Why is there no date on this program? We have suspended operations in Turkey this season, awaiting clarity on the geo-political situation. We love this program, and are hopeful we can resume it in the future, when we feel it is advisable to travel there.
The Apostle John long outlived the other eleven disciples of Jesus and his death ended an era of those first generation church shepherds. Our 11-day contextual experience will reintroduce us to “the beloved disciple” and develop his life story from his meeting with Jesus while mending nets by the Sea of Galilee, to his last days as the aged but bold Apostle of the first century church. Our time together will challenge us to see John’s writings in a new way, in light of Imperial developments around him and the challenges of the churches closest to him.
The Roman Empire was entering its “Golden Age” at the end of John’s life. The increased stability of that age, coupled with an effective witness to that generation caused the growing churches of Asia Minor to face several new issues for Christians in those more peaceful and prosperous times. In John’s writings, he carefully explained the message of Jesus in a “Gospel” geared to stem off increasing heresy in the church (Gospel of John), while he addressed some practical problems for early Christians in several smaller letters. He warned against living like the world with a self-made God and a self-focused faith (1 John). He pointedly addressed defining truth in a confusing world and highlighted the issue of false and failing leadership in the church (2 and 3 John).
Having suffered for his faith, the Apostle John found himself on the island of Patmos in a penal colony, living in a cave. While in worship, Jesus appeared to him and commanded him to write pastoral instructions to seven churches in Asia Minor: Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Ephesus and Pergamum (these last two are World Class archaeological sites). This seasoned pastor recorded the words of his Master designed not only to address specific faith issues, but also to provide confidence in the face of an uncertain future (Revelation). Each message exposed problems the believers faced, but also offered important directions that would bring relief and healing to them. We will be developing these themes as we stand and reflect on each site.
In addition to John’s teaching, we will also be developing important complimentary historical themes, including some that address “common gaps” in the normal teaching of our Christian heritage – such as the history of the Eastern Roman Empire and the development and teachings from the Church Councils of Asia Minor, where important terms like “trinity” are first introduced. We will follow the progression from Roman Constantinople to Istanbul, and describe the rise of the Ottomans and Ataturk’s founding of modern Turkey, to help us understand more about our delightful hosts during this unique learning experience.
The combination of grasping the backdrop for the Apostle John and his writings from the place where he lived while experiencing both the warmth of the Turkish people and the spectacular beauty of Turkey, e.g., the “Turkish Riviera” is bound to make this a wonderful journey! Adding to the uniqueness of this trip is opportunity to enjoy the spa facilities of our Pamukkale area hotel, as well as some unique opportunities to explore some of the greatest monumental Roman sites of the ancient world. Straddling Europe and Asia, we will take time to explore the fascinating city of Istanbul as well. For those who want to come early, or desire to stay longer, consider arranging your own 7-10 day Greek Isle/Eastern Mediterranean cruise to accompany this Turkey trip.
Come join us as we experience yet another fascinating and beautiful piece of biblical context.
Day 1: DEPARTURE DAY
Flights are from an east coast gateway, add-on fares may be available from a city near you. Meals in flight.
Day 2: ARRIVAL in ISTANBUL
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to hotel. (If the flight arrives early enough, we will have an Istanbul Panorama tour). Welcome dinner this evening and introductions. Overnight: Istanbul.
Day 3: ISTANBUL
After breakfast we will visit Topkapi Palace, view the area of the ancient Hippodrome, and visit the Grand Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at your hotel. Overnight: Istanbul.
Day 4: ISTANBUL
Visit to Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. After lunch, we will visit an ancient Turkish bath for a unique but wonderful cultural experience! Overnight: Istanbul.
Day 5: SMYRNA
After a morning flight to Izmir, we will visit sites in the city, including the walled Citadel, an excellent view of the harbor and the St. Polycarp Church. Overnight: Izmir.
Day 6: PERGAMUM
After breakfast, we will journey by motor coach to Bergama (Pergamum, 2 h 20m) via a beautiful coast road: Acropolis, Great Theatre, area of altar of Zeus. Nearby, visit the Red Basilica; walk through the Asclepion, the famous medical center of antiquity. Return to Izmir for dinner and overnight at your hotel in Izmir.
Day 7: THYATIRA – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA
After breakfast, we depart for the visit of Akhisar (Thyatira). From there we travel south to Sart (Sardis), visit ruins of the Temple of Artemis, Royal Road, gymnasium, and synagogue. Travel on to the modest ruins of Alasehir (Philadelphia). On to the Hierapolis area. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale/Denizli area.
Day 8: HIERAPOLIS – LAODICEA
Our morning is free for enjoying the spa facility at the hotel, depart at noon for a nearby lunch stop, plus a visit of Hierapolis, Pamukkale, Laodikeia (Laodicea), then on to Kusadasi. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 9: EPHESUS
Full day tour of Ephesus including the Arcadian Way, the Fountain of Trajan, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theatre. Visit to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened. The Basilica of St. John. Visit the Museum of Ephesus for an up-close look at artifacts from the ancient city. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 10: TURKISH EXPERIENCE
Today we will visit a private Turkish home (as a group), enjoy local cuisine and folklore, as well as some of the delights of Turkish culture. Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 11: IZMIR – ISTANBUL
After breakfast, we travel to the Izmir Airport for a flight to Istanbul and the connecting flight to the USA.