Laodicea

Rev 3:14-22

14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--

18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

21 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also 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."' " (NKJ)

"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

South of Philadelphia and not far from Colossae stood the large and prosperous city of Laodicea on the banks of the river Lycus, a tributary of the Meander. Laodicea was strategically very well placed. Located at the confluence of three much traveled highways, the city grew into a highly successful commercial and financial center. It was a wealthy city of bankers and financiers. There was one major problem that left the people feeling vulnerable. The water supply came by way of aqueduct from Hierapolis, about 6 miles to the south. Laodicea stood midway between the hot springs of Hierapolis and the cold waters of Colossae, but her own supply was lukewarm.

There was no doubt pagan worship here but no trace of it remains to this day. No mention is made of the Jews though they were there. The church here seems to have escaped the things that plagued the other churches such as persecution and false teachers. The city itself was quite self-sufficient. Though they were struck by earthquakes and wars as the other cities in the area, they never asked for assistance from Rome. Tatford quotes a Roman of that day, "Laodicea arose from the ruins by the strength of her own resources and with no help from us." They were proud that they could take care of themselves. They were prosperous beyond their dreams.

With all of that going for them we might have thought that they would have been a great military city with great defenses but they were not. Tatford points out the reason. "One serious weakness robbed Laodicea of all such military use. The water supply without which no city can stand a siege, came not from well or river within the defenses, but from springs six miles to the south. An aqueduct, impossible to hide brought the precious supply into the city. (Thomas says the aqueduct was underground,(1) which to me seems unlikely). Obviously, if the aqueduct was cut the city would be helpless. The citizens could never feel completely secure and it seemed essential, therefore to maintain good relations with every neighbor, and this was possibly a contributory factor in creating the tolerant and complaisant spirit which was one of their characteristics. Parts of the aqueduct arches are still to be seen and also some of the stone pipes used to convey the water. The supplies piped into Laodicea were from hot springs and the water was therefore, lukewarm when it arrived. (2)

The word "Laodicea" means "the voice of the people," and the message to the church of Laodicea speaks to us of the time when the voice of the people will be listened to, and not the voice of God; of the time when the church will be controlled by men, instead of by the Spirit of God. (3)

He is talking to the professing church. The end of the age will see the Son of God on the outside of the very church that bears His name. He will still be received by individuals in the faithful remnant, but the great mass of professing Christendom will deny His deity, His atoning work on the cross, His bodily resurrection-- all the fundamentals of the faith "once for all delivered unto the saints.". . . It is my conviction that we are in the Laodicean period which is lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. There are churches in this city with members numbering as high as 3,000, and yet their pastors admit that they can not get even a "corporal's guard" out to a prayer meeting. A man told me a few days ago that there are 4,000 people on their church roll; and yet they had only fifty out on Sunday evening, and thirty-five at prayer-meeting! Where are those absent members? Only God knows. What will happen to them? He tells us: "So, then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (4)

We learn from Colossians 4:13-16 that Paul had written to this church. He had informed them in Colossians 1:27 of the true riches. In Colossians 2:1 he had informed them of the conflict he was having in their behalf. He proceeded in Colossians 2:3-4 to inform them further regarding where to find the true and lasting treasures. In Colossians 2:18 he cautioned them lest men should lead them away from Christ. In Colossians 4:2 he admonished them to watch and pray. (5)

'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness,

The community that had to adjust to its changing surroundings rather than take a stand needs to know that Jesus was not that way. He was faithful and true. One has said that the problem at Laodicea was not flagrant error but dead orthodoxy, not flaunting immorality but dull respectability.

Never was there a witness like our Lord Jesus Christ. We may declare with all certainty that He was most truly "the faithful and true witness." He came down from heaven to witness regarding the Father, and the record shows that He did not deviate to the right, nor to the left of the path that was set before Him. He was the "true witness" in that He witnessed exactly that which was the mind of the Father. (6)

the Beginning of the creation of God:

There are those who would use this phrase to teach that Jesus was first created. But the rest of Scripture makes that plain that it is not so. Notice the following verses note that everything that was made what made by Him. In other words He was not made. The idea of the verse is that He is Himself the originator of all the creation.

