What does Revelation 3:14-22 mean to us now?

This city of Laodicea was smug, confident, and indifferent to concerns outside of themselves, thinking they had it all. The Christians there reflected this attitude, ignoring our Lord. Thus, Jesus once again presents Himself as Sovereign and in control, as in how dare they feel they do not need the Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of the universe! He is the One who redeems and gives us everything we could possibly need, and to think we do not need Him is a grand insult to the One who saves and nurtures us! Even in His harsh rebuke, the fact that He was concerned enough to tell them shows His love and care for us all (Prov. 3:12)!

I guess no one bothered to answer the door! It is interesting to note that out of the seven churches, Sardis and Laodicea received no commendations, just the most condemnation from our Lord. It is even more interesting that both of these cities were completely uninhabited for centuries, including today, whereas the others are still inhabited. Laodicea today only hosts a few thermal resorts in the area.

A modern church, such as those at Sardis or Laodicea, is one that is well known, has a deep and rich history, that once embraced and worshiped Christ and proclaimed Him, that conducted missions and outreach, and built magnificent buildings. But now, they no longer teach the truth of the Scriptures, having replaced it with liberalism and political correctness to the exclusion of real biblical precepts. Such a church has fallen. They were once alive but now they are dead in their doctrines and the practice of their faith. Such a church is just a Christian Country Club where the name Christian is an oxymoron.

Do not force Jesus to stay outside of your church trying to get in!

Questions to Ponder:

1. How can indifference and the feeling that you do not need Christ play out in your personal life? What about in your church?

2. God is faithful and true; He is personal and reliable. How can these characteristics help fuel your passion for Him and to others about Him?

3. This letter is about self-deluded and complacent members of a church who refused to invite Christ into “their” church or to be a part of “their” activities and life and are now being called out by Him. How does a church get like that today? What can be done to turn such a church back to Christ?

4. Does your church leadership understand that the door is closed from our side and not His? Jesus promised us that when we are faithful, He is there amongst us. How can this help your church open wide the door for Christ?

5. Do you understand what He has been saying to you about how your church is and how your church can be? What can you do to open the door for Him, let Him come into the leadership, and set the direction of your church?

6. How important is enthusiasm in your personal growth? What about in your church? What can you do to be more enthusiastic for Christ? What can you do to be more earnest—to develop a more serious, deep-rooted, and determined faith?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org


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Exegetical look into Revelation 3:19-22

The churches we are a part of are made up of believers coming together in faith and grace to know, worship, grow, and share in Christ. It is not about us, even though it is us. It is all about who and what Christ is and has done. The church exists to promote and proclaim Christ. It is about Him; He is the Lord; He is within each of us. Christ was there amongst them just as He is here amongst us in His Church. The irony is that this church of Laodicea, like many today, rendered our Lord as the outsider, so He had to knock at the door of His own home! He does not force Himself in; rather, He waits for us to invite Him in.

· I rebuke… discipline. This is styled as an Old Testament rebuke from a Prophet of God for discipline (Job 5:17; Psalm 94:12; Prov. 3:11-12; Isa. 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 12:5-11).

· Be earnest/zealous, as in earnest surrender to His Lordship. We are to proclaim Him in truth, earnestly with zeal, and in love. However, are we as zealous for the Lord as those are who passionately oppose Christ? Do we take Christ seriously or does our complacency win out? Our being idle and not responding to our Lord is a very sad thing! When we refuse to model it to others, it shows that we have no compassion, no trust, no love, and no care for the One who has given so much of these things to us without merit (Matt. 9: 27-34; 10: 34-42; Rom. 9:30-10:4; James 1: 21-27).

· I stand at the door and knock is an image of our Lord knocking on the door of our hearts. It is a reference to His beckoning for us to come to Him and also a prelude to the “imminence” of His Second Coming. The request of Jesus is that the self-deluded and compliant members of a church who refuses to invite Christ into “their” church or be a part of “their” activities and lives are being called out by Him (Matt. 24:33; Mark. 13:29; James 5:8-9; Rev. 3:11; 22:7).

· Opens the door means being steadfast and persevering in faith, faithfully waiting for Christ and His return. This is also an image that our faith opens His door, our obedience keeps it open, but our pride closes it (Luke 12:35-38).

