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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 3:14

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Amen;   Angel of the Churches;   Church;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Laodicea;   Lukewarmness;   Scofield Reference Index - Apostasy;   Kingdom;   Tribulation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Angels;   Laodicea;   Names;   Titles and Names;   The Topic Concordance - Chastisement;   Coming;   Creation;   Faith/faithfulness;   God;   Government;   Hearing;   Indifference;   Jesus Christ;   Knowledge;   Love;   Rebuke;   Throne;   Victory/overcoming;   Witness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ, the Prophet;   Titles and Names of Christ;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Creation;   Laodicea;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Laodicea;   Snake;   Truth;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Adam, the Second;   Amen;   Faithfulness;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Laodicea;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Archippus;   Laodicea;   Philadelphia;   Revelation of John, the;   Son of God;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Asia Minor, Cities of;   Laodicea;   Revelation, the Book of;   Witness, Martyr;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Amen;   Antioch;   Archippus;   Asia;   Atonement;   Colossae;   Gnosticism;   Laodicea;   Magi;   Witness;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Alpha and Omega (2);   Amen;   Amen (2);   Angels;   Atonement (2);   Brotherhood (2);   Ephesians Epistle to the;   Faithfulness;   Fall (2);   Laodicea;   Lying ;   Pre-Existence;   Revelation, Book of;   Teaching of Jesus;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Beginning;   Faithful,;   Laodiceans ;   Martyr;   Witness;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Amen;   Christ;   Selah;   Sepharvaim;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Amen;   Laodicea;   Names titles and offices of christ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Laodice'a;   Laodice'ans,;   Lap'idoth;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Amen;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Synagogue;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Begin;   Beginning;   Christ, Offices of;   Colossae;   Colossians, Epistle to the;   Faithful;   Revelation of John:;   Truth;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Amen;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Laodicea;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for October 18;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Epistle to the Church of the Laodiceans.

Verse Revelation 3:14. These things saith the Amen — That is, He who is true or faithful; from אמן aman, he was tree; immediately interpreted, The faithful and true witness. See Revelation 1:5.

The beginning of the creation of God — That is, the head and governor of all creatures: the king of the creation. See on Colossians 1:15. By his titles, here, he prepares them for the humiliating and awful truths which he was about to declare, and the authority on which the declaration was founded.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Letter to Laodicea (3:14-22)

Laodicea was an important commercial, educational and administrative centre whose citizens were secure and prosperous, lacking nothing. Sadly, the spirit of self-satisfaction among the people at large was found equally in the church. This church has no accusation of idolatry or immorality brought against it, yet it receives the strongest condemnation of all seven.
The Laodiceans not only thought they had all they needed, but they believed their prosperity had resulted from their spirituality. Actually, they were lacking in spirituality. Because of their reliance on material things, they could not exercise genuine faith in God. Nor could their lives witness to the total satisfaction that Christ brings. Christ introduces himself as the one who is faithful, the true witness, the creator with authority over all material things. He tells them plainly that he finds their comfortable spiritual pride repulsive (14-16). He urges them to see themselves as he sees them, as spiritually poor, blind and naked. They must realize that Christ alone can produce truly spiritual qualities in their lives, and he can do this only when they turn from their sins and humbly seek his help (17-19).
Christ still loves his people and asks them to welcome him into every part of their lives. Even if the church as a whole ignores his request, those individuals who open their lives to him will know the joy of constant fellowship with him. If they share their lives with him now, he will share his glory with them in the future (20-22).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:


Laodicea is a word which has come to stand for lukewarmness, indifference and compromise. Some theorists make a big point out of what they affirm to be the meaning of the word: "Its name designates it as the Church of mob rule, the democratic church, in which everything was swayed and decided by popular opinion."[55] We are reluctant to accept this, be cause the town was actually named by its founder Antiochus II (261-246 B.C.) after his wife Laodice.[56] It was situated in the same general vicinity of the other six cities addressed in this series, on the great Roman road to Syrian Antioch. It was never much of a fortress, due to the vulnerability of the water supply, "which came principally by a vulnerable aqueduct from springs six miles away to the north in the direction of Hieropolis ... Laodicea could hardly stand a determined siege."[57]

Laodicea was a banking center with a great deal of wealth. One of the great industries was that of wool and woolen garments, featuring a fine quality glossy black wool from Phrygian sheep; another industry was that of drugs developed in connection with the medical school there. One of the famous Laodicean remedies was a "Phrygian eye-salve" which was supposed to cure inflammation. Blaiklock speculated that this probably came from dried mud from one of the numerous hot springs in the area.[58] This information illuminates the charges which the Lord made against the church of this city, in his words, "Thou art miserable and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). It is as though he had said, "You are spiritually bankrupt in spite of all the banks, looms and pharmacies in the city."

Particularly noticeable was the wealth of Laodicea. Following the great earthquake which demolished the place in 60 A.D., they rebuilt at once from their own resources, declining the lavish gifts offered by the emperor. Scholars who suppose that Laodicea could not have recovered so quickly as a date in the late 60's for Revelation would indicate that they have failed to take their great wealth and self-sufficiency into account.

One other significant fact of the environment is that of the hot springs, which when mixed with water from the colder springs resulted in a lukewarm, nauseous mixture totally unsuitable for drinking purposes.

Laodicea suffered the same kind of general decline that came to the whole area in subsequent centuries, finally falling to the Turks in the 14th century. Today, it is called Eski-Sheher, meaning "old town," the capital of the Turkish province of the same name. The population in 1955 was 122,755.[59]

The church at Laodicea was one of a group of three congregations known to us from the writings of Paul. He directed that two of his epistles should be sent there (Colossians 4:16). "These were the Colossian letter and another which has been lost, unless the epistle to the Ephesians is meant."[60] This church received, along with Sardis, the strongest of our Lord's denunciations, there being no compliment of any kind extended to them.

[55] J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1900), p. 72.

[56] E. J. Banks, ISBE, p. 1836.

[57] E. M. Blaiklock, op. cit., p. 124.

[58] Ibid., p. 125.

[59] Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1961), Vol. 1, p. 710.

[60] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 487.

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God:

The Amen ... This denotes the one in whom verity is personified."[61] There is also the sense of completeness and finality in it. Before Christ, there was no other; and after him there is no other.

The faithful and true witness ... The faithfulness of Christ is affirmed in this, a truth often overlooked. As deity, Jesus Christ had no need of faith in the sense of its use today; but "as a man" he walked in faith, implicitly trusting all that the Father had promised. In the ultimate sense, all human justification derives from the perfect faith and perfect obedience of Christ.

