What does the Bible say about Laodicea?
Laodicea was a city located in what is now modern-day Turkey. Laodicea was located in Asia Minor in the region of the Roman Empire called Phrygia according to Acts 18:23.
The church of Laodicea is mentioned several times in the Bible: Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:13-16; Revelation 1:11 and Revelation 3:14.
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Laodicea’s spiritual problems
Jesus directed John to write a letter about current conditions in Laodicea, and his report was not very favorable. The Laodicea church, the letter said, had some serious spiritual problems. (See Revelation 3:14-21).
In fact, nothing in this letter praised the church of Laodicea! The same message to that church is relevant even today, especially to people who have had great spiritual light and many opportunities, and yet have not appreciated them. The letter to Laodicea stated the following points.
- Laodicea was neither hot nor cold — “you are lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16).
- Laodicea had a high opinion of itself — “I have become wealthy and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17).
- Laodicea did not recognize its real condition — “you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Few people like anything lukewarm. If it’s a hot day and you open the fridge to get something to drink, you expect it to be cold! If it’s cold out and you decide on a cup of chocolate, you expect it to be hot! If it’s lukewarm the impulse is to spit it out or throw it away.
The same attitudes can appear in our personal spiritual lives:
- “Neither hot nor cold” refers to a “take it or leave it” attitude. The Lord doesn’t accept that kind of attitude. He says He will “vomit you out of My mouth.”
- “Wealthy and have need of nothing” is another way of saying “I’m on my own and don’t need anybody telling me what to do!” As one Bible version says: “oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.” (The Message).
3 Remedies for Laodicea
The beauty of the letter John transmitted to the Laodicean church is that it includes a list of remedies to help the members get back on track. These same remedies will work for us if we follow the Lord’s counsel. (Revelation 3:18).
The letter includes three specific remedies. The illustrations describing these remedies reflect the professions and businesses in the city, making them relevant and familiar to the church members of the time. Here’s what they look like unwrapped for us:
- Refined gold. “Buy from Me gold refined in the fire.” The point is to obtain something genuine, not fake. John's fellow apostle Peter wrote: “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7). So faith and love are the true “riches” a Christian should demonstrate in their lives. It all comes together in a Christian character made of “pure gold”.
- White garments. “Buy from Me white garments, that you may be clothed.” Black wool was a major Laodicean export. Using a spiritual comparison, John’s message says that Jesus turns black cloth into white outfits, representing the righteousness of Christ. Only Jesus offers us the plan of salvation.
- Eye salve. “Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” The city of Laodicea was noted for a medical school that specialized in ear ointment and eye salve. For the church, spiritual “eye salve”, understanding and applying Bible truth, clears up self-deception and restores spiritual vision.
Can an entire church be like Laodicea?
John’s letter to Laodicea found in Revelation is also a prophetic statement about the spiritual conditions in some later churches that unfortunately follow the Laodicean example. The Christian church has undergone a lot of changes since the time of Jesus.
The closer we get to the second coming of Jesus (John 14:1-3) the same spiritual illnesses that afflicted the Laodicean church can afflict today’s churches. Application of the remedies mentioned in Revelation 3:14-21, can also cure spiritual illnesses of an entire congregation.
Where was Laodicea?
Laodicea was a city located in what is today the nation of Turkey, then called Asia Minor, in a section of the Roman Empire called “Phrygia” (Acts 18:23). It was named Laodicea by the Greek ruler Antiochus II Theos around 260 BC in honor of his wife Laodice.
Laodicea was located near the modern city of Denizli, Turkey, on a major road the Romans used as a business and mail delivery route.
The city became what we would call a “banking center.” It was a major export market for black wool, a product much in demand. It was also the site of a well-known medical school. It had a large Jewish population, some of whom became Christians.
What does Laodicea have to do with me?
No one has to remain in this “Laodicean” spiritual condition. Jesus says to Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” All you have to do is open the door! Jesus walks into your life, covers you in His righteousness, and applies spiritual eye salve.
Opening that door allows Jesus into your heart — and adds a great reward: “I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.” (Revelation 3: 21).