January 11, 2012 // Uncategorized

St. John warns Laodiceans of lukewarm spirituality

Where is the church of Laodicea to whom St. John wrote a letter?

St. John the Apostle wrote a letter to the church of Laodicea in ancient Asia Minor (modern Turkey) that is found in the New Testament Book of Revelation. St. John complains that the Laodiceans are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm in their spiritual life. St. John is probably referring to the famous hot springs at the city of Hierapolis near Laodicea. I visited these hot springs and there are lots of people bathing in these same hot springs today.

St. John further complains that the Laodiceans think they are so rich and secure, but they are really spiritually poor. Ancient Laodicea was a wealthy commercial center.

Today Laodicea is an extensive archaeological site. A. Edmonds says that today in Laodicea you find a large area littered with broken marble, tops of stone masonry walls and here and there public buildings: two theaters, a large stadium, nearby it a water tower, an Odeon or roofed building for musical performances and a nymphaeum. In the side of the hill approaching Laodicea you can see the truncated conduits that were part of the water supply system for the city.

The famous Roman orator Cicero lived in Laodicea in 50 B.C. Laodicea endured a destructive earthquake in A.D. 60, but this very wealthy city rebuilt itself without any outside help.

There was a prosperous Jewish colony in Laodicea well before the Christian era. The city’s reputation was for its money transactions and the good quality of raven-black wool grown in the area. Many of the coins were stamped with the image of Zeus, the main god of the city. Originally a medicinal aromatic plant for strengthening the ears was only made in Laodicea, but eventually it flourished elsewhere. Christianity was introduced at Laodicea by Epaphras, a companion of St. Paul. Laodicea was a bishopric of some importance for several centuries.

In the New Testament there is a mention of an epistle to the Laodiceans by St. Paul. Some authors think this epistle may be the same as St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.

This town of Laodicea in Turkey is not to be confused with Laodicea on the coast of Syria which was the hometown of Apollinarius, who became the bishop of this Syrian Laodicea in A.D. 360, and was a close friend of the famous St. Athanasius. This Syrian Laodicea had a shrine to Athena at which human sacrifices were said to have been offered. At this Laodicea you can see an amphitheater, a stadium, baths and a two-storied lighthouse illustrated on a second-century coin, along with colonnades and a monumental arch.

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