Monday, 19 October 2020
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19
As noted in the commentary of verse 3:14, there is no commendation given to the church at Laodicea. But it would be incorrect that the Lord has nothing positive to say to them, as evidenced with the words, “As many as I love.” This should actually be taken as a sharp note of censure for those who lump entire modern-day Laodicean-type churches into a cart and personally send them off to the manure pile.
In fact, the word “I” is in the emphatic position, “I – as many as I might love…” It “calls attention to the fidelity of Christ’s love in comparison with the weak partiality seen in human love” (Vincent’s Word Studies).
Jesus’ love of those in these churches is based on the fact that they are in churches that bear His name. At some point, they came to the sad state in which they now exist, most assuredly by taking their eyes off of the true intent of the church, which is to proclaim the gospel, praise God through Jesus Christ, and to hold fast to the word of truth that He has been given.
Laodicea probably started out as a great church, but it got misdirected, smug, over-confident in what they possessed, and they eventually forgot what the purpose of the church was. Jesus’ words to them are to correct these defects and to get them back on track. His love for them is not in question. But His tolerance for their lack of love for Him, which has been replaced with a love for worldly ease, is called to the forefront with the words that He loves them, as proven by the words, “I rebuke and chasten.”
This is exactly what He has been doing and continues to do. In this, the word rebuke, elegchó, is one of the purposes originally given for the coming of the Holy Spirit, translated as “convict” –
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” John 16:8
It is variously translated as convict, reprove, rebuke, convince, and so on. The Holy Spirit was given to do this. He does it as much through the word He has inspired as through any other means. It is one of the great purposes of the Bible. Those at Laodicea have forgotten even this, they had also forgotten any internal conviction of the Spirit, and they now require direct words from the Lord. But even those words are now included in Scripture – as a warning to all such churches that they also stand in jeopardy.
With the completion of Scripture, new warnings are no longer necessary. We must be faithful to proclaim the word as our final source of such reproving. To dismiss the word will only lead to sorely unhappy results.
The word translated as chasten, paideuó, speaks of the training of “a child under development with strict training.” It is the word used in Hebrews 12:6 which was brought forth from an Old Testament passage (Proverbs 3:12) –
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6
Because of the surety of Christ’s love for this church, and because He is taking the opportunity to both rebuke and chasten them, they are expected to take action. As He next says, “Therefore, be zealous and repent.”
Here, Jesus uses the verb form of the adjective used in verse 3:16, translated as “hot.” Just as they were not “hot” and bubbling over for the Lord, He is asking them to redirect and bubble over with their desire to correct their deficiencies. The word here gives the sense of setting their heart on what is right and remaining focused and intent upon obtaining it.
The word “repent,” as always, signifies a changing of the mind. It is to think differently about the direction one is taking and to correct that by taking the new direction. Their thoughts were, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Their thoughts are now to be, “regardless of what state I am in this physical world, I need to rely solely on Jesus for my right-standing before God in all spiritual matters.”
Life application: Jesus really slammed the Laodiceans for their lukewarm attitude, but He hasn’t departed the halls of the church yet. They still have their lampstand and He is still walking among them, if only they will repent.
Because He loves them, His words are not simply to condemn. He is personally making the plea and there is nowhere left for them in His presence should they reject His words of kindness.
Jesus’ words are as a Father to his child, correcting them for their good so that they will not end up in a bad place. Eventually, we will all stand before Him for either judgment leading to rewards or losses, or for judgment leading to condemnation. Let us strive to gain understanding before that day and let us take to heart His words of rebuke.
The word translated as “be zealous” is written in the present tense. It is, therefore, a continuing action and something that is needed constantly. May each one of us evaluate ourselves closely and hold fast to the words of our Lord, Master, and Savior. Let us hold fast to Jesus.
Glorious and wonderful Lord! Even in the midst of Your strongest words of correction, Your love for us is evident. Help us to never take this love for granted, but to hold fast to it as a precious jewel of truth. When our thoughts are wrong, may we repent and turn from them to You for our eternal joy! Thank You for Your patience with us. What a wonderful, glorious King You are! Amen.