The Lukewarm ‘Angel’ of Laodicea

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One of the things I love about my work for the Chalcedon Foundation is that I’m always learning while I’m working. Not always learning entirely new things. More often, being shown something I really should have noticed before.

Today, editing an article by Martin Selbrede, I was reminded of the difference between “ye” and “thou,” especially in the King James Version of the Bible. “Ye” is plural–“all of you”–and “thou” is singular–“you, to whom I’m speaking.”

Which brings up Jesus’ warning to “the angel of the church in Laodicea” in Revelation Chapter 3. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth…” (verses 15-16).

How many times have I read that passage without realizing that Our Lord was not speaking to the whole congregation of that church, but only to a specific person–the “angel” of that church? And I think we can take “angel” not literally, but as a term for a human being who was that church’s guiding spirit–a pastor, a bishop, maybe even an apostle.

Indeed, all the warnings to all seven of the churches addressed in Chapters 2 and 3 are given to the angels of those churches. That would seem to imply a serious problem with the church leadership throughout Asia Minor–not at all surprising, in the light of the various Epistles by Paul, Peter, James, and John.

Now I have to re-order my thinking about those two chapters in Revelation. Maybe because I live in an age in which so much church leadership is for the birds–if even the birds would have it–Christ’s warning suddenly becomes more relevant. More timely. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48) applies to everyone of high position.

Some of the angels of today’s churches are going to have to do an awful lot of fast talking, come Judgment Day.

6 comments on “The Lukewarm ‘Angel’ of Laodicea

  1. Very interesting! I’ve heard some Bible teacher say of Jesus parable about the kingdom of heaven being like a mustard seed that grows so big that birds can rest on its limbs, and saying the birds are symbolic of false teachers. i don’t buy it but it came to my mind when reading about your “angel” of the church comments.

  2. Don’t you just love it when that happens? – when, having read a passage many, many times, a new revelation regarding its meaning is given to you? The light bulb goes on and you say “Thank You, Lord”! I’m always awe struck when that happens 🙂

  3. I stumbled upon your article today. You make a good point that the letters were written to the Angel of the church which is the pastor of the church. I think you go a bit off when you say the letter was not written to the whole congregation. The Pastor would receive the letter in behalf of the church and share it with them. Some things said in the letters would clearly not apply to only the pastor. And if you notice each letter is ended with “He that hath an ear, let him hear What the Spirit saith unto the CHURCHES. Clearly the letters were written to the church congregation and not just the pastor.

    1. I think we can take “like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9). Our Lord’s word, then, would also be a warning to the congregations not to be misled by their church leaders.

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