Day 9: Pisidian Antioch to Colossae to Laodicea to Pamukkale

We started our morning with a quick stop at the Archeological Museum in Konya. Our stop was brief as Charles knew exactly what he wanted to show us before we even arrived. They were some marble stones with inscriptions that contained the names of cities in this region from NT times. He used this as a time to show what archeological discoveries are able and unable to prove in terms of Scripture’s reliability and inspiration. He’s really a brilliant man, and I count the opportunity to study under him as a gift. He’s a man of integrity in what he says and does, and his very broad spectrum of knowledge, experience, and perspective on the work of God in the world have been significant to me during this time together. I am grateful.

A couple hours on the bus brought us to Pisidian Antioch. This is not to be confused with the Antioch we visited earlier, where the first Christians received that name. In fact, it was pointed out that the NT world had at least a dozen Antiochs. Why so many? Well, the name Antioch literally means “old city”, so any time a city was reconstructed, it wasn’t unusual to name the old portion Antioch. That said, today’s Antioch was the capital city of the region of Pisidia—hence, Pisidian Antioch. This was a significant city in its day. Paul’s visit is recorded in Acts 13. Despite some significant preaching here, trouble arose, and Paul and Barnabas left after shaking the dust from their feet. The site here is only partially excavated, but it is a large site that required an hour or more to walk around. An impressive theater, temple to the emperor, baths, a couple churches, and a Roman road surrounded by colonnades highlight the site. As well, a great aqueduct stands on a the hills a few miles from town. This aqueduct would have been part of the system in place to bring water from the mountains down to the city.

While there, we sat in the theater, while Charles gave a short presentation about Paul’s earliest missionary journey. Charles never ceases to put things together that I’ve never thought of. Being an historian, he’ll take a passing detail from Acts, a verse from Galatians, an inscription somewhere that he’s aware of, and a difficult-to-translate Greek word (or some such combination) and begin to raise interesting background questions that get you thinking and wondering about the lives of the first Christians. Some of these details aren’t “big deals”, but they spark one’s curiosity and stimulate your hunger to pay closer attention to the message of Scripture.

We enjoyed a quick lunch outside the site and headed to bus again for another couple hours of driving.

As sunset was beginning, we pulled off a very narrow off-the-main-trail highway. A hill beside the road was identified as Colossae. We ascended the tel (completely unexcavated as of today) and found a place atop it, where we read a section of Colossians together and discussed the early church that would have met in that small centre.

It’s a bit of an astounding moment when you see places like Lystra and Colossae. They’re small and insignificant—hardly more than villages. Yet it was through places like that the message of Jesus spread from life to life, growing and changing all who it touched. It forces us to fight the temptation to think that big and grand and important is the way that things get done. Rather, this kingdom that is illustrated in mustard seeds and yeast is fuelled by the power of God’s Spirit getting a hold of people, common people like any of us, and working mightily. If that doesn’t happen, then it won’t matter what else we attempt to do; it will be too weak to count for much. And so Paul visited and taught and wrote, because it mattered greatly that he gave whatever he had to give to encourage and build up such groups of believers. And that thought just makes me think: Such a call is on every one of us. We are to be serious about building each other up. Preacher or plumber, elder or entrepreneur, it makes no difference. Every body part needs to place priority on finding ways to use whatever they’ve been given to build up those around them into greater power and Christ-likeness. That’s the heart of being the church—anything less is not enough to guarantee that we will leave any kind of legacy behind us when we’re gone.

One final bus trip brought us to our hotel at Pamukkale. This is Laodicea-land, and that means we’re in mineral spring land. Our hotel tonight is likely the fanciest we’ve stayed at. It has a huge and beautiful swimming pool, along with a thermal pool with water pumping right out of the ground. It’s so full of minerals that it looks dirty. But we all soaked for a bit after supper, and it was a treat. As well, this hotel was hosting a wedding when we arrived. No kidding, it looked like a wedding out of a movie. The reception was all spread around the outdoor pool, a live band was blasting music for the dancing crowd, and the guests were dressed to the nines. Gratefully, the music has just stopped (it’s just after midnight), as we were fearing whether there’d be any sleep to be had when we first heard the band.

Tomorrow morning, we’re starting early as we fell behind schedule a bit today. We’ll start with the area right around our hotel (Pamukkale) before visiting Laodicea. That will mark the beginning of our visits to the sites of the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3. We’ve been told that the distances between our sites should be shorter for the rest of the trip, but we always seem to find ways to create new plans along the way or simply take longer than planned at the sites we take in, so none of us are holding our breaths. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Our group is great, our guides are great, and we’re ready to milk all we can out of our days here anyway.

For now, a shower is calling. The hotel is quiet, and my wake-up call will come early. All the best back home from the land of the hot, cold, and lukewarm waters.

1 thought on “Day 9: Pisidian Antioch to Colossae to Laodicea to Pamukkale

  1. Hi! I love your blog and found it very helpful. My husband and I are planning a do-it-yourself trip to Turkey to see the biblical sites and travel independently so your report is very interesting. God Bless! Tricia

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