Jesus knew everything there was to know about the Christians at Laodicea and this is what He said to them. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16, NAS). ]
Jesus hates spiritual complacency in all its forms.
To understand what He meant, we need to know some historical details about the city.
Of all the great things about Laodicea, the city did not have its own water supply. So underground aqueducts were built to two cities to pipe water from several miles away.
The water from Hierapolis came from hot springs. Hierapolis was like a resort town, attracting visitors from all over to enjoy the mineral baths. The hot water was refreshing to bathe in, but by the time it reached Laodicea it was lukewarm and filled with lime sediment. It had to be treated before it was drinkable. So anyone taking a big gulp of untreated water would have spit it out of their mouth.
The water from Colossae came from a cold spring, but by the time it reached Laodicea it too was lukewarm. By the time water reached Laodicea from both cities, it was not hot enough for a refreshing bath and not cold enough for a refreshing drink. It was lukewarm.
And that’s how Jesus described them spiritually. Lukewarm. “And because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
There are two kinds of lukewarm.
One is spiritual apathy. Neither hot nor cold. It’s complacency, apathy and indifference. Paul said it’s “having a form of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5, NIV).
The other kind of lukewarm is spiritual arrogance. It’s thinking we have arrived. It’s pride in our piety. And it’s an attitude of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Jesus confronted that too. “You say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’” (Revelation 3:17, NAS).
Remember, Jesus is not writing to the city of Laodicea; He is writing to the church at Laodicea. He is writing to Christians because the spirit of the culture had infiltrated the church.
Laodicea was not a large city, but it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It was located on a major trade route connecting east and west. It was known for its banking industry. The city was so rich that after being destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, the citizens were able to rebuild the city without any assistance from Rome.