Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Revelation 3:14-22


The Church in Laodicea

14. And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
16. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
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 eat with him, and he with me.
21. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered 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.

The Amen, absolute authority

Laodicea, between Hierapolis and Colosse
It is probably the case of most, if not all, of the cities that we are studying, that their history goes back farther than that, which we have described. The cities of the seven churches of Asia Minor are built upon sites of earlier towns. However, we try to find a time, when these cities developed some kind of prominence or acclaim in history. Laodicea was earlier called Diospolis, the City of Zeus, and later Rhodas. Between 261-253 B.C., Antiochus II Theos, a Seleucid king, rebuilt the town and named it after his wife, Laodice. (Some of you may remember the Seleucid Dynasty that we studied in the book of Daniel.) He populated it with 2,000 Jewish families from Babylon, therefore many of its inhabitants were Jewish. At about the time of Christ and continuing into the times of the apostles, they sent 20 pounds of gold annually to Jerusalem for the temple.

Laodicea is the southernmost of the seven churches of Asia Minor, located 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, approximately 100 miles east of Ephesus and only eleven miles west of Colossae. It lies in the valley of the Lycus River. Laodicea held little importance, until it came under the dominion of Rome, when it became one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. In fact, it was the judicial center over 25 cities. It produced and exported fine, black, woolen garments and it was famous for its eye salve. As in Pergamos, there was a great medical school in Laodicea and not far away, in Hierapolis (which also had a Christian church, Col.4:13), there are thermal pools. The nearest modern city, Denizli, is four miles away.

It is important to consider the prosperity of the city, because it had much to do with its spiritual condition. The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions on them indicate the worship of Zeus (Jupiter) and the Roman emperors. Laodicea advanced the study of science and literature. The wealthy citizens developed a taste for Greek arts, and embellished the city with beautiful monuments. Even the literal Greek name of the city seems to suggest the self-sufficiency of the Laodiceans, for it means, justice of or by the people. They savored this proud independence, to the extent that, when in the reign of Nero (60 A.D), the town was destroyed by an earthquake, the citizens refused Roman assistance in rebuilding the city. They restored it by their own efforts and financial reserves.

Outside the book of Revelation, there are four references to Laodicea in Paul´s letter to the Colossians… 2:1; 4:13, 15 and 16. From Colossians 2:1, we understand that the apostle never visited Laodicea - or Colossae, for that matter, although the two churches probably developed due to his time in Ephesus. Paul, nevertheless, was extremely concerned for their spiritual welfare, due to false teaching, and he requested that the Colossians and the Laodiceans exchange letters that he sent to both of them (Col.4:16). The letter to the Laodiceans has been lost.

In His presentation to the Laodicean Church, Jesus said that He is “the beginning of the creation of God.”  It simply means that Jesus is the Creator. He initiated and brought the world into being by the power of His word. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Jn.1:3). In the last article, we covered what it means to be “the firstborn over all creation” (Col.1:15), firstborn having a similar significance, as that of beginning in this text. It describes rank, rather than time.

He began His presentation of Himself as the Amen. I quote Jamieson-Faucett-Brown: “The Amen – (Is.65:16, Hebrew, ‘Bless himself in the God of Amen… swear by the God of Amen.’) He who not only says, but is, the Truth. The saints used Amen at the end of prayer, or in assenting to the word of God; but none, save the Son of God, ever said, ‘Amen, I say unto you.’ For it is the language peculiar to God, who avers by Himself. The New Testament formula 'Amen, I say unto you’ is equivalent to the Old Testament formula, ‘as I live, saith Jehovah.’ In John’s Gospel alone He uses (in the Greek) the doublé ‘Amen’ (Jn.1:51; 3:3; etc.) In the English Version, ‘Verily, verily’ or ‘Truly, truly’. His unchanging faithfulness as ‘the Amen’ contrasts with Laodicea’s wavering of purpose, ‘neither hot nor cold’ (Rev.3:16).

The angel of Laodicea has with some probability been conjectured to be Archippus, to whom, thirty years previously, Paul had already given a monition, as a need to be stirred up to diligence in his ministry. So the ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ name him as the first bishop of Laodicea: supposed to be the son of Philemon (Col.4:17; Phm.1:2).”

