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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Laodicea

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A city of Phrygia. Originally Diospolis, then Rheas, then Laodicea. Site of one of the seven churches addressed by Christ through John (Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:14). In Paul's epistle to the COLOSSIANS (Colossians 4:13-16) Laodicea is associated with Colossae and Hierapolis, which exactly accords with its geographical position, 18 miles W. of Colossae, six miles S. of Hierapolis. It lay in the Roman province "Asia," a mile S. of the river Lycus, in the Maeander valley, between Colossae and Philadelphia. A Seleucid king, Antiochus II, Theos, named it from Laodice his wife. Overthrown often by earthquakes. It was rebuilt by its wealthy citizens, without state help, when destroyed in A.D. 62 (Tacitus, Annals 14:27). This wealth (arising from its excellent wools) led to a self satisfied "lukewarm" state in spiritual things, which the Lord condemns as more dangerous than positive icy coldness (Revelation 3:14-21).

The two churches most comfortable temporally are those most reproved, Sardis and Laodicea; those most afflicted of the seven are the most commended, Smyrna and Philadelphia. Subsequently the church was flourishing, for it was at a council at Laodicea, A.D. 361, that the Scripture canon was defined. "The epistle from Laodicea" (Colossians 4:16) is Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans which the Colossians were to apply to them for. Not the epistle to the Ephesians, for Paul was unlikely to know that his letter to the Ephesians would have reached Laodicea at or near the time of the arrival of his letter to the Colossians. In 1 Corinthians 5:9 similarly an epistle is alluded to, no longer extant, the Holy Spirit not designing it for further use than the local and temporary wants of a particular church. The apostle's epistles were publicly read in the church assemblies, being thus put on a level with the Old Testament and Gospels, which were similarly read.

The angel of the Laodicean church is supposed to be Archippus whom Paul 30 years before had warned to be diligent in fulfilling his ministry (Colossians 4:17). The "lukewarm" state, if the transitional stage to a warmer, is desirable (for a little religion, if real, is better than none), but fatal when an abiding state, for it is mistaken for a safe state (Revelation 3:17). The danger is of disregarded principle; religion enough to lull the conscience, not to save the soul; halting between two opinions (1 Kings 18:21; 2 Kings 17:41; Ezekiel 20:39; Matthew 6:24). The hot (at Hierapolis) and cold springs near Laodicea suggested the simile. As worldly poverty favors poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:3, compare Luke 6:20), so worldly riches tend to spiritual self sufficiency (Hosea 12:8).

Paul's epistle to the neighbouring Colossae was designed for Laodicea also, though Paul had not seen the Christians there at the time (Colossians 2:1; Colossians 2:3; Colossians 4:6); it tells Laodicea "in whom" to find "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," whereas she thought she had all sufficiency in herself, "because thou sayest I am rich," etc. He endured a sore conflict, striving in anxious prayer in behalf of the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea that they might be delivered from Judaizing teachers, who blended Eastern theosophy and angel worship with Jewish asceticism and observance of new moons and sabbaths, professing a deeper insight into the world of spirits and a nearer approach to heavenly purity and intelligence than the simple gospel afforded (Colossians 2:8-9; Colossians 2:16-23). A few arches and part of an amphitheater are all the remains left of Laodicea Now Denishu.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Laodicea'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/l/laodicea.html. 1949.

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