TO THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA
TO THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA
Leslie M. John
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth’ ” (Revelation 3:14-16 ESV)
Laodicea was the wealthiest city located in the valley of Lycos of Asia Minor in the country Phrygia. In Paul’s letter to Colossians and 1Timothy he refers to Laodicea (cf. Colossians 2:1; 4:13, 15-16; 1Timothy 6:21). It gives us much scope to assume they were very close in their culture. The church in Laodicea started in about 60 AD when Paul was preaching Gospel to the church at Ephesus. Later, false teaching crept into their church as into the church at Colossae.
Paul warned of Oriental or Gnostic philosophy that prevailed in Laodicea and Colossae during those days. He warned them to be careful that no man may deceive them by tradition of men and after the rudiments of the world. Their Philosophy promoted speculation, respecting nature of divine presence. Colossians relied much on reasoning than that was taught by Christian teachers.
“And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16)
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8)
Laodicea suffered massive earthquake in AD 60 and the church was recovering from it. While other cities around this city in Phrygia also suffered massive earthquake they rebuilt their cities with the financial support from Roman Government. However, the city Laodicea did not seek financial support from Roman Government but it rebuilt its city with their finances. It had a very fertile ground for the sheep which were bred to produce soft glossy black wool. Laodicea had very prosperous textile industry, a very renowned school of medicine, and yet it had great shortage water supply.
Jesus identified as ”Amen” while addressing the church in Laodicea. The word ”Amen” means ”surely” or ”trustworthy” or ”so be it”. Jesus is the ”faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation”. He was not a created being but He was the creator.
The message from Jesus conveyed by a letter to the church in Laodicea was seventh in sequence. Although the letter was written in about 96 AD, It had a prophetical message for the present generation and the churches now in existence.
Even though Laodicea was very rich in every respect they lacked life sustaining water. Laodicea had to depend on a city on the north of it called ”Hierapolis” that had warm water, and on ”Colossae” on the south side that had cold water. They drew water from those cities for their need. However, by the time warm water came from the north to their city it lost its warmth. Likewise by the time the cold water came to their city from south it lost is coldness. The water from the north was not helpful to them because it was lukewarm when it was available to them in their city. Likewise the water from the south was not helpful to them because it became lukewarm and lost its refreshing nature by the time it came to their city from south.
The reference to ”lukewarm” in this passage was not about attitude of worship they had. It does not say that they neither had high attitude of spirited worship nor had very low attitude to worship. All that it refers to is that they did not serve the primary purposes that they were chosen for. Jesus says He will spew them out from His mouth because they were neither hot nor cold but were lukewarm.
The church in Laodicea took pride in their wealth but did not realize how poor, blind they were spiritually. They were in wretched and pitiable condition. Jesus counsels them to buy from Him gold (indicative of spirit-filled life from Him) that was refined by fire that they may truly become rich in heaven; white garments, which represent holiness in order that they may clothe and cover their shame so as not to be as naked (figurative of their poverty) before others in heaven; for none is naked or unholy in heaven. They took pride in medicine that was available to them, but Jesus says to them to buy eye-salve to anoint their eyes that they may see clearly. He reproves and disciplines them that He loves; and therefore, He advises them to be zealous and repent.
Jesus is outside of this church and knocking on their door that they may open it for Him that He may enter and if anyone opens the door He will come in and eat with him. He grants to the one who conquers the worldly life and false teaching, the privilege to sit with Him on His throne, as He conquered and sat down with His Father on His throne.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:20-21 ESV)
Finally the Lord says:
”He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”