Revelation 3:14-22

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

THE CHURCH AT LAODICEA

INTRODUCTION:

In chapters 2-3 we see letters to the seven churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Each church needed a particular message, but each church illustrates conditions common in local churches, not only at that time, but also in all ages of church history. Furthermore, each church was composed of individuals who needed the instruction and warning personally.

I. THE COMMISSION FROM CHRIST - 3:14a

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:14 a - (14) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write. . . .

The angel or messenger is best understood as God's representative leader of the congregation, i.e. as the pastor of this church.

Paul referred to his great conflict for the Christians at Laodicea in Colossians 2:1

Colossians 2:1 - For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.

Paul also sent greetings to the church at Laodicea in Colossians 4:15

Colossians 4:15 - Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.

The people in Laodicea obtained their water by pipe from Hierapolis which was located a few miles to their north. By the time it reached Laodicea, the water was lukewarm.

There was also a medical school located in Laodicea at the temple of Esculepius. An eye salve was available there to treat problems people had with their eyes.

Laodicea had become wealthy and had a profitable business arising from the production of wool cloth.

Its wealth tended to lull the church to sleep spiritually.

This was a particular message needed by, and intended for, a particular congregation, the church in Laodicea. Other churches or individuals might need a similar message.

The tense of write suggests write at once and without delay.

II. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST - 3:14b

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:14 b - (14b) . . . These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.

He is the Amen - v. 14.

Amen means so be it, verily, truly

It indicates Christ's sovereignty and the certainty, therefore, of the fulfillment of His promises.

II Corinthians 1:20 - For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

This verse means that all of God's promises in Christ, without exception, are definite and that the amen is for glory being given or attributed to God through what the promises have taught or proclaimed. His promises are certain of fulfillment.

When Christ speaks, it is the final word. His will is going to come to pass.

He is the faithful and true witness - v. 14.

This is reminiscent of Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:5

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:5 - And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

Faithful means trustworthy, reliable, or dependable.

True means trustworthy.

His witness is true and can be counted on. Whatever He says is so.

By contrast, the church in Laodicea was neither true nor faithful.

He is the beginning of the creation of God - v. 14.

By the beginning Jesus does not mean that He was the first created being as the Jehovah's witnesses claim. He means instead that He is the originating cause, the creator. John indicates as much when he writes in John 1:3 , All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Of the creation of God indicates that Jesus is the One Who brought about the creation. God is God the Father. As the creator, Jesus is before all the creation. He has existed from eternity past. There has never been a time when Jesus did not exist, and there never will be.

Psalms 89:27 - Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

It means that He has priority over the creation.

Colossians 1:15-18 - (15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist [i.e. cohere, hold together, or continue]. (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 might have the preeminence.

Christ is reminding the Laodiceans that all of their material riches come from Him Who is the Creator.

III. THE COMMENDATION FROM CHRIST - NONE

IV. THE CONDEMNATION BY CHRIST - 3:15-17

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:15-17 - (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because 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.

I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot. Thou art lukewarm - vv. 15-16a.

They knew what lukewarm meant. Their water was piped in from several miles away in Hierapolis. When it arrived, it was lukewarm.

Many in the world are cold to the things of Christ. The gospel leaves them totally unmoved and arouses no interest or spiritual fervor.

Those described as hot are those who show genuine spiritual fervor and leave no question as to the presence of eternal life, the sanctifying power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and a fervent testimony which shows to all that they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, the fact that the Laodiceans are told to buy from Christ white garments suggests that they did not have them, i.e. that they were unsaved. They were neither one hundred percent for Christ nor one hundred percent against Christ. Their lives demonstrate a profession of Christ but do not demonstrate a fervency for Him. They are going through the motions of Christianity; but many of them, if not most of them, are not genuinely saved. In verse 20 Christ is pictured as being on the outside knocking and trying to get in.

I would that introduces an unattainable wish.

Thou is you (singular) and refers to the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Wert is were, and its mood indicates that this is a wish. Coupled with I would that, it indicates that this wish is not going to be fulfilled.

Either cold or hot is what Christ would wish for this church. He would rather they were completely against Him or completely for Him rather than indifferent toward Him.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:16 a - So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot. . . .

So then suggests as a result of their being neither cold nor hot.

Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot indicates the reason Christ will spue them out of His mouth.

Thou art is you are and refers to the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Lukewarm is used in contrast to and neither cold nor hot. It is a temperature that is in between the cold and the hot.

Lukewarmness refers to those who have manifested some interest in the things of God. They may be professing Christians who attend church but who 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 may have been touched by the gospel, but it is not clear that they really belong to Christ.

In view of this description it is interesting that this church still had its candlestick. Christ is apparently giving this church another opportunity to straighten things out with Him, but it may be their last chance He gives them.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:17 - Because 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.

Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing indicates an attitude of self-sufficiency.

I is used of the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Am indicates a state of being.

