Turkey, Greece, Rome Study Tour with The Well Community Church

November 1-13, 2022

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Day 02 - Hierapolis, Colossae, Laodicea

Brooke Say:


We then stopped at Colossae.  After a brief, but steep walk, we ended up on top of a plateau that now covers the ancient city of Colassae. The city is still yet to be excavated. While we couldn’t see the ruins, we do know that the area received two of Paul’s letters from prison, one to the church in Colossians and the other to an individual named Philemon. During that time there were two heresies challenging the church in Collassae, Judaism (teaching that Jesus was not enough, one would also need to hold to strict Jewish laws on circumcision, diet, holy days etc.) and Gnosticism (all physical matter is evil, the mind is good but the body is evil. The only way to escape evil is for your consciousness to ascend to a higher knowledge). Paul explains in his letter to the Colossians that the greatest mystery of all is that God became human, lived with us and died for us so that people of all nations (Jew and Gentile) could be saved from our own sin. This isn’t something we ascend to but the mystery actually came down, lived with us and now lives within us! There is no higher knowledge than knowing Jesus Christ the Lord of the Universe! Even though the ruins of Colassae are still a mystery, Jesus is not! 


“the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:26-27 NIV



After a wonderful lunch next to a waterfall we headed up to Laodicea which is the most excavated city in Turkey. In the first century AD, Laodicea was the leading city in the region. It was a wealthy city known for its industry and it was well positioned on trade routes.  It was a main source for marble and for black wool used in clothing. The city was full of people of diverse faiths and ideas. The city even had a school of medicine which developed an eye salve to treat eye problems. Over time several earthquakes destroyed the city but because of its great wealth it was able to rebuild without needing assistance from Rome like other cities. This led to a great feeling self-sufficiency among its people.  

The church likely started on Paul’s third missionary trip. Excavation has found a total of 11 churches so far but it has found several temples showing a city that was spiritually confused and compromising. Laodicea was one of seven churches Jesus writes a letter to in the book of Revelation, however it is the only church to not have a single nice thing said about it.    


“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17 


In this case, Laodicia’s self sufficiency due to its vast wealth also lead it to be self sufficient from the one thing we can’t be from, Jesus. Laodicia had more resources than other cities in the region and had potential to do great things for the gospel but in the end did not. They caved and compromised and did not hold to the truth that is Jesus Christ. It was amazing to see this site being excavated before our eyes and is exciting to see what else is uncovered!


Jen Bell:


Footsteps of Paul Blog Post         

Our tour group began our day a little earlier than expected when nearly every person was awakened at 3:30 am by a 4.5 earthquake!  We were all a little shaky heading to breakfast… 

Heiropolis, the sacred city

Walking into Heiropolis, one can feel the traces of its ancient splendor. It was celebrated for its warm springs and a Christian church was most likely established here by the faithful Epaphras of Colossians 4:12, 13. It is situated above the junction of the rivers Lycus and Meander. There are remains of three churches, a gymnasium and many sepulchral monuments. The tombs are a profound reminder of the reality of death and how we have been brought to new life through Christ who paid the penalty for our sin which is ETERNAL death and separation from Christ.

The heart message we received from the teaching at this site was that of eternal perspective. What are we living for? Jim Elliot profoundly stated, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Persecution is inevitable. We have been crucified with Christ. We must stand strong even against the anti-Christian views of our day. We are encouraged to ask the questions “What legacy am I leaving behind? What am I living for now?” Allowing the answers to these questions to recalibrate our hearts toward an unswerving commitment to live crucified with Christ and therefore for His glory! “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20


Philadelphia, a pillar of faithfulness 

We stepped into Philadelphia, the “faithful church” with the understanding that it is the one church that did not receive any negative comments in the book of Revelation. Philadelphia is completely excavated unlike most other sites and was founded by 2 brothers, hence the name “city of brotherly love”. Philadelphia stands out as a church of faithful followers of “the Way” who endured much persecution and betrayal, yet remained faithful to Christ and the identity they were able to take on through their loyal commitment to the Christian church. “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of God… and I will write on him the name of My God.” Rev. 3:12. The heart message that we gleaned was the admonishment to HOLD FAST to our faith and to be willing to “keep a firm grip”, come what may. The church of Philadelphia lived for a greater reward, and all true believers in Christ should also allow our faith to reign supreme over all other aspects of life, and to follow Christ no matter the cost.


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