Message from the Witness, for the Last Church
Revelation 3:14-21
.Re 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;   Angel See note for 1:20.
  Laodiceans This as the final people who claim the name of Christ, those who live during the preadvent judgment time (now). The city name is from two Greek words meaning "people judged." Christ is the   Amen re0105, de0709, mt0518. Christ is our true witness in judgment. He is also the beginning of ... creation. He began the work of creation, also an end-time issue re1407. His resurrection opened the way for all righteous dead ro0608. He spoke to the angel as the resurrected Christ. See note below.
.15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
  Thy Christ speaks to the angel for the church.
  Neither cold nor hot The city water source was a tank filled from a mineral spring by an aqueduct.
  I would that Or "I would prefer that" A "hot" church would be faithful and active. A "cold" one, dead. If lukewarm, it would have a form holding it together such as by social life so would not be sounding the alarm of being committed.
.17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:   I am rich The city apparently was wealthy ho1208. It represents the final era of Christianity when people are satisfied with their spiritual life. Feeling in need of nothing, they resist new understandings of the Scriptures and fail to study for themselves.
  Knowest not Only by seeing the Lord can we know our condition is06. See note.
.18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.   See note for this verse.
.19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.   Rebuke and chasten Or "scold and punish."
  Zealous Not lukewarm. See note.
.20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Only the first verses of passages are shown in the link codes.
  I will come in to him This reminds us of how the Lord was entertained at Emmaus lu2428. The connection with this scene implies that Jesus had a special blessing for those of us in Laodicea who hear His word in the Scriptures and invite Him to come into our hearts. And as we receive His Spirit we will go forth to share the final appeal to humanity re18.
  Knock The Lord finds the faithful ones waiting when He comes from the wedding and knocks lu1232-40. At the wedding the Groom (Christ) had identified the faithful ones as His own. mal0316, 2ti0219. In this sense it pictures judgment.
.21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
  I will grant to sit Our sitting depends on overcoming. Christ's authority to grant this honor depends on His having overcome His being worthy to sit with the Father (chapters 4 and 5). See the note. The process of granting is, I believe, represented in the story of the seals, introduced in chapter 5 and developed through to 8:1. Our sitting occurs in chapter 20 re2004.
   In a similar way, other blocks of text in the book of Revelation may be seen to elaborate on themes announced just before them re00i&e. Also see v21 note.
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Note, 3:14
The faithful and true witness

   This, I believe, is the Christian church of our day. Although we could see ourselves in all the churches of revelation, we have reason to pay close attention to the counsel to this church. The term here does not mean "denomination" but those people who claim to be Christians. They are lukewarm! The graphic illustration the Spirit gives here hardly needs interpretation. This is the attitude of "Don't worry, everything will turn out okay."
   Who is speaking? The glorified Lord, as described in chapter 1. He identifies Himself to the final church as "the faithful and true witness." In 12:17 we will learn about the remnant of the woman's seed. The woman, as Christ's true people, flees to the wilderness for 1260 years to escape the dragon. After the earth helps the woman, the focus of attention is shifted. Here is the final verse of the vision of the woman and the dragon. Hence we may assume that it represents God's end-time people, re1217a.

   "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 12:17)
   Jesus Christ, the true witness of our verse, will testify to the final group of faithful people who have come out from the mainstream as a remnant. In 19:10, the testimony of Jesus is identified as "the spirit of prophecy." We will study this more later re1910. For now, we can see the link and how God loves His final people.
   What does the witness testify about? the condition of the people claiming His name living at the end of time and the remedies. They are for us.
   Jesus Christ here is also "the beginning of the creation of God." The phrase appears to present Christ as a created being. The word, "beginning," here is the Greek arche which may be either active or passive. The passive sense would make Him the first created being. The active makes Him the one who initiated creation. According to John, Christ was already in existence when creation began:

   "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3, 14; Also see Micah 5:2)

   Just how He was the "only begotten of the Father" we have not been told. "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). We do know that when He was "made flesh" the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. Divinity was clothed in humanity. (Luke 1:35) God was His father (Luke 2:49).

   Why did the glorified Lord here identify Himself in connection with creation? Because His creatorship is an issue with the end-time church. We are called to "Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14:6).
   We are to worship Him as creator, and recognize the final time as a time when judgment would begin. I'll let you think about that. We will discuss the topic more at 14:7, re1407g. The judgment brings us back to Christ as the true witness. He sees us and so He judges. He is also our attorney (1 Tim. 2:5). As we yield to Him, we can trust that He will see us through.

Note, 3:17
Rich people who are really poor

   The people of Smyrna in 2:9 were described as poor but rich. They were poor by human standards but rich before God. Here is the church in the opposite situation.

I am rich
  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent." (17-19).

   We can see riches in the relative prosperity of our time. But the riches we need from the true witness are spiritual. Our temptation is to feel we have everything it takes to walk through the pearly gates so we relax and do nothing except smile while we keep on in our little pet sins. Is salvation a free gift? Certainly. But we accept it by faith (Eph. 2:8-10). And that means trusting that God knows what is best and has explained it in His word.

   "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21; see the context)

   Although we may not be open sinners, I believe we need the attitude of repentance. We need to constantly sense our dependence on Christ and His righteousness. We certainly need to be zealous. Peter often let his zeal go in the wrong direction, but on the day of Pentecost he was boldly proclaiming Christ. That's the kind of zeal we need guided by tact and love. And Jesus is ready to give it to us.

Note, 3:18
Buying without money

   "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (Rev. 3:17, 18)

   What a picture! When we think we have it all, we may be surprised to learn that we have nothing. Let's look at the four things Christ tells us we need, but first what action were we told to take to get what we need? What is the verb here? It's "buy."  But isn't what Christ provides free? In what sense do we need to buy from Him? Compare lu0418.