Why, in all the nations of the world, with their various languages, is amen spoken in the original Hebrew and not translated, when used by the church? It is because there is no worthy translation for this word. When it is used, it means that what is being said is of absolute authority. To be sure you understand, JFB is saying that twice in Isaiah 65:16, where the word is translated truth into English, the Hebrew word is amen. When Jesus Christ says that He is the Amen, it means that He is the Truth, which carries absolute authority. To hear Him use this title, along with His message to the Laodiceans, should strike fear into the heart of every member! Jesus, in the book of Revelation, takes divine titles for Himself, as He should, for He is worthy.  

Christ translates the word Amen, using three Greek words… faithful, true, witness (v.14). We have the faithful witness in chapter 1. Please allow me to quote from The Christ of the Apocalypse, Chapter 3, where I wrote on the Faithful Witness: I pricked up my ears one day, as a choral group came to the line, “for such a worm as I”, in the favorite old hymn, “At the Cross”. However, they sang it, “for someone such as I”. A modern rendition of the great Newton hymn, “Amazing Grace”, prefers to offer “amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved someone like me” rather than the original, “that saved a wretch like me.” Before his conversion, Newton was a merciless slave-trader, who violated the African women whom he transported on his ship – a wretch, indeed!

Apparently, many composers and musicians today are not hearing “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness”. That is the title John gives to Christ in Revelation 1:5 and he borrowed the term from the Lord himself. Christ used it in his presentation to the Laodiceans. Jesus told that group of professing Christians, “You are wretched.”

Laodicea had a very up-beat opinion of herself. She said, “I am rich.” However, the Faithful Witness is saying something else – “You do not know that you are… poor.” Christian psychology cannot cleanse the guilty stain of a corrupted conscience. All the talk of self-esteem, self-image, and self-love has not stemmed the tide of patients on their way to the psychiatric wing of the hospital. God’s Faithful Witness says, “You do not know that you are… pitiable.”

The modern professor of Christianity may have notebooks full of tips and steps and still be the ignoramus of all times, as far as personal knowledge of God is concerned. The true Witness has testified, “You are… blind”, and until heaven-sent eye salve removes the curse, all the learning in the world will not lighten the darkness.

The lukewarm church

Extensive ruins show a once prosperous city.
Jesus contradicted everything that Laodicea said about herself. She said, “I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing.” Jesus said, “You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” (v.17). Laodicea was totally blind to her own condition and was living confidently under a tremendous deception. What a shock it would be to wake up to reality on the other side of the grave! How merciful is the Lord to give us truth, while there is still time to repent!

Remember this church exists in a prosperous city, with a medical school and a famous eye salve, but she is blind. It manufactures silky black woolen garments, but she is naked. The people are proudly independent and self-sufficient, but they are pitiable in the eyes of the Lord and the only thing that matters, is what He sees in her. She may justify herself and passionately argue that it is not so, but she cannot change the truth. He is the true witness.

Her number one problem is that she is not looking to Christ. The church thinks that she is separate from the world, but she has carried its mentality with her into Christianity. It is possible to live physically apart from the world and yet be dependent upon it. Jesus says, “Buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (v.18).

Laodicea, with the warm thermal pools of Hieropolis on one side and the cool springs of Colossae on another side, is herself lukewarm (v.15). Do not see a lukewarm condition, as something hot that has cooled, but as indecision and mixture. Elijah challenged Israel: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did you answer him a word” (1 Kg.18:21).

Joshua did the same: “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your father served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh.24:15). Joshua could only decide for himself and his household; he could not make the choice for the people. It is an individual choice that each one must make. Jesus knew what was taking place in the hearts of every member and it was manifested by their deeds. My ESV says Jesus will spit them out, but the better translation is vomit. Their lukewarm Christianity nauseates Him! (v.16)

This is a message of love, straight from the lips of Christ (v.19). It is a firsthand lesson about what love really means. Love disciplines! I remember a parent telling me that he loved his daughter too much to spank her. I don’t remember, if I called him a liar or not, but that is what he was. The Bible defines parental love this way: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Pr.13:24). Laodicea also needed to hear this spiritual principle.

