Revelation: Church of Laodicea Overview | June 7, 2023
The city of Laodicea was one of a triad of cities with Colossae and Hierapolis and was the southernmost of the seven cities. It lay about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 90 miles east of Ephesus.
Laodicea was a wealthy town that was known as a strategic banking center. They used their own wealth to pay for the reconstruction of the city after a devastating earthquake in A.D. 60, rejecting offers of financial aid from Rome. The city was also famous for the soft, black wool it produced and its ancient medicine, particularly an eye salve. All three industries—finance, wool, and eye salve—came into play in this letter. Laodicea’s water supply was also relevant to the message in this letter as the water had to travel several miles through an underground aqueduct before reaching the city. Therefore, the water arrived foul, dirty, and tepid—lukewarm, just like the people in the church.1
As you read the letter, notice the 3 titles Jesus uses to describe Himself to the Laodiceans. Why do you suppose He uses those titles here?
Also notice how Jesus speaks to the city’s culture.
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
How might the verses below bring clarity to the titles Amen, Faithful & True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation? What do you suppose is going on in Laodicea that the church needs to be reminded of these truths about Jesus?
2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV
20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
Revelation 19:11 ESV
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Colossians 1:15-18 ESV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
In your own life, which of the 3 titles of Jesus speaks the most comfort to you presently? Spend time praying and thanking Him for how He has specifically cared for you.
1MacArthur, New Testament Commentary on Revelation, 135-136.