The Church of Laodicea was the last of the seven churches to which the apostle John penned messages. All seven churches were on a prominent trade route in Asia Minor, and these words of rebuke and encouragement would be carried to the surrounding churches. Not only did this last message apply to a specific church, but all seven churches and their messages also symbolize the complete era of Christian history.
The much-needed Laodicean message contained no commendations for faithfulness, only warnings to wake up and repent. Jesus was very concerned about their lukewarm attitude. The Laodiceans were not actively rebellious or apostate, but neither were they in a loving relationship with Him. Their works were mediocre, characterized as “decreased alertness, a slow response, and indecisive action.”1
This was Jesus’s last message of warning to the seven churches, and He reminded the Laodicean church of the naked state they were in. They were surrounded by wealth and luxury, comfortable both in their church and in society. Because much of their revenue was derived from the laborious process of producing rich dyes, He counseled them to be clothed in His “white raiment” (Revelation 3:18). Later, He defined white raiment as being the “righteousness of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). The medical professionals in Laodicea also specialized in producing eye salves, and He used this analogy to urge them to be anointed with His eye salve (Revelation 3:18).2 The church needed the righteousness attained by faith that earlier prophets had spoken of (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17).
To those that repented of their spiritual apathy, Jesus gave several rich and beautiful promises in Revelation 3:19–21. Christ (through the pen of John) reminded them that He does not force entry into hearts, but like a gentle friend knocks on the door and hopes that they will open it to receive Him. Jesus also promised them that just like He overcame sin, the Savior would enable the repentant to overcome sin and sit with His Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21).
This important message is a wake-up call to the church today. Much of the Christian world is in the same lukewarm state as the Laodiceans. We live in a culture of affluence where all our needs are met. Some of us have become self-sufficient instead of looking to Christ to meet our needs. Others are spiritually indifferent, caught up in the mere rounds of tradition. Jesus wants us to wake up and realize that He is coming soon! He loves us so much that He ended His messages to the seven churches (and therefore to us) with a sobering rebuke meant to arouse and lead us to examine our souls. In another message given to John, He reminded us that: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). He longs for us to return to Him!
If you find yourself in the same state as the Laodiceans, now is the perfect time to reflect on the following prayer:
“O Jesus, Thou art knocking;
And lo, that hand is scarred,
And thorns Thy brow encircle,
And tears Thy face have marred:
O love that passeth knowledge,
So patiently to wait!
O sin that hath no equal,
So fast to bar the gate!
O Jesus, Thou art pleading
In accents meek and low,
I died for you, My children,
And will you treat Me so?
O Lord, with shame and sorrow
We open now the door;
Dear Savior, enter, enter,
And leave us nevermore.”3
Call to Action
Renew your commitment to the Lord today. Ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and open your eyes to see if “decreased alertness, a slow response, and indecisive action” describes you and your walk with the Lord. Jesus knows and offers you His help to repent and receive His victorious life.
Read Revelation 3:14-22 in full and then reflect on the following questions:
- What specific deeds does Jesus rebuke Christians of Laodicea for? See Revelation 3:15-18.
- Why is Jesus pruning, or disciplining, the Laodiceans? See John 15:1-2.
- Why does Jesus take the time to discipline and rebuke us? Investigate Deuteronomy 8:5, Deuteronomy 8:16, and Proverbs 3:11-12 Hebrews 12:8 and 3:19 to understand the heart of God.
- Take a moment to review the commendations and rebukes of the seven churches of Revelation 2-3. What can we learn from them? How do they describe the ups and downs of Church history?
- Ponder your spiritual life. What message of rebuke is especially pertinent to what you are struggling with? Remember that Jesus rebukes those that He loves (Revelation 2:19). Great encouragement for battling temptation can be found in 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Peter 2:9, and Hebrews 2:28.
All scripture taken from the King James Version.
- SDA Bible Commentary on Revelation 3:17. Pg. 761.
- SDA Bible Commentary on Revelation 3:18. Pg. 762.
- How, William H. “O Jesus, Thou Art Standing.” The Cyber Hymnal, hymntime.com/tch/htm/o/j/t/ojthouas.htm. Accessed March 11, 2021.