“THE THINGS WHICH ARE . . . .”

-  THE PEOPLE OF CHRIST - Revelation 2-3

LAODECEA THE PASSIVE CHURCH 

- Revelation 3:14-22

From the Perfect church at Philadelphia we come to the seventh and final church, the Passive church at Laodicea. This is the church of our age and our time. This is what we can expect the Church to be like leading up to the Rapture and period of Tribulation. The best way to apply the truth of the revelation of Jesus Christ found in His letter is to note His corrective words to it and to take them as cautionary.

Revelation 3:14a - “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,” 

The city of Laodicea was located between 40 and 50 miles southeast of Philadelphia. It was founded in the third century B.C. by Antiochus the II who named it after his beloved wife Laodice. Originally the city was named Diopolis after it’s primary deity Zeus. There were a number of other cities with the name Laodicea but the one in question here was distinguished by adding “on the Lycus” as it was located by the Lycus valley.  [1]

Laodicea was a very wealthy city and famous due to it’s production of wool cloth and in particular for their world renowned glossy black wool cloth. So, wealthy was this church that in 60 A.D. when an earthquake destroyed the city they were able to rebuild without the need for outside resources. The city was economically SELF-SUFFICIENT.[2]

As a wealthy city there was an abundance of recreational distractions present. In the ruins of Laodicea today are the remnants of a 30,000-seat amphitheater where circuses were held nonstop. There was an ENTERTAINMENT MENTALITY present in this city.

This city was located in close proximity (6-8 miles) to the cities of Colosse and Hierapolis. Hierapolis was considered a “twin city” to Laodicea. There was an aqueduct through the city from Hierapolis to Laodicea. In Hierapolis there were hot springs, the aqueduct carried the hot water from Hierapolis to and through Laodicea on into the city of Colossae. When the aqueduct was first built it was hoped that it would provide hot water for the city of Laodicea. Interestingly, because of an engineering miscalculation, by the time the water flowed from Hierapolis to Laodicea it was LUKEWARM. [3]

Another interestingly unique quality of the city of Laodicea was that it was located in an extremely vulnerable geographic position. Usually cities were planned on sites that could be defended. As a consequence, the city was historically preserved from it’s enemies by way of political COMPROMISE.[4]

Laodicea was also famous for two kinds of medicines produced there: an ointment for sore ears and an eye powder for sore eyes. So famous was the EYE SALVE that it was mentioned by the philosopher Aristotle.[5]

The church at Laodicea continued for some time and was the chosen site for the Council of Laodicea in 361 A.D. [6] By the fourteenth century the city and the church at Laodicea were in ruins.[7]

The name Laodicea  (Greek Laodikeus) is a compound word made from the two terms laos meaning people or a people, and dike meaning right (self-evident), justice, judgment, the principle, a decision or its execution, punish, vengeance. [8]  Laodicea therefore means literally, “governed by the people.” Jesus’ address to the Laodiceans is unique in that He states it is the church “of the Laodiceans.” This was a church of the people, by the people, for the people, as opposed to a church of God, by God, for God.

The apostle Paul mentions Laodicea in his letter to the Colossians. Based on Paul’s mention of the Laodiceans in the epistle to the Colossians we gain the following information:

1.) Epaphras may have been the pastor of this church -

  • Colossians 4:12-13 - “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.”

2.) The letter Paul wrote to the Colossians held a message that he wanted the Laodiceans to read as well -

  • Colossians 2:1; 4:16 - “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

It’s likely that Paul’s letter to the Colossians and the issues he discussed in that letter were directed just as much to the church of the Laodiceans as they were to the church at Colossae. A summary view of the letter to the Colossians reveals that Paul addressed the following issues:

  1. Paul prays for them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. He prays for them to walk worthy of the Lord fully pleasing Him. And He prays they would find their strength in God while always giving thanks to Him (Colossians 1:9-14).
  2. Paul teaches them to have a proper and right view of Jesus Christ as preeminent (Colossians 1:15-19).
  3. Paul teaches them to have a right and proper view of Jesus Christ as all-sufficient; that they should grow in their relationship with Jesus and not be reduced to mere religious ritual (Colossians 2:1-23).
  4. Paul teaches them to know Christ and live in their saving relationship with Christ (Colossians 3-4).

The church of the Laodiceans was compromised because it was a people-dependent/people-centered church rather than a Christ-dependent/Christ-centered church.

