Revelation 3:14
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Laodicea.—Situated half way between Philadelphia and Colossae, and not far from Hierapolis. It received its name from Laodice, wife of Antiochus the second king of Syria, by whom it was rebuilt and beautified. It had borne in earlier times the names of Diospolis and afterwards Rhoas. It shared with Thyatira and Sardis in the dye trade; the woods grown in the neighbourhood were famous for their quality and the rich blackness of their colour. Prosperity in trade had so enriched the population that when their city suffered in the great earthquake (A.D. 60) they were able to carry on the work of rebuilding without applying, as many of the neighbouring towns were compelled to do, to the Imperial Treasury for aid. The language of St. Paul (Colossians 1:5-8) suggests that the churches of Colossae and the neighbourhood first received Christianity from the preaching of Epaphras, though it seems strange that so important a city, lying hard upon the great Roman road from Ephesus to the east, should have been passed over by St. Paul in his journeyings throughout Phrygia (see Acts 16:6; Acts 18:23); yet, on the other hand, Phrygia was a vague term, and the language of Colossians 2:1 is most generally understood to imply that the Apostle had never personally visited either Colossae or Laodicea. (See Note on Colossians 2:1.) But it was a Church in which St. Paul took the deepest possible interest; the believers there were constantly in his mind. He knew their special temptations to the worship of inferior mediators, and to spiritual paralysis springing from wordly prosperity and intellectual pride. He had great heart-conflict for those of Laodicea (Colossians 3:1), and in proof of his earnest solicitude he addressed a letter to them (Colossians 4:16), in all probability the epistle we call the Epistle to the Ephesians. Prom the Epistle to the Colossians we may gather that when St. Paul wrote the Christians at Laodicea assembled for worship in the house of Nymphas (Colossians 4:15) probably under the presidency of Archippus (Revelation 3:17).

Unto the angel of the church (or, congregation) of the Laodiceans.—Better, in Laodicea. By the angel we understand the presiding pastor. There is some ground for identifying him with Archippus. It is too much to dismiss this as a baseless supposition. (See Note in Trench.) It is a well-supported view which understands the passage (Colossians 4:17) to mean that Archippus was a minister or office-bearer in the Church at Laodicea.

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness.—The “Amen,” used only here as a personal name. It is the Hebrew word for verily, and may have some reference to Isaiah 65:16; but more certainly it seems chosen to recall the frequent use of it by our Lord Himself. He who so often prefaced His solemn utterance by “Verily, verily,” now reveals Himself as the source of all certainty and truth. In Him is Yea, and in Him Amen (2Corinthians 1:20). In Him there is no conjecture, or guess-work; for He is (and the Greek equivalents of the Hebrew Amen are used following) the faithful and true witness, who speaks what He knows, and testifies what He has seen (John 3:11). “Faithful” is to be taken here as meaning trustworthy. The word sometimes means trustful (John 20:27; Acts 14:1), at other times, trustworthy (2Timothy 2:22; 1Thessalonians 5:24). In the Arian controversy, the application of the word to Christ was used as an argument against His divinity; it was enough to show in reply that the same word was applied to God, and expressed His faithfulness to His word and promise (1Thessalonians 5:21). “True”—He is not only trustworthy as a witness, but He combines in Himself all those qualifications which a witness ought to possess. The same word is used here as in Revelation 3:7, where see Note. Trench suggests the three things necessary to constitute a true witness. He must have been an eyewitness of what He relates, possess competence to relate what He has seen, and be willing to do so.

The beginning (better, the origination) of the creation of God.—This title of our Lord does not occur in the Epistles to the other churches, but very closely resembles the language used by St. Paul in writing to the Colossians (Colossians 1:15-18). The “beginning,” not meaning that Christ was the first among the created, but that He was the origination, or primary source of all creation. By Him were all things made (John 1:1-3 : comp. Colossians 1:15; Colossians 1:18), not with Him, but by Him creation began. In short, the word “beginning” (like the word “faithful”) must be understood in an active sense. He has originating power (Acts 3:14) as well as priority of existence. The appropriateness of its use will be seen when we remember that the Laodicean Church was exposed to the temptation of worshipping inferior principalities. (See Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:15, where the plural of the word here rendered “beginning,” or origin, is used, and is translated “principalities.”)

Revelation 3:14-16. And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write — Laodicea lay south of Philadelphia in the way to return to Ephesus: for the seven churches lay in a kind of circular form, so that the natural progress was from Ephesus to Smyrna, and so forward in the order in which the cities are here addressed, which probably was the order in which St. John used to visit them. “That there was a flourishing church at Laodicea, in the primitive times of Christianity, is evident, from St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, wherein frequent mention is made of the Laodiceans, as well as from this epistle by St. John. But the doom of Laodicea seemeth to have been more severe and terrible than that of almost any other of the seven churches. For it is now utterly destroyed and forsaken of men, and is become a habitation only for wolves, foxes, and jackals, a den of dragons, snakes, and vipers. And that because the Lord hath executed the judgment that he had pronounced upon her, that all the world might know and tremble at the fierce anger of God against impenitent, negligent, and careless sinners. The ruins show it to have been a very great city, situated on six or seven hills, and encompassing a large space of ground. Some notion may be formed of its former greatness and glory from three theatres and a circus which are remaining; one of which is truly admirable, as it was capable of containing about thirty thousand men, into whose area they descended by fifty steps. This city is now called Eski Hisar, or the Old Castle; and though it was once the mother church of sixteen bishoprics, yet it now lies desolate, not so much as inhabited by shepherds; and, so far from showing any of the ornaments of God’s ancient worship, it cannot now boast of an anchorite’s or hermit’s chapel, where God is praised or invoked.” The testimony of Mr. Lindsay (quoted respecting the other churches) agrees perfectly with this of Bishop Newton. “Eski Hisar,” he says, “close to which are the remains of ancient Laodicea, contains about fifty poor inhabitants, in which number are but two Christians, who live together in a small mill: unhappily, neither could read at all: the copy, therefore, of the New Testament, which I intended for this church, I left with that of Denizli, the offspring and poor remains of Laodicea and Colosse. The prayers of the mosque are the only prayers which are heard near the ruins of Laodicea, on which the threat seems to have been fully executed in its utter rejection as a church.”

These things saith the Amen — That is, The true One; the faithful and true Witness — He who attests those truths, which are of the utmost importance, on the most perfect knowledge of them, and with the most unerring exactness: the beginning — The Author, Head, and Ruler of the creation of God — Of all creatures, as αρχη της κτισεως evidently here signifies. The person by whom the Father created all things, Hebrews 1:2; Ephesians 3:9; John 1:3. I know thy works — Thy disposition and behaviour; though thou knowest it not thyself; that thou art neither cold — An utter stranger to divine things, having no care or thought about them; nor hot Ζεστος, fervent, like boiling water, as the word implies: so ought we to be penetrated and heated by the fire of divine love. I would that thou wert — This wish of our Lord plainly implies that he does not work on us irresistibly, as the fire does on the water which it heats: cold or hot — Even if thou wert cold, without any thought or profession of religion, there would be more hope of thy recovery. The religion of the Lord Jesus is either true or false: there is no medium: if it be false, it is worth nothing; and therefore it is quite reasonable to be cold and indifferent about it: but if it be true, as we are sure, on the most satisfactory evidence, that it is, it is worth every thing: it is of infinite, because of everlasting worth: it is therefore a most unreasonable thing, not to be deeply concerned about it; even unspeakably more than about any earthly thing whatsoever: and we are inexcusable if we are not so concerned. So then, because thou art lukewarm — In a state of indifference, which is as disagreeable to me as lukewarm water is to a man’s stomach; I will spew thee out of my mouth — I will utterly cast thee from me; that is, unless thou repent.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.And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write - See the notes on Revelation 1:20.

