|14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:14-22, KJV)
Here I quote the KJV because of the strength of some of the language. For a comparison to a contemporary translation see: To the Church in Laodicea, Rev. 3:14-22 (NIV).
The letter to Laodicea is tied directly to the history of the city. For a review of this history, see: Tale of the Tel: Laodicea
The Laodiceans received only harsh rebuke from Jesus and no praise. Because of this rebuke and Jesus’ reference to the Laodicean chruch as being “lukewarm.” this is the most recognized letter to the seven churches found in Revelation. The city of Laodicea had become extremely wealthy and decadent. Because of this wealth they believed themselves to be completely independent, requiring the support of neither Rome nor God. When the city was destroyed by an earthquake c. 60 AD it was rebuilt by the local merchants. They refused the assistance of Rome.
In the same way, the Christians in Laodicea credited themselves with their prosperity. They believed themselves to be in control of everything they needed. Due to their wealth, the attitude was “If I need it, I’ll buy it.”
The letter to the church in Laodicea is full of references to scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament, and to the things that had made the city successful. (For the history of Laodicea, see: Tale of the Tel: Laodicea A large portion of the Christians in the Laodicean church would have had Jewish backgrounds. They would have been quite familiar with scripture.
In this discussion, quotes are taken from the NIV. Compare these quotes with the KJV quote of the entire passage.
v. 14a “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:” The angel would have been the “guardian angel” of the Laodicean church. During the age of the writing of Revelation, it was believed that each congregation, church or synagogue, had a specific guardian angel. Many today believe that each believer is also assigned a guardian angel.
v. 14b “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness,” We commonly think of “Amen” meaning “So be it” and conclude prayer with that word. It also means “truth” and “truth with finality.” God’s truth, His promises, are made final in Jesus Christ. (See: Isaiah 65:16)
v. 14c “the ruler of God’s creation.” The Son of God was also there at the beginning. He is a witness to the creation and, being the Word of God, is the creator! Note the differences between the KJV and the NIV.
v. 15-16 “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.” Neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. Those in the Laodicean church knew what was expected of them, but they did not follow Christ’s teachings with fervor. They had become too comfortable, content in their successes, their wealth. Just as they did not rely on Rome to rebuild their city following an earthquake, neither did they see the need to rely on God. God, as the Creator of all things, is also the Owner of all things. The Laodiceans took credit where the credit belonged to God. They were building up their worldly treasures, not their heavenly ones.
Note again the changes in wording between the NIV and the KJV. The word “spue” literally means to “vomit.” The indifferent, lukewarm actions of the Laodiceans made Jesus sick.
This portion of the study will continue with Part 2.
My thanks to my rabbi, Pastor Michael, and the faithful men of the “Men on the Grow” Bible Study group for these insights.
This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs
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