The last two days have been an extraordinary journey to the ruins of the Churches of Revelation named by St. John the Divine in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
We began with a short drive through the lovely Lycus Valley, visiting Hierapolis and Laodicea.
These two cities and Colossae were famously pastored by Epaphras, commended for his ministry in Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. Laodicea provided an amazing view of all three communities. While Colossae, destroyed centuries ago by an earthquake, remains unexcavated, Hierapolis and Laodicea have been spectacularly unearthed and restored.
A likely tradition holds that Philip the apostle, who famously said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” ministered and was martyred in Hierapolis around 80 AD. We read scripture and prayed before the recently unearthed Martyrium of St. Philip, which sits atop a high hill overlooking a large Roman bath and the ruins of what was once a stunning destination community.
At Laodicea, a short six miles from Hierapolis, we read Revelation 3.14-22 and walked through an active archeological dig, learning about a city renowned as a banking center, eye-care hub, and fine clothing producer which was rebuked as ‘poor, blind, and naked’ by John (Revelation 3).
Throughout a long but exhilarating day, we visited a succession of Cities of Revelation, reading the appropriate passages and praying along the way. Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Sardis were very different but powerful stops which completed a full day. The presence of a church adjacent to the remains of the amazing Temple of Artemis, in particular, was a reminder of the sacrificial faithfulness of the Early Church.
On the tenth we celebrated Clyde Beaty’s birthday and traveled to Miletus.
Miletus, which boasted 100,000 residents six hundred years before the birth of Christ, was an amazing site. We gathered in the 25,000-seat auditorium while Paul’s farewell address, delivered in Miletus over 1900 years ago, was read from a particular spot.
The acoustics were unbelievable. Our pilgrims could hear clearly Acts 20 read softly from over twenty yards away. Paul’s stirring words to the Church in Asia Minor were very moving.
After a delicious lunch, we walked through the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, where the oracle offered direction and advice to countless people from many kingdoms for many centuries before the conversion to Christ of Constantine the Great in the fourth century.
We returned to the extremely comfortable Doubletree Hotel at Kusadasi for fellowship, a delicious dinner, and a good night’s sleep.
First Photo: Arch at Church of St. Philip