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"Then Is Finished The Mystery Of God"



Chapter 14

To the Angel in Laodicea

Revelation 3:14-22

THE CITY of Laodicea got its name from the wife of the Seleucid ruler, Antiochus II, who was the grandson of General Seleucus Nicator and who came to be called Theós, "God." He founded and named Laodicea in the third century before our Common Era.*

Being well situated in the western part of Asia Minor, it became wealthy. It was a manufacturing city and also a banking center, whose bankers did business with the whole of the Roman Empire. It was noted for the worship of the god of medicine, Aesculapius, and appropriately had a medical school. It also produced a famous eye medicine known as Phrygian powder. However, because the city had no permanent water supply, water had to be piped to it from hot springs some distance away, the water likely being lukewarm by the time it reached the city limits. The city was linked by roads with Ephesus and Pergamum, where two of the "seven congregations that are in the district of Asia" were located. (Revelation 1:4, 11, 20; 2:1, 12) At the time that the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Colossae, about 60-61 C.E., there was a congregation in Laodicea.  — Colossians 2:1; 4:13-16.

During the several decades that elapsed since its founding, the congregation in that materially pros-


* He is connected with the fulfillment of Daniel 11:6. See pages 230, 231 of the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth," published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania in 1958.
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perous city of Laodicea had suffered a severe spiritual decline. Doubtless very different from the letter that the "congregation of the Laodiceans" had received from the apostle Paul was the one that the apostle John was instructed to send to the "angel" or overseer of that congregation. (Colossians 4:16) In this fetter, the seventh and last one of the letters dictated to the "seven congregations that are in the district of Asia" about the year 96 C.E., there is no word of praise to the Laodicean "angel." Here is what the apostle John was told:

"And to the angel of the congregation in Laodicea write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God, 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or else hot. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say: "I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all," but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see.

" 'All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent. Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and take the evening meal with him and he with me. To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.' " — Revelation 3:14-22.

In sharp contrast to the congregation at Smyrna (about 113 miles to the northwest), which was in poverty materially but in riches spiritually, the La-

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odicean congregation was materially rich but spiritually poor. Instead of the literal gold handled by the Laodicean bankers, instead of the garments of glossy black wool produced by the local clothiers, instead of the medicinal tablets or powder for the literal eyes as produced by the local medical profession, instead of the boiling hot medicinal waters from the hot springs at nearby Hierapolis, the Laodicean congregation needed things like these in a spiritual sense. It needed real Christian gold to enrich its personality, the white outer garments to give it an irreproachable Christian appearance with no unchristian features that were as shameful as bodily nakedness. It needed a spiritual eyesalve to be applied to take away its blindness to Bible truth and Christian responsibilities. It could buy these things from the One knocking at the door, if it let him in hospitably to entertain him. It needed to become stimulatingly hot or refreshingly cold, but not stay lukewarm.

Likewise, with the case of the anointed remnant of Christ's congregation in the postwar year of 1919 C.E. There was then a pressing need for the anointed remnant of dedicated, baptized Christians and for those who merely professed to be Christians in sectarian Christendom to place a proper value on things that had to do with true Christianity. Notwithstanding more than four years of World War I, Christendom remained rich in a material way and was due to increase her riches in money, lands and property and political power in the postwar epoch. But was she rich with real Christian spiritual riches? Would she now seek them? She had badly tarnished her religious appearance because of her responsibility for and support of gory World War I. Would she clean up her religious appearance to match the apostolic Bible teachings, standards and principles? Would she repent of her worldly ways? Would she allow spiritual "eyesalve" to be applied so that she could see the difference between man-made traditions and Bible truth and also see the now occurring fulfill-

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ments of Bible prophecies and what these mean and what God now wants Christians on earth to do?

The anointed remnant, although separate and distinct from Christendom, had to face the same issues of this "time of the end" as Christendom did. (Daniel 12:1-4) Any spiritual lukewarmness that may have resulted to them because of the persecutions and trials and dangers of World War I days they had to get rid of without delay. Let Christ vomit out of his mouth Christendom as something that he could not stomach, but the anointed remnant did not want to have that happen to them because of any lukewarmness toward God's will and work and his revelations of truth in this "time of the end." The remnant did not dare yield to the materialistic times that now set in as the world rebuilt the present system of things so frightfully damaged by World War I. Any material riches that members of the anointed remnant may still have had were not the things to rely upon as if they were all that was necessary for respectable Christians. Were they spiritually poor? Did they need to take Christ's advice and buy from him true riches, Christian "gold refined by fire," able to stand the fiery times ahead? This was the safe thing to do!

Furthermore, what about the remnant's outward garments of Christian professions and identity? These garments had been somewhat soiled by their compromises and failures during World War I. As with the ancient Laodicean congregation and its "angel," there was some "shame of your nakedness" that had become manifest and that called for them to repent before God. To do away with such nakedness the remnant needed to buy from the glorified Jesus Christ spiritual "white outer garments" that would mark and identify them as blameless Christians. How could they "buy" such white outer garments? Not with material gold, but by a reinvigorated devotion to Christ's example and by the decision to stick to true Christian neutrality in the midst of the world's po-

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litical and military conflicts. This they did, as history proves. During World War II, which began twenty years later, they did not soil these "white outer garments." No, nor in later conflicts.

"EYESALVE" FROM "THE FAITHFUL AND TRUE WITNESS"

Did the anointed remnant need to buy any spiritual eyesalve? Yes, not from politically and religiously split Christendom, but from the now reigning Jesus Christ. He had now come to God's spiritual temple and was standing, as it were, at the remnant's door and knocking so as to be received hospitably inside to the midst of the remnant as his congregation. By forsaking the philosophies and man-made traditions of Christendom and heathendom, the anointed remnant had already had their eyes opened to see many truths of the Holy Bible and to discern God's purpose, God's organization and God's work for now. But their eyes were yet blind to many things about God's written Word and about his will and purpose and work for Christ's true followers in the "time of the end" that had begun in the year 1914 C.E. Many Bible truths were now about to be revealed. Bible prophecies were now due to be fulfilled and thereby correctly understood. The fact that God has a theocratic organization needed to be seen and acted upon. The progressive work that God has purposed for the remnant in this "time of the end" needed to be seen, undertaken. — Daniel 12:4-10.

Beyond all question there was need for the spiritual eyesalve to be bought from the invisibly present Jesus Christ and to be rubbed in the remnant's eyes of spiritual discernment. This called for them to make a direct study of the Holy Scriptures as never before, praying for God's holy spirit through Christ to direct them and open their eyes and to guide their decisions and course of conduct. The history of the past half century records that the remnant did so and gained a remarkable brightening up of their spiri-

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tual vision. In due time they saw the need to distinguish themselves from Christendom by embracing a name that had Bible foundations. Hence in the year 1931, by resolutions adopted world wide, they took the very responsible name, Jehovah's witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:8) In this way they were anxious to imitate their Leader Jesus Christ by themselves being what he called himself in his opening words to the "angel of the congregation in Laodicea." According to Revelation 3:14 he said:

"These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God." Note those words, "the faithful and true witness." Of whom or of what was Jesus Christ

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a witness? (Revelation 1:5) According to his own words, he was a witness of his heavenly Father, Jehovah God the Almighty, and also of God's kingdom and its being the divine means to sanctify God's name and cause his will to be done on our earth as it is also done in heaven. (John 18:36, 37; 1 Timothy 6: 13) He sent forth his disciples to be "witnesses." (Acts 1:6-8) He predicted to his disciples: "This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13: 10) Above all other creatures, Jesus Christ deserves and applies to himself the title "the faithful and true witness."

"THE AMEN" AND THE FIRST "CREATION"

He also spoke of himself as "the Amen." How is he "the Amen" personified? It is well known that at the end of prayers addressed to Jehovah God in the name of Jesus Christ the word Amen! is properly adjoined. (1 Corinthians 14:16) It has the meaning of "Surely!" or, "So be it!" In Isaiah 65:16, in the Hebrew Masoretic text, Jehovah is called "the God of Amen," and some Bible translations render this "the God of truth," "the God of faithfulness," or "the true God." (RS; JPS; Ro; Le; NW) This indicates that the word Amen! is an affirmation or guarantee that something is true or is bound to come true and be realized. God has sent forth his faithful Son as an "Amen" to all the divine promises made in his Word. "For," says 2 Corinthians 1:20, "no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him. Therefore also through him is the Amen said to God for glory through us." Hence prayer that is not offered to God through Jesus Christ will not be answered, for Jesus said to his apostles:

"No matter what you ask the Father in my name he [will] give it to you." "If you ask the Father for anything he will give it to you in my name. Until

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this present time you have not asked a single thing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full." "Also, whatever it is that you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it"  — John 15:16; 16:23, 24; 14:13, 14.

Appropriately, then, the apostle John closed the writing of the book of Revelation with the words: " 'Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.' May the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with the holