From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(Θυάτειρα, neut. pl.[Note: plural.])

Thyatira was a busy commercial city of northern Lydia, close to the southern border of Mysia. Situated a little to the south of the mountain ridge which is the watershed of the Caicus and the Hermns (Strabo, XIII. iv. 4), it controlled the traffic of the open and fertile valley of the Lycus, which flows S.W. to join the Hermus. Doubtless an old Lydian settlement, it retained its Lydian name, but its history begins with its refounding by Seleucus Nicator, the first of the Seleucid kings of Syria, who saw the advantage of establishing garrison cities and centres of Greek culture throughout his dominions, which extended from Western Asia to the Indus. The refounded city, ‘a colony of the Macedonians’ (Strabo, loc. cit. ), was intended as a defence against Lysimachus, the master of northern Asia Minor. Some of the 2,000 Jewish families whom Antiochus the Great deported from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to Phrygia and Lydia (Jos. Ant . XII. iii. 4) must have been settled in Thyatira. In the Roman period the town became an important station on the overland route by the Hellespont (Dardanelles) to the East. It lay midway between the once royal cities of Pergamos and Sardis, but its own significance was always purely mercantile. It owed its prosperity to the manufacture of woollen goods, and especially to its dyed fabrics. An interesting evidence of the spiritual influence of the Jews in Thyatira is furnished by the fact that St. Paul’s earliest European convert, the proselyte Lydia, is described as ‘a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira’ ( Acts 16:14). Many scholars think that ‘Lydia’ was not her proper name but her ethnic designation-‘the Lydian.’ It was probably at her home in the Lycus Valley that she had been attracted to the lofty theism and pure morality of Judaism, and, on going to Philippi as the agent of a house of Thyatiran manufacturers and dyers, she naturally sought out the fellowship of the Jewish proseuche .

Purple had a much wider meaning in ancient than in modern times. The purple of Thyatira was probably the well-known turkey-red, made from the madder-root which grows abundantly in that region.

The native deities of Thyatira, as appears from inscriptions on coins, were the male and female Tyrimnos and Boreitene, whom the Ionian settlers identified with Apollo and Artemis. Christianity was probably brought to the city at the time of St. Paul’s prolonged mission in Ephesus ( Acts 19:10;  Acts 19:26). Sown by whatever hand, the seed took firm root there and steadily grew. There was no ensuing decline of the Church’s ‘love and faith and ministry and patience,’ her last works being more than her first ( Revelation 2:18). Thyatira had, however, a, perplexing moral problem to solve, and it is the handling of this question that makes the letter to the church of Thyatira ( Revelation 2:19-29) the longest and in some respects the most obscure of all the Messages to the Seven Churches. Like the craftsmen of mediaeval Europe, those of many towns in Asia Minor were united in gilds, called ἔργα or ἐργασίαι. Inscriptions prove that no city had more flourishing societies of this kind than Thyatira, the workers in wool and linen, the tanners and bronze-smiths, the dyers and potters, and so on, all having their separate gilds. When the new religion was firmly established and became a real power in the city, the burning question of the hour came to be the attitude of the Christian society to the gild. Could the new and the old live peaceably side by side? One section of the church was led by a prominent and influential woman, admired by the weaker minds of the community as worthy to rank with those prophets whose oracular utterances in the primitive Church almost rivalled the inspired words of the apostles. The watchword of this party was hearty fellowship between the church and the gild. Throwing themselves with equal zest into the life of both, they no doubt justified themselves with specious arguments. All labour, they said, is sacred, the strong collective activity of the gild no less than the feebler service of the lonely toiler. It cannot be wrong for members of the same craft to associate themselves in order to defend and promote their common interests, as well as to assist one another in days of sickness and misfortune. To enlightened Christians no real harm can come from initiation into the gild with the conventional pagan rites, from partaking of food sacrificed to idols, and even from witnessing the riotous mirth of the heathen orgies. And in the name of liberty some so-called Christians of Thyatira evidently went still further, maintaining that a plunge into occult ‘depths,’ an experience of unnamed immoralities, could affect only the vile body, while it was powerless to soil or harm the pure immortal soul.

