Ancient Philadelphia

One tourist described Philadelphia on her blog as “a small collection of Greco-Roman rubble in a town called Aleshehir. The ruins are so tiny they aren’t even marked on the map, but someone has planted lots of roses here, and it’s very pretty.


But it was not always like that. Twenty five miles south-east of Sardis, Philadelphia stood on a terrace 650 ft above the sea. Behind it are volcanic cliffs. (Bible Encyclopaedia.)


The name Philadelphia, brotherly love, is said to have been given to it in honour of Attalus II because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II. The locality was subject to frequent earthquakes, and it was an expensive business rebuilding. (Smiths Bible Dictionary.)

In 17 AD the city was completely devastated by an earthquake and the city continued to suffer severe aftershocks for the next twenty years.

According to Ramsay in his Letter to the Seven churches…


Philadelphia was known to the whole world as the city of earthquakes, whose citizens for the most part lived outside, not venturing to remain in the town, and were always on the watch for the next great catastrophe. Those who knew it best were aware that its prosperity depended on the great road from the harbour of Smyrna to Phrygia and the East. Philadelphia, situated where this road is about to ascend by a difficult pass to the high central plateau of Phrygia, held the key and guarded the door. It was also of all the Seven Cities the most devoted to the name of the Emperors, and had twice taken a new title or epithet from the Imperial god, abandoning in one case its own ancient name.

In other research, which I did for Hold the Faith, part 1 in the Apostle John series, I discovered, and made part of the conversation, some further comment about the ‘key’ position and the effect it had on the brethren.

Hold the Faith cover imageThe Jews denounce us, as happens throughout most of the region. But it seems in this city, the members of our fellowship are among those who take the brunt of these claims.” He went on to explain about the Jews here.

“Probably because of the position of the city, guarding an important pass, and holding the ‘key’ as it were to the commerce between east and west, not to mention the north and south; they believe they are special. They believe they are the true people of God, and that makes them more determined to have no rivalry for the title.
Hold the Faith, Susan Preston, Amazon,

None of the churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor had an ‘easy’ time. Some suffered more in certain areas, but all had to make the same choices as we do today… obedience to what we believe, and submission to God.

We have almost finished our journey around the seven churches, next time we are off to Laodicea.

Till then,

Tread softlyTread softly



2 thoughts on “Ancient Philadelphia

  1. Matthew Wright

    Great post! It’s kind of weird to realise that Philadelphia was named after Philadelphia…We are so conditioned to thinking of the US city that we forget the much more ancient heritage of the original place.


  2. Hold the Faith

    And so many places here in Australia as well as in America were named after British cities. I guess they were named from somewhere else too. Interesting.

    Next week will be posting from America. We leave in the morning and going via London.


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