Unto The Seven Churches of Asia

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Anatolia has been the center of Christianity ever since St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John and many other apostles came here to preach the Gospel of the teachings of Jesus Christ. This intensive religious effort bore fruit in the building of Seven Churches of Revelation in seven major cities throughout Western Turkey. ORION TOUR has devised a tour that visits many of these historical and religious sites and allows the traveler full insight into the achievements of these early Christian missionaries.

Seven Churches in Revelation – Literal Locations in Asia Minor
The seven churches in Revelation refer to seven literal churches described in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3. These early Christian churches were located in Asia Minor during the era of the Roman Empire. Although the actual churches ceased to thrive, the archaeological remains of all seven locations still exist and can be visited.

Seven Messages
Chapters 2-3 of the Revelation had specific messages for each of these seven churches. These follow a common pattern: the Lord of hosts first addresses each church and identifies himself, then defines things that he knows about the church in question. After this a challenge or reproach is given, followed by a promise. In all seven cases the admonition is included, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches", although sometimes this comes before the promise and sometimes after.

Seven Churches in Revelation – Then and Now
The cities were major cultural hubs throughout history. During the first few centuries after Jesus Christ, these Roman-controlled cities were also important in early Christianity. Here are the seven churches of Revelation as described by the writer John in the late first century AD.

EphesusThe desirable church that left its first love (Revelation 2:1-7).
Ephesus was the influential capital city of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea. Ephesus is now known for its huge metropolis of ancient streets, arches and ruins.

Ancient Name
Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Ephesus
Ephesus, Efes

Ephesus receives praise for its perseverance, but criticism for forsaking its "first love." (Rev. 2:1-7)

Ephesus is a major tourist destination and main stop for cruise lines due to its extensive archaeological ruins.

  • Basilica of St. John
  • Church of Virgin Mary
  • Ephesus Museum
  • Great Theater
  • House of Virgin Mary

SmyrnaThe persecuted church that suffered poverty and martyrdom (Revelation 2:8-11).
Smyrna was located north of Ephesus in a powerful trading position on the Aegean Sea known for its harbors, commerce, and marketplaces. The primary ruins of Smyrna are located in the modern city of Izmir.

Ancient Name Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Smyrna
Izmir

Smyrna's message speaks of false Jews and impending persecution, but encourages perseverance which will be rewarded.
(Rev. 2:8-11)

Izmir is the 3rd largest city in Turkey, with 2.5 million population. It is known as the " Pearl of the Aegean".

  • St. Polycarp Church
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Izmir Agora

PergamumThe worldly church that mixed doctrines and needed to repent (Rev. 2:12-17).
Pergamum is located on the plains and foothills along the Caicus River in Western Turkey. It was considered a major city in Asia Minor since the 3rd century BC, and became an important hub for temple worship.

Ancient Name Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Pergamum
Bergama

Pergamum, described as having the throne of Satan (the Zeus altar?), is praised for its martyrdom and perseverance but those who hold false teachings are criticized. (Rev. 2:12-17)

Bergama is a small modern village overlooked by many tourists.

  • Acropolis
  • Asklepion
  • Archaeology Museum
  • Red Basilica
  • Zeus Altar (in Berlin Museum)

Thyatira The false church that followed a seductive prophetess (Rev. 2:18-29).
Thyatira is located about 42 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. The ancient city was known for its textiles and dyeing trade, and is now known as the city of Akhisar.

Ancient Name Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Thyatira
Akhisar)

Thyatira is praised for its increasing faith and service, but criticized for its tolerance of Jezebel, an immoral women who calls herself a prophetess. (Rev. 2:18-29)

The ruins of ancient Thyatira are in a fenced-off area in the center of modern Akhisar.

  • 4th-6th cent. public buildings

SardisThe "dead" church that fell asleep (Revelation 3:1-6).
Sardis is located on the banks of the Pactolus River, 60 miles inland from Ephesus and Smyrna. Popular ruins include the decadent temples and bath house complexes.

Ancient Name Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Sardis
Sard

The church of Sardis is described as dead, and it must wake up. However, there are some who have not "soiled their clothes." (Rev. 3:1-6)

Sardis is about 50 miles east of Izmir, and is solely an archaeological site. A small village nearby is named Sart.

  • Sardis Synagogue
  • Temple of Artemis
  • Byzantine Church

Philadelphia – The church of brotherly love that endures patiently (Revelation 3:7-13).
Philadelphia is located on the Cogamis River, about 80 miles east of Smyrna. Philadelphia was known for its variety of temples and worship centers.

Ancient Name Modern Name

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Philadelphia
Alasehir

Philadelphia is praised for having little strength but still persevering. Those who falsely claim to be Jews, but are actually of the "synagogue of Satan," will be judged. (Rev. 3:7-13)

Alasehir is a small town of about 40,000 people with narrow winding streets and a Byzantine wall. Few ruins remain at the site of ancient Philadelphia.

  • Byzantine Basilica

LaodiceaThe "lukewarm" church with a faith that’s neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:14-22).
Laodicea is located in the Lycus River Valley of western Asia Minor, a primary trade route between the cultures of the West and East. Laodicea was known as a primary hub for the Roman aqueduct system.

