“Unto The Church In Sardis” -- By: Anonymous
BSP 1:1 (Winter 1972) p. 23
“Unto The Church In Sardis”
Sardis, located in western Turkey, was the site of one of the seven churches of Asia addressed by John in Revelation 2 and 3. Excavations have been carried out there from 1910–1914 and yearly since 1958. The current excavations are sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research and are operated largely by Harvard and Cornell Universities.
The excavations over the past fourteen years have yielded rich results. One of the larger buildings that has been cleared is the Temple of Artemis. Artemis was called Diana by the Romans and this is the name used in the Bible. Paul had an encounter with the craftsmen who made images of Diana at Ephesus (Acts 19). An altar to the goddess dating to 550 B.C. has been uncovered just west of the temple. It is made of large limestone blocks fitted together with extraordinary precision for that time.
The worship of Artemis flourished at Sardis until the Apostle Paul brought the Gospel to this region. Then churches were built and the Temple of Artemis was abandoned. Very little has been found of the first century A.D. community at Sardis. In 17 A.D. the city was nearly leveled by an enormous earthquake. Tacitus records (Annals II.47) that Sardis was the hardest hit among a number of neighboring cities in the province of Asia. It may be this earthquake that the Lord referred to when He instructed John to write “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God. .. If
BSP 1:1 (Winter 1972) p. 24
therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3: 2, 3.)
The fear of a second devasting earthquake dominated the thinking of the architects and engineers who rebuilt Sardis. This is seen in the gymnasium-synagogue complex which has been excavated and is presently being restored. Foundation walls over three feet thick were found sunk to a depth of at least 18 feet with the intervening spaces laced by a network of buried crosswalls. The floor of the south hall of the gymnasium was laid upon six and a half feet of rubble in concrete. In some places, large open courts were built upon an underlying system of parallel barrel vaults, which may have served as drains or cisterns as well...
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