The seven letters delivered to the seven ecclesias recorded in Revelation 2 and 3 had a message that was deeply challenging and very personal. In these letters people’s lives were scrutinized, their weaknesses exposed and their personal problems identified.

But of all the issues outlined in each ecclesial centre, Laodicea’s was by far the most challenging. And it was this! If being in Christ is worth anything then being in Christ is worth everything!

I will sup with him

Many of the brethren and sisters of the Laodicean ecclesia had become indifferent to the Truth. They were willing to compromise the principles of God for an easier lifestyle. They were, in the words of Revelation 3:16, “lukewarm”, and this is perhaps one of the most difficult of all problems to overcome. For this reason the promise given to the ecclesia at Laodicea is arguably the greatest of all the seven.

These were the promises that had been given to the other six ecclesias in turn.

  • to eat of the tree of life
  • not be hurt of the second death; to eat of the hidden manna
  • to rule the world with a rod of iron
  • to be given the morning star
  • to have their name not blotted out of the book of life8 • to be made a pillar in the temple of God.
    All wonderful promises! But look at the last one! “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3:20–21).

They were invited to sit with the Lord on his throne! To permanently share a station with him! To eat a meal of fellowship with him! The promise is deeply rooted in personal closeness; so much so, that the Lord aligns his greatest struggle and his greatest victory with them (v21). There could not be a greater incentive to overcome personal difficulties than the one presented here. These last words, as the seven letters are drawn to a conclusion, highlight the oneness of the Lord Jesus and his Father. They highlight the closeness and fulness of fellowship enjoyed between Father and Son and this was given, above all else, as the personal incentive to overcome the problem in the ecclesia at Laodicea.

Witnessing to Christ

The testimony of Jesus is to give witness to him in our lives and to the world. Note how the theme of the Apocalypse is presented, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10). This theme of witnessing to Christ was clearly identified in the first chapter of Revelation, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” (Rev 1:1–2).

The sense of these terms means “to be a martyr, to be a witness”. The theme of witnessing continues in verse 5 where we read, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness.” It continues again in verse 9, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

But those in Laodicea were not John’s companions in tribulation! They compromised their faith to avoid hardship. In effect, they were saying they were rich and increased in goods and declared in their lives they had need of nothing (see Rev 3:17). Their witness of Jesus was almost silent. It was so low-key that it aroused no antagonism with Jews or Gentiles. Tragically the brethren and sisters of Laodicea were ‘fence sitters’! Jesus called them “lukewarm” in that they were unable or unwilling to stand up and make decisions for Christ in their lives. They were masters of compromise and therefore their problem was clearly identified in the title Jesus used to open the letter he wrote to them: “And unto the angel of the ecclesia of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:14). Jesus was a faithful witness! Why weren’t they?

The Amen

But there was another title that Jesus used as he introduced himself in this letter to the Laodicean ecclesia. It was the expression “the Amen” (Rev 3:14). This part of the title also had significance to their problem. The meaning of this title and how it related to the problem with the ecclesia at Laodicea is seen when we look at the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians where we read, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor 1:19–20).

What Paul is saying in these verses is this. All the promises of God in Jesus are faithful (“Amen”). They will happen! Of that that there is no doubt! Paul also says in these verses that some things were fulfilled in Christ, that is, his sufferings, but those things relating to the future glory were not. Then Christ would be “yea and nay” (he would be “yes” and “no”). If the promises concerning him were not fulfilled in any way, past or future, then Christ would be “nay”! But some promises have been fulfilled and the rest will be! Therefore Paul could say with the utmost confidence that Jesus is the yea and the amen. Or to put it another way, Jesus is truth and faithfulness. No doubts therefore should fill the minds of his brethren. No indecision about committing our lives to him should exist. There should be no lukewarmness!

Being cold or hot

The challenge to brethren and sisters at Laodicea was to believe that it all would be fulfilled and to transfer that reality into the way they lived. But they had a lot of work to do! The Lord said, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot” (Rev 3:15). The word “hot” means to bubble over and it’s easy to see the meaning in this context. He is appealing to them to be energetic in the things of God! Show conviction for Christ! But Jesus also wished of them that they might be “cold”. To see the meaning of this expression we turn to the only other place in the New Testament where this Greek word is used. Jesus said, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt 10:42).

In other words, show zeal for the Truth and compassion to others and you are both hot and cold! It is interesting to note the context of Matthew 10 and its relevance to the issues that faced the ecclesia at Laodicea. Jesus told his disciples to go and preach (v7). Laodicea were not doing this! Jesus then went on to say that the preaching of the gospel would bring danger (v16–17). It would bring hatred and persecution (v22–23). It would bring potential fear (v26,28 and 31).The message from Jesus was clear. They would find no physical or emotional security in their environment as they witnessed for him. And Jesus drew his words to a conclusion when he said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt 10:39).

Where did the brethren in Laodicea fit into these words of the Lord?

  • sadly, they found their life in Laodicea
  • Laodicea gave them greater purpose than Christ
  • Laodicea created more pleasure and offered more incentive to live
  • to be in their city was greater reward than to be in Christ, or so it seemed.
  • I stand at the door and knock

Therefore Jesus appealed to them, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:19–20). In biblical times you would knock and identify yourself by speaking your name. What if the voice of the Lord was heard and the door opened only to find that he was uncertain whether to come in or not? How would those at Laodicea feel if Jesus stood there at the doorstep not willing to fully commit himself to coming in?

They had excluded him from their lives and now were asked to let him in. They were asked to allow his word, his commandments, his example, to affect and control their lives. But they had to act. He would not knock forever. Nor would he force his way in. They had to respond and contribute!

He said, “I will come in and sup with him and he with me.” Fellowship is therefore not a one-sided affair. It is mutual.

Brethren and sisters: like Laodicea, we today are challenged to show a loyalty to God and our Lord Jesus Christ that has no limits.

We have not been called to the hope of Israel in order to be pampered or self-satisfied. If we make that the pattern of our life then we will never feel the need for the transforming power of Christ. We cannot run and hide from the world. It was never intended that we should. There are activities in this life that we cannot escape. But in Christ we can overcome and enjoy a mutual fellowship with him!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock!”