These things saith the Amen - Referring, as is the case in every epistle, to some attribute of the speaker adapted to impress their minds, or to give special force to what he was about to say to that particular church. Laodicea was characterized by lukewarmness, and the reference to the fact that he who was about to address them was the "Amen" - that is, was characterized by the simple earnestness and sincerity denoted by that word - was eminently suited to make an impression on the minds of such a people. The word "Amen" means "true," "certain," "faithful"; and, as used here, it means that he to whom it is applied is eminently true and faithful. What he affirms is true; what he promises or threatens is certain. Himself characterized by sincerity and truth (notes on 2 Corinthians 1:20), he can look with approbation only on the same thing in others: and hence he looks with displeasure on the lukewarmness which, from its very nature, always approximates insincerity. This was an attribute, therefore, every way appropriate to be referred to in addressing a lukewarm church.

The faithful and true witness - This is presenting the idea implied in the word "Amen" in a more complete form, but substantially the same thing is referred to. He is a witness for God and his truth, and he can approve of nothing which the God of truth would not approve. See the notes on Revelation 1:5.

The beginning of the creation of God - This expression is a very important one in regard to the rank and dignity of the Saviour, and, like all similar expressions respecting him, its meaning has been much controverted. Compare the notes on Colossians 1:15. The phrase used here is susceptible, properly, of only one of the following significations, namely, either:

(a) that he was the beginning of the creation in the sense that he caused the universe to begin to exist - that is, that he was the author of all things; or.

(b) that he was the first created being; or.

(c) that he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe.

It is not necessary to examine any other proposed interpretations, for the only other senses supposed to be conveyed by the words, that he is the beginning of the creation in the sense I that he rose from the dead as the first-fruits of them that sleep, or that he is the head of the spiritual creation of God, axe so foreign to the natural meaning of the words as to need no special refutation. As to the three significations suggested above, it may be observed, that the first one - that he is the author of the creation, and in that sense the beginning - though expressing a scriptural doctrine John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16, is not in accordance with the proper meaning of the word used here - ἀρχὴ archē. The word properly refers to the "commencement" of a thing, not its "authorship," and denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank, but not primacy in the sense of causing anything to exist. The two ideas which run through the word as it is used in the New Testament are those just suggested. For the former - primacy in regard to time - that is properly the commencement of a thing, see the following passages where the word occurs: Matthew 19:4, Matthew 19:8; Matthew 24:8, Matthew 24:21; Mark 1:1; Mark 10:6; Mark 13:8, Mark 13:19; Luke 1:2; John 1:1-2; John 2:11; John 6:64; John 8:25, John 8:44; John 15:27; John 16:4; Acts 11:15; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:11; 2 John 1:5-6. For the latter signification, primacy of rank or authority, see the following places: Luke 12:11; Luke 20:20; Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:10, Colossians 2:15; Titus 3:1. The word is not, therefore, found in the sense of authorship, as denoting that one is the beginning of anything in the sense that he caused it to have an existence. As to the second of the significations suggested, that it means that he was the first created being, it may be observed:

(a) that this is not a necessary signification of the phrase, since no one can show that this is the only proper meaning which could be given to the words, and therefore the phrase cannot be adduced to prove that he is himself a created being. If it were demonstrated from other sources that Christ was, in fact, a created being, and the first that God had made, it cannot be denied that this language would appropriately express that fact. But it cannot be made out from the mere use of the language here; and as the language is susceptible of other interpretations, it cannot be employed to prove that Christ is a created being.

