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!

Exegetical look into Revelation 2: 14-17

Balaam was a Midianite prophet, depicted in the book of Numbers, who knew and served God. However, he chose greed and his own desires over what God had gifted him with, and he used his gifts inappropriately. He lusted after riches and thus became a mercenary of greed who enticed the Jews to sin and compromise their faith and virtue, for which they were judged. His rational was that war could not defeat God’s chosen people, but if his people were subverting them to compromise and dishonor God, God would take away the Jew’s blessing and then they could be defeated. Balaam symbolizes gluttony and the seeking of evil, and was considered worse than an invading army. He was a man who wanted God’s and his. This was just what the church at Pergamum wasit both ways struggling with. Thus, this church, as did Balaam, engaged in what was futile and foolish (Num. 17; 22-25—especially 23:7; 24:5-9; and 31:1 -18; 31:8-16; Deut. 23:4; Josh. 13:22; Micah 6:5; Jude 11; Rev. 2:14).

· To the teaching of refers to following a person and not the Lord, or following human reasoning, pleas, rational, or logic, and not God’s Word. No matter how good or bad a Bible teacher might be, we are always to test the word of people against His Word. We are to follow Christ and not people; we are to learn from people, team up with and honor them, but not venerate them so that we take our purpose and direction from them rather than from God. Here, the Christians were being taught to compromise and placate to the city rules, forsaking God’s precepts and call.

· Balaam was also a Jewish proverbial saying for being foolish, seeking greed, and dishonorable character. He is the archetype of a false or corrupt teacher who deceived people and/or caused others to bow to worldliness.

· Entice means to subvert and manipulate someone to do what is against their values, usually from personal agendas and bad motives that are against God.

· Food sacrificed to idols referred to participating in pagan religious festivals and immorality (Acts 15:20, 29). Whereas, in 1 Corinthians 8:1-8, just eating the food left over from a sacrifice (which was freely given or sold in the public meat market) to avoid starvation was not wrong.

· Sexual immorality was common in paganism, and was reprehensible to pious Jews and Christians. It also refers to spiritual unfaithfulness.

· Otherwise, I will soon come to you refers to if you do not get right with God, you will be judged. It does not refer to the final judgment; rather, it involves chastisement, discipline, or censor. This does not mean if we fail at our churches, God will come back and usher in His Kingdom sooner!

· Sword of my mouth means to fight with the Word of God (Heb. 4:12).

· Who overcomes means to not fall prey to temptations or compromise one’s faith, and to abstain from pagan practices. By forsaking evil feasts, we can participate in heavenly feasts (1 Cor. 10:14-22).

· Hidden manna refers to the contents of the Ark of the Covenant that was lost in 586 B.C. (Jer. 3:16). Jewish tradition says that the jar of manna was hidden by Jeremiah, and in the final days, would be found. (From apocryphal literature, 2 Macc.4; Book of Baruch). This also refers that Jesus is the Bread of Life (Ex. 16:33-35; Psalm 78:24; John 6:32-58; Heb. 9:4).

· White stone means acquittal. In courts, a black stone was used to write out a person’s guilt and a white stone meant the person was innocent. It was also used for medical prescriptions, referring to healing and restoration. This also meant a pass for special festivity like an expensive ticket to a special event. The theme here is that God wants us to repent so He can acquit us and restore us. He does not want to judge us unless that is the only way because we refuse Him and refuse to change our wrong ways and sin (Gen. 17:5-15).

· New name denotes the authority God has over us. By renaming us as He did with Peter, He restores us to being new (Gen. 2:19-20; Isa. 62:2; 65:15; Matt. 1:25).

· Known only to. Knowing a person’s name means we have knowledge of and influence on them. In ancient cultures, it also meant gaining power over a person. It also refers to His protection over us (Mark 5:9).