Rich is placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text. To be rich means to be wealthy and indicates that this church possessed much in the way of worldly goods. It also suggests that this church's trust had been placed in its wealth rather than in the living God.

(I am) increased with goods is a second opinion the church at Laodicea had regarding itself.

A third opinion this church had regarding itself is (I) have need of nothing. This church considered itself to be self-sufficient and not dependent upon anyone, including Christ. No wonder it made Him sick.

Thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Their spiritual condition was the exact opposite of their supposed sufficiency in temporal matters.

They were in a wretched state spiritually but did not realize it.

Thou is you (singular) and refers to the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Art wretched suggests are miserable.

They were miserable in spite of their material wealth because they did not have the real joy of the Lord.

They were also miserable, which suggests pitiable.

They were poor because they were without real and eternal possessions and were lacking the eye of faith that could recognize the true riches which endure forever.

They were blind to things which could be seen only by spiritual sight.

They were naked. Even though they were clothed with rich garments of silk and wool, they had no spiritual clothing. They did not have white robes which are suggestive of the righteous deeds of the believers. This suggests that there was very little, if any, genuine salvation in this church.

The Laodiceans were typical of the modern world, which revels in what the natural eye can see, but is untouched by the gospel and does not see beyond the veil of the material to the unseen and real eternal spiritual riches.

V. THE CONSEQUENCE PROMISED BY CHRIST - 3:16b

Go back to the second half of verse 16 -

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:16 b - So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

This indicates Christ's reaction to their being lukewarm rather than to their being cold or hot.

I will spue thee out is literally I am about to vomit you out and refers to the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Out of my mouth indicates that something has tasted very badly or has made Christ sick and that He is about to rid His system of it. The lukewarmness of the church at Laodicea is offensive to Christ, even more offensive than if it had been antagonistic to Him.

VI. THE CORRECTION PRESCRIBED BY CHRIST - 3:18-20

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:18-20 - (18) I 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. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (20) Behold, 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.

I counsel thee is I am counseling you, I am advising you, or I am giving advice to you where I is Christ and thee is the church at Laodicea as represented by its pastor.

Christ's counsel is buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.

Buy is purchase, and its tense indicates that it only needs to be bought or purchased once.

Of me is from me and refers to Christ. He is the source from which these things must be obtained.

The first thing He advises them to purchase is gold tried in the fire.

Gold suggests true riches.

Tried in the fire. By heating gold thoroughly until it is red hot or glowing, it is tested or refined. Thus, it is highly refined or pure gold that Christ is counseling this church to purchase. This indicates genuine or true riches, and these true riches are obtainable only from Christ Himself.

(Buy of me) white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed - v. 18.

White raiment (or white clothing) speaks of the righteous deeds of the saints which come as a result of the righteousness which God provides.

Accordingly, Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:13-14 says,

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:13-14 - (13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

(14) And I said unto Him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Also, Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:7-8 says,

Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:7-8 - (7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

(8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

This verse is not teaching that one may actually purchase salvation because it is not for sale; instead, the idea of purchasing white garments is symbolical of this people's need for the righteousness of Christ. They need to obtain this from Christ. The garments, however, cannot actually be purchased with money or with good works. They are available only by grace through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on behalf of sinners.

That thou mayest be clothed indicates the purpose or intended result of obtaining white garments from Christ.

That is understood in the sense of in order that or with the result that.

Thou mayest be clothed is simply you may be clothed or you may dress yourself.

(Buy of me) white raiment, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear provides another reason that white garments should be purchased from Christ.

The shame is the disgrace or the ignominy.

Of thy nakedness refers to their being unclothed (with a white garment), i.e. to their being unrighteous or to their being unsaved.

Do not appear - Their being unclothed or without a white garment, i.e. their being without righteous deeds to evidence their salvation, will result in their shame being revealed or appearing. There will come a day when their lack of white garments, which indicates their lack of righteous deeds, which, in turn, indicates their lack of salvation, will be made clear to all. Thus, the shame of their nakedness will appear.

Not only was the church to purchase gold and white garments from Christ, it was also to anoint thine eyes with salve, that thou mayest see.

Anoint is rub on, and its tense indicates that this is to be done at once and without delay.

Eyesalve is what is to be put on [or rubbed on] thine eyes [i.e. on your eyes].

That thou mayest see shows purpose or intended result. It is in order that, for the purpose that, so that, or with the result that you may see. This church was not able to see or to perceive its need. By receiving Christ as Savior, the individuals in this church would also receive spiritual illumination thereby enabling them to understand spiritual truth.

They needed spiritual perception, which most of them were sorely lacking.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:19 - As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

As many as I love is as many as I am fond of. The Greek term for love is not that love found in John 3:16 which gives itself completely on behalf of someone else without expecting anything in return. Instead, it is the term meaning to be fond of, to like, or to be a friend. It is the word from which we get the name Philadelphia or brotherly love.