(b) Such an interpretation would be at variance with all those passages which speak of him as uncreated and eternal; which ascribe divine attributes to him; which speak of him as himself the Creator of all things. Compare John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:6,Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:10-12. The third signification, therefore, remains, that he is "the beginning of the creation of God," in the sense that he is the head or prince of the creation; that is, that he presides over it so far as the purposes of redemption are to be accomplished, and so far as is necessary for those purposes. This is:

(1) in accordance with the meaning of the word, Luke 12:11; Luke 20:20, et al. ut supra; and,

(2) in accordance with the uniform statements respecting the Redeemer, that "all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth" Matthew 28:18; that God has "given him power over all flesh" John 17:2; that all things are "put under his feet" the. John 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:27); that he is exalted over all things, Ephesians 1:20-22. Having this rank, it was proper that he should speak with authority to the church at Laodicea.

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 [2683]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 [2684]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."

We read of this church, Colossians 4:16.

Laodicea was a city in Lydia, by the river Lycus: see Revelation 1:11.

These things saith the Amen: Amen, as we have oft noted, is a particle used in asserting, and in wishing, or praying; here it hath the use of a noun, and is assertive, he that is true, as it followeth. He may be conceived thus to preface his epistle, to ascertain to the ministers of this church the truth of what he blames in them; or of the threatenings or promises contained in it; to which purpose he also calls himself

the faithful and true witness: see the notes on Revelation 1:5.

The beginning of the creation of God: those that deny the Divinity of Christ, are deceived in their thoughts that this text will afford them any defence for their error; for arch, the word here used, doth not only signify the cause, but principality, or the chief, or prince, Ephesians 3:10 Colossians 1:16. Hence Christ is said to be arch, which we translate the beginning, because he was the Creator, the efficient cause of the creation, or hath a lordship over the whole creation; all power both in heaven and earth being committed to him, and all knees both in heaven and earth bowing down to him, Philippians 2:10. Unless we had rather interpret it of the new creation, either in the world, so he was the beginning of the gospel; or in particular souls, so he is the beginning of regeneration and sanctification. But though this be a truth, and consistent enough with the Greek phrase, Galatians 6:15, yet I see no reason why we should fly to it against the Arians, or their spurious offspring; for taking the creation, as ordinarily it signifies, the giving all creatures their first being, Christ was the efficient cause of it, and so the beginning of it, without him was nothing made; and he hath a lordship and dominion over it. 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.

{11} And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the {h} Amen, the faithful and true witness, the {i} beginning of the creation of God;

(11) The seventh passage is to the pastors of the Church of Laodicea. The introduction is taken out of Re 1:5.

(h) Amen sounds as much in the Hebrew tongue, as truly, or truth itself.

(i) Of who all things that are made, have their beginning.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 3:14. ὁ Ἀμήν. This Hebraistic expression[1547] is, as to its meaning, entirely synonymous with the following Greek expressions: Ὁ ΜΆΡΤΥς, Ὁ ΠΙΣΤῸς ΚΑῚ ἈΛΗΘΙΝῸς;[1548] but the double designation of the Lord establishes with earnest emphasis the indubitable certainty of all that the Lord, who is the absolutely faithful witness (Revelation 1:5), has now to say to this church of his at Laod.; viz, the accusations (Revelation 3:15 sqq.), the advice (Revelation 3:18), the threatening and promise.[1549] Not inappropriate, therefore, is the admonition that in and through Christ all God’s promises are, and are to be, fulfilled;[1550] from which the inference has been derived, that the epistle to the church at Laod. is to be regarded the Amen of all the seven epistles,[1551] or that in the designations of the Lord, Revelation 3:14, a warrant is to be sought for the fulfilment of what is said in chs 4 sqq.[1552] The question here is not with respect to the promises or other utterances of God,[1553] which have their fulfilment in Christ, but with respect to the discourses of Christ himself which have in him[1554] their guaranty. Hence it is not correct when N. de Lyra adds to Ὁ ΜΑΡΤ., Κ.Τ.Λ., “of paternal majesty.” As a “witness,” the Lord here manifests himself, however, as entirely determined by all his testimonies in the following epistle.

