The seventh and final letter to the churches of ancient Asia Minor is to the  church in the city of Laodicea. This last message is found in Revelation 3:14-22.  Laodicea was a wealthy, industrious city in the province of Phrygia in the Lycos  Valley.

The message is from the Lord Jesus Christ via an angel or  messenger (likely a reference to the church’s pastor): “To the angel of the  church in Laodicea write . . .” (Revelation  3:14). This was not simply John’s message to those in Laodicea; it was a  message from the Lord. Jesus identifies Himself thus: “The Amen, the faithful  and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” These titles emphasize the  Lord’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and power to bring all things to their proper  completion (the “Amen”).

In contrast to the other six churches, the  Laodicean church has nothing to commend it. Jesus begins the message with  condemnation: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you  were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor  cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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” (Revelation 3:15-17). Jesus emphasizes their “lukewarm,”  apathetic nature three times. As a result of their ambivalence to spiritual  things, Jesus would have nothing to do with them. He would “spit them out,” as  the people of Laodicea would spit out the tepid water that flowed from the  underground aqueducts to their city. With their apathy came a spiritual  blindness; they claimed to be rich, blessed and self-sufficient. Perhaps they  were rich in material things. But, spiritually, the Laodiceans were in a  wretched, pitiful condition, made all the worse in that they could not see their  need. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites.

Jesus  calls the Laodicean church to repent of its sin: “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” (Revelation  3:18). Their material wealth had no eternal benefit, so Jesus commands them  to come to Him for true, spiritual riches (see Isaiah  55:1-2). Only Christ can supply an everlasting inheritance, clothe us in  righteousness, and heal our spiritual blindness.

Jesus then notes His  concern for His church in Laodicea: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent. 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 him, and he with  me” (Revelation 3:19-20). His rebuke is not born of animosity  but of love. “The Lord disciplines those he loves” (Hebrews  12:6). The desired response to God’s reproof was zealous change and true  repentance.

Verse 20 is often used as an evangelistic appeal, yet its  original context communicates Christ’s desire for fellowship with His lukewarm  church in Laodicea. The church is nominally Christian, but Christ Himself has  been locked out. Rather than turn His back on them, He knocks, seeking someone  to acknowledge the church’s need and open the door. If they would repent, Jesus  would come in and take His rightful place in the church. He would share a meal  with them, a Middle Eastern word picture speaking of closeness of  relationship.

Jesus then makes a promise to the believers in Laodicea:  “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just  as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21). The  “overcomer” refers to any believer, and the promise is that he will share  Christ’s future kingdom.

In summary, the church at Laodicea had become  apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of  wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making  it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).  Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him, to “choose for  yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua  24:15). The Lord Jesus issues the same call to those who say they follow Him  today.