Keep The Fire Burning!
Amen. This is the only place in Revelation where Jesus is called “the Amen.” “Amen” (amēn [281, 297]) comes from Hebrew and means “truly,” “so be it.” The term almost always follows an assertion of some sort in Revelation (1:6–7; 5:14; 19:4; 22:20–21). In 7:12, however, it both precedes and follows the assertion so as to heighten and emphasize that, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever!” This may be our clue to John’s use at 3:14. “The Amen” precedes the attributes of Jesus to emphasize them.
faithful and true witness. Lit., “faithful martyr and true.” In 1:5, Jesus was introduced as the “faithful witness” (see commentary there), and in 19:11 he is described as “faithful” and “true.” To one of the most unfaithful churches, with a totally false self-perception (3:17), Jesus’ attributes are a confrontation.
the beginning of God’s new creation. In 21:6, God is described as “the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End,” and in 22:13, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega … the Beginning and the End.” In 3:14, Jesus is the beginning of God’s new creation. Jesus clearly indicates to the Laodicean church that “business as usual” is not what Christian life is all about. It is a new creation whose beginning in Jesus forecloses the old manner of life.
3:15–16 you are neither hot nor cold … you are like lukewarm water. The lukewarm image would not have been lost on the Laodiceans. The city had no fresh water supply. Drinking water had to be carried from the springs or the river in the valley below. Utility water was piped to Laodicea from hot mineral springs about six miles away near Hierapolis. By the time it reached the city it was lukewarm and, because of its high mineral content, would cause a person to vomit if it were drunk (Beale 1999:303; Witherington 2003:107). Jesus used this language to tell the Laodicean church that it did not stand out against the culture in which it lived, for it was neither cold nor hot.
Probably too much has been made over Jesus’ statement, “I wish you were cold or hot.” Some have suggested that “hot” referred to the healing mineral waters of the hot springs near Hierapolis and “cold” to the refreshing waters of Colossae. (For a full discussion of this view, see Hemer 1986.) It seems best, however, to simply infer that Jesus was indicating they should be distinct from their culture.
I will spit you out of my mouth! This is better translated as “I am about to vomit you out.” Laodicea’s accommodation to its culture made Jesus sick. Again, we see the possibility of people falling away from the faith. This element has been present in each of the “problem” and “perverse” churches. Ephesus was on the verge of having their lampstand removed (2:5), Pergamum was about to experience Jesus’ warring against them (2:16), Thyatira had those who were about to be “killed with death” (see note on 2:23), and Sardis was in danger of having their name erased from the Book of Life (3:5).