The city of Thyatira was another of the cities mentioned in Rev. 2-3, where the “seven churches which are in Asia” were addressed by the Apostle John. Map below, by Scott Richardson, shows the location of Thyatira as well as the other cities.
The modern name of Thyatira is Akhisar. The New Bible Dictionary states:
It occupied an important position in a low-lying ‘corridor’ connecting the Hermus and Caicus valleys. It was a frontier garrison, first on the W frontier of the territory of Seleucus I of Syria, and later, after changing hands, on the E frontier of the kingdom of Pergamum. With that kingdom, it passed under Roman rule in 133 bc. But it remained an important point in the Roman road-system, for it lay on the road from Pergamum to Laodicea, and thence to the E provinces. It was also an important centre of manufacture; dyeing, garment-making, pottery and brass-working are among the trades known to have existed there.
You will remember that Lydia, the first convert in Philppi, was a seller of purple from Thyatira (Acts 17:14). For our previous post see http://bleon1.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/thyatira-home-of-lydia/
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary observes,
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.
This evidently explains the reference to Jezebel in the letter. In the OT, Jezebel was the wicked woman from Phonecia that Israel’s king Ahab married. She brought with her Baal worship, with all of its immorality. Within the church at Thyatira there was a modern Jezebel, the counterpart of the one in the Old Testament. She was calling herself a prophetess, and deceptively teaching church members there that it was permissible for them to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols (Rev. 2:20). To make matters worse, she had been given opportunity to repent, but did not want to repent (v.21).
She was wrong to teach this, and the church was wrong to put up with her!
There is not a great deal to see of ancient Thyatira, because as is so often the case, a modern city has been built on the biblical site. But a limited amount of excavation has been done. Some Roman ruins of arches and other fragments can be seen in the photo below.
Photo below shows Roman columns which have been uncovered.
More to come!