Summary: Laodicea is nothing more than a “room temperature” church. It has become just like its environment
The Letter to the Church in Laodicea
Rev. 3: 14-22
The book of Revelation is often viewed as a strange book full of mysterious symbols that are difficult or impossible to understand. Yet the Bible states just the opposite! The word "revelation" means "to unveil" or "to explain." In the very first verse we read that God inspired the book of Revelation "to show His servants things which must shortly take place" (Revelation 1:1). God further states, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time [of fulfillment] is near" (Revelation 1:3). The prophecies of Revelation—including the letters to the seven churches—were meant to be understood—especially by Christians of all ages.
There can be no doubt that Revelation is an end-time book, that its message is for “the crisis at the close.” The book of Revelation is the only book in the bible that says, ‘If you read me, you’ll be blessed.’
John addressed the book of Revelation "to the seven churches" (1:4), indicating that the letters to each church were to be read in all the churches.
Laodicea has the grim distinction of being the only Church of which the Risen Christ has nothing good to say.
Laodicea had certain characteristics which have left their mark on the letter written to it.
(i) It was a great banking and financial centre. It was one of the wealthiest cities in the world at that time. In A.D. 61 it was devastated by an earthquake; but so rich and independent were its citizens that they refused any help from the Roman government and out of their own resources rebuilt their city. Tacitus writes: "One of the most famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was in that same year overthrown by an earthquake and without any relief from us recovered itself by its own resources" (Tacitus: Annals 14: 27). No wonder that Laodicea could boast that it was rich and had amassed wealth and had need of nothing.
(ii) It was a great centre of clothing manufacture. The sheep which grazed round Laodicea were famous for their soft, violet-black, glossy wool.
(iii) It was a very considerable medical centre. This medical school was famous for two products throughout the then known world -ointment for the ear and ointment for the eyes. The more popular was the ointment for the eye and the King James and Revised Standard Versions speak of it as eye-salve.
Jesus’ seventh and last message to the congregations of Revelation 2 and 3 was in stark contrast to His previous one to Philadelphia. Whereas Philadelphia is unique in that it did not receive any condemnation, Laodicea is unique in that it does not receive any commendation.
In the ancient world there were at least six cities called Laodicea and this one was called Laodicea on the Lycus to distinguish it from the others. It was founded about 250 B.C. by Antiochus of Syria and was named after his wife Laodice or after Laodice, daughter (or possibly niece) of Antiochus I Soter. .
Of the seven churches, none received a more scathing condemnation than Laodicea. Outwardly, the church in Laodicea appeared strong and prosperous. Clearly the people who worshiped there considered themselves happy and blessed. They lived in a town others envied.
However unlike Smyrna, there seems to have been no persecution, and, unlike Pergamum, no false doctrines . We find nothing corresponding to the gross immorality of Jezebel and her corrupt legions of Thyatira. Laodicea was a comfortable place to live and go to church.
Let us see how Jesus begins His Letter.
(i) He is the Amen. This is a strange title and may go back to either of two origins.
(a) In Isaiah 65:16 God is called the God of truth. Amen is the word which is often put at the end of a solemn statement in order to guarantee its truth. If God is the God of truth, he is utterly to be relied upon. This would mean that Jesus Christ is the One whose promises are true beyond all doubt. In John's gospel Jesus' statements often begin: "Truly, truly, I say to you" (e.g. John 1:51; John 3:3; John 3:5; John 3:11). The Greek for truly is Amen. The meaning would be the same, Jesus is one whose promises can be relied upon.
(ii) He is the witness on whom we can rely and who is true. A witness must satisfy three essential conditions. (a) He must have seen with his own eyes that of which he tells. (b) He must be absolutely honest, so that he repeats with accuracy that which he has heard and seen. (c) He must have the ability to tell what he has to say, so that his witness may make its true impression on those who hear. Jesus Christ perfectly satisfied these conditions. He can tell of God, because he came from him. We can rely on his words for he is the Amen. He is able to tell his message, for never did man speak as he did.