Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
(Φιλαδέλφεια, T WH_ -ία)
Philadelphia was called after its founder, King Attalus II. Philadelphus of Pergamos (159-138 b.c.), whose surname marked his affection for his brother and predecessor, Eumenes II. Philadelphia occupied a strong and commanding position in the valley of the Cogamus, an affluent of the Hermus, at the N.E. base of Mt. Tmolus (Boz Dagh), where Lydia, Phrygia, and Mysia met. Northward and eastward from the city stretched a great volcanic plateau, the Katakekaumene or ‘Burnt Region’-called also the Decapolis-whose famous vintages were one of Philadelphia’s chief sources of revenue. The important trade-route from Smyrna (83 miles west) branched at Philadelphia, one branch going N.E. through Phrygia and the other S.E to the cities of the Lycus Valley. The city was founded for the spread of the Greek language and culture in Lydia and Phrygia, but it made little impression upon the old deep-rooted Anatolian nature-religion.
Christianity became strong where Hellenism had been weak. The Church of Philadelphia, founded probably at the time of St. Paul’s residence in Ephesus ( Acts 19:10), had firmly established itself by the time of Domitian, and is praised by St. John almost as warmly as that of Smyrna ( Revelation 3:7-13). Before her is set ‘a door opened, which none can shut’ (v. 8), a metaphor usually interpreted as implying a special opportunity for successful evangelistic work, such as Philadelphia certainly had as the centre of a large and populous district. Ramsay accordingly calls her ‘the Missionary City’ (The Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 391). But the whole character of the letter, the ideas of which are closely articulated with each other, points to a different exegesis. The Jews of Philadelphia, enraged apparently at the conversion, which they regarded as the perversion, of some of their number, displayed a more than ordinary malignity in their efforts to crush the infant Church, making free use of their most formidable weapon, the hçrem or sentence of excommunication, by which they thought to shut not only the door of the synagogue but the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven against the apostates. The prophet’s answer, given in Christ’s name, meets them on this ground. Alike as a rebuke to the persecutors and a sursum corda to the persecuted his message is perfect. He denies to the Jews of Philadelphia every sacred title and privilege which had ever belonged to their race. They have disinherited themselves. Hating instead of loving, they are a synagogue not of God, but of Satan. Having forfeited their great and good name, they merely lie when they call themselves Jews. The spiritual succession, and with it the historical title, consecrated and endeared by countless memories, have passed from them to the Christian Church, the true Israel of God. And their boast of opening and shutting the door of God’s house, of admitting and excluding whom they please, of blessing some and cursing others, is foolish and futile. They have indeed the key of their splendid earthly synagogue, but Another has the key of David ( Isaiah 22:22), the symbol of regal authority, and He, as supreme in the spiritual realm, has set before the Church of Philadelphia an open door which no man can shut. Great minds run parallel, and the words of the prophet of Ephesus are in spirit identical with those uttered long afterwards by the prophet of Florence. ‘I separate thee,’ said the bishop of Vasona to Savonarola, ‘from the Church militant and triumphant.’ ‘Militant,’ was the reply, ‘not triumphant, for this is not in thy power.’ The power belongs to Him who ‘having overcome the sharpness of death, has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.’
Philadelphia had so many festivals and temples that it was often called ‘Little Athens.’ The hope of a memorial-a name, a statue, or a pillar-in one of its great temples often proved a powerful incentive to good citizenship. But the volcanic region of Philadelphia was frequently visited by seismic shocks, in which the most massive buildings and all their memorials perished. In a.d. 17, e.g., ‘twelve populous cities of Asia fell in ruins from an earthquake which happened by night, and therefore the more sudden and destructive was the calamity.… It is related that mountains sank down, that level places were seen to be elevated into hills, and that fires flashed forth during the catastrophe’ (Tacitus, Ann. ii. 47). Philadelphia was one of the twelve shattered cities. But she is promised, in Christ’s name, the things that cannot be shaken. Every victor in the spiritual conflict will be as a pillar, not in a crumbling earthly shrine, but in the enduring temple of God, and have graven on the tablets of his own memory-monumentum CEre perennius-the mystic names of God and His new Jerusalem.
