Laodicea: Sinning Saints or Sinning Sinners

This may be an odd question at first glance, but it is an important consideration. Is the Church at Laodicea a real church? Are there Christians therein? A Church, after all, is made up of believers…Christians. The letter from Jesus to the church is full of concern and criticism against their many sins. This church was self-sufficient, self-consumed, self-absorbed, and indifferent to God. So, is this a genuine church? Or, is this a non-church filled with unbelievers?

Several hints in the text suggest that the Church in Laodicea is a GENUINE CHURCH, even though they are wrought with sinfulness:

  1. Christ stands in their midst (Rev 1:13).
  2. Both the obedient and the disobedient assemblies are called churches (1:4, 1:11, 3:7, 3:14).
  3. The term “WRETHCED” (3:17) is used of Paul himself (Romans 7:24).
  4. “Blind” is used of believers in 2 Peter 1:9.
  5. Remember, Christians can appear to be unbelievers (1 Cor. 3:3). Which is why Paul is telling the Corinthians to “examine yourselves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The Laodiceans had been blind to their complacent spirituality, immersed in their affluent lifestyle rather than concerned for the things of God. They needed to continue in their enthusiasm but channel it away from the things of this world and toward serving God.

Revelation 3:20 is one of the most famous passages in Scripture, but it is often misunderstood as referring to evangelism when it really deals with church revival. The picture of Christ at the door is one of a visitor knocking at the door of a house, seeking admittance. Jesus has apparently been standing outside for a while, knocking and hoping the church will open their hearts and invite him deeply into their lives. Perhaps this reflects Song of Songs 5:2, “Listen, my beloved is knocking: ‘Open to me … my darling.” The loving compassion and deep longing is evident. The challenge comes in the demand for personal response, to hear Jesus’ voice, open the door, and invite him in.

The result of letting Jesus in is table fellowship. He comes in to the repentant church’s life and dines with them and they with him. Table fellowship was an important part of ancient life, building on the principle, “to share a meal is to share a life.”1

Something to Consider…
Pastor Kevin


 1 Osborne, G. R. (2016). Revelation: Verse by Verse (pp. 94–95). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.