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THYATIRA

THYATI'RA (thi-a-ti'ra). A city in Asia Minor, the seat of one of the seven apocalyptic churches (Rev 1:11; 2:18). It was situated in the confines of Mysia and Ionia, a little S of the river Lycus and at the northern extremity of the valley between Mt. Tmolus and the southern ridge of Temnus. It was one of the many Macedonian colonies established in Asia Minor in the sequel of the destruction of the Persian Empire by Alexander. The waters of Thyatira are said to be so well adapted for dyeing that in no place can the scarlet cloth out of which fezes are made be so brilliantly or so permanently dyed as here. So in the Acts (Acts 16:14) Lydia, the first convert of Paul at Philippi, is mentioned as "a seller of purple fabrics" from Thyatira. The principal deity of the city was Apollo, worshiped as the sun-god under the surname Tyrimnas. He was no doubt introduced by the Macedonian colonists, for the name is Macedonian. A priestess of Artemis is also mentioned in the inscriptions. The modern city of Akhisar, about 50,000 in population, marks the site of the ancient city in the territory that is now Anatolian Turkey. Nothing of the ancient city can be seen. Remains of a Byzantine church remind one that the gospel once came to this place.   (From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

 

THYATIRA

(See LYDIA, the probable agent of carrying the gospel to her native town). Thyatira lay a little to the left of the road from Pergamos to Sardis (Strabo 13:4, who calls it "a Macedonian colony"); on the Lycus, a little to the S. of the Hyllus, at the N. end of the valley between Mount Tmolus and the southern ridge of Tetanus. Founded by Seleucus Nicator. On the confines of Mysia and Ionia. A corporate guild of dyers is mentioned in three inscriptions of the times of the Roman empire between Vespasian and Caracalla. To it probably belonged Lydia, the seller of purple (i.e. scarlet, for the ancients called many bright red colors "purple") stuffs (Acts 16:14). The waters are so suited for dyeing that nowhere is the scarlet of fezzes thought to be so brilliant and permanent as that made here. Modern Thyatira contains a population of 17,000. In Rev 2:18-25, "the Son of God who hath eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass," stands in contrast to the sun god.

Tyrimnas, the tutelary god of Thyatira, represented with flaming rays and feet of burnished brass. Christ commends Thyatira's works, charity, service, faith, and patience. Thyatira's "last works were more than the first," realizing 1 Thess 4:1, instead of retrograding from "first love and first works" as Ephesus (Rev 2:4-5); the converse of Matt 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20. Yet Thyatira "suffered that woman JEZEBEL (which see), which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." Some self-styled prophetess, or collection of prophets (the feminine in Hebrew idiom expressing a multitude), closely attached to and influencing the Thyatira church and its presiding bishop or "angel" (the Alexandrinus and Vaticanus manuscripts read "thy wife" for "that woman") as Jezebel did her weak husband Ahab. The presiding angel ought to have exercised his authority over the prophetess or prophets so-called, who seduced many into the libertinism of the BALAAMITES and NICOLAITANS (sec) of Thyatira's more powerful neighbour Pergamos (Rev 2:6,14,16). The Lord encourages the faithful section at Thyatira. "Unto you (omit `and' with the Alexandrinus and the Vaticanus manuscripts, the Sinaiticus manuscript reads: `among ') the rest in Thyatira I say, ... I will put upon you none other burden (save abstinence from and protestation against these abominations: this the seducers regarded as an intolerable burden, see Matt 11:30); but that which ye have hold fast until I come." A shrine outside Thyatira walls was sacred to the sibyl Sambatha, a Jewess or Chaldaean, in an enclosure called "the Chaldaean court."

(from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)

 

THYATIRA

(thi-a-ti'-ra) (Thuateira): Thyatira was a wealthy town in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, on the river Lycus. It stood so near to the borders of Mysia, that some of the early writers have regarded it as belonging to that country. Its early history is not well known, for until it was refounded by Seleucus Nicator (301-281 BC) it was a small, insignificant town. It stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. The name "Thyatira" means "the castle of Thya." Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. Upon the early coins of Thyatira this Asiatic god is represented as a horseman, bearing a double-headed battle-ax, similar to those represented on the sculptures of the Hittites. A goddess associated with him was Boreatene, a deity of less importance. Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of Rev 2:20, who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds which were probably more completely organized there than in any other ancient city. Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. Powerful among them was the guild of coppersmiths; another was the guild of the dyers, who, it is believed, made use of the madder-root instead of shell-fish for making the purple dyestuffs. A member of this guild seems to have been Lydia of Thyatira, who, according to Acts 16:14, sold her dyes in Philippi. The color obtained by the use of this dye is now called Turkish red. The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to Acts 19:10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.

Thyatira is now represented by the modern town of Ak-Hissar on a branch line of the Manisa-Soma Railroad, and on the old Rom road 9 hours from Sardis. Ak-Hissar is Turkish for "white castle," and near the modern town may be seen the ruins of the castle from which the name was derived. The village is of considerable size; most of the houses are of mud, but several of the buildings erected by Caracalla are still standing, yet none of them are perfect. In the higher part of the town are the ruins of one of the pagan temples, and in the walls of the houses are broken columns and sarcophagi and inscribed stones. The population of 20,000 is largely Greek and Armenian, yet a few Jews live among them. Before the town is a large marsh, fever-laden, and especially unhealthful in the summer time, formed by the Lycus, which the Turks now call Geurdeuk Chai. The chief modern industry is rug-making.  E. J. BANKS

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

 

THYATIRA

[thigh uh TIE ruh]-a city of the province of LYDIA in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) situated on the road from Pergamos to Sardis. The city was on the southem bank of the Lycus River, a branch of the Hermus River.

Although never a large city, Thyatira was a thriving manufacturing and commercial center during New Testament times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of many trade guilds and unions here. Membership in these trade guilds, necessary for financial and social success, often involved pagan customs and practices such as superstitious worship, union feasts using food sacrificed to pagan gods, and loose sexual morality.

The Book of Revelation refers to a certain woman known as "Jezebel" who taught and beguiled the Christians at Thyatira to conform to the paganism and sexual immorality of their surroundings (Rev 1:11; 2:18-29). In the church in Thyatira, one of the "seven churches which are in Asia" (Rev 1:4), Jezebel's followers seem to have been a minority because the majority of Christians in this church are commended.

The apostle Paul's first convert in Europe was "a certain woman named LYDIA...a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira" (Acts 16:14). The modern name of Thyatira is Akhisar, which means "white castle."

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)