We move on to the seventh and final letter in Revelation. The end of the road, as far as the delivery of the Revelation given to John along the path of these seven churches. This time the letter is to the lukewarm church in Laodicea. Jesus has no good things to say to this church. Therefore, the examination will obviously be about what’s going wrong here. What did they do, or not do? How might they have achieved such good news from Jesus? And what can we learn for us today, both for our churches and for us as individuals?
Once again, the title comes from the section title in the NKJV. As with most of the churches, the title refers to the content of the letter. Laodicea is the only one of the seven churches to receive only bad news. Truly, this is a church we do not want to emulate. Whether it be the church we attend or is as individuals, we do not want to be in that type of environment.
First – Blessings in the Seven Letters
If you’re going through the series, you’ve seen this portion before. I’m including it for each letter for those who may only be checking out one of the seven letters.
The Book of Revelation starts with these verses:
Rev 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
We learn something of the importance of each of the letters from this passage. Of course, we get a modern-day evidence chain of sorts, to let us know this is from God. And while John is the recipient of the vision, we saw:
3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it …
Just like when Jesus spoke of things like love and believe, He was also saying that the love and belief should be so strong as to bring about action on our part. Not our action alone – and not action to gain love or to have stronger belief. No – it’s about faith and love that are stronger than anything we could ever have ourselves, because it’s God’s meaning of faith and love that we can only achieve with the Holy Spirit.
Then the action follows from having the Holy Spirit. And with the Holy Spirit working through us, the actions that we carry out will come from God and be effective the way He intends them to be. In short – it’s not about us. It’s about God.
When we see Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, all of that involves action as a result of having read or heard the prophecy. It takes the Holy Spirit to understand the words, to take them to heart. And once we do that – we should have a desire, also coming from the Holy Spirit, to act on the words. Both for ourselves and for others.
It’s a message that God wants us to hear/read – and then do something with it. As we’ll see, each letter speaks to what Jesus has for and against each of the churches. He lets us know very clearly where we stand in relation to what He wants. To what He taught. Our goal is to be more Christ-like, and when we read this, we can look for ourselves in the letters and know just where we are.
Praying about the Seven Letters and ourselves
We’ll start with praying portions of Psalm 139. Remember that these letters are for us today, as much as for those at the time John put pen to scroll and everyone in between. One really good way for us to ask God to let us know which parts of these letters apply to us as individuals, families, small groups, churches, Etc. is to literally ask Him! And to listen for a response.
As such, let’s begin by praying the verses below, from David to God.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
Ps 139:1 O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
Ps 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Ps 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Ps 139:22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
This Psalm is something we should incorporate into our prayer life. Sometimes maybe we feel like we don’t really want to know what God knows about us. But hey – He already knows, and He still loves us. So why not ask, and then also ask for His help to grow in our journey through this life in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit?
The letter to the church in Laodicea
To the Church in Laodicea
Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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. 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.
Rev 3:19 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 him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 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. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Cultural and historical factors in Laodicea
Some relevant geography and its impact on water in Laodicea:
The Lycus River Valley contained three primary cities, Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea. Given the interconnected nature of these cities, a brief discussion of each is warranted.
In the narrow, eastern portion of the valley was Colossae, the oldest of the three cities and one that flourished in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The city was built on a mound above the floor of the valley near the cold-water springs that supplied water for the residents. Colossae was a trade center for wool and dyeing, and although the city flourished due to its location on the southern trade route, it was later eclipsed by Laodicea.
Hierapolis was built three hundred feet (483 m) above the valley floor on the northern hills of the Lycus Valley. The city was renowned for its warm medicinal springs located on the edge of the city facing the valley floor. The high mineral content of the thermal waters calcified on the edges of the pools creating dramatic terraces and turning the hillside into what looked like a frozen waterfall. These cascading white cliffs over which thermal waters dripped into the valley were visible from Laodicea. Along with these mineral hot springs, Hierapolis was known for wool, metal working, and stone cutting.
