This is Part 2 of our study of the Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) For the first part of this study see “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study).
These quotes are from the NIV.
v. 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.” This reminds us of Jesus stringent requirements of the Rich Young Man to dispose of his wealth in order to follow Jesus. (See: Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30). In many cases, Jesus did not seem to impose this requirement on those who were wealthy. Why here?
Jesus knew this young man’s heart. He knew that the worldly possession came before being a servant. The same had clearly become the case with the Loadiceans. They were proud of their worldly achievements and possessions. It was “theirs” to use as they pleased and they did not want to be beholden to or give credit to anyone else for these things… either Rome or God.
In the second part of this passage, Jesus rebukes them for placing their temporal, earthy things above heavenly, eternal wealth. “…you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” refers directly to those things that made the city of Laodicea successful and wealthy. (See: Tale of the Tel: Laodicea) Jesus also said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
v. 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.” This verse refers directly to the three things that made Loadicea so successful, their wealth, textile industry and an eye salve.
The gold refined in fire would be pure gold, referring to the purity of Jesus.
The white clothes refers to several things, all related to purity. One is the whiteness of Jesus clothing at the Transconfiguration. another is the wedding garments required at the wedding banquet (a parable).
Although Laodicea was famous for its eye medicine, particularly an eye salve, they were blind to the ways of heaven on earth. “Let he who has eyes see.”
v. 19-20 19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 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.” Jesus still expressed His love for the Laodiceans and His desire for them to return to Him. He did not reject them. The image of dining with someone was that of intimacy in the ancient world. Jesus wanted this personal, intimate relationship with them, just as He does with us today.
In our materialistic world, we have become very much like the Christians address in this letter to Laodicea. We are proud of our accomplishments and possessions and treat them as strictly our own. We are, along with the Laodiceans, being rebuked to placing ourselves above taking care of others. Remember the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:312-46).
We will conclude our study of the Letter to Laodicea next week.
My thanks to my rabbi, Pastor Michael, and the faithful brothers of the Men on the Grow Bible Study group.
This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs
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