A Study on the 7 Churches (Laodicea)

A Study on the 7 Churches (Laodicea)

The Church at Laodicea

This is the final segment in a seven-part study on the Churches in the book of Revelation.

The notes below compliment this live worship-hour video recording of a teaching on the Church at Laodicea.

 

Almost 2000 years ago Jesus shared a message to seven churches in seven cities located in present-day western Turkey. That message is presented in Revelation 2-3. When John wrote the book of Revelation, there were about 100 churches in greater Asia. So then, the question is: Why these seven churches?  These churches were not the largest or most notable—two of the seven churches had grave issues. Many believe Jesus chose to speak to these churches because their location and ministry are representative of both future periods in church history and the major issues individuals and churches struggle with today.

The city of Laodicea, like Pergamum and Sardis, is associated with apostasy. This church did not think itself significant as the church at Sardis did—but was comfortable and complacent. This ‘lukewarm’ church received a stern rebuke from the Lord in Revelation 3:16.

Wealth and prosperity contributed to a lack of reliance on God. In general, the more they had the less they prayed. How quickly the blessing of prosperity turned to pride and arrogance. The message to this church (and this last church age) is somber. Believers must understand that blessings come from the Lord and our hope is fixed on the Lord (Psalm 62:1-2). 

The Church at Laodicea is said to represent the last era for the current form of the Christian Church. Sadly, prophecy notes that during this period there will be complacency, compromise, and egregious apostasy. 2000 years ago, the church at Laodicea was sternly rebuked for manifesting these characteristics. The Church of the last age will suffer the same fate.  

 A REVIEW OF THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION

  • Chapters 2-3 presents messages to seven churches.
  • The messages are given by the one who ‘holds the seven spirits’ and ‘walks among the seven lampstands.’
  • Seven Messianic titles are presented to the churches.
  • There are seven elements in each message to each of the seven churches.
  • The phrase: “He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” is repeated seven times to the churches in the book of Revelation, and appears seven times in the Gospels.
  • The seven churches prophetically point forward to seven church ages.
  • There may be a tie between the message to the seven churches in the book of Revelation and the seven parables in Matthew 13.
  • There may be a tie between the message to the severn churches in the book of Revelation and the Apostle Paul’s seven letters to churches.

THE CITY OF LAODICEA

  • Laodicea was the wealthiest of the seven cities (a hub for banking).
  • Laodicea was the only city in the region that did not request Rome’s help in rebuilding after a devastating regional earthquake in 62 AD (a mark of pride and statement of self-sufficiency).
  • The city was noted for its ‘miracle eye suave’ and bathhouses.

PRONOUNCEMENTS (Who is presenting the message?)

  • Jesus, the Amen (V.14)
    • The use of the title, AMEN here, reinforces the fact that this is the last message to the last church…and implies that the characteristics of this last church will mirror the characteristics of the last church of the age.
  • Jesus, the Creator (V.14)
  • Jesus, the knower of your deeds (V.14)

WORDS OF CONCERN (What the Lord saw)

  • “You are neither cold nor hot (V.16a)
    • “…thou art lukewarm…” (KJV)
  • “You say, ‘I am rich….and do not need a thing.’” (V.16b)
    • The more gold they had, the less faith they thought they needed.
  • “You are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (V.17)
    • It is important to see ourselves the way God sees us.
  • “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (V.16)
    • A word picture noting extreme displeasure.
  • “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire…” (V18)
    • Invest your life in things that have real and lasting value. (Matthew 6:19-24)
  • “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” (V.19a)
    • “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
  • “…be earnest and repent.” (V.19b)
    • “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!” (Matthew 4:17)

WORDS OF PROMISE (What the Lord desires to see)

  • For all to draw close to Him
    • “Here I am! I stand at the door and If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (V.20)
  • For His people to share in His victory
    • “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.” (V.21)

SUMMARY:

The message to today’s believer and church

  • The message to the Church at Ephesus reminds believers of the importance of demonstrating proper devotion to their first love—the Lord Jesus.
  • The Lord’s word to the Church at Smyrna reminds believers that God can use suffering and opposition to bring about spiritual growth and an increased witness. It is important to note that though the church of Smyrna suffered terribly under Roman persecution, it was perhaps the most vibrant and Great-Commission oriented of the churches.
  • The message to the Church at Pergamum warns believers not to embrace (become in union with) the things of the world (2 Cor. 6:14).
  • The message to the Church at Thyatira reminds believers that the enemy often slyly manipulates and distorts the truth. Believers are enjoined to “Test all things and hold on to what is good [and true]” (1 Thess. 5:21).
  • The message to the Church at Sardis reminds believers that a divided city is not a great city, that false pretensions lead to disaster, and that having a reputation for good is not the same as actually being good. It is the united and faithful church that will be blessed. It is God’s expectations and standards believers must strive to meet.
  • The message to the Church at Philadelphia reminds believers of the importance of love, endurance, truth and being a witness. To the faithful Jesus promises a great reward and an escape from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world…” (Rev. 3:10b)
  • The message to the Church at Laodicea is somber and reminds believers that a ‘lukewarm’ church (and a ‘lukewarm’ faith) is not acceptable in the sight of Jesus. Believers must put their trust in the Lord and remember that complacency is not acceptable. (Psalm 62:1-2; James 2-3).

 

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