The third significant city in the Lycus Valley was Laodicea. The city was located at the opposite end of the Lycus Valley from Colossae (11 miles [17.7 km]), and a short distance south from Hierapolis (6 miles [9.7 km]). By the second century BC, Laodicea eclipsed Colossae as the dominant city in the valley. Laodicea was built on a plateau one hundred feet (30.5 m) above the valley floor on the south side of the Lycus River. To the north and the west of the city, the Lycus Valley widened and ultimately joined the broad fields of the Meander Valley. To the south and the east the views were aborted by the high mountains. No fresh water springs were near Laodicea, although two small tributaries of the Lycus River were nearby. Since those streams dried up in the summer months, the residents of the flourishing city relied primarily on the aqueducts carrying water from the southern city of Denizli.
So Colossae had nice cold water. Hierapolis had hot water springs, nice for bathing. However, they also had cool mountain air to make the water palatable for drinking. But Laodicea ended up with water from some small springs some of the year, and water from aqueducts during the summer. That meant they had lukewarm water for drinking.
So the drinking water in these three cities fits in perfectly with what Jesus said to this church about being lukewarm. It also reminds us of a time when lukewarm isn’t good.
Laodicea grew out of the small town of Diospolis. It gained prominence and size between 261 and 253 BC when Antiochus II rebuilt the city and named it after his wife Laodice. The city came under Roman control in 133 BC and continued to develop in wealth and importance due to its fertile territory, famed textiles, and prominent location on the southern trunk road.
The Lycus Valley was in an earthquake-prone area. One quake demolished Laodicea in AD 17, and Tiberius sent money to rebuild the city. Another devastating quake occurred in AD 60, but, according to Tacitus, while Hierapolis and other cities rebuilt with the help of Rome, Laodicea refused imperial funds choosing to rely on its own wealth to restore itself (Tacitus, Annales 14.27). Although the attitude of self-sufficiency was respected by Rome, the church of Laodicea would be rebuked for such self-reliance.
Again, we see how the geography of Laodicea comes into play when reading the letter to this church. Their self-sufficiency may have been OK as far as being able to refuse money from Rome to rebuild. But when it comes to Jesus, self-sufficiency means we aren’t led by the Holy Spirit. Since we are to be poor in our own spirit and rich in God’s Spirit, this isn’t good for a church or for us as individuals.
Also visible on adjacent hills are remains of a siphon-style aqueduct that brought water to the city from Denizli in the south. Similar to the hot waters of Hierapolis, the water carried through the aqueducts to Laodicea had a high mineral content, as evident by the calcareous deposits that have blocked sections of the pipe. Water was collected in water towers from which it was distributed to the city’s residents.
At some point, the Romans started putting “plugs” into the aqueducts that could be removed to facilitate removal of the mineral deposits. Given what we’ve just seen, I can’t help but wonder if the church in Laodicea needed some removable “plugs” to clean up their theology and allow them to remain, or get back, in touch with the Holy Spirit.
Again, this is a reminder for us. If we don’t pay attention, all sorts of things can interfere with our ability to follow the Holy Spirit. We’ve seen various examples of that very situation in all of the churches, except Philadelphia. Definitely something for us to notice and learn from.
By the time of the writing of the letter in Revelation to Laodicea, the city’s prominent position on the trade route had turned it into a wealthy city of commerce. The city was a banking center that minted its own bronze city coins. Some gold artifacts such as rings and Byzantine gold glass were also found in the excavations. A large Jewish community flourished in Laodicea as is evident by the sizable amounts of gold sent back to the temple in Jerusalem. Cicero reports that in 62 BC Laodicea’s governor seized twenty pounds of gold sent by Jews in the region to Jerusalem—a substantial sum potentially the equivalent of the offering of 7,500 Jewish freemen.