The beginning of the creation of God ... Plummer pointed out that the words here bear two possible interpretations:

The two meanings are: (1) that which would make Christ the first created thing of all things God created, and (2) that which would understand Christ as the Source of all the things God created.[62]

Plummer and many other able scholars declare the second meaning to be the one intended here. "The words mean, the one from whom creation took its beginning."[63] The agreement with Colossians 1:16 is probably intended, for the church in Laodicea received Colossians.

[61] Ibid., p. 488.

[62] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 115.

[63] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 488.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write - See the notes on Revelation 1:20.

These things saith the Amen - Referring, as is the case in every epistle, to some attribute of the speaker adapted to impress their minds, or to give special force to what he was about to say to that particular church. Laodicea was characterized by lukewarmness, and the reference to the fact that he who was about to address them was the “Amen” - that is, was characterized by the simple earnestness and sincerity denoted by that word - was eminently suited to make an impression on the minds of such a people. The word “Amen” means “true,” “certain,” “faithful”; and, as used here, it means that he to whom it is applied is eminently true and faithful. What he affirms is true; what he promises or threatens is certain. Himself characterized by sincerity and truth (notes on 2 Corinthians 1:20), he can look with approbation only on the same thing in others: and hence he looks with displeasure on the lukewarmness which, from its very nature, always approximates insincerity. This was an attribute, therefore, every way appropriate to be referred to in addressing a lukewarm church.

The faithful and true witness - This is presenting the idea implied in the word “Amen” in a more complete form, but substantially the same thing is referred to. He is a witness for God and his truth, and he can approve of nothing which the God of truth would not approve. See the notes on Revelation 1:5.

The beginning of the creation of God - This expression is a very important one in regard to the rank and dignity of the Saviour, and, like all similar expressions respecting him, its meaning has been much controverted. Compare the notes on Colossians 1:15. The phrase used here is susceptible, properly, of only one of the following significations, namely, either:

(a)That he was the beginning of the creation in the sense that he caused the universe to begin to exist - that is, that he was the author of all things; or.

(b)That he was the first created being; or.

(c)That he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe.

It is not necessary to examine any other proposed interpretations, for the only other senses supposed to be conveyed by the words, that he is the beginning of the creation in the sense I that he rose from the dead as the first-fruits of them that sleep, or that he is the head of the spiritual creation of God, axe so foreign to the natural meaning of the words as to need no special refutation. As to the three significations suggested above, it may be observed, that the first one - that he is the author of the creation, and in that sense the beginning - though expressing a scriptural doctrine John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16, is not in accordance with the proper meaning of the word used here - ἀρχὴ archē. The word properly refers to the “commencement” of a thing, not its “authorship,” and denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank, but not primacy in the sense of causing anything to exist. The two ideas which run through the word as it is used in the New Testament are those just suggested. For the former - primacy in regard to time - that is properly the commencement of a thing, see the following passages where the word occurs: Matthew 19:4, Matthew 19:8; Matthew 24:8, Matthew 24:21; Mark 1:1; Mark 10:6; Mark 13:8, Mark 13:19; Luke 1:2; John 1:1-2; John 2:11; John 6:64; John 8:25, John 8:44; John 15:27; John 16:4; Act 11:15; 1 John 1:1; 1Jo 2:7, 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:11; 2 John 1:5-6. For the latter signification, primacy of rank or authority, see the following places: Luke 12:11; Luke 20:20; Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:10, Colossians 2:15; Titus 3:1. The word is not, therefore, found in the sense of authorship, as denoting that one is the beginning of anything in the sense that he caused it to have an existence. As to the second of the significations suggested, that it means that he was the first created being, it may be observed:

(a) that this is not a necessary signification of the phrase, since no one can show that this is the only proper meaning which could be given to the words, and therefore the phrase cannot be adduced to prove that he is himself a created being. If it were demonstrated from other sources that Christ was, in fact, a created being, and the first that God had made, it cannot be denied that this language would appropriately express that fact. But it cannot be made out from the mere use of the language here; and as the language is susceptible of other interpretations, it cannot be employed to prove that Christ is a created being.

(b) Such an interpretation would be at variance with all those passages which speak of him as uncreated and eternal; which ascribe divine attributes to him; which speak of him as himself the Creator of all things. Compare John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:6,Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:10-12. The third signification, therefore, remains, that he is “the beginning of the creation of God,” in the sense that he is the head or prince of the creation; that is, that he presides over it so far as the purposes of redemption are to be accomplished, and so far as is necessary for those purposes. This is:

(1)In accordance with the meaning of the word, Luke 12:11; Luke 20:20, et al. ut supra; and,

(2)In accordance with the uniform statements respecting the Redeemer, that “all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth” Matthew 28:18; that God has “given him power over all flesh” John 17:2; that all things are “put under his feet” the. John 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:27); that he is exalted over all things, Ephesians 1:20-22. Having this rank, it was proper that he should speak with authority to the church at Laodicea.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 3

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis (Protestant Reformation) write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God ( Revelation 3:1 ),

And so the fullness of the Spirit as it dwelt in Jesus, Isaiah the eleventh chapter.

and the seven stars; I know thy works, that you have a name that you are alive, but really you are dead ( Revelation 3:1 ).

Dead Protestantism. And I'll tell you if you don't believe it is dead, go to Europe. You go into a post-Christian era when you get to Europe. It is dark. The church is dead. The Protestant Reformation in Europe is dead. You say you are alive, but really you are dead.

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works (complete) before God ( Revelation 3:2 ).

The problem with the Protestant Reformation is that it wasn't complete. In the Protestant Reformation they drew with it many of the pagan practices that originated in Babylonian religion systems. They came out, but not far enough. Their works weren't complete. So, we find within the church today a lot of relics from the Babylonian system, the Babylonian religion. We just went through one, the celebration of Christmas on December 25th. It is a tremendous pagan celebration originating in Babylon adopted by Rome called Saturnalia. It was a time of drunkenness and feasting and the giving of gifts and celebration as the sun past through the winter solstice. It was adapted by the church. It was picked up by the Protestants. We are soon going to be entering into the Lent season which was borrowed from the Babylonian system. So, it wasn't a complete reformation.

Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, hold fast, repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and you'll not know what hour I'm coming upon thee ( Revelation 3:3 ).

So now He is warning concerning His coming for the church. Paul said, "You are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are children of the light, therefore walk as children of the light." Now there are many today who are not watching for the return of Jesus Christ. There are many who in the church mock the idea of the Lord returning and interrupting history.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy ( Revelation 3:4 ).

