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

Epaphras: Servant of Christ

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  Colossians 4:12

In The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians we read of a man named Epaphras. This man had traveled by unknown means to the city of Rome from the city of Colosse.

By stating unknown we realize that people in those days either walked or traveled long distances by caravan. However, we do not specifically know why Epaphras came to Rome. He could have come on business, been brought by Roman request, or have come particularly to seek out the apostle Paul for wisdom and direction.

Whatever his reason for coming to the capital of the Roman empire, he did wind up face to face with the apostle during the time of Paul’s confinement.

We learn several things about Epaphras during this particular period as stated in the epistle.

As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ.  Colossians 1:7

A Saved Man

In Colossians 1:7 and 4:12-13 we learn that Epaphras was a saved man who served Christ.

His position in Colosse and the surrounding cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis was as a minister. Whether that was as the pastor of a church body or as a traveling evangelist or circuit preacher is of little consequence. He was definitely ministering and evangelizing the area.

A Faithful Man

The above verses also tell us that Epaphras was faithful.

Not only was he faithful to Christ, but he was faithful to those to whom he ministered. He spoke highly of the positive traits of the church.

By reading the account in Colossians we can also infer that he spoke of conditions concerning the church. Those were spoken of only because of Epaphras’ desire for help in his ministering to and the establishing of the saints in their personal walk with the Lord.

A Positive Man

Epaphras’s conversation was as any minister’s should be.

He spoke of the love shown by the Colossians toward each other, their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their reception of the gospel, and the fruit that was being displayed by the church. He also spoke highly of their love of spiritual things (See Col. 1:4-8; 2:5). In no way was he negative of the members of the body of Christ where he served.

A Praying Man

We also see that Epaphras was a prayer warrior (Col. 4:12-13).

Scripture tells us that he was “always labouring fervently” in prayers. His prayers were not general; they were specific requests to God.  Those requests manifest to us his desire to see the church “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

His burden is further shown by his great zeal.

It is refreshing to hear a minister speak excitedly about his congregants and the growth that is being experienced by the individual members of the body of Christ where he serves.

Epaphras’s focus was on what was right about the church.

His concerns focused on what would help the church go further in their walk with Christ. He wasted no time in gleaning instruction from Paul that would help him further his ministry to these people.

There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus. Philemon 23

A Standing Man

Epaphras is also mentioned in Philemon 23.  Here he is described as being a “fellowprisoner.”

Was he arrested while visiting the city, arrested while ministering in Colosse and then brought forcefully to Rome, or arrested later and brought back to Rome, we do not know. We only know his stand for Christ led to his imprisonment of some sort.

The mention of his name in Paul’s letter to Philemon lets us know that Epaphras remained faithful in spite of difficult circumstances.

Faithfulness is a characteristic that each of us should covet especially in these times of uncertainty. Faithfulness, service, zeal, and prayerfulness should be the description of every saint’s character.

What characteristics show Epaphras to be a man of God?
What other characteristics should men of God display?
Are you faithfully serving the body of Christ? In what way?
How can others serve faithfully?