Exegesis of Revelation 3: 14-22 Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Theology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #54351658

Excerpt from Essay :

For comprehensively understanding the meaning of Jesus's message to this specific church, it is necessary to first know and comprehend the church, together with its culture. This book's writer is a messenger from the divine who has taken it upon himself to convey a serious message from Christ. Although the book is directly targeted at the First Century Laodicean church, the advices therein may be applied to Christians in all eras[footnoteRef:1]. The work's literary examination reveals that this church's moral nature apparently reflects its socioeconomic context. That all distinguishing aspects of the city contradict the church symbolizes failure, and not success. [1: Gary Cohen, Understanding Revelation]

Socio-historical context

The city of Laodicea was proud of its affluence among all 7 cities, and famous for its exquisite manufactured clothing of local black wool and a medical institute that made an eye-curing salve. Its affluence and pride may be seen from its refusal to take Rome's aid in its rebuilding after a quake in the year 60 CE nearly wiped it out; instead, it carried out rebuilding efforts entirely independently[footnoteRef:2]. The lone negative aspect about Laodicea was its water supply. As Laodicea lacked water resources of its own, it relied on water from two cities: one that was 7 miles to its north and popular for its health-giving hot springs and another ten miles to its east, popular for its cool, refreshing water. Water was transported to the city via aqueducts, and it remained neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm till it reached its destination. As the Laodiceans were prosperous, their life was rather easy. The letter carries no misguiding teachings nor does it speak of any trouble from the Romans or the Jews. While Laodicea's church wasn't active, it also wasn't dead. While it took no risks, it also wasn't entirely comatose. One would not witness any highly risky plans being concocted there, or prayers for any forceful ministry plans. It was simply a hospitable and compassionate cluster of believers, providing a secure, relaxing haven to be a member of and attend. [2: Thomas B. Slater, On the social setting of the Revelation to John, 233]

Contrary to other churches spoken of in the 7 letters, Laodicea's church apparently didn't encounter unfriendliness or harassment from any outside party; at least, no such incident has been cited in the book. Laodicea was an affluent land with a number of strong industries (business, clothing, medicine, etc.) and great access to the business hub known as Colossae, known far and wide for its rejuvenating waters[footnoteRef:3]. Also in close proximity to Laodicea was the pagan city of Hierapolis, known for its therapeutic hot springs. As their own city had no steady local water resource, the Laodiceans used aqueducts to have water transported to them from Hierapolis or Colossae. The water that reached them, however, was of bad quality, and only lukewarm. A highly multiethnic city, Laodicea exuded an air of cultural adaptation and compromise. Even its local deity (initially Phrygian) changed to the Greek Zeus[footnoteRef:4]. The city hardly resisted any outside influence. [3: Ibid, at 238-9] [4: Otto FA Meinardus, The Christian remains of the seven churches of the Apocalypse, 70]

Literary context

The direct literary setting of the Book of Revelation 3:14-22 is: John's letter on Jesus's behalf to the Laodiceans. Preceding it is John's letter to Philadelphians and succeeding it is an image of heaven. The above letter may be considered to fall under the wider context set down by the
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book's Prologue (verses 10-11), in which John is ordered to send messages on Christ's behalf to the 7 churches. This text comes under the prophetic genre, being forth-telling as well as foretelling. While Revelation 3:14-22 may not be regarded, as such, as an epistle, the following principles of this genre are still applicable: (a) the text is composed of a message that is unique to the actual intended audience; and (b) the text's relevance to the modern age is governed by its situational nature[footnoteRef:5]. [5: Craig R. Koester, The Message to Laodicea and the Problem of Its Local Context, 410]

The Book of Revelation's letter to the Laodiceans has a highly situational nature and involves metaphorical terms and symbolic hints. Just like the prior messages or letters, one can't simply construe it as an extensive attack on the overall modern church. Nevertheless, it includes helpful principles for the present age.

Rhetorical structure

This section in Revelations is not an account but a letter, although lacking the customary salutation, leave-taking and inclusion. It is penned in a thematic style, interspersed with numerous important words and phrases framed in a broader framework of ironical wordplay. On account of its repeated employment of conflicting parallels, its structure may be perceived as chiastic:

Verse 14: a strict proclamation

Verses 15-16: condemning idleness

Verses 17-18a: condemning self-reliance

Verse 18b: condemning brazenness

Verse 18c: condemning a lack of spiritual sight

Verse 19: a call to repent

Verses 20: a call to communion and fellowship

Verses 21: a call to be a part of Jesus's victory

Verse 22: a call to listen to the voice of the Spirit

This passage's kernel is Christ's allusion to blindness of the spirit, a flaw that keeps the Laodicean Church from identifying the previous three shortcomings. Supplementing these are 3 parallel correctives.

Further, the verses incorporate more contrasts: spiritual with literal, helpful with harmful. The 17th and 18th verses may be cited as an example of this: 'Because you say, "I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing," but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich!' In this context, "riches" are negative and literal whilst poverty is positive and spiritual (this pattern has been repeated many times). Considering the above dichotomy, Wilcock[footnoteRef:6] believes the writer is differentiating between the Laodicean church and city, and not conveying a message that that the church reflects the city. [6: Michael Wilcock, The Savior of the world, 57]

Key ideas / words / images / phrases

Amen -- 'it shall be so,' Christ's vows are undoubtedly sincere and completely reliable; reflections of 'God of truth' by Isaiah and John's 'truly, truly I say to you' (John 1:51; 3:3,5,11). Christ's word is completely reliable. The true and faithful witness -- Christ is the perfectly-placed witness who has beheld God, directly perceived whatever he speaks of, and utters only absolutely honest and correct facts. He can effectively express to others what he sees. Almighty's creation's ruler -- Christ represents the origin, and the first of the Almighty's creation; cf. Colossians 1:15,18 'In Him....' which is dynamically the start.

'...You are neither cold nor hot.' Christ criticizes the Laodicean church for its lacking spiritual vigor. His terse phrase calls to mind Colossae's cool, invigorating waters, Hierapolis's curative hot springs, and Laodicea's lukewarm aqueduct-transported water[footnoteRef:7]. It elicits a critical comparison: spiritually, the Laodiceans…

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