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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 3


1. Topography of Laodicea



LAODICEA, the city of the seventh ecclesia addressed by the Spirit, lay south of Philadelphia, in the way to return to Ephesus, so that it will be found, upon an inspection of the map of Asia Minor, that the seven ecclesias laid in a kind of circular form, so that the natural progress was from Ephesus to Smyrna, from Smyrna to Pergamos, from Pergamos to Thyatira, from Thyatira to Sardis, from Sardis to Philadelphia, from Philadelphia to Laodicea, and from Laodicea round to Ephesus again (from which it was distant about forty-two miles south), which is the method and order the Spirit has observed in addressing them. That there was a flourishing association of believers at Laodicea in the first century, is evident from Paul's letter to the Colossians. In ch. iv. 15, he exhorts them to "salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, even Nymphas and the ecclesia which is in his house." He appears also to have written especially to the Laodiceans, for he tells the Colossians to read the epistle obtainable from them.

The ruins of the city show it to have been very large, situate in a volcanic region upon seven hills, and encompassing a large space of ground. Some notion may be formed of its former greatness and glory from three theatres and a circus which are remaining, one of which is very fine, as it was capable of containing above thirty thousand men, into whose area they descended by fifty steps. Laodicea is now called Eski Hissar, or the old castle. In its apostasy, the ecclesia in this city became the metropolitan, or Mother Church, of sixteen bishopricks, yet it is now desolate, and not so much as inhabited by shepherds, but is become a habitation only for wolves, foxes, and jackals, a den of dragons, snakes, and vipers. Thus we have in the ecclesia of the Laodiceans in the fulness of its apostasy, a Mother of Harlots sitting upon seven hills; and because of its spiritual misery, poverty, blindness, and nakedness, reduced, with the city of its habitation, to utter desolation and irrecoverable ruin, and its site become the den of ferocious beasts, and the hiding place of reptile abominations.

Laodicea was long an inconsiderable place, but it increased towards the time of Augustus Caesar. The fertility of the soil, and the prosperous circumstances of some of its citizens, raised it to greatness. Hiero, who adorned it with many offerings, bequeathed to the people more than two thousand talents; and though an inland town, it grew to be more potent than the cities on the coast, and became one of the largest towns in Phrygia, as its present ruins prove.

Chandler, in his "Travels," p. 225, says, that "Laodicea was often damaged by earthquakes, and restored by its own opulence, or by the munificence of the Roman emperors. These resources failed, and the city, it is probable, became early a scene of ruin. About the year 1097 it was possessed by the Turks, and submitted to Ducas, general of the emperor Alexis. In 1120, the Turks sacked some of the cities of Phrygia by the Meander, but were defeated by the emperor John Comnenus, who took Laodicea, and repaired and built anew the walls. About 1161, it was again unfortified. Many of the inhabitants were then killed with their bishop, or carried with their cattle into captivity by the Turkish sultan. In 1190, the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, going by Laodicea with his army toward Syria, on a crusade, was received so kindly, that he prayed on his knees for the prosperity of the people -- which prayer, as the future proves, was of no avail in heaven; for about 1196, this region with Caria was dreadfully ravaged by the Turks. The sultan, on the invasion of the Tartars in 1255, gave Laodicea to the Romans, but they were unable to defend it, and it soon returned to the Turks. We saw no traces of houses, churches, or mosques. All was silence and solitude. Several strings of camels passed eastward of the hill; but a fox which we first discovered by the ears peeping over a brow, was the only inhabitant of Laodicea."




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