Laodicea was one of three biblical cities in the valley of the Lycus River, a tributary of the Meander: Colossae was 9 miles east, Hierapolis was 6 miles north. The site once occupied by the city is a nearly square plateau rising about 100 feet above the valley floor, one mile from the bank of the Lycus. Laodicea was located 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia and dominated the ancient highway from Ephesus (1oo miles to the west) through the Meander and Lycus valleys to Syria. Originally called Diospolis and Rhoas, Antiochus II Theos (286-246 BC), the ruler of Syria, colonized it between 261 and 246 BC, and renamed it for his first wife,Laodice (whom he later repudiated and banned to Ephesus).
In 190 BC Laodicea came under the rule of Pergamum, then after 133 BC it was controlled by Rome and made a free city. About the end of the 1st century BC it was one of the principal cities of Asia Minor, famous for fabrics, sandals and medicine. Laodicea was also a major banking center where, in 51 BC, the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero cashed drafts en route to his native Cilicia (St. Paul’s home province).
In the 1st century AD Laodicea was inhabited by its indigenous population of Greek-speaking Syrians, Greeks, Romans and Romanized natives along with an important Jewish colony. These Jews regularly sent a contribution of gold to Jerusalem Temple. According to Cicero, in 62 BC the Roman governor Flaccus confiscated 20 pounds of gold.
Christianity came early to the city. Paul implies a close relationship between the churches in Laodicea and Colossae. The church in Laodicea was probably founded by Epaphras from Colossae and the faithful of Laodicea met in the home of Nympha (Colossians 4:15). Additionally Paul sent greetings to Archippus, who may have been from Laodicea.