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This is not pretty. Jesus is serious. Jesus is speaking to the church. In this case it was Laodicea. Is it our church?

I know your deeds, that you’re neither cold nor hot. O that you were cold or hot! In this way, because you’re tepid and neither hot nor cold, I’m about to vomit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:15-16 (Gundry Literal Translation)

Jesus compares the church’s deeds to a drink. As nowadays, people then liked their drinks either hot or cold but not tepid; and it may be that water which came to Laodicea by aqueduct from hot springs in nearby Denizli had grown tepid along the way. If so, it nauseated the person who drank it. (Jesus’ use of hyperbole, if hyperbole it is, accents the point.)

What makes the church’s deeds like a tepid drink remains to be spelled out. In the meantime, Jesus says he’s about to vomit the church out of his mouth—an alarmingly graphic figure of speech for pronouncing eternal doom at the Last Judgment.

  • He doesn’t want to have to do so: “O that you were cold or hot!”
  • But “in this way” points forward to such a possibility, and “I’m about to” stresses its nearness and certainty should no change in temperature occur.
  • For as it is, the Laodiceans turn his stomach.

What is the problem? Why does Jesus want to vomit? Laodiceans boasted that they were rich, when in fact they were poor. Perhaps we have here a hint of why this church declined spiritually: they had become proud of their ministry and had begun to measure things by human standards instead of by spiritual values. They were, in the eyes of the Master, “wretched, and miserable, and poor.”

Laodicea was a wealthy city and a banking center. Perhaps some of the spirit of the marketplace crept into the church so that their values became twisted.

  • Why is it that so many church bulletins and letterheads show pictures of buildings?
  • Are these the things that are most important to us?
  • The board at the Laodicean church could proudly show you the latest annual report with its impressive statistics; yet Jesus said He was about to vomit them out of His mouth!

The solution? Pay the price to get true “gold tried in the fire.” This suggests that the church needed some persecution; they were too comfortable. Nothing makes God’s people examine their priorities faster than suffering!

We have good news! Want to know how to be saved? Click here and here for more.


Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 580). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 1009). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.