The Church of Laodicea
by aymon de albatrus
14 ¶ And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Head of the creation of God: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold, or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, I am rich, and I am made rich, and I have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold having been fired by fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and your shame and nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 I, as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten." Be zealous, then, and repent. Pro 3:12 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father in His throne. 22 The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Laodicea was in Turkey. a city founded by king Antiochus II king of Syria around 250 BC and named after the name of his wife, Laodicea. It was a city on a commercial route and very rich. It produced wool clothes and it was a big banking centre. The church was living in that rich opulence and those aptitudes were permeating the whole church. The majority believed and worshipped the cult of Zeus, but it had a large and important Jewish presence. During the time of John it had one of the most important Christian church in the area. Today it is a desert place called "old castle".
This once flourishing centre of culture and well being is now just a home of foxes, insects and parasites of all kind.
Laodicea had not known Paul (Col 2:1), but Paul asks the Colossians to swap epistles with the church of Laodicea Col 4:16. The Laodicea's letter is lost.
The word "laodicea" means: 'justice to the people' and also 'the people speak'. This idea can be easily compared to the democracy of our days where the voice of the people is 'heard'.
In the context of Apocalypse, Jesus speaks to the seven churches (all in Turkey) describing them in different ways. Some interprets this as seven different ages of the church, other as seven different cultures and Laodicea would represent our democratic Western culture. I guess this would fit rather well for we note in these verses the same 7 characteristics of the church in democracy:
Lukewarm and in danger of divine rejection,
Materially rich but blind in spirituality and inadequate to the call of Jesus,
In need of a divine character "gold" that can be obtained only through patient submission and tribulations,
In need of sanctity, "white clothes", the dressing of heaven,
In need of discernment "that you may see" the true state of the church,
In need of repentance,
In need to return to a serious association with Jesus that knocks at the door to dine together (have fellowship).
Is this not an accurate description of our modern churches in democracy?
The key phrase in these verses is: as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten." Be zealous, then, and repent.
v14 - And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Head of the creation of God, Jesus Christ is the Amen, the faithful and true Witness for in Him there is the fulfilment of all the promises of God. For as many promises as are of God, in Him they are yes, and in Him are Amen, for glory to God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Apocalypse demonstrates that Christ is the faithful Witness and the Governor of God's creation, He is the King of kings (Rev 1:5).
V15 - I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold, or hot. Maybe there is more hope for the cold non-christians than for lukewarm Christians that have lost the hunger for God.
lV16 – So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of My mouth. The word (vomit out) comes from the Greek "emeo" that means just that (vomit out, pull up, throw out). This action is done when something is estranged to our system. This demonstrated, without doubts, the revulsion of Christ towards the lukewarm Christians. Today, are we lukewarm towards the Lord? Let us pray Him that He may help us stand.
V 17 - Because you say, I am rich, and I am made rich, and I have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. The material well being has blinded them to their bankrupt spirituality. The world has invaded the church. The church was thinking of herself as rich to their own eyes, but she was poor in the eyes of Christ. Comparing it to the church of Smyrna that being afflicted and poor materially she was rich in the eyes of the Lord: I know your works, and the affliction, and the poverty; but you are rich .... (Revelation 2:9)
But what the Lord says of those that trust in riches: 18 And he said, I will do this; I will tear down my barns and I will build larger; and I will gather there all my produce and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take rest, eat, drink, and be glad. 20 But God said to him, Fool! This night they demand your soul from you; and that which you prepared, to whom will it be? (Luke 12:18-20) Even though the Laodiceans were not Pharisee, they had a similar attitude for they were thinking of themselves as healthy, but were sick; they considered themselves as with full sight, but were blind. The Lord reproached them because they were in a dangerous condition and they knew it not.
V18 - I advise you to buy from Me gold having been fired by fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and your shame and nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Christ counsel them to buy 3 things from Him: divine gold of character instead of being miserable and poor spiritually; white clothes to cover their spiritual nakedness; and eye salve for their blind eyes so that they may see spiritually.
V19 - I, as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten." Be zealous, then, and repent. Pro 3:12 The Lord chastise those He loves, those that are His sons: 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which He speaks with you, as with sons, "My sons, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint while being corrected by Him. 6 For whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and whips every son whom He receives." Pro 3:11,12 7 If you endure discipline, God is dealing with you as with sons; for who is the son whom a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become sharers, then you are bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:5-8)
The Laodiceans were not bastards but sons, even though lukewarm.
To note, notwithstanding their pitiful condition, they had not ceased to be part of the church of Christ, the same for the other churches, for what the Lord begins, He will also surely bring to completion.