· I will come in and eat with him is a reference to the intimacy that sharing a meal was in the ancient cultures. (We have mostly lost this today.) Jesus is willing to commune with us! This means commitment such as how Christ has committed Himself to us and how we need to commit ourselves to Him (Matt. 24:33-42; John 10:1-4).

· He with me… is an invitation to join Him. He is the gracious Host who is friendly and seeks us, who are impoverished, as guests to a great and wondrous banquet (Rev. 2:7-20, 26; 5:10; 19:9).

· Him who overcomes. The door is closed from our side—not His! This is a promise that when we are faithful, He is there amongst us. No matter how far we stray from His path as a church, we can still open the door to Him. The key is to trust in Him (Psalm 110:1; Matt. 19:28; Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33-35; 1 Cor. 15:25; 2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; 1 John 5:1-5; Rev. 3:7-8; 20:4-6)!

· Sit with me. This is an image of sharing and partaking in His Kingdom as His viceroys, as servant leaders who represent the Living Lord. He is the One who exalts us by His grace, will, and purpose. It is never a force of will upon our part; if so, it is heinous pride!

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:14-18

The chief difficulty in the city of Laodicea was that there was no local water supply, so the water was piped in by aqueducts from hot springs at Denizli, six miles away to the south. So, when the water came into the city, it not only was no longer hot, but also was bitter and full of sediment. This became the complaint and lament of its citizens who had everything needed for a comfortable lifestyle except good, refreshing hot or cold water. John is challenging them about their spiritual condition that has turned into self-satisfaction and complacency. Jesus is the one who sustains and corrects us. He is calling us to be diligent with our faith so we will pursue Him with vigor and we will not bend over to unfaithfulness or indifference.

· The Church of Laodicea is now modern Pamukkale. It sits ten miles west off the cost from Colosse. In John’s time, it was an important, prosperous, and wealthy city known for its medical schools as well as its flourishing banking, and medical and textile industries. It was the capital of the “Cibryatic Convention,” a consortium of twenty-five townships. As with the other Roman cities, it had its temples and patron gods such as Apollo, Asclepius, Hades, Hera and Zeus. This city also had a significant Jewish population. Since no antagonism is mentioned, it is assumed they were “lukewarm” too. Some believe this was the place of the martyrdom of the Apostle Philip.

· The Amen, meaning a title for Christ as “the God of Truth,” is the affirmation of God’s truth that He is our promise. This denotes “the God of the Amen” from Isaiah. “Amen” usually means “so be it” or “most assuredly” (Isa 65:16; Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20).

· Faithful refers to a characteristic of God, who is faithful and true (as in, He is personal and reliable). He is One who is completely trustworthy and faithful (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5; 2:10-13; 3:14;19:11).

· The ruler/beginning of God’s creation is another title for Christ, showing us His divinity as He is first in “rank,” “who is the origin,” and “point of time.” He is not merely a created entity or first thing created; rather, He has always existed. In contrast, the Roman Emperor’s title was “Princeps” meaning the first one, as first amongst all Roman citizens. Christ is First not only among Christians, but also of the entire universe (Col. 1:15-16; 4:16; Rev. 1:8; 22:13).

· Neither cold refers to the preferable and refreshing impact that cold water has, and hot or “spiced” water, whereas lukewarm water does not refresh as much as it is nauseating.

· Nor hot. Hot water was preferred for washing and bathing and the hot springs that it was from was medicinal. Lukewarm water could neither satisfy the bather nor heal someone. Hot water then was a special treasure.

· Lukewarm. This is a call to us to be “refreshing” and “medicinal” and not allow complacency and/or smugness to rule how we come before God or treat one another. Jesus is not to be taken lightly!

· Spit/vomit you out of my mouth. John uses this as a parody that as the lukewarm water with its bitterness makes the people sick, the people’s spiritual condition makes God sick.

· You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” The city of Laodicea was so wealthy that when it was devastated by an earthquake in 60 A.D., they refused relief or help from the Roman government. The point here is that wealth and self-sufficiency can breed arrogance and make us feel we are good because of our accomplishments, and not realize our need for God. Wealth can be a great tool in the hands of pious, humble people. It can also be a major spiritual distraction to an insidious corrupting pressure that will blind people and destines them to be judged (Matt. 5:3; Rev. 2:9).

· Wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. We see here an image of immorality and lewdness; they were not necessarily engaged in such sins. Jesus uses this image to reprimand them and show them how heinous it is to be in spiritual poverty and lack righteousness. This was also an attack on the material goods and prosperity of the city in which its Christians took pride and comfort. They had wealth, fine clothes, and material goods, yet they were shamelessly naked before Christ (Rev. 19:8).

· Buy from me gold refined in the fire. This means that we are to trust in Him, not in our wealth or accomplishments. What we do brings us to complacency and creates spiritual deadness in both the believer and the church. Refined refers to building character and maturity through difficulties, whereas extravagance tends to build only self-righteousness (Job 23:10; 1 Pet. 1:6-7).

· White clothes. This was a contrast to the famous black wool that the city of Laodicea was famous for, and refers to our faith and obedience as being our clothing (Rev. 3:4).

· Salve to put on your eyes. Laodicea was known for its balms and medicinal powders and ointments that were revered all over the known world. It would have been an insult to say that they had good eye medication but were spiritually blind. They had good medical schools and aides, but were not able to mend their bankrupt spiritual condition. This is a call to allow God to heal us when we are sick in our spiritual formation (2 Pet. 1:9).

Revelation 3: 14-22

Introduction

“The Church of Laodicea!”

This was the church of indifference and foolishness, as they thought they did not need Christ. They thought they were good when they were really bad, and they were sad, as they had no enthusiasm for Christ. Jesus was just a nametag—an idol they pandered to but were neither “hot” (worshipful) nor “apostate” (hateful or misleading others). Jesus is LORD; He is faithful and is in control. He was there in the beginning creating and sustaining (John 1), yet these Laodiceans thought they were above Christ, that He was just a stepping-stone. They thought they had graduated and no longer needed a Lord or Savior. Jesus knew of their deeds; He saw that they were unresponsive and uninterested in His precepts and the work of the Spirit. Thus, they were not taking hold of the faith that was given them, but were countermanding His work by selling out to the world’s work. Jesus was so upset that He wished they would at least do something, either go all the way and be apostate, or revive in Him to be productive with their faith.

He called them on their unfaithfulness. And, since they were betraying His trust, they let down the Lord and their Savior, so He declared He would vomit them out! They thought they had no need for Christ, but oh how wrong they were. (How wrong we are when we have this mindset, as it is a violation of our trust in Christ.) He goes on to call them blind, poor, wretched, and naked—some of the worst things for a person in the ancient world to be called. Jesus was not doing this just out of anger; He was labeling them as they were. They were on the road to apostasy and they did not care. Yet even in His anger, Jesus was calling them back to His arms of love and care. Even when we are at our worst, He wants us back. Only our stubbornness can keep us from Him and place us in judgment. Judgment is something we do to and for ourselves. He wants us to buy His gold, to be His and His alone.

Jesus stands at the door of our souls and of our churches and asks us to open ourselves to Him and His ways. Yet, as with these Laodiceans, we can be hard and ignore Him. He wants us to hear Him and then obey Him, yet we so often place other things in the way so we cannot hear and thus do not obey. He will come into our church even when it is dead; He will eat with us, and share the ministry, rebooting and rebuilding. It is never too late to acknowledge and grow in Him while we still have breath in us. But, Jesus’ point was that we should not wait, but get busy in Him now! He wants us to be victorious for His glory!

What does Revelation 3: 7-13 mean to us now?

When we feel weak, we still have His strength, and our faith and resolve to continue to grow our faith will become a mighty pillar that others can look to for encouragement and as an example. We are His example to others; even at our lowest, we can excel for His highest. Let us understand what He has done for us so we can do our best to be faithful even in times of pressures, waiting, and uncertainty.