ἈΛΗΘΙΝΌς. Not synonymous with ΠΙΣΤΌς (= ἈΛΗΘΉς: so ordinarily), but just because the Lord is a faithful, and, because of his truth, an unconditionally trustworthy witness, is he a true, actual, and genuine witness who deserves this name.[1555]

Ἡ ἈΡΧῊ Τῆς ΚΤΊΣΕΩς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ. Cf. Colossians 1:15 sqq., on which Meyer has refuted the erroneous expositions which essentially recur in reference to this passage. According to the wording, Ή ἈΡΧῆ Τ. ΚΤ. Τ. Θ. cannot signify Ὁ ἌΡΧΩΝ, the prince of God’s creation;[1556] also the ΚΤΊΣΙς Τ. Θ., “the creature restored, creates new things,” the church;[1557] and still less can the expression signify what in Revelation 1:5 follows of course the ὁ μαρτ. ὁ πιστ., although there it is said in clear words: ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν[1558] The wording in itself allows only two conceptions: either Christ is designated “the beginning of the creation of God,” i.e., as the first creature[1559] of God,[1560] as Ew. and Züll. understand it in harmony with the Arians;[1561] or, the Lord is regarded as the active principle of the creation.[1562] Unconditionally decisive for the latter alternative, which, however, dare not be perverted by a reference to the spiritual new creation,[1563] is the fundamental view of Christ, which is expressed in the Apoc., as well as in every other book of the N. T. How could Christ have caused even the present epistle to be written, if he himself were a creature? How could every creature in heaven and earth worship him,[1564] if he himself were one of them?[1565] The designation of the Lord, that he is Α and Ω, need only be recalled in its necessary force, and it will be found that in the Α lies the fact that Christ is the ἈΡΧΉ of the creation,[1566] while in the Ω lies the fact of Christ’s coming to make an end of the visible creation. [See Note XXXIX., p. 184.]

[1547] Cf., as to the form, 2 Corinthians 1:20.

[1548] Cf. Bengel, Ewald, Hengstenb.

[1549] Vitr., Hengstenb., etc.

[1550] Grot., De Wette, etc.

[1551] Züll.

[1552] De Wette, Stern.

[1553] 2 Corinthians 1:20. Cf. also Isaiah 65:16.

[1554] Cf. John 14:6; N. de Lyra, etc.

[1555] Cf. Revelation 3:7.

[1556] Eichh. Cf. also Calov., Beng.

[1557] א1 consequently reads τ. ἐκκλησίας. But it is amended. Grot., Wetst., Eichh., Heinr. Cf. C. a Lap.

[1558] Cf., besides, Eichh.

[1559] Cf., on ἀρχή, Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17.

[1560] Cf. Proverbs 8:22.

[1561] Castalis says: “chef d’œuvre,—the most excellent and first of all God’s works.”

[1562] Andr., Areth., N. de Lyra, Vatabl., Calov., Vitr., Wolf, Stern, Hengstenb., Ebrard. Cf. also De Wette, Ew. ii.

[1563] Klief.

[1564] Revelation 5:13.

[1565] Cf. Revelation 19:10.

[1566] Cf. Colossians 1:15-16; John 1:3.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXIX. Revelation 3:14. ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως

Philippi (Kirch. Glaub., ii. 215): “He is the beginning of the creation; the beginning, and, as such, the principle, the original source, and author, and therefore not himself a creature. So God himself is also called the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6), and, in like manner, Christ (Revelation 22:13).” Gebhardt (pp. 90–98) refutes the interpretations of Baur, Hoekstra, Köstlin, Weiss, and Ritschl; and states the true interpretation to be as follows: “What exposition is demanded by the laws of language? Without further delay, I reply, that, had the seer written ‘the beginning of the creatures (κτίσματα) of God,’ or had he written ‘the first, or the first-born, or the first-fruit (πρῶτος, πρωτότοκος, ἀπαρχή), of the creation of God,’ then the expression might be understood to denote the first created, or that which precedes all things, the first creature in time and rank. But the seer has written ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, which can mean nothing else than principium creationis, the principle, the ἐν ῷ, διʼ οὗ, εἰς ὅ, of the creation of God. After this affirmation of the literal sense, I may say that it finds confirmation in Revelation 1:17-18; Revelation 2:8.… To a church in which Christ not only discovers self-blindness, but which he threatens to spew out of his mouth, which he counsels to seek help from himself for its disease, to which he says that he rebukes and chastens those whom he loves,—in a word, to a church to which he reveals himself as to no other in his fullest and highest significance, and we must remember that we have to do with the last of the seven letters,—“the first creature” has not, in any of its possible meanings, a really satisfactory sense; and we find that sense only when we understand it to mean the principle of the creation of God, i.e., the personal, mediatorial, essential ground and end of the creation. Thus simply explained, according to the laws of language, the passage (Revelation 3:14), taken in connection with those quoted before, furnishes us with a very remarkable result, viz., that the seer has expressed the ‘Logos’ idea itself in its highest meaning.”

Revelation 3:14-22. The epistle to the church at Laodicea.

Laod. in Phrygia, so called after Laodice, the wife of King Antiochus II. (formerly Diospolis, then Rhoas), reckoned by Tacitus[1536] among the “renowned cities of Asia,” a rich manufacturing and commercial city,[1537] lay east of Ephesus, south-east of Philadelphia, in the neighborhood of Colosse,[1538] on the river Lycus,—and hence called, in distinction from other places of the same name, Λ. Ἡ ἘΠῚ ΛΎΚῼ,—or, more accurately, on the river Caprus, which, flowing into the Lycus, is received by the Meander. The ruins of ancient L. are found at the present unimportant town of Eski-Hissar.[1539] Already at the time of the Apostle Paul,[1540] a Christian church existed at L. A bishop and martyr at L., Sagaris, in the year 170 A.D., is mentioned by Eusebius, H. E., iv. 26, v. 24; but even Archippus[1541] is already named as bishop.[1542] Each of these has been regarded the “angel” of the church; and Hengstenb. immediately afterwards in the expression Ἡ ἈΡΧῊ Τ. ΚΤ., Revelation 3:14, discovers an allusion to the name of Arch-ippus as the most influential elder at Laodicea.[1543]

According to Colossians 2, Paul had the same care for the church at Laod. as for that at Colosse,[1544] since these neighboring churches were exposed in like manner to certain Judaizing, and at the same time theosophizing (gnosticizing), erroneous doctrines. Of these there is no immediate trace in the Apoc. epistles.[1545] But, on the contrary, the lukewarmness and proud self-sufficiency and self-righteousness of the church are rejected. Perhaps the state of affairs is to be regarded in such a way, that, while the peculiar gnosticizing aberration was averted from the church by the “conflict” of the Apostle Paul, yet that this, scarcely without the influence of its own riches, and of the entire tone of worldly culture and worldly enjoyment prevailing in a wealthy commercial city, had occurred in a worldly way, in which, on the one hand, the candid confession of the Lord, always opposing worldliness in warm words and zealous conduct, was missed, while, on the other hand, the trust in a certain external inoffensiveness manifested itself as an arrogant self-righteousness, which even before[1546] was in another way to be dreaded.

[1536] Ann., xiv. 27.

[1537] Hence Tacitus reports: “In the same year (62) Laodicea, being overthrown by an earthquake, without any aid from us, but by its own strength, recovered.” Cf. on Revelation 3:1-6Revelation 3:14-22. The message for Laodicea, where a church existed by 60 A.D. (Colossians 4:16).The Church in Laodicea. 14–22

14. the Amen] See the last note on Revelation 1:7. Here the name is used, (i) because this is the last of the seven Epistles, that it may confirm the whole: (ii) as synonymous with the title “Faithful and True” that follows: for which see the latter group of references on Revelation 3:7. Isaiah 65:16 is specially noticeable, where “the God of truth” is in the Hebrew “the God of Amen”: in the other O. T. passages a different but cognate form is used.

