Philadelphia is located at the foot of Bozdağ Mountain, in the Manisa province, and was thought to have been established in 189 BC, and referred to as “Little Athens” in the 6th Century AD. The remains if a domed Basilica of St. John is the main archaeological attraction in the modern-day city, which is now known as Alaşehir.

Laodicea (Revelation 3: 14-22) – The church that was lukewarm and insipid (to God) (3:16)

Laodicea was an ancient city, built in the river Lycus, near the modern-day city of Denizli.  The remains attest to its former prominence, being well preserved and renovated, and include a stadium, baths, temples, a theatre and senate house. To the East, the ancient city wall can be found and to the North, many sarcophagi can be found.  Several kilometres away lie the remains of an ancient aqueduct.  The city ruins exhibit Roman extravagance and luxury at it’s finest, and some attribute the celebrity of the city to the fertility of its soil.

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