Writing in the name of Christ to the church of Thyatira, St. John uses the scathing language of indignant scorn, the piercing invective of wounded love. Leaving unanswered the theoretical question whether the gild might conceivably be so Christianized that the believing artisan might conscientiously seek its protection and share its fellowship, he keeps his eye on the actual situation. To him it is clear as daylight that no servant of God can become, or remain, a member of the gild as it is -steeped in idolatry and immorality. The union of the Christian Church with the pagan association is nothing less than treason to Christ; in the language of Hebrew and Christian Puritanism, it is fornication or adultery ( Revelation 2:20-22). The ‘prophetess’ of the Thyatiran church is denounced as a new Jezebel, all the more subtly dangerous because she is not, like the first, a fanatical heathen defender of nature-worship, but a philosophical and sentimental dabbler in it, who is using her intellectual gifts to ‘teach and seduce’ the followers of Christ, reviving the old fallacy, ‘ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ To the indignant prophet of the Apocalypse this kind of reasoning is infernal; the ‘depths’ of experience into which members of the church of Thyatira are being initiated are the ‘depths of Satan’ ( Revelation 2:24). He warns the coadjutors and youthful victims of the Thyatiran ‘prophetess’-called ‘her lovers’ and ‘her children’-that they will see the couch of pleasure changed into the bed of sickness and disease, and find that no sophistry can prevent sin from working death ( Revelation 2:22-23). All antinomian progress is retrogression; every ascent ‘beyond good and evil’ is a disastrous fall.

‘Set the maiden fancies wallowing in the troughs of Zolaism,

Forward, forward, ay and backward, downward too into the abysm’

(Tennyson, Locksley Hall Sixty Years After , 145-146).

Outside the gate of Thyatira, as an inscription ( CIG [Note: IG Corpus Inscrip. Graecarum.], 3509) proves, there stood the shrine of a Chaldaean sibyl, whose name, Sambethe, was doubtless familiar to the whole town, and of whose sooth-saying St. John may well have heard. E. Schürer suggested (in Theol. Abhandlungen, Carl von Weizsäcker zu seinem 70ten Geburtstage gewidmet , Freiburg i. B., 1892, p. 39 f.) that this may have been the Jezebel denounced in the letter, but the theory has not found acceptance. That the writer of the Apocalypse may have seen some likeness between the two clever women, the sibyl and the ‘prophetess,’ each of whom had a large following in Thyatira, is not improbable; but the Jezebel whom the Church did wrong to suffer (v. 20), and who had been granted time to repent (v. 21), was clearly regarded by him as being not outside but inside the Christian community. Ak-hissar, as Thyatira is now called, is a large town of mud houses, almost hidden from view by the luxuriant vegetation of its gardens. The ruins are of no great importance.

Literature.-W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia , London, 1904; C. Wilson, in Murray’s Handbook to Asia Minor , do., 1905, p. 84 f.

