Revelation 3:14-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 13, 2001


I received quite a few things regarding Mother’s Day in my email this week …



In the hospital the relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their family member lay gravely ill. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber. I’m afraid I’m the bearer of bad news,” he said as he surveyed the worried faces. “The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, semi-risky and you will have to pay for the brain yourselves.” The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great length of time, someone asked, “Well, how much does a brain cost?”  The doctor quickly responded, “$5,000 for a male brain, and $200 for a female brain.” The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some actually smirked. A man, unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask, “Why is the male brain so much more?” The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and so to the entire group said, “It’s just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the price of the female brains, because they’ve actually been used.”

Laodicea – Lukewarm

:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;


The church in Laodicea is a picture of the church in the very last days before Jesus returns.


Three things the city was noted for:

1.  They were a wealthy city, a city of bankers. 
2.  They raised a special kind of black sheep in the area, and the shiny raven black wool cloth they made was world famous.
3.  They had a school of medicine in Laodicea that was famous for it’s medicines.
They had developed a special treatment of spices for the ears, and also had developed a salve for the eyes called collyrium which Aristotle called “Phrygian powder”.

Jesus’ Description

the Amen, the faithful and true witness

This comes from

(Rev 1:5 KJV)  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness ...

The church in Laodicea is going to hear a lot of things about themselves that they’re not going to want to hear.  To them, Jesus will remind them that He is a “TRUE” witness.  He’s telling the truth.

the beginning of the creation of God – better understood, “the origin of the creation of God” (Col. 1:16)

(Col 1:16 KJV)  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.


Besides Sardis, Laodicea is the only other church about which Jesus has nothing good to say.


cold nor hot

We often look at this as if “cold” is bad and “hot” is good.  But I’m not sure that’s the case here. “Cold” doesn't have to be bad.

In fact, the only other place in the New Testament where this Greek word for “cold” is used is found in:
Mt 10:42  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

It's definitely used in a good way here.

I think it helps to know the situation of the city.

Six miles to the north was the city of Hierapolis, which had become a kind of resort town by the Romans, because of its natural hot springs. 
The hot water was therapeutic, good for what ails you.
To the south, in Colosse, the water was cold.
And cold water is very refreshing.
The wealthy Laodiceans built an aqueduct to carry the hot water from Hierapolis, but by the time the water reached Laodicea, it was no longer hot, but lukewarm.

:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

spueemeo – to vomit, throw up.  Not a pretty picture. Have you ever taken a sip of something to find out that it wasn’t what you expected?  Pretty gross.


One mom writes,
My son Zachary, 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he’d dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a charming little smile, “We better throw this one out too then, ‘cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago.”
Pretty gross.  “Lukewarm” is gross. Jesus is now going to define “lukewarm” for us.

:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods,

I am rich – The ancient historian Tacitus records that when the city was hit by an earthquake in A.D. 60, they refused financial help from Rome to rebuild, because they were able to pay for it themselves.


The danger of wealth

It’s not impossible to be wealthy and be an “on fire” Christian.  But it’s very difficult.
Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy:
(1 Tim 6:9-10 KJV)  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. {10} For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

One of the issues is where your heart is.  Is it your consuming goal in life to get more wealth?  You don’t even have to be wealthy to struggle with this.

There’s a lot in our world that tells us that if we only had more money, more toys, more everything, that our lives would be happy and fulfilled.  What happens is that we get sidetracked from following Jesus.

When Thomas Aquinas visited Rome, and was shown the gorgeousness of the papal palace, it is said that the pope remarked to him, “Well, Thomas, the church in our day can not say, Silver and gold have I none.” “No,” replied Aquinas, “neither can she say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

:17  and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

wretchedtalaiporos – enduring toils and troubles; afflicted, wretched

miserableeleeinos – to be pitied, miserable

poor – spiritually poor

naked – Laodiceans had some pretty fine clothes, but in Jesus’ eyes, they’re naked.


It was Hans Christian Andersen that told the story of the Emperor and his new clothes.  The great emperor was a man who liked to impress people with his clothes.  He wanted to have a new suit, the finest in the world. A pair of swindlers told him they would make a suit out of a rare, invisible cloth and only those lacking wisdom could not see the cloth.  The emperor commissioned the new wardrobe.
Finally the day came for the emperor to show off his new clothes, and he began to parade himself around the streets, naked.  The people of the city didn’t have the courage to tell the emperor the truth.  It was a small child who was brave enough to remark, "The emperor’s naked!"

These people in Laodicea think they are well off, but spiritually they are doing horrible.


How needy are you?

The danger is when we stop caring about our spiritual walk.

