How Do You Like Your Coffee?
Many like coffee hot. Many like coffee cold (e.g, iced coffee). Yet, I suspect very few enjoy it lukewarm. If tasted, many might even spit room temperature coffee out of their mouths…1
Ancient Laodicea was near Hierapolis, which boasted healing hot springs and Colossae, which boasted a refreshing cold spring. Laodicea, however, was known for its lukewarm water that was piped in via aqueduct. It was disgusting. It made people sick.
Using imagery that would emphatically hit home (Rev 3:15-16), Jesus essentially tells the church at Laodicea that, just like their water, their lukewarmth makes Him sick. He wishes that they were useful like hot water or cold water — but they are useless.
After lovingly admonishing them to repent (Rev 3:19), He says He stands outside (of His own church!) metaphorically knocking on the door. If anyone lets Him (back!) in, He says He will fellowship with them in the present, and reign with them in the future.
Below, please find the main points, videos, slideshow, Greek text, author’s translation, and bibliography for this Bible Study on the often misunderstood letter to the Church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22)
In this video, see the incredible hot springs of Hierapolis (modern-day Pamukkale, Turkey)!
- The lives (i.e., deeds) of followers of Christ need to be hot (healing) or cold (refreshing) but not lukewarm (i.e., ineffective). Fruitless ineffectiveness makes Jesus sick
- Human evaluations often differ from Divine Diagnosis; we must see our lives through Spiritual eyes
- Self-reliant attitudes from worldly endeavors can seep into our spiritual lives. “Self-sufficiency is the direct opposite of faith” (Patterson, 141)
- We must strive to gain true (i.e., spiritual) riches – a free gift from Christ
- There is a danger of “physical wealth and spiritual poverty” (Keener, 163)
- The Lord disciplines those He loves; we must be zealous (continually) and repent
- Jesus offers an invitation to fellowship in the present, and to reign in the future (Paul, 117)
- Those who are victorious by being faithful witnesses –even unto death – will reign with Christ
- Whoever has an ear, let them hear (i.e., heed)
14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον
Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ 15 Οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα ὅτι οὔτε ψυχρὸς εἶ οὔτε ζεστός. ὄφελον ψυχρὸς ἦς ἢ ζεστός. 16 οὕτως ὅτι χλιαρὸς εἶ καὶ οὔτε ζεστὸς οὔτε ψυχρός, μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου. 17 ὅτι λέγεις ὅτι Πλούσιός εἰμι καὶ πεπλούτηκα καὶ οὐδὲν χρείαν ἔχω, καὶ οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ταλαίπωρος καὶ ἐλεεινὸς καὶ πτωχὸς καὶ τυφλὸς καὶ γυμνός, 18 συμβουλεύω σοι ἀγοράσαι παρʼ ἐμοῦ χρυσίον πεπυρωμένον ἐκ πυρὸς ἵνα πλουτήσῃς, καὶ ἱμάτια λευκὰ ἵνα περιβάλῃ καὶ μὴ φανερωθῇ ἡ αἰσχύνη τῆς γυμνότητός σου, καὶ κολλ[ο]ύριον ἐγχρῖσαι τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς σου ἵνα βλέπῃς.
19 ἐγὼ ὅσους ἐὰν φιλῶ ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω· ζήλευε οὖν καὶ μετανόησον. 20 ἰδοὺ ἕστηκα ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν καὶ κρούω· ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ τῆς φωνῆς μου καὶ ἀνοίξῃ τὴν θύραν, [καὶ] εἰσελεύσομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ δειπνήσω μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς μετʼ ἐμοῦ.
21 ὁ νικῶν δώσω αὐτῷ καθίσαι μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ μου, ὡς κἀγὼ ἐνίκησα καὶ ἐκάθισα μετὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ αὐτοῦ. 22 ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις.2
14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Beginning [First Cause] of the creation of God:
15 I know your deeds are neither hot nor cold. O, if only you were hot or cold! 16 Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, “I am rich and I have become rich and I do not need anything.” Yet, you do not know that you are wretched and pitiful and poor and blind and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white clothes so that may put them on and not have the shame of your nakedness revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
19 Whomever I love I rebuke and discipline. So, be zealous and repent. 20 Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in before them and eat with them — and they with me.
21 The one who is victorious, to them I will give [the right] to sit with me on my throne — just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on His throne. 22 Anyone who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches
- Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
- Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–.
- Beale, G. K., and Sean M McDonough. “Revelation.” In Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1081–1158. Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007.
- Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999.
- Beasley-Murray, George R. “Revelation.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1421–55. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
- Bratcher, Robert G., and Howard Hatton. A Handbook on the Revelation to John. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.
- Charles, R.H. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St John. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T&T Clark International, 1920.
- Evans, Craig A., and Craig A. Bubeck, eds. John’s Gospel, Hebrews–Revelation. First Edition. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary. Colorado Springs, CO; Paris, ON; Eastbourne: David C Cook, 2005.
- Fee, Gordon D. Revelation. New Covenant Commentary Series. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011.
- Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
- Keener, Craig S. NT385 Book Study: Revelation. Logos Mobile Education. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.
- Keener, Craig S. Revelation. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999.
- Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–.
- Lee, Max J. in Burge, Gary M., and Andrew E. Hill, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
- Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.
- Michaels, J. Ramsey. Revelation. Vol. 20. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
- Mulholland, M. Robert, Jr. “Revelation.” In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: James, 1–2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, edited by Philip W. Comfort. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011.
- Morris, Leon. Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 20. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987.
- Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997.
- Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.
- Patterson, Paige. Revelation. Edited by E. Ray Clendenen. Vol. 39. The New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012.
- Paul, Ian. Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Vol. 20. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2018.
- Roloff, Jürgen. A Continental Commentary: The Revelation of John. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993.
- Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.
- Turek, Frank. Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case. NavPress. Kindle Edition, 2014.
- Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
- Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
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