Like Colossae and Hierapolis, Laodicea was situated in a fertile valley east of Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia. It was an important educational, commercial and administrative centre. Although Paul was the first to take the gospel to Asia, there is no indication that he visited the town during his missionary travels recorded in Acts (Col 2:1). The church was probably founded at the time of Paul’s lengthy stay in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, when the zealous Ephesian converts took the gospel throughout the surrounding countryside (Acts 19:8-10; Col 4:12-13). (For map and other details see ASIA.) When Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, he wrote also to the church in Laodicea. He wanted the two churches to exchange their letters, so that both churches could read both letters (Col 4:16).

This letter to the Laodiceans was never collected as part of the sacred writings. Another letter to the Laodicean church has been preserved, this one written towards the end of the first century (Rev 3:14). The letter is Christ’s message to the church and is largely one of criticism. The citizens of Laodicea in general were prosperous and self-satisfied, and this spirit of self-satisfaction carried over into the church. The Laodiceans prided themselves that they had all they needed, and even believed that their material prosperity had resulted from their spiritual goodness. Because of their reliance on material things they could not exercise true faith in God, and their lives could not demonstrate that Christ brings complete satisfaction. Jesus condemned their comfortable spiritual pride and tried to make them see themselves as he saw them – poor, blind and naked. They had to realize that Christ alone could produce truly spiritual qualities in their lives, and he could do this only when they turned from their sin and humbly sought his help (Rev 3:15-22).

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