Among the great number of books authored by C.S. Lewis is the highly provocative Screwtape Letters.  In it the devil briefs his nephew, Wormwood, on the subtleties and techniques of tempting people.  The goal, he counsels, is not wickedness but indifference.  Satan cautions his nephew to keep the prospect, the patient, comfortable at all costs.  If he should become concerned about anything of importance, encourage him to think about his luncheon plans; not to worry, it could induce indigestion.  And then this definitive job description:  “I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people.  Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with the people who do not care.”

:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;



True riches come from growing through your tough times

The Laodiceans thought that the size of their bank account determined their wealth.
Jesus says that there is something more valuable to be concerned with.
(1 Pet 1:6-7 KJV)  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: {7} That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Gold is refined by keeping it on the heat.  The impurities rise to the surface of the liquid metal and are scooped off by the goldsmith.  The goldsmith knows his gold is pure when he is able to see his own reflection in the molten metal.
Your ability to trust Jesus is more valuable than gold.  Your ability to trust in Jesus grows more and more valuable as you allow Jesus to change you through your tough times.
Don’t run from your problems, grow through them.
What kinds of impurities have been coming to the surface in your latest trials?

:18  and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;

raiment – clothing – in the Bible, “clothing” is a picture of our deeds.  Bad deeds are like filthy garments, good deeds are like fine white linen.


Clothe yourself in good deeds

Did you ever have one of those dreams where you found yourself at school without any clothes on?
The kind of clothes that Jesus is concerned about are the good deeds you do.
Keep in mind, Jesus is talking to wealthy people.  It’s not impossible for a Christian to be wealthy.  Paul gives Timothy some instructions for those that are wealthy:
(1 Tim 6:17-19 KJV)  Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; {18} That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; {19} Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Though you may not think so, if you live in Orange County, you are pretty wealthy according to the rest of the world’s standards.

:18  and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

eyesalvekollourion – a preparation composed of various materials and used as a remedy for tender eyelids.  This is the name of the eyesalve that the Laodiceans made.  Jesus says to use it.

It seems that sometimes the things we pride ourselves in are the things we don’t often really take advantage of.

The city of Laodicea was known for its eyesalve, yet these people are still blind. They were blind to the things of God, but they didn’t even know it.


Open eyes

Do we see the things that God cares about?
(Acts 3:1-8 KJV)  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. {2} And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; {3} Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. {4} And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. {5} And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. {6} Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. {7} And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. {8} And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
This man had been at the temple for years, but on this one day, Peter “saw” him.  Peter saw that God wanted to do something in this man’s life, and he reached out to touch him.
Do we see the needs around us?  Do we see the people that God is concerned about?
The king of Syria was upset that the prophet Elisha kept giving away his secret plans to the king of Israel.  So the king of Syria sent an army to get Elisha.
(2 Ki 6:15-17 KJV)  And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? {16} And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. {17} And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Do I have a clue as to what is going on in the spiritual world around me?  Can I see that God is on my side?

:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Jesus is being tough on this church, but it’s not because He doesn’t like them.  He loves them.


Pay attention to God’s rebukes

I am not a person who likes to be criticized.  I usually react pretty poorly to it.
Warren Wiersbe writes,
The Laodicean church was blind to its own needs and unwilling to face the truth. Yet honesty is the beginning of true blessing, as we admit what we are, confess our sins, and receive from God all that we need. If we want God’s best for our lives and churches, we must be honest with God and let God be honest with us.
We can learn a lot if we would just pay attention.

THINGS ONLY A MOM CAN TEACH (disclaimer:  Someone else wrote this, don’t blame me mom!)

My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE:

"What were you thinking? Answer me when I talk to you...Don't talk back to me!"

My Mother taught me LOGIC:

"Because I said so, that's why." & "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

My Mother taught me ESP:

"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you're cold?"

My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT:

"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

My mother taught me RELIGION:

"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

My mother taught me FORESIGHT:

"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM:

"Will you *look* at the dirt on the back of your neck!"

My mother taught me how to solve PHYSICS PROBLEMS:

"If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming toward you, would you listen then?"

My Mother taught me about JUSTICE:

"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you. Then you'll see what it's like."

But I need to pay attention when God puts His finger on something in my life.

:20 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.

Lit. - “Behold, I have stood and am still standing here, right up on top of this door, and am continually knocking”.

where’s the door?  your heart

sup – to sit down and have a meal with someone, speaking of intimacy, closeness, friendship.

These are the only two conditions for relationship to Jesus:

Hearing - Do you hear Jesus speaking to you?

Opening - He is a gentleman, He won't bust down the door if you won't open it.

Have you had Jesus knocking on the door of your heart this morning?


:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.


Jesus promises that we will rule and reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4).

:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


Whether or not you are living in Laodicea, if you have ears to hear, you ought to pay attention to what Jesus is saying to the church at Laodicea.