16:14; 19:10; Rev. 1:11; 2:18-29)
was the fourth of the seven Churches of Asia Minor to receive an epistle from
the Apostle John (Rev. 2:18-29). An important trade center particularly for the
textile industry of Hellenistic and Roman times, the city lay along a low lying
corridor that followed a north south river bed connecting the Caicus and Hermes
River beds (Pergamum - Smyrna – Laodicea Road). Though the city existed
earlier, it reached notoriety when reconstructed by Seleucus Nicator about 300
BC. It was said that while he designed the city, he was informed of the birth of
his daughter. He name the city after the news (“thygater” is Greek for “daughter”).
It was a cultic center to Apollo (the sun god), and apparent home of the wealthy
trade guilds. It was for centuries a frontier fort, first for the western edge
of Seleucus I or Syria’s territory, then the eastern frontier of the Pergamene
Kingdom. It passed from the hands of Pergamon to Rome in 133 BCE.
city was wealthy in ancient times, with its gentle rolling hills and fertile
valleys. Ramsey expressed that the connection with this inland road was what
made Pergamon important, so it gave careful attention to the cities that gave
free course to the trade industry. It had a garrision maintained there (first
Seleucids, then Pergamene, then Roman). Ramsey notes that “The condition of
Thyatira was the best measure of the power of Pergamum.” It was considered by
some ancients to be a city of Mysia, but to others a city of Lydia.
combination of a low plateau for an Acropolis and the sloping valley surrounding
it, gave an impression of the city as more cosmopolitan and open, as opposed to
the more austere cliffs at Pergamum. The church at Thyatira, visited by St. Paul
(Acts 19:10) and represented by a convert who was away doing business in
Philippi (Lydia, cp. Acts 16:14) was also more open to heresy. The letter of St.
John to the church suggests that her openess and gentleness in the face of
heresy (Jezebel and Nicolaitines) was her downfall (Rev. 2:18-23). About 150 AD,
Montanus began a cult practice from Thyatira, claiming his prophetesses spoke
with the voice of the Holy Spirit (hence, Montanism). The city was wealthy, but
did not reach its zenith until the C2nd CE. The trade guilds that flourished
there included wool workers, garment workers, linen workers, leather workers,
dyers (purple), bakers, potters, slave dealers and bronze smiths. Each guild was
accompanied by its patron gods and in many cases included immoral practices in
participation with the guild members. A faithful Christian may have found it
difficult to live his faith, as well as practice his craft.
Points of interest for the visitor today include the ruins of a temple. Thyatira's ancient ruins were left untouched until Rustem Duyuran began to excavate the site from 1968 to 1971. Numerous inscriptions were found (21 sent to Manisa Museum), along with the location of the colonnaded stoa and other public buildings.