“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God’“
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write
Laodicea was an important city of Phrygia in Asia Minor on the Lycus River strategically situated where three highways intersect. A large colony of Jews resided there. Christianity took footing there (Co 2:1; 4:13,15f). Laodicea was the most prosperous, commercial city of the seven. It is situated on a plateau in the fertile southern Lycus River valley. It was an important banking center. The city also produced glossy black wool. It was a medical center especially famed for ophthalmology. Today, doctors in the United States military wear the symbol of a staff with two serpents wrapped around it. This is the symbol of Aesculapius, a medical cult in Laodicea.
Antiochus II named Laodicea after his wife Laodice in the third century BC. Nero supplied aid after a calamitous earthquake in AD 60 (Tacitus, Ann. 14.27).
Laodicea did not have a good water supply in its own region, so it caught its water through an aqueduct from a spring four miles to the north. These waters came from the waters of Hierapolis (the famous hot springs) and probably arrived lukewarm.
The gospel came to Laodicea, probably while Paul was in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Although Paul mentions this church (Co 4:12-16), he may have never personally visited the city. The cities of Colossi and Hierapolis (Co 2:1; 4:13-16) were in the Lycus Valley as well. Epaphras, a companion of Paul, worked in these three cities.
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God’
Jesus calls Himself by three descriptions. First, He refers to Himself as “the Amen.” “Amen” means so be it, it is true. God’s promises find their fulfillment in Christ (2 Co 1:20). He is the culmination of all history. Jesus is true to His Word. He is unchangeable in His promises. He is true to His Word.
Is 65:16, “So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Shall swear by the God of truth;
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My eyes.”
Jesus calls Himself “the Amen” to authenticate His message to this church. His message was authoritative. Whenever Jesus uses the term “Amen,” it always indicates some significant truth. Jesus is the object of faith and the foundation for all truth. We can trust Him because He keeps His promises.
Secondly, Jesus calls Himself “the Faithful and True Witness.” Jesus’ testimony about revelation was true to truth. We can fully and confidently believe Him. There is nothing false or pretentious about Him. God is unchangeable in the truth of His revelations. Whatever He says in this message, the Laodiceans can count on His attestations. Jesus not only tells the truth, but He tells all the truth — He is “faithful” to the truth. He does not hide behind “partial truths.” Jesus faithfully reveals what God is like. God is invisible, so to understand Him, we must receive faithful revelation of Him.
Thirdly, Jesus calls Himself “the Beginning of the creation of God.” Does this mean that Jesus was created? The word “creation” means a founding, foundation, ordained. Jesus is the origin of all history. History begins and ends with Him. He is the first cause, the Creator and Sustainer of creation. The word “Beginning” is the word first. Jesus is first in priority (Jn 1:3; Co 1:16-17; Re 1:8; 21:6). Jesus is the source of all creation; He is the Creator of time and space. Jesus is not here the beginning of natural creation but the beginning of supernatural creation (Jn 1:3; Co 1:15-18; He 1:2).
Again, Jesus’ threefold affirmation about Himself to the Laodiceans focuses on His Person. These attestations about Himself give gravity to His statements to follow.
Materialism spawns a lukewarm spirituality, but Christ-centeredness puts us at the core of Christianity.
The wealth of the church in Laodicea produced a self-satisfied, lukewarm attitude toward Jesus. The “hot” springs of Hierapolis were famous for their medicinal properties, and the “cold” waters of Colossi were prized for their purity. The tepid waters of Laodicea, however, were both abundant and bad. Though the church thinks itself rich and lacking nothing, it is actually “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” (v. 17).
North American culture is consumed by consumerism. Materialism dominates the core values of these societies. Materialism gives an allusion of self-sufficiency, of autonomy from God. This weakens individual Christian living at its core. Lukewarmness vetoes deep fellowship with the Lord.
God’s answer to materialism is to place Christ at the center of our lives. He will satisfy our core and true need. He does not promise us an easy life but a fulfilling life.