The Seven Churches of Revelation
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Sardis, located at the foot of Mount Tmolus, is 51 kilometers (32 miles) from Pergamos and 44 kilometers (27 miles) from Philadelphia (Alasehir). The city and surrounding area was watered by the river Pactolus. The river, known for its golden sands, helped make the city prosperous when gold was found near its banks.
The city was also noted for its fruits, wool, and temple to the pagan goddess Cybele (whose worship was very similar to the worship of the pagan goddess Diana (Artemis) found at Ephesus).
Sardis was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Lydia. The kingdom's most noteworthy king was the very wealthy Croesus (Kroisos), who ruled from about 560 to 547 B.C. He was the first person to strike and issue the first true pure gold (and silver) coins used in the marketplace. His father King Alyattes, who reigned from about 610 to 560 B.C., minted and distributed the world's first coins. Alyattes' coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver.
The city became important to the Persians after it was conquered by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century B.C. By the first century A.D. the city had passed into the hands of the Romans. Although an earthquake destroyed it in 17 A.D. the city was soon rebuilt.
Tradition states the city was the first in its area to be converted by the preaching of the apostle John. It also may have been the first city that revolted from Christianity and one of the first that was laid in its ruins. The inhabitants were dimly viewed by their contemporaries for their voluptuous way of life. There may be an allusion to this fact in God's message to the church found in the book of Revelation.
4 But a few of you there in Sardis have kept your clothes clean (symbolic of being spiritually clean). You will walk with me, clothed in white, because you are worthy to do so. (Revelation 3:4)