So within the Protestant Reformation, those great persons didn't defile their garments, walking with Him in purity, they are worthy.

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but will confess his name before my Father, and before his holy angels ( Revelation 3:5 ).

"He that denies me before men," Jesus said, "I will deny before my Father, but if you confess Me before men, I will confess you before my Father which is in heaven." I am looking forward to the Lord confessing my name before His Father. That is my only hope. If that doesn't happen, I have had it. I will confess his name before the Father.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches ( Revelation 3:6 ).

Now we have the church of Philadelphia, the faithful remnant. Those who are holding to the Word of God. Those who gather on Sunday evening to study the Word of God.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens ( Revelation 3:7 );

Now he is borrowing a description not out of chapter one in this. The rest of the description is out of chapter one. He is going back to Isaiah 22:0 for this description. And in the twenty-second chapter of Isaiah in verse twenty-two, well, go back to twenty-one, we read this prophecy concerning the Messiah, "I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder, so he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut and none shall open." So, Jesus is here laying claim to that prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 22:22 . I have the key of David. I open and no man can shut. I shut and no man can open.

I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it ( Revelation 3:8 ):

That to me is exciting. The Lord sets before us an open door of opportunity and no man can shut it. I believe that that open door will be open to us until the Lord comes. No man can shut it.

for thou hast a little strength ( Revelation 3:8 ),

I don't see a super church, or super saints. There is a doctrine known as the manifested sons of God that advocates the super sainthood. One of these days we are going to go into the phone booth and change our clothes and we are going to come out with super power and we are going to just point at the Russians and they will just shrivel and die. And all of the enemies of God we are just going to subdue when we are manifested finally as the sons of God before the world. Balderdash. You have a little strength.

We are not very strong. You know it is true that God is doing a wonderful work here and it is exciting to see what God is doing, but we have hardly touched the county. There are so many out there who need Jesus Christ. We can't really sit back and say, "Look, how many we have got coming here." There are so many more to be reached. We have a little strength. Thank God we have a little strength. Thank God that He has set before us the open door.

Behold, I will make of them the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee ( Revelation 3:9 ).

There will be that day that will come that the Jews will recognize that Jesus is the Messiah. That is a work that God is going to do in bringing the knowledge to these people. I do not feel called of God as an evangelist to the Jewish people or to the Jewish nation. I believe that is something that God is going to do. He may call others. And that isn't to say that God doesn't call people as He did to the Jews, but He has not called me. And I don't feel that I have this great obligation to share the Gospel to the Jews. I believe that God has blinded their eyes until the fullness of the gentiles has come in. And so the day will come when they will acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and I pray and long for that day. I hope for that day. But in the meantime I share the truth of God with those that accept, with those that believe.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, [and here it is, because you've kept His Word], I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the eaRuth ( Revelation 3:10 ).

So, the promise of being kept from the Great Tribulation, because we have kept the word of His patience.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name ( Revelation 3:11-12 ).

Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord is our righteousness.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the church ( Revelation 3:13 ).

No call to repentance, just a commendation for keeping the Word, the promise that He would also keep them.

Now the final apostate condition of the church, the church of Laodicea represented by those ministers that sued President Reagan for announcing the year of the Bible. Those ministers that are pro-abortion and pro-pornography and pro every other evil that comes down the pike, who dress in clerical robes and claim to be ministers of Jesus Christ but are really of the synagogue of Satan.

to the angel of the church of Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness ( Revelation 3:14 ),

In chapter one, He was known as the faithful and the true witness.

the beginning of the creation of God ( Revelation 3:14 );

Or who was in the beginning of God's creation. In the beginning was the Word, that the word was with God, all things were made by Him.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth ( Revelation 3:15-16 ).

The nauseating state of the church.

Because you say, I am rich, [endowed with great foundations and funds, we're rich.] we're increased with goods, we have need of nothing; you know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ( Revelation 3:17 ):

Interesting how the church observes itself and how Jesus observes the church.

I counsel thee buy from me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness does not appear; anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see ( Revelation 3:18 ).

That is of the Holy Spirit.

As many as I love ( Revelation 3:19 ),

And here He is loving the church in this sad condition.

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

Oh, how patient the Lord is. He still loves the church in this apostate condition. "As many as I love, I rebuke." If the Lord has rebuked you, then be thankful He loves you. If the Lord chastens you, be thankful you are His child and He loves you.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock ( Revelation 3:20 ):

Actually the church has put Christ on the outside. You read the Gallup Polls and all and it is rather frightening to find out how many ministers do not really believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, do not believe in the virgin birth, do not believe that there is an actual heaven or hell. The percentages are down around fifty to sixty percent that don't believe in these things. It is sad. You wonder why they are ministers. You might as well establish another religion on Mother Goose rhymes or something, or Aesops Fables. Why espouse a book that you can't trust or is not true?

I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in, and will sup with him ( Revelation 3:20 ),

Eating supper is a very significant act from a Biblical standpoint, from a cultural standpoint at the time of Christ. It signified becoming one with the other person. And Jesus is always wanting to eat supper with people. What does it mean? It means that He wants to become one with you. Just open the door and He will come in and become one with you. He will eat supper with you.

Now, the Jew would not eat with the Gentile. He didn't want to become one with the Gentile. You remember when Peter came to the house of Cornelius, he said, "Now look, I am really not supposed to be here. We Jews are not supposed to go into the house of a Gentile, but the Lord told me to come so that is why I am here." And he was apologizing, but he went into the house of Cornelius. God was breaking down some of these barriers. Jesus doesn't care. He says, "Just open the door and I will come in and eat with you. You can become one with Me. I will be glad to share with you and become one with you just open the door."

To him that overcomes 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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches ( Revelation 3:21-22 ).

So we come to the end of the second section of the book of Revelation, the things which are. And next week as we get into chapters four and five. We will enter into the third section, the things which will be after these things of the church. We will take you to heaven next Sunday night.

Oh God, give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. May we tonight, O God, listen to what you would say to us. Search us, O Lord, know our hearts, try us, O God, know our thoughts, if there is a way of unrighteousness, if there is a way of deceitfulness, God help us that we would not deceive ourselves, and be blind to the truth. Lord, if there is something wrong in what we are doing, how we are doing it, let your Spirit reveal to our hearts. God we don't want to go on living in a lie or a fallacy. We long to know Your truth. Thy Word is truth. Teach us thy Word that we might in its precepts and live in its light. In Jesus' name, Amen. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. Destination and description of Christ 3:14

The last of the seven cities (modern Eski-hisar, "the old fortress") lay about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 90 miles east of Ephesus. It was a wealthy town that specialized in banking, producing black woolen cloth, and health care. It had suffered a severe earthquake that had destroyed it, but its prosperous citizens had rebuilt it.

Jesus Christ called Himself the "Amen" (lit. So be it). We should probably understand this title as a testimony to His ability to produce what He predicts (cf. Isaiah 65:16). As a "Witness," His testimony to the situation in Laodicea was trustworthy. The Laodiceans had a reputation for saying and doing whatever was necessary to preserve their own wellbeing. [Note: Tatford, pp. 143-44.] In contrast, Jesus spoke the truth. The "Beginning [Origin] of God’s creation" sets forth His authority to pass judgment. The Laodiceans were creative, but Jesus alone was the Creator (cf. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).

Michael Svigel argued that arche here means ruler (of God’s creation). [Note: Michael J. Svigel, "Christ as ’Arche in Revelation 3:14," Bibliotheca Sacra 161:642 (April-June 2004):215-31.] This rendering is possible, but most translators have believed the meaning is origin or source, which non-Trinitarians have taken as evidence that the Son is a created being.

"The whole tendency of the Johannine writings and of the Apocalypse in particular . . . forbids the interpretation ’the first of creatures.’" [Note: Swete, p. 59.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

G. The letter to the church in Laodicea 3:14-22

Jesus Christ sent this letter to shake the Laodicean Christians out of their self-sufficient complacency and to exhort them to self-sacrifice for higher spiritual goals (cf. Colossians 2:1-2; Colossians 4:16).

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These files are public domain.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,.... Of the city of Laodicea, :-; there was a church here in the times of the Apostle Paul; by whom it was founded is not known; mention is made of it in Colossians 2:1, who was now the angel, or pastor of it, whether Epaphras, who is there named, or another, is not certain. According to the Apostolical Constitutions t, Archippus was ordained bishop of it by the apostles; see Colossians 4:16. There was a church here in the second century, for Sagaris, bishop of it, suffered martyrdom in the times of Antoninus Verus u; and in the "fourth" century, this church was famous for two eminent bishops, Theodorus and Gregory; and in the "fifth" century, it was the metropolitan church of Phrygia, as it was in the "seventh" century, in which age Tyberius, bishop of this place, was in the sixth synod at Constantinople w; but now it is even without inhabitants x. This church represents the state of the church, from the end of the spiritual reign of Christ, till the time of his personal appearing and kingdom, to judge the quick and dead; for after the spiritual reign is over, professors of religion will sink into a formality, and into a lukewarm frame of spirit, and into great spiritual sloth and security, Revelation 3:15, which will make those times like the times of Noah and of Lot; and such will be the days of the coming of the son of man to judge the world. Its name signifies either "the righteousness of the people"; and so may point at that popular and external righteousness, which the majority of the professors of religion in this period of time will be boasting of, and trusting in; being self-sufficient, and self-dependent, when at the same time they will be naked, as well as poor and blind, Revelation 3:17; or it signifies "the judging of the people"; for this church state, at the end of it, will bring on the general judgment; the Judge will now be at the door indeed, standing and knocking; and they that are ready to meet the bridegroom, when he comes, will be admitted into the nuptial chamber, and sit down with him in his throne, in the thousand years' kingdom, at the close of which will be the second resurrection, when all the people, small and great, shall be judged, Revelation 3:19.

These things saith the Amen; see Isaiah 65:16; The word "Amen" is the name of a divine Person with the Jews, and it seems the second Person; for so on those words in Proverbs 8:30; "then was I by him as one brought up with him", they observe y, do not read "Amon", the word there used, but "Amen"; and, a little after, "Amen", they say, is the "notaricon", or sign of אל מלך נאמן, "God the faithful King"; they make z "Amen" to be one of the names of the second "Sephira", or number in the Cabalistic tree, by whom the second Person in the Godhead seems to be designed: and they say a, that the word "Amen", by gematry (or numerically) answers to the two names "Jehovah, Adonai". Christ may be so called, because he is the God of truth, and truth itself; and it may be expressive of his faithfulness, both to God his Father, and to his people, in whom all the promises he either made, or received, are yea and amen; and also of the firmness, constancy, and immutability of Christ, in his nature, person, and offices, in his love, fulness of grace, power, blood, and righteousness; and is very appropriately assumed by him now, when he was about to give the finishing stroke to all covenant engagements, and to all promises and prophesies; see Revelation 1:18.

The faithful and true witness; who as he was in the days of his flesh, Revelation 1:18- :; so he will be at the day of judgment, a swift witness against all ungodly men; and he may the rather take up this title, not only on that account, but to show that the description he gives of the state and condition of this church is just, Revelation 3:15; and to engage it to take his advice the more readily, Revelation 3:18; and to assure it of the nearness of his coming, Revelation 3:20; and to strengthen the faith of his people, and quicken their hope and expectation of the happiness with him promised, Revelation 3:21; the same character is given to the Logos, or Word of the Lord, by the Targumist in Jeremiah 42:5, let the Word of the Lord be to us לסהיך קשוט ומהימן, "for a true and faithful witness"; the very phrase here used.

The beginning of the creation of God; not the first creature that God made, but the first cause of the creation; the first Parent, producer, and efficient cause of every creature; the author of the old creation, who made all things out of nothing in the beginning of time; and of the new creation, the everlasting Father of, everyone that is made a new creature; the Father of the world to come, or of the new age and Gospel dispensation; the Maker of the new heaven and new earth; and so a very fit person to be the Judge of the whole world, to summon all nations before him, and pass the final sentence on them. The phrase is Jewish, and it is a title the Jews give to Metatron, by whom they sometimes mean the Messiah; so those words in

Genesis 24:2, and Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, they paraphrase thus b;

""and Abraham said unto his servant", this is Metatron, (or the Mediator,) the servant of God, "the eldest of his house"; for he is תחלת בריותיו של מקום, "the beginning of the creation of God", who rules over all that he has; for to him the holy blessed God has given the government of all his hosts.''

