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Laodicea; The Seven Churches of Revelation

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 The Seven Churches of Revelation

The Church at Laodicea Rev. 3:14-22

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 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. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” [1]

1.     The Church (3:14).

3:14. The wealthy city of Laodicea was located on the road to Colosse about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia. About 35 years before this letter was written, Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake, but it had the wealth and ability to rebuild. Its main industry was wool cloth. There is no record that Paul ever visited this city, but he was concerned about it (Col. 2:1-2; 4:16).

In addressing the church Christ introduced Himself as the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Ruler of God’s creation. The word “Amen,” meaning “so be it,” refers to the sovereignty of God which is behind human events (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 1:6). In speaking of Himself as “the faithful and true Witness” Christ was repeating what He had said earlier (1:5; 3:7). As “the Ruler of God’s creation” Christ existed before God’s Creation and is sovereign over it (cf. Col 1:15, 18; Rev. 21:6).

2.     The rebuke (3:15-17).

3:15-16. No word of commendation was extended to the Laodicean church. They were pictured as utterly abhorrent to Christ because they were lukewarm. In referring to the church as “lukewarm” Christ had in mind that this was its permanent situation. In their feasts as well as in their religious sacrifices people in the ancient world customarily drank what was either hot or cold—never lukewarm. This rebuke would have been especially meaningful to this church, for water was piped to the city from Hierapolis, a few miles north. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm!

3:17. Their being lukewarm spiritually was evidenced by their being content with their material wealth and their being unaware of their spiritual poverty. Christ used strong words to describe them: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

3.    The exhortation (3:18-19).

3:18-19. They were urged to buy not ordinary gold, but refined gold, referring to that which would glorify God and make them truly rich. Through its banking industry the city had material wealth. But the church lacked spiritual richness. Though they had beautiful clothes, they were urged to wear white clothes (cf. v. 4), symbolic of righteousness which would cover their spiritual nakedness. As wool was a major product of the area, Laodicea was especially famous for a black garment made out of black wool. What they needed instead was pure white clothing.

Then Christ exhorted them to put salve . . . on their eyes. A medical school was located in Laodicea at the temple of Asclepius, which offered a special salve to heal common eye troubles of the Middle East. What they needed was not this medicine but spiritual sight. To all such the exhortation is be earnest, and repent. Christ rebuked them because He loved them, which love would also bring chastisement on this church.

4.     The promise (3:20-22).

3:20-21. Dramatically Christ pictured Himself as standing outside and knocking on a door. In a familiar painting the latch is not shown but is assumed to be on the inside. The appeal is for those who hear to open the door. To them Christ promised, I will go in and eat with him, and he with Me. To those who respond, Christ promises to give the right to sit with Him on His throne and share His victory.

3:22. Once again the invitation to listen and respond is given: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.[2]

The condition of lukewarmness

1.      Lukewarmness is a state of indifference-

2.      Lukewarmness is a state of self-reliance-

3.      Lukewarmness is a state of isolation (Christ is on the outside)

4.      Lukewarmness is a state of religious practice-

The response to lukewarm ness

5.      Set your heart on spiritual riches- (refined gold) (Matt. 6:19-21)

6.      Set your heart on personal, practical righteousness- (1 Tim 4:7-8)

7.      Set your heart on understanding, spiritual sight, wisdom from God-(Eph. 1:17-18)

8.      Set your heart on sincerity and repent-

9.      Open the door-


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[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

cf. confer, compare

v. verse

[2]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

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