TOPIC:“Laodicea - The Lukewarm Church”
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold -
I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (3:16)
Laodicea, the last of the seven churches, was founded in 250 B.C. by Antiochus II of Syria and was named after his wife Laodice. The city was located about forty miles southeast of Philadelphia and forty miles east of Ephesus. It was situated in the fertile Lycus River valley which helped it to become under Roman rule one of the most prominent and prosperous cities of Asia Minor.
The city of Laodicea was destroyed by two earthquakes. One in A.D. 17 when it was rebuilt by Tiberius, the Roman emperor, and again in A.D. 60 when it was rebuilt by its own resources without any outside help. It became famous for its clothing industry and medical school. The black woolen sheep which grazed on the surrounding valley slopes produced an exceptionally fine wool of which black garments were manufactured and exported to all parts of the Mediterranean world. The medical school discovered an eye ointment that became very helpful to many people throughout that part of the world.
There is no record as to how the church got started and under what circumstances it came into being. There is no evidence which I could find that Paul ever visited Laodicea, but we do know that he was acquainted with the church for he makes mention of it in his letter to the Colossians in 2:1 and 4:15. Whatever the case, the church at Laodicea was a well established church when Christ sent this letter to it.
The material prosperity of the city robbed the church of its spiritual fervency. Laodicea no longer exists today as a city or as a church. Its glory has long since departed as it is now nothing more than a deserted city in ruins. Whereas in the Philadelphia church Christ saw nothing wrong for condemnation, here as He surveys the Laodicean church He sees nothing worthy of commendation. It is a church absent of praise. William Barclay calls it “the church of which there was nothing good to say.”
If the Laodicean church is as many believe the church of the end time or the church in existence at the time of Christ's return, then it is extremely important that we seek to understand this final message of Christ to His church.
Consider, to begin with, the CHARACTER Christ REVEALS. We read these words in verse 14: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, . . .