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Seven Church Ages: Introduction • Ephesus • Smyrna • Pergamos • Thyatira • Sardis • Philadelphia • Laodicea • CAB • Last Messenger?
Laodicea (Also known as Laodicea on the Lycus; Greek: Λαοδικεια προς του Ληκου; Meaning "justice of the people" or "people's rights"), was earlier called Diospolis and Rhoas. Laodicea was a wealthy and powerful metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana, built on the river Lycus in Anatolia, near the modern village of Eskihisar (Eski Hissar), Denizli Province, Turkey.
Rich, wealthy, fertile, finance, commerce, metropolis, united government, worshipped the father of the gods (and therefore could accept all other gods), art, medicine, self-sustaining, aquaducts, earthquakes.
Laodicea is situated in the fertile Lycus valley, between the Asopus and Caprus rivers, which discharge into the Lycus, and then the Maeander River. The town was originally called Diospolis as the temple in that town was dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods. The construction of Laodicea is ascribed to Antiochus II Theos around 260BC, in honor of his wife Laodice (who later poisoned him), and was probably founded on the site of the older town. Laodicea was located in Phrygia approximately 17km west of Colossae and 160 km east of Ephesus, and was situated on a major trade route.
At first Laodicea was not a place of much importance, but it soon acquired a high degree of prosperity. In 200 BC, Antiochus the Great transported about 2,000 Jewish families to Phrygia from Babylonia (Josephus). As a result, many of Laodicea's inhabitants were Jews (Cicero records that Flaccus confiscated the considerable sum of 9kg of gold which was being sent annually to Jerusalem for the Temple.
By 188 BC, the city had passed to the Kingdom of Pergamon, and after 133 BC fell under Roman control. It suffered greatly during the Mithridatic Wars, but quickly recovered under the dominion of Rome; and towards the end of the Roman Republic and under the first emperors, Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.
The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Tiberius (60 AD), in which it was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means. The wealth of its inhabitants created among them a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as is manifest from its ruins. Laodicea was also a centre of science and literature, and was the location of a great medical school. Its wealthy citizens embellished Laodicea with beautiful monuments. The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors. The triple eastern gate of Laodicea was dedicated to Vespasian, and its stadium housed gladiators fights (Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archeology).
Laodicea received from Rome the title of free city. During the Roman period Laodicea was the chief city of a Roman conventus, which comprised twenty-four cities besides itself.
Laodicea was weakened by the invading Turks and Mongols, and was finally abandoned in the early 13th century as a result of frequent earthquakes, which had destroyed the aqueducts (stone pipes rather than the usual Roman arches) and infrastructure of the city. Today, the town of Eski Hissar in Turkey lies between Ancient Laodicea and Ancient Colossae.
It was probably owing to its large Jewish community, that at a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity. Laodicea receives passing mention in the epistle to the Colossians and is one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The Laodicean Church could have been founded by the Colossian Epaphras. Paul asks the Colossians to communicate to the Church of Laodicea the letter which he sends to them, and to read publicly that which should come to them from Laodicea, that is, no doubt, a letter which he had written, or was to write, to the Laodiceans.
Why we are not currently in the Laodicean church age
Less than 20% of evangelical Christians live in North America or Europe where lukewarm churches abound. Today, more evangelicals live in Asia than any other continent. 60% of evangelicals live in Asia or Africa. The churches in the third world… particularly in countries where the church is persecuted… are anything but lukewarm.
- Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archeology, Charles F. Pfeiffer. 1973, Baker Book House Co.
- This information is based on material from Wikipedia. As a result, this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License which governs this website as well.
Links to other articles in the series
This article is one in a series of studies on the Seven Church Ages - you are currently on the topic that is in bold: