Friday, May 20, 2011

Revelation 3:14-22, The Message to Laodicea (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea1 write:
     The Amen2, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation3 of God says this: 15 I know your deeds because you are neither cold nor hot4. I wish you were either cold or hot5. 16 So, since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.6 17 Because you say “I am rich” and “I have prospered” and “I have no need7”.8 You don’t know that you are wretched9, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me10 fine11 gold from fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes12 so that you may clothe yourself so the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed13, and eye salve to rub14 on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love15, I reprove and discipline16. Therefore, be zealous17 and repent. 20 Behold, I stand18 at the door and knock19; if anyone will hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him20 and will dine with him and he will dine with me.21  21 The one who conquers, I will give to him the privilege to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat with my father on this throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

1 Laodicea was founded around 253 B.C. It was built on two major trade and communications routes that allowed it to prosper. Laodicea remained loyal to the Roman Empire in spite of revolts around it. It was known for a soft black wool. It had a medical school there and developed a medicine for curing eye diseases called “Phrygian powder”. It had no natural water source. Water was brought in via aqueducts. The area was also prone to earthquakes and like Philadelphia, it was leveled in 60 A.D. Since it was so wealthy, Laodicea didn’t need any help from Rome to rebuild. The main gods were Men (god of the valley) and Zeus. It had a modest Jewish population as well. Osborne*** (Pgs. 201-202).

     Laodicea - just people 
Hitchcock’s Bible Names

     It would seem they are more self-justified than justified by the Lord.

2 Or “the truly”. It may be an echo from Isaiah 65:16. Jesus used it in discourse in all four Gospels (truly or verily). “It emphasized the truthfulness and divine origin of the message”. Osborne*** (Pg. 204) This is also the only place in the Bible other that Isaiah 65:16, where “Amen” is used as a name. Beale* (Pg. 299).

     He is the Amen from the beginning.

     2 Corinthiams 1:20 ESV 
20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

     Colossians 1:15-18 
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers of authorities-all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

     He was in the beginning for He is the beginning. He is faithful to the end because He was faithful from the beginning, changeless and endless, the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.

     2 Peter 2:21 ESV 
21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

     Doing something wrong willfully is different than doing something wrong out of ignorance, though one might say both are examples of ignorance.

3 An echo from Isaiah 65:17.

4 The water that was piped in came from hot springs in a place called Denizli. The water didn’t have time to cool before it reached Laodicea. It arrived lukewarm and had many minerals in it that made it undrinkable. Six miles to the north was a city called Hierapolis. Hierapolis was known for its hot springs that provided some healing qualities. Laodicea’s neighboring city, Colosse, was know for its cold pure drinking water. The water in Colosse was the only place in the region that one could get water like this. With all of this in mind, the deeds of the church in Laodicea were not “fit to drink”. That’s why it would have been better to either hot or cold. Osborne*** (Pg. 205), Mounce** (Pgs. 125-126), and Beale* (Pg. 303).

     Unlike other water in the area, the water here offered no benefit, no refreshment or healing.

5 If the church was hot, it would have the hot springs that had healing properties like Hieropolis had. If it were cold, it would have the refreshing natural cold water that Colosse had. Jesus is the true and faithful witness. This title, presented to the church in Loadicea, calls them to be imitators of Christ. Their witness had become lukewarm. Christ wants them to be zealous in their ministry just as Christ was zealous in his.

6 The lukewarm water of Laodicea was full of calcium carbonate deposits and it would make one vomit. Thus the water was undrinkable much like the church’s deeds. Osborne*** (Pg. 206).

7 οὐδὲν χρείαν ἔχω (I have no need) 

or “I have need of nothing”.

     Jesus draws attention to their self justification. They attribute their well being to their own efforts, and in their eyes have no needs unmet. The assessment that Jesus makes is quite different.

8 This is an allusion to Hosea 12:8. The context of Hosea places Israel as prospering because of idols. Beale* (Pg. 304). The church in Laodicea is the same way. They had probably compromised with the trade guilds in worshiping their pagan gods. The church thought that its wealth would replace its lukewarm spirituality. As the city thought that it didn’t need help from Rome after the earthquake, the church thought it didn’t need help from God. They may have been “rich” with money, but they were “broke” spiritually.

     In a spiritual sense, an idol is anything that replaces God, whether a crude hand-fashioned image or a sophisticated approach made up of ideas, concepts, interests, or preferences which crowd out the truth of God and His rightful place in our lives.

9 ὁ ταλαίπωρος (wretched) 

To be in a very unhappy or unfortunate state. Unfortunate fits here.

10 Note the irony. No one can buy from God what they need spiritually nor can one buy salvation. It is a gracious gift from God. See introduction note on Laodicea.

     Jesus likens their state to a beggar on the streets. He tells them He is the source of true riches.

11 πεπυρωμένον (fine)

or “refined”. Greek: “having been burned”. The heating of metal refines it to a pure state. The church in Laodicea was also in need to be “refined”.

12 More irony. The city was known for its black cloth. Jesus is calling the church to become clean. See introduction note on Laodicea.

13 φανερωθῇ (may be revealed) 

or “may be made known”.

     Again, there is nothing that is not known and will not be revealed in His light. It is the white robes of righteousness that covers our sin, our nakedness. These only come from Christ.

     Pride based on the illusion of false substitutes is a poor replacement for faith in the truth of God.

14 ἐγχρῖσαι (to rub) 

or “to anoint”. See introduction note on Laodicea.

15 φιλῶ (I love)

Many people think that φιλέω (phileo) only has to do with “brotherly love”, but here it is referred to Jesus’ love for people. In classical Greek, φιλέω was the ultimate love. In the NT, especially in John’s writings, both φιλέω and ἀγαπάω (agapao) are used interchangeably.

16 1 Corinthians 11:32 ESV 
32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we 
may not be condemned with the world.

     Those He loves He cares for. He gave His life to give us life. He gives us instruction to keep us in that life.

17 ζήλευε (be zealous)

“Be zealous about your witness and faith”. Paul uses the noun form of this word to show his zeal towards the Jewish religion before his conversion.

18 ἕστηκα (I stand) 

Greek: “have stood”. The verb is in the perfect tense. Jesus started 
standing in the past and is still standing...waiting.

19 κρούω (I knock)

The verb is in the present tense and carries a continual aspect. It could be translated “I keep on knocking”. The entire phrase could read: “Behold, I have stood at the door and am still standing here and I keep on knocking...”

     He has opened the door to heaven, for He alone has the key. He has made a way, the only way. Now He waits for us to open the door to our heart. We alone have the key to that door. We alone can make straight the way of the Lord.

     His table has been prepared. He has invited us all to come in off the street. It won’t be long until it’s suppertime.

20 εἰσελεύσομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν (I will come in to him)

Note, the text doesn’t say “I will come into him” as “into one’s heart”. In other words, Jesus will come “into the house” and then “to” him. Many interpret this verse to be a salvation scripture, but the members of the church of Laodicea were belivers. There is no doubt that they were in jeopardy of losing their salvation, but it had not happened yet (verse 16). In keeping with the context of the whole passage, this scripture represents a call to repentance and reconciliation. Wallace+ (Pgs. 380-382).

21 In the ancient world, to share a meal put two people back on the path to reconciliation. Osborne*** (Pg. 213). The whole phrase is an allusion to Song of Solomon 5:2. There, the husband is at the door knocking on his wife’s bedroom door to encourage her to let him in to renew their love for each other. Jewish commentators also viewed this passage as a call for Israel to repent. Jesus being the bridegroom of the church is operating in the same way. Beale* (Pg. 308).


NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)


The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)

(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger

(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)

*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale

**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce

***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace

++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule

+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick

A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

The Greek

Ἀποκάλυψις 3·14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον·
Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ· 15 οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα ὅτι οὔτε ψυχρὸς εἶ οὔτε ζεστός. ὄφελον ψυχρὸς ἦς ἢ ζεστός. 16 οὕτως ὅτι χλιαρὸς εἶ καὶ οὔτε ζεστὸς οὔτε ψυχρός, μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου. 17 ὅτι λέγεις ὅτι πλούσιός εἰμι καὶ πεπλούτηκα καὶ οὐδὲν χρείαν ἔχω, καὶ οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ταλαίπωρος καὶ ἐλεεινὸς καὶ πτωχὸς καὶ τυφλὸς καὶ γυμνός, 18 συμβουλεύω σοι ἀγοράσαι παρ ̓ ἐμοῦ χρυσίον πεπυρωμένον ἐκ πυρὸς ἵνα πλουτήσῃς, καὶ ἱμάτια λευκὰ ἵνα περιβάλῃ καὶ μὴ φανερωθῇ ἡ αἰσχύνη τῆς γυμνότητός σου, καὶ κολλ[ο]ύριον ἐγχρῖσαι τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς σου ἵνα βλέπῃς. 19 ἐγὼ ὅσους ἐὰν φιλῶ ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω· ζήλευε οὖν καὶ μετανόησον. 20 Ἰδοὺ ἕστηκα ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν καὶ κρούω· ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ τῆς φωνῆς μου καὶ ἀνοίξῃ τὴν θύραν, [καὶ] εἰσελεύσομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ δειπνήσω μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ. Ἀποκάλυψις 3·21 Ὁ νικῶν δώσω αὐτῷ καθίσαι μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ μου, ὡς κἀγὼ ἐνίκησα καὶ ἐκάθισα μετὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ αὐτοῦ. Ἀποκάλυψις 3·22 Ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις.

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