Colossians | Introduction | Part 1

THE STORY OF COLOSSAE

I want to introduce you to the story of Colossae; a place with a rich and vibrant history.   Located in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) the city was located in Phrygia in the valley of Lycus and reaped the rewards of having two great trade routes running through it, one from the major city of Ephesus, 100 miles west, that ran right through to the Euphrates river way off in the east and another that ran north to south.  It was famous for dying textiles a purple/red colour called Collosinus (a name that seems far too epic to be just a colour).    People flocked to Colossae, probably hoping for a better life and to benefit from the trade and booming economy.  It was a thriving city flourishing in the valley. 

Colossae gradually faded in significance though when one of the trade routes was moved to run through a neighbouring city just 10 miles downstream called Laodicea (that’s the same Laodicea you’ll find in Revelation 3 by the way).  As the trade left, the place became more a second-rate market town that wilted in the shadow of the two major cities just a few miles downstream – Hierapolis on the north of the river and Laodicea on the south bank.  It was at this time that Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome, wrote to those in Colossae who were “in Christ” – this was Paul’s favourite term for a Christian person.

A map of Phrygia with the two major trade routes. You can see how the north to south trade route moved to go through Laodicea instead of Colossae.

In around A.D 61, Colossae and the entire valley was decimated by an earthquake leaving all three cities in ruins.  While Laodicea was rebuilt and was freed from Roman rule during the process, Colossae was not so fortunate, some people tried to remain there but it was basically nothing more than a village dwelling in the ruins of the decimated town.  What a reminder, as if we needed one, that we cannot take things for granted, even the ground beneath our feet can be shaken. Insecurity flourishes on uncertain ground; but when a life is built on the unchanging, true security is found.

Insecurity flourishes on uncertain ground; but when a life is built on the unchanging, true security is found.

T.J.Cooling

So to summaries the journey of Colossae; it went from a vibrant city, to a mediocre market town and finally, to a ruin-dwelling village eking out an existence.  Eventually Colossae was completely abandoned around the 8th Century.

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