"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:3).

"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." (Hebrews 1:2).

[Beginning of the creation of God]-- not He whom God created first, but as in Col. 1:15-18 (note), the Beginner of all creation: its originating instrument. All creation would not be represented adoring Him, if He were but one of themselves Rev. 5:8,11,13. His being the Creator is a guarantee for His faithfulness as `the Witness and Amen. ' (8)

"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.

The word hot is used in Rom. 12:1 and meant to be boiling. Each of the other six cities left their mark on the pages of history, but Laodicea was vague, indefinite, and undetermined. They had developed a spirit of compromise. Now we all enjoy a cold drink or a hot drink but no one enjoys a warm drink. Vance Havner referred to the times when the waitress would come by to "warm up the coffee" he said that he would rather drink the cold coffee or get a cup of new hot coffee but not just warm it up. As one writes "Eternity was remote and the world was close at hand. Is not this one of the major reasons for the unspiritual character of the church of our own century?"

Such a character can produce the kindlier virtues of tolerance and broad mindedness, but in the face of evil is also likely to engender weakness and a reprehensible spirit of compromise. (9)

The Laodicean church would fain "reform" the world that crucified the Lord. It denounces as "pessimists" those who would show from Scripture that "evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse," "the love of the many waxing cold," "the rulers of the age coming to nought," and Christ's personal return the only hope either for the Church or for the nations. (10)

I could wish you were cold or hot.

The condition of the Laodicean church was nauseating to the Savior. They were straddlers, fence-sitters, middle-of-the-roaders. ... Notice Christ did not say, "So then because thou art no longer orthodox and have denied the great truths of the faith." The truth of the matter is that they had not denied the gospel. Their major problem lay in the fact that they were not "hot."... "The word for 'hot' is zestos from which the English word zest is derived. It appears only here in the New Testament and means 'boiling hot'." (11)

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

chliaros ^5513^, "tepid, warm" is used metaphorically in Rev. 3:16, of the state of the Laodicean church, which afforded no refreshment to the Lord, such as is ministered naturally by either cold or hot water. (12)

It is the last stage of the Church's existence recognized by the Lord.

He will utterly repudiate those whose attachment to Him is purely nominal and superficial." It is possible, then, for one to be religious and at the same time to be repulsive to Christ. (13)

... lukewarmness, is what characterized the church in Laodicea. This state refers to those who have manifested some interest in the things of God. They may be professing Christians who attend church but have fallen far short of a true testimony for Christ and whose attitude and actions raise questions concerning the reality of their spiritual life. They have been touched by the gospel, but it is not clear whether they really belong to Christ. Such was the case of the messenger of the church at Laodicea as well as his congregation.

The ordinary historian would probably not condemn the spirit of Laodicea so strenuously as St. John did. In the tendency of the Laodiceans toward a policy of compromise, he would probably see a tendency toward toleration and allowance, which indicated a certain sound practical sense and showed that the various constituents of the population of Laodicea were well mixed and evenly balanced.

It is apparent that there is something about the intermediate state of being lukewarm that is utterly obnoxious to God. Far more hopeful is the state of one who has been untouched by the gospel and makes no pretense of putting his trust in Christ than the one who makes some profession but by his life illustrates that he has not really honored the Christ whose gospel he has heard and professed. There is no one farther from the truth in Christ than the one who makes an idle profession without real faith. The church at Laodicea constitutes a sad picture of much of the professing church in the world throughout the history of the Christian era and serves as an illustration of those who participate in the outer religious worship without the inner reality.

