Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
II. Churches Addressed (1:9-3:22) pp. 77-217.
B. Letters to the Seven Churches (2:1-3:22) pp. 104-217.
“7. Letter to Laodicea (3:14-22)” pp. 201-217.
Laodicea was located at a strategic site where major roads came together. The city gained in importance from its founding prior to 253 B.C. It became a Roman territory and continued to gain importance from 133 B.C. The city was well known for black wool products and medication which were compounded there (Osborne 2002, 201). Osborne notes the city had a lot of religious diversity which could lead to syncretism (Osborne 2002, 202).
The address identifies the Lord in forceful terms, which Osborne finds contrasting to the Laodiceans’ lukewarm attitude (Osborne 2002, 203). Jesus is the one who is faithful and true. He is also presented as creator of all. Osborne notes that Laodicea and Colosse had a close relationship. The Gnosticism which developed in Colosse dnied Jesus’ role as creator. Osborne considers that this could be the case in Laodicea as well (Osborne 2002, 205).
After the greeting, the letters to the churches normally state a strength. However, the letter to Laodicea jumps directly to the critique. The church is lukewarm, which may well be the best thing to say about them (Osborne 2002, 205). Osborne notes that Laodicea had no water source of its own. To the north were some hot springs, to the east some very pure cold springs. In contrast, Laodicea was lacking in healing power. Rather, like the partly cooled mineral-laden water which was unpalatable, the Laodiceans were hard to stomach (Osborne 2002, 206).
The problem of the Laodiceans, diagnosed in 3:17, is their wealth, which led them to a feeling of self sufficiency (Osborne 2002, 206). What is more, they were unaware of their attitude (Osborne 2002, 207). Osborne observes that the specific description of the church is a commentary on their overall economy. They are poor, blind, and naked, despite the powerful economy based on healing eye salves and clothing (Osborne 2002, 208). As a result of the Laodiceans’ plight, the Lord tells them to seek out spiritual things. The commercial metaphors are very strong, apropriate for a center of wealth and trade. Again, as they are to be clothed by God, we are confrtonted by the fact that the city was a center for textile manufaturing (Osborne 2002, 209). True riches and clothing are a gift from God. They cannot be purchased by earthly means. Finally, Osborne notes the blindness. Despite the healing medications available to the Laodiceans, they were unable to see spiritually, which is the sight that matters before God (Osborne 2002, 210).
In Reveation 3:19-20 the care of God for the Laodiceans is made clear. He loves them enough to discipline them (Osborne 2002, 211). The response of the Laodiceans should be to be zealous and repent. Osborne notes the order of the verbs. The “be zealous” is a present imperative with progressive force. The “repent” is aorist. It would indicate a point of actin reached as a result of ongoing zeal (Osborne 2002, 212). The church is assured that as they hear the Lord knocking, they can welcome him. Osborne does observe that this is a message to those who ae already Christians in the context of a congregaton. The Lord is available to His people. The image of a meal indicates a sharing of friendship (Osborne 2002, 213).
The letter closes in 3:21-22 with a challenge to overcome and a promise. Here the promise is admittance to sit with Jesus on his throne. Osborne notes that this is the greatest authority promised in any of the letters (Osborne 2002, 214). Here Jesus, the one with al authority, is giving his people authority and status to be with him.