In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this letter to the church in Laodicea below.
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”
Notes: Laodicea was situated in the valley of the Lycus, near Colosse and Hierapolis. Paul mentions these three churches in the letter to the Colossians, hinted that it was planted by Ephaphras (Colossians 4:12-13). The site of the ancient city is uninhabited today, but excavations reveals its exuberant wealth through trade, banking and much sought-after wool and pharmacological industries, its complex water supply systems through open and closed aqueducts (leaving it lukewarm), and its pagan worship culture of Apollos, Artemis and the Roman Imperial Cult (i.e. worship of Rome and its Caesars). So wealthy and arrogant was this city in the first century that that the inhabitants refused imperial help after an earthquake destroyed a big part of Laodicea, and promptly rebuilt it themselves.
- Complete the Revelation seriestable below by answering these questions:
- How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
- What does Christ commend in this congregation?
- What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
- What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
- What does Christ warn this congregation of?
- What does Christ promiseto this congregation?
- How would you describe Jesus’ tone in this message?
- Considering verse 19; why is Jesus so stern with this congregation?
- Consider Jesus’ words in verses 15-16
- What does a church look like that is “neither hot nor cold”?
- Can you discern Jesus’righteous judgment in these verses?
- Can you discern Jesus’mercy in these verses?
- How does these two verse make you feel, and why?
- Consider Jesus’ accusation in verse 17, and summarize the attitude of the church.
- How did the spirit of the church in Laodicea compare to that of the city?
- In which way do you think this church was “poor, blind, and naked”? How does such a church look?
- Consider Jesus’ exhortations in verses 18 and 20: how could one be restored from such a pitiful state as the Laodiceans practically?
- What is Jesus calling this church to “overcome”?
Evidently the wealth and arrogance of the Laodiceans have tainted the humble dependence of this church, dimming the light of the gospel in this city.
- In which way have you seen how material affluence have ruined sincere worship and intimate relationship with God?
- What was the actual issue which came with earthly richess which Jesus condemned? (Hint: what does Jesus counsel this “materially prosperous” church to do? Verse 18)
- What does the accusation “you are lukewarm – I want to spit you out of My mouth!” make you feel? Why?
- How should you respond from these stern words?
Thank the Lord that he “reproves and discipline the one he loves.” Is there any passivity or apathy that have crept into your heart? Then confess it and repent of it now.
Respond to the Lord’s invitation of intimacy (verse 20) invite him into your life to feast with you!