In the history of the human race no one has been harder to reach for Christ than the religionist, the one who is quite satisfied with the measure of his devotion to God and with the items which to him represent religion. Far easier to win are the harlots and publicans than the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Especially sad is the fact that in the church at Laodicea the minister or angel of the church is here described as lukewarm. (14)

"Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-

"Need of nothing": the loss of a sense of need, as the drowsiness that besets a freezing man, is fatal. People blindly go to hell in droves, in the Laodicean churches of these last days. With liars, blasphemers of the Lord, and teachers of pagan evolution in the pulpits, and the people "loving to have it so," we would cry, as of old, "What will ye do in the end thereof ?"

"The wretched one"--of all the seven! That is, of all possible church states represented by these seven, Laodicea is the worst off! Worse than Thyatira, than Romanism, this last lukewarmness.

"And poor," alas! the poverty, in view of their possible riches in Christ and His Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit! The poverty of the Laodicean churches of this hour! Whole years, and no one born again! Whole denominations shrinking in numbers! "And miserable," literally, proper objects of pity. "Blind," looking at stones and towers and organs, and pews. (15)

Sad to say but the condition as seen here is that of many churches and Christians in our day. They say ... and know not. They say that they are well off and do not know their own miserable condition. One thing does seem to be missing, that they do not give God the glory for all they have. Gal. 6:14; Rev. 5:12

The only other occurrence of the word wretched is in Romans 7:24 where Paul says, "O wretched man that I am." Those who have come face to face with Christ know that they are wretched. Like the nation of Israel who had been saved from slavery in Egypt and given the promised land by God they soon turn their backs on Him because they did not need Him nor did they reverence Him.

The word miserable here means pitiable and occurs in 1 Cor. 15:19 where Paul tells us that if in this life only we have hope that we are of all people most miserable. In reality the poor rich people at Laodicea needed to be pitied.

Next He tells them they are poor. Notice the contrast. They said they were rich, but He said they were poor. In material things they were rich. But spiritually they were poor. A man once visited a wealthy church. He was shown all the beauties and marvelous characteristics of the church. A deacon remarked saying, "You name it, we have it." The man asked when they had had revival in the church. The response was that although some churches have such things they had no need of them at this church.

"I counsel you to buy from Me

These men were merchants who spent their days buying and selling. They knew what was the most valuable, at least so they thought. They traded in gold every day. But now they are advised to buy from Him, gold tried in the fire. It is not that they could actually purchase spiritual benefits because we have nothing to buy with. This has reference to Isa. 55:1 where we are encouraged to come to God without money and buy. This is representation of God's grace. The idea is that we have nothing to offer God to buy what we need. The real treasures of this life are not those we can hold in our hand but those we hold in our heart.

gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;

The city was known for its wealth and their ability to meet any needs for gold. It prided itself on the fine quality of the gold from that area. But the gold that they needed was the gold of His righteousness. There wealth was all physical and none spiritual. Unlike the church at Sardis which was rich even though they were poor, Laodicea was poor even though they were rich.

and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;

It is interesting that the first book of the Bible chapter three finds man in need of clothing and the last book of the Bible chapter three does also. The white garments represent righteousness. Although they were no doubt well outfitted they had nothing that would cover their moral nakedness. All of man's righteousness is but filthy rags in God's sight (Isa. 64:6).

and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see

The city was well known for the eye salve that was manufactured there. But they were blind to their real condition. So the Great Physician alone offers them the remedy that can make them see. Spiritual perception is greatly needed in our day as it is evident that the world doesn't have it. (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Christ alone is the source for what the church today really needs and we need but to admit it and ask.