   "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. . . . . Seek ye the LORD while he may be found . . . Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him. . . ." (Isa. 55:1, 2, 6, 7)

   So, although salvation and the character traits needed for it are gifts, we have a responsibility in accepting them. It is easy to get the idea that Jesus did everything for us leaving us "free" in Him. We have to be sure we are using the terms as the Bible does. While salvation is a free gift, we have a price to pay. If we want to be a member of the kingdom of heaven, we must place our lives in harmony with its principles! This means turning our wills over to Christ. Standing for the right is not easy. We buy the gold. The paradox is solved in realizing that while we need effort to overcome sin, we get the strength for it from Christ! So who gets the glory for our salvation? It is all His. We are free from the load of guilt not free to continue in sin. This is the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). He gives us both the strength both "to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). We need never fail (1 Cor. 10:13). Praise God!

   From the verses quoted, see if you can understand the meaning of the three things we need to buy:

   ". . . ye greatly rejoice . . . . That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not. . . ."  (1 Peter 1:6-8).
   ". . .  who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire . . .  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall and he shall purify the sons of Levi purify the sons of Levi. . . ." (Mal. 3:2, 3). (On "stand," see Rev. 6:15-17.  On "sit" see Isa. 16:5; Dan. 7:6. On "purify the sons of Levi," see Lev. 16:5, 11 and compare Ex. 4:14.)

white raiment (garments)
   "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27).
   ". . . the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.  And to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." (Rev. 19:7, 8).
   "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30)

    "And when the woman saw that the tree was good . . . and that was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:6, 7). See on ge0225.
    No one would deny that our only hope is the robe of the righteousness of Christ. The problem is that many assume to have it by virtue of their connection in good standing in a church. The robe doesn't cover cherished sins.

   "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Ps. 119:105).
   ". . . when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth . . . He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13, 14)

   I pray for the gold of faith, the white clothes of Christ's righteousness to cover my unworthiness, and the eye drops for spiritual discernment.

Note, 3:19
Trials sent in love

   "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent." (Rev. 3:19)

   If you have ever been asked to explain why God permits hardships to come to His children, here is a good verse to quote. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Remember how we get the gold? Look back to v18.

   And the rest of the verse helps us realize how we should respond to hardships. " Be zealous therefore and repent." This is not to say that serious Christians do not have problems. Any of us can think of our difficult situations as opportunities to draw closer to the Lord (the "be zealous" part). I'd like to quote (with permission) a little letter I received which strengthened my own faith. Perhaps it will bless you, too:

   ". . . . Financially, we live one day at a time, because that is all we can do! God has taken our hope and trust in employers, stocks, and retirement funds and centered our trust on Him where it should have been all along! We are confident that His word is 100% TRUE, so He will continue to supply our needs. material or otherwise, He has been faithful these 3½ years miraculously so. We have never been delinquent on a bill and sold our house just in time to avoid foreclosure! We are truly lacking in no good thing, and our hearts are more His than before. 
   "I realized today that it doesn't matter how long this "desert" continues; He is as much in charge now as ever, and will continue to be. I'm so thankful time does not confine Him! 
   "May the Lord Jesus richly bless you for the favor you have shown us. Teena M."

   The "favor" was really a small one. May God bless each of us with His joy and peace.

Note, 3:21
Only overcomers

   When Jesus gave this promise He had ascended to heaven and had become ruler with the Father. We will look more at this in the next two chapters. He had always been with the Father, but now He had taken humanity and, in that sense the relationship was new. Here He promises us as overcomers that, in a similar sense, we will sit with Him on His throne! This is an awesome honor. We see it reflected in a story of Jesus similar to His story of the talents. Notice first the reason for the parable. The disciples thought the kingdom was near and that it would be established on the earth. Compare ac0106.
    To understand, read the story of how the land owner who went to a far country leaving his wealth to his servants. When he came back some were found faithful and some not. lu1911ff  (The ff means "following verses." Looking at that picture of Christ will help you understand the text here. Then you can return and continue.
    In the parable you just read, Jesus spoke of Himself as going to a far country where He would receive a kingdom which would belong to Him. Those servants who stayed behind (you and me) and remained true would, in turn, be granted rulership under His authority. Also see Hannah's prayer 1sa0208. In the message to the faithful of Laodicea, He repeats the promise. We may sit with Him on His throne.
   Next question: What does it mean to sit on Christ's throne? In what sense do we rule? In what sense does He rule? Our system of government in the US and similar systems elsewhere confuses things a little because the president is not a ruler who makes the rules, interprets them and enforces them. Instead rulership is divided between the application of the rules (the president), the maker of the rules (congress) and the interpreter of the rules (the judiciary). That helps provide safety for us with humans who control the government. A king, does all three. And where the king meets the people, He is basically a judge, although he may delegate the responsibility. Do you remember what Moses' work was when Jethro came to help him simplify it? He was sitting all day judging the people ex1813. The throne is consistently seen in the Bible as the seat of judgment ps00907.
   So if the true ones of Laodicea sit on Christ's throne with Him, they will judge with Him when He returns to reward them and take them into His kingdom in heaven. Is this not their work during the thousand years? da0722. Compare lu2229.

   ^   And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4)

Who do they help Christ judge?
   The wicked, who are dead at the time re2005. Compare 1co0602.
   So one little verse takes on more meaning as we search elsewhere to see what it is talking about. I realize that various viewpoints exist about what happens in Rev. 20, so it's perfectly okay for you to question my conclusions. Just be sure you have Scripture to back any ideas you hear. And when we finally get to Rev. 20 we will have opportunity to take a closer look. One thing for sure, we all want to be found among the faithful as we are hid with Christ in God co0303.

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