Seven Churches – Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church
In writing to the seven churches, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John, drew spiritual applications from the natural surroundings in which the people found themselves.
To the Laodiceans it was written: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Verse 16).
Laodicea, directly east of Patmos from which John wrote, was in the Lycus Valley. Its water was obtained from the hot springs nearby. Tumbling over rocks and cliffs, it was lukewarm by the time it reached the city.
Other references to the city’s status are given:
- It was a banking center – “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods … I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire (Verses 17 and 18).
- Sheep grown in the valley produced luscious wool, making Laodicea a clothing center – they were told to buy “white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed” (Verse 18).
- The city had a medical school and made eye salve – Jesus said “Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see” (Verse 18).
Material prosperity and affluence characterized this city, but they were warned that spiritually they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Verse 17).
Perhaps even worse than these characteristics is the attitude which says, “I have need of nothing” (Verse 17). God can meet the need of the miserable, poor, blind and naked, but there is no hope for the individual, the city, or the nation that says they have no need of God.
God’s mercy is indeed longsuffering for He issues to this church an invitation of fellowship that He does not include in any of the other letters: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Verse 20).
“These things saith … “
- “The Amen” – Once in the New Testament “Amen” is a title of Christ, Revelation 3:14, because through Him the purposes of God are established, 2 Corinthians 1:20 (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
- “The faithful and true witness” – this is an amplification of the word “Amen”, as one of the definitions of “Amen” is: “God is faithful”.
- “The beginning of the creation of God” – John 1:1-2
There is nothing to commend them for.
“I know thy works … “
- “Thou art neither cold nor hot” – be either for Me or against Me, but not apathetic.
- “Thou art lukewarm” – implies that they were once hot and then cooled off.
- “Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods” – spiritual pride. Material prosperity had become idolatry to them. It is possible to be rich and yet not make money an idol, or to put your trust in riches. It all depends on the condition of the heart.
- “And have need of nothing” – this is the epitome of the independent or prideful spirit.
- “Knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” – they didn’t know their own position before God.
- “I counsel thee to buy of me” – I advise you to purchase from me these things:
- “gold tried in the fire” – deity, purity, divine nature
- “that thou mayest be rich” – spiritually rich
- “white raiment” – marriage garment
- “that thou mayest be clothed” – fit to come into my presence
- “eye salve” – revelation of God, insight into the Word of God
- “that thou mayest see” – see God for who and what He is and then see your spiritual condition
- “Be zealous … and repent” – chastening is for sons and daughters because of love; Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:5-11.
“To him that overcomes” …
Will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and have sat down in My Father’s Throne” – to him who overcomes he shall sit where I sit, having the same power and authority that I have.
The highest promise given to the seven churches is for the ones that can overcome the apostasy of the last days.