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New Testament Churches - Western Asia Minor Map

Colosse

The New Testament city of Colosse was located, along with Hierapolis and Laodicea, in the western Asia Minor region named Phrygia. The city was built at the head of a gorge where two streams unite. Not only was it on a Roman road that connected it to other destinations in the province such as Laodicea, but it was also blessed with rich mineral deposits.

Colosse's chief export, for which it was famous, was a unique wool called collossinus that was likely colored purple. Although the city was prominent during the Greek period, by Apostle Paul’s day it had lost much of its importance. The general area around Colosse, which included the Asia Minor towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis, was prone to frequent earthquakes. During the latter part of Emperor Nero's reign, an earthquake struck the area and destroyed the cities.

Although the Apostle Paul wrote an epistle to the Colossians (61 to 63 A.D.), the Bible does not record him ever visiting the city. The church in Colosse was likely started by Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) and possibly Timothy (1:1). Epaphras was a resident of the city who was also one of Paul's coworkers (4:12 - 13).

The city was home to a Christian named Philemon. He generously allowed his house to be used as a gathering place to worship God on the Sabbath (Philemon 1:2).

Map of Pauls' greatest missionary success

Warnings from Revelation's churches

New Testament Miracles

Hierapolis

Hierapolis, a town in the Lycus River Valley, was located in the Roman province of Asia roughly 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) north of Laodicea. The town was founded on hot springs that served as a thermal spa, which made the destination popular with ancient Romans. The city was destroyed by an earthquake that occurred during the latter part of Nero's reign.

Hierapolis is mentioned only once in the New Testament (Colossians 4:13). It is referenced as a place (along with Laodicea) where Epaphras, one of Paul's fellow evangelists, was looking out for their spiritual well-being. The church in the city, as well as the one in Laodicea, was likely started by Epaphras.

Tradition states that Philip, one of Jesus' original twelve apostles, eventually settled in Hierapolis and suffered martyrdom in the city (Foxe's Book of Martyrs). The other Philip mentioned in the New Testament, Philip the Evangelist (Acts 6:1 - 7), who had four virgin daughters (21:8 - 10), is also believed to have taken himself and his family to live in Hierapolis (The Book of Acts in Its Palestinian Setting by Richard Bauckham, Chapter 3).

Troas

Troas was one of the great ports of the Roman Empire, boasting a first century population of more than 50,000. It flourished as a commercial and maritime center at the time of Paul.

Troas is noteworthy as the place where God, during his second missionary journey, gives the Apostle Paul a vision that he should start preaching the gospel on the European continent (Acts 16:6 - 10). During his third evangelistic journey, he stays in the city several days to teach new believers. While teaching late one night a person named Eutychus (a common slave name), who is listening to Paul, falls into a deep sleep then falls to his death from the third story windowsill he was laying in. The apostle immediately goes to him and while embracing Eutychus miraculously brings him back to life (Acts 20:7 - 12).

In 67 A.D., during his second imprisonment in Rome, Paul understood that he would soon die as a martyr. Knowing that his time was short he sought to canonize his writings for inclusion in the Bible. He asked his closest friend Timothy, in the last epistle he would write, to bring him something special from Troas.

13. When you come, bring the chest that I left in Troas with Carpus, and the books - especially the parchments (2Timothy 4:13, HBFV)

This chest contained what Paul needed to complete his writings.

"We can deduce that this chest contained Paul’s own writings - as well as extra sheets of parchment or animal skins that had been made into blank pages for writing. Once Timothy and Mark arrived with these items, Paul could then add the final inspired additions to his Epistles. Because Paul had already canonized eleven of his Epistles earlier in 63 A.D., this final canonization probably required little editing." (Holy Bible a Faithful Version (HBFV), Second Edition, page 69)

The Seven Churches of Revelation

The seven churches of Revelation are fellowships located in the western part of Asia Minor. They are located in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

Those who overcome in Ephesus are promised access to the tree of life (Revelation 2:7) and those who do so in Smyrna eternal life (verse 11). These promises are fulfilled in Revelation 22:2, 14 and 22:5.

Pergamos is said to be located "where the throne of Satan is" (Revelation 2:13). The city was one of the first in Asia to build a temple to a Roman emperor. It became a center of the imperial cult.

In Revelation, the Eternal criticizes the church in Laodicea for their half-hearted zeal in their everyday Christian lives.

15. I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you be either cold or hot. 16. So then, because you are lukewarm, and are neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15 - 16, HBFV)

Laodicea, because it lacked its own water supply, had to have it transported from nearby Hierapolis. As stated previously, the water in Hierapolis came out of the ground hot. After its journey of six miles to Laodicea, however, the water became lukewarm. Although cold water was desired for drinking purposes and hot water for bathing, lukewarm water was good for neither. Citizens had to make the water either hot or cold in order for it to be of use to them.

God is drawing the analogy that, like water, he prefers working with people who are either zealous for him and do many good works (hot) or are not even converted (cold). Like those in Laodicea who rejected the lukewarm water they received, God rejects those who say they are Christians (they appear on the surface to be useful) but on closer inspection lack the zeal and good works that would make them beneficial to others.

Additional Study Materials
Who experienced visions in the Bible?
Map of New Testament Events
How did Paul DIE?
New Testament Churches Map
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Series Primary Sources

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Complete Book of When and Where in the Bible
Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Holman Bible Dictionary
Holy Bible a Faithful Version (HBFV)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Life and Epistles of Apostle Paul
Parsons Bible Maps
Parsons Bible Atlas
Wikipedia


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