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Istanbul, Ephesus, Laodicea, Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyatira, Pergamum, Izmir (Smyrna), Miletos, Patmos Greek Island
8 Days / 7 Nights
Arrival in Istanbul and transfer to your hotel.
Overnight in Istanbul. (B & L)
After breakfast, we will start our full day of the city with the Hagia Sophia. Originally built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, and converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in the 15th century. The Blue Mosque, another of the world’s most important religious buildings, unique for its 6 minarets and its celestial interior decorated with the famous blue Iznik tiles. The Hippodrome, scene of chariot races, The Topkapi Palace, residence of Ottoman Sultan’s from the 15th to the 19th century. With its impressive treasury, exquisite harem, attractive courtyards and pavilions housing huge collections of antiquities, last stop at The Grand Bazaar.
Overnight in Istanbul. (B & L)
Early morning transfer to Airport for your flight to Izmir, to begin touring the Seven Churches of Revelation. Meet with your guide and drive to Ephesus, one of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”.
Ephesus and Laodicea : Ephesus, one of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”. Visit to St. John Basilica and the, Last abode of Virgin Mary at Mount Solmissos. Visit to the old Greco-Roman city of Ephesus, most important of the “Seven Churches of Asia Minor”, where St. John brought Mary in fulfillment of his pledge to Jesus to protect her, she is believed to have taken into heaven. After lunch, continue to Laodicea a Crossroads of the ancient world .
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Ephesus ; begins with the Lord’s metaphorical reminder that He is their sovereign while at the same time intimately connected to them (Revelation 2:1). He then shows His compassion by acknowledging their diligence and their devotion to obedience, their enduring perseverance and strength and the tenacity and purity of their conviction (Revelation 2:2,3). He cautions the faithful in Ephesus that their focus on doctrinal piety and their congregational catharsis has caused a crisis in their fellowship and that, among them, there is a loss of trust and benevolence. They must regain their esteem for one another and the love that the family of their church once shared or, they are warned, they will lose their position as a testimonial pillar in the greater Christian Church (Revelation 2;4,5). If they can restore their kinship, they are promised eternal blessings (Revelation 2:7).
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Laodicea ; The city’s remaining ruins leave no doubt as to the prosperity of the local population and in Revelation the angel of the church at Laodicea is described as boastful about the accumulation of wealth, full of pride, self-satisfied, deluded and, furthermore, ignorant of its spiritual indigence (Revelation 3:17). Jesus advises the Laodiceans to wholeheartedly repent, to change their self-perception, to strive for purity and to revive and deepen their faith (3:18,19). He offers them His grace and salvation should they attain spiritual triumph (3:20,21). In reference to the choice of wording used to describe the lack of obedience to God amongst the Laodiceans, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot (3:16); it is interesting to note that water was supplied to the city from a hot spring about 4 miles away through an aqueduct that you will see ruins of today along with others including walls and temples, the stadium, gymnasium and theaters.
Overnight in Pamukkale. (B & L)
In the morning, we visit the ancient city of Hierapolis home of Philip the Evangelist. Have a break at the calcium terraces of Pamukkale later on proceed to Philadelphia. Philadelphia (Alasehir), the youngest of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”, visiting the still standing remains of an early church and the city walls Lunch on the way. In the afternoon visit, ancient city and ruins of the famous church of Sardis the ancient Lydian capital. Later on the remains of the church of Thyatira than drive to Pergamon where we overnight stay.
Overnight in Pergamon. (B & L)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Pamukkale ; We know that the early spread of Christianity into Asia Minor is attributed to the apostle, Paul, and his close associates, Barnabas and Silas. Paul mentions Hierapolis specifically in his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:13). St. Phillip, the apostle, is believed by many to have been martyred here in 80 AD.
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Sardis ; The message from Revelation that was intended for Sardis is one of general condemnation for a congregation that had become lifeless in its obedience to God, despite the city’s status as a thriving business center. They are cautioned to wake up, to become aware of their shortcomings, to nourish what seeds remain within themselves, and to emulate those among them who are watchful and pure, that their community may enliven and grow out of its stale spiritual condition. Those who overcome the crisis of faith will be rewarded with recognition and salvation. Revelation (3:1-5)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Philadelphia ; Philadelphia ( Alasehir )is known as the good church, abiding, loyal and steadfast in the face of persecution (Revelation 3: 8-10). He offers the community of believers an open door and tells them that if they continue forth in their faithfulness they will become pillars in the Temple of God (Revelation 3: 8,12). Here, it is interesting to note that the city had suffered a devastating earthquake in 17 AD and the residents may have been in need of emotional security and strong foundations.
