The Seven Churches of Revelation

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Byzantine church columns in Philadelphia
Byzantine Church columns

The ancient city of Philadelphia, which sits near the Cogamus River, is 44 kilometers (27 miles) from Sardis and 77 kilometers (48 miles) from Laodicea. It is located in the Kuzucay valley, near the bottom of Mount Bozdad, in modern Turkey's province of Manisa. Behind the city are volcanic cliffs which the locals call 'inkwells.'

On one side of the city the land was fertile enough to grow grapes. The quality of wine produced by Philadelphia's fields was such that the Roman poet Virgil wrote about its excellence.

Philadelphia was founded in 189 B.C. by Pergamon King Eumenes and given its name in honor of the love he had for brother Attalus. The city was also called Decapolis, because it was considered one of the ten cities of the plain. In the first century A.D. the city was referred to Neo-kaisaria. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. In addition to these names it was also sometimes referred to as 'Little Athens' because of the pagan temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, might be a corruption of the Turkish words meaning 'city of God.'

Attalus III, the last of Pergamos' kings, lacked a royal heir to the throne. He bequeathed, upon his death (which occurred in 133 B.C.), that his kingdom (which included the city) be given to the Roman empire. Rome's Asia province was created in 129 B.C. by bringing together Ionia and Attalus' former kingdom.

The city was nearly destroyed and suffered a great deal when a major earthquake hit the area in 17 A.D. Emperor Tiberius, in lieu of the damages, allowed Philadelphia to be free of taxation. Various other emperors aided the area, such as Caligula (ruled 37 to 41 A.D.), Vespasian (69 to 79 A.D.) and Caracalla (188 to 217 A.D.).

10. Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the time of temptation which is about to come upon the whole world to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

Seven Churches
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