|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:14-22 Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, The Amen; one steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion; while others would conclude it could afford no real satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; Because thou sayest. What a difference between their thoughts of themselves, and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves. Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags that would defile them. They were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the garments of holiness and sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply interesting to all men.
Verses 14-22. - The epistle to the Church in Laodicea. Laodicea, on the Lycus, a tributary of the Maeander, lay some fifty miles to the south-east of Philadelphia. The modern Turkish name, Eskihissar, signifies "the old castle." It is situated on the western side of the valley of the Lycus, on the opposite slopes of which, some six or eight miles distant, were Hierapolis and Colossae, with which it is associated by St. Paul (Colossians 4:13, 16). Named at first Diosopolis, after its tutelary deity, Zeus, it subsequently became Rheas, and finally received its name from Antiochus II., in honour of his wife, Laodice. There were several other cities of the same name, from which it was distinguished by the addition of the words, "on the Lycus." It was a wealthy city, its trade consisting chiefly in the preparation of woollen materials. It was advantageously situated, too, on the high road leading from Ephesus into the interior. Though, in common with the other cities of Asia Minor, visited by earthquakes, it quickly recovered; and it was the proud boast of the Laodiceans that, unlike Ephesus and Sardis, they required no extraneous assistance to enable them to regain their former prosperity. This fact undoubtedly explains the temptations to which the Laodiceans were liable, and the reference in ver. 16 to those who were neither cold nor hot, and that in ver. 17 to those who said they were rich and had need of nothing (see on vers. 16, 17). The Christian Church there may have been founded by Epaphras, through whom St. Paul probably learned of the existence of false doctrine there (Colossians 2:4, 8 and Colossians 1:8), for the Epistle to the Colossians seems to be equally addressed to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16). The importance of this Church continued for some time, the celebrated Council of Laodicea being held there in A.D. , and a century later its bishop held a prominent position (Labbe, 4. p. 82, etc.). But its influence gradually waned, and the Turks pressed hardly upon it; so that at the present time it is little more than a heap of ruins. The warnings of the Apostles SS. Paul and John, if heeded at all for a time, were forgotten, and her candlestick was removed. Verse 14. - And unto the angel. Those expositors who understand "the angel" of a Church to signify its chief officer, may with some plausibility argue that at Laodicea it seems almost certain that this was Archippus. In his Epistle to Philemon, a wealthy convert of Colossae, St. Paul sends greeting to Archippus (Philemon 1:2). If Archippus were the son of philemon, he might very well have been Bishop of Laodicea at the time of St. John's message. Moreover, the son of a wealthy and influential Christian, though likely to have been selected as bishop in the neighbouring Church, may have lacked the zeal necessary for the thorough performance of his work; and would thus incur the marked rebuke of St. Paul, "Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it" (Colossians 4:17), which appears immediately after the mention of the Laodicean Church. The Apostolical Constitutions also assert that Archippus was first Bishop of Laodicea. Of the Church of the Laodiceans write; or, of the Church in Laodicea (τῆς ἐν Λαοδικαίᾳ ἐκκλησίας). These things saith the Amen. The word "Amen" is here used as a proper name of our Lord; and this is the only instance of such an application. It signifies the "True One." It is a word much used in St. John's Gospel, where it appears repeated at the commencement of many discourses, "Verily, verily." In Isaiah 65:16 "the God of Amen" (אמן) is rendered in the LXX. by ἀληθινός; in the Authorized Version by "truth" (cf. the use of the English "very" as an adjective - "the very one," i.e. the real or true one). The term is peculiarly well adapted to our Lord (who is the Truth, John 14:6), not only as a general name or title, but especially in connexion with this solemn announcement to the Laodiceans. There was great need of the truth being openly proclaimed by him who is the Truth to those who, though nominally Christians, were ensnared by the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew 13:22), and were deceiving themselves in the attempt to make the best of both worlds by their lukewarm Christianity. It was the purpose of this epistle to draw aside the veil which was hiding the truth from their eyes, and to bring them to a realization of that most difficult of all knowledge - a knowledge of self. The faithful and true Witness - an amplification of "the Amen." The epithet "faithful" asserts the truthfulness of Christ's work as a Witness; "true" (ἀληθινός) signifies "real and complete." He is a faithful Witness because his witness is true; and he is a true Witness because in him is the complete realization of all the qualifications which constitute any one really and truly a witness. "Faithful" (πιστός) has the passive meaning of "that which is worthy of faith," not the active meaning of "he who believes something." Trench well points out that God can only be faithful in the former sense; man may be faithful in beth senses. Christ was a Witness worthy of faith, since he possessed all the attributes of such a witness. He
(1) had seen what he attested;
(2) was competent to relate and reproduce this information;
(3) was willing to do this faithfully and truly.
The Beginning of the creation of God. There are two ways in which these words might be understood:
(1) that in which "beginning" is taken in a passive sense, and which would therefore make Christ the first created thing of all the things which God created;
(2) the active sense, by which Christ is described as the Beginner, the Author, Moving Principle or Source of all the things which God created. That the latter meaning is the true one is plain from the whole tenor of Holy Scripture. The Ariaus, attempting to disprove the Divinity of our Lord, quoted this passage, attributing to it the former sense. But ἀρχή is often used actively, and may well be so used here - a view which is confirmed by the abundant evidence of our Lord's Divinity found elsewhere in the Bible, and nowhere more plainly asserted than in the writings of St. John. The self-reliant Laodiceans are thus directed to place their trust in him who is the Source of all things, rather than in those created things of which he is the Creator.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,.... Of the city of Laodicea; see Gill on Revelation 1:11; there was a church here in the times of the Apostle Paul; by whom it was founded is not known; mention is made of it in Colossians 2:1, who was now the angel, or pastor of it, whether Epaphras, who is there named, or another, is not certain. According to the Apostolical Constitutions (t), Archippus was ordained bishop of it by the apostles; see Colossians 4:16. There was a church here in the second century, for Sagaris, bishop of it, suffered martyrdom in the times of Antoninus Verus (u); and in the "fourth" century, this church was famous for two eminent bishops, Theodorus and Gregory; and in the "fifth" century, it was the metropolitan church of Phrygia, as it was in the "seventh" century, in which age Tyberius, bishop of this place, was in the sixth synod at Constantinople (w); but now it is even without inhabitants (x). This church represents the state of the church, from the end of the spiritual reign of Christ, till the time of his personal appearing and kingdom, to judge the quick and dead; for after the spiritual reign is over, professors of religion will sink into a formality, and into a lukewarm frame of spirit, and into great spiritual sloth and security, Revelation 3:15, which will make those times like the times of Noah and of Lot; and such will be the days of the coming of the son of man to judge the world. Its name signifies either "the righteousness of the people"; and so may point at that popular and external righteousness, which the majority of the professors of religion in this period of time will be boasting of, and trusting in; being self-sufficient, and self-dependent, when at the same time they will be naked, as well as poor and blind, Revelation 3:17; or it signifies "the judging of the people"; for this church state, at the end of it, will bring on the general judgment; the Judge will now be at the door indeed, standing and knocking; and they that are ready to meet the bridegroom, when he comes, will be admitted into the nuptial chamber, and sit down with him in his throne, in the thousand years' kingdom, at the close of which will be the second resurrection, when all the people, small and great, shall be judged, Revelation 3:19.
These things saith the Amen; see Isaiah 65:16; The word "Amen" is the name of a divine Person with the Jews, and it seems the second Person; for so on those words in Proverbs 8:30; "then was I by him as one brought up with him", they observe (y), do not read "Amon", the word there used, but "Amen"; and, a little after, "Amen", they say, is the "notaricon", or sign of , "God the faithful King"; they make (z) "Amen" to be one of the names of the second "Sephira", or number in the Cabalistic tree, by whom the second Person in the Godhead seems to be designed: and they say (a), that the word "Amen", by gematry (or numerically) answers to the two names "Jehovah, Adonai". Christ may be so called, because he is the God of truth, and truth itself; and it may be expressive of his faithfulness, both to God his Father, and to his people, in whom all the promises he either made, or received, are yea and amen; and also of the firmness, constancy, and immutability of Christ, in his nature, person, and offices, in his love, fulness of grace, power, blood, and righteousness; and is very appropriately assumed by him now, when he was about to give the finishing stroke to all covenant engagements, and to all promises and prophesies; see Revelation 1:18.