Christian Philadelphia made a long and brave stand against the Turks, but was conquered by Bayezid in a.d. 1390. It has now a population of 17,000 Muslims and 5,000 Christians. About two dozen ancient churches, lying in ruins, tell their own tale.
Literature.-R. Chandler, Travels in Asia Minor and Greece3, 1817; W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, 1904; Murray’s Handbook to Asia Minor, 1895.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
PHILADELPHIA was a city of Lydia, 28 miles from Sardis, in the valley of the Cogamis, a tributary of the Hermus, and conveniently situated for receiving the trade between the great central plateau of Asia Minor and Smyrna. The district known as Katakekaumene (‘Burnt Region’), because of its volcanic character, rises immediately to the N.E. of Philadelphia, and this was a great vine-producing region.
Philadelphia was founded and named by Attalus Philadelphus of Pergamus before b.c. 138. It was liable to serious earthquakes, but remained an important centre of the Roman province of Asia, receiving the name of Neo-CÃ¦sarea from Tiberius, and, later on, the honour of the Neocorate ( i.e . the wardenship of the temple for Emperor-worship). There is no record of the beginning of the Church at Philadelphia, but in the Apocalypse it is one of the seven churches to which, as heads of districts, special messages are sent. In its message ( Revelation 3:8-13 ) It is said to have ‘a little strength’ (which perhaps refers to its recent origin), and to have set before it ‘an open door,’ which seems to refer to the opportunities it had of spreading the gospel in the centre of Asia Minor. In 3:9 ‘the synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not’ must mean that the Jews of Philadelphia had been lax, and had conceded too much to Gentile ways. But the message contains no reproach against the Christians, although they are bidden to hold fast that which they have, and the promise to him that overcometh is that ‘I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, â€¦ and mine own new name.’ Doubtless there is a reference here, as in the message to Pergamus, to the new name taken at baptism, and apparently sometimes kept secret.
Philadelphia was the seat of a bishop, but was not a metropolis until about a.d. 1300, when the importance of Sardis had become less. In the 14th cent., when the Greek Empire retained nothing on the mainland of Asia except a strip of territory opposite Constantinople, Philadelphia still resisted the Ottoman arms, though far from the sea and almost forgotten by the Emperors. In the words of Gibbon (ch. lxiv): ‘Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins: a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may sometimes be the same.’ The date of its final capture is uncertain probably a.d. 1391. Its modern name is Ala-Sheher , and a considerable portion of the population is Christian.
A. E. Hillard.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
In Lydia, on the lower slopes of Tmolus, 28 miles S.E. of Sardis; built by Attalus II, Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, who died. 138 B.C. Nearly destroyed by an earthquake in Tiberius' reign (Tacitus, Annals 2:47). The connection of its church with the Jews causes Christ's address to have Old Testament coloring and imagery ( Revelation 3:7-18). It and Smyrna alone of the seven, the most afflicted, receive unmixed praise. To Smyrna the promise is, "the synagogue of Satan" should not prevail against her faithful ones; to Philadelphia, she should even win over some of "the synagogue of Satan," (The Jews Who Might Have Been The Church Of God, But By Opposition Had Become "The Synagogue Of Satan") to "fall on their faces and confess God is in her of a truth" ( 1 Corinthians 14:25).
Her name expresses "brotherly love," in conflict with legal bondage. Her converts fall low before those whom once they persecuted ( Psalms 84:10; Acts 16:29-33). The promise, "him that overcometh I will make a pillar," i.e. immovably firm, stands in contrast to Philadelphia often shaken by earthquakes. Curiously, a portion of a stone church wall topped with arches of brick remains; the building must have been magnificent, and dates from Theodosius. The region being of disintegrated lava was favourable to the vine; and the coins bear the head of Bacchus. This church had but" little strength," i.e. was small in numbers and poor in resources, of small account in men's eyes.
The cost of repairing the often shaken city taxed heavily the citizens. Poverty tended to humility; conscious of weakness Philadelphia leant on Christ her strength ( 2 Corinthians 12:9); so she "kept His word," and when tested did "not deny His name." So "He who hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth," "set before" Philadelphia an open door which no man can shut. Faithful in keeping the word of Christ's patience (I.E. The Persevering Endurance Which He Requires) Philadelphia was kept, i.e. delivered, out of the hour of temptation. "Among the Greek churches of Asia Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins, a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may be sometimes the same." (Gibbon.) The Turks call it Αllah Shehr , "city of God"; or rather, "beautiful ( 'Alah ) city."
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Philadel'phia. Strictly, Philadelphi'a. (Brotherly Love). A town on the confines of Lydia and Phrygia Catacecaumene, 25 southeast of Sardis, and built by Attalus II, king of Pergamos, who died B.C. 138. It was situated on the lower slopes of Tmolus, and is still represented by a town called Allah-Shehr , (City Of God ). Its elevation is 952 feet above the sea. The original population of Philadelphia seems to have been Macedonian; but there was, as appears from Leviticus 3:9, a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews there, as well as a Christian church. (It was the seat of one of "the seven churches of Asia.")
The locality was subject to constant earthquakes, which, in the time of Strabo, rendered even the town walls of Philadelphia unsafe. The expense of reparation was constant, and hence, perhaps, the poverty of the members of the church. Revelation 3:8. (The church was highly commended). Revelation 3:7-13. Even Gibbon bears the following well-known testimony to the truth of the prophecy, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee in the hour of temptation": "At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the (Greek) emperor encompassed, all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years.
Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins." "The modern town ( Allah-Shehr , City Of God ), although spacious, containing 3000 houses and 10,000 inhabitants, is badly built; the dwellings are mean and the streets filthy. The inhabitants are mostly Turks. A few ruins are found, including remains of a wall, and about twenty-five churches. In one place are four strong marble pillars, which once supported the dome of a church. One of the old mosques is believed, by the native Christians, to have been the church, in which assembled, the primitive Christians addressed, in the Apocalypse." Whitney's Bible Geography).
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
a city of Lydia, in Asia Minor, and one of the seven churches of Asia. It derived its name from Attalus Philadelphus, its founder; and was seated on a branch of Mount Tmolus, about twenty-five miles southeast of Sardis, and seventy, in nearly the same direction, from Smyrna. It suffered greatly, in common with all this part of Asia, in the terrible earthquake during the reign of Tiberius, and in the seventeenth year of the Christian era. It has, however, retained a better fate than most of its neighbours; for under the name of Alahsher, or the city of God, it is still a place of some repute, chiefly supported by trade, it being in the route of the caravans to Smyrna. "Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia,"
says Gibbon, "Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins." Although this city is now in the possession of the Turks, it has about a thousand Christian inhabitants, chiefly Greeks; who have five churches with a resident bishop, and inferior clergy.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
A city of Lydia, in Asia Minor, where was one of the seven Asiatic churches, highly praised by Christ for its fidelity, Revelation 3:7 - 13 . Philadelphia as so called from Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, by whom it was founded. It stood between the river Hermus and Mount Tmolus, about twenty-eight miles southeast of Sardis. It suffered greatly by frequent earthquakes, and it was anciently matter of surprise that the city was not on this account abandoned. It is now a mean and ill-built town, of large extent, with a population of 12,000, including about 1,000 Greek Christians, who have a resident bishop and about twenty inferior clergy. There are five churches, and six mosques, one of which the native Christians believe to have been the church in which worshipped the primitive Christians whom John addressed.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
City of Lydia, in the west of Asia Minor. It was founded by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos. It has been more or less destroyed by earthquakes several times, but is still an important town, with ancient ruins, called Alla Shehr. Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:7 .