Christ is the αρχη, "the Prince", or Governor of all creatures.

t L. 7. c. 46. u Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 4. c. 26. & l. 5. c. 24. w Eccl. Hist. Magdeburg. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 7. p. 418. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 7. p. 112. c. 10. p. 254. x Smith. Notitia, p. 150. y Zohar in Deut. fol. 121. 4. so in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 119. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 111. 1. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 46. 1. z Cabal. Denud. par. 2. p. 7. a Lex. Cabal. p. 130. & Baal Hatturim in Deut. xxviii. 15. b Zohar in Gen. fol. 77. 1.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Church in Laodicea. A. D. 95.

      14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, 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 eye-salve, 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.

      We now come to the last and worst of all the seven Asian churches, the reverse of the church of Philadelphia; for, as there was nothing reproved in that, here is nothing commended in this, and yet this was one of the seven golden candlesticks, for a corrupt church may still be a church. Here we have, as before,

      I. The inscription, to whom, and from whom. 1. To whom: To the angel of the church of Laodicea. This was a once famous city near the river Lycus, had a wall of vast compass, and three marble theatres, and, like Rome, was built on seven hills. It seems, the apostle Paul was very instrumental in planting the gospel in this city, from which he wrote a letter, as he mentions in the epistle to the Colossians, the last chapter, in which he sends salutations to them, Laodicea not being above twenty miles distant from Colosse. In this city was held a council in the fourth century, but it has been long since demolished, and lies in its ruins to this day, an awful monument of the wrath of the Lamb. 2. From whom this message was sent. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. (1.) The Amen, one that is steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises, which are all yea, and all amen. (2.) The faithful and true witness, whose testimony of God to men ought to be received and fully believed, and whose testimony of men to God will be fully believed and regarded, and will be a swift but true witness against all indifferent lukewarm professors. (3.) The beginning of the creation of God, either of the first creation, and so he is the beginning, that is, the first cause, the Creator, and the Governor of it; or of the second creation, the church; and so he is the head of that body, the first-born from the dead, as it is in Revelation 1:5; Revelation 1:5, whence these titles are taken. Christ, having raised up himself by his own divine power, as the head of a new world, raises up dead souls to be a living temple and church to himself.

      II. The subject-matter, in which observe,

      1. The heavy charge drawn up against this church, ministers and people, by one who knew them better than they knew themselves: Thou art neither cold nor hot, but worse than either; I would thou wert cold or hot,Revelation 3:15; Revelation 3:15. Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it is not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth any thing, it is worth every thing; an indifference here is inexcusable: Why halt you between two opinions? If God be God, follow him; if Baal (be God), follow him. Here is no room for neutrality. An open enemy shall have a fairer quarter than a perfidious neuter; and there is more hope of a heathen than of such. Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for him or against him.

      2. A severe punishment threatened: I will spue thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach, and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ against them. He is sick of them, and cannot long bear them. They may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, moderation, and a largeness of soul; it is nauseous to Christ, and makes those so that allow themselves in it. They shall be rejected, and finally rejected; for far be it from the holy Jesus to return to that which has been thus rejected.

      3. We have one cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion assigned, and that is self-conceitedness or self-delusion. They thought they were very well already, and therefore they were very indifferent whether they grew better or no: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, c., Revelation 3:17; Revelation 3:17. Here observe, What a difference there was between the thoughts they had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them. (1.) The high thoughts they had of themselves: Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, rich, and growing richer, and increased to such a degree as to be above all want or possibility of wanting. Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well furnished in their souls: they had learning, and they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them for grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God of ordinances. How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls. (2.) The mean thoughts that Christ had of them; and he was not mistaken. He knew, though they knew not, that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Their state was wretched in itself, and such as called for pity and compassion from others: though they were proud of themselves, they were pitied by all who knew their case. For, [1.] They were poor, really poor, when they said and thought they were rich; they had no provision for their souls to live upon; their souls were starving in the midst of their abundance; they were vastly in debt to the justice of God, and had nothing to pay off the least part of the debt. [2.] They were blind; they could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger; they could not see into themselves; they could not look before them; they were blind, and yet they thought they saw; the very light that was in them was darkness, and then how great must that darkness be! They could not see Christ, though evidently set forth, and crucified, before their eyes. They could not see God by faith, though always present in them. They could not see death, though it was just before them. They could not look into eternity, though they stood upon the very brink of it continually. [3.] They were naked, without clothing and without house and harbour for their souls. They were without clothing, had neither the garment of justification nor that of sanctification. Their nakedness both of guilt and pollution had no covering. They lay always exposed to sin and shame. Their righteousnesses were but filthy rags; they were rags, and would not cover them, filthy rags, and would defile them. And they were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, and he has been the dwelling-place of his people in all ages; in him alone the soul of man can find rest, and safety, and all suitable accommodations. The riches of the body will not enrich the soul; the sight of the body will not enlighten the soul; the most convenient house for the body will not afford rest nor safety to the soul. The soul is a different thing from the body, and must have accommodation suitable to its nature, or else in the midst of bodily prosperity it will be wretched and miserable.

      4. We have good counsel given by Christ to this sinful people, and that is that they drop their vain and false opinion they had of themselves, and endeavour to be that really which they would seem to be: I counsel thee to buy of me, c., Revelation 3:18; Revelation 3:18. Observe, (1.) Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to give good counsel to those who have cast his counsels behind their backs. (2.) The condition of sinners in never desperate, while they enjoy the gracious calls and counsels of Christ. (3.) Our blessed Lord, the counsellor, always gives the best advice, and that which is most suitable to the sinner's case; as here, [1.] These people were poor; Christ counsels them to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich. He lets them know where they might have true riches and how they might have them. First, Where they might have them--from himself; he sends them not to the streams of Pactolus, nor to the mines of Potosi, but invites them to himself, the pearl of price. Secondly, And how must they have this true gold from him? They must buy it. This seems to be unsaying all again. How can those that are poor buy gold? Just as they may buy of Christ wine and milk, that is, without money and without price,Isaiah 55:1. Something indeed must be parted with, but it is nothing of a valuable consideration, it is only to make room for receiving true riches. "Part with sin and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of your poverty and emptiness, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure." [2.] These people were naked; Christ tells them where they might have clothing, and such as would cover the shame of their nakedness. This they must receive from Christ; and they must only put off their filthy rags that they might put on the white raiment which he had purchased and provided for them--his own imputed righteousness for justification and the garments of holiness and sanctification. [3.] They were blind; and he counsels them to buy of him eye-salve, that they might see, to give up their own wisdom and reason, which are but blindness in the things of God, and resign themselves to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end, their duty and their true interest; a new and glorious scene would then open itself to their souls; a new world furnished with the most beautiful and excellent objects, and this light would be marvellous to those who were but just now delivered from the powers of darkness. This is the wise and good counsel Christ gives to careless souls; and, if they follow it, he will judge himself bound in honour to make it effectual.

