Summary: Laodicea was the second of the seven churches of Asia to receive no commendation from the Lord. Such a state requires us to look very carefully at this church, which lived within an affluent society whose attitudes clearly rubbed off on the church.
THE CHURCH OF THE CLOSED DOOR
Laodicea was the second of the seven churches of Asia to receive no commendation from the Lord. Such a state requires us to look very carefully at this church. Can it teach something to us today? We shall see as we move through this final letter of the seven that, unlike last week’s message about the church of the open door, we are going to look at the church of the closed door.
A. KEY PHRASE
Rev 3:19,20 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Laodicea is situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis, "City of Zeus", and afterwards Rhoas and Laodicea, the building of which is ascribed to Antiochus II, Theos, in 261-253 BC, in honour of his wife Laodice. It was probably founded on the site of an older town. It was approximately 17 km west of Colossae, and 10 km south of Hierapolis. It was approximately 160 km east of Ephesus and, according to Strabo, it was on a major road in Phrygia.
The city had a profitable business from the production of wool cloth. It had a widely known medical school and produced an eye ointment. It got its water from hot springs almost 6 miles away and by the time it got to Laodicea, it would have been lukewarm. It was also a centre for banking. The church lived within this affluent society and the attitudes of its citizens rubbed off onto the church.
The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Nero (60 AD), in which it was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means. The wealth of its inhabitants created among them a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as is manifest from its ruins. It was advanced in science and literature as attested by the names of the sceptics Antiochus and Theiodas, the successors of Aenesidemus and by the existence of a great medical school.
It received from Rome the title of a free city. During the Roman period Laodicea was the chief city of a Roman conventus, which comprised twenty-four cities besides itself. Cicero records holding assizes there ca. 50 BC.
It was probably owing to its large Jewish community, that at a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity, and the See of a bishop. Laodicea receives passing mention in the epistle to the Colossians and is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
A comment made earlier is probably key to this passage in Revelation, “The church lived within this affluent society and the attitudes of its citizens rubbed off onto the church.”
2. THE PASSAGE
A. VERSE 14
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.
Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, “The Amen;” steady and unchangeable in everything. If faith is worth anything, it is worth everything. Christ expects Christians to be committed to their walk with Him.
“Less than full commitment to Him and His teachings is no commitment at all.” ... think about this statement.
Jesus Christ is the Amen for in him is the certainty of the fulfilment of God's promises (see 2 Cor 1:20).
B. VERSES 15, 16
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Jesus walks among the churches and sees all our deeds.
In this verse, He says He is literally about to vomit, not ‘spit’, them out of his mouth. This shows his revulsion of these lukewarm Christians. The remedy is shown in verse 18 in which he counsels them to buy gold, white clothes and ointment. But, we will discuss this is a moment.
An important question from this passage is, “Why does He prefer ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ and not just ‘hot’?”
To be ‘hot’ is clear enough. People on fire for the Gospel are powerful and effective in taking the Gospel message to their community.
However, why would Jesus prefer the people here to be ‘cold’, instead of at least lukewarm? After all, ‘cold’ is a state, where there is no profession or evidence of real faith or love for the Lord.