Listen to RevelationHebrew and Greek FontsDownload Commentary Previous SectionUpTable of ContentsNext Section

3.3.14 - Revelation 3:14 Open Bible at Rev. 3:14 Listen to Rev. 3:14

the angel
Some have suggested this particular angel to be Archippus (Col. 4:17) who was named as the first bishop of Laodicea in the Apostolical Constitutions (viii. 46)1 .

Lightfoot has suggested however from Col. 4:17 that Archippus, presumably the son of Philemon (Philemon 2), held responsibility in the church in Laodicea. The two cities were only ten miles apart, and Col. 4 suggests habitual communication between them.2

See the discussion concerning the identity of the angel at Revelation 1:20.

church of the Laodiceans
See commentary on Seven Churches of Asia. Laodicea was in southern Phrygia, midway between Philadelphia and Colosse.

Bathhouse Arches at Laodicea

Bathhouse Arches at Laodicea

3

It was known as Laodicea on the Lycus to distinguish it from at least five other cities bearing the same name. Previously Diospolis, then Rhoas, then rebuilt by Antiochus the Second, king of Syria, and named after his wife Laodice (whom he divorced and who later poisoned him).4

Laodicea was known as an independent and wealthy city where wool was a major source of commerce. “It has often been observed that Laodicea was a banking centre. Cicero cashed his bills of exchange there on his arrival in his province of Cilicia in 51 BC.”5

The city suffered grievously in the Mithridatic war, but presently recovered again; once more in the wide-wasting earthquake in the reign of Tiberius, but was repaired and restored by the efforts of its own citizens, without any help asked by them from the Roman senate (Tacitus, Annal. xiv. 27).6

The prosperity of the city was illustrated following a great earthquake of A.D. 60, which destroyed the city and other cities around it. As was its habit, the Roman government offered substantial aid in rebuilding the devastation. Yet Laodicea was not among those cities who received help. Whether the government refused to offer it because of their great wealth, or Laodicea refused it because they did not need it, is debated. Whatever the case, the reason was wealth.7

In 62 BC the proconsul Flaccus confiscated large amounts of Jewish gold bound for Jerusalem, among them the sum of over twenty pounds weight at Laodicea. . . . the sums collected may represent the totals of temple-tax from their respective districts. It has been calculated that the amount from Laodicea would imply a population of 7,500 adult Jewish freemen in the district.8

Aspects of the letter from Christ appear to allude to commercial activities in Laodicea:

Laodicea was a great garment manufacturing center and pioneered mass-produced, and therefore cheap, outer garments. These garments used the wool of the vast flocks of sheep that grazed the high plateaus in the vicinity. Laodicea was proud of its garment industry and its well-clothed citizens—this adds pertinence to the nakedness of Rev. 3:17+. This verse draws on another aspect of Laodicean pride, too, for the city was a noted medical center with a famous school at the temple of the Carian god, Men. This medical school was world famous for two products in particular, an ointment for the ears and one for the eyes. To aid in exporting these medications, the doctors of Laodicea developed a process of converting the ointment to powder which was compressed into tablets. The comment of Rev. 3:18+ is thus ironic; in their pride, the church members of Laodicea did not recognize that they were spiritually blind.9

The name Λαοδίκεια [Laodikeia] is a compound from Λαός [Laos] (“people”) and δίκη [dikē] (“judgment,” “rule”). Thus the city was aptly named for the letter which Christ here writes:

Its name designates it as the Church of mob rule, the democratic Church, in which everything is swayed and decided by popular opinion, clamour and voting; and hence a self-righteousness and self-sufficient Church.10

Laodicea . . . means “people ruling.” This is set in contrast to God’s ruling in the church. It is a church entirely ruled by men, for the Holy Spirit is not present and doing His ministry of guiding.11

Although Paul mentions this church in his epistle to the Colossians (Col. 2:1; 4:13-16) and it remained a significant church for a number of centuries as witnessed by an important council concerning the canon of Scripture which was held there in AD 361—the Council of Laodicea, at the time of John’s writing, the leadership of the church appears to have been inverted from Scriptural guidelines. Paul had previously warned Timothy concerning the consequences of the sheep ruling in place of spirit-led Shepherds:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2Ti 4:3-4)

the Amen
Derived from the Hebrew term אָמֵן [ʾāmēn] which denotes certainty, a reliable support:

The basic root idea is firmness or certainty. In the Qal it expresses the basic concept of support and is used in the sense of the strong arms of the parent supporting the helpless infant. The constancy involved in the verbal idea is further seen in that it occurs in the Qal only as a participle (expressing continuance). The idea of support is also seen in II Kings 18:16, where it refers to pillars of support.12

the Faithful and True Witness
“Christ’s attributes of sincerity and truth come to the forefront as He deals with those whose alleged devotion to Him is only superficial and not substantial.”13 He will shortly deliver an assessment of the Laodicean church which is unique in its total lack of commendation. No other of the seven churches fairs as poorly in His assessment. Therefore, He emphasizes the accuracy and trustworthiness of what He is about to say. In scenes of judgment, we find an emphasis on the reliability of His witness because it is a requirement for Holy judgment (Rev. 19:11+). His words are worthy to have faith exercised upon them (Rev. 21:5+; 22:6+):

The word [πιστός [pistos] ] is employed in two very different senses in the New Testament as elsewhere, in an active and a passive,—now as trusting or believing (John 20:27; Acts 14:1), now as trustworthy or to be believed (2Ti. 2:22; 1Th. 5:27; 1Jn. 1:9). Men may be πιστοί [pistoi] in both senses, the active and the passive, as exercising faith, and as being worthy to have faith exercised upon them; God can be πιστός [pistos] only in the latter.14

Again, we find Jesus applying to Himself titles which are descriptive of the Father (Jer. 42:5). Being God, Jesus can do nothing but witness of the truth. What other man could make the claim of Jesus, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true” (John 8:14-18)?

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” (John 18:37-38)

These characteristics will allow for His just rule during the Millennium:

His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist. (Isa. 11:3-5)

See commentary on Revelation 1:5.

the Beginning of the creation of God
This meaning of beginning here may be author or efficient cause15 and does not indicate that He was a product of creation:

This is a favorite Arian prooftext, cited to prove that Jesus is not eternal, but had a beginning, Jesus being understood by them to be the first-created creature of God, through whom God created all else in the universe. The underlying Greek word, arche, may be understood in a passive sense, and rendered “the beginning,” as the A.V., or more correctly understood in the active sense, and rendered “the beginner,” source, origin, or principle of creation. Since God is eternal, and Jesus is God, the passive sense is not suited to the context, as being out of harmony with the many representations of Christ John has already given, whereby he in citing or alluding to Old Testament passages has applied to Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation what is in the Old Testament spoken of Jehovah.16

Not he whom God created first, but as in Col. 1:15-18, the Beginner of all creation, its originating instrument. All creation would not be represented adoring Him, if He were but one of themselves.17

Having analyzed the use of ἀρχή [archē] (beginning) in the Septuagint and throughout the NT, Svigel concludes the meaning here is primarily that of governmental rule and the phrase here should be rendered, “the supreme Authority over the creation of God.”18

Jesus is the Beginning and End (Rev. 21:6+; 22:13+), both the author of and ruler over creation (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3; 1Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2).19 See commentary on Revelation 5:12 and Revelation 5:13.


Notes

1 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 190.

2 Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 181.

3 Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.

4 “The new city was established by Antiochus II (261-246 BC) and named after his first wife Laodice, whom he divorced in 253.”—Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 180.

5 Ibid., 191.

6 Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 189.

7 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), Rev. 3:14.

8 Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 182.

9 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 3:14.

10 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 72.

11 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 66.

12 Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 1.41.

13 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 300.

14 Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 191.

15 “Waterland defines Arkē (beginning), ‘that is, author or efficient cause’ (Works, vol. 2, p. 53).”—Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 3:14.

16 Ibid.

17 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 3:14.

18 Michael J. Svigel, “Christ as Arche in Revelation 3:14,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 161 no. 642 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, April-June 2004), 225.

19 See also Pr. 8:22-30 where wisdom is personified with attributes much like those of Jesus: having intimate fellowship with the Father, eternal generation, beside the Father as a master craftsman, the delight of the Father.


Listen to RevelationHebrew and Greek FontsDownload Commentary Previous SectionUpTable of ContentsNext Section

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Tony Garland
(Content generated on Fri Jan 10 13:02:07 2014)
contact@SpiritAndTruth.org