Author: Ron Graham
Message to Laodicea
The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >Seven Churches >Seventh Message, Laodicea
We conclude our study of the seven messages to the churches of Asia recorded in Revelation 2-3. The final message is addressed to Laodicea, the lukewarm church (Revelation 3:14-22).
1 From Christ to the Laodiceans
Laodicea A city near Colossae and Hierapolis. It was a centre for fine wool, ointments, banking, among other things. It had a water supply channelled from hot springs. The water arrived lukewarm.
The Amen Jesus calls himself here "the Amen, the faithful and true Witness...". The word "Amen" is a Hebrew word meaning "true".
In this title of Christ, the use of "Amen" simply reinforces the verity of the testimony of Christ, "the faithful and true witness" (cf Revelation 1:2,9).
Beginning of the creation Jesus again refers to himself as "the beginning". As we have seen, he is "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13).
Jesus Christ, the Beginning: By calling himself "the beginning of the creation of God", Jesus does not mean that he is the first being ever created by God. He is the beginning "and the end", the first "and the last".
So what Jesus means is that he is the source or origin of all creation (John 1:1-3, Colossians 2:16-18, Revelation 1:5).
By becoming a human being, however, the eternal Son of God became part of the very creation of which he himself was the origin.
And by rising from the dead and ascending to the right hand of God, he is the "firstborn of all creation" (Acts 26:23, Romans 8:29 1Corinthians 15:20-23, Colossians 1:15).
His title, "the beginning of the creation of God", carries this idea as well. He is the beginning not only of the present creation, but of the eternal and glorious new heavens and new earth to come (Revelation 21:1-7).
2 The Exhortations
I know... Jesus assessed the Laodiceans by their deeds, and found that they were lukewarm, "Neither cold nor hot".
...out of my mouth Jesus threatens to spit these Laodicean Christians out of his mouth, to reject and repudiate them.
This develops that part of the vision in which John saw a sharp two-edged sword coming out of the mouth of Christ, and this sword was the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 1:9,16).
So when Jesus threatens to spit the Laodiceans out of his mouth, he emphasises their failure to abide by, and be zealous of, his word.
rich... poor The Laodiceans thought they were rich, however Jesus tells them they are miserably poor. There are two ways this could have happened.
- (1) They may have been materially rich and thought that their financial wealth was a sign of God’s approval.
- (2) They may have thought they were rich in knowledge when they had mixed superstition and vain philosophy with the gospel.
Buy of me... Jesus has described the Laodiceans as "poor and blind and naked" (verse 17). So he tells them to buy from him...
- gold (because they are poor). Gold represents the heavenly inheritance in the glorious kingdom of Christ.
- white garments (because they are naked). White garments represent the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice that Christ.
- eye salve (because they are blind). Eye ointment represents the spiritual healing and restoration of spiritual insight which Christ can provide in this world of darkness and ignorance.
But if they are "poor", how can they "buy"? Well of course it is Jesus who paid the price for our redemption, and if he redeemed us then he owns us as his slaves.
As our Owner and Master, he looks after our welfare in a manner unimaginably kind and generous: he gives us gold and fine linen to wear, and healing balm —and everlasting happiness. Wonderful is our redeemer. Praise his name!
Love... discipline The reproof of Christ may seem harsh, however he assures us that his discipline comes from love as all necessary discipline does.
Be zealous Jesus here clarifies the nature of the lukewarmness for which he has criticised the Laodiceans. They lacked zeal. Jesus sees this as a sin, because he tells them to repent.
We cannot be regarded as righteous unless we have a passion and enthusiasm for Christ and his gospel. Heaven is not for the half hearted.
I stand at the door... Jesus closes his messages to the seven churches with a lovely invitation. And yet he also seeks an invitation.
Jesus has the power to "open the door" himself. After all, he has the keys and what he opens none can shut (Revelation 3:7). Instead he stands at the door and knocks.
Jesus invites, encourages, disciplines, instructs, and says, "I advise you..." (verse 18). But he does not force himself on us. He gently knocks and calls, and waits for us to open the door to him. Only then will he come in (cf John 14:23).
3 The Promise
I will dine...; Christians love to eat together, and often do, because sharing a meal and sitting at table together is a symbol of fellowship.
In the words "I will dine with him and he with me" we feel the lovely friendship that Jesus offers us. How could anybody refuse such a friend as this?
My throne There is a wonderful contrast between the promise in this verse, and Jesus's request in verse 20 for us to open the door to him.
When Jesus knocks, if we let him in, not only will he come in to dine with us in the humble abode where we are, but one day he will return the favour, and take us into his own palace, where nothing will be shut to us. He will even let us sit with him on his throne.
Christ dining with us now, and we sitting with him on his throne then, are symbols of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit now and the glories to come of which it is a pledge and foretaste (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2Corinthians 1:22).
The First Vision Ends
As Jesus closes his final message in this first vision (Revelation 3:20-22), he anticipates the next vision which John is about to see, a vision in which John is carried up in spirit into the throne room of heaven.
One day all faithful Christians will be granted that ultimate privelege, not merely in a passing vision, but in reality and for all eternity.
Jesus gently reminds us, finally, of his supreme power and glory. "I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne".
Here at the end of the first vision, there is also a reminder of the chain that we observed at the beginning. The vision came from God through Christ, through and angel, to John and through him to us. The testimony which this vision brings results in power and glory for all who will hear it.
Just as the message comes from God through Christ to us, so does the power and the glory in which we will be priveleged to share, when we take our reserved place among the glorious throng who praise him in his very presence.