As with the Church of Philadelphia, each of us personally, and collectively as a local church, has a special provision in His heart. He deeply cares for us and wants us to take the opportunities He gives and make the most of them. Jesus has the authority to open up opportunities in ministry and service as well as exhibit His Fruit and character. In addition, Christ gives us the ability and gifting to accomplish that to which He calls us. Our Lord is genuine and true; there is no other god, deity, or object in all of creation or time that can match or copy Him. He is our authentic God, worthy to be adored and trusted. Our true God cannot be conjured up or manufactured. He is the “real deal.” All others are fabrications that are false, worthless, and meaningless. They only satisfy the lusts of sinful people who do not care what was truly revealed and done for us.

When God opens a door for you, the only one who can shut it is you! Do not allow your trepidations and past experiences rule how you will proceed in your life and call. We are not responsible for how others treat us. We are only responsible for being our best for His glory, to produce Fruit, and to be contagious for the faith. We cannot do that if we wallow in self-pity. Yes, we need times to rest and lick our wounds, but we are not to make a prison out of it, cutting ourselves off from His call and His best!

Questions to Ponder:

1. What would a church of “brotherly love” look like to you? How does it make you feel to know that Jesus has a special provision in His heart for your church?

2. Are you, or have you been worn out and in need of encouragement and hope? What can your Christian community do to help you? How do you find hope in the fact that even though your strength is depleted and no options may be visible to you, you are still in the hands of God?

3. What has Jesus given to your church in the way of opportunities and the empowerment to pursue them? What have you done to take advantage of them? How does taking the open door He gives you bring you joy and pleasure?

4. Many churches have given up and have closed; they have failed to persevere in Christ. What are some of the hardships that your church could face that might cause them to fail? What can be done to make sure your church continues to persevere and seek to please Him?

5. How do you deal with anxiety and disappointments? What can you do to look to Christ for perseverance? How can you prevent sufferings and past experiences from ruling you? How can deepening your walk with Christ help you understand that you can do it, He will help you to persevere?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:10-13

When others come against us, they are coming in opposition to Him. He knows about this, and will respond in His time. We may not feel it is the right timing, but we do not see all the interwoven circumstances, His grace, or His persistence. He wants us to trust Him and have the determination to press on with our faith and obedience. The Jews were giving this church a hard time, and they were worn out from it. However, Jesus was saying Do not fret or worry; I will take care of it. He will take care of you, too!

· Keep you from. The meaning here is that Christ will deliver and protect those who are faithful and righteous, who claim Him as Lord. Many commentators have taken sides with this verse saying Christians will be spared from the Tribulation. This is reading into the text what is not there. Keep does not mean to remove or prevent; it means to preserve (John 17:15; 1 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 7:3).

· The hour of trial. This is a way to say the “Apocalypse,” or times of extreme hardship, trials, suffering, and/or being tested. This phrase denotes a widespread, universal (as throughout the Roman Empire) suffering as opposed to a local persecution. This can also refer to the “Great Tribulation” and/or the “Great Judgment” (Rev. 2:9-10).

· To test those means we are purified and refined when we go through the consequences and essence of life. These have a purpose; nothing happens to us without a reason that is meant to teach and grow us (Job 23:10; Psalm 12:6; Prov. 17:3; Isa. 43:2; Jer. 11:4; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:4-28; Mark 13:19; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Pet. 1:5; 4:13; 5:1; Rev. 13:5-10).

· I am coming soon was a phrase used by the early church as a yearning for the Second Coming of Christ, that He could come sooner. Here, Jesus is saying hold on to your patience. This infers that Christ’s return is imminent, not necessarily in timing, but in His actual presence amongst us. Whatever we face, it is only for a season and then it will be over! Our hope is our relationship with Him and in His imminent return, not in what is going on around us (James 5:9: Rev. 1:1; 22:7, 12, 20).

· Crown means victory; we have triumph in Christ no matter what happens around us.

· Him who overcomes/one who conquers means ‘be faithful, ‘ referring to the winning of an athletic event or military campaign. The application for us is to persevere in the face of adversity, and so be better for it. (Rev. 2:7).

· Pillar refers to the faithful people of God who are stable and can support others. Pillars hold up large buildings. We, as the faithful, hold up Christ (as in glorifying Him), and we hold up others (as equipping and encouraging them). There is a “play on words” here because of the earthquakes (Ex. 24:4; Isa. 56:5; 1 Cor. 3:16; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5).

