Every summer I have an annual physical examination. I’ve seen Dr. Gaston for over 25 years, and every year takes me through a series of examinations to see if there’s anything wrong with me. I can’t say I enjoy the exam; but I’m thankful for it and for a doctor who cares about me. Well, in Revelation 2 and 3, the Great Physician gives puts seven churches on the examination table. He probes and diagnoses and prescribes. He finds areas of health and pockets of infection. As we study these seven churches we find ourselves on the examination table, too.
- Ephesus: The church that lost its first love
- Smyrna: The church that was facing persecution
- Pergamum: The church that had immoral believers
- Thyatira: The church that tolerated syncretism
- Sardis: The church that was dying
- Philadelphia: The church of the open door
- Laodicea: The church that was lukewarm
In our KALEO studies, we’re coming to Philadelphia and Laodicea. Here are some notes from this passage (Revelation 3:7-22):
Verse 8: “I have placed before you an open door.” What open door had Jesus given the church in Philadelphia. This is difficult to interpret. It could refer to the door of the Messianic Kingdom (see verse 7). Or it could refer to a close personal relationship with Jesus (see verse 20). Or it could refer to the imminent return of Jesus (see Revelation 4:1). I prefer to think that John/Jesus is using Pauline language here to refer to an open door of ministry (see Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; and Colossians 4:3).
Verse 10: In my opinion, this is a key verse regarding the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. The “hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world” is the Great Tribulation, about to be described in Revelation 4-18. The church will be kept from this hour.
Verse 11: A great motto: “I am coming soon—hold on!” (Compare with Revelation 2:25).
Verse 12: The temple of God is the whole city of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22). Those who are faithful to Christ will become permanent residents of this great city (pillars of the community).
Verse 14: Laodicea was about 40 miles from Philadelphia, near Colosse (see Colossians 2:1-2; 4:12-13).
Verse 14: Notice the three different titles for Christ:
- Amen. This isn’t just the end of a prayer, but a name for Christ. He is the personification of “So Be It.”
- The Faithful and True witness
- The Ruler of God’s Creation
Verse 16: One commentator said that ancient Laodicea received its water via aqueduct from the mountains of nearby Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), and by the time it reached them it was always lukewarm. So this was a figure of speech the Laodicians could relate with.
Verse 17: This is the opposite of what Jesus told the church in Smyrna (see Revelation 2:9).
Verse 18: Jesus is the wonderful counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and He counsels us to acquire:
- Gold = true wealth (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- White clothes = righteous living (Revelation 19:8)
- Salve = spiritual vision and insight (Ephesians 1:18)
Verse 20: We often use this verse evangelistically; but its original application was to a backslidden church that had somehow excluded Christ from their services and fellowship.