Philadelphia the Faithful Church

Philadelphia is the sixth of the churches of Revelation, and today its remains are buried under the modern city of Alasehir. A small theatre, located at the northern edge of Toptepe Hill, is all that remains of Roman Philadelphia. Our visit will focus on the remains of the Basilica of the Apostle John built in the AD 500s. (Philadelphia ruins by Dan Nevill is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.) 

Philadelphia shares with Smyrna the distinction of receiving nothing but praise from Christ. That explains why modern Protestant churches sometimes use “Philadelphia” as a component in the local church’s name as a way of emphasizing its faithfulness. Philadelphia was promised an exemption, or preservation, from temptation. He tells them that God has placed an open door before them that no one can shut and that their enemies will fall at their feet and acknowledge that God loves them. But this promise did not save Philadelphian Christians from persecution; several of them are believed to have been killed alongside Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. (Philadelphia Alaşehir_Church_of_St._John_2 wiki)

(Revelation 3:7-13) “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

In AD 17, the city suffered an earthquake, and Roman Emperor Tiberius released it from paying taxes. In response, the city granted honors to Tiberius. Philadelphia housed an imperial cult to worship the emperors. Its coins bore the word neocorate, literally, “temple-sweeper”, caretaker of the temple. ( The city’s history of earthquakes may lie behind John’s reference to making her church “a pillar in the temple” in vs. 12.

The ancient architecture blends into the new scenery as you walk among the ruins of abandoned Christian churches. It remained a strong center of Orthodox Christianity until the early 20th century and remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church. ( . But Alasehir is a predominantly Muslim city today, much like the rest of Turkey. You can hear Muslim calls to prayer as you stroll among the stunning Byzantine arches and ancient sarcophagi spread throughout the city. (Alasehir mosque Sharon Hahn Darlin licensed under 2.0 cc)