Church at Laodicea

The Church At Laodicea

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Any individual or church who has lost focus on Jesus Christ will as surely sink into the waters of irrelevance as Simon Peter who sank into the waters of the Sea of Galilee.

The Church At Laodicea

Along with Heirapolis and Colossae, Laodicea was one of the cities in the fertile Lycus Valley. The great Roman Road stretching to the inland of Asia from the coasts of Ephesus ran straight through its center. It was an important center of trade and communication.

Its wealth came from the production of a fine quality of glossy black wool.The city was a center for banking and finance. Cicero cashed huge bank drafts in Laodicea. In addition, Laodicea had a huge medical university, and a special ointment known as “Phrygin Powder”a salve that was used for eye defects, were either manufactured or distributed there, as were ear ointments also.Near the temple associated with healing, Men Karou(who later became identified with Asclepius) there was a market for trading all sorts of goods. Zeus, their supreme god was worshipped in the city.

To this unconverted church, Jesus sent a scathing letter. They were complacent, self satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith.

Revelation 3:14-22
14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witnesss, the beginning of the creation of God
15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
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.
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.
22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The city was a city of art and culture. Located at the crossroads of Roman roads that ran east and west, north and south, making it a city of commerce. A large population of Jews lived there naturally. The city was founded in the third century BC by Ciaphas ll who named it after his wife, Laodicea. He later divorced her but the name remained. Today the name of the site is Al Aksar, or “The Old Fortress.”

The city was populated with a large Jewish constituency. We know that each year, every Jewish male was to send a “Temple Tax” back to Jerusalem. The Roman Provincial Governor, Flavius refused to allow any gold to leave Laodicea, but the Jews sent their “Temple Tax” anyway. The tax amounted to 20 pounds of gold, so there were at least 4,000 Jewish males living in Laodicea.

The Salutation

1. The Amen. All salutations are a revelation and a testimony of His Deity.

Isaiah 65:16
That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth;

The Hebrew would read “The God Of AMEN”

Isaiah 55:4
Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Our Lord is the absolute and faithful firm fixed unchangeable Amen. Amen is an affirmation, a verbal guarantee. A verification of what has been said is true. Verily affirms the statement that is about to be made, and an amen at the end seals its veracity and its certainty. Jesus is the Amen to all of God’s Promises. All His covenants are true, and Christ is the guarantee and affirmation.

I Corinthians 1:20 “All of the promises of God are in Him, Yea and Amen.”
God”s promises are validated in Christ, and certain in Christ, as God’s AMEN. To establish His glory and His truthfulness eternally sustained. All that He says is a faithful witness.

2. He is the Faithful and True Witness.

That means that not only does He validate the truthfulness of God, but everything He declares and promises are true. He Himself is faithful and true. Trustworthy, the way the truth and the life.

John 3:31-36
31. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
32. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.
33. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
34. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
35. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus speaks it is perfectly accurate, and altogether true. He is the perfect witness, meaning that all the promises, judgments, the covenants, the dealings of God are all reliable and can be trusted and accepted. The purposes, plans, the promises the covenants are all a faithful witness of Christ’s Deity. Truth is a great foundation.

The Beginning of the Creation of God

There seems to be some ambiguity in that statement, but the ambiguity disappears when we read in:

Colossians 1:15-17
15. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16. 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:
17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Why all of this rhetoric about the Deity of Christ to a backslidden, unsaved church? It sounds like a letter to the Colossians, You see, Laodacea was only ten miles from the city of Colossae, and not far from Heiropolis. There was a great threat to the faith in Colossae. Its very likely that what plagued the Colossians also challenged the faith of the Laodaceans. If you remember, Paul wrote the Book of Colossians, because there were those false prophets who were denying the Deity of Christ. These gnostic heretics had reduced Jesus Christ to just another created being just like the angels!

