Revelation 3:14-22 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does the Lord say about the church in Laodicea? See Revelation 3:15a (printed below) What do you think He means?

I know your life, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. (Revelation 3:15)

The Lord declares of this church, “You are neither cold nor hot.” The Christians in Laodicea had not blatantly denied Christ nor had they departed from the faith. But neither was this church wholly committed to Christ, offering themselves in service to Him. The church in Laodicea was lukewarm: wavering somewhere between a state of faithfulness and apostasy.

2. What desire does the Lord express in Revelation 3:15 (printed above under question #1?) Why do you suppose He feels this way?

The Lord Jesus agonizes over this present state of affairs: “I wish that you were either cold or hot.” Nothing is so distasteful to Christ as lukewarm Christianity: the man whose life is characterized by lukewarm Christianity has no desire to lose Christ for the sake of the world, but he has too much desire for the world to forsake its call in favor of discipleship to Christ! This state of spiritual fickleness—this state of being spiritually lukewarm—is extremely distasteful and revolting to the Lord because it is so contrary to His own character (note John 4:34) as well as being so contrary to the purpose of His redeeming work (note Titus 2:13-14).

3. What was this church’s personal assessment of itself? See Revelation 3:17a (printed below)

You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and have need of nothing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)

In verse 17a our Lord quotes this church’s own assessment of itself: “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and have need of nothing.” There was a sense of security and self-sufficiency derived from their riches. Laodicea was one of the richest commercial centers of the ancient world: it was famous for its banking as well as its woolen industry. Like the church in Sardis, the church in Laodicea found itself wooed, enticed, and swept off its feet by the fabulous prosperity of the surrounding society; consequently, its spiritual life was practically smothered to death by its affluence.

4. What is Christ’s assessment of the church’s condition? See Revelation 3:17b (printed above under question #3)

Note the total disparity between the church’s self-evaluation (verse 17a) and Christ’s diagnosis of her condition (verse 17b). In terms of material possessions and earthly wealth, the church might boast, “I am rich; I…have need of nothing!” But Christ describes their spiritual condition before God in these terms: “you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.” Despite their material condition—indeed, because of it—they have become spiritually bankrupt and destitute, they are in a state of abject poverty before God.

5. How does the Lord Jesus describe His present relationship to the church in Laodicea? See Revelation 3:20 (printed below)

Look! I am standing at the door, knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him. I will dine with him, and he will dine with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Verse 20 describes a very peculiar and incongruous situation: the Lord Jesus Christ stands outside, at the door, seeking re-admittance into the life of His church and the hearts of His people. These Christian people, having become infatuated with the wealth of the world, filled their lives so much with the “good things” of the world that there was no room for their Lord and Savior. He was “squeezed out of one room after another” until He was finally “pushed out the back door!” The Lord is now calling upon this church to grant Him “re-admittance” into their lives and to once again submit to His lordship. Note that after “re-entering” the life of this church Christ becomes the Host at the great fellowship banquet He desires to share with His people.