14a) "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write"
- The name Laodicea: is derived from the Greek roots "laos," which means "the people," and "dike," which means "justice," or "judicial verdict"; together means "rule by the people."
- Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.
- The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Nero (60 AD), in which it was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means.
Description of Christ
14b) 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God'
- The Lord immediately confronts the proclaimed self-sufficient church of Laodicea, appropriately named "rule by the people," with an address that establishes that He is the one in charge.
- "Amen" means "so be it" (Revelation 1:7). Calling Himself "the Amen" indicates that the Lord and His Word are certain.
- Jesus is not only a "Faithful and True Witness," but it is impossible for God to lie; His Word is true. (Revelation 1:5).
- Jesus is the "Beginning and the End" being God, He was present at the beginning of creation (Revelation 1:8).
What is known
15) "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot."
- The Greek word "psychros" translated as "cold" can also mean cold-hearted.
- The Greek word "zestos" translated as "hot" can also mean to have fervent zeal.
- Jesus desires that people are not indifferent about following Him. Indifference, being neither hot nor cold, is hypocrisy (Matthew 15:7-9, Ezekiel 20:39).
16) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
- The church was "lukewarm," being hypocritical like the Pharisees. The Pharisees outwardly followed tradition and ritual, thinking they were righteous through their religious acts, while their hearts proved otherwise (Matthew 23:25-28).
- With similar imagery, God warned Israel they would be "vomited" out of the land, if they did not follow the Lord (Leviticus 18:25-28). The Israelites did not follow the Lord with their hearts, as they had promised. Therefore, God forced them out of the land into exile (Jeremiah 42:20-22).
- The city channeled water in through an aqueduct from nearby hot springs. By the time the water arrived to the city, the temperature had cooled to a lukewarm temperature, making an interesting play on words in the Lord's rebuke.
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
- After an earthquake destroyed the city around 60AD, the people in Laodicea rebuilt the city without help from Rome. The church of Laodicea had a sense of self-sufficiency and pride because of their wealth and independence, being a "free imperial city" from Rome.
- The church in Laodicea may have been physically rich and in need of nothing material wise, but spiritually the Lord called them "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." Material wealth has a tendency to cause many to deny the Lord and rely on themselves (Proverbs 30:7-9, Deuteronomy 8:10-17).
18a) I counsel you to buy from Me
- The Lord counsels the church to "buy" spiritual remedies from Him. Spiritual riches are "bought" by accepting the invitation to come into a covenant relationship with the Lord (Isaiah 55:1-3).
- It is possible for people to get saved, but lack spiritual riches, if they live carnal, instead of Spirit-led lives, not maturing in their faith (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
18b) gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich
- Gold can represent holiness and purity, as it retains all of its qualities when refined, or tested in fire (Revelation 1:13).
- To "buy" gold refined in fire, may mean that believers in the church of Laodicea would have to go through testing, like Smyrna (Revelation 2:9-10), to produce spiritual riches.
18c) and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed
- God killed an animal to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness, which symbolized the atonement, or covering for their sin (Genesis 3:21).
- Trying to cover our nakedness on our own, as Adam and Eve tried to do, will leave us still ashamed in God's presence. Only by accepting and believing that Jesus paid the price to cover our sin, will we escape the shame of our nakedness before the Lord (Revelation 3:5).
- Laodicea was known for their trade of rich black wool, which they used to make garments. In stark contrast, the Lord admonishes the church to "buy" white garments. White represents cleansing from sin (Revelation 1:14).
- The Lord only promises that the overcomers, the true believers (1 John 5:4-5), will wear white garments (Revelation 3:5). Therefore, members of Laodicea that still needed to "buy" their white garments were not true believers.
18d) and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
- Laodicea was also known for an eye ointment, used to treat astigmatism, made with a local rock ground to a powder. The Lord continues his play on words, to show the spiritual blindness that was prevalent in the church of Laodicea.
- In the story about a man blind from birth that Jesus healed, the Pharisees remained spiritually blind to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. On the other hand, the blind man, whose eyes Jesus anointed, not only gained his physical sight, but he also received salvation and spiritual vision (John 9:6-7, 35-41).
19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
- The Lord chastens "every son whom He receives"; these are believers (Hebrews 12:5-8).
- The Lord does not chasten unbelievers. They will however, suffer the natural consequences of their sin in this age. But ultimately, those who reject Christ He will condemned with the world at the last judgment (1 Corinthians 11:32).
- The Lord admonishes the believers from Laodicea to repent, which means to turn back from, or change one's mind or attitude.
- Instead of being lukewarm toward the Lord, He wants believers to instead be zealous, or burn with zeal in their relationship with Him (Deuteronomy 6:5).
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.
- Hearing the Lord's voice is connected with belief and an open heart (Hebrews 3:12-19).
- Sheep that hear the voice of the Shepherd, open the "door" of their heart, and enter the fold through the "door" of salvation, which is the Lord (John 10:7-9, 26-28).
- Jesus dined with those who heard His voice to follow Him; even sinners (Matthew 9:9-13).
- Those who have opened the door of their heart to the Lord, and let Him come in, will dine with Him in the Millennium (Revelation 19:9).
Promise to overcomers
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.
- Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).
- A throne is a seat of power (Colossians 1:16). The Lord will sit on His throne, exercising His power and glory given by the Father, when He returns after the Tribulation to set up His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31).
- The Lord will share His authority with overcomers. The Lord has promised "power over the nations" to those who overcome (Revelation 2:26).
Call to hear
22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
- Spirit-led believers can understand the "mysteries of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:8-10), some of which the Lord includes as promises to the "overcomers" in the letters to the churches in Revelation.
Summary and Theme
- Spiritual bankruptcy leads people's hearts away from the Lord.
Prophetic Church Age Type
- The lukewarm church 1900s to the rapture
1a) After these things
- In Revelation 1:19, John gave us the "table of contents" for the rest of Revelation, so "after these things" refers to future events after the Church Age:
Chapter 1: Things which you [John] have seen