Tag Archive for 'Revelation'

Revelation 3:15-17 – Both Hot and Cold Are Good

This is a Repost from 2009. The original comments were heated.

Revelation 3:15-17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 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.

I was always slightly puzzled by what these verses mean but never really looked into it until I read about it in Craig Keener’s The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation.

Regarding verse 15, although it may be well known to most of my readers, who are generally better educated in things Bible than I, Jesus is referring to the water temperature and quality or lack thereof in Laodicea, the church He is addressing here.

Keener writes:

Laodicea lacked its own water supply, having no direct access to the cold water of the mountains or the hot water of the nearby springs in Hierapolis to the north. In contrast to its claims to self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17), it had to pipe in its water; though much of the aqueduct from the south was underground, nearer the city it came through stone barrel pipes, thus remaining vulnerable to any intended besiegers who wished to cut off the city’s water supply. More important, this water had grown lukewarm by the time of its arrival.

Other sources speak more about how displeasing this water was.

NLT Study Bible:

neither hot nor cold: The hot springs in Hierapolis were famous for their healing qualities. Colosse was equally famous for its cold, refreshing springs. In contrast, the water available in Laodicea was smelly and lukewarm. Such water is distasteful; Jesus was saying that the church’s indecisive commitment to him was revolting.

ESV Study Bible:

The waters of the nearby Lycus River were muddy and undrinkable, and the waters flowing by aqueduct from hot springs 5 miles (8 km) away were lukewarm when they reached Laodicea. Likewise, Jesus found his church’s tepid indifference repugnant. Cold and hot water represent something positive, for cold water refreshes in the heat, and hot water is a tonic when one is chilly.

So in mentioning the hot and cold water Jesus wasn’t speaking to their spiritual zeal or lack. And it doesn’t make sense that Jesus would rather they be spiritually cold than lukewarm. He’s not saying, “Pick a side, any side, as long as you commit to something.” Or that He would rather we be willfully cold towards Him as a way of showing some sort of truthful integrity if we aren’t very thrilled about how we feel about God at the moment.

What Jesus is saying is much more shocking. As Keener puts it,

In today’s English, he is telling the self-satisfied church in Laodicea: ‘I want water that will refresh me, but you remind me instead of the water you always complain about. You make me want to puke.’

The Laodiceans, who prided themselves on their wealth and self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17) didn’t even have water that tasted good and Jesus used this to illustrate their spiritual self sufficiency and pride, and how He felt about it.

I was wondering if puke was a little overboard.

Thayer: to vomit, vomit forth, throw up, i. e. to reject with extreme disgust,

Louw-Nida: Since a term meaning ‘to vomit’ often carries somewhat vulgar connotations, ἐμέω in Re 3.16 has frequently been translated as ‘to spit out of my mouth.’ It is also possible to interpret ‘to vomit out of the mouth’ as an idiom meaning ‘to reject.’

It seems to me that a disservice is done when translations water this down (no pun intended). Most popular translations use spit. Among those that I looked at, the HCSB, LITV, Mounce Sr. (Interlinear), NET, NKJV, The Message and WEB use vomit. The Geneva Bible and King James use spewe and spue. (I think they were ahead of their time.)

Further reading:
The Letter to the Church in Laodicea at Ligonier Ministries

revelation-commentary

Reformed Scholars Misquoting Rev. 3:20?

And I’m not just referring to any old scholars, but two of the three big Johnnys, Owen and Edwards.

It has often been criticized that Christian newbies interpret Revelation 3:20 as being God’s calling unbelievers to salvation. But as the interpretation goes–for those who are in the know–this was said to the church in Laodicea which was supposed to be made up of believers, albeit lukewarm, and God is calling them to have fellowship with him.

I just finished reading Jonathan Edwards’ sermon(s) titled The Excellency of Christ. In it I read this:

Rev. 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him and he with me.” Christ condescends not only to call you to him, but he comes to you; he comes to your door, and there knocks. He might send an officer and seize you as a rebel and vile malefactor, but instead of that, he comes and knocks at your door, and seeks that you would receive him into your house, as your Friend and Savior. And he not only knocks at your door, but he stands there waiting, while you are backward and unwilling. And not only so, but he makes promises what he will do for you, if you will admit him, what privileges he will admit you to; he will sup with you, and you with him.

This was during the last part where he makes a long plea for the listeners to trust Christ for salvation.

Then I remembered that John Owen wrote about something similar in either The Glory of Christ or the Sin and Temptation trilogy. It was the latter–the Crossway edition.