      5. Here is added great and gracious encouragement to this sinful people to take the admonition and advice well that Christ had given them, Revelation 3:19; Revelation 3:20. He tells them, (1.) It was given them in true and tender affection: "Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten. You may think I have given you hard words and severe reproofs; it is all out of love to your souls. I would not have thus openly rebuked and corrected your sinful lukewarmness and vain confidence, if I had not been a lover of your souls; had I hated you, I would have let you alone, to go on in sin till it had been your ruin." Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod as tokens of his good-will to their souls, and should accordingly repent in good earnest, and turn to him that smites them; better are the frowns and wounds of a friend than the flattering smiles of an enemy. (2.) If they would comply with his admonitions, he was ready to make them good to their souls: Behold, I stand at the door and knock, c., Revelation 3:20; Revelation 3:20. Here observe, [1.] Christ is graciously pleased by his word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners; he draws near to them in a way of mercy, ready to make them a kind visit. [2.] He finds this door shut against him; the heart of man is by nature shut up against Christ by ignorance, unbelief, sinful prejudices. [3.] When he finds the heart shut, he does not immediately withdraw, but he waits to be gracious, even till his head be filled with the dew. [4.] He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to him: he calls by his word, he knocks by the impulses of his Spirit upon their conscience. [5.] Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence, to their great comfort and advantage. He will sup with them; he will accept of what is good in them; he will eat his pleasant fruit; and he will bring the best part of the entertainment with him. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will make up the deficiency: he will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, and love, and delight; and in all this Christ and his repenting people will enjoy pleasant communion with each other. Alas! what do careless obstinate sinners lose by refusing to open the door of the heart to Christ!

      III. We now come to the conclusion of this epistle; and here we have as before,

      1. The promise made to the overcoming believer. It is here implied, (1.) That though this church seemed to be wholly overrun and overcome with lukewarmness and self-confidence, yet it was possible that by the reproofs and counsels of Christ they might be inspired with fresh zeal and vigour, and might come off conquerors in their spiritual warfare. (2.) That, if they did so, all former faults should be forgiven, and they should have a great reward. And what is that reward? They shall sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and have sat down with my Father on his throne,Revelation 3:21; Revelation 3:21. Here it is intimated, [1.] That Christ himself had met with his temptations and conflicts. [2.] That he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. [3.] That, as the reward of his conflict and victory, he has sat down with God the Father on his throne, possessed of that glory which he had with the Father from eternity, but which he was pleased very much to conceal on earth, leaving it as it were in the hands of the Father, as a pledge that he would fulfil the work of a Saviour before he reassumed that manifestative glory; and, having done so, then pignus reposcere--he demands the pledge, to appear in his divine glory equal to the Father. [4.] That those who are conformed to Christ in his trials and victories shall be conformed to him in his glory; they shall sit down with him on his throne, on his throne of judgment at the end of the world, on his throne of glory to all eternity, shining in his beams by virtue of their union with him and relation to him, as the mystical body of which he is the head.

      2. All is closed up with the general demand of attention (Revelation 3:22; Revelation 3:22), putting all to whom these epistles shall come in mind that what is contained in them is not of private interpretation, not intended for the instruction, reproof, and correction of those particular churches only, but of all the churches of Christ in all ages and parts of the world: and as there will be a resemblance in all succeeding churches to these, both in their graces and sins, so they may expect that God will deal with them as he dealt with these, which are patterns to all ages what faithful, and fruitful churches may expect to receive from God, and what those who are unfaithful may expect to suffer from his hand; yea, that God's dealings with his churches may afford useful instruction to the rest of the world, to put them upon considering, If judgment begin at the house of God, what shall the end of those be that do not obey the gospel of Christ?1 Peter 4:17. Thus end the messages of Christ to the Asian churches, the epistolary part of this book. We now come to the prophetical part.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation


LAODICEA--The complacent church which; has lost its purpose and meaning. Not one word of praise is given her. She has no Adversaries--a sure sign of decay. A church self-satisfied with its spiritual state is common, yet the saddest and most hopeless of any. The lukewarmness of such a church is threatened with rejection and destruction.

These seven messages show the universal church in every age and land beset by persecution from without and by lukewarmness and Lack of love from within.


(The lukewarm church).

Here was a church with no emotion, no enthusiasm, no sense of urgency, no passion and no compassion--and therefore it had ceased to be a Christian church. The members of the church in Laodicea wore the Cross as an ornament but never considered the Cross as a death to a life of selfish ease. They were lukewarm, complacent, self-deceived. The message of Christ is directed to those church members who remain church members so long as it doesn’t cost them anything. Christ comes to such lukewarm church members and calls in love (verse 20). "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him and he with me." Christ calls these church members to a new, warm zeal and enthusiasm.

Christ shut out of His world (for they crucified Him).

Christ shut out of His church (for it is the door of a church on which He is knocking in Revelation 3:20).

And Christ waits--not for a committee or church business meeting resolution to decide whether to admit Him. Christ waits until ANY ONE PERSON in the congregation is willing to open the door to Him.

As Holman Hunt reminds us in his painting "The Light of the World" "THE LATCH IS ON OUR SIDE OF THE DOOR."

To those who open the door Christ offers in verse 21 that they will share the throne with Him. This picture of Christ sharing His throne with Christians surpasses all the symbols of Christian hope. Beyond this promise neither hope nor imagination can go.

Read the messages to the 7 churches of Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22 as Christ’s message to your own church and pray "Lord, revive your church, beginning with me."