Ancient Name (Modern Name)

Revelation Message

The Modern City

Related Sites

Laodicea
(near Denizli)

The church of Laodicea is sharply criticized for being lukewarm. Its wealth hides its spiritual poverty. (Rev. 3:14-20)

Nearby Denizli is an attractive market town with a population of about 200,000. Laodicea is solely an archaeological site.

  • Stadium
  • Sarcophagi

Seven Churches in Revelation – Their Ultimate Significance
The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Indeed, the primary purpose for John writing his letters to the seven churches was to deliver Christ’s "report card" for the churches of that time. However, a second purpose for John’s inspired writings was to describe seven types of churches (and individual believers) that would surface time and again throughout history. These short letters to the seven churches of Revelation act as quick and poignant reminders to those who call themselves "followers of Christ."

Angels of the churches
St. John is shown seven candlesticks and in their midst, the Son of Man holding seven stars. The candlesticks represent the seven churches; the stars, the angels of those churches. He is bidden to write to the respective angels of those churches and distribute to each his meed of praise or blame.
Origen explains that these are the guardian angels of the churches, a view upheld by Henry Alford. But Epiphanius explicitly rejects this view, and, in accordance with the imagery of the passage, explains it of the bishops. The comparison of a teacher to a star is scriptural. Augustine of Hippo's reason for interpreting angels of the churches as the prelates of the church is that St. John speaks of them as falling from their first charity which is not true of the angels.

Revelation 1:20 states that "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches".

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…AND UNTO THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR

Anatolia has been the center of Christianity ever since St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John and many other apostles came here to preach the Gospel of the teachings of Jesus Christ. This intensive religious effort bore fruit in the building of Seven Churches of Revelation in seven major cities throughout Western Turkey. ORION TOUR has devised a tour that visits many of these historical and religious sites and allows the traveler full insight into the achievements of these early Christian missionaries.

ORNHSCAM (7 Nights/  8 Days)
Istanbul, Pergamon, Sardis, Aphrodisias, Laodicea, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Izmir, Thyateria

Day 1 Istanbul
Arrival to Istanbul airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2 Istanbul (B,L)
Following breakfast, we drive to the 'Old City' where we will visit the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles, and Haghia Sophia. This church - turned mosque - turned museum takes the breath away with the sheer architectural size of its interior and magnificent dome. Next we will visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace that was built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.     It was the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire for many centuries (1453-1852) and we will see the extravagant Treasury, the priceless Chinese porcelain. We will finish up the day in the bustling Grand Bazaar that is an attractive shopping center and biggest “souk” in the world.

Day 3 Istanbul / Izmir (Pergamon / Thyateria) (B,D)
We will take an early flight to Izmir and from the airport drive north to the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 BC, we will see the Trajaneum, Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The Asclepieum of Pergamon was a famous health center where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. On our way back to Izmir, we will stop by Thyateria to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly. We journey back to Izmir for the night.

Day 4           Izmir / (Sardis-Philadelphia) / Pamukkale (B,D)
We leave in the morning for Sardis, which holds a prominent place in mythology. Sardis felt the influence of the Seven Churches of Revelation and highlights include the 3rd century AD Synagogue, Gymnasium, House of Bronzes, Temple of Artemis, and, of course, the Church. Next on our itinerary is Philadelphia which was an important Christian center during Byzantine times. We will see the Basilica. We will enjoy calcified terraces of Pamukkale and view the remains of the grave to St. Philip at a distance. If interested a walking tour through the necropolis before check in at the hotel. Dinner and overnight at Pamukkale.

Day 5 Pamukkale (Laodicea-Aphrodisias) / Kusadasi (B,D)
We journey on to Laodicea Ad Lycum where the remains are found on a flat-topped hill.  Christianity came to the area during the time of St. Paul, brought by Epaphras of Colossae. Laodicea became the seat of Bishopric and hosted an important Ecumenical Council in the fourth century AD. It was named in the Revelations as one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse.  Highlights will be Agora, Fountain, Water Tower, Stadium and the Council Chamber. Our next stop will be Aphrodisias, a site presently under excavation. Highlights will include the Museum, Sebaste, Stadium, the Baths of Hadrian, the Theatre, Tetrapylon and the "Bishop's Palace" Overnight at Kusadasi.

Day 6           Kusadasi (Ephesus) / Izmir (B,D)
Leaving Kusadasi behind us we will proceed to explore the ancient city of Ephesus and first visit the Basilica of St. John, "the Evangelist" who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel. Close by is the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent her last years. On August 18th, 1961, Pope John XXll proclaimed the House of Virgin Mary at Ephesus to be sacred. Pope Benedict XVI visited and held Mass here in December 2006. You will have a chance to take a phial of Holy Water from the Sacred Spring. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.

Day 7 Istanbul (B)
We leave Izmir in the morning after a city tour and a glimpse at the Church St. Polycarp.  Catching our plan to Istanbul, we settle into the hotel for the night. (B)

Day 8 Istanbul (B)
Free time until your transfer for your flight back home. 


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