We move on to the fifth of the seven letters in Revelation. We’re on the home-stretch. This time the letter to the dead church in Sardis. Jesus has very little in the way of good things to say about the church in Sardis. And, of course, bad things. In this church, the examination will again be about the relationships between the good and bad statements. But this time, Jesus very clearly points out the differences to the church. And therefore, to us as well.
Once again, the title comes from the section title in the NKJV. As with most of the churches, the title refers to the content of the letter. However, here in Sardis, there’s a warning (threat?) in how Jesus referred to Himself as the author of this letter. Therefore, looking at the concept of a “dead” church – how it came to be, who is dead and who isn’t – will be high on our list of things to check out.
First – Blessings in the Seven Letters
Postscript from history, regarding the church in Sardis
I’m surprised to read this, but also very happy about it. I didn’t expect this church would survive. The fact that it did must be of great hope for us.
The Church in Sardis
The Christians whom the glorified Christ chastened in the fifth of the seven oracles that opened Revelation appear to have taken heed to Christ’s warning. The church continued its living witness into the second century and beyond, until the Sassanid invasion destroyed Sardis and scattered all its inhabitants in 616 ad. The most dramatic archaeological witness to this is the fine Byzantine chapel in the southeast corner of the precincts of the temple of Artemis. Worship of Christ significantly outlasted the worship of Artemis in this city. A smaller church structure has been uncovered in the near vicinity of the shrine to Cybele, another sign of the growth and, indeed, the victory of the Christ-cult over the others that had enjoyed such widespread devotion in the city and surrounding region for so long.
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