When Success Isn’t Enough
Studies in the Book of Revelation
Dr. Jim Denison
Laodicea stood 43 miles southeast of Philadelphia, on the Lycus River at the border of Phrygia, six miles south of Hierapolis and ten miles from Colossae. The city occupied an almost square plateau several hundred feet high with mountains to the south rising to more than 8,000 feet. The city was founded in the mid-third century BC by Antiochus II, who named it after his wife Laodice (meaning “justice of the people”).
The Laodicean Christians received two letters from Paul: one letter sent first to Colossae and a second (now lost) sent directly to Laodicea (see Colossians 4.16). The church at Laodicea was probably founded by Epaphras (Colossians 4.12-13) during Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 19.10). There is no evidence that Paul ever visited Laodicea, although his letter to Colossae reflects his concern for the church.
The enormous wealth of Laodicea was derived in large measure from her location. She stood at the intersection of two great trade routes: one going from Ephesus to the east and the other heading south from Pergamum to the Mediterranean Sea. Five of the seven cities in Revelation lay on the latter route: Laodicea, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia.