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Laodicea - The 21st Century American Church - Part 1

Updated on May 8, 2017
The Ruins of Laodicea
The Ruins of Laodicea

“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.(Revelation 3:8)

In this short series, we will examine briefly the Seven Churches of Revelation. At this point, I'm not sure of how much detail we will get into, or how many installments there will be. This is just a brief overview. We will not go into great detail as we see how America is prophetically represented by the seventh church mentioned - the Chruch at Laodicea. To keep things in context we will also look at the other six churches and the message Jesus had for them as well.

There is so much we can learn from Scripture, and in a variety of ways. Prophecy is only one way this portion of Holy Writ can be applied. Although prophecy is not always spelled out, in hindsight we can see the fulfillment. Shall we begin?

John on the Isle of Patmos

The Fulfilment of Prophecy

The vision of Revelation was given to the Apostle John as he battled persecution on the Isle of Patmos. We know that it was a vision of prophecy for in Revelation 1:3 we read, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

Notice there is a promise here for both the reader of the letter (Probably the pastor) and also those who hear what is read. The promise is nothing short of a blessing but notice further. It was the reading and hearing of “the words of this prophecy.” We tend to look at chapters 4 through 22 as prophecy – the time of the Great Tribulation and beyond, but realize John is saying the whole book of Revelation is prophecy. Chapters 1-3 are also prophecy.

The letters to the seven churches were real letters, sent to real churches, read to real people, and had real implications. But, as in the case of many, if not most prophecies, a secondary application is hidden within. As time passed, the secondary foretelling comes into view. In order to understand the application of Laodicea and its secondary prophecy, we must take a look at the other six churches involved in John’s prophecy.

It has commonly been taught that the seven churches of Revelation prophetically represent seven periods of church history. As we look at the attributes of these seven churches, we can see that over time, each of the church’s characteristics can be seen to represent a specific time period in history. Those periods are generally listed as follows

  • Ephesus – The Church Leaving Her First Love; Pentecost to 100 A.D.
  • Smyrna – The Persecuted Church; 100 A.D.to 313 A.D.
  • Pergamos – The Worldly Church; 313 A.D. to 500 A.D.
  • Thyatira – The Compromising Church; 500 A.D. to the early 1300s
  • Sardis – The Dead Church; early 1300s to 1517 A.D.
  • Philadelphia – The Faithful Church; 1517 A.D. to the early 1900s
  • Laodicea - The Lukewarm Church; Early 1900s to Present

Revelation Chapter One

Keeping chapters 2 and 3 in context requires us to quickly take a look at chapter 1. In chapter 1 we are told, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him [John] . . . .” We must consider the fact that what we read of the seven churches of Revelation was given to us by Jesus Christ. It is not the revelation of John. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It is His revelation. The revelation about to be exposed belongs to Jesus Christ, but it is also a revelation of His person. Christ takes much effort to describe Himself in the first chapter. Not only is it a revelation belonging to our Lord, (“the Revelation of Jesus Christ”), but it is a revelation about (“the Revelation of Jesus Christ), our Saviour.

The descriptions He uses to describe His being, He also applies to each church. Although the letter focuses on the seven churches individually, it also includes them collectively, just as it includes us. The lessons for the churches of Asia Minor can and must still be applied to Christ’s church today.

John begins in earnest in chapter 2 to describe what each church needs. He follows the same pattern throughout. He begins by addressing the church by name. Then he passes on a description of His character from chapter 1:12-18 that directly relates to His particular church. When we combine the descriptions used for each church, we have the description that Christ uses of Himself in chapter 1.

Next, He gives the church His evaluation. He begins with a commendation of the church. He praises them for what they are doing right. He then moves on to give a rebuke – something that needs to be corrected in the church, followed by measures to correct the error. All who have ears to ear will take it to heart.

The Church at Ephesus

That brings us to the first church mentioned in chapter 2 – Ephesus. Revelation 2:1-7 reads as follows –Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

See how the loving Lord comes to His bride-to-be and communicates his approval of much of what He sees. He describes Himself in the same terms He used in chapter 1. Revelation 2:1, in part says, “These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks . . . ”

The Ephesian church was, for the most part, a good church. God saw their works and their labors. He saw how they properly judged false prophets. Yet there was a problem; a problem big enough, if not addressed, that would result in the removal of the church. Does God ever close the doors of a church? Absolutely.

What was happening in the church that would call for such drastic measures? They left their first love. There were outward signs of their Christianity, but inwardly they became stale. The work of the church was no longer exciting, but rather routine – business as usual. Have you ever felt that way? That is the Ephesian church creeping in.

The Church began at Pentecost and by 100 A.D. that vibrant, exciting, honeymoon love had dissipated. Historically this came to pass, but also this period of time represents the secondary prophecy. The church, in general, would leave her first love.

We will continue to examine the other churches in the next installment.

© 2017 William Kovacic

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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 2 months ago from Norfolk, England

      That was really interesting to read. I look forward to reading your next installments.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Interesting stuff to learn about, thank you

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I'll have them up shortly. Thanks for stopping by, Louise.

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Glad you found it interesting, and glad you stopped by, Eric. Thank you!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, please accept my commendation for reviving Bible Study in these days when these topics are not popular. Following!

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You're quite welcome, Dora. Glad to have you along.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was most interesting William. I look forward to reading about the first churches and how we can learn today from their mistakes. Thank you.

    • lifegate profile image
      Author

      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Glad you were able to stop by, Ruby! We ought to be able to learn from others mistakes. That would be ideal, but it seems so often history just repeats itself. Sad but true. Thanks for visiting on this Wednesday afternoon.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 2 months ago

      It definitely is looking very Laodicean out there. Looking forward to the series.

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Tammy,

      Laodicean it is! I can't get over God's patience with His rebellious creation. I would have thought judgment would have fallen by now, but God's mercy keeps reaching out. Thanks for taking the time to visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      always an interesting read, Bill, and your research and knowledge are always impressive

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks, Bill. I always look forward to hearing from you!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Great read, and on a very important subject. When I was in the Middle East I spent a couple of weeks in the area of the seven churches and was fascinated to hear that there was a 'Hot springs' where the water literally came boiling out of the ground.

      The people of Laodicea had an aqueduct built from the spring to bring the hot water into the town, but at twenty six miles the water was lukewarm by the time it got there, and was useless.

      Hence the picture of lukewarm water (they'd built it with their own wealth) would have reminded them how useless they were in that state!

      It's also fascinating to me that of the seven churches only two are given a promise that if they endure to 'the end' they'll receive their reward.

      Today, only two of those ancient cities have a christian presence, just like Jesus said (They're ancient Smyrna now Izmir and Philadelphia)

      Keep the message up.

    • lifegate profile image
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      William Kovacic 7 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for the added information, Lawrence. Very enlightening. It must have been exciting to see those placed first-hand, and glad you were able to do it. Live on Smyrna and Philadelphia!

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