Lesson 18 – Revelation 3:14-22

Lesson 18 – Revelation 3:14-22

by | Feb 21, 2005 | Uncategorized

Lesson 18 - Revelation 3:14-22 [55:49]

by Roy Schwarcz

Revelation 3:14-22 Laodicea – Laodicea was located on an important crossroads which allowed the city to prosper in banking, commerce, and the manufacturing of clothing. It had a medical school and was noted for its production of a salve used to cure eye diseases (Revelation 3:18). Like the rest of the Churches of Revelation the church at Laodicea, was probably also established during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:10), perhaps through the work of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12-13).

Israel’s sin of unbelief and rebellion is similar to the history of the church. There are many people in congregations who may be sincere, zealous, and outwardly religious, but they reject the truth of the gospel. They likely have been taught well from the Scriptures but fail to believe or obey. As a result, they face the same consequences that unbelieving Israel faced.

The church at Laodicea is one of the most rebuked by the Lord. It seems that there were no true Believers at Laodicea and was a Church that Yeshua had no positive word of commendation. The seriousness for Laodicea to respond to this letter cannot be overemphasized but like Israel and her response to the prophets they would have the same response.

Laodicea was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. In A.D. 61 it was devastated by an earthquake; but because the city was so rich and independent they refused help from the Roman government and rebuilt their city. No wonder that Laodicea could boast that it was rich and had amassed wealth and had need of nothing. It was so wealthy that it did not even need God.

This letter to the Laodiceans has much in common with Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. Colossae was not far from Laodicea, so it is likely that the same heresy plaguing the Colossians had made its way to Laodicea (cf. Colossians 4:16). The heresy, a form of gnosticism (from the Greek word gnosis, ” knowledge “), taught that Christ was a created being.

Its proponents also claimed that they possessed a secret, higher spiritual knowledge above and beyond the simple words of Scripture. Combating that heresy Paul wrote Colossians 1:15-17 declaring that He is the ” Firstborn ” which not only speaks of being the first born chronologically, but refers to the supreme or preeminent one receiving the highest honor (Psalm 89:27). This heresy about the person of Christ was one of the main reasons the Laodicean church was spiritually dead. This false teaching denying His deity, is a characteristic of modern cults.

Revelation 3:15-17 – Since there was nothing for which to commend Jesus spoke of His concerns about this dead church. Deeds reveal our true spiritual state (Matt. 7:16). Though salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone, deeds confirm or deny the presence of genuine salvation (James 2:14).

The Lord knew their deeds and that they demonstrated that they were an unregenerate church. They were rebuked for being lukewarm this metaphor is drawn from Laodicea’s water supply. Because it traveled several miles through an underground aqueduct before reaching the city, the water arrived foul, dirty, and tepid. It was not hot enough to relax and restore, like the hot springs at Hierapolis.

Nor was it cold and refreshing, like the stream water at Colossae. Comparing its spiritual state to the city’s foul, tepid water, was a very strong rebuke: because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Some churches make the Lord weep, others make Him angry; the Laodicean church made Him sick. Hot people are those who are spiritually alive and possess the fervency of a transformed life.

The spiritually cold, on the other hand, are best understood as those who reject Jesus. They have no interest in Jesus, His Word, or His church. And they make no pretense about it; they are not hypocrites. The lukewarm fit into neither category. They are not genuinely Believers, yet they do not openly reject the gospel. They attend church and claim to know the Lord. Like the Pharisees, they are content to practice a self-righteous religion; they are hypocrites playing games (Matthew 7:22-23; Romans 10:2; 2 Timothy 3:5).

Self-righteous hypocrites are more difficult to reach with the gospel than cold-hearted rejecters. The latter may at least be shown that they are lost. But those who self-righteously think that they are saved are often protective of their religious feelings and unwilling to recognize their real condition. They are not cold enough to understand their sin. As a result, there is no one further from the truth than the one who makes an idle profession but never experiences genuine saving faith. No one is harder to reach for Messiah than a false Believer (Matt. 21:31).

Their lukewarmness was compounded by their self-deception. They were rebuked them for their inaccurate self-assessment: Because you say, ” I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, ” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Their deeds showed that their words were empty. Like the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22 ), they were deceived about their actual spiritual condition.

Revelation 3:18-22 – Jesus could have instantly judged and destroyed this church but instead, He offered them salvation. Speaking to the three features that Laodicea was most noted for and proud of: its wealth, wool industry, and production of eye salve, Jesus offered them spiritual gold, spiritual clothes, and spiritual sight. To buy here is to receive with one’s life the Gospel (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus told the Laodiceans to buy from Him three things, which symbolize true redemption; gold refined by fire so that they might become rich.