James Strahan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

THYATIRA . There is a long valley extending northward and southward and connecting the valleys of the Hermus and Caicus. Down this valley a stream flows southwards, and on the left bank of this stream was Thyatira. An important road also ran along this valley, the direct route between Constantinople and Smyrna, and the railway takes this route now. Thyatira was also in the 1st cent. a.d. a station on the Imperial Post Road (overland route) from Brundislum and Dyrrhachium by Thessalonica, Neapolis (for Philippi), Troas, Pergamum, Philadelphia … to Tarsus, Syrian Antioch, Cæsarea of Palestine, and Alexandria. In its connexion with Pergamum this road had always a great importance. Thyatira was built (in the middle of the valley, with a slight rising ground for an acropolis) by Seleucus, the founder of the Seleucid dynasty, whose vast kingdom extended from W. Asia Minor to the Himalayas. The city was founded between b.c. 300 and 282 as a defence against Lysimachus, whose kingdom bordered that of Seleucus on the N. and W., and the colonists were Macedonian soldiers. In 282, Philetærus revolted from Lysimachus and founded the kingdom of Pergamum. After the death of Lysimachus, Thyatira was a useful garrison to hold the road, in the interests first of the Seleucids and afterwards of the Pergamenians. The latter were safe from the former if they were in possession of Thyatira. The relation between Pergamum and Thyatira was thus of the closest. The city, though weak in position, was a garrison city, and had to be carefully fortified, and everything was done to foster the military spirit. The character of the city’s religion is illustrated by the hero Tyrimnos, who is figured on its coins. He is on horseback and has a battle-axe on his shoulder. This hero is closely related to the protecting god of the city, whose temple was in front of the city. He was considered the divine ancestor of the city and its leading families, and was identified with the sun-god. He also had the title Pythian Apollo, thus illustrating the strange mixture of Anatolian and Greek ideas and names which is so common a feature in the ancient religions of Asia Minor. In conformity with this, he was represented as wearing a cloak fastened by a brooch, carrying a battle-axe, and with a laurel branch in his right hand, symbolizing his purifying power. (It is certain that the place was inhabited before the time of Seleucus, but merely as a village with a temple.) The city had Pythian games on the model of those in Greece proper, and in the 3rd cent. a.d. the Emperor Elagabalus was associated with the god in the worship connected with them, showing the closer relation which had been effected between the popular and the Imperial religion. It is probable that Seleucus i. had settled Jews in Thyatira, as he certainly did in some of the cities of Asia. Lydia of Thyatira (  Acts 16:14 ) had come within the circle of the synagogue, possibly in her native place.

Little is known of the history of the city. It surrendered to the Romans in b.c. 190. It was occupied by Aristonicus during his revolt in b.c. 133 2. It must have suffered severely and repeatedly during the fighting between Arabs and Christians, and Turks and Christians, in the Middle Ages. Its situation demands that it be captured and re-fortified by every ruling power. In Roman times it had been a great trading city, dating its greatest period of prosperity from about the time when the Seven Letters were written. There is evidence of more trade-guilds there than in any other Asian city: wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, bronze-smiths, etc. Lydia probably belonged to one of those guilds. The purple in which Lydia dealt must have been a product of the region of Thyatira, and the well-known Turkey-red must therefore be meant. It is obtained from madder-root, which grows abundantly in that region. The name ‘purple’ had a much wider meaning among the ancients than among us. The bronze work of Thyatira was also remarkably fine (cf.   Revelation 2:18 ).

The letter addressed to the Church at Thyatira (  Revelation 2:18-29 ) is the most obscure and difficult of all the seven, as we know so little of local conditions. It is remarkable that the city, which was the least of all the seven (with perhaps the exception of Philadelphia), should be promised strength and power. The exact nature of the Nicolaitans with their prophetess cannot be precisely determined. The principles they represented were regarded by the author as subversive of true Christianity.

A. Souter.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

(Lydia, The Probable Agent Of Carrying The Gospel To Her Native Town.) (See Lydia .) Thyatira lay a little to the left of the road from Pergamos to Sardis (Strabo 13:4, who calls it "a Macedonian colony"); on the Lycus, a little to the S. of the Hyllus, at the N. end of the valley between Mount Tmolus and the southern ridge of Tetanus. Founded by Seleucus Nicator. On the confines of Mysia and Ionia. A corporate guild of dyers is mentioned in three inscriptions of the times of the Roman empire between Vespasian and Caracalla. To it probably belonged Lydia, the seller of purple (I.E. Scarlet, For The Ancients Called Many Bright Red Colors "Purple") stuffs ( Acts 16:14). The waters are so suited for dyeing that nowhere is the scarlet of fezzes thought to be so brilliant and permanent as that made here. Modern Thyatira contains a population of 17,000.

In  Revelation 2:18-25, "the Son of God who hath eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass," stands in contrast to the sun god. Tyrimnas, the tutelary god of Thyatira, represented with flaming rays and feet of burnished brass. Christ commends Thyatira's works, charity, service, faith, and patience. Thyatira's "last works were more than the first," realizing  1 Thessalonians 4:1, instead of retrograding from "first love and first works" as Ephesus ( Revelation 2:4-5); the converse of  Matthew 12:45;  2 Peter 2:20. Yet Thyatira "suffered that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (See Jezebel .) Some self-styled prophetess, or collection of prophets (the feminine in Hebrew idiom expressing a multitude), closely attached to and influencing the Thyatira church and its presiding bishop or "angel" (The Alexandrinus And Vaticanus Manuscripts Read "Thy Wife" For "That Woman") as Jezebel did her weak husband Ahab.