[He is patient] toward the elect not yet effectually called. He stands waiting at the door of their hearts and knocks for an entrance (Rev. 3:20). He deals with them by all means, and yet stands and waits until “his head is filled with the dew, and his locks with the drops of the night” (Song 5:2), as enduring the cold and inconveniences of the night, that when his morning is come he may have entrance. Oftentimes for a long season he is by them scorned in his person, persecuted in his saints and ways, reviled in his word, while he stands at the door in the word of his patience, with his heart full of love toward their poor rebellious souls.

The idea that God is referring to believers here is widespread enough that I even saw a meme (a photo with text on it) about how Rev. 3:20 shouldn’t be used in this way. The modern interpretation is that he wants his children to have fellowship with him and not ignore him as the lukewarm Laodiceans did. I’ve also read good blogs that explain this and it’s certainly makes sense to me.

The only modern commentary I have is an excellent one by Craig Keener in the NIVAC series. He says the Laodicean Christians have shut Him out of their lives and God is saying that he wants fellowship with them.

What do you think?

Here are some others for reference.

Adam Clarke:

Christ stands – waits long, at the door of the sinner’s heart; he knocks – uses judgments, mercies, reproofs, exhortations, etc., to induce sinners to repent and turn to him; he lifts up his voice – calls loudly by his word, ministers, and Spirit.

Matthew Henry:

[1.] Christ is graciously pleased by his word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners; he draws near to them in a way of mercy, ready to make them a kind visit…

John Wesley:

I stand at the door, and knock – Even at this instant; while he is speaking this word. If any man open – Willingly receive me. I will sup with him – Refreshing him with my graces and gifts, and delighting myself in what I have given. And he with me – In life everlasting.

Geneva Bible note:

This must be taken after the manner of an allegory; (John 14:23).

God Hates?

And God commends people for hating the evil that others are doing. What about “do not judge”? (Sarcasm) More on that later.

It seems that much of the church may need to be more aware that we are living with/before God and that he isn’t always happy about everything, and he isn’t always satisfied with believers, and especially not with those who are faking it. He doesn’t always “meet us where we’re at”, whatever that means. But praise God that he covers the sins of believers and doesn’t hold them against us. In addition, that we are in his favor (Luke 2:14). It may sound strange, but God doesn’t just love us because of what his Son did for us on the cross, but he also likes us. That he is always for us (Romans 8:31-32). And that he is holy x3 (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8).

You have endured, suffered trouble because of my name, and have not grown weary. 4 However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. 5 Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act [repent], and do what you did at first. I will come to you and take your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change. 6 But you have this in your favor-you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing. I also hate what they’re doing.
Revelation 2:3-6

Do not judge people who hate the evil that people do, based on their right assessment (judgement) of it, or those who point attention to it in a way that benefits others.

Anybody have another reference for being in God’s favor? There’s one I’m not finding.

Also see:
God's Love In The Bible and Evangelicals View of It | Scripture Zealot blog

Revelation 3:15-17

Revelation 3:15-17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 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.

I was always slightly puzzled by what these verses mean but never really looked into it until I read about it in Craig Keener’s The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation.

Regarding verse 15, although it may be well known to most of my readers, who are generally more well educated in things Bible than I, Jesus is referring to the water temperature and quality or lack thereof in Laodicea, the church He is addressing here.

Keener writes:

Laodicea lacked its own water supply, having no direct access to the cold water of the mountains or the hot water of the nearby springs in Hierapolis to the north. In contrast to its claims to self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17), it had to pipe in its water; though much of the aqueduct from the south was underground, nearer the city it came through stone barrel pipes, thus remaining vulnerable to any intended besiegers who wished to cut off the city’s water supply. More important, this water had grown lukewarm by the time of its arrival.

Other sources speak more about how displeasing this water was.

NLT Study Bible:

neither hot nor cold: The hot springs in Hierapolis were famous for their healing qualities. Colosse was equally famous for its cold, refreshing springs. In contrast, the water available in Laodicea was smelly and lukewarm. Such water is distasteful; Jesus was saying that the church’s indecisive commitment to him was revolting.

ESV Study Bible:

The waters of the nearby Lycus River were muddy and undrinkable, and the waters flowing by aqueduct from hot springs 5 miles (8 km) away were lukewarm when they reached Laodicea. Likewise, Jesus found his church’s tepid indifference repugnant. Cold and hot water represent something positive, for cold water refreshes in the heat, and hot water is a tonic when one is chilly.

So in mentioning the hot and cold water Jesus wasn’t speaking to their spiritual zeal or lack. And it doesn’t make sense that Jesus would rather they be spiritually cold than lukewarm. He’s not saying, “Pick a side, any side, as long as you commit to something.” Or that He would rather we be willfully cold towards Him as a way of showing some sort of truthful integrity if we aren’t very thrilled about how we feel about God at the moment.