The problem of passivity and its cause. The church at Philadelphia was perfect because they realized their own weaknesses and inadequacies. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6). Therefore, the humble position of the church at Philadelphia led to empowerment by God’s grace. The people centered Laodicean church on the other hand was proud. The Laodiceans on the other hand depended upon themselves. Their priority was people not Jesus and His will. Whenever we make people the focus the tendency is to emphasize what people need to do to please God rather than what Jesus has done to please God’s gracious just requirements on our behalf; works versus faith in Christ as a basis for our righteousness (Galatians 1-3). Relying on people leads to a compromise of the Gospel and authentic Christianity.

Whenever the church becomes seeker friendly as opposed to focusing on God as Seeker, it leads to a passivity toward God. The people-centered church falls into the trap of not wanting to offend people which leads to watering down God’s truth which they feel is offensive to people. The cross by nature is offensive to sinners (see Paul’s letter to the Galatians and especially 5:11). The priority of not wanting to offend leads to compromise in such areas as doctrine and the nature of Jesus. And when you water down the truth of the word of God and how God has revealed Himself in His word, it leads to a passivity toward the watered down pseudo-truth and pseudo-Jesus.

When you make people your focus it leads to self-reliance and pride in what you or I accomplish. We may do what we do in the name of Jesus, but in reality, we don’t know Him and He doesn’t know us (e.g. Matthew 7:21-24). Since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, the people centered church is opposed by God in that God’s provision isn’t there. What’s worse, is that, the people-centered church doesn’t think it needs God’s power and so they don’t seek it. The people-centered church becomes nothing more than another social institution with little more power than such secular entities.

Unfortunately, this is the state of much of the church today. A.W. Tozer said it well when he wrote:

"If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference."[9]

That’s sad. That’s blasphemous. That is what much of the church is like today. We need to get back to the Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-guided church model in the Book of Acts.

Without God’s power it was inevitable for the church to experience a power shortage. Human resources and people-reliant-power are always limited. “People-power” always runs out and comes up short. This leads to an inoculation against Jesus and God’s word because people in the people-centered church “experience” the powerlessness of a church that isn’t rooted in a saving relationship with Jesus nor fed a healthy spiritual diet from God’s word. When people are sidetracked by people, it leads to passivity toward Jesus.

The people-centered people-reliant church strives to attain comfort and good feeling for people. Sin against God, sin that keeps us from God is not a priority and is minimized. Sin and the need of a life transforming spiritual second birth takes a back seat to people feeling good about themselves and prospering in horizontal worldly ways. Tolerance of sin and political correctness are priorities in the people-centered church. In the people-centered church, even though Jesus came to convey revelation and God’s truth (John 18:37-38), God’s truth, the truth of God’s word (John 17:17), truth in general and in particular, is not a priority. To the people-centered church, God’s truth is secondary and sacrificed for the subjective opinions of people. God’s absolute truth is not welcomed in the people-centered church; it’s too offensive.

This is in stark contrast to Paul’s words to the Colossians and Laodiceans:

  • Colossians 3:16-17 - “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

This Laodicean passiveness to Christ was true of the local Laodicean church as well as it is for the historical church it represents, that is the church from1900 to the present.

Revelation 3:14b - ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:” 

The term, “amen means so be it.  Jesus identifies Himself to this church in a way that announces there are absolutes which are set down by God that take priority and preeminence over the opinions of people.  Jesus describes Himself as “faithful and true” unlike the Loadiceans who are neither faithful or true.

Jesus identifies Himself as “Faithful” (Greek pistos). This speaks of trust, trustful, faithful. It speaks of His reliability, but it would also call into question the faithfulness or lack of faithfulness of the Laodicean church. This people-centered church is not faithful to Jesus or God’s word, two core fundamental and foundational aspects of what a church is supposed to be. 

It’s interesting that the word “Witness” is a translation of the Greek term martus, from which we also derive the word “martyr.” It’s not likely that in this Laodicean church you’d ever hear a message on suffering. But Paul spoke of rejoicing in suffering for Christ’s sake in his letter to the Colossians:

  • Colossians 1:24 - “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,” 

Paul said that those who live godly lives would be persecuted:

  • 2 Timothy 3:12 - “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 

This is what Jesus taught as well:

  • John 16:33 - “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

Jesus further identifies Himself as, “the Beginning of the creation of God.” The word “beginning” here is translated from the Greek term arche.  Arche literally means origin. The idea here is not that Jesus was the first thing created by God (as held by the Arians of the early church and present-day Unitarians and Jehovah’s witnesses) but that Jesus is the originating Source of creation.[10] This is confirmed by such cross references as:

  • Colossians 1:15-18 - “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” 
  • John 1:1-3 - “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” 
  • Revelation 21:6 - “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” 

Why did Jesus refer to Himself in this way and particularly to the church representative of the last historical epoch? Because it is likely that in the historical Laodicean church (1900 – to present) that the issue of creation will be a point of controversy. We see this in the battle of creation versus evolution. This is exactly what we see in our day in our educational institutions as well as in the church.

Paul warned the Colossians and Laodiceans against the influence of human philosophies tempting people to wander from the truth of God:

  • Colossians 2:1-10 - “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” 

It is important for us to be aware of where the battle lines are drawn. The Reformation, was a movement that changed not only the face of the church but influenced the entire world. The truths of the Reformation, championed by Martin Luther some 500 years ago, have stood the test of time, but they are still being challenged. Martin Luther was greatly used by God to right a Church that had gotten far off course. He was by no means a perfect man. But we can learn a lot from Martin Luther. We can especially learn from his perspective on what is important for the church when he wrote:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”[11]

Revelation 3:15-16 - “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

As we mentioned in our introductory words, Laodicea had a problem with their water temperature. Water brought by way of aqueduct from hot springs in the north, by the time it reached the city, was lukewarm. Saunas are useful for health. But the tepid temperature of the waters flowing to Laodicea made having a sauna less likely. Lukewarmness is an indication that something is wrong. And that is all the truer when we speak about spiritual things.

The word “vomit” (Greek emeo) means vomit, vomit forth, throw up. People throw up when what they eat is rejected by their stomach. When Jesus takes in the lukewarm condition of some of His believers, His stomach rejects them. Lukewarmness makes Jesus sick to His stomach.

In his classic book The Great Evangelical Disaster, written in 1984 on the state of the evangelical church, Francis Schaeffer points out that passivity kills the Church. Schaeffer states the following:

“Here is the great evangelical disaster - the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this - namely accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age. . . . compromising the full authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian theologically and how we live in the full spectrum of human life. . . . Here then is the watershed [that which defines and divides truth from error, life from death] of the evangelical world. We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not. But remember that we are not just talking about an abstract theological doctrine. It makes little difference in the end if Scripture is compromised by theological infiltration or by infiltration from the surrounding culture. It is the obeying of Scripture which is the watershed - obeying the Bible equally in doctrine and in the way we live in the full spectrum of life.” [12]

Those are sobering words every church and every person in the Church should consider.

Someone who is cold to God is more likely to feel or at least see the red-hot conviction of the Spirit because the contrast in temperatures will be clear. With someone who is lukewarm the difference or conviction of the Spirit will not be as clear. They are self-assured in their halfway position rather than being assured by the Spirit of God. The hardest person to witness to is not the blatantly atheistic or anti-Christian. The hardest person to witness to is the person who thinks they are ‘Christian” or “right with God,” and are not.

Suppose a movement developed where the world singled out Christians as the source of all worldly ills as justification for their persecution. Suppose you were brought before a court as a suspected “Christian,” I ask you, WOULD THERE BE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO CONVICT YOU?! Would there be witnesses who could identify you definitely as a Christian? Or would there be doubt or worse, no evidence against you?

Revelation 3:17 - “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— “ 

The self-reliant reality. Here Jesus points out the reality of the self-reliant Laodicean church. This would also be true of the self-reliant individual person. The person who views themselves as “rich . . . wealthy . . . and have need of nothing” is:

1.) WretchedThe word “wretched” (Greek talaiporos) means enduring trials, toils and troubles. In Romans 7 Paul writes, using the same word, of the person attempting to be right before God in their own strength. His conclusion is that such a person is bound by frustration and futility and ultimately will come to realize they are “wretched.”

  • Romans 7:18,24-25a - “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . . .” 

The self-reliant person is headed for trouble. In fact, the self-reliant person can expect troubles, trials and a toilsome life of labor. To be wretched is to struggle in one’s own strength rather than rely on Jesus by grace through faith.

2.) MiserableThe word “miserable” (Greek eleeinos) means to be pitied, to be so miserable as to be pitied by others. The self-reliant person will come to a place of misery and will be a pitiful sight to behold. Paul used this word in referring to those who do not accept the resurrection of Jesus:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 - “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 

The self-reliant person lives as though Christ had not raised from the dead and so lives a miserable existence. We should never forget the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus Himself, and the promises and truths contained in God’s word. If and when we neglect these things it reduces us to a pitiable miserable state.

3.) Poor“Poor” (Greek ptochos) means to be a beggar, cringingly poor, pauper, absolute public mendicancy, destitute, destitute of Christian virtues and eternal riches. When Christians live a self-reliant life, it cuts us off from the blessing of God’s riches in Christ (cf. Ephesians 1; Philippians 4:19).

