A Survey of Revelation: The Church at Laodicea

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:20 NKJV

Welcome to our final destination, Laodicea. Of all the churches, this seventh church possessed a strategic location in regards to commerce and trade. Consequently, it was very powerful and extremely wealthy; so rich, in fact, that they didn’t need finances from Rome to rebuild after an earthquake demolished the city. Secondly, it was famous for its black wool, which was woven into carpets and used for making luxurious clothing. Third, people with certain eye diseases came from far and wide for its famous eye treatments. The Phrygian eye ointment manufactured there was exported all over the Roman world.

However, Laodicea’s physical location had one major drawback: a lack of water. Aqueducts piped in water from miles away, but the end product contained lots of minerals that made it taste horrible. Even worse was its temperature: neither hot nor cold, but sickeningly lukewarm.

These three industries — finance, wool, and eye salve — directly played out in Christ’s stern words to this church.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” 

Revelation 3:14-19 NKJV

How Jesus describes Himself to Laodicea

Let’s be mindful of Christ’s description of Himself to each church, as it specifically relates to His messages to them. This is how He came to Laodicea:

  1. As the Amen, Jesus is God’s final word to the human race, the word of truth. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.
  2. Jesus is faithful and true, first to God, and then to us. As our faithful High Priest, He speaks only truth, and we can trust what He tells us. Psalm 33:4 says, For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
  3. Jesus is the source of God’s creation. Paul clarifies this in Colossians 1:15-17: The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Neither cold nor hot

Following His introduction, Jesus diagnosed this Laodicean church with the fatal disease of being lukewarm. Just as their piped-in water supply was tepid, so were their hearts toward God. Outwardly they appeared to check all the standard boxes, but the life-changing, transforming power that genuine faith produces was absent.

Due to their great wealth and material comfort, they considered themselves completely self-sufficient, lacking nothing. But Christ defined their spiritual condition as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. This implies the imagery of a naked beggar, homeless and shivering in a blizzard, penniless and blind. Quite the opposite from how the wealthy, comfortable Laodicean church regarded itself.

What about the vast wealth that many churches possess today? Money may make us feel powerful and safe, but that is pure deception. Laodicea’s condition was exactly the opposite of Smyrna’s, a poor church to whom Jesus said, I know your poverty, yet you are rich!” (Revelation 2:9). The Laodiceans suffered from spiritual blindness, unable to understand Christ’s true identity. They needed faith, the eyesight of the soul. Also, their nakedness implies sin patterns in need of a blood covering or atonement.

The remedy

What currency would destitute, spiritually empty beggars use?

“You there! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.”

Isaiah 55:1 NASB

Salvation is free for the asking. Every hungry and thirsty heart will be satisfied through Christ.

Christ’s counsel

  1. “…buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;This is the wealth found only in the crucifixion of Christ, spiritual riches of the kingdom of God that can never be taken away or lost. This gold is eternal for all believers.
  2. “…and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;” Jesus covers our sin (nakedness) with His righteous blood He purchased for us on the cross. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, we will stand before Him, clothed in His righteousness.
  3. “…and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Genuine faith opens our spiritual eyes to see the truth of God’s Word.
  4. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” As believers, we can rest assured that Christ will always come after us if stray or begin to grow lukewarm. Just like the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23, Jesus always searches for the one lost sheep and brings him back to the fold. His rebuke and chastening are for our good, to discipline us and train us to grow in His righteousness. Let us repent and turn from our sins, and may the fire of our first love burn brightly for the world to see.

Open the door to His wonderful promises

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Revelation 3:20-21 NKJV

These verses about Christ knocking at the door of our hearts are not only for evangelization, but they also apply to believers. The Laodiceans pushed Jesus outside the door of their hearts, forgetting how much they needed Him to survive. As believers, we need to be mindful of Jesus waiting for us to commune with Him through His Word and prayer. That is how we keep the fire burning brightly in our spirits.

‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 3:22 NKJV

Dear Father God, open our spiritual eyes and ears to Your truths. May the fire of Christ’s salvation burn brightly in our spirits. May we never turn lukewarm, making you want to vomit us out of Your mouth. Draw us back to You if we wander, and may we open the door of our hearts wide to invite You inside to commune with us and we with You. May we be overcomers and reign with You in Your eternal kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

A Survey of Revelation: The Church at Laodicea by Karen Jurgens copyright ©2023 All rights reserved.