The faithful and true witness; who as he was in the days of his flesh; see Gill on Revelation 1:5; so he will be at the day of judgment, a swift witness against all ungodly men; and he may the rather take up this title, not only on that account, but to show that the description he gives of the state and condition of this church is just, Revelation 3:15; and to engage it to take his advice the more readily, Revelation 3:18; and to assure it of the nearness of his coming, Revelation 3:20; and to strengthen the faith of his people, and quicken their hope and expectation of the happiness with him promised, Revelation 3:21; the same character is given to the Logos, or Word of the Lord, by the Targumist in Jeremiah 42:5, let the Word of the Lord be to us , "for a true and faithful witness"; the very phrase here used,
The beginning of the creation of God; not the first creature that God made, but the first cause of the creation; the first Parent, producer, and efficient cause of every creature; the author of the old creation, who made all things out of nothing in the beginning of time; and of the new creation, the everlasting Father of, everyone that is made a new creature; the Father of the world to come, or of the new age and Gospel dispensation; the Maker of the new heaven and new earth; and so a very fit person to be the Judge of the whole world, to summon all nations before him, and pass the final sentence on them. The phrase is Jewish, and it is a title the Jews give to Metatron, by whom they sometimes mean the Messiah; so those words in Genesis 24:2, and Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, they paraphrase thus (b),
""and Abraham said unto his servant", this is Metatron, (or the Mediator,) the servant of God, "the eldest of his house"; for he is , "the beginning of the creation of God", who rules over all that he has; for to him the holy blessed God has given the government of all his hosts.
Christ is the "the Prince", or Governor of all creatures,
(t) L. 7. c. 46. (u) Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 4. c. 26. & l. 5. c. 24. (w) Eccl. Hist. Magdeburg. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 7. p. 418. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 7. p. 112. c. 10. p. 254. (x) Smith. Notitia, p. 150. (y) Zohar in Deut. fol. 121. 4. so in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 119. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 111. 1. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 46. 1.((z) Cabal. Denud. par. 2. p. 7. (a) Lex. Cabal. p. 130. & Baal Hatturim in Deuteronomy 28.15. (b) Zohar in Gen. fol. 77. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. Laodiceans—The city was in the southwest of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, not far from Colosse, and lying between it and Philadelphia. It was destroyed by an earthquake, A.D. 62, and rebuilt by its wealthy citizens without the help of the state [Tacitus, Annals, 14.27]. This wealth (arising from the excellence of its wools) led to a self-satisfied, lukewarm state in spiritual things, as Re 3:17 describes. See on Col 4:16, on the Epistle which is thought to have been written to the Laodicean Church by Paul. The Church in latter times was apparently flourishing; for one of the councils at which the canon of Scripture was determined was held in Laodicea in A.D. 361. Hardly a Christian is now to be found on or near its site.
the Amen—(Isa 65:16, Hebrew, "Bless Himself in the God of Amen … swear by the God of Amen," 2Co 1:20). He who not only says, but is, the Truth. The saints used Amen at the end of prayer, or in assenting to the word of God; but none, save the Son of God, ever said, "Amen, I say unto you," for it is the language peculiar to God, who avers by Himself. The New Testament formula, "Amen. I say unto you," is equivalent to the Old Testament formula, "as I live, saith Jehovah." In John's Gospel alone He uses (in the Greek) the double "Amen," Joh 1:51; 3:3, &c.; in English Version," Verily, verily." The title happily harmonizes with the address. His unchanging faithfulness as "the Amen" contrasts with Laodicea's wavering of purpose, "neither hot nor cold" (Re 3:16). The angel of Laodicea has with some probability been conjectured to be Archippus, to whom, thirty years previously, Paul had already given a monition, as needing to be stirred up to diligence in his ministry. So the Apostolic Constitutions, [8.46], name him as the first bishop of Laodicea: supposed to be the son of Philemon (Phm 2).
faithful and true witness—As "the Amen" expresses the unchangeable truth of His promises; so "the faithful the true witness," the truth of His revelations as to the heavenly things which He has seen and testifies. "Faithful," that is, trustworthy (2Ti 2:11, 13). "True" is here (Greek, "alethinos") not truth-speaking (Greek, "alethes"), but "perfectly realizing all that is comprehended in the name Witness" (1Ti 6:13). Three things are necessary for this: (1) to have seen with His own eyes what He attests; (2) to be competent to relate it for others; (3) to be willing truthfully to do so. In Christ all these conditions meet [Trench].
beginning of the creation of God—not he whom God created first, but as in Col 1:15-18 (see on 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. His being the Creator is a strong guarantee for His faithfulness as "the Witness and Amen."
Revelation 3:14 Parallel Commentaries
Revelation 3:14 NIV
Revelation 3:14 NLT
Revelation 3:14 ESV
Revelation 3:14 NASB
Revelation 3:14 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible