What does Revelation 3:17 mean?
ESV: For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
NIV: You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
NASB: Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,' and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked,
CSB: For you say, 'I'm rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,' and you don't realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.
NLT: You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
KJV: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
In this verse we find a big contrast between the church at Laodicea's view of itself and Jesus' view of them. The Laodicean church saw itself as rich and prosperous, but Jesus saw it as poor. Undoubtedly, some wealthy bankers were members of the church and contributed generously to its offerings, but the church was spiritually bankrupt. The church felt it needed nothing, but actually it needed what only Jesus could give it. As the saying goes, money cannot buy happiness. With all its wealth, the church was "wretched," meaning unhappy. Jesus also viewed the church as "pitiable," meaning miserable. It is possible to possess money and material possessions but feel miserable.
Paul instructed Timothy to warn His church members that money-hungry Christians "fall into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). Jesus also recognized that the spiritually impoverished Laodicean church was also blind and naked. It did not see any need to trust in the Lord or to evangelize the lost. It had no vision. It was "naked," an ironic criticism, since the city exported abundant wool for clothing.
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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