Revelation 3:14-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 11, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

BaptismToday.  Celebration of changed lives.

Play 9/11 Video – pray for our nation

John the apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos where he sees a vision of Jesus walking among lamp stands. We’ve seen this as a picture of Jesus acting like a priest who would every day clean, refill, and relight the lamps in the Temple.

These letters are Jesus’ way of cleaning and refilling us, His lamps.

3:14-22 Laodicea

:14 “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:

:14 Laodicea – “justice of the people”

Play “Laodicea Map” video.

John has been writing letters from Jesus to seven of the churches in Asia Minor, modern Turkey.  Laodicea is the last city.
Laodicea was established around 260 BC by Antiochus II Theos and named after his wife Laodice.
There was a major trade route that ran from the city of Ephesus through the Lycus River valley.  It ran right through the city of Laodicea.
It is thought that the church was established by Epaphras, who was from Colossae, 8 miles further up the valley. 
Six miles to the north of Laodicea was the city of Hierapolis.

The city became quite prosperous because of its place on the trade route and because of the valley’s famous black wool.  It was also a banking center for large financial transactions.

They developed a taste for the arts and even built a great medical school.

The region suffers from earthquakes.  When the city was destroyed in AD 60 by a giant earthquake, they refused help from Rome and rebuilt with their own money.

In John’s day Laodicea was under the rule of Rome.

Around 200 BC, Antiochus the Great had transported about 2,000 Jewish families into the area of Asia Minor and a large portion of Laodicea was made up of Jews.  For a period of time they even established a pattern of sending 20 pounds of gold a year to Jerusalem for the upkeep of the Temple.  The Jewish community may be one of the connections as to why a strong church developed in the city.

:14 the Faithful and True Witness

Church history tells us that one of the leaders of the church in Laodicea was a fellow named Diotrephes.  He may have been the pastor of the church at this time.  John wrote about him in another of his letters:

 (3 Jn 9–11 NLT) —9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. 11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

The church may not like what Jesus is going to say, but it’s going to be the truth.

:15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

:15 I knoweido – to see; to perceive; to know

Jesus has used this phrase (“I know your works”) with each of the seven churches.  He has evaluated each church by the “works” that He “sees”.

You can tell a lot about a person's life by their works, their real works. Not just the works that people see, but the works that Jesus sees (with His xray vision!)


Peter Drucker was a man famous for the study of management.  He is known by many as the “Father of modern management”.  He wrote 39 books, was a college professor at Claremont College, and consulted with companies like General Electric, Coca-Cola, IBM, and Intel.  What some don’t realize was that Peter Drucker was also a Christian.
Peter was asked by a reporter, “Peter, are you a Christian?” Peter’s response was, “That is not for me to tell you. It is for you to tell me.” He is from the old theological tradition handed down for over 1,900 years that “you will know they by their fruits...” “you will know them by their love...”
Some criticized Drucker for not being more vocal about his commitment to Christ, but I think there’s a sense in which he had it right.  Our “works” ought to display whether or not we are following Jesus.

:15 coldpsuchros – cold, cool

:15 hotzestos – boiling hot, hot

:16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

:16 lukewarmchliaros – tepid, lukewarm

:16 vomitemeo – to vomit, vomit forth, throw up

:16 cold nor hot

Everyone knows what Jesus means when He talks about being “hot”

Hot is being “on fire” for God.  It’s being passionate for God.

The question is what it means to be “cold”.  Jesus wishes they were either hot or “cold”.

Some suggest that “cold” is talking about someone who doesn’t know God.
The person who is clearly against Christianity at least know where he stands.  He knows he doesn’t believe.

Why would Jesus wish they were “cold”?  If they were “cold” like this, then at least they would realize they don’t have God in their lives, something that God can then challenge and work with.

I prefer to think of “cold” as “refreshing”.
It’s the contrast with “lukewarm” and the people of Laodicea would understand something about this – let me explain …

Play “Hierapolis” video

Six miles north of Laodicea, across the valley, is the city of Hierapolis.  Hierapolis was famous because of its natural mineral hotsprings.  People came to bathe in the hot mineral waters for the health benefits.

:16 you are lukewarm

Apparently the Laodiceans built an aqueduct across the valley to carry this hot water from Hierapolis to their city.  You can still see remnants of pipes that are clogged up with mineral deposits.

When the water got to Laodicea, it was no longer hot.  It was lukewarm.

Some things don’t taste so good when they are lukewarm.

Cold milk tastes great.  It’s refreshing
Some people like to drink warm, heated milk to help them sleep at night.
But drink lukewarm milk that someone forgot to put back in the refrigerator and has been sitting out on the kitchen counter all afternoon … yuk!

:17 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—

:17 richplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources

:17 have become wealthyplouteo – to be rich, to have abundance

Perfect tense.

:17 needchreia – necessity, need

:17 wretchedtalaiporos – enduring toils and troubles; afflicted, wretched

:17 miserableeleeinos – to be pitied, miserable; from eleos – mercy

:17 poorptochos – reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms

:17 blindtuphlos – blind

:17 nakedgumnos – unclad, without clothing, the naked body

:17 and have need of nothing

Laodicea was the wealthy city that didn’t need help to rebuild after an earthquake.

Jesus is saying that the church might think they have no needs, but they do.

It’s really sad people don’t realize they have a problem.
PlayBad Idol” clip.
That may be funny when you’re watching American idol, but it’s very, very sad when a believer or a church has a problem and doesn’t realize it.
This church (and city) thinks they’re well off, but in fact they have some huge problems.

:18 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.

