PHILADEL'PHIA (fil-a-del'fi-a; "brotherly love"). A city in Lydia of Asia Minor, containing one of "the seven churches that are in Asia" (Rev 1:4,11; 3:7). It was built by Attalus II Philadelphus, whose name it bore. It was situated on the lower slopes of the Tmolus, about twenty-eight miles SW of Sardis and 100 miles W of Smyrna (Izmir). Its elevation is 952 feet above the sea. A Roman town until A.D. 1379, it fell, after persistent resistance, into the hands of the Turks. It has been several times almost destroyed by earthquakes. Its name now is Alasehir, "City of God." Today all that one can see there dating to the Christian history of the city are a section of Byzantine wall and a couple of brick pillars of the Church of St. John dating to the eleventh century. The town is an unimportant place of fifteen to twenty thousand people.  H.F.V.

 (From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)



In Lydia, on the lower slopes of Tmolus, 28 miles S.E. of Sardis; built by Attalus II, Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, who died. 138 B.C. Nearly destroyed by an earthquake in Tiberius' reign (Tacitus, Annals 2:47). The connection of its church with the Jews causes Christ's address to have Old Testament coloring and imagery (Rev 3:7-18). It and Smyrna alone of the seven, the most afflicted, receive unmixed praise. To Smyrna the promise is, "the synagogue of Satan" should not prevail against her faithful ones; to Philadelphia, she should even win over some of "the synagogue of Satan," (the Jews who might have been the church of God, but by opposition had become "the synagogue of Satan") to "fall on their faces and confess God is in her of a truth" (1 Cor 14:25). Her name expresses "brotherly love," in conflict with legal bondage. Her converts fall low before those whom once they persecuted (Ps 84:10; Acts 16:29-33). The promise, "him that overcometh I will make a pillar," i.e. immovably firm, stands in contrast to Philadelphia often shaken by earthquakes. Curiously, a portion of a stone church wall topped with arches of brick remains; the building must have been magnificent, and dates from Theodosius. The region being of disintegrated lava was favourable to the vine; and the coins bear the head of Bacchus. This church had but" little strength," i.e. was small in numbers and poor in resources, of small account in men's eyes. The cost of repairing the often shaken city taxed heavily the citizens. Poverty tended to humility; conscious of weakness Philadelphia leant on Christ her strength (2 Cor 12:9); so she "kept His word," and when tested did "not deny His name." So "He who hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth," "set before" Philadelphia an open door which no man can shut. Faithful in keeping the word of Christ's patience (i.e. the persevering endurance which He requires) Philadelphia was kept, i.e. delivered, out of the hour of temptation. "Among the Greek churches of Asia Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins, a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may be sometimes the same." (Gibbon.) The Turks call it Allah Shehr, "city of God"; or rather, "beautiful ('alah (OT:423)) city."

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



(fil-a-del-'fi-a) (Philadelphia: A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or "inkwells"; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Rom poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st cent. AD was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, "the city of God," but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of "Little Athens" because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. One of the Seven Churches of the Book of Rev (Rev 3:7 ff) was there, and it was the seat of a bishop. As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. During the reign of Tiberius the city was destroyed by an earthquake, yet it was quickly rebuilt. Frederick Barbarossa entered it while on his crusade in 1190. Twice, in 1306 and 1324, it was besieged by the Seljuk Turks, but it retained its independence until after 1390, when it was captured by the combined forces of the Turks and Byzantines. In 1403 Tamerlane captured it, and, it is said, built about it a wall of the corpses of his victims.

Ala-shehir is still a Christian town; one-fourth of its modern population is Greek, and a Gr bishop still makes his home there. One of the chief modern industries is a liquorice factory; in the fields about the city the natives dig for the roots. On the terrace upon which the ancient city stood, the ruins of the castle and the walls may still be seen, and among them is pointed out the foundation of the early church. The place may now best be reached by rail from Smyrna.  E. J. BANKS

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



[fill ah DELL fih uh] (brotherly love)-a city of the province of Lydia (see Map 6, C-4) in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the site of one of the seven churches of Asia to which John wrote in the Book of Revelation (Rev 1:11).

Philadelphia was situated on the Cogamus River, a tributary of the Hermus (modern Gediz) and was about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Sardis. It was founded by Attalus II (Philadelphus), who reigned as king of Pergamos from 159 B.C. until 138 B.C. Philadelphia was a center of the wine industry. Its chief deity was Dionysus, in Greek mythology the god of wine (the Roman Bacchus).

In the Book of Revelation, John describes the church in Philadelphia as the faithful church and the church that stood at the gateway of a great opportunity (Rev 3:7-13). Christ said to this church, "See, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it" (v. 8). The "open door" means primarily access to God, but it also refers to opportunity for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Still a city of considerable size, Philadelphia is known today as Alasehir, or Allah-shehr ("the city of God").

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