More on the wealth of this city. It’s becoming more and more reminiscent of when Jesus spoke to the rich ruler.
The Rich Ruler – Luke
18:18-30 pp — Mt 19:16-29; Mk 10:17-30
Lk 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Lk 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’’”
Lk 18:21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
Lk 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Lk 18:23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, 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.”
Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Lk 18:27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Lk 18:28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
Lk 18:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
The difference, of course, is that the people of the church in Laodicea didn’t go away sad. They continued to live happily with their worldly wealth, not realizing their true situation with Jesus. Not until this letter.
The church in Laodicea was likely established during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus when during the course of two years “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). It was likely Epaphras and not Paul who evangelized the cities in the Lycus Valley (Col 1:6–7; 4:12–13). Christian communities throughout the Lycus Valley were closely connected and shared letters from Paul. Notice in Colossians that all three of the cities in the Lycus Valley are mentioned together (Col 2:1; 4:13, 15–16). The recognized connection between the communities in the Lycus Valley further suggests that the letter to Laodicea in Revelation 3:14–22 may have been intended for the wider Christian community outside the city limits. 1
We’ll get more into this later, but the reference to “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10) is interesting. So hold this thought.
Breakdown of the letter to the church in Laodicea
Here’s usual breakdown of the letter to the church in Laodicea.
|To||the angel of the church in Laodicea|
|From||the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.|
|Divine Knowledge||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 -||But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 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.|
|So -||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.|
|Hear||He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.|
|To those who overcome||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.|
The traditional To and From headings are present.
Obviously, it’s to the church in Laodicea. As we saw in the letter to the Ephesian church, it’s most likely not to an actual Heavenly angel. Rather it’s probably to someone, probably of a high position, within the church. To that end, Young’s Literal Translation says:
‘And to the messenger of the assembly of the Laodiceans write: 2
This letter is from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
From – the Amen
You may be wondering, where are all these times Jesus was referred to as “the Amen”? In fact, if yo search the NIV for “the Amen” in English, you’ll find it twice. This verse in Revelation and one other time in 2 Cor 1:20. But the evidence is there. 101 times!
Let’s look at the Greek word to see how and why it’s there so often.
281 ἀμήν [amen /am·ane/] particle indeclinable. Of Hebrew origin 543; TDNT 1:335; TDNTA 53; GK 297; 152 occurrences; AV translates as “verily” 101 times, and “amen” 51 times. 1 firm. 1A metaph. faithful. 2 verily, amen. 2A at the beginning of a discourse—surely, truly, of a truth. 2B at the end—so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.
Do you see it? Why Jesus should come to mind with the word Amen?
If not, let’s add some more info.
Additional Information: The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related—in fact, almost identical—to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly”, an expression of absolute trust and confidence.—HMM. 3
Does that help? Or make it worse? Were the Jewish people referring to Jesus all those years? Is everyone who says Amen, in pretty much any language, referring to Jesus? If they were, it certainly wasn’t something they were aware of.
So let’s add one more thing. One example of 281 ἀμήν [amen /am·ane/] from those 101 times. It’s from The rich young man, in Matthew.
Mt 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. …”
Have you got it now?
Actually, this verse from the 1984 NIV doesn’t help at all. That’s because a word is left out. Here’s the same words from Jesus, this time from the ESV.
“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 4
Now it’s clear – the word “truly” got added. Depending on the translation, and assuming the word is even included, you might read truly, verily, assuredly, or something along those lines. Those words, sometimes with “very” in front of them appear 101 times – with the Greek word 281 ἀμήν [amen /am·ane/] for the original.
Let’s take that one step further. For instance, check out the times Jesus says “I tell you the truth” in the passage below.
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
Jn 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jn 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’”
Jn 3:4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Jn 3:9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
Jn 3:10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
All three of those instances of I tell you the truth is actually the Greek word 281 ἀμήν [amen /am·ane/] said twice. Repeated for emphasis.