V20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with Me. To whom this verse refers to? Surely to the Laodicean. Does it refers to the hearts of sinners or of the saved? Is Jesus "knocking" at the door of the heart of the lost or is Jesus calling believers back to fellowship with God?
Closeness with the Lord can be lost if we become lukewarm in our love for Jesus, see the church of Laodicea to whom this verse is directed to. The context of Rev 3:20 is referred to those of the church of Laodicea that were lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, but were nonetheless, believers. That's why He portrays Himself as standing outside the door of our heart waiting to be invited in so that this sense of intimacy can be renewed. Disobedience can break that close fellowship, but it can be restored: by repenting, opening our heart's door anew to Him, and letting Him take full control once more.
Moreover, it must be noted: if any man hear my voice. Only His sheep hear His voice and respond, and He knows them, beforehand: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" Joh 10:27.
The non-believers cannot recognise the voice of the Master nor can they "hear", nor they seek Him, for it is written: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (Romans 3:11)
In the case of the Laodecians, they were His sheep, they were hearing His voice and He knew them personally, but they were following Him not, for their love had waxed cold and had become lukewarm. For this reason the Lord, in His infinite love and longsuffering, was exhorting them to renew their relation with God.
It seems clear that Rev 3:20 is directed to the <believers> rather than <unbelievers>, that is, specifically to the lukewarm believers of Laodicea, a type of modern church, and still now He exhorts all the lukewarm believer to renew their covenant with God and to become zealous for Him, again. If they were not believers why tell them: as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten, it would make no sense at all.
To apply this verse to "non Believers" in a global sense is to take the verse out of context and apply an ecclesiastic twisting. Such bending does not bring honour to God for it reduces Him to a poor idiot desperately imploring His creature to open the door to let Him in out of the cold. Is this our god?
And then how could He chastise anybody if He is not even permitted to enter? There is incoherence here.
Surely this is NOT the God of the Bible for the true God is Sovereign over all and does what He wants, in Heaven as on earth, an no one can stop his hand and say. "What are You doing?" And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35 ) Do you want a passage from the NT? Here it is: 22 But if God, desiring to show forth wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, 23 and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (Romans 9:22-23 LIT)
V21 - The one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father in His throne. This verse emphasises the most important points in Revelation. Jesus won as the lamp in being obedient to the Father even to death on the cross and is giving Himself as example to those who win. Hi obtained the victory in being obedient on the Cross Phi 2:8-9) and for this He has been exalted and has received a name above all other names. Revelation demonstrates that the same obedience is required from the saints. Peter shows Christ as our example as one that has suffered and has died unjustly on the cross, but He is now in Heaven seated to the right of the the Father with the Angels, Authorities and Powers, all subject to Him. (1Pe 2:13-25) Those that will suffer with Him, will also reign with Him: and made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign over the earth. (Revelation 5:10 LIT)
And night will not be there; and they have no need of a lamp or a light of the sun, because the Lord God will shed light on them. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5 LIT)
The Laodiceans were poor lunatics, in the most despicable moral squalor, but were stupidly vaunting themselves of queer riches. Those that lower themselves, winning their miserable egos, will seat at the table of the Lord and after, for ever, will seat with Him on His throne, in glory.
V22 - The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches. This formula Jesus has used many times to signify the importance of what has been said. Naturally Jesus does not refer to hearing the words in the natural mechanically, but to the understanding thereof and to posses them in the heart and to put hem to action.
The church of Laodicea was a church of believers that had lost their first love. Their well being and the easy life had moved them away from Christ, just the same as our churches in democracy.
The church of Laodicea represents very well our modern churches where the most important things are to make a beautiful home, have a good jib and go in Holydays, instead of making family and dedication to the Lord with all the heart, soul and mind.
The church of Laodicea was arrogant, full of herself and lunatic just like our churches that, like her, do not know it.
Jesus requires from her repentance and that she obtain pure gold of divine character, white clothing of holiness and eye salve to see the pitiful state in which she has fallen into.
Jesus is giving her another opportunity to walk in righteousness in front of Him. But the church is not lost for He says to her "as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten." asking to repent and have zeal.
For this reason Jesus is at the door, for He wants that the church repents, reforms and realises of her miserable state and returns to Him with humble attitude to be able to renew the association with Him over a meal.
The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches That is to say: I AM the Lord, the Eternal, The Lord your God.
Brothers and sisters, let us pray the Lord that He would sustain us in not falling into this spiritual misery, and, if we fall in it, the He would open our eyes and that He would grant us repentance to come out of it.