The city of this name mentioned in Scripture lay on the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, about 40 miles east of Ephesus ( Revelation 3:14 ), on the banks of the Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis and then Rhoas, but afterwards Laodicea, from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II., king of Syria, who rebuilt it. It was one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. At a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity ( Colossians 2:1 ; 4:15 ; Revelation 1:11 , etc.). It is now a deserted place, called by the Turks Eski-hissar or "old castle."
(justice of the people ), a town in the Roman province of Asia situated in the valley of the Maeander, on a small river called the Lycus, with Colossae and Hierapolis a few miles distant to the west. Built, or rather rebuilt, by one of the Seleucid monarchs, and named in honor of his wife, Laodicea became under the Roman government a place of some importance. Its trade was considerable; it lay on the line of a great road; and it was the seat of a conventus . From the third chapter and seventeenth verse of Revelation we should gather it was a place of great wealth. Christianity was introduced into Laodicea, not, however, as it would seem, through the direct agency of St. Paul. We have good reason for believing that when, in writing from Rome to the Christians of Colossae, he sent a greeting to those of Laodicea, he had not personally visited either place. But the preaching of the gospel at Ephesus, ( Acts 18:19 ; Acts 19:41 ) must inevitably have resulted in the formation of churches in the neighboring cities, especially where Jews were settled; and there were Jews in Laodicea. In subsequent times it became a Christian city of eminence, the see of bishop and a meeting-place of councils. The Mohammedan invaders destroyed it, and it is now a scene of utter desolation, as was prophesied in ( Revelation 3:14-22 ) and the extensive ruins near Denislu justify all that we read of Laodicea in Greek and Roman writers. Another biblical subject of interest is connected with Laodicea. From ( Colossians 4:16 ) it appears that St. Paul wrote a letter to this place when he wrote the letter to Colossae. Usshers view is that it was the same as the Epistle to the Ephesians, which was a circular letter sent to Laodicea among other places. The apocryphal Epistola ad Laodicenses is a late and clumsy forgery.
A city of Asia Minor situated in the Lycos valley in the province of Phrygia, and the home of one of the Seven Churches of Re (1:11). Distinguished from several other cities of that name by the appellation Ad Lycum, it was founded by Antiochus II (261-246 BC) of Syria, who named it for his wife Laodike, and who populated it with Syrians and with Jews who were transplanted from Babylonia to the cities of Phrygia and Lydia. Though Laodicea stood on the great highway at the junction of several important routes, it was a place of little consequence until the Roman province of Asia was formed in 190 BC. It then suddenly became a great and wealthy center of industry, famous specially for the fine black wool of its sheep and for the Phrygian powder for the eyes, which was manufactured there (compare Revelation 3:18). In the vicinity was the temple of Men Karou and a renowned school of medicine. In the year 60 AD, the city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake, but so wealthy were its citizens that they rejected the proffered aid of Rome, and quickly rebuilt it at their own expense (compare Revelation 3:17). It was a city of great wealth, with extensive banking operations (compare Revelation 3:18). Little is known of the early history of Christianity there; Timothy, Mark and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) seem to have been the first to introduce it. However, Laodicea was early the chief bishopric of Phrygia, and about 166 AD Sagaris, its bishop, was martyred. In 1071 the city was taken by the Seljuks; in 1119 it was recovered to the Christians by John Comnenus, and in the 13th century it fell finally into the hands of the Turks.
The ruins, now called Eski Hissar, or old castle, lie near the modern Gonjelli on the railroad, and they have long served as a quarry to the builders of the neighboring town of Denizli. Among them nothing from before the Roman period has appeared. One of the two Roman theaters is remarkably well preserved, and there may still be seen the stadium, a colonnade, the aqueduct which brought the water across the valley to the city by an inverted siphon of stone pipes, a large necropolis, and the ruins of three early Christian churches.
E. J. Banks
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