the faithful and true witness] See Revelation 1:5.

the beginning of the creation of God] Exactly equivalent to Colossians 1:15, as explained by the words that follow: in both places the words are such as might grammatically be used of the first of creatures, but the context there, and the whole tone of the Book here, proves that the writer does not regard Him as a creature at all. But St John is not here, as in the first verses of his Gospel, describing our Lord’s Nature theologically: it might be enough to say that here and in Proverbs 8:22 (where the words “the Lord possessed” or “created Me” lend themselves more easily than these to an Arian sense), the Word coming forth to create is conceived as part of His earthly mission, which culminates in the Incarnation, so that in a sense even creation is done by Him as a Creature.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. Of the Laodiceans (Ααοδικέων)

Read ἐν Ααοδικείᾳ in Laodicea. Laodicea means justice of the people. As Laodice was a common name among the ladies of the royal house of the Seleucidae, the name was given to several cities in Syria and Asia Minor. The one here addressed was on the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, about forty miles east of Ephesus, and was known as Laodicea on the Lycus. It had born successively the names of Diospolis and Rhoas, and was named Laodicea when refounded by Antiochus Theos, b.c. 261-246. It was situated on a group of hills between two tributaries of the Lycus - the Asopus and the Caprus. Towards the end of the Roman Republic, and under the first emperors, it became one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. One of its citizens, Hiero, bequeathed all his enormous property to the people, and adorned the city with costly gifts. It was the seat of large money transactions and of an extensive trade in wood. The citizens developed a taste for Greek art, and were distinguished in science and literature. Laodicea was the seat of a great medical school. During the Roman period it was the chief city of a Roman conventus or political district, in which courts were held by the proconsul of the province, and where the taxes from the subordinate towns were collected. Cicero held his court there, and many of his letters were written thence. The conventus represented by Laodicea comprised not less than twenty-five towns, and inscriptions refer to the city as "the metropolis." The Greek word διοίκηδις, corresponding to the Latin conventus was subsequently applied to an ecclesiastical district, and appears in diocese. The tutelary deity of the city was Zeus (Jupiter). Hence its earlier name, Diospolis, or City of Zeus. Many of its inhabitants were Jews. It was subject to frequent earthquakes, which eventually resulted in its abandonment. It is now a deserted place, but its ruins indicate by their magnitude its former importance. Among these are a racecourse, and three theatres, one of which is four hundred and fifty feet in diameter. An important church council was held there in the fourth century.

The Amen

Used only here as a proper name. See Isaiah 65:16, where the correct rendering is the God of the Amen, instead of A.V. God of truth. The term applied to the Lord signifies that He Himself is the fulfilment of all that God has spoken to the churches.

Faithful (πιστός)

The word occurs in the New Testament in two senses: trusty, faithful Matthew 24:45; Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23; Luke 12:42); and believing, confiding (John 20:27; Galatians 3:9; Acts 16:1). Of God, necessarily only in the former sense.

True (ἀληθινὸς)

See on Revelation 3:7. The veracity of Christ is thus asserted in the word faithful, true being not true as distinguished from false, but true to the normal idea of a witness.

The beginning (ἡ ἀρχή)

The beginner, or author; not as Colossians 1:15, the first and most excellent creature of God's hands. "The stress laid in the Epistle to the Colossians on the inferiority of those to whom the self-same name of ἀρχαὶ, beginnings principalities was given... to the One who was the true beginning, or, if we might venture on an unfamiliar use of a familiar word, the true Principality of God's creation, may account for the prominence which the name had gained, and therefore for its use here in a message addressed to a church exposed, like that of Colossae, to the risks of angelolatry, of the substitution of lower principalities and created mediators for Him who was the Head over all things to His Church" (Plumptre). Compare Hebrews 12:2, ἀρχηγὸν leader.

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