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The Message to Laodicea.

The Message to Laodicea.

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Published by glennpease
BY JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LLD.,



Unto tlte angel of tlu cliurch of tlu Laodiceans

write; T/iese things saith t/ie Amen, tlie faithful

and true witness.

Revelation iii. 14.
BY JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LLD.,



Unto tlte angel of tlu cliurch of tlu Laodiceans

write; T/iese things saith t/ie Amen, tlie faithful

and true witness.

Revelation iii. 14.

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 29, 2014
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THE MESSAGE TO LAODICEA. BY JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LLD., Unto tlte angel of tlu cliurch of tlu Laodiceans write; T/iese things saith t/ie Amen, tlie faithful and true witness. Revelation iii. 14. Third Sunday after Epiphany, 1878. The Revelation of S. John was written, as every- one allows, after the Epistles of the other Apostles included in the Canon of the ew Testament A great change has passed over the history of the Gospel, since the period recorded in these earlier writings. Death has deprived the Church of three great leaders. S. James in Jerusalem, S. Peter and S. Paul in Rome, have been crowned with the martyr's crown. Of the chief Apostles — ^the pillars of the Church — S. John only survives. The doom \ 270 THE MESSAGE TO LAODICEA. [xx. has been pronounced on the once Holy City. The eagles are gathered about the carcase of the dying or the dead. Jerusalem has fallen, or is even now falling. ' Old things are passed away/ The temple services, the Mosaic ritual, have ceased for ever. The
 
original home of Christianity is a mass of ruins. The surviving disciples of the Lord — and, foremost among them, John the son of Zebedee — go forth to settle among the Gentiles. * Behold, all things are become new.' Henceforth the Churches of Asia Minor are the centre of life and activity in the Christian community. These brotherhoods had from the first received more than their proportionate share of attention from the earliest and greatest teachers of the Gospel. They had been founded by S. Paul, and they had been watered by S. Peter. Their names, their histories, their privileges, their failings, are recorded for the instruction of later ages alike in the Epistles of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, and in those of the great Apostle of the Circumcision. We may well suppose that there was something eminently hopeful, or something eminently critical, in the state of these Asiatic Churches, that so much labour should have been bestowed upon them by their Apostolic teachers. For now, when S. John, driven into exile by the cata- strophe which has overtaken the Holy City, is com- XX.] THE MESSAGE TO LAODICEA. 27I pclled to seek a new home, it is in this same region that he fixes his abode. These Churches of Asia Minor are henceforth his special care. To them he is commissioned to deliver his Lord's messages from his retirement, or his banishment, in Patmos, rebuking, comforting, instructing, exhorting each individually according to its special needs and its special failings. It has been thought by some that the letters to the Seven Churches arc prophetical of seven succes- sive stages in the history of Christendom. It is much more probable that the simpler view of their bearing
 
is the correct view. They are words of warning and encouragement addressed to the immediate wants of the several communities ; and they are varied accord- ingly. They present to us the Churches in a later stage of growth than the Epistles of S. Paul or S. Peter. They exhibit manifold diversities of type, which only lapse of time could develope. One is steeped in poverty, and yet is rich withaL Another abounds in wealth, and yet is a miserable pauper. The imminent peril of one is the bigotry and narrow- ness of Judaism ; the besetting temptation of another is the license of Gentile profligacy. One is com- mended for its zeal against false teaching ; another is reproved for its indifference to heresy. In one there is a falling-off from the fervour of its earliest love; in another the last works are more than the first The 272 THE MESSAGE TO LAODICEA. [xx. Churches have passed through several years of ex- perience. They have been tested by the fiery trial of persecution; or they have undergone the not less searching ordeal of prosperity. With all these di- versities of character they serve as types, as illustra- tions, of the different features, which may distinguish Christian communities from time to time. Only in this sense should they be regarded as prophetical. The message to Laodicea is perhaps the most striking of the series. In other Churches definite failings are rebuked, and definite good deeds are praised. In Laodicea no positive sin is named, and no positive excellence is singled out. In other Churches errors of doctrine are denounced. In Lao- dicea no heresy is so much as hinted at. We are told nothing here of the hateful deeds of the icolaitans, as at Ephesus and Pergamos ; nothing of the Jews falsely so called, the synagogue of Satan, as at

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