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Laodicea

Revelation 3:14–22 (NIV84)

 

To the Church in Laodicea

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.

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.

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.”

 

 

Laodicea is situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis, "City of Zeus", and afterwards Rhodas. Under the Roman empire, Laodicea became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on. It was on the cross road of two great trade routes. One was leading east from Ephesus and the Aegean Sea to the Anatolian plateau. The other is from Pergamum leading to the Mediterranean Sea in the South. Five of the cities that John wrote to was along this route (Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea). Its twin sister cities were Heropolis in the north and Colossae to the east.

It was a very rich city. When it was completely destroyed by an earthquake, especially one that occurred during the reign of Emperor Nero (60 AD), the people declined imperial help but were able to rebuild using their own money. It became a centre of trade, literature and even have its own medical school and centre of healing that is famous for their eye ointment. The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.

There were a lot of Jews in the city. Antiochus the Great transported 2,000 Jewish families to Phrygia from Babylonia. Many of Laodicea's inhabitants were Jews, and Cicero records that Flaccus confiscated the considerable sum of 9 kilograms (20 lb) of gold which was being sent annually to Jerusalem for the Temple (Pro Flacco 28-68).

Laodicea received the gospel not from Paul but from his helper Epaphras during the time Paul was in Ephesus.  Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesimus, and Mark seem to have been the early messengers of the gospel there (Col 1:7; 4:7-15). Paul wrote the church there a letter during his first Roman imprisonment. No existing copy of that letter was found.

 

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Sermon: Lessons from Laodicea the Worldly Materialistic Church

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