So Paul wrote these great statements of the fullness of the Godhead, and Creation, and all things consisting by the word of His mouth. So it would seem likely, that this same kind of attack upon the Deity of Christ was the downfall and resulted in the damnable spiritual condition of the Laodaceans. They were easy prey for that kind of heresy because they lacked a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Essentially if they ever were saved, they were now lost and unsaved, and spiritually bankrupt.

That’s why Paul said in

Colossians 4:15-17
15. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

What? A letter to the Colossians was to be read in the church at Laodicea. Evidently the Laodiceans were a church plant from Colossea. Paul even admonished the Laodiceans in chapter two, and again in chapter four. Was Epaphras, the Bishop of Colossae a church planting evangelistic minded Pastor? So it is likely that the gnosticism spread from Colossea to the lost, Overwhelmed by Culture, unbelieving church at Laodicea. Paul then instructs the Colossians to read the letter they sent back to Paul.That letter is lost to church history and antiquity.

3. The Arche, Creator

These Laodiceans did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Arche, the Ruler, the Creator of the universe. They didn’t believe that He was The Alpha and the Omega. To be the ALPHA, He had to be theCreator. To be the OMEGA He had to be the Finisher, or Consummator. He is the Supreme One, the Sovereign One, the One Who made all that exists in the world and the universe.

The Laodiceans had a corrupted view of Christ. And that my friends, is what makes a church Laodicean. The religious entities that would disdain the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God, and Savior of the World are not saved, and have never known Him in the power of His Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings. They’ve never known Him in the gracious free pardon of sin, and justification by faith, and the translation into the kingdom of His dear Son. NO! In their mind, their right standing with God is a passive, casual, half-hearted effort to maintain a social connection to a group of other casual christians, calling themselves a church.
That is so disgusting to GOD that He declares, “I’m about to spew(vomit) you out of my mouth!”

Any individual or church who has lost focus on Jesus Christ will as surely sink into the waters of irrelevance as Simon Peter who sank into the waters of the Sea of Galilee. And many churches like him, started out on a good path, doing miraculous things, but got distracted and lost focus of the One Who gives us strength to do all things. And like St. Peter’s downfall, so many churches are now going through the motions, and playing church, listening to a preacher deliver a sermonette to Christianettes, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof!

You cannot be a Christian and not serve the Lord in some way!

The two adjectives “hot nor cold” should be understood together as equivalent to “lukewarmness” (16). That is to say, they were useless to Christ because they were complacent, self-satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith in Him and of discipleship.

Why this analogy of water?

Because water was the most pressing problem of the Laodaceans. They had no source of water. Amongst the ruins of the city, archeologists have found the remains of a six mile water pipe system that brought water from hot springs to the south. Their water was distasteful, and pungent, so much so that they often would become sick and spew the water out of their mouths.

Either the water was hot and became cooler, or cold and became warmer in the aqueduct system. The silt and minerals that were corrupted in the aqueduct made the water unfit to drink or use. For all their wealth, the city had an insipid water supply- one that induced vomiting.

The Church existed in a wealthy culture, and preferred to live on the trade route and continue to gain wealth, than to move six miles to “hot springs” for therapeutic purposes, or move 10 miles to Colossae for refreshing, cold, thirst quenching and cleansing.

The church was quite pleased to live in a pagan culture, satisfied and comfortable with their wealth. When the cíty was destroyed by a terrible earthquake, the Roman government offered to suspend taxes for Laodicea and send them aid. Laodicea refused, and told the Romans we can pay for our own rebuilding, we don’t need your money.

They were self sufficient. We don’t need anything or anybody. Not even God. So far from Him, they had no relationship with Him.

What a shame to be so wealthy and lack a basic necessity of life

The city of Hierapolis was seven miles north of Laodicea, and had famous “hot springs”. Colossae was about ten miles south of Laodicea,and enjoyed streams in the valley of Lycus fed by the snow melt from the mountains. As vw would think, their water was cold and refreshing. By the time any water from any source reached Laodicea, it was neither hot nor cold but tipid and sickening The water at Laodicea was so repugnant and disgusting. You see, they were living so far from the source, by the time it got to them it had lost its purpose to refresh, to heal, to cleanse, and was just useless, It just lets us know how much Jesus hates and detests a Laodicean attitude of compromise, one that seeks easy accommodation and peace at any cost. At this point, Jesus must deal harshly. “Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you.” James 4:8

Ephesus liked love and passion.
Sardis was dead, but had a few names of worthy believers.
Thyatira was compromising, but had a few that held to the truth Laodicea is a church that is not a church. Not a few, none, no wheat, all tares.