The assembly in this city was one of the "seven churches in Asia" to which the addresses in the Revelation were sent. The address to Philadelphia shows that the church there was characterised by little strength, but by faithfulness. If the seven addresses be viewed historically, this one comes after those representing Popery and Protestantism, intimating that when all hope of restoring the church is over, there may still be found a company keeping Christ's word and not denying His name. See Revelation
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Philadelphia ( Fĭl'A-Dĕl'Fi-A ), Brotherly Love. Revelation 3:7. A city on the borders of Lydia and Phrygia, about 25 miles southeast of Sardis. It was built by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, who died b.c. 138. Philadelphia is mentioned in the New Testament as the seat of one of the seven churches. Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:7-13. The church at this place was highly commended, and it is noticeable that the city has survived all the vicissitudes of earthquakes and wars until the present day.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Situated on the edge of a fertile region of the Roman province of Asia, Philadelphia was the outlet for the produce of the region. There is no record of how the church there was established, but it was only small and it suffered much from the persecutions of the Jews ( Revelation 3:7-9). God assured the Christians that they, not the persecutors from the synagogue, were his true people. He would protect his church and reward those in it who remained faithful to him ( Revelation 3:9-13). (For map see Asia .)
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
One of the seven churches. ( Revelation 3:7) The name is taken from the Greek, and is compounded of Philo, to love; and Adelphos, a brother.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
[strictly Philadelphi'a] ( Φιλαδέλφεια , Brotherly Love), one of the.seven cities of Asia Minor to which the admonitions in the Apocalypse were addressed ( Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:7). The town stood about twenty-five miles south-east from Sardis, in N. lat. 320 28', E. long. 280 30', in the plain of Hermus, about midway between the river of that name and the termination of Mount Tmolus. It was the second in Lydia (Ptolemy, 5:2; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 5:30), and was built by king Attalus Philadelphus from whom it took its name. In B.C. 133 the place passed, with the dominion in which it lay, to the Romans. The soil was extremely favorable to the growth of vines, celebrated by Virgil (Georg. 2:98) for the soundness of the wine they produced; and in all probability Philadelphia was built by Attalus as a mart for the great wine-producing region, extending for 500 stadia in length by 400 in breadth. Its coins have on them the head of Bacchus or a female Bacchant. Strabo compares the soil with that in the neighborhood of Catana, in Sicily; and modern travellers describe the appearance of the country as resembling a billowy sea of disintegrated lava, with here and there vast trap-dikes protruding.
The original population of Philadelphia seems to have been Macedonian, and the national character to have been retained even in the time of Pliny. There was, however, as appears from Revelation 3:9, a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews there, as well as a Christian Church-a circumstance to be expected when we recollect that Antiochus the Great introduced into Phrygia 2000 families of Jews, removing them from Babylon and Mesopotamia, for the purpose of counteracting the seditious temper of the Phrygians; and that he gave them lands and provisions, and exempted them from taxes (Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 4). The locality continued to 'be subject to constant earthquakes, which in the time of Strabo (13:628) rendered even the town-walls of Philadelphia unsafe; but its inhabitants held pertinaciously to the spot, perhaps from the profit which naturally accrued to them from their city being the staple of the great wine-district. But the expense of reparation was constant, and hence perhaps the poverty of the members of the Christian Church ( Οιδα . . . Ὅτι Μικρὰν Ἔχεις Δύναμιν , Revelation 3:8), who no doubt were a portion of the urban popullation, and heavily taxed for public purposes, as well as subject to private loss by the destruction of their own property. Philadelphia was not of sufficient importance in the Roman times to have law-courts of its own, but belonged to a jurisdiction of which Sardis was the centre. It continued to be a place of importance and of strength down to the Byzantine age; and of all the towns in Asia Minor it withstood the Turks the longest. It was taken by Bajazet I in A.D. 1392. Furious at the resistance which he had met with, Bajazet put to death the defenders of the city, and many of the inhabitants besides (see G. Pachym. page 290; Mich. Due. page 70; Chalcond. page 33).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
fil - a - del´fi - a ( Φιλαδελφία , Philadelphı́a : A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or "inkwells"; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 Bc on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. Ad was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala - shehir , is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah - shehir , "the city of God," but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of "Little Athens" because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. One of the Seven Churches of the Book of Revelation ( Revelation 3:7 ff) was there, and it was the seat of a bishop. As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. During the reign of Tiberius the city was destroyed by an earthquake, yet it was quickly rebuilt. Frederick Barbarossa entered it while on his crusade in 1190. Twice, in 1306 and 1324, it was besieged by the Seljuk Turks, but it retained its independence until after 1390, when it was captured by the combined forces of the Turks and Byzantines. In 1403 Tamerlane captured it, and, it is said, built about it a wall of the corpses of his victims.
