GENERAL EXPLANATION ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF TURKEY :

Throughout the history Western Civilizations played some of their roles on Anatolia. In the Middle East region, 3 great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have developed. In Anatolia early Chirstianity took shape so that it had become the state religion of the Roman Empire by 393 AD.

For Christians, many important events had taken place, many important people had lived on the lands of Turkey, but unfortunately many are unaware of it. Still it is a great chance in a trip through Turkey to appreciate their heritage and respect for those important people, shaping the history, who have walked this land before them. The book of Relevation concerns God's judgements and Christians' finalities.Paul, John, Polycarp, Basil (who have been in Turkey) and all the rest were trying to prevent the disintegration of Christianity by clarifying and sharpening the alternatives facing Christians.

The message of the Bible is simple and direct:"'Come!' say the spirit and the bride."'Come!' let each hearer reply." Come forward, you who are thirsty; accept the water of life, a free gift to all who desire it".

Antioch - Antakya :
Antioch is the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Antioch had been refounded and named by one of Alexander the Great's generals, S. Nicator. By the time of Paul, Peter and Barnabas, Antioch had been an important city.

A grotto at the foot of the hills known as St. Peter's Grotto was discovered by Crusaders and early Christians met in that place in secret.

In the later history of Antioch, 10 assemblies of the church were held there, and it became the residence of Patriarch of Asia. St. Gerome-the one who later prepared the Vulgate-believed he saw Jesus in a vision when he was in Antioch in 373 AD. After 500 AD, many earthquakes devasted the area. Thousands of people were killed in 526, just when a large Christian Church meeting was being held.

Two of the bishops of Antioch are famous in church history: Peter and Ignatius.

Tarsus :
Apostle Paul who was born there. The city had been living thousands of years before him. Several famous people have been associated with the city: Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar...

But none of the great people who honored Tarsus by their presence can be compared with the Apostle Paul in his influence in Christianity. He was born as a jew. Converted to Christianity on the Damascus Road. Later he had to flee from angry Jews for his life to Tarsus.

Barnabas needed someone to help him and he went to Tarsus to meet Paul. This is the last reference to Paul's being in Tarsus in the Bible. As an important commercial center and seaport, Tarsus's entire history was one of mixing East and West.

Not much remains in Tarsus. A gate left from the walled city of the Roman period is known as St. Paul's or Cleopatra's Gate. A section of a main screen leading to the hippodrome has been uncovered. Some of the projections on the front side of Ulu Cami are remains of a church.

THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION :

The places are well-known; all are close to Izmir and can be easily reached. Of the seven, Ephesus gives us today the fullest sense of a complex metropolis at the turn of the Christian era.

The author of Relevation, John had written, expecting his work to be read aloud, not only in the Seven Churches he adressed but also throughout the area.

Ephesus - Efes:
The most interesting archeological site in Turkey.

There is a great theater on slopes of Mt. Pion, to the north of the theater one can see the decorated arch, the entrance to the stadium. A wide street called the Arcadian Way streched from the base of the theater lined with statues, porticos and public buildings. Just north of the Arcadian way is the Church of the Virgin Mary.

Another street streches from the theater south to the library of Celsus. To the west of the library are stairs, the tumbled columns, and the exquisite decorations of the temple of Serapis.When Paul was returning from Corinth to Ephesus talked in a synogogue where he was asked to stay longer in Ephesus, and promised, "I shall come back to you if it's God's will." It is believed that John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus and she lived out her days on a hilltop south of the city. The home of Mary, is now visited by many pilgrims each year coming to see and pray in this ancient spot of worship.

Smyrna - Izmir :

Being one of the oldest continuosly inhabited places of the world, Izmir has had many disasters but in spite of all this and more, Izmir has flourished continuosly from Hellenistic times to the present. There are few remains of the Hellenistic city. Polycarp, an early member of the Christian church in Smyrna was bishop there from 115 to 156 AD. He was important to the early church as a preserver of the purity of the Gospel. He was an accurate transmitter of the first traditions of Christianity.

Pergamum - Bergama :

The origin of Pergamum is unknown. In 133 BC. Attalus 3 bequeathed the kingdom of Pergamum to the Roman government and it became known as the province of Asia. It was still a principal city of the province when the Book of Relevation was written. The large theater built into the hillside and extending upwards for 78 rows of seats is impressive for its steepness. North of the theater is the temple of Athena and between them number of other temples can be seen. In the lower part of Pergamum, its largest building of the Roman period is the Red Court.

A museum where archeological and ethnological items are displayed is located on the main street of the city.

Thyatira - Akhisar :

Thyatira was founded by the Lydians and was called Pelopia. The coins of the ancient town give us clues to the kind of gods worshipped there. In the first sentence of the letter in Relevation to the angel of the church in Thyatira there is reference to "the Son of God,whose eyes flame like fire and whose feet gleam like burnished brass"(2:18)

Thyatira is now a modern city, remains of its old self to be seen are an ancient temple, a collonaded road, and a large church.

Sardis - Sart :

One of the most picturesque areas of any of the Seven Churches is the site of Sardis. Sardis became the center of one of the greatest kingdoms of the ancient world, Lydia. The famous temple of Artemis lying along the Pactolus River dates from the 400 BC. Besides the temple, a small Byzantian church on one corner, and the acropolis, the last meters of the Royal Road from Susa to Sardis, a number of shops, and the gymnasium. John told the Christians of Sardis that the letter in the Relevation was from "the One who holds the seven spirits of God the seven stars"(3:1)

Philedelphia- Alasehir :

It was important as a place for spreading the thought patterns and activities of Hellenistic civilization and the Christian faith. On the lower sides of the city are sections of thick Byzantine walls. Philedelphia was a missionary city from its beginning. First, it witnessed to Hellenistic culture. In Christian times, it witnessed to non-Christians on the fringe of the Christian world. The most interesting remains of Christian Philedelphia consist of part of a Byzantine basilica built of brick with a big high arch.

Laodicea - Laodikea :

A large area littered with broken marble, tops of stone masonry walls, and public buildings: Two theaters, a large stadium, a water tower, and an odeon.The city was at the crossroads of north-soth traffic between Sardis and Perga, and east-west traffic from the Euphrates to Ephesus, so it quickly became a rich city in its time.

Possibly John meant the springs of Hierapolis(Pamukkale) which was just across the valley from Laodicea when he said, "I know all your ways; you are neither hot nor cold.How I wish you were either hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm; neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"(3:14).

Reference: `Biblical Sites in Turkey` Everett C. Blake and Anna G. Edmonds published by SEV Matbacilik.



Biblical Tours in Turkey