The Church in Laodicea


  1. Who has written the Book of Revelation? ___________________________
  2. In the Book of Revelation, how many churches are mentioned? _________
  3. The condition of which church is Lukewarm? ________________________


Scripture Reference: Revelation 3:14-22 (NIV)

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary Notes:

3: 14– 22: The letter to Laodicea. The city of Laodicea, compared with Hierapolis and Colossae, was the most prominent of the three cities in the Lycus River valley. A trade route that connected Laodicea with Ephesus, along with lesser roads north to Hierapolis and east to Colossae, allowed for a prosperous exporting business. The city was a central hub between the three regions of Lydia, Phrygia, and Caria. Laodicea’s textile industry was known for a fine, dark wool. The city was also a banking center, exchanging Roman coinage, gold, and other items of deposit for local currency. Laodicea was so wealthy that when the infamous earthquake of AD 17 struck, it was the only city that refused Roman aid. It was home to a medical school that prized among its other healing drugs an ointment for burns. Laodicea receives a scathing rebuke from Christ, who attacks these points of civic pride.

The Laodicean church was completely unaware of its true spiritual condition. Christ tells them: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. . . . Because you are lukewarm . . . I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (3: 15– 16). While neighboring Hierapolis was famous for its hot (95 degrees Fahrenheit) medicinal water springs, and Colossae for its pure, cold water, Laodicea had a poor water supply and imported water from five miles out through an aqueduct. The water was tepid on arrival. Christ laments that Laodicea is neither hot nor cold but rather disgusting (in the spiritual sense) like its lukewarm waters. Though they think highly of themselves (3: 17a), they are actually wretched, pitiful, morally bankrupt, blind, and naked (3: 17b).

Referencing their wealth, Christ admonishes the church to buy what really matters (3: 18): purity of heart (like gold refined by fire), forgiveness and holiness (like white garments; 7: 14; cf. Lev. 16: 14– 16), and moral discernment (like eyes healed by medicinal ointments). The purpose of this rebuke and accompanying discipline (perhaps in the form of the trials to come; 6: 1– 8: 1; cf. Heb. 12: 5– 11) is repentance. Christ loves the church and has not given up on it. Yet in a heart-wrenching image, he stands outside knocking at the church’s door (3: 20; cf. Song of Sol. 5: 2; Luke 12: 36– 37). To those who let Jesus in, Christ promises an intimate and restored fellowship (symbolized by the shared meal; 3: 20).


NIV Zondervan Study Bible Notes:

3:14–22 To the Church in Laodicea. Jesus does not commend Laodicea at all but sternly rebukes them for being spiritually complacent (like Sardis), satisfied with their wealth and material comfort but blind to their true state before God.

3:14 Laodicea. A prosperous center for banking, medicine, and textile industries located about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Philadelphia (see map). Laodicea’s chief deities were Zeus and Men Karou, god of healing and patron of the city’s famous medical school. Epaphras likely evangelized Laodicea and nearby Colossae and Hierapolis (Col 4:13). faithful and true witness. See note on 1:5. Jesus’ faithfulness contrasts with the church’s unfaithful witness. ruler.Translates a Greek word that can also mean “beginning” (John 1:1). Jesus is both (1:5; 22:13).

3:15–16 cold nor hot . . . lukewarm.Colossae, located 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Laodicea, had plentiful cold, pure drinking water, while the hot springs of Hierapolis, located 6 miles (9.5 kilometers) north of Laodicea, were famed for their healing power. Laodicea lacked its own water supply, and its solution was inadequate: water flowing in by aqueduct arrived tepid and contaminated by minerals. Jesus rebukes the complacent church for not offering life or healing to its community.

3:17 I am rich. Recalls Israel’s boast in Hos 12:8 and Laodicea’s decision to decline imperial assistance and fund its own rebuilding after the earthquake in AD60. The church boasted of its self-sufficiency and overlooked its need for God’s help.

3:18 gold . . . white clothes . . . salve. The church’s spiritual destitution contrasts with the city’s reputation for banking, fine wool, and medicine. They must “buy” from Jesus true spiritual resources (cf. Isa 55:1–3).

3:19 I love . . . discipline. Alludes to Prov 3:11–12; cf. Heb 12:5–6.

3:20 stand . . . knock. Suggests the return of a lover (Song 5:2) or master (Luke 12:36). Jesus addresses complacent church members, not primarily individuals outside the church. come in and eat. In the ancient world, a meal invitation to an estranged person opened the way for reconciliation. Jesus offers to accept and renew intimate fellowship with those who repent, anticipating the final Messianic banquet (19:9).

3:21 sit with me on my throne. Jesus shares his Father’s throne as Messianic king and judge (22:3; Ps 110:1; Heb 1:3; see Introduction: Theology), and believers share in his reign (5:10; 20:4; 22:5; 2 Tim 2:12; cf. Matt 19:28).


The Apologetics Study Bible Notes:

3: 14-22 The church at Laodicea was in even worse shape spiritually than the church at Sardis, because nothing positive was said to its members at all. Their spiritual lukewarmness made the Lord want to vomit (vv. 15-16). Their well-to-do status, materially, had blinded them to their utter spiritual destitution (vv. 17-18). The Lord had been pushed to the outside of this congregation and was now seeking to reenter (v. 20) through their repentance (v. 19). What the devil or false doctrine does not accomplish in the church, self-centered materialism often will.