The Church of the Laodiceans
Revelation 3:17-18
Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…

I. THE OPINION WHICH THE LAODICEANS HELD OF THEMSELVES. "Thou sayest." It is not likely that the words which follow were spoken. The saying was in a cherished thought — not in a thought that comes in, if I may so speak, at one door of the spirit and passes out at another, but a thought that a man makes at home in his mind. He who speaks to the Laodiceans, hears this speaking; though the speaking be only thinking, He hears it; though only in feeling, He hears it. Oh, what a different thing life would be, if lived out under the eye of God, from what it now is as lived out under the eye of men! But, mark, every Church presents itself in a particular form to Jesus Christ. Every Church by its worship and communion and fellowship and work is, according to this text, saying something perpetually into the very ear of God. Now these people said, "I am rich" — rich not in material wealth, though that most likely was true. And they said, "I am increased with goods": that is, I am become wealthy. There is a force in the word that gives the idea of their having gained this spiritual treasure by their own exertions, so that it was to their credit to have been thus spiritually rich. "And have need of nothing"; that is, they were perfectly satisfied. You see there is a sort of climax here: rich — become rich — having need of nothing. First the fact of wealth is stated, then the means by which it was obtained is indicated, and then the result. But now, what does all this mean in plain language? Christ intends to say to these people, that they were self-conceited and self-sufficient. The men who are great in their own eyes are men who have very little to do with God, and very little to do with the works of God; and the Christians and the Churches that are great in their own eyes are Christians and Churches that cannot be much in communion with Christ.

II. THEIR REAL CONDITION, AS DESCRIBED BY ONE WHO KNEW IT WELL. "And knowest not that thou art wretched" — literally, "that thou art the wretched on" — the wretched one out of these Asiatic Churches — the wretched one in all the Churches of Christ. The Laodicean Church thought itself to be the great one; and, to correct them, Christ is represented as saying, "and knowest not that thou art the wretched one." A slave to vanity and to delusion, this Church was verily the wretched and the pitiable one, a true object for compassion.

III. THE COUNSEL. It is just the same with a man who professes to cultivate his mind, to increase his knowledge, and to add to his information — so soon as he begins to rest in what he has gained, and to call it wealth, and to feel rich in it, so soon he arrests his progress in getting to himself the treasures of information and of knowledge. This counsel, I say again, is offered to those who assume and assert that they do not need it. But what is here meant by the word "buy"? — "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire." The word "buy" here does not mean to give an equivalent, but to part with this self-sufficiency, and to part with it for something valuable. We often see God bring a conceited man down to no faith at all in order to lift him up to the position of a true believer. What Christ suggests to these people is this, that they shall part with their self-conceit and with their self-sufficiency. By this "gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich," we may understand sterling godliness as opposed to "the form of godliness without the power." Of what use is a sham Christian? Of what benefit is an unreal Church? Things are precious only as they be true and thorough and entire. "And white raiment that thou mayest be clothed," etc. Put into plain language, this simply means, get what is really valuable; put on what is really fair and true; and try to see things by a proper and spiritual discernment to be derived from above just aa they really are.

(S. Martin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

WEB: Because you say, 'I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;' and don't know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;

Shallowness in Religion
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