Bible study-Ancient Cities-Smyrna – Antioch- Thyatira -Thessalonica
SMYRNA, an important Ionian city, is situated at the head of a deep gulf on the western coast of Asia Minor, forty miles north by west of Ephesus. It was an important city in the days of the Apostles, being possessed of enormous wealth and having a large trade. It is still a flourishing commercial point, being visited by many foreign vessels, and by many caravans from the interior, It has a population or nearly 150,000. Christianity was established here at an early day. The church at Smyrna was one of the seven churches addressed by Christ in the Revelation of St. John (i. 11 ; ii. 8-11)
City of Thyatira
THE city of Thyatira was a Macedonian colony. It was situated in Lydia, in Asia Minor, not far from the river Lycus, and between Sardis and Pergamos. It is still in existence, but is a poor town with a population of 6000, chiefly Turks. The church at Thyatira was one of the seven churches addressed by the Saviour in the revelation of St. John. The principal deity of the city was Apollo, but there was another superstition of an extremely curious nature, which seems to have been brought hither by some of the corrupted Jews of the dispersed tribes. It seems to have been an attempt to amalgamate the religion of Jehovah with that of heathenism. It is believed that the censure and denunciation launched in Rev. ii. 18-23, against the Church in Thyatira, was because of the failure of the Church at that place to discountenance and reprove this amalgamation.
THERE are two cities called Antioch, mentioned in the New Testament. The most prominent is that which is famous as the place at which the disciples were first called " Christians." It was situated in Syria (and was the capital of that country), at the mouth of the River Orontes It was noted, also, for its cultivation, refinement and luxury, and was at one time the third city in importance in the Roman Empire. It became terribly corrupt and wicked, and few cities have suffered greater disasters. It is now called Antokia.
Thessalonica was a city and prominent seaport of Macedonia, situated at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. It was the capital of the "second part " of Macedonia under the Romans, and the residence of the Roman governor.. Its original name was Therma, but it was changed by Cassander to Thessalonica in honor of his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. Its modern name is Saloniki, and it is, next to Constantinople, the most important town of European Turkey. The Apostle Paul visited the city in A. D. 52, and founded t flourishing church there. His two Epistles to the Thessalonians are addressed to the church at this place. The city has always been very prominent in Eastern affairs. At the time of the Apostle it was quite on a level with Corinth and Athens in its control of the Levantine trade. Its position, at the junction of several important roads with the great Roman highway, the Via Egnatia, which connected Rome with the whole region to the north of the AEgean Sea, made it a valuable centre for the spread of the Gospel. There was also a large Jewish population in Thessalonica, attracted there by the commercial advantages of the city. St. Paul was aware of these advantages, as well as of the necessity of availing himself of them, and the success that crowned his efforts was of the highest importance to the cause in which he labor.
THE Plain of Gennesaret lay on the west side of the lake of the same name. It was watered, as Josephus informs us, by a “most fertilizing fountain called Capharnaum.'' It was one of the pleasantest parts of the Holy Land, and was the scene of much of our Lord's ministry. There is scarcely a foot of land upon the shore of the lake that is not identified in some way with the life and labors of the Saviour, so that this is to the Christian the most interesting region in the Holy Land. Capernaum was " His own city,"—the chosen home of His manhood ; chosen, no doubt, because it was central to the lake country. It was also on the great Roman military road from Damascus to Ptolemais, and strangers were constantly passing through it. From Capernaum, Jesus could more readily pass to the different portions of Galilee, and by embarking on the lake could find a speedy refuge, when necessary, on the eastern shore in the province of Gaulonitis. The Apostles were natives of the lake towns or neigh-boring villages, and nearly all fishermen on the lake. The country south and west of the lake was, at that period, thickly planted with cities and towns, some of which were of considerable size and importance, so that the Lake of Gennesaret, or the Sea of Galilee, as it is often called, was the centre of a region teeming with life.
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From: The Devotional and Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, by J. R. Jones, 1879.