:18 I counselsumbouleuo (“with” + “to deliberate”) – to give counsel; to take counsel with others, take counsel together, to consult, deliberate

:18 to buyagorazo – to be in the market place, to attend it; to do business there, buy or sell

:18 refinedpuroo – to burn with fire, to set on fire, kindle; melted by fire and purged of dross (perfect tense)

:18 firepur – fire

:18 may be richplouteo – to be rich, to have abundance

Jesus asks the church to “buy” three things:

:18 gold refined in the fire

Literally, “gold refined out of the fire”.  Gold is made more valuable with fire. The word translated “refined” comes from the word for “fire” because refining happens in the fire.


Faith from difficulty

I believe the “gold” Jesus is talking about is our faith, our trust in God.
God doesn’t want us to have a shallow faith, but faith that has been refined and strengthened in difficult times.
God is looking for people who will trust Him during the storms of life.

Play Ship in Storm videos.

Some of us watch other people go through stormy seas and it looks pretty bad. Things look a little different when you’re the one on the stormy sea.

Peter and the other disciples were on the Sea of Galilee during a storm.  Jesus came to them walking on water.  Peter tried to get out of the boat and walk with Jesus.  When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.
Peter wrote later,
(1 Pe 1:6–7 NKJV) —6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

We want to run from difficult times, but they are the things that produce in us the most precious kind of faith, faith that is pure and refined.

:18 be revealedphaneroo – to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown

:18 shameaischune – the confusion of one who is ashamed of anything, sense of shame; disgrace, dishonor

:18 nakednessgumnotes – nakedness of the body

:18 white garments

Laodicea was famous for black wool, but Jesus tells them to buy white garments.  They think they are well clothed, but they are not.

It reminds me of that old story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” where the emperor is tricked into thinking he is wearing the finest clothes when in fact he is naked.
Here the church thinks they are well clothed but in fact they are shamefully naked.


Good Works

Laodicea was world famous for their black wool.  Jesus asks them to buy “white” clothes instead.
The book of Revelation tells us what these “white clothes” are:
(Re 19:8 NKJV) And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Remember that Jesus is the one who “knows” or “sees” our “works” (vs. 15)
Jesus isn’t looking for us to do good works that impress other people, but good works that impress Him.
PlayPorcelain Unicorn” video
Good works are those that bring healing and reconciliation
Jesus said,
(Mt 5:16 NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Paul talks about what good works look like:
(Php 4:8–9 NKJV) —8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

:18 eyesalvekollourion – a preparation composed of various materials and used as a remedy for tender eyelids

:18 anointegchrio – to rub in, anoint

:18 eyesalve

Jesus asks them to put medicine on their eyes so they can see.

This was the city with a medical school.


God’s wisdom

For the ancients, the words for “see” are often translated “know” or “think”.
I think that Jesus is asking them to change the way they think.  They need to learn to “see” things from God’s perspective.
The world teaches us to “see” things one way.  God often sees things differently.
The world teaches us to “get even” when someone hurts us.

The Bible teaches us to forgive.

The world teaches us to lie and deceive others to get what we want.

The Bible teaches us to be honest and truthful in everything we do.

The world teaches us to look out for ourselves, to make sure that “my needs” are met.

The Bible teaches us to put others first and to take care of their needs.

Solomon wrote,
(Pr 16:16 NKJV) How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

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

:19 I lovephileo – to love; to like; to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend

:19 rebukeelegcho – to convict; generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted; to find fault with, correct

:19 chastenpaideuo – to train children; to chastise

:19 zealouszeloo – to burn with zeal

:19 repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent

:19 As many as I love

The word for “love” here is phileo, not agape.  It speaks of people He is fond of, people He is friends with, people He is affectionate towards.

Because Jesus loves the church, there will be times when the church is rebuked.

When you get “caught” in a sin, don’t make the mistake of thinking that God hates you and is looking for a chance to destroy you.
God loves you enough to stop you from hurting yourself any further.

Jesus is the one who “knows”, who “sees”. (remember verse 15?)

We might be shocked when a friend is caught in sin, or a marriage fails, but Jesus isn’t shocked.  He knows what’s going on.

Jesus sees what’s going on in our marriages.

As a church we have been shocked and surprised to find out that our Spanish pastor was involved in an immoral relationship.  Some of you (including me) have been quite angry at Victor over this. 

Jesus was not caught off guard because He saw what was happening to Victor.

In reality, we ought to be afraid, not angry.  If a man who loves and serves God like Victor can fall into a horrible sin like this, I ought to be afraid that I too could do the very same thing.

Jesus sees our marriages as well.

Men:  Love your wife.  Don’t think that just working hard and bringing home your paycheck is enough for a marriage.  Give your time to your wife. 
Take her on a date.  Regularly.  Don’t take your marriage for granted.
Women:  Respect your husband.  Encourage your husband.

:20 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.

:21 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.

:22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

:20 knockkrouo – to knock: at the door

:20 dinedeipneo – to sup (eat a meal in the evening)

:20 I stand at the door and knock

We often think of this verse as Jesus giving an invitation to those who don’t believe.

He is knocking at the door of their hearts and asking to be let into their lives.

And though I think it’s correct to see this addressed to unbelievers, keep in mind that Jesus is writing this to a church.

There may be people in church this morning who have never allowed Jesus into their lives.
Let today be the day that you say “yes” to Jesus.

It has been said that the door of your heart only has a doorknob on the inside.

Jesus doesn’t come into a person’s heart without their permission.  You have to open the door of your heart.  You have to say “yes”.