David Reagan — Churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea
In 95 AD, Jesus returned to this earth and dictated seven letters to seven churches located in modern day Turkey. The last two of those letters are studies in contrast. One was written to a Spirit-filled church that was on fire for the Lord. The other was addressed to a church that was wallowing in apathy.
Well, this is our fifth program, in a series on the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation. These are letters that Jesus dictated through the apostle John when Jesus returned to this earth 65 years after His death, burial, and resurrection. In our first program, we presented an overview of all seven letters, focusing on thirteen promises the letters contain for those who are classified as overcomers. And we saw that an overcomer is defined as a person who has placed His faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In our second program, we took a look at the Isle of Patmos, where the letters were written, and we discussed the first letter, the one to the church in Ephesus, a church that had become legalistic in nature. The third week we discussed the letters written to the churches at Smyrna and Pergamum. Smyrna was a church suffering from intense persecution, the church at Pergamum was a liberal church that had embraced various formed of heresy.
Last week we took a look at two more of the letters of Jesus, the ones addressed to the churches a Thyatira and Sardis. The church at Thyatira was a pagan church full of all kinds of cultic practices. The church in Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but in reality it was dead. This week, we’re going to consider the last two of the seven letters, the ones written to the church in Philadelphia and the church in Laodicea. But before we take a look at these churches, let’s pause for a word about a Revelation study resource.
The remains of the ancient city of Philadelphia are located on a high plateau, one hundred miles due east of Smyrna. Several trade routes merged at this location, and Rome’s imperial postal route also went through it, earning it the name of the Gateway to the East. Needless to say, it became an important and wealthy trade center. It was also a center for the production of wine.
The God of the town was Dionysius, the God of wine. To this day, the major source of employment is the growing of grapes and the production of wine. Almost no ruins of the ancient city still exist, what can be seen are three pillars of a Byzantine church called the church of St. John the Theologian.
Today, the ruins are overshadowed by a Muslim mosque. The ruins are located right in the center of the modern day city of Alasehir, which has a population of 70,000. The city is literally full of Muslim mosques. While visiting the city, we walked through a colorful market area that was full of goods of all type, and the people we encountered were exceptionally friendly toward us.