The presiding angel ought to have exercised his authority over the prophetess or prophets so-called, who seduced many into the libertinism of the Balaamites and Nicolaitans of Thyatira's more powerful neighbour Pergamos ( Revelation 2:6;  Revelation 2:14;  Revelation 2:16). (See Balaamites; Nicolaitans ) The Lord encourages the faithful section at Thyatira. "Unto you (omit 'and' with the Alexandrinus and the Vaticanus manuscripts, the Sinaiticus manuscript reads: 'among ') the rest in Thyatira I say, ... I will put upon you none other burden (save abstinence from and protestation against these abominations: this the seducers regarded as an intolerable burden, see  Matthew 11:30); but that which ye have hold fast until I come." A shrine outside Thyatira walls was sacred to the sibyl Sambatha, a Jewess or Chaldaean, in an enclosure called "the Chaldaean court."

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Thyati'ra. A city on the Lycus, founded by Seleucus Nicator, lay to the left of the road from Pergamos to Sardis, 27 miles from the latter city, and on the very confines of Mysia and Ionia, so as to be sometimes reckoned, within the one and, sometimes, within the other. Dyeing apparently formed an important part of the industrial activity of Thyatira, as it did of that of Colossae and Laodicea. It is first mentioned in connection with Lydia, "a seller of purple."  Acts 16:14. One of the Seven Churches of Asia was established here.  Revelation 2:18-29.

The principal deity of the city was Apollo; but there was another superstition, of an extremely curious nature, which seems to have been brought thither, by some of the corrupted Jews of the dispersed tribes. A fane stood outside the walls, dedicated to Sambatha - the name of the sibyl who is sometimes called Chaldean, sometimes Jewish, sometimes Persian - in the midst of an enclosure designated "the Chaldaeans' court."

This seems to lend an illustration to the obscure passage in  Revelation 2:20-21, which some interpret of the wife of the bishop. Now, there is evidence to show that in Thyatira, there was a great amalgamation of races. If the sibyl Sambatha was in reality a Jewess, lending her aid to the amalgamation of different religions, and not discountenanced by the authorities of the Judeo-Christian Church at Thyatira, both the censure and its qualification become easy of explanation. (The present name of the city is Ak-Hissar , ( "White Castle" ). It has a reputation for the manufacture of scarlet cloth. Its present population is 15,000 to 20,000. There are nine mosques. - Editor).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

City in the district of Lydia in Asia Minor. The disciple Lydia, of Philippi, was from this city, which was famed for its dyeing. It is not known how the church was formed there, but it was chosen as one of the seven representative churches to which the Revelation was sent, with the special message addressed to this church.  Acts 16:14;  Revelation 1:11;  Revelation 2:18,24 . See Revelation The city was founded by Seleueus Nicator, who during the war with Lysimachus stationed a colony of Macedonians there. At the commencement of the Christian Era there was a preponderance of the Macedonian element in the population. It is now called Ak-hissar; there are no ancient ruins.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

Thyatira was an important manufacturing centre in the Roman province of Asia (present-day Turkey). It had factories for the manufacture of clothing, dyes, pottery and brasswork ( Acts 16:14;  Revelation 2:18).