· Temple refers to the inner sanctum where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, rather than the whole of the temple building. This is where the presence of God dwelt (Lev 26:11-13; Rev. 4:6-8).

· Name of my God. This refers to the seal of God’s ownership, as names meant not only possessions, but also who possessed you and that person’s character (Rev. 14:1; 21:2, 10; 22:4).
· New Jerusalem refers to the city and its eminence in Jewish culture and faith. Being faithful is the key that opens to us the door to life in the New Jerusalem (Psalm 87:5-6; John 13:34; 16:33; Gal. 4:26; Phil. 1; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:1-22:5).
· Coming down is used figuratively to contrast where God rules from above and we, as humanity, live below. Also, it could be a possible reference to the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:7-9

· Church in Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia means “loyalty and devotion,” which we translate from the Greek word as “brotherly love.” This was the city’s way to reverence its gods, Artemis, Helios, Zeus, Dionysus, and Aphrodite, and the Roman emperors Attalus II and Eumenes II (220-130 B.C.) who were brothers. The city was devastated by frequent earthquakes and was destroyed in 17A.D., then rebuilt. However, it then had a smaller population than the other cities. This city is now called Alashehir. It was a city of some importance from John’s time through the Middle Ages because of its commercial centers and trade roads leading in and out, and was considered the gateway to Asia Minor.

· Holy and true refers to the deity of Christ, meaning that God is the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25; Hab 3:2-3; Mark 1:24; Rev. 6:10; 15:4; 19:11).

· Key of David is one title of Jesus Christ as the Messiah from the line of David. Key means the person who holds the authority of the house, connecting it with David, and denotes His authority to open and shut all things and that He is in command of His Kingdom. It also means that only Christ is authorized and able to lead and save us. Jesus uses this image to encourage them, that even though they have been excluded from the synagogue and from their friends and family, they are not excluded from Him! They are special and the real heirs to David (Isaiah 22:22; Hab. 3:2-3; Matt. 16:19).

· What he opens has two meanings. Our opportunities would be one; the other is His opening the door to the Kingdom in contrast to the Jews who shut it (Matt. 23:13; 1 Thess. 2:15).

· Little strength. This church has remained faithful throughout all of the devastating persecutions, but they are worn out, and need encouragement and hope.

· Synagogue of Satan means being apostate, opposing Christ, and refusing to heed the precepts of God’s Word and call; it means doing the opposite, which is one’s own will and agenda. A Synagogue was a place of worship, a place for learning and studying, and a place for community activities. Jesus refers to the local Synagogue, which, as with the Church of Smyrna, was very antagonistic to the Christians (John 8:39-44; 2 Cor. 11:14-15; Rev. 2:9-10).

· Claim to be Jews. These Jews were claiming that all the nations would eventually bow down to them because they were the real children of God by lineage and history versus the Christians, who were His real people by faith. To be His people means we accept His election by faith; thus by faith, as demonstrated by obedience, we are His children. This is compared to someone who just goes to a church, or says he or she is a Jew or Christian but never takes his or her faith seriously or for real. We either belong to Christ or to Satan; there is no middle ground (Psalm 72:10-11; Prov. 14:19; Isa. 49:23; 60:11-14; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 2:28-29)!

· Fall down at your feet refers to reverence and a posture of worship and of great respect and awe. Here, it means that Christians will be at Christ’s feet (Isa. 45:14; 60:14; Acts 10:25; Phil. 2:10; Rev 1:17).

· Acknowledge that I have loved you means that since Jesus loves you, you should not care who else does or does not. Also, the opponents of Christianity will be judged, so we are not to concern ourselves with those who oppress us; they will get what they deserve! We, who are His faithful, have received our place in His kingdom; the pretenders will not have a place (John 17:23).

Our bad experiences can be like a prison, keeping us within the bars we have made from fear, anxiety, and stress. Such a prison prevents our being stretched or experiencing any growth from learning, therefore preventing us from taking what we have been through and making it sweet and productive. Having persevered in the past helps us persevere in the future. The church at Philadelphia was able to do so, so we can, too. The key is to hold on even when we do not see any handles to grasp. When we hold on to Him, and Him alone, Christ will reward and keep us, and we will be victorious!