The modern Turkish city of Alasehir began as one of the first with the name Philadelphia. It was founded in 189 B.C. by King Eumenes II of Pergamon (197-160 B.C.). Eumenes named the city for the love of his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II (159-138 B.C.). His loyalty earned him the nickname Philadelphos, which literally means "one who loves his brother."
Attalus III Philometer, the last of Pergamos' Attalid 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 established the province of Asia in 129 B.C. by combining Ionia and the former Kingdom of Attalus.
The city suffered a great deal when a major earthquake hit it in 17 A.D. Roman Emperor Tiberius, in lieu of the damages, allowed the city to not have to pay taxes. 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.).
Modern Alasehir is in the district of Manisa Province in the Aegean region of Turkey. It is situated in the valley of the Kuzuçay (Cogamus in antiquity), at the foot of the Bozdag (Mount Tmolus in antiquity), and is located about 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) southeast of the city of Sardis (now called Sart).
Philadelphia is the sixth of seven Asia Minor churches that received a spiritual evaluation, directly from God, of its overall condition:
"These things says He who is holy, He who is true, 'He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.'
"I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:7-13, NKJV).