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 the fields of Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia) 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.).
The church in Philadelphia was the sixth of seven churches who received a spiritual evaluation directly from God through Jesus Christ.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write: These things says the Holy One, the one Who is true; the one Who has the key of David . . .
I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one has the power to shut it because you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who proclaim themselves to be Jews and are not, but do lie - behold, I will cause them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
Because you (certain brethren in Philadelphia) 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.
Behold, I am coming quickly; hold fast that which you have so that no one may take away your crown. The one who overcomes (in Philadelphia and in all places where Christians dwell) will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall not go out any more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from My God . . . (Revelation 3:7 - 12, HBFV).