What Jesus is saying is much more shocking. As Keener puts it,

In today’s English, he is telling the self-satisfied church in Laodicea: ‘I want water that will refresh me, but you remind me instead of the water you always complain about. You make me want to puke.’

The Laodiceans, who prided themselves on their wealth and self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17) didn’t even have water that tasted good and Jesus used this to illustrate their spiritual self sufficiency and pride, and how He felt about it.

I was wondering if puke was a little overboard.

Thayer: to vomit, vomit forth, throw up, i. e. to reject with extreme disgust,

Louw-Nida: Since a term meaning ‘to vomit’ often carries somewhat vulgar connotations, ἐμέω in Re 3.16 has frequently been translated as ‘to spit out of my mouth.’ It is also possible to interpret ‘to vomit out of the mouth’ as an idiom meaning ‘to reject.’

It seems to me that a disservice is done when translations water this down (no pun intended). Most popular translations use spit. Among those that I looked at, the HCSB, LITV, Mounce Sr. (Interlinear), NET, NKJV, The Message and WEB use vomit. The Geneva Bible and King James use spewe and spue. (I think they were ahead of their time.)

Further reading:
The Letter to the Church in Laodicea at Ligonier Ministries

revelation-commentary

Book Review – The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation

book-nivac-revelationThe NIV Application Commentary: Revelation by Craig Keener

I liked this commentary so much I thought I’d write a mini-review with some information about Craig Keener and type out some of the quotes I liked.

Craig Keener is someone who has an extraordinary passion for the Bible and a very high view of Scripture and God’s sovereignty. He’s an excellent exegete influenced by Gordon Fee and nearly as objective in his interpretation.

He’s also lived in dangerous urban environments where his life has been threatened and he knows what it is to be persecuted, as much as can be in the U.S. and he writes briefly about some of these experiences as they relate to the book of Revelation.

If you’d like to learn more about him you can read Fridays with Craig Keener at Word and Spirit, a series of eight interviews (in reverse order here).

Here is a brief video where Craig S. Keener tells the story behind the NIVAC Revelation commentary. He writes about this in the preface of the commentary.

My exposure to Revelation has been reading through it a few times, participating in a group Bible study on it which I have almost no recollection of and reading about bits of it here and there in various books. I wanted a commentary that was substantial, but not a large technical tome such as Aune or Beale. The only other NIVAC commentary I have is the one on Luke and I was a little disappointed in it as a commentary. It’s a great book on the life and teachings of Jesus, but many questions weren’t addressed. So I was reluctant to try another one but this didn’t disappoint at all. It seemed to be tailor made for someone like me.

In the commentary portion Keener addresses nearly all of the text of Revelation succinctly but fully. I never felt that there was a portion that was glossed over without addressing it.

In the Bridging Contexts sections he often writes about common gross misinterpretations, interpretations throughout history and how the passage relates to other parts of Scripture among other things which is extremely helpful.

Some may think it difficult to write about how the whole book of Revelation is relevant to us today but Keener does this with ease in the Contemporary Significance sections.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

The necessity of remaining faithful until the end (Revelation 2:26) fits historic Calvinist and Arminian belief: The former argue that those who fall away were never converted, whereas the latter argue that they have lost their salvation–but both concur that they will not be saved. Verses such and this one and countless others, however, may prove uncomfortable to those who think that merely praying a prayer without truly persevering in Christian faith is adequate for salvation.

One [also] wonders how Luther, Calvin, Wesley, or others would feel about some who in their name privilege theological traditions above firsthand study of Scripture itself.

…not a single text supports addressing the devil as if he were omnipresent, during prayer. [On spiritual warfare, rebuking the devil etc. Revelation 12:7-9]

More quotes to come in future posts.

Buy it from:

Verse of the Day

Revelation 1:3
God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

This blessing seems to be pronounced with a design to encourage us to study this book, and not be weary of looking into it upon account of the obscurity of many things in it; it will repay the labour of the careful and attentive reader. Observe, 1. It is a blessed privilege to enjoy the oracles of God. This was one of the principal advantages the Jews had above the Gentiles. 2. It is a blessed thing to study the scriptures; those are well employed who search the scriptures. 3. It is a privilege not only to read the scriptures ourselves, but to hear them read by others, who are qualified to give us the sense of what they read and to lead us into an understanding of them. 4. It is not sufficient to our blessedness that we read and hear the scriptures, but we must keep the things that are written; we must keep them in our memories, in our minds, in our affections, and in practice, and we shall be blessed in the deed. 5. The nearer we come to the accomplishment of the scriptures, the greater regard we shall give to them. The time is at hand, and we should be so much the more attentive as we see the day approaching.

–Matthew Henry, Commentary