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          and the

   Seven Ecclesias




Laodicea: Revelation 3v14-22

It would be very difficult if not impossible to think  of  a  worse condition into which an ecclesia could sink than we find is the case with Laodicea. The litany of faults "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" is shocking for a body of people who are supposed to be disciples of Christ. The most damning indictment is contained in the words "thou..knowest not" and "because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth". It is no wonder that for the first time in these messages Christ appeals only to individuals.   The reason for this is obvious. We have already noted the stark contrast between Philadelphia and Laodicea (cp 6th Message).


In Philadelphia the issues were out in the  open. In Laodicea they had been covered up. In Philadelphia the "door" of opportunity was open for all. In Laodicea cunning men had shut this "door". They had "shut up the kingdom of heaven" by "tak(ing) away the key of knowledge" - Matthew 23v13; Luke 11v52 - link to 'foundation'. The Laodiceans were ignorant of their condition. This theme is being followed out in a detailed study of 'proverbs'. Note Proverbs 7v22,23 - "he knoweth not that it is for his life", also Matthew 24v44 - "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" & Matthew 13v15 -"For their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed".


The Lord provides the solution here in v.18 - "anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see". They were - v16 - "lukewarm, and neither cold (faithful & refreshing, Proverbs 25v13,25) nor hot (zealous, a related Greek word is translated "zealous" in v19 - "be zealous therefore, and repent"). The Lord states: "I would thou wert cold or hot" - v15. Because they were insipid, He would reject them as vomit - v16. This is taken directly from the rejection of Israel, as recorded in Leviticus 18v25,28 & 20v22.


It is noteworthy that in the litany of faults recorded against Laodicea we see "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked". It is surely significant that such terms have a connection with the Sacrifice of Christ, and His resurrection & immortality. See Romans 6v24, 1st Corinthians 15v19, Revelation 16v15.

The heresy of 'clean flesh' which denies this essential doctrine is fatal to those who adopt or tolerate it - 'sacrifice'.


In their desperation, advocates of loose fellowship, trying to keep the "door" of opportunity shut,  advance the crazy thesis that only Christ can withdraw fellowship  from erring ecclesias - we have no authority - cp Ephesus they say.

(But as we have noted above, Ephesus had dealt scripturally with errorists.  The fault they still had "was their spiritual condition which only Christ could properly identify and personally deal with").


The scriptural answer to this is two-fold. Firstly we do have the authority to withdraw from unrepentant sinners. In fact we are commanded to do so throughout the New Testament Scriptures, and even  more  specifically within the Apocalypse itself. Has not the Lord  already commended those in other ecclesias who had withdrawn from errorists? And has He not already found fault with those who were still tolerating errorists?  Both answers are yes.

Is it not obvious that if error had been eradicated, the disaster now evident in Laodicea would have been avoided?


Secondly, the fact that Christ found it necessary   Himself  to  withdraw  from  this  ecclesia, simply underlines a very tragic fact. Unlike the "little strength" of a few in Philadelphia, which had been demonstrated by a faithful withdrawal from errorists, there was here no movement against them.  It reminds us inexorably of the time spoken of in Deuteronomy 32v36: "For Yahweh will bring His people justice; and He shall have compassion on His servants,   for he sees that their power is gone, and only the imprisoned and the abandoned remain"    (Hebrew-English Interlinear Version 1980). Therefore, in His compassion, the Son of God now appeals directly to "the imprisoned and abandoned" ones in Laodicea, who are the only ones who may still have ears to "hear what the spirit saith unto the ecclesias". "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and him with me".


The door, shut by cunning men, must be opened, as when Hezekiah "opened the doors of the house of Yahweh" (cp Philadelphia). We repeat here the appeal of the Lord to "open" the "door" of opportunity now before it is too late. Would any faithful believer remain within a body which the Lord Himself rejected as being unfit for fellowship?


The Lord identifies Himself in this last message as "the Amen, the faithful and true witness". For the significance of being a "faithful and true witness", link to 'apocalypse'. We have His faithful example before us - will we follow Him? He, as "the beginning of the creation of God", indicts this faithless end-product - cp time-applications - 'messages'.


The Seven Ecclesias and Inter-Ecclesial Fellowship

The spiritual body of Christ is one. As stated in our introduction - "This teaching is for all to hear and obey. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias". This is repeated after each message, thus demonstrating the universality of these principles for our admonition and obedience." Therefore the messages of the Lord to the 7 ecclesias were individually & universally applicable in every case. We have no evidence that   the state of each ecclesia had been known    to the other ecclesias addressed by the Lord, and it must be remembered that the situation in each ecclesia was different.   In Smyrna and Philadelphia the faithful believers were already separated from "the synagogue of the satan". In such cases other ecclesias should have fellowship only with the faithful. In Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis, however, the situation in each was disgraceful.


And  now  that  the  Lord  had  stated the grounds of His displeasure, there was no excuse for faithful believers not acting upon His admonitions.     If such faithful obedience resulted in division, here again other ecclesias should have fellowship only with faithful believers. And if no-one in these 3 ecclesias acted faithfully,   other ecclesias would need to themselves withdraw fellowship from such apostacy. In Ephesus, only Christ knew of and could deal with their faults, which we have seen did not include the toleration of error. Other ecclesias would note the removal of the ecclesia if this finally took place as per the very stern warning of Christ. And finally, in Laodicea, the Lord had already withdrawn His fellowship from this apostate ecclesia.


His appeal was only to individuals to also withdraw and to thus enter into fellowship with Him. In this case it is evident that other ecclesias should (if not having already done so) also withdraw their fellowship, and have fellowship only with faithful believers in Laodicea who withdrew in obedience to the Lord's admonition, and with the Lord Himself.


Let us consider Deuteronomy 13.    Note that if any city in Israel was reported to be corrupted through the toleration of false teaching or practice,  then other cities  were commanded to investigate the matter thoroughly; and if this apostacy was verified, they had their own responsibility to act against the erring assembly. Should any deny that this Old Testament precept has any modern-day counterpart, let them read    1st Corinthians 5v13; 1st Timothy 5v20;  2nd Peter 2v1,2 where there are quotations from & exposition of Deuteronomy 13 and the action required. Today this action is confined, after due appeal and admonition, to withdrawal of fellowship.


And note Paul's inter-ecclesial application of the 3-fold admonition of  Matthew 18 as shown in 2nd Corinthians 13. Also link to 'heresy' where Deuteronomy 13 and our obligations are considered - published by Robert Roberts, and 'words' where the above principles were still endorsed in 1952 by 'The Christadelphian' magazine, and quotations from the writings of Robert Roberts etc included in





'fellowship'       were approvingly made.

But sadly, as we have noted elsewhere, this magazine no longer upholds scriptural fellowship obligations.


This ends our study of the messages to the 7 ecclesias - however we will close    with a very significant and uplifting thought. There is also an 8th ecclesia referred to in Revelation 2 and 3. It is the Christ-body, which will be composed of individuals who hearken to the words that recur throughout these chapters:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the ecclesias".  We must "read..hear..and keep those things which are written therein" in order to be "blessed" by the Lord - ch.1v3.


Whereas the number 7 speaks of completion, the number 8 speaks of perfection - link to:

'structure'              &              'grace' - page 2.

May we attain to this perfection by our dedication to the Truth & our maintenance of sound doctrine & fellowship.


link to desktop version for whole page, including our scriptural rebuttal of the apostate arguments of a critic, who tries to promote a form of "open fellowship". The "doctrine of Balaam" is sadly still alive & flourishing today.


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