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Thyatira ; ; Philadelphia ( Akhisar ) The message that St. John received and conveyed to the church at Thyatira begins with dramatic imagery to convey the Lord’s authority as well as His indignation at this behavior; and, more significantly, at the tolerance of this behavior and the tolerance of Jezebel, the false prophetess who had enticed and led the faithful astray despite their good works, service and forbearance (Revelation 2:18-20). The congregation is castigated by the Lord and warned that unless those who have succumbed to this impiety reform and repent wholeheartedly, they will suffer great pains to come in their just desserts (vv. 21-23). They are implored and encouraged to persevere, to adhere to whatever faithfulness remains within them and to whatever fellowship remains among them. Their endurance will be rewarded in the promise of ascendancy and of unity with Christ (Revelation 2:25-28). It is interesting to note that by the beginning of the 3rd century, Thyatira had flourished into a solid Christian community and sent its bishops to attend the great ecumenical councils in Nicea and in Ephesus.
Departure after breakfast for Pergamon (Bergama), the place where, wrote St. John to the church of Pergamon, “Satan´s throne is sited. Visit the Church of Pergamon, the red-court, Acropolis, after lunch; we drive to Smyrna (Izmir), recipient of a letter from St Paul praising the early believers for their faithfulness. Visiting to St. Polycarp Church and a short tour of the city at the end of the seven churches tour, transfer to Izmir Hotel. (B & L).
Overnight in Kusadası. (B & L)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Pergamon ; Though Pergamon was a major center of pagan worship and not conducive to Christian life, the church there was well established by the end of the 1st century. It was severely challenged, however, by the activities of the pagan community and this struggle is what lies at the heart of the Book of Revelation’s message to the church at Pergamon. The message is similar to the one sent to Thyatira. The Lord commends the congregation for its obedience, devotion and faithfulness in the face of the persecution, flagrant heathenism and impiety that was being practiced all around them in this city of temple worship and ritual sacrifice (Revelation 2:13). They are then condemned for loosely interpreting doctrine, compromising their morals and allowing themselves to be mislead in order to satisfy their carnal desires and their worldly aspirations (Revelation 2:14,15). If they do not recognize the error of their ways and right themselves, they will face perdition; if they do prevail, they will receive from the Lord sustenance, blessings and more of the grace that is already working within them to allow them the capacity for faith (Revelation 2:16,17).
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Smyrna ; The first reference to early Christianity in Smyrna is from the Book of Revelation. As with the other six churches of Revelation, the early Christian congregation in Smyrna was challenged by the longer established system of pagan worship and they faced persecution by the local Jewish population, as well. The Lord’s message commends the Christians of Smyrna for their devotion in the face of the severe pressure and suffering that was brought on their church by the local Jewish opposition and also acknowledges their spiritual wealth in the face of abject material poverty (Revelation 2:9). He appeals to them to have no fear, to remain unwaveringly courageous that their conviction be undeterred by future trials that may even include martyrdom (Revelation 2:10). If they are able to remain steadfast in their witness for God, they are promised a ‘crown of life’ or exaltation and eternal blessings after this earthly life (Revelation 2:10,11). The language used is significant in that the monuments of ancient Smyrna ringed Mount Pagos much like a crown.
Proceed to Miletus which was a great Ionian Port with two lions guarding its entrance and the theater, reconstructed in the Roman period, is an impressive structure built against the slope of a hill. Lunch will be served in the town of “Didyma” at a local restaurant, overhanging the ruins of the Temple of Didyma where you can taste the Turkish cuisine. Didyma welcomes people who admire the magnificent Temple of Apollo, a great monument of antiquity.
Overnight in Kusadasi (B & D)
Then we will continue to the great Ionian port of Miletus, where Paul farewelled the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-38) and then visit the newly excavated remains of a synagogue.
Early in the morning, you will sail to Patmos, the tiny, rocky island where the exiled St. John the Divine received the Revelation upon which the last book of the New Testament is based. You will have tour of the 11th century monastery of St. John here.
Overnight in Kusadasi. (B & L )
I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos, because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, ‘write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. (Revelation 1:9-11)
And I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an anklelenght robe, with a gold sash around his chest. The hair of his head was as white as wool or as snow and his eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand he held seven stars.
A sharp two edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to dead and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards. This is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches”. (Revelation 1:12-20.)
After breakfast, flight to Istanbul.
The end of the services.