We will never anoint our eyes until we feel a need for the same. Thus, we need, first of all, to take a good critical look at ourselves in the mirror of the Word, and then take the necessary action to correct our ways so that they conform to God's Word. To "anoint" our eyes is to faithfully study the blessed Word so that we are filled with it. We learn from John 6:35 that the Word is Spirit and it is life; thus to be filled with the Word is to be filled with the Spirit. (16)

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten

Nevertheless, the conditions existing in Laodicea could not be tolerated indefinitely. Because He loved, the Lord threatened to rebuke and chasten His people, with the object of bringing them to an acknowledgment of their faults by the rebuke and of leading them to repentance by His disciplinary chastisement. (17)

Let us always keep in mind when we are chastened, that it is the rod in the hand of our loving Father that has smitten us, rather than a sword in the hand of an avenging judge ("as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten"). (18)

Therefore be zealous and repent

He asserts His love for all in the congregation, the unfaithful as well as the faithful. But they must know that divine love will never overlook wrong. He will not force His recommendations upon them, but their disobedience will bring chastening. He will not tolerate their condition indefinitely. In every dispensation the Lord has rebuked and chastened those whom He loves (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6). His love is never so complacent that it condones sin in our lives. We see Him yearning over Jerusalem just prior to the time when the ax was laid to the root of the tree (Matthew 23:37-38). If He had not loved the church at Laodicea He would not have bothered to appeal to her and counsel her. But her members must repent at once and completely, without mental reservations. They must turn from all that displeases Him. He will not tolerate lukewarmness. They must get hot and stay hot or else He will spue them out. "Be zealous therefore, and repent." (19)

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me

In longsuffering, the One who had the right to command, took the place of the suppliant. He was the door at which the penitent should stand, but He condescended to reverse the order and Himself graciously stood at the door. He would never force an entry, but patiently knocked and waited admission. Through sickness and sorrow, suffering and loss, through the Scriptures and through circumstances. those gentle taps still make themselves heard on the door of life, and the Lover of our souls stands and pleads to enter. How deaf are we so often to His knocking! (20)

Astonishing love of the Savior! Loving even the lukewarm! Loving an assembly that has really no heart for Him! ... Here we have Christ in all His tenderness, His unfathomable devotion! In these last words to the Church, the love of the Bridegroom makes Him forget wholly the work of the Judge.... It is deeply instructive and touching to note the verb tenses here: it is literally, "Behold I have taken my stand at the door and am knocking": the first denoting an attitude deliberately taken, and the second, an action continually going on. (21)

This verse is most glorious in that the King Himself is acting in great mercy and grace toward His subjects. He has come to the door of those who have befriended Him. They have nothing which He needs, He is not at their door of necessity, but only because He has their interest at heart. The verse before us (v. 20) is a sad commentary on man's condition, it seems that the door would always be Open and the table set so that we would always be ready and eager to sup with such a glorious visitor; however, man is so depraved that he doesn't use good sense in choosing the good and rejecting the evil, He is so fallen that God must work in him both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (22)

"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

To sit on the throne of Jesus with the Father can be the greatest of all blessings. Isn't it interesting that the same ones who are lukewarm could if they repent and continue to overcome could one day have such a great position. It just goes to show how far God can lift us up when we look to Him.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' "

Once again, finally Jesus gives one final warning that those who hear should pay special attention to what He says. To do otherwise is to bring spiritual ruin and final rejection, to be vomited out of His mouth.

 

Laodicea

Rev 3:14-22

14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--

18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

21 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also 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."' " (NKJ)

1. Revelation 1-7 an Exegetical Commentary; Robert L. Thomas; Moody 1992;

2. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 137

3. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Louis T. Talbot; 1937; page 57

4. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Louis T. Talbot; 1937; page, 59, 60

5. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; J. Willard Willis; Economy Printers 1972; page 84

6. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; J. Willard Willis; Economy Printers 1972; page 85

8. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary; PC Study Bible Ed.

9. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 144

10. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 76, 77

11. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 96, 97, 98

12. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

13. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 98

14. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, pages 92, 93

15. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 77

16. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; J. Willard Willis; Economy Printers 1972; page 89

17. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 148

18. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; J. Willard Willis; Economy Printers 1972; page 90

19. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 103

20. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 148

21. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 78, 79

22. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; J. Willard Willis; Economy Printers 1972; page 90  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com