|Sardis - |
Capital of Lydia, in Asia Minor; on the Pactolus, at the root of Mount Tmolus. Northward is a view up the Hermus valley. Southward stand two beautiful Ionic columns of the temple of Cybele, six feet and one third in diameter, 35 ft. below the capital; the soil is 25 ft. above the pavement. The citadel is on a steep, high hill. So steep was its S. wall that Croesus the last king omitted to guard it; and one of Cyrus' Persian soldiers, seeing a Lydian descend by cut steps to regain his helmet, thereby led a body of Persians into the acropolis. Now an unhealthy desert; not a human being dwelt in the once populous Sardis in 1850. The senate house (gerusia), called Croesus' house, lies W. of the acropolis. One hall is 156 ft. long by 43 broad, with walls 10 ft. thick. There are remains of a theater, 400 ft. in diameter, and a stadium, 1,000; and of two churches, the latter constructed of fragments of Cybele's temple. Now Sart.
Famed for the golden sands of Pactolus, and as a commercial entrepot. In Sardis and Laodicea alone of the seven addressed in Revelation 2; 3; there was no conflict with foes within or without. Not that either had renounced apparent opposition to the world, but neither so faithfully witnessed by word and example as to "torment them that dwell on the earth" (Revelation 11:10). Smyrna and Philadelphia, the most afflicted, alone receive unmixed praise. Sardis and Laodicea, the most wealthy, receive little besides censure. Sardis "had a name that she lived and was dead" (Revelation 3:1; 1 Timothy 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 5:14). "Become (Greek) watchful" or "waking" (Greek), what thou art not now. "Strengthen the things which remain," i.e. the few graces which in thy spiritual slumber are not yet extinct, but "ready to die"; so that Sardis was not altogether "dead." Her works were not "filled up in full complement (pepleromena) in the sight of My God" (so the Siniaticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus manuscripts).
Christ's God is therefore our God; His judgment is the Father's judgment (John 20:17; John 5:22). He threatens Sardis if she will not watch or wake up, "He will come on her as a thief"; as the Greek proverb, "the feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool," expressing the noiseless nearness of God's judgments when supposed far off. Sardis had nevertheless "a few names" in the book of life, known by the Lord as His (John 10:3). The gracious Lord does not overlook exceptional saints among masses of professors. Their reward and their character accord. "They have not defiled their garments," so "they shall walk (the best attitude for showing grace to advantage) with Me in white, for they are worthy," namely, with Christ's worthiness "put on them" (Revelation 7:14; Ezekiel 16:14). The state of grace now, and that of glory hereafter, harmonize. Christ's rebuke was not in vain. Melito, bishop of Sardis in the second century, was eminent for piety; he visited Palestine to investigate concerning the Old Testament canon, and wrote an epistle on it (Eusebius 4:26; Jerome Catal. Script. Ecclesiastes 24). In A.D. 17, under the emperor Tiberius, an earthquake desolated Sardis and 11 other cities of Asia; Rome remitted its taxes for five years, and the emperor gave a benefaction from the privy purse.