Every one of those 101 occurrences of 281 ἀμήν [amen /am·ane/] is something Jesus said. The evidence is there. Jesus is the one who kept saying Truly, assuredly, (Amen), I tell you … No one else. Just Him. It’s most unfortunate that the 1984 NIV chose to leave it out. BTW – it did get added in the 2010 translation.
Having said that, in cases like the John 3 passage above, it only appears once, not twice – even though the Greek word does appear twice.
Considering the rest of the words Jesus used to identify Himself, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation, starting off with the Amen seems to be a point of emphasis to remind them of all the things He said during His three years on earth.
From – the faithful and true witness
All God’s witnesses have failed at one time or other, but Christ never. 5
It’s a good reminder. We just aren’t capable of being entirely faithful or true. Only God can do that.
The passage below isn’t the first promise God made. But it is the first time a Hebrew word gets translated as “faithful” in the NIV. See verse 9.
Driving Out the Nations
Dt 7:1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’S anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Dt 7:7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
Dt 7:11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.
After telling His people about His faithfulness and letting them know what they should do in return, God tells the people the importance of their own faithfulness. Unfortunately, as we know, faithfulness on the part of people (including us today) is in short supply.
Dt 7:12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young. 15 The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. 16 You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Dt 7:17 You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 20 Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. 21 Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.
22 The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. 24 He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. 25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
Ultimately, we still expect God to be faithful to us, even though we are far from faithful to Him.
As mentioned, this isn’t the first promise made by God. That goes all the way back to Genesis. The beginning. And, it involves Jesus, the faithful one in Revelation.
We see Adam and Eve being unfaithful in the Garden of Eden.
The Fall of Man
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Ge 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Ge 3:10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Ge 3:11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”
Ge 3:12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Ge 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
There is a price to be paid for all of this. It starts with the serpent.
Ge 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
Verse 15 is a foretelling, way back in “The Beginning”, of Jesus coming to save God’s creation.
Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
And then there’s the payment for Adam, Eve, and all of us who follow.
Ge 3:16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
Ge 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
Ge 3:19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Ge 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
Ge 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Now that we’ve seen the first promise and the first time God says He is faithful, let’s see the last ones. Of course, they’re in Revelation.
The last time Jesus is called by the title of Faithful and True is in verse 11 below.
The Rider on the White Horse
Rev 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”
Rev 19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
The last promise is also the last words Jesus speaks in the Bible.
Jesus Is Coming
Rev 22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
Rev 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
Rev 22:10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”
Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Rev 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
And so we see Jesus as the One who is Faithful and True. From the very first promise in the Bible, all the way to the very last one. The first – about Jesus coming. And the last about Jesus coming a second time.
From – the ruler of God’s creation
All of which leads us to the last of the things Jesus says to describe Himself. He was there in the creation process. His return was promised when Adam and Eve fell and were removed from the Garden. Jesus came to earth as a baby to give us a means of Salvation. And He will come again to finish what was begun – returning it to the way it was meant to be.
All of that can only be done by the One who is the ruler over all of creation. While Satan may have some temporary power at this time, it’s not complete power, and it’s not forever.
Jesus made that very clear when He promised us the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promises Holy Spirit
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”
From – summary
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Just like the other letters, the From portion, by itself, doesn’t necessarily mean either good or bad news. However, once do know the full content of the letter, it tells us quite a bit. In this case, the letter is bad news. Totally bad news. The fact that Jesus is identifying Himself as He did is more than enough evidence to let the church in Laodicea that He does indeed have the authority and the power to carry out whatever they read in the “So” portion of the letter.
For us today, if we even come close to the lukewarm description Jesus gives for this church, we’d be wise to take notice and make whatever corrections are needed.
We’ll pick up on the Divine Knowledge section in the next part of this article.
Divine Knowledge in the letter to the church in Laodicea
Next, we’ll look at the Divine Knowledge. The things Jesus knows about the church.