I again refers to Christ.

What Christ does is indicated by rebuke and chasten. The tense of both terms indicates that they represent timeless truths. Christ will always rebuke and chasten those whom He loves.

Rebuke means reprove or correct or perhaps discipline.

Chasten is another term meaning discipline.

Be zealous and repent - v. 19.

In a good sense be zealous means strive, desire, exert yourself earnestly, or manifest zeal. Its tense indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once.

Therefore is understood in the sense of consequently, accordingly, so, or then.

Something else Christ commands this church to do is repent, which means to change your mind. Its tense likewise indicates that this action is to be undertaken at once.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:20 - Behold, 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.

In verse 20 Christ is seen standing on the outside, seeking to get in, promising that He will come in and sup with anyone who will hear His voice and open the door.

Behold is a term which is used to gain the attention of the hearer or reader.

I is Christ, the One Who is speaking.

Stand indicates that Christ has taken this position and is still standing there.

Where Christ is standing is at the door.

Is this door the door of the church, or is it the door into the life of the individual member of the church? Why not both? The phrase, if any man hear my voice, and open the door, makes it individual. It indicates that Christ is outside the door which leads into the life of the individual member of the church and is trying to get in. It certainly implies that most of the people in the church are unsaved.

Although it has been suggested that this verse is properly used of some genuinely saved, but lukewarm, Christian rather than of an unsaved person, it makes better sense to believe that it refers to an unsaved person for two reasons: 1) it is questionable whether a person who is neither hot nor cold is genuinely saved; and 2) Christ would not be found outside the life of a believer but would indwell him.

A second thing that Christ does is knock which means that Christ is knocking. He is doing what He can to get the attention of anyone who will listen.

An open invitation is freely given by Christ to any and all who will respond: 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.

The condition is if any man hear my voice, and open the door.

If the condition is met, then Christ will keep His commitment: I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Any man is simply anyone, anybody, someone, or somebody. It does not matter whether the individual is a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. The invitation is given first of all to everyone within the church at Laodicea and, by extension, to everybody else as well.

By hear Christ means hear, not only in the sense of hearing the sound of His voice, but also in the sense of listening or heeding.

My voice is Christ's voice. Although He is pictured as knocking, He is also apparently pictured as calling out to anyone and everyone who will listen.

A second part of the condition is and open the door and implies that the door before which Christ is standing and knocking is closed and needs to be opened before He will come in. It implies that He desires an invitation to enter through the open door.

What needs to be opened is the door before which Christ is standing and knocking.

And open the door is connected with if any man hear my voice and argues against what is known by some as irresistible grace. This statement implies instead that one could hear the Lord's voice and not open the door.

Christ's commitment is two-fold. First, I will come in to him, where I is Christ. It is literally I will enter toward him.

I will come in to him is predictive of something which will actually take place if the individual will hear Christ calling and will open the door to Him.

And will sup, with him and he with me.

Will sup is will eat or will dine and is predictive of something which will actually happen if the individual will hear Christ calling and will open the door to Him.

With him and he with me indicates that Christ and the individual who opens the door will both eat together. It pictures a mutual fellowship between Christ and the one who will open the door to Him. This fellowship with Christ begins the instant this person receives Jesus Christ as his personal savior by opening the door and admitting Christ into his life, and it continues throughout all eternity.

This verse is frequently and correctly used to indicate that Christ desires to come into each individual's life and save him.

VII. THE CHALLENGE TO THE OVERCOMER - 3:21

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:21 - (21) To 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.

Who is the overcomer? I John 5:4-5

I John 5:4-5 - (4) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (5) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Will I grant [or I will grant] him that overcometh to sit with me in my throne - v. 21.

Will I grant is I will give and is predictive of something which will definitely occur in the future.

What Christ will grant is to sit with me in my throne. To sit (i.e. to sit down) with a reigning monarch is to co-reign with him. Hence, to sit (or to sit down) with Christ in His throne indicates that this overcomer or believer will in some capacity be co-reigning with Christ.

Even as is as or just as and is introduces a comparison between Christ's experience and the believer's experience.

In the phrase I also overcame, I refers to Christ.

Also suggests that Christ was likewise an overcomer just as the believer is an overcomer.

Overcame is was victor, prevailed, or conquered.

And am set down with my Father in his throne indicates what happened after Christ overcame.

(I) am set down is simply I sat down.

Where Christ sat down is indicated by with my Father in his throne. As such, Christ is co-reigning with His Father over the entire creation. His Father, of course, is God the Father; and it is on His Father's throne that Christ sat down.

Believers will share His glory. In sharing His Father's throne, Jesus co-reigns over the creation with His Father. By sharing Christ's throne, believers will in some capacity co-reign with Christ.

VIII. THE CALL TO HEAR - 3:22

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:22 - (22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

How many of you have at least one ear? Then this command is for you.

Pay attention to what the Spirit is saying unto the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.