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?

Continue the story…

Go back to beginning…


A Devastating Event

Devastating Earthquake Recorded

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 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 same year overthrown by a earthquake, and, without any relief from us, recovered itself by its own resources.”

This 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.

Continue the story…

Return to the beginning at History in the Making.


Backpacking to Colosse

Sheep following shepherd on a hillside
Sheep following shepherd on a hillside

Let’s grab our backpacks and hike to Colosse. That way, 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.

It’s a long dusty road, but we can’t wait to see famous Colosse. Since it was such 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 Colosse.

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 now 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.

Continue the story…


History in the Making


Other than the biblical reference to the name, little is known about this faraway place. It was a bustling city, caravans traveling through laden with goods, merchants buying and selling, banks prosperous with the exchanging of monies, etc.

As one traveled the highways in and out of the city, sheep would be seen grazing the hillsides, shearers would be doing their duties harvesting the prized black wool, and shop owners would be seen beckoning tourists to stop and purchase their wares.

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

But what happened to Colossae? Where is it today? Why should we remember it?

We’ll explore this in a later post. But for now, you may want to take a closer look at a special letter to these people of the past. It’s found in the New Testament entitled The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.

Continue the story…