Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. In his vision, Jesus instructed him to write a message on a scroll and send it to the seven churches of Asia Minor. Notice that it was a circular letter written on one scroll that went to the first church and was circulated to the other churches in this order because of their locations. (See the map below).
Each church was given commendations if it had done something remarkable. It was criticized for what it did that was not pleasing to God. The churches were advised to repent and do better. Finally, all churches received promises provided they did what they were instructed to do.
This article outlines what Jesus instructed John to write to the church at Laodicea based on what the members were doing.
The Church at Laodicea
Everything regarding the church at Laodicea is recorded in Revelation 3:14-22. The church was located in a city that was economically wealthy with its banking industry, the manufacturing of wool, and a medical school that produced eye salve. Laodicea was a rich city and so were members of the church.
That church has been described as the "Lukewarm church." That's because it was neither hot nor cold. In other words, it was complacent without any zeal for God at all.
Jesus' message to the church at Laodicea was the harshest of them all. The church at Laodicea was the only one of the seven churches that received no commendation.
Jesus told John to itemize His criticisms of the church. According to Revelation 3:15, the members of this church boasted about their riches. They saw themselves as being self-sufficient. God didn't see it that way. While they saw themselves as rich, God saw them in a different way. He saw them as poor and spiritually bankrupt as well as being naked, blind, and wretched.
Another criticism about that church was that it was full of hypocrites who pretended to be genuine Christians even though they weren't. Their faith was not in God. It was only in what they could do for themselves. They were neither hot nor cold. Jesus said He would prefer it if they were one or the other. He said their lukewarm attitude put a bad taste in His mouth that was making Him sick. Some versions of the Bible say Jesus threatened to "spew it out of His mouth." Some versions of the Bible say, "spit it out of His mouth." Some versions say, "vomit it out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).
Members of the Laodicea church were advised to cover themselves with spiritual clothes to cover their nakedness as well as to use God's spiritual medicine to be healed from their blindness instead of relying on the eye salve the city was manufacturing.
Because of Jesus' love for members of the church, He promised to enter into their hearts if they would allow Him to do so. He said He would stand at the door and knock and if any man would hear His voice and open the door, He would enter and they would sup together (Revelation 3:20).
If the Laodiceans opened the door for Jesus to come in, then He would prepare a place for them on His throne.
Seeing Things Differently
Jesus did not see the Laodiceans the same way as they saw themselves. In fact, He saw the church as being distasteful because they relied on their wealth of the city instead of on God. They were complacent and indifferent without any zeal for God and the things of God.
John wrote to the church to pray for gold refined in the fire (Revelation 3:18). He also advised the church to pray for white clothes to wear in order not to be spiritually naked.
Even though there were criticisms against the Laodiceans, God is a just and faithful God. He gave them a chance to repent (Revelation 3:19) and develop an intimate relationship with Jesus so they would no longer be lukewarm.
Most people know what it is for something to be lukewarm. They like their cup of coffee to be piping hot. They prefer their coffee to be hot if they order it hot in a restaurant. It just doesn't satisfy after it becomes lukewarm. Then there is ice coffee that is meant to be cold and not lukewarm. If they order a glass of iced coffee, they will probably send it back if it is served lukewarm.
The church at Laodicea was not hot. The church at Laodicea was not cold. It was in between those two temperatures.
Lessons From the Church in Laodicea
- It is not good to be a lukewarm Christian.
- It is never good to be self-sufficient without God.
- It is not good to be complacent about God.
- Rely on God instead of on your wealth.
- Never think you don't need God because your wealth might be gone one day, but God is everlasting.
- God said He would discipline the Laodiceans not to punish them but to get them to turn to Him for their needs.
- God doesn't want people to be lukewarm, straddle the fence or be in the middle of the road. He wants dedicated people to serve Him.