What’s the history behind Sardis?

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Sardis was an ancient Greek city at the location of modern Sart (Sartmahmut before 19 October 2005) in the western part of Turkey’s Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times.

This city was destroyed by Tamerlane in 1402. Its importance was due, first to its military strength, secondly to its situation on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus.

Sardis is the first important city on the highway south of Thyatira. Like Thyatira, Sardis enjoyed a favorable commercial location. Strabo, the ancient geographer, speaks of it as “a great city,” although in John’s day it did not rival either Ephesus or Pergamum in importance.

The meaning of the name is uncertain; however, some suggest “song of joy,” or “that which remains,” or “something new.”

And this city is one of the seven churches of Revelation (Revelation 3:1). Hypocrisy characterized the church of Sardis, which was not what it pretended to be. Professedly, the Reformation churches had discovered what it means to live by faith in Jesus Christ, but for the most part they eventually lapsed into a state resembling, in certain ways, that of the organization from which they had withdrawn (2 Tim. 3:5). Their name—Protestant—implied opposition to the abuses, errors, and formalism of the Roman Catholic Church, and the name Reformation implied that none of these faults were to be found within the Protestant fold.

To the hypocritical church of Sardis, Christ sends this message, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:1,2)

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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