The following is a reproduction of a bible study given by Bryant Muldrew in 2016. We recommend that you follow along in your bible. If you don’t have a bible at your disposal, we have provided hyperlinks for all the verses that were not directly quoted. God bless.
The first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation discusses 7 churches. Jesus Christ personally revealed a message to each church. In Rev. 1:19, Christ tells John to write what he saw in a book. We are also told that these churches are in Asia. The things John wrote were “things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” The message contained in the book of Revelation is prophetic and therefore it is not just for the churches for Asia. The specific messages written to the churches were recorded for the church of God as whole just like we are to learn for the epistles written by other apostles. Today, we will zero in on the message given to the church at Laodicea.
First, notice that the opening to the church in Laodicea is different than the openings to the others.
There may be some significance in the fact that Jesus uses the word of instead of in. Even though Laodicea was a physical location it is said that this church is “of Laodiceans” rather than being “in Laodicea.” Additionally the church in Ephesus was not call the church “of the Ephesians.” Even Paul’s epistles are addressed to the church of God or the saints at some location instead of being given the name of the location. As you read through Christ’s message to the Laodiceans, you can identify that the members of the church are self-centered which may be the reason why the opening is different.
Jesus tells the Laodiceans that He would prefer for them to be cold or fervent in their actions (works). He knows their works. They have works but their works have proven that they are neither cold nor fervent (boiling) for God. Remember James 2:18. Faith is shown by works. The works of the Laodiceans has shown that they are lukewarm.
The definitions of fervent according to dictionary.com are the following:
- having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, ; ardent: a fervent admirer; a fervent plea.
- hot; burning;
The Laodiceans do not have works that show strong faith which would make them a light in the world. Because of their lukewarm ways, Christ says He will spue them out. In the book of Leviticus, God talks about ancient Israel being spued out by the land. Read Lev. 18:1-4, 24-30 and Lev. 20:22.
God spues people out because abominations and lawlessness. The Laodiceans will have their iniquities visited upon them. Notice this going to be done out of love. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19). God intends to educate and discipline them as a Father would discipline children doing the wrong things. Look up of the word chasten in a concordance. It means to train up a child i.e. educate by implication discipline.
Look at what the Laodiceans say. “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” (Rev. 3:17). The Laodiceans claim to be rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing. They trust in their riches. The bible has a lot to say about those who trust in riches. Read Mark 10:17-25, Luke 12:13-21, and Luke 8:14 as references to this fact.
The bible indicates that we can lose sight of eternal life and God’s plan if we focus on acquiring material wealth. God will not trust us with the treasures of His kingdom if this is our attitude. Also notice Christ’s admonishment in Matt 6:19-21. The Laodicean attitude is of someone who has stored up earthly treasures. These treasure decay (rust) and can be taken away.
As is it written, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24). Thus, the Laodiceans are not loving God the way we are commanded to do. (Read Deut. 6:5 and Mark 12:29-30) The Laodiceans think they are “in need of nothing” because they have acquired (or are seeking to acquire) material wealth. God has promised to provide for us the physical things we need if we seek the Kingdom of God and the Father’s righteousness first. (Matt. 6:33).
So, Christ will spue the Laodiceans out to be corrected (disciplined) because they have placed their trust in material riches and are ignorant of the fact that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Let’s explore the meaning of this description given by Jesus Christ.
Notice Jesus Christ says that the Laodiceans don’t know that they are enduring trials (wretched). They don’t know that what they are experiencing are trials. They are so fixated on material wealth that they don’t even notice they are enduring trials.
Question: How you not know if you were enduring trials if you were applying James 1:2-7?
James 1:2-3 is talking about having calm delight (cheerfulness) in proving of your faith through your experiences because the testing of your faith completes patience. It would be impossible to have calm cheerfulness during trials without knowing you are in one. Laodiceans are not asking for wisdom (see James 1:5) because they think they are “in need of nothing”. With wisdom from God, they would know they are experiencing trials, that their faith is being tested. God allows us to experience trials to build faith and character in us and to see if we will remain steadfast.
Jesus Christ tells us the Laodiceans are miserable. In the Greek, miserable means pitiable as shown above. Be sure to research these definitions for yourself. Based on the definitions, Jesus Christ is telling us that the Laodiceans’ should be pitied and mourned for (miserable) because of the condition they are in.
Compare Rev. 3:17-18 with Rev. 2:8-9. The Smyrna Church is said to be in poverty, but the church is rich. This means physically they are poor, but they are spiritually rich. Laodicea is increased with goods but do not know they are poor. They are spiritually poor. They are not storing up spiritual treasure (Luke 12:21).
If we apply the principle of what Christ says in those verses, we can see that the Laodiceans are spiritually blind. They do not see the larger picture contained in the God’s Word. Read the following:
“Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.” (Matt. 23:16-22)
The Laodiceans do not see the real way to keep God’s law and avoid sin. If we are spiritually blind, we will also point others in the wrong direction when it comes to living God’s way and honoring Him in our deeds.
This brings us to the last thing Christ said about the Laodiceans. They are naked. What does it mean to be spiritually naked?
Ask why were the people of Israel considered naked? The scripture makes it plain that their sin of worshipping other gods was visible to others. Does this mean the Laodiceans have turned to serve other gods?
Paul tells us that before Christ returns there will be an apostasy (a great falling away) (II Thes. 2:2-3). Have the Laodiceans fallen away? The scripture indicates this to be so.
The Admonishment to those with the Laodicean Attitude
Let’s read what Christ say to encourage those in this error.
“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.19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:18-19)
The apostle Paul explains what Christ means by buying of Him gold tried in the fire in I Cor. 3:1-15.
The Laodiceans are not building on their foundation in Christ. They are not letting God increase them, make them grow spiritually. All works done will be tried in the fire. They will either burn up or survive. We must grow in grace and knowledge (II Peter. 3:18) and let God work in us.
The Laodiceans’ works are not of gold, so Christ is urging them to grow in Him and they will have works of gold worthy of reward in the Kingdom of God. Remember the parable of the talents and pounds (Matt. 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27). These parables tell us that those who don’t gain will lose what was given. We must be careful not to fall into the category of not utilizing the gifts God has given to us.
Questions We Must Asked Ourselves
We must constantly ask ourselves the following questions:
- Am I building on the foundation of Christ?
- Am I growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
- Am I seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first?
- Am I too focused on my physical needs?
- Is my faith visible and shown to others in humility?
If we are in the Laodicean attitude, God will discipline us (Rev. 3:19). He is going to do this because He loves us and wants us to repent. God would rather give us eternal life than for us to perish (Rom. 6:23 and 2 Pet. 3:9)
We hope this study has blessed you as you try to avoid being a lukewarm follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.