No commendation, just, “I know your deeds.”
He rebukes them in verse 15. “You make me sick!” This was the most harsh and stern rebuke of all the

Is it possible for a church to make God sick? In a church where there are a few believers His admonishment is to repent! Do your first works! But there is nothing here! No not one!

17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

in there own estimation they were okay. Secure in their wealth and prosperity.

To Smyrna, Jesus said,”I know your poverty, yet ye are rich.” To the Laodiceans He said, “I know your wealth, yet ye are poor

They possessed a material pride at the expense of spiritual pride. Their condition would be described as apostate hypocrisy. They know about Christ but they have created a false Christ. They know about God but they have created a false God. They are smugly self confident in that. This manner of thinking characterizes large segments of the religious landscape of today. They feel that they have elevated knowledge, as gnosticism teaches. Once you deny Christ, you are Laodiceal You are a church of nonchristians.

You see this church draped in all their lavish clothing, thinking they are to be envied when they should be pitied. Appearing in wealthy attire, they are spiritually naked. They think they are spiritually rich, but are actually bankrupt! They think they are beautiful and much desired, when they are wretched and sickening. They think they are seeing everything clearly, when they are really stone blind! They may have their bank account, and wear their fine wool, and they may have their eye salve, but spiritually, they are miserable, wretched, poor blind, and naked, and most pitied. They have no robes of righteousness, no riches in God, see no spiritual reality, and you don’t even know it!

This kind of church today is hard to reach because they don’t know their true spiritual standing with God. They are smug and self confident, seared with a hot iron, calloused, and past feeling.

But even to that kind of church, God offers grace. He extends an invitation for the Laodicean church to change.

18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

Here we see grace offered to hypocrites. What do I need to buy these things from God? What you really need can only come from Me If you want riches , come to Me. If you want clothing, come to me. If you want spiritual sight, come to Me.

Isaiah 55:1
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

A. So that you will not be poor anymore, buy gold from Me. God’s pure gold is “all spiritual blessings.” It is priceless Pet 1:7 – The trial of your faith is more precious than gold, though it be tried by fire.
Salvation is that gold that makes us rich in faith
B. So that you will not be naked anymore, buy raiment from Me. Do away with your black robe, and buy from Me a white robe. A white robe is God’s imputed righteousness through Jesus that has been adjudicated in our favor. It is that white robe that covers our sinful nakedness. White -Luca dazzling.

Revelation 3:4
They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Isaiah 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. 

C. So that you will not be blind, I advise you to buy eye salve from Me and I will anoint your eyes that you may see. It is His anointed eye salve that gives us grace and understanding to perceive spiritual things.

Revelation 3:19-20
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
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.

Here again we see a church that Christ is not in. He has said, “Come to me and get gold, raiment, and eye salve, but now He says I am coming to the door of your earthly tabernacle, and asking you to let me in. If someone, anone, will open the door and let me in, I will come in and dine with them. Sharing a meal is symbolic of unity and fellowship.
He has been shut out of a church that bears His name.

There is a wonderful story about a female theologian named Linemon. She was a Christ denying, scripture denying liberal scholar. By the grace of God, she opened the door, and Christ came in and saved her. That is very rare! She had written many books and scholastic articles against fundamental Christian doctrine. But after Christ came in, people asked her, “What do we do with your books?” She said, “Throw them all away, like I did. They are worthless.”

Revelation 3:21
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.

A final promise to the church that opens the door is that not only will I come in a fellowship with you, in the end, I will take you all the way to glory where my Father and all the faithful are and shall be forever.