“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 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. 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: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
“The city was at the crossroads of north-south traffic between Sardis and Perga and east-west from the Euphrates to Ephesus. Laodicea quickly became a rich city, rich enough to be able to rebuild itself without outside help [I am rich and have need of nothing!] after the destructive earthquake of 60 A.D.
Laodicea was…a great center for the manufacturing of clothing – the sheep which grazed around Laodicea were famous for the soft, black wool they produced. [buy white raiment that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear]
Laodicea was also well known for it’s school of medicine.
One of the compounds used for…the eyes made of Phrygian stone (eye salve)…The term used by John in Revelation is the same that Galen uses to describe the preparation of the Phrygian stone. [Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see!]
No other city on the Lycus Valley was as dependent on external water supplies as Laodicea…
“The lukewarmness for which, thanks to this letter, the name of Laodicea has become proverbial, may reflect the condition of the city’s water supply. The water supplied by the spring … was tepid and nauseous by the time it was piped to Laodicea, unlike the therapeutic hot water of Hierapolis or the refreshing cold water of Colossae (Rudwick and Green 1958); hence the Lord’s words, ‘Would that you were cold or hot!’” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary).
Our Lord did not accuse the brethren in Laodicea of apostasy, nor with following some false prophet or engaging in emperor worship. The church is accused of being “lukewarm” — this is the only congregation about which the Lord had nothing good to say!
Its wealth allowed its citizens to indulge in Greek art, embellish the city with beautiful monuments, contribute to the advancement of science and literature and establish a great medical school. The city minted its own coins with inscriptions to Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.
There was a large Jewish community in Laodicea, who sent the considerable sum of 9 kilograms (20 lb) of gold annually to Jerusalem for the Temple (Pro Flacco 28-68). Because early Christianity originated in, and depended upon Judaism, Laodicea very early became a seat of Christianity as a bishopric.
Sixty canons of a Council of Laodicea, written in Greek, exist. They are of great importance in the history of discipline and liturgy.
Liturgy. Now there’s an element of Christianity we need to understand.
[L]iturgy was not a later ‘add-on’ instituted by a stultified church but was a vital part of Christian worship from the very beginning.The New Testament contains many references to the ongoing practice of liturgical worship as well as actual examples of first century liturgy…
In Acts 2:42, we read that the early believers “devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to THE prayers”. This…is a clear reference to set prayers that were repeated corporately when the believers met for worship. Similarly, in Acts 5:42, the Apostles appointed deacons to administer the distribution of food to the poor, so that they (the Apostles) could continue to “be devoted to THE prayers and to the ministry of the Word.”Once again, this is how it is written in the Greek, and it is a reference to liturgical, set prayers.
Not only do we have these references to the ongoing liturgical practices of the early Christians, but we have many actual examples of first century liturgy quoted within the New Testament letters themselves. Some of them are brief excerpts from well-known liturgy, such as:
“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14)
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17).
“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
These are just a small sample of the many liturgical quotes contained within the New Testament…Philippians 2 contains a lengthy quote from what appears to be a well-known Christian creed:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Similar liturgical excerpts can be found in Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-3, 1 Peter 2:21-25 and 1 Timothy 3:16.
So far, so good. But at some point The simplicity of early church practices, grounded in the study and application of the holy scriptures in the synagogue, went baroque.
The evolution of Christian liturgy and its relationship with Jewish liturgy include the names of temple functionaries, such as readers, lectors, levites, and singers indicate appropriation from the temple liturgy not the synagogue, which at the time…consisted [simply] of scripture readings, with the Shema and Amidah. The elements from the Temple services retained in Christian liturgy include ceremonial actions such as processions and prostrations, and the antiphonal nature of prayers…
when the temple was destroyed, there were twenty-four kinds / sects of Judaism…Christianity started out as another expression of Judaism…which like that of the DSS sectarians, and the Samaritans…did not accept the oral Torah, which became enshrined in the Mishnah, Talmuds, and Midrash from 200 CE…
The written torah which Christians generally call the Old Testament (Tanakh) was retained. The New Testament, was added to the Scriptures that were accepted by the Christian Church…converts of non-Jewish origin also would have imported their world views. This would have contributed to a variety of forms in the Christian stance...the increasingly gentile background of its converts who soon outnumbered those of Jewish origin…Certainly, the growth of the non-Jewish membership of Christianity led to the ‘mutation’ becoming unacceptable to so-called normative Judaism by the end of the first century…
The problem faced by the developing Christian theology was the harmonizing…of monotheism with the independent existence and the divine activity of Jesus as related in the gospels. From the second century onwards, the various Christological controversies were attempts to come to terms with monotheism, culminating in credal formulations and statements by ecumenical church councils on Christology.
Within the church itself, the definition of Christology led to…different strands of Christianity in the east and west…the establishment of authority within the church itself…
A specific Christian practice was the weekly Sunday, which commemorated the resurrection of Jesus…it appears to have been an established practice by the time of Ignatius in the early second century.
The primitive Christian festival calendar seems originally only to have celebrated Passover… the Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost being added at the earliest by the fourth century…in the mid second century, rites of initiation into the church were being practised, so that it could be surmised that Christianity had begun to forge a separate identity from Judaism…
In the first century, Christians could continue to pray in synagogues, though tensions were developing about the position of Jesus…the growing number of gentile believers who were not obliged to keep Jewish law was a major block to both common worship and social relations.
From the second century, specifically Christian liturgies began to be developed in a less Jewish style. As time progressed, east and west took differing paths, while schisms wracked the church in the wake of doctrinal conflicts not resolved by the numerous church councils.
And when the early Church separated from its Jewish roots, where did it go?
The Laodicean church must have been the first among the seven to master the art of ingratiating itself into society as an acceptable variation on broader religious and philosophical constructs. It was no longer good for God’s spiritual healing ministry, neither hot nor cold.