Towards the end of the first century, the church in Thyatira was troubled by a woman who was encouraging the Christians to join in idolatrous feasts and their accompanying immoral practices. The apostle John wrote to the church to warn the woman and her followers of the judgment for which they were heading, and to encourage the true Christians to remain faithful to God ( Revelation 2:19-29).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

A city of Lydia, in Asia Minor, a Macedonian colony, anciently called Pelopia and Euhippia, now Ak-hisar. It was situated on the confines of Lydia and Mysia, near the river Lycus, between Sardis and Pergamos. It was the seat of one of "the seven churches,"  Revelation 1:11;  2:18,24 . The art of dyeing purple was particularly cultivated at Thyatira, as appears from an inscription recently found there; and it still sends to Smyrna, sixty miles southwest, large quantities of scarlet cloth,  Acts 16:14 . Ak-hissar is a poor town, with six thousand inhabitants, chiefly Turks.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Thyatira ( Thȳ'A-Tî'Rah ). A city of Asia Minor, on the northern border of Lydia. Dyeing was an important branch of its business from Homer's time, and the first New Testament mention of Thyatira,  Acts 16:14, connects it with the purple-seller, Lydia. Three votive inscriptions have been found among its ruins purporting to have come from the guild of "The Dyers." Thyatira was the seat of one of the seven churches of Asia.  Revelation 2:18-29. Its population now is estimated at from 17,000 to 20,000.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [9]

a city of Lydia, in Asia Minor, and the seat of one of the seven churches in Asia. It was situated nearly midway between Pergamos and Sardis, and is still a tolerable town, considering that it is in the hands of the Turks, and enjoys some trade, chiefly in cottons. It is called by that people Ak-hisar, or White Castle.

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

 Acts 16:14 Revelation 2:19 Revelation 2:20

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Revelation 1:11 2:18-28 Acts 16:14

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

thı̄ - a - tı̄´ra ( Θυάτειρα , Thuáteira ): Thyatira was a wealthy town in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, on the river Lycus. It stood so near to the borders of Mysia, that some of the early writers have regarded it as belonging to that country. Its early history is not well known, for until it was refounded by Seleucus Nicator (301-281 BC) it was a small, insignificant town. It stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. The name "Thyatira" means "the castle of Thya." Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. Upon the early coins of Thyatira this Asiatic god is represented as a horseman, bearing a double-headed battle-ax, similar to those represented on the sculptures of the Hittites. A goddess associated with him was Boreatene, a deity of less importance. Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of   Revelation 2:20 , who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds which were probably more completely organized there than in any other ancient city. Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. Powerful among them was the guild of coppersmiths; another was the guild of the dyers, who, it is believed, made use of the madder-root instead of shell-fish for making the purple dyestuffs. A member of this guild seems to have been Lydia of Thyatira, who, according to  Acts 16:14 , sold her dyes in Philippi. The color obtained by the use of this dye is now called Turkish red. The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to  Acts 19:10 , Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.

Thyatira is now represented by the modern town of Ak - Hissar on a branch line of the Manisa-Soma Railroad, and on the old Rom road 9 hours from Sardis. Ak - Hissar is Turkish for "white castle," and near the modern town may be seen the ruins of the castle from which the name was derived. The village is of considerable size; most of the houses are of mud, but several of the buildings erected by Caracalla are still standing, yet none of them are perfect. In the higher part of the town are the ruins of one of the pagan temples, and in the walls of the houses are broken columns and sarcophagi and inscribed stones. The population of 20,000 is largely Greek and Armenian, yet a few Jews live among them. Before the town is a large marsh, fever-laden, and especially unhealthful in the summer time, formed by the Lycus, which the Turks now call Geurdeuk Chai . The chief modern industry is rug-making.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Thyati´ra, a city on the northern border of Lydia, about twenty-seven miles from Sardis, the seat of one of the seven Apocalyptic churches . Its modern name is Ak-hissar, or the white castle. According to Pliny, it was known in earlier times by the names Pelopia and Euhippa (Hist. Nat. v. 29). Strabo asserts that it was a Macedonian colony (xiii. p. 928). The Roman road from Pergamus to Sardis passed through it. It was noted for the art of dyeing, as appears from . It still maintains its reputation for this manufacture, and large quantities of scarlet cloth are sent weekly to Smyrna. The town consists of about two thousand houses, for which taxes are paid to the government, besides two or three hundred small huts; of the former 300 are inhabited by Greeks, 30 by Armenians, and the rest by Turks. The common language of all classes is the Turkish; but in writing it, the Greeks use the Greek, and the Armenians the Armenian characters. There are nine mosques and one Greek church.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Thyatira'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.