Colosse: A City Whose History We Should Not Forget

Successful Economic Center

Other than the biblical reference to its name, little is known about this faraway place. However, we do know it was a bustling city: caravans traveled through laden with goods, merchants bought and sold, and banks prospered with the exchanging of monies.

Sheep grazed the hillsides, shearers did their duties harvesting the prized black wool, and shop owners beckoned for tourists to stop and purchase their wares.

Sheep following shepherd
A common site was sheep following their shepherd on the hillsides.

Crossroad of Trade

Colosse was part of a tri-city area. Two important trade routes crossed its streets. With such important commerce, it seems this city would have remained prosperous.

But what happened to Colosse?

Where is it today?

Why should we remember it?

Traveler’s Destination

Let’s grab our backpacks and hike to Colosse. Hopefully, we can see some of those black sheep grazing on the hillsides and, possibly, get a glimpse of the shepherds as they tend their flocks.

As we explore let’s bring along a special letter that was written to these people of the past. We can find it in the New Testament entitled The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.

It’s a long dusty road through modern Turkey, but we can’t wait to see famous Colosse.

Since it was a successful economic center, it must have one of those nice high-rise hotels so we can rest our feet for a day and view the city from an upper balcony.

Yes, and let’s go shopping and get some souvenirs to take home with us.

But something’s the matter. What is it?

The maps says Colosse was right here, but where is it? I don’t see any city.

Maybe it’s just over that rise and we can’t see it. Let’s climb that mound and then we’ll find it.

Look at the map again. Did we take a wrong turn?

No, we’re at the right place. My calculations show that we are standing right on top of it.

What? Standing on top of it? You mean it’s under our feet?

Yes, this mound is all that is left of Colosse. No big city, no high-rise hotels, no large banks, no merchants’ stalls.

What happened? It was such a prosperous city. Are you telling me that all that is left of Colosse is this mound of dirt? We must find out what happened to the city.

Yes, we must; and what happened to the people who lived there, especially the church.

A Mystery Letter

Remember that Colosse was part of a tri-city area. The other two cities were Hierapolis and Laodicea.

Did you know that Paul’s epistle to the Colossians was also written to the Laodiceans? In fact, Paul wrote another letter to the Laodiceans that was to be shared with the Colossians.

Oh, a mystery letter!

Yes, it may be a mystery to us; but what is paramount is the messages we do have.

Revelation 3 gives us insight as to the condition of the churches in this area at the end of the first century.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:14-17

Do you see any similarities to the church today?

Mentioned in The Annals

The Roman senator and historian, Tacitus, kept a journal of events that happened in the Roman Empire during his time.

This journal called The Annals has been translated by Alfred Church and William Bradribb and gives us insight and a valuable timeline as to the condition of and the happenings in the empire during the reign of several emperors.

Of particular interest to us, Book XIV of The Annals has an important statement concerning the area surrounding Colosse and Laodicea.

“One of the famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was that year overthrown by a earthquake, and, without any relief from us, recovered itself by its own resources.”

The Annals, Book XIV

Major Event

A great earthquake happened sometime between AD 60 and AD 62 during the reign of Nero. The tri-city area of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis was devastated. Laodicea and Hierapolis managed to recover from the ruins.

However, Colosse lay in ruins and was never able to restore itself. Today, those ruins lie somewhere beneath the sod. Only a mound remains to remind us of its existence.


An Important Lesson

Colosse and its demise reminds us that prosperity does not guarantee a grand future. In a moment of time everything we thought was of great importance can change.

Studying the past can help us learn lessons that can prevent us from falling into the same complacency as Colosse did.

If such an earthquake happened today, would you be prepared for whatever fate awaited you?

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Revelation 3:18-19

Final Preparation

The Colossians were challenged to change their ways and repent. They did not see that doom was just beyond the horizon.

Were they prepared for the disaster that lay ahead? We can only hope that many repented and were prepared to meet God.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Revelation 3:20

We should also be prepared for any future disaster by preparing our hearts now to meet God.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ to make a way for us to be saved from the greatest disaster, eternity without God.

The Lord Jesus stands at our heart’s door waiting to hear our heart’s cry.

If you are not prepared for eternity cry out to Jesus today. Ask Him to make you prepared by coming into your heart and saving you from your complacency and wrongdoings.

God loves you and will respond to your plea. He will not turn anyone away to comes to Him honestly and sincerely.

Asking Jesus into your heart will be the greatest decision you will ever make. Then you will be prepared for eternity.

Copyright 2020

Adding Geography to Your Bible Lessons, Part II

Geography Makes Lessons Come Alive

Introducing the geography of a particular Biblical event gives added understanding and enlightenment to the concepts being taught. Students are able to envision the scene in their minds and are able to engage in the action of the story.

What picture do you envision after reading the following statement?

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians was written by the apostle Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.

Compare that picture to what you envision after the following added elements.

Rome was the major city in the Roman Empire. The city remains to this day in the modern nation of Italy.

Now the students can imagine a place of which they may be familiar.

But what if we added more information. Let’s see if we can get the students involved in the learning process.

How many miles is the present-day city of Rome from the present-day city of Jerusalem?

What route did the soldiers take as they brought Paul from Jerusalem to Rome? How did they travel? Would this have been an easy trip? What was the terrain like in and around the city?

Where was the prison located in the city?

How would Paul’s prison have differed from a modern-day prison? Where would he have gotten his food and other necessities?

What route would Paul’s letter travel when being sent from Rome to Colosse?

What modern-day city is near where Colosse once stood?

How far did the Roman Empire extend beyond Colosse?

In what modern-day country would one find the remains of the city of Colosse? What types of roads would you travel in order to get there?

In which direction would you travel in order to go from Colosse to Laodicea or to Hierapolis?

These where questions can be inserted alongside the other 4 W’s: who, what, when, and why.

Teaching and engaging students with all of the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why) will make your Bible lessons come alive for your students.

Strategic Location, Opportunity

Colossae was strategically located along a trade route that led east to west from the Euphrates Valley to the city of Ephesus and the Aegean Sea.

This strategic location gave the church opportunity to exert great influence over the traveling merchantmen and engage them in helping to spread the gospel message.

Did they utilize their location and material wealth to do so?

Were they overtaken by the angel worship that had deceived many in the surrounding areas?

Did they fulfill their ministry?

Many questions remain.

Those Colossians that survived after the great earthquake occupied a small village and continued there until another earthquake destroyed the area.

Hopefully, their godly influence remained long after the demise of their great city.

Where has God strategically placed you?

Are you utilizing that placement to help spread the gospel message?

Are you fulfilling the ministry to which you are called?

What influence will remain after you leave this world?