The Laodiceans may have been materially wealthy, but if that material wealth draws them away from dependence on Christ, they are spiritually poor. True riches are in Christ:

  • Colossians 1:27 - “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 
  • Colossians 2:1-3 - “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” 

4.) BlindBlind” (Greek typhlos) means physically or mentally blind. The person who is self-reliant is spiritually blind. Spiritual sight comes from the Holy Spirit. We can only see the reality of God’s truth when His Holy Spirit is resident in our hearts:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 - “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

5.) NakedNaked” (Greek gymnos) means literally nude, bare, unclad, without clothing. Just as Adam and Eve chose to sinfully disregard the revealed will of God and found themselves naked, so does that person who chooses to disregard God today. (Genesis 3 and Romans 5). When Paul speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ which all believers will experience to receive the assessment of Jesus as to rewards for how they lived as a Christian, Paul says those who have lived for the secular superficial things will see them all burned up and will pass through with nothing but themselves; a spiritually naked state (compare 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Revelation 3:18 - “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” 

The solution for self-reliance. The Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) gives the following counsel to the Laodicean:

  1. Come to Jesus - “Buy from Me” – Buying from Jesus is the best offer anyone could hope for because Jesus paid it all!
  • Isaiah 55:1 - “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, 1 Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.”
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 - “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 
  1. Let Jesus test you - Buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich” – True riches are a faith matured and proved by testing. Peter was inspired to write in this regard:
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7 - “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 

In early days, precious metals such as gold were cleansed from all impurities by heating the gold until it was molten and then removing the impurities as they floated to the surface. The master smelter knew the gold was purified when he could look into the molten metal and see the clear reflection of his face. Our faith is purified by the heat of trials so that someday Jesus will be able to look at it and see His reflection in us.

Jesus counsels the Laodiceans to Get into the fire! In other words, get into the fray, into the battle, witness, take a stand for truth as it is revealed in God’s absolutely true word.

  1. Let Jesus dress you - Buy from Me . . . white garments that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” – Our self-righteous clothes are rags compared to His robe of righteousness. The Laodiceans were known for their black wool garments. In contrast to these garments Jesus offered them white garments that would cover their spiritual nakedness.
  • Isaiah 64:6 - “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
  • Isaiah 61:10 - “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” 
  1. Let Jesus open your eyes - Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” – Our spiritual eyes can only be opened by Jesus. Paul prayed for “open” spiritual eyes for believers”:
  • Ephesians 1:17-18 - “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” 

Revelation 3:19 - “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” 

Jesus reminds them that His rebuke and discipline are signs that He loves them. It is amazing grace that those who Jesus referred to earlier as being distasteful to Him so much so that He would spit them our or throw them up, are those He still loves enough to discipline!

Jesus’ priority is not that we make it okay in this world, but that we are prepared for the next!

  • 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 - “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”  (See also Hebrews 12)

Here the apostle Paul instructs believers as to the wisdom of self judgment or self examination. The context is preparing oneself to receive the Lord’s Supper. Paul says if we examine ourselves so that we are prepared spiritually, we won’t be judged. But if we do not examine and evaluate ourselves appropriately God will, and He will discipline us if necessary. God’s purpose is that we, “may not be condemned with the world.” God’s priorities are eternal more than temporal.

Revelation 3:20 - “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

The saddest part of all is that JESUS IS ON THE OUTSIDE OF THIS CHURCH. Notice the context here is that this verse refers to believers who are lukewarm, not unbelievers being called to salvation. While it is not wrong to use this verse in regards to calling sinners to repent and accept Jesus as Savior, it’s primary application is for believers who have left Jesus out in the cold.

JESUS WILL NOT FORCE HIS WAY THROUGH THE DOOR, BUT WAITS FOR AN INVITATION. Jesus will not override the free will He created us with. We must be attentive to His knock and care enough to open the door and invite Him in.

This verse also refers to a need for readiness.  Jesus taught His disciples about the need to be watching and alert to His knock:

  • Luke 12:35-40 - “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;36 “and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.37 “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.38 “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.39 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.40 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  (See also Matthew 25:1-13)

Are you ready and looking for the return of Jesus?

This verse also refers to being ready in our daily devotional life. In Song of Solomon we see the symbolized knocking of Christ for His beloved. If we respond passively at His knock and say, “Not now, I can’t meet with you now, later please,” we’ll find that when we finally get up from our leisurely position that the opportunity to meet with the Lord will have passed.