They need to have heavenly eye salve applied, before they can see their condition and repent.. We learned in the message to Sardis that it was necessary for them to awaken in order to repent. A sleeping Christian is a deceived Christian, and he must be rudely awakened, so that he can “be zealous and repent”. According to the Greek dictionary definition of zealous, he must have warmth of feeling to repent, covet earnestly repentance, and desire it.  

Christ received no pleasure from the Laodicean church and there was nothing in it that He could recommend. It needed something altogether different than what it possessed. Rather than this world’s gold, it needed “gold tried in the fire”. Rather than their manufactured eye salve, they needed heaven’s anointed eye salve. The fine black garments of Laodicea did not cover their spiritual nakedness. They needed “white raiment”, obtained from the Lamb of God.

Many years ago, I wrote a tract on the fact that Jesus is standing at the church door and knocking, after giving His message to it. I entitled it, “Can Anyone in There Hear Me?” He is not in the church of Laodicea, He is outside it. They are so full of noisy activity and involved with programs, that it is quite evident that this church is not hearing Him, so once more He addresses the individual. If there is a church member, who can hear Him call, that one can open the door of his own life to allow the Lord to come in (v.20).

This, at least, is some refreshment for the soul. Jesus promises wonderful communion for the individual, who exists in the Laodicean church. The loyalty of this one must be to Christ, over his loyalty to the church. He recognizes wholeheartedly the need for this sharp message from the Lord. He has no defense for his church, nothing in it to recommend, therefore he is in full agreement with Christ. These people can still be found in similar situations today.  

Jesus loves table communion, and we find him there in the Gospels. It is mutual, friendly and confident fellowship. From that table, Jesus takes the believer, who wins victory over the lukewarm atmosphere around him, to a place of eternal victory. JFB comments, “The highest place is within reach of the lowest; the faintest spark of grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame of love. He takes him to a higher position: “I will grant him to sit with me on my throne.” Of course, he cannot sit on a throne of equal authority, but in full communion with the Father and the Son, he has a place in His eternal Kingdom (v.21).  It sounds too good to be true, but this is what He promises: He will sit beside Christ and the Father in heavenly places. How good it is to have ears of the heart, in order to receive this message! (v.22)


As a general rule, I do not recommend Christian fiction, but I will make an exception, in light of the church that we have just studied. There is a film, which literally takes the viewer from 19th Century to 20th Century Christianity. If it is true that each of the seven churches represents a different period in church history, then this is the place in time, when the sixth candlestick loses its prominence (although it continues to exist, perhaps with a flame that is less intense) and the seventh becomes the dominant church. This film, Time Changer, does a reasonably good job in portraying that change. Here is the web site: .  (I’m not sure if this site is reliable, but you might be brave enough to try it. You may have to click on the play button more than once, to get it to function.)

Film shows dramatic change in the
church over 100 years
We are living at the time, when the dominant church is the Laodicean church. It will remain on this earth throughout the Great Tribulation, when it will cease to be a church. I believe that it will join the Babylonian system, which is a mixture of religion, politics, and financial power. I think that another way to describe the lukewarm condition is by using the color gray. Those areas that are now confusing us and causing us to question, “Is this Christianity or not?” will clearly become black.    

I believe that we are also living at a time, when individuals will respond to the calling of Christ at the door of the church. They are looking only to Christ and His Calvary work for pure white garments. They will abandon themselves to Christ. They will separate from Laodicea to join with many others, who are feeling the Lord’s nausea for the conventional church and are longing for a walk in the Holy Spirit. They are looking for Christ, to be the Head over His church, yearn for simple fellowship in the Spirit, and are preparing for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

At the end of the Old Testament is one of the most beautiful pictures that is portrayed anywhere throughout the Bible. It is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. It follows Malachi’s prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist, followed by the prophecy of the coming of the Lord Himself: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal.3:1) Then, the prophet describes the general atmosphere in Israel in his day… the day of the last prophet in the Old Testament.  “Now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape” (Mal.3:15)

It is at this time, when a totally different kind of people come into the picture: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him’”  (Mal.3:16-18).

When the New Testament period draws to a close, I believe that there will be a similar people.  They will hear a very clear cry from heaven, “Surely I am coming soon” (Rv.22:20). The Spirit and the Bride in that day are occupied together in issuing a final call to the unsaved to “come”. But their great passion and overwhelming desire is in response to the Lord’s promised return. They say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”


Post a Comment