Ala - shehir is still a Christian town; one-fourth of its modern population is Greek, and a Greek bishop still makes his home there. One of the chief modern industries is a liquorice factory; in the fields about the city the natives dig for the roots. On the terrace upon which the ancient city stood, the ruins of the castle and the walls may still be seen, and among them is pointed out the foundation of the early church. The place may now best be reached by rail from Smyrna.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Philadel´phia, a city of Lesser Asia, and one of the seven containing the Christian churches to which the Apocalyptic admonitions were addressed. The town stood about twenty-five miles south-east from Sardis, in N. lat. 32° 28′, E. long. 28° 30′, in the plain of Hermus, about midway between the river of that name and the termination of Mount Tmolus. It was the second in Lydia, and was built by King Attalus Philadelphus, from whom it took its name. In B.C. 133 the place passed, with the dominion in which it lay, to the Romans. The site is reputed by Strabo to have been very liable to earthquakes; but it continued a place of importance and of strength down to the Byzantine age; and of all the towns in Asia Minor it withstood the Turks the longest. It was taken by Bajazet I in A.D. 1392.
Philadelphia still exists as a Turkish town, under the name of Allah Shehr, 'city of God,' i.e.High-town. It covers a considerable extent of ground, running up the slopes of four hills, or rather of one hill with four flat summits. The country, as viewed from these hills, is extremely magnificent—gardens and vineyards lying at the back and sides of the town, and before it one of the most extensive and beautiful plains of Asia. The town itself, although spacious, is miserably built and kept, the dwellings being remarkably mean, and the streets exceedingly filthy. Across the summits of the hill behind the town and the small valleys between them runs the town wall, strengthened by circular and square towers, and forming also an extensive and long quadrangle in the plain below. The missionaries Fisk and Parsons, in 1822, were informed by the Greek bishop that the town contained 3000 houses, of which he assigned 250 to the Greeks, and the rest to the Turks. On the same authority it is stated that there are five churches in the town, besides twenty others which were too old or too small for use. Six minarets, indicating as many mosques, are seen in the town; and one of these mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the church in which assembled the primitive Christians addressed in the Apocalypse. There are few ruins; but in one part there are still found four strong marble pillars, which supported the dome of a church. The dome itself has fallen down, but its remains may be observed, and it is seen that the arch was of brick. On the sides of the pillars are inscriptions, and some architectural ornaments in the form of the figures of saints. One solitary pillar of high antiquity has been often noticed, as reminding beholders of the remarkable words in the Apocalyptic message to the Philadelphian church—'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out' .
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
Largest city in Pennsylvania, on the Delaware, 100 m. from the sea and 90 m. by rail SW. of New York; is the third city in the Union in population, manufactures, and commerce, regularly built with plain substantial dwelling-houses; recently more splendid public buildings have been erected, the town-hall, of white marble, is the second highest structure in the world; a masonic temple and Government offices of granite and the Mint are also fine buildings; there is a university and colleges of science, medicine, art, and music, many churches, a Roman Catholic cathedral, and many hospitals and charitable institutions; the industries include locomotive building, saw-making, woollen and cotton goods, sugar and oil refining, and chemical works; it trades largely in coal. Founded by William Penn in 1682, it was the central point of the War of Independence; the first Congress met here, and the Declaration of Independence was signed in a building still standing; here too the Federal Union was signed and the constitution drawn up, and from 1790 to 1800 it was the capital of the United States.
- ↑ Philadelphia from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- ↑ Philadelphia from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Philadelphia from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Philadelphia from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Philadelphia from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- ↑ Philadelphia from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- ↑ Philadelphia from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- ↑ Philadelphia from The Nuttall Encyclopedia