What does Revelation 3:15 mean?
ESV: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
NIV: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
NASB: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
CSB: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot.
NLT: 'I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!
KJV: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Nothing escapes Jesus' attention. He tells the Laodicean church in this verse that He knows its condition. He says it is neither cold nor hot, although He would prefer that it was one or the other. This condemnation of "lukewarm" faith carries dire consequences. In that era, room-temperature water was dangerous water. Cold water suggested a flowing spring or river, and hot water was something which had been cooked or cleaned. Anything in between was, naturally, suspicious and possibly worthless.
The church in Laodicea was neither fervent nor frigid. It was simply content to maintain a status quo position. It was neither emotionally excited about Christian matters nor coldhearted about them. Whereas Jesus offered the church at Philadelphia no reproof, He offered the Laodicean church no praise. Unlike the church at Sardis that had things that remained and needed to be strengthened, the church at Laodicea had nothing that simply needed to be strengthened. In some ways churches exist today that are neither hot nor cold. They simply continue to perform meaningless activities, offer visitors a limp handshake, go through the motions of a sterile liturgy, and keep their members in an indifferent mindset.
Another aspect of Jesus' desire that the church be "either hot or cold" relates to how we respond to the gospel. Those who are "hot" in spiritual matters are deeply involved and committed to faith. Those who are cold, however, are at least in a position where they can be deeply impacted by faith—they can be changed. Those who are "lukewarm" have just enough knowledge of Christ that they're not resistant, but lack enough real faith to be fully engaged. That condition, in truth, is harder to change than to convert a fully-cold non-believer!
Revelation 3:14–22 is Jesus' final and most strident message, addressed to the church at Laodicea. We learn from this assessment that the Laodicean church was lukewarm, smug, and self-satisfied. It boasted about its wealth and need of nothing. But the church deceived itself. In terms of its spiritual condition, it was wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Jesus urged the church to turn to Him, as He was positioned outside the church, inviting whoever heard His voice to open the door and welcome Him. Laodicea is the only church of seven which receives only criticism, and no positive remarks.
These final letters symbolize Church history from AD 1500 to the Rapture, the event that transports the Church from earth to be with Jesus. Sardis had a good reputation, but it was actually spiritually dead. Philadelphia had a good opportunity to spread the gospel, and it had kept Jesus' word and had remained loyal to Him. As such, Jesus promises to reward this church's conquerors. Laodicea was proud of its wealth, but was spiritually lukewarm, a characteristic that Jesus detests. He promises to fellowship with anyone in the church who would heed His voice and welcome Him. Laodicea is the only church given no praise by Christ.
This chapter concludes the letters Jesus instructed the apostle John to write to seven churches in Asia Minor. Those messages began in chapter 2. This passage ends the section of Revelation that describes the things that are (Revelation 1:19), meaning the things which existed in John's lifetime. Chapter 1 describes what John had seen (Revelation 1:19), and chapter 4 begins John's account of what was to take place in the future (Revelation 1:19).
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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