Letter To Laodicea Church (rev. 3:14)

14 “To the messenger of the congregation in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

As we can see in the last message of Jesus to the key congregations in Asia Minor, Jesus is being described in terms of something believable (Amen), but also loyal (faithful) and reliable (true witness). The very last reference to Jesus Christ being the beginning of the creation of God should be taken to refer to the Jewish concept of Logos that is present in a dominant way in John 1. Let us briefly summarize the main points that are important for our discussion here.

It has long been mistakenly thought that the ideas expressed in John’s prologue are unique to Christianity. It was erroneously believed that this statement (John 1:1) constituted nothing less than a ground-breaking departure from Judaism. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is not until verse 14 “and the Word became flesh,” that an innovative idea, though not contradictory to Judaism, was first introduced. The idea of the Word/Logos/Memra of God being the instrument of God in creating of the world was not at all new to Second Temple Judaism. For example, Philo, an Alexandrian Jew who was roughly contemporary with Jesus, but probably never met him, wrote: “…the most universal of all things is God; and in the second place the Word of God.” (Allegorical Interpretation, II, 86); “…the shadow of God is His Word, which He used like an instrument when He was making the world…” (Allegorical Interpretation, III, 96); “This same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race… neither being uncreated as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities…” (“Who is the Heir of Divine Things,” 205-6). These are only a few example of this idea.

Jesus, as he addresses his followers in Laodicea, is identifying himself with the instrument of God at the creation of the world.

There are also some important things we should know about the city of Laodicea. It is highly likely that Jesus and the human author of the Book of Revelation were well aware of these.

mapThere was more than one city with the name Laodicea in the Ancient world, but this Laodicea of Lycus, located in Asia Minor, was established in around 250 B.C.E by Antiochus of Syria, who named it after his wife Laodice. Because of its physical location, Laodicea was a very rich and important city in Asia Minor. The road from Ephesus to the east of Syria was the key road in Asia and Laodicea. In its path, there is an important detour through which a large portion of trade traffic passed. This fact effectively turned the city into an exclusive provider of goods and services. Laodicea originally was built as a fortress, even though it had one significant deficiency. All of its water supply had to come by underground aqueduct from springs located at least 3 kms away. This was not a good thing for a city besieged by its enemies. But in Roman times, the city prospered due to the long lasting peace established and preserved by the Roman Empire.

Several characteristics of the city of Laodicea can be seen through Jesus’ address to the congregation located there. First, it was a banking and financial center for Asia Minor. The wealth of the city can be seen in quotations from the Roman historian Tacitus: “One of the most famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was in that same year overthrown by an earthquake and without any relief from us recovered itself by its own resources.” (Tacitus: Annals 14: 27) No wonder Laodicea could boast that it was rich and had amassed wealth and had need of nothing. Second, it was a center of the clothing industry. It mass produced inexpensive outer wool garments. Third, Laodicea was a medical center of the Ancient world. A famous medical school was located in Laodicea. The names of two of its most famous doctors appear on Laodicean coins. In particular this medical establishment was famous for producing special medication for ears and eyes. Last, but and not least, Laodicea boast a disproportionally large Jewish population. In 62 B.C. Flaccus, the governor of the province, became alarmed at the amount of currency the Jews were exporting in payment of the Temple tax that every male Jew paid. He imposed an embargo on the export of currency. There were at least 7,000 male Jews residing in the relatively small city. There can have been few areas where the Jews were wealthier and more influential.

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

You might also be interested in:

Join the conversation (17 comments)

Leave a Reply

  1. George W Walker.

    I wonder how you feel about the Words in the Genesis, When God rested after Creation was complete.

    Re: perhaps being the reason Jesus came as Savior.

    Re: Also after the fall, when he promised to send the Seed of a Woman and the Seed of the Woman Crushing the Head of the Serpent but his heel being bruised?

    Because i after thinking about theze sections began to assume that His Word would Save us from the Situation we are in, but through the Seed of the Woman, His Word I believe, as he Promised almost at the beginning, but the Word Came and Gave his Life at the Time of His Word Jesus.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I feel good about this. God rescues us in time of trouble. And we are in need of that.

  2. Kat H

    Since the disciples prayed to the Father (the Lord’s prayer), they would see Jesus as an instrument (John 6:35, John 20:22)

    ” which He used like an instrument when He was making the world…” (Allegorical Interpretation, III, 96)

    I prayed to the Father, and recognized the Father in answered prayer, but because of replacement theology I could not see Christ as an instrument (until the book of Revelations study).

  3. Yaakov

    Excellent information Dr Eli does the name laodicea mean ruled by people? Shabbat shalom

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Perhaps… I am not sure. Laos is a word for people, the second part of the word does not come to mind right away.

  4. Lanil Gunasekara

    very informative

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks Lanil!

  5. kevin

    Thanks for the info. Dr Eli.. it is always fascinating to get these kind of revelations. It would be nice for you to give more information on the rest of the churches. thanks again Dr Eli may Yahweh bless and keep you

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, Kevin, well put Revelations in Revelation. 🙂 God Bless.

  6. Mary Yeh

    I enjoy the history of Laodicea and the Jewish roots of whom the Lord Jesus as the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Originator and the Beginning of God’s creation spoken to those Jewish believers that you have uncovered for us. Without this sure and firm foundation of the Jews, we of the nations would have no structure to adhere to as His Building. Our God is a God of purpose and order and I am thankful for the eye salve from your writings to appreciate where my heritage comes from: the Jews. I do not recall reading anywhere that it was to the Jews as the beginning church in that city.

    I am praising God for such a wonderful salvation! I love all your words still. I am looking forward to a completion and of course whatever you present us along the way. I can hardly wait till you reveal more truth and light from Revelation 21 and 22! I will wait with anticipation on the chapters between Revelation 3 and 21 also. But meanwhile, I will still pick up the bread and the wine from your writings, so rich to sustain my love for our Redeemer and Savior of Israel and flowing to us as the nations! What a River of Life already today coming from Israel spiritually until He arrives physically with the New Jerusalem!

  7. David Russell

    Dr. Eli, These are very fascinating and informative summations on the churches in the book of Revelation. I find your discourse on John 1:1-14 quite revealing and at verse 14 quite concerning. Thank you sir!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank, David. I trust this will be of continue help to you. eli

  8. terry

    wow – the salve for the eyes in order to see.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Terry, welcome to our forum.

  9. yetilived

    Your book has been a most helpful resource.. Again I must stress that replacement theology as well as church history has made understanding the Word/Logos/Memra COMPLICATED!!! I believed John 1:1 as a Christian, but this belief did not escape the flames (1 Cor 3:15). This is because I could see the Father’s work in my past (Judaism), but not the Sons work. How could I truly believe Jesus was an instrument in creation if He wasn’t even an instrument in my own Salvation ( before I heard the gospel – I practiced a form of Judaism)? The scripture is clear that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”. Your book and article on Heavenly Messengers have helped me to see Jesus the High Priest as an instrument in Judaism. I can now accept Jesus as the beginning of Creation of God. This is not the same as believing the trinity to me. I hope to someday understand the difference between “seeing” the Father and the Son vs “seeing the effects” of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Let us continue to think about these things.

      1. Pastor John Kabanya

        Thanks my brother for the elaborate explanation of the word. Its my prayers that the Jews will know and acknowledge Yahshua Ha-mashiac as the redeemer so that they may enjoy the freedom from sin as their fathers enjoyed from the freedom from Egypt.