Laodicea

LAODICEA (lā-ŏd'ĭ-sē'a, Gr. Laodikia). A wealthy city in Asia Minor founded by Antiochus II (261-246 b.c.), and head of the “circuit” of “the seven churches in the province of Asia” (Rev.1.4). The city lay on one of the great Asian trade routes, and this insured its commercial prosperity. Laodicea was a leading banking center. In 51 b.c. Cicero, en route to his Cilician province, cashed drafts there. It was no doubt the rich banking firms that in a.d. 60 financed the reconstruction of the city after the great earthquake that destroyed it. Laodicea refused the Senate’s earthquake relief. She was “rich and increased with goods” and had “need of nothing” (Rev.3.17 kjv). The Lycus Valley produced a glossy black wool, the source of black cloaks and carpets, for which the city was famous. Laodicea was also the home of a medical school and the manufacture of collyrium, a famous eye salve. The scornful imagery of the apocalyptic letter to Laodicea is obviously based on these activities. It also has reference to the emetic qualities of the soda-laden warm water from nearby Hierapolis, whose thermal springs ran into the Maeander. Laodicea’s water supply also came from Hierapolis, and Sir William Ramsay suggests that its vulnerability, together with the city’s exposed position and its easy wealth caused the growth in the community of that spirit of compromise and worldly mindedness castigated in the Revelation. Under Diocletian, Laodicea, still prosperous, was made the chief city of the province of Phrygia.——EMB


A city in SW Phrygia (Asia Minor), near the juncture of the Lycus with the main Maeander valley. Built on a spur (c.850 feet above sea level), it commanded the great coast road that passed from Ephesus 100 miles away on the coast, to the interior of Asia Minor. The city's origin is unknown, but it was refounded by nodetitle (261-246 b.c.) and named after his wife Laodice. When the Pergamene kingdom was willed to the Roman state in 133 b.c., Laodicea became part of the province of Asia. A textile and banking center, it also had a celebrated medical school. Commentators of John's condemnation of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-19) have related these features to the geographical background of the city, including allusion to hot spring water brought six miles by aqueduct and cooled to lukewarm temperatures en route. The Christian church there may have been founded by Epaphras (Col. 4:12, 13).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

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 nodetitle (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 Re 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 Re 3:17). It was a city of great wealth, with extensive banking operations (compare Re 3:18). Little is known of the early history of Christianity there; Timothy, Mark and Epaphras (Col 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.