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

Teaching Scripture: Know the Destination of the Passage

The Importance of Knowing to Whom a Scripture Passage Is Written

Many times we miss out on a fuller understanding of the Word of God because we do not stop to consider to whom a passage of Scripture is written.

  • When preparing to teach a letter or a book or a chapter of the Bible, it is very important to know to whom the letter, the book, or the chapter is being written.

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians was obviously written to the church body located in Colossae. However, after careful reading, we also find that the letter was written to the church body at Laodicea.

Why is this type of information important?

  • The destination of a letter directs us in seeking information about the culture of a particular group of people living during the time frame in which the letter was written.

Information contained within the letter may give clues as to the culture.

Secular history may also give additional needed information that can help us in understanding the mindset of the people who lived in the area.

Where did these people live?

In a large metropolitan area or in the wilderness? By the seaside or in the mountains?

What was the main occupation?

Fishing or farming, shepherding or trading in goods?

Was the location of political or religious or economic importance?
What major events may have happened there?
Were they a city-state governing themselves or were they part of a large empire?
How did they bury their dead?

These and many other questions may pop into one’s mind. Seeking the answers to these types of questions will contribute to the understanding of the Bible passages we choose to study.


What questions pop into your mind?

Add to the list by leaving a comment below.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark

 

Giveaway Winner Announced

The Goodreads Giveaway is now over.

Congratulations to Hester.

Hester has been sent a confirmation of winning the giveaway by private message through Goodreads.

An autographed copy of So, What’s the Latest News? Messages From a Prisoner in Rome is in the mail.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.

If you did not read the preview pages available at Goodreads, I hope you will take the time to do so.

Thank you to everyone who added my book to your Goodreads shelf.

As we enter this time of Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday season, I hope you will support the many Christian authors who wish to glorify God and helps others through the study of God’s Word.

May this study of Colossians be a blessing to you.

Your reviews and comments concerning So What’s the Latest News?  Messages From a Prisoner in Rome are greatly appreciated.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. 
This verse by verse reader-friendly study of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians makes the Scripture meaningful and relevant to the modern-day.

 

An Exercise in Prayer

Formulate Your Own Prayer with Paul’s Example

 

In chapter one of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, we see a godly example of prayer on the behalf of the body of Christ. This particular prayer grew out of a desire to see the Colossian brethren grow and mature in the faith.

As Paul and Timothy labored in prayer, their regard for the Colossians and their spiritual needs gave them purpose and direction.

Following the format of their prayer will aid us in praying for our beloved brethren.

  1. Give thanks to God.

Verse 3 begins with thankfulness to God for what He has already done in the lives of the believers.

2. Daily intercession and supplication is a must.

In verses 9-12, we learn that Paul and Timothy ceased not to pray.  They were committed to the task of prayer for the spiritual needs of others.

3.Pray specifically.

This was not a general prayer, but one with detailed petitions. We will discover what those petitions were as we do the exercise below.

4. Give thanks to God. In verse 12, these men began sharing their thankfulness to God and to their brethren for what God had and was presently doing in and through their lives.

 

1. What did Paul and Timothy desire for the Colossian brethren?

Paul and Timothy prayed and desired. Their desires became a list of specific requests.

List these requests given in verses 9-12 separately.

For example: a) that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding  b) that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing c) that you would be fruitful in every good work, etc.

 

2. Add your own requests to the list above.

You may sense other spiritual needs of the individual or group that you are praying for. Add these to your list.

 

3. Use your list to form the body of your prayer.

After listing the specific requests, use your list to create a prayer. You may be specific for individuals, a spouse, or for your church family as a whole.

For example:

Lord, help me to pray for my brother (or sister) in Christ.  I pray that he would be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Help him to walk worthy of You. May he be pleasing in Your sight. May he be fruitful in every good work that he tries to accomplish. Increase his knowledge of You. Strengthen him with all might according to Your glorious power unto patience and longsuffering. Give him a joyful attitude and countenance.

4. Give thanks. Use the rest of the chapter to help you with your list of thanks.

Paul and Timothy recorded a list of things for which they were thankful to God. That list begins in verse 12.

You may use the rest of the chapter to make your own list of things for which you are thankful.

 

5. Use your list of thanks to form the ending of your prayer.

Don’t forget to give God thanks for the work that He is doing in the lives of those for whom you are praying and for the work He is doing in your life also.

I hope this prayer exercise has helped you to formulate your own prayer. However, no prayer is answered until it is prayed. So keep your prayer handy and use it to help you as you grow in your prayer life.