Revelation 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
It is contrast time. And Jesus Christ is the One making the observations. On one hand we have the church at Laodicea and their self-perception. On the other hand, we have Jesus and His views on the local church. We are about to find out, these two views are 180 degrees out of phase. This post will be a contrast in vision (pun intended to the local church).
Like the church at Sardis, the believers in Laodicea had a lofty view of themselves. The church proclaimed to be rich, prosperous, and without need.
Rich… πλούσιος/plousios: noun; wealthy and abounding in.
Prospered… πλουτέω/plouteó: verb; to become rich, am rich, abound in.
“We are rich and getting richer! Buzz off, we don’t you or anything else!”
All of Christ’s observations hit the Laodicean church at their self-perceived strengths. Jesus makes the implication these folks are so sure of themselves. And He states they have no sense of awareness. Here’s how Jesus describes the church at Laodicea.
Not realizing… οἶδα/eidó: know, remember, or appreciate. There is also a literal and metaphorical sense of vision associated with the verb. Jesus is taking a shot at their medical and vision schools. Christ is telling them, “You don’t know and you can’t even see it.”
Wretched… ταλαίπωρος/talaipóros: afflicted, miserable.
Pitiable… ἐλεεινός/eleeinos: merciful, pitiful, miserable.
Poor… πτωχός/ptóchos: destitute. The church was like the homeless beggar standing on the street corner.
Blind… τυφλός/tuphlos: physically and/or mentally blind.
Naked… γυμνός/gumnos: rarely stark-naked; generally wearing only the under-garment; bare, open, manifest. The best-case scenario, the church was standing at the town square in their underwear only.
The local body had no idea how desperately awful they appear to Christ. The church at Laodicea believed in the safety of their wealth. God’s word spells their outcome and offers some advice. Place your trust in the correct source of security.
Proverbs 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.
Psalm 52:7 Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire.
1 Timothy 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.