Colonnaded street in Laodicea - Wikimedia Commons


THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Revelation 3:10-13 - Continued 6

To Laodicea 3:14-22 (Apostate Church 1900's- Present)

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."'" - Revelation 3:14-22

Connection

"And to the angel"

As in all the earlier messages to the churches, the angel of the church is most likely the pastor since the word's basic meaning is "messenger" (see chapter 1, verses 1, and 20; and chapter 2, verse 1).

This letter is written to "the church of the Laodiceans." There may have been multiple groups of Christians meeting in various homes and other places in the city of Laodicea, but, true to the pattern seen throughout the New Testament, all of the professing believers in any given city were part of the one church in that city. Laodicea was about 40 miles east of Ephesus. It was closer to Colosse and Hierapolis, and, even though it was apparently not visited by the Apostle Paul, it was mentioned several times in his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 2:1; 4:13-16). The Colossians were told by Paul to share the letter written to them (now the New Testament book of Colossians) with the people of Laodicea. He also mentioned a letter to Laodicea that should be shared with the Colossians. There is no known epistle from Paul to the Laodiceans, but some of the early church fathers thought that this was a reference to the letter sent first to the Ephesians. They believed that the Ephesian letter was evidently meant to be an "encyclical": one that was to be circulated to other churches. The oldest known manuscripts omit "to Ephesus." Another reason for this possibility is that the letter to that city, where Paul had spent the most time - three years, did not have the normal personal references he usually included.

The city was originally named Diospolis, then Rhoas, and later Laodicea to honor Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II, king of Syria, who rebuilt it
(Easton's Bible Dictionary - http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/laodicea/).

It was located in the Lycos Valley in Anatolia, a part of modern Turkey. It was situated on a major trade route and was a center of commerce. It became very prosperous during the "Pax Romana" - the "Roman Peace" that was established by Augustus and prevailed for nearly three centuries.

The First Century city had thousands of Jewish residents, mostly brought by Antiochus the Great from Babylon
("Laodicea on the Lycus," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laodicea_on_the_Lycus).

Various commentators on the Book of Revelation usually name three industries that were particularly successful in Laodicea that were used by Jesus as illustrations in His address to this church (see verses 17 and 18 below). These were the financial trade, a garment industry specializing in black wool, and a great medical school.

Over the centuries repeated earthquakes in the area made it a less desirable place to live. It gradually declined in size and importance but was still occupied in AD 1230. It was destroyed during the invasions of the Turks and Mongols. Today it is just a field of ruins near the village of Eski Hissar in Turkey.

Jesus referred to Himself with three powerful descriptions that were not used at the beginning of the Book of Revelation. Together they validate His shocking negative opinion of the church. Those who understood who He really was would repent and return to a lifestyle of humble discipleship.

First He said, "These things says the Amen." The word "Amen" is an interjection found 9 times in the Book of Revelation and 143 times in the whole New Testament. In fact, it is the very last word of this Book of Revelation - the last word of the entire Bible!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. - Revelation 22:21

Amen is often translated "truly," or "verily." It is an affirmation of the truthfulness of something that is about to be said, or, if it follows a statement, it signifies agreement with what was already said. Thus, at the end of a prayer or a hymn it carries the sense of agreement. It could be translated "so be it!"

Blessed be the LORD forevermore! Amen and Amen. - Psalm 89:52

Here in this message to the Laodiceans, it is used in a unique way. Jesus is "The Amen!" He is the very essence of truth. He had taught His disciples,

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6

Continuing this thought, Jesus also told them that He was "the Faithful and True Witness." A witness is expected to tell the truth. In a court setting he is legally required to do so. There is a severe penalty if he does not. One cannot really imagine God the Son, the Messiah, and our Savior, failing to tell the truth. The Laodiceans would need to keep this in mind when they would read, or hear, the sad truth about their inadequate faith. They would dare not contradict His opinion.

In a third self-description, Jesus said that He was "the Beginning of the creation of God." The Greek word for "beginning" is arche. It is the same word used in the opening words of John's Gospel.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. - John 1:1-3

The Apostle Paul affirmed the same great truth.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. - Colossians 1:15-18

And the writer of Hebrews records this: God the Father is speaking,

But to the Son He says:
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."
10 And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands. - Hebrews 1:8-10

Orthodox Christianity agrees that the One True God exists eternally in three persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; and that the work of Creation was done by God the Son.

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. - 1 Corinthians 8:6

In his commentary on this passage, Ray Stedman reminds us that Jesus is not only responsible for the original creation, but also the new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 1 Corinthians 5:17; Also: John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:23

Commendation

No real commendation is given to this church. We will see that the Lord's complaint is so severe there is nothing to their credit that is worth mentioning.

However, we will see that there is still an affirmation of God's love for them and an invitation to them to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. There is also a promise to the overcomers from this church. In the light of that encouragement, we should mention that even in this church there is some missionary activity. Remember that in every age there are some churches that represent each of the seven types of churches. Some will be like the Apostolic period, some will be more like the Persecuted Church, or like the compromised Church, the Church of the Middle Ages, the Reformed Church, or the great Missionary Church. As we have seen, in all of these different periods of time, spreading the Gospel was always accomplished to one degree or another.

So, there will still be missionary-minded church groups in this last apostate age. The missionary emphasis of this era will be An Open Door of Escape from the hypocrisy of this post-Christian age.



Next: Revelation 3:15-17



INDEX/ CONTENTS

Listed by Chapter and Verse

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact us.















Free Hit Counter
Free Hit Counter