  • Song of Solomon 5:1-8 -

(THE BRIDEGROOM) “I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; 1 I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.

(To His Friends) Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!

(The Shulamite) 2 I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.” 3 I have taken off my robe; How can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; How can I defile them? 4 My beloved put his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him.5 I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the lock.6 I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned way and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.7 The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; The keepers of the walls Took my veil away from me.8 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!” 

Revelation 3:21 - 21 “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” 

Take note of what is at stake here. Jesus says that those who overcome their complacency and live passionately for Him have the prospect of being granted to “sit with Me on My throne.” This is likely a reference to Jesus future Millennial reign in His earthly kingdom. For those who live with a passion for Jesus now, they will serve with His authority or “throne” in the Kingdom Age.

But Jesus goes on to add, “as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Jesus overcame by denying Himself and taking up His cross unto death (e.g. Philippians 2:5-11). The phrase of Jesus, “as I also overcame” would certainly bring to mind the redemptive cross work of Jesus; His death and resurrection. Jesus is calling these lukewarm Laodiceans to get back on track and follow in His steps. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus is calling this church to die to self; to stop relying on themselves and to turn to Him and follow Him. He’s calling them to a burning hearted personal passionate relationship with Him (e.g. Luke 24:32).

Revelation 3:22 - “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’” 

The Church of our day needs to decide between two responses to Jesus. Are we going to be passionlessly passive toward Jesus or are we going to be passionate and on fire toward Jesus? What’s the difference? Based on the context of Jesus’ letter to the church of Laodicea here are the contrasting attributes of the two responses to Jesus.

Passionlessly passive toward Jesus

  1. Not faithful to Jesus – 3:14a
  2. Not a witness to truth – 3:14b
  3. Low view of Jesus – 3:14c
  4. Lukewarm/passive spiritually and toward Jesus – 3:15a
  5. Makes Jesus sick to His stomach – 3:16
  6. Feel rich, wealthy and in need of nothing – 3:17
  7. Earthly wealth-oriented - Counselled by Jesus to refocus on the His gold refined in the fire – 3:18a
  8. Earthly looks – Counselled by Jesus to put on the white robe of His holiness – 3:18b
  9. Shameful – 3:18c
  10. Blind spiritually – 3:18d
  11. Loved by Jesus but rebuked and chastened by Him – 3:19a
  12. Called by Jesus to be zealous and repent – 3:19b
  13. Doesn’t hear Jesus knocking and leaves Him outside – 3:20
  14. Won’t sit on throne with Jesus – 3:21
  15. Has no ear to heed what the Spirit says (Not caring and inattentive about the return

of Jesus) – 3:22

Passionately on fire toward Jesus

  1. Faithful to Jesus – 3:14a
  2. A witness of the truth – 3:14b
  3. High view of Jesus as preeminent – 3:14c
  4. Passionate/on fire for Jesus – 3:15a
  5. Makes Jesus want to eat us up affectionately – 3:16
  6. Expressed need of and reliance upon Jesus – 3:17
  7. Eternal wealth oriented - Has gold refined in the fires of life – 3:18a
  8. Wears white robe of Jesus holiness – 3:18b
  9. Unashamed – 3:18c
  10. See clearly spiritually – 3:18d
  11. Loved by Jesus – 3:19a
  12. Zealous for Jesus – 3:19b
  13. Hears Jesus knocking and opens the door and dines with Him – 3:20
  14. Will sit on the throne with Jesus – 3:21
  15. Has an ear to heed what the Spirit says (Excitedly watching for the return (Rapture) of Jesus) – 3:22

Which are you, passive or passionate toward Jesus? Do you hear Him knocking? Will you open up to Him? Or will He spit you out of His mouth?


[1] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary - Revelation, Macdonald Pub. Co.: Mclean, Virginia, p. 110. Refers to Annals of Tacitus vol. 2 p. 114.

[2] John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, IL, 1966, p. 89,95.

[3] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Tapes, - Revelation 3:14-22, Applegate Christian Fellowship, 7590 Hwy 238, Jacksonville, Oregon, Tape # 764, 1/8/97.

[4] Jn Courson, Ibid.

[5] John Walvoord, Ibid. p. 95

[6] A. Plummer, Ibid., p. 114

[7] John Walvoord, Ibid. p. 89

[8]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[10] A.T Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, Vol. VI, p. 321

[11] Francis Shaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Crossway Books: Westchester, Illinois, 1984, p. 50-51

[12] Francis Schaeffer, Ibid., pp. 37,45,64