They needed gold that was free of impurities, representing the priceless riches of true salvation (1 Peter 1:7). Secondly, to buy white garments to clothe themselves; Laodicea was known for its black wool, which symbolized the filthy garments (Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:3-4). God clothes the redeemed with white garments (Zechariah 3:4-5; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9,13-14 ; Isaiah 61:10), symbolizing the righteous deeds that always accompany genuine saving faith (Revelation 19:8).

Finally, the Lord offered them eye salve to anoint their eyes so that they might see. Though they prided themselves on their superior spiritual knowledge, the Laodiceans were in fact spiritually blind. Blindness represents lack of understanding and knowledge of spiritual truth (Matthew 15:14; 23:16-17; John 9:40-41;12:40; Romans 2:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11).

The Laodiceans needed the Lord to “open their eyes so that they might turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God (Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 2:9). He called them to be zealous and repent. Calling them to the attitude of mourning over sin and hungering and thirsting for righteousness of which Jesus spoke (Matthew 5:4,6). In repentance, the sinner turns from his sin to serve God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Following the call to repentance there is a tender, gracious invitation in Revelation 3:20. Rather than coming in judgment they are told that Jesus stood at the door of the Laodicean church and knock ed; if anyone in the church would hear His voice and open the door, He would come in to dine with him.

Though this verse has been used in tracts and evangelistic messages to depict Christ’s knocking on the door of the sinner’s heart, it is broader than that. The door on which Christ is knocking is not the door to a single human heart, but to the Laodicean church. We can rightly apply it though evangelistically.

The Greek has three meals in the day. There was, breakfast, which was no more than a piece of dried bread dipped in wine. There was the midday meal simply a picnic snack eaten by the side of the pavement, or in some colonnade, or in the city square. Then there was the evening meal; the main meal of the day; people lingered over it, for the day’s work was done.

It was this meal that Jesus would share with the man who answered his knock, no hurried meal, but that where people lingered in fellowship. This invitation speaks of fellowship, communion, and intimacy. Sharing a meal in ancient times symbolized the union of people in loving fellowship. Believers will dine with Messiah at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), and in the millennial kingdom (Deuteronomy 12:7; Luke 22:16, 29-30).

Revelation 3:21-22 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The wonderful promise to he who overcomes (all believers; Revelation 2:7,11,26;3:5,12;1 John 5:5) is that Christ will grant to him to sit down with Him on His throne, as He also overcame and sat down with the Father on His throne. To enjoy fellowship with Christ in the kingdom and throughout eternity is sufficient blessing beyond all comprehension. But Christ offers more, promising to seat believers on the throne He shares with the Father (cf. Matt. 19:28;Luke 22:29–30). That symbolizes the truth that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:3).

The right to sit with Christ on His heavenly throne is but one of the many promises made to overcomers in the letters to the seven churches.

Overcomers are also promised the privilege of eating from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7), the crown of life (Revelation 2:10), protection from the second death (Revelation 2:11), the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17), a white stone with a new name written on it (Revelation 2:17), authority to rule the nations (Revelation 2:26-27), the morning star (Revelation 2:28), white garments, symbolizing purity and holiness (Revelation 3:5), the honor of having Christ confess their names before God the Father and the holy angels in heaven (Revelation 3:5), to be made a pillar in God’s temple (Revelation 3:12), and to have written on them the name of God, of the new Jerusalem, and of Christ (Revelation 3:12).

The letter to the Laodiceans closed with Christ’s exhortation, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The message to the apostate church is obvious: repent, and open up to Christ before the night of judgment falls. The implication for true believers is that, like Christ, we must compassionately call those in the apostate church to repent and receive salvation in Jesus Christ (cf. Jude 23).

Every letter finishes with the words, “Let him who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” This saying does two things; it individualizes the message of the letters. It says to every man: “This means you.” So often we listen to a message which and apply it to everyone but ourselves. In our hearts we believe that the stern words cannot possibly be meant for us and that the promises are too good to be true for us. This phrase says to every one of us: “All these things are meant for you.”

It also generalizes the message of the letters. It means that their message was not confined to the people in the seven Churches nineteen hundred years ago, but that through them the Spirit is speaking to every man in every generation. We have set these letters carefully against the local situations to which they were addressed; but their message is not local and temporary. It is eternal and in them the Spirit still speaks to us.

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