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The Laodicean Dichotomy

Rev 3:14-22

Questions for Children (or anyone else)

Revelation 3:14-22
The Laodicean Dichotomy
May 10 2020

Click here for: Revelation 3 Printable Worksheet

What is revealed here about the church in Laodicea?

Why might the church think they were rich and what was Jesus telling them?

Why might some believers be afraid to show their faith?

Describe the grace and love that Jesus shows the church at Laodicea. Why does Jesus offer to come into their homes and eat with them?

What might be two to three things you can do this week to grow in courage when it comes to living out your faith in front of others?


Sermon Text

Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)

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.’”

A Little Deeper

Sam Storm provides a collection of commentaries on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, and below is an excerpt of his article on the letter to the church at Laodicea. The full article is available through the link at the bottom of the excerpt, and provides important historical and geographical context to help our understanding of our Lord's warning to this particular church, and by extension, the Church today.

The Letter to the Church at Laodicea
The courier who had been entrusted by the apostle John with the seven letters to the seven churches neared his journey’s end. Having embarked from the island of Patmos with the book of Revelation securely tucked away in his messenger’s pouch, he would have begun his travel along the circular route by first visiting Ephesus. Moving northward he would pass through the cities of Smyrna and Pergamum, at which point, turning southeast, his journey would lead him to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia. Finally, having come almost full circle along the well-beaten trade route, he would arrive at his final destination: Laodicea.

As he no doubt tarried in each of the cities long enough to hear the public reading of the respective letters, his understanding of the nature and practice of the local church surely blossomed. Ephesus: so zealous for theological purity and yet growing coldly indifferent to one another. Smyrna: wracked with poverty as a result of persecution and suffering, yet standing firm. Pergamum: so full of love and compassion but in danger of theological and moral compromise. Thyatira: the epitome of growth and development but overly tolerant of false teaching. Sardis: known throughout the world for life and love, but in reality spiritual putrefaction was rampant. And Philadelphia: so small, so seemingly insignificant, yet so diligent and patient in the face of a hostile world. He must have thought he had seen it all … until he came to Laodicea!

Laodicea was a wealthy city, perhaps the wealthiest in all of Phrygia. It was so wealthy that following a devastating earthquake in 60 a.d. the city rebuilt itself without financial aid from Rome. In the Annals (xiv.27) Tacitus wrote: “Laodicea arose from the ruins by the strength of her own resources, and with no help from us.” It was a city known not simply for its monetary success (it was a banking center) but for its linen and wool industry (especially black sheep!) as well as its medical school. Probably the most famous medicinal product to come out of Laodicea was an eye ointment made from a power produced in Phrygia.

Self-confident, self-sufficient, seemingly well-endowed … to such a church which considered itself rich, our Lord says “Buy from me gold … that you may become rich” (v. 18); to such a church which took pride in its textile industry, our Lord says “Buy from me … white garments that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (v. 18); to such a church which boasted of its contribution to ophthalmic medicine our Lord says “Buy from me … eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see” (v. 18). The severity of this letter is unmistakable, as is also the absence of a single word of praise or commendation. “Even in the nearly dead church at Sardis there was a faithful remnant, but no such remnant is clearly discernible in the Laodicean church” (Beale, 302).

We don’t know how or when the gospel came to Laodicea. Paul most likely never visited the church and thus it seems probable that Epaphras, servant of the Lord in Colossae, initiated the work there. Colossians 4:12–16 indicates that Paul wrote a letter to the congregation at Laodicea, a letter now lost to us (Laodicea is mentioned five times in the letter to the Colossians: 2:1; 4:13, 15, 16(2)). Beyond this we know little of its history.

Read the rest of Storm's article The Letter to Church at Laodicea.

Storms, S. (2016). Biblical Studies: The Seven Letters of Revelation. Edmond, OK: Sam Storms. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:25 PM May 7, 2020.

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