CHURCHES OF ASIA, THE SEVEN. The elmrches addressed in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation, under the following name.,: Ephesus. Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, the order being geo!..7raphical, though it begins with Ephe sus as the church of the most important city.
From the qualities assigned these churches in the above chapters, Smyrna, in spite of her poverty. possessed the most commendable spir itual life. being designated in its message as rich. ("I know thy tribulation and thy poverty, but thou art rich," ii. 9.) This was perhaps due to its continued exposure to persecution, which later ic.155) resulted in the martyr dom of its bishop. Polycarp, at the instigation of the hostile Jews of the Its endurance remained a •hara•teristie of its life, Smyrna be ing the last Christian city in Asia to yield to Turkish rule (1.121). On the other hand, in spite of its wealth. Laodieea possessed the least co mendable spiritual life, and is spoken of as in the unendurable condition of lukewarm ness. thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor eold. I will spew the out of Illy Ili. 111.) Little is known of its Chris tian life, though later it became the leading bishopric of Phrygia.
Of the remaining churches, Philadelphia is commended in terms almost equal to those ad dressed to though betraying. along with
its a lack of strength in its religious living, doubtless due to the smallness of the chur•h's numbers. ("I know that thou 'last a little power. and didst keep my word. and Midst not betray Inv name," iii. S ). Sardis, however, is rebuked almost as severely as Laodicea, the message reading. "I know thy works, that thou bast a 11:11111., that thou livest ;it'd art dead" (iii. 11; though a reservation is made of a few names in the church which are worthy (verse 4). Both churches became bishoprics. thought Philadel phia finally took the place of Sardis ( vat. 1316).
With the life of the churches of Ephesus, Per gamum, and Thyatira fault is found in each case, chiefly beeause of failure to separate the religious life clearly and distinctly from the life of the irreligious world. Ephesus emitinued for centuries the important ecclesiastical centre of western Asia, being the place of the Council of Ephesus I A.D. 4311. (If the later history of the churches of Pergamum and Thyatira little or nothing is known, though Pergamum bjcanie bishopric and so continued through the Byzan tine period.
It was to this group of churches—or at least to a portion of them—that Paul's encyclical let ter to the Ephesians was sent. See EPHESIANS, EPISTLE TO THE.