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Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

An Earnest Warning about Lukewarmness

A Sermon Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, July 26th, 1874, by C. H. SPURGEON, At the Newington

"Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 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: 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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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. 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." Revelation 3:14-21

No Scripture ever wears out. The epistle to the church of Laodicea is not an old letter which may be put into the waste basket and be forgotten; upon its page still glow the words, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." This Scripture was not meant to instruct the Laodiceans only, it has a wider aim. The actual church of Laodicea has passed away, but other Laodiceas still exist indeed, they are sadly multiplied in our day, and it has ever been the tendency of human nature, however inflamed with the love of God, gradually to chill into lukewarmness. The letter to the Laodiceans is above all others the epistle for the present times. I. My first point will be THE STATE INTO WHICH CHURCHES ARE VERY APT TO FALL. A church may fall into a condition far other than that for which it has a repute. It may be famous for zeal and yet be lethargic. The address of our Lord begins, "I know thy works," as much as to say, "Nobody else knows you. Men think better of you than you deserve. You do not know yourselves, you think your works to be excellent; but I know them to be very different." Jesus views with searching eyes all the works of his church. The public can only read reports, but Jesus sees for himself. He knows what is done, and how it is done, and why it is done. He judges a church not merely by her external activities, but by her internal pieties; he searches the heart, and tries the reins of the children of men. He is not deceived by glitter; he tests all things, and values only that gold which will endure the fire. Our opinion of ourselves and Christ's opinion of us may be very different, and it is a very sad thing when it is so. It will be melancholy indeed if we stand out as a church notable for earnestness and distinguished for success, and yet are not really fervent in spirit, or eager in soul-winning. A lack of vital energy where there seems to be most strength put forth, a lack of real love to Jesus where apparently there is the greatest devotedness to him, are sad signs of fearful degeneracy. Churches are very apt to put the best goods into the window, very apt to make a fair show in the flesh, and like men of the world, they try to make a fine figure upon a very slender estate. Great reputations have often but slender foundations, and lovers of the truth lament that it should be so. Not only is it true of churches, but of every one of us as individuals, that often our reputation is in advance of our deserts. Men often live on their former credit, and trade upon their past characters, having still a name to live, though they are indeed dead. To be slandered is a dire affliction, but it is, upon the whole, a less evil than to be thought better than we are; in the one case we have a promise to comfort us, in the second we are in danger of self-conceit. I speak as unto wise men, judge ye how far this may apply to us. This is a horrible state, because it is one which in a church wearing a good repute renders that reputation a lie. When other churches are saying, "See how they prosper! see what they do for God!" Jesus sees that the church is doing his work in a slovenly, make-believe manner, and he considers justly that it is deceiving its friends. If the world recognizes such a people as being very distinctly an old-fashioned puritanic church, and yet there is unholy living among them, and careless walking, and a deficiency of real piety, prayer, liberality, and zeal, then the world itself is being deceived, and that too in the worst way, because it is led to judge falsely concerning Christianity, for it lays all these faults upon the back of religion, and cries out, "It is all a farce! The thing is a mere pretence! Christians are all hypocrites!" I fear there are churches of this sort. God grant we may not be numbered with them! When churches get into the condition of half-hearted faith, tolerating the gospel, but having a sweet tooth for error, they do far more mischief to their age than downright heretics. Alas, this state of lukewarmness is so congenial with human nature that it is hard to fetch men from it. Cold makes us shiver, and great heat causes us pain, but a tepid bath is comfort itself. Such a temperature suits human nature. The world is always at peace with a lukewarm church, and such a church is always pleased with itself. Not too worldly, no! We have our limits! There are certain amusements which of course a Christian must give up, but we will go quite up to the line, for why are we to be miserable? We are not to be so greedy as to be called miserly, but we will give as little as we can to the cause. We will not be altogether absent from the house of God, but we will go as seldom as we can. We will not altogether forsake the poor people to whom we belong, but we will also go to the world's church, so as to get admission into better society, and find fashionable friends for our children. How much of this there is abroad! Compromise is the order of the day. Thousands try to hold with the hare and run with the hounds, they are for God and Mammon, Christ and Belial, truth and error, and so are "neither hot nor cold." Do I speak somewhat strongly? Not so strongly as my Master, for he says, "I will spue thee out of my mouth." He is nauseated with such conduct, it sickens him, and he will not endure it. In an earnest, honest, fervent heart nausea is created when we fall in with men who dare not give up their profession, and yet will not live up to it; who cannot altogether forsake the work of God, but yet do it in a sluggard's manner, trifling with that which ought to be done in the best style for so good a Lord and so gracious a Saviour. Many a church has fallen into a condition of indifference, and when it does so it generally becomes the haunt of worldly professors, a refuge for people who want an easy religion, which enables them to enjoy the pleasures of sin and the honours of piety at the same time; where things are free and easy, where you are not expected to do much, or give much, or pray much, or to be very religious; where the minister is not so precise as the old school divines, a more liberal people, of broad views, free-thinking and free-acting, where there is full tolerance for sin, and no demand for vital godliness. Such churches applaud cleverness in a preacher; as for his doctrine, that is of small consequence, and his love to Christ and zeal for souls are very secondary. He is a clever fellow, and can speak well, and that suffices. This style of things is all too common, yet we are expected to hold our tongue, for the people are very respectable. The Lord grant that we may be kept clear of such respectability! Once more, this church of Laodicea had fallen into a condition which had chased away its Lord. The text tells us that Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock." That is not the position which our Lord occupies in reference to a truly flourishing church. If we are walking aright with him, he is in the midst of the church, dwelling there, and revealing himself to his people. His presence makes our worship to be full of spirituality and life; he meets his servants at the table, and there spreads them a feast upon his body and his blood; it is he who puts power and energy into all our church-action, and causes the word to sound out from our midst. True saints abide in Jesus and he in them. Oh, brethren, when the Lord is in a church, it is a happy church, a holy church, a mighty church, and a triumphant church; but we may grieve him till he will say, "I will go and return to my place, until they acknowledge their offence and seek my face." Oh, you that know my Lord, and have power with him, entreat him not to go away from us. He can see much about us as a people which grieves his Holy Spirit, much about any one of us to provoke him to anger. Hold him, I pray you, and do not let him go, or if he be gone, bring him again to his mother's house, into the chamber of her that bare him, where, with holy violence, we will detain him and say, "Abide with us, for thou art life and joy, and all in all to us as a church. Ichabod is written across our house if thou be gone, for thy presence is our glory and thy absence will be our shame." Churches may become like the temple when the glory of the Lord had left the holy place, because the image of jealousy was set up and the house was defiled. What a solemn warning is that which is contained in Jeremiah 7:12-15 , "But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore I will do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim." Then he also ceases to plead for such a church. Christ's special intercession is not for all men, for he says of his people, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." I do not think Christ ever prays for the church of Rome what would he pray for, but her total overthrow? Other churches are nearing the same fate; they are not clear in his truth or honest in obedience to his word: they follow their own devices, they are lukewarm. But there are churches for which he is pleading, for he has said, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Mighty are his pleadings for those he really loves, and countless are the blessings which comes in consequence. It will be an evil day when he casts a church out of that interceding mouth, and leaves her unrepresented before the throne because he is none of his. Do you not tremble at such a prospect? Will you not ask for grace to return to your first love? I know that the Lord Jesus will never leave off praying for his own elect, but for churches as corporate bodies he may cease to pray, because they become anti-Christian, or are mere human gatherings, but not elect assemblies, such as the church of God ought to be. Now this is the danger of any church if it declines from its first ardour and becomes lukewarm. "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." In such a case as that the church will fail of overcoming, for it is "to him that overcometh" that a seat upon Christ's throne is promised; but that church will come short of victory. It shall be written concerning it even as of the children of Ephraim, that being armed and carrying bows they turned their backs in the day of battle. "Ye did run well," says Paul to the Galatians, "what did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Such a church had a grand opportunity, but it was not equal to the occasion, its members were born for a great work, but inasmuch as they were unfaithful, God put them aside and used other means. He raised up in their midst a flaming testimony for the gospel, and the light thereof was cast athwart the ocean, and gladdened the nations, but the people were not worthy of it, or true to it, and therefore he took the candlestick out of its place, and left them in darkness. May God prevent such an evil from coming upon us: but such is the danger to all churches if they degenerate into listless indifference. Note, then, the first remedy. Jesus gives a clear discovery as to the church's true state. He says to it "Thou are lukewarm, thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." I rejoice to see people willing to know the truth, but most men do not wish to know it, and this is an ill sign. When a man tells you that he has not looked at his ledger, or day-book, or held a stock-taking for this twelvemonths, you know whereabouts he is, and you say to your manager, "Have you an account with him? Then keep it as close as you can." When a man dares not know the worst about his case, it is certainly a bad one, but he that is right before God is thankful to be told what he is and where he is. Now, some of you know the faults of other people, and in watching this church you have observed weak points in many places, have you wept over them? Have you prayed over them? If not, you have not watched as you should do for the good of your brethren and sisters, and, perhaps, have allowed evils to grow which ought to have been rooted up: you have been silent when you should have kindly and earnestly spoken to the offenders, or made your own example a warning to them. Do not judge your brother, but judge yourself: if you have any severity, use it on your own conduct and heart. We must pray the Lord to use this remedy, and make us know just where we are. We shall never get right as long as we are confident that we are so already. Self-complacency is the death of repentance. If religion has not been genuine with us till now, or if we have been adding to it great lumps of shining stuff which we thought was gold and was not, let us now go to the heavenly mint and buy gold tried in the fire, that we may be really rich. Come, let us begin again, each one of us. Inasmuch as we may have thought we were clothed and yet we were naked, let us hasten to him again, and at his own price, which is no price, procure the robe which he has wrought of his own righteousness, and that goodly raiment of his Spirit, which will clothe us with the beauty of the Lord. If, moreover, we have come to be rather dim in the eye, and no longer look up to God and see his face, and have no bright vision of the glory to be revealed, and cannot look on sinners with weeping eyes, as we once did, let us go to Jesus for the eye-salve, just as we went when we were stone blind at first, and the Lord will open our eyes again, and we shall behold him in clear vision as in days gone by. The word from Jesus is, "Come near to me, I pray you, my brethren. If you have wandered from me, return; if you have been cold to me I am not cold to you, my heart is the same to you as ever, come back to me, my brethren. Confess your evil deeds, receive my forgiveness, and henceforth let your hearts burn towards me, for I love you still and will supply all your needs." That is good counsel, let us take it. The last remedy, however, is the best of all to my mind. I love it best and desire to make it my food when it is not my medicine. The best remedy for backsliding churches is more communion with Christ. "Behold," saith he, "I stand at the door and knock." I have known this text preached upon to sinners numbers of times as though Christ knocked at their door and they had to open it, and so on. The preacher has never managed to keep to free grace for this reason, that the text was not meant to be so used, and if men will ride a text the wrong way, it will not go. This text belongs to the church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean church. There is Christ outside the church, driven there by her unkindness, but he has not gone far away, he loves his church too much to leave her altogether, he longs to come back, and therefore he waits at the doorpost. He knows that the church will never be restored till he comes back, and he desires to bless her, and so he stands waiting, knocking and knocking, again and again; he does not merely knock once, but he stands knocking by earnest sermons, by providences, by impressions upon the conscience, by the quickenings of his Holy Spirit; and while he knocks he speaks, he uses all means to awaken his church. Most condescendingly and graciously does he do this, for having threatened to spue her out of his mouth, he might have said, "I will get me gone; and I will never come back again to thee," that would have been natural and just; but how gracious he is when, having expressed his disgust he says, "Disgusted as I am with your condition, I do not wish to leave you; I have taken my presence from you, but I love you, and therefore I knock at your door, and wish to be received into your heart. I will not force myself upon you, I want you voluntarily to open the door to me." Christ's presence in a church is always a very tender thing. He never is there against the will of the church, it cannot be, for he lives in his people's wills and hearts, and "worketh in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure." He does not break bolt and bar and come in as he often does into a sinner's heart, carrying the soul by storm, because the man is dead in sin, and Christ must do it all, or the sinner will perish; but he is here speaking to living men and women, who ought also to be loving men and women, and he says, "I wish to be among you, open the door to me." We ought to open the door at once, and say, "Come in, good Lord, we grieve to think we should ever have put thee outside that door at all." Now, brethren and sisters, what can I say to move you to take this last medicine? I can only say, take it, not only because of the good it will do you, but because of the sweetness of it. I have heard say of some persons that they were pledged not to take wine except as a medicine, but then they were very pleased when they were ill: and so if this be the medicine, "I will come and sup with him, and he with me," we may willingly confess our need of so delicious a remedy. Need I press it on you? May I not rather urge each brother as soon as he gets home today to see whether he cannot enter into fellowship with Jesus? and may the Spirit of God help him! "This is my closing word, there is something for us to do in this matter. We must examine ourselves, and we must confess the fault if we have declined in grace. An then we must not talk about setting the church right, we must pray for grace each one for himself, for the text does not say, "If the church will open the door," but "If any man hear my voice and open the door." It must be done by individuals: the church will only get right by each man getting right. Oh, that we might get back into an earnest zeal for our Lord's love and service, and we shall only do so by listening to his rebukes, and then falling into his arms, clasping him once again, and saying, "My Lord and my God." That healed Thomas, did it not? Putting his fingers into the print of the nails, putting his hand into the side, that cured him. Poor, unbelieving, staggering Thomas only had to do that and he became one of the strongest of believers, and said, "My Lord and my God." You will love your Lord till your soul is as coals of juniper if you will daily commune with him. Come close to him, and once getting close to him, never go away from him any more. The Lord bless you, dear brethren, the Lord bless you in this thing.


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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.