LAODICE'A (la-od-i-se'a). Of the several cities named Laodicea in Syria and Asia Minor, only one is mentioned in the Scriptures, namely, the one situated in the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, on the banks of the Lycus, and about ninety miles E of Ephesus-not far from Colossae. After having been successively called Diosopolis and Rhoas, it was named Laodicea in honor of Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II (261-246 B.C.), who rebuilt it. It was destroyed by an earthquake (A.D. 66, or earlier) and rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. It was the seat of a Christian church (Col 2:1; 4:13,15-16; Rev 1:11). It is now a heap of ruins, called by the Turks Eski-hissar, or "old castle."

The town was located on a flat-topped hill. A wall (about a kilometer long on each of its four sides) surrounded the crown of the hill. Gates pierced this wall on the N, E, and NW. At the SW edge of the plateau stood a stadium, built and dedicated to Vespasian in A.D. 79. Near the stadium was a stone aqueduct, five miles long and probably dating to the second century A.D. Adjacent to the stadium on the N is a structure probably to be identified as baths and built during the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-38). Remains of two rather badly ruined theaters stand on the NE of Laodicea. Ruins of numerous other unidentified structures may be seen at the site.

LAODICE'A, CHURCH AT. Among the residents of this city at the time of the apostles were many Jews; and it is probably owing to this fact that a Christian church was planted here at so early a date. It appears from the epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:15-16) that Paul never visited Laodicea, but hearing, most probably, from Epaphras of the false doctrines spread in that city, he wrote to the Colossians desiring that his epistle to that church should also be read in Laodicea. The message of the Spirit (Rev 3:14-22) to the church of Laodicea was an awful warning. See Laodiceans, Epistle to.

The Laodicean condition describes the spiritual lukewarmness and worldliness that will prevail in the professing church of Christ at the end of the age. Rich, cultured, religiously ritualistic-this church will have become so self-satisfied and worldly as to have ostracised Christ completely. He is represented prophetically as standing on the outside knocking for admission (Rev 3:20). No longer is He admitted by the corporate body, but stands outside extending an invitation to individuals. The awful spiritual condition, so utterly abhorrent to God, calls forth one of the boldest figures used in the NT. "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth" (3:16; cf. 2 Tim 3:1-8 for the spiritual and moral conditions at the end of the church age).

M.F.U.  (From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)



A city of Phrygia. Originally Diospolis, then Rheas, then Laodicea. Site of one of the seven churches addressed by Christ through John (Rev 1:11; 3:14). In Paul's epistle to the COLOSSIANS (Col 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 (Rev 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" (Col 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. Similarly, in 1 Cor 5:9, 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 (Col 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 (Rev 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; Ezek 20:39; Matt 6:24). The hot (at Hierapolis) and cold springs near Laodicea suggested the simile. As worldly poverty favors poverty of spirit (Matt 5:3, compare Luke 6:20), so worldly riches tend to spiritual self-sufficiency (Hos 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 (Col 2:1,3; 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 (Col 2:8-9,16-23). A few arches and part of an amphitheater are all the remains left of Laodicea Now Denishu.

(from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)



(la-od-i-se'-a) (Laodikia): 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 Rev (Rev 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 Rev 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 Rev 3:17). It was a city of great wealth, with extensive banking operations (compare Rev 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.  E. J. BANKS

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)



[LAY ah duh SEE uh]-a city in the fertile Lycus Valley of the province of PHRYGIA where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was situated (Rev 3:14). About 65 kilometers (40 miles) east of Ephesus and about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of Colossae, Laodicea was built on the banks of the river Lycus, a tributary of the Maeander River.

The words of the risen Christ to Laodicea in Rev 3:14-22 contain allusions to the economic prosperity and social prominence of the city. Founded by the SELEUCIDS and named for Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II (261-247 B.C.), Laodicea became extremely wealthy during the Roman period. For example, in 62 B.C. Flaccus siezed the annual contribution of the Jews of Laodicea for Jerusalem amounting to 20 pounds of gold. Moreover, when the city was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 60 (along with Colossae and Hierapolis), it alone refused aid from Rome for rebuilding (compare the self-sufficient attitude of the church of Laodicea in Rev 3:17). Laodicea was known for its black wool industry; it manufactured garments from the raven-black wool produced by the sheep of the surrounding area.

The apostle Paul does not seem to have visited Laodicea at the time he wrote Col 2:1. Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesimus, and Mark seem to have been the early messengers of the gospel there (Col 1:7; 4:7-15). A letter addressed to the Laodiceans by Paul (Col 4:16) has apparently been lost; some consider it to be a copy of the Ephesian letter. A church council was supposedly held at Laodicea (A.D. 344-363), but all that has come down to us are statements from other councils.

The site of Laodicea is now a deserted heap of ruins that the Turks call Eski Hisar, or "old castle."

According to the comments about the church at Laodicea in the Book of Revelation, this congregation consisted of lukewarm Christians (Rev 3:14-22). The living Lord demands enthusiasm and total commitment from those who worship Him.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)