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Revelation 3:14-22

Context
To the Church in Laodicea

3:14 “To 1  the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following: 2 

“This is the solemn pronouncement of 3  the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator 4  of God’s creation: 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. 5  I wish you were either cold or hot! 3:16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going 6  to vomit 7  you out of my mouth! 3:17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, 8  and need nothing,” but 9  do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, 10  poor, blind, and naked, 3:18 take my advice 11  and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me 12  white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness 13  will not be exposed, and buy eye salve 14  to put on your eyes so you can see! 3:19 All those 15  I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! 3:20 Listen! 16  I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home 17  and share a meal with him, and he with me. 3:21 I will grant the one 18  who conquers 19  permission 20  to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered 21  and sat down with my Father on his throne. 3:22 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

1 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style.

2 tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.

3 tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.

sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1.

4 tn Or “the beginning of God’s creation”; or “the ruler of God’s creation.” From a linguistic standpoint all three meanings for ἀρχή (arch) are possible. The term is well attested in both LXX (Gen 40:13, 21; 41:13) and intertestamental Jewish literature (2 Macc 4:10, 50) as meaning “ruler, authority” (BDAG 138 s.v. 6). Some have connected this passage to Paul’s statements in Col 1:15, 18 which describe Christ as ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος (prwtotoko"; e.g., see R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 124) but the term ἀρχή has been understood as either “beginning” or “ruler” in that passage as well. The most compelling connection is to be found in the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:2-4) where the λόγος (logos) is said to be “in the beginning (ἀρχή) with God,” a temporal reference connected with creation, and then v. 3 states that “all things were made through him.” The connection with the original creation suggests the meaning “originator” for ἀρχή here. BDAG 138 s.v. 3 gives the meaning “the first cause” for the word in Rev 3:14, a term that is too philosophical for the general reader, so the translation “originator” was used instead. BDAG also notes, “but the mng. beginning = ‘first created’ is linguistically probable (s. above 1b and Job 40:19; also CBurney, Christ as the ᾿Αρχή of Creation: JTS 27, 1926, 160-77).” Such a meaning is unlikely here, however, since the connections described above are much more probable.

5 sn Laodicea was near two other towns, each of which had a unique water source. To the north was Hierapolis which had a natural hot spring, often used for medicinal purposes. To the east was Colossae which had cold, pure waters. In contrast to these towns, Laodicea had no permanent supply of good water. Efforts to pipe water to the city from nearby springs were successful, but it would arrive lukewarm. The metaphor in the text is not meant to relate spiritual fervor to temperature. This would mean that Laodicea would be commended for being spiritually cold, but it is unlikely that Jesus would commend this. Instead, the metaphor condemns Laodicea for not providing spiritual healing (being hot) or spiritual refreshment (being cold) to those around them. It is a condemnation of their lack of works and lack of witness.

6 tn Or “I intend.”

7 tn This is the literal meaning of the Greek verb ἐμέω (emew). It is usually translated with a much weaker term like “spit out” due to the unpleasant connotations of the English verb “vomit,” as noted by L&N 23.44. The situation confronting the Laodicean church is a dire one, however, and such a term is necessary if the modern reader is to understand the gravity of the situation.

8 tn Grk “and have become rich.” The semantic domains of the two terms for wealth here, πλούσιος (plousios, adjective) and πλουτέω (ploutew, verb) overlap considerably, but are given slightly different English translations for stylistic reasons.

9 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

10 tn All the terms in this series are preceded by καί (kai) in the Greek text, but contemporary English generally uses connectives only between the last two items in such a series.

11 tn Grk “I counsel you to buy.”

12 tn Grk “rich, and.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation, repeating the words “Buy from me” to make the connection clear for the English reader.

13 tn Grk “the shame of the nakedness of you,” which has been translated as an attributed genitive like καινότητι ζωῆς (kainothti zwh") in Rom 6:4 (ExSyn 89-90).

14 sn The city of Laodicea had a famous medical school and exported a powder (called a “Phrygian powder”) that was widely used as an eye salve. It was applied to the eyes in the form of a paste the consistency of dough (the Greek term for the salve here, κολλούριον, kollourion [Latin collyrium], is a diminutive form of the word for a long roll of bread).

15 tn The Greek pronoun ὅσος (Josos) means “as many as” and can be translated “All those” or “Everyone.”

16 tn Grk “Behold.”

17 tn Grk “come in to him.”

sn The expression in Greek does not mean entrance into the person, as is popularly taken, but entrance into a room or building toward the person. See ExSyn 380-82. Some interpreters understand the door here to be the door to the Laodicean church, and thus a collective or corporate image rather than an individual one.

18 tn Grk “The one who conquers, to him I will grant.”

19 tn Or “who is victorious”; traditionally, “who overcomes.”

20 tn Grk “I will give [grant] to him.”

21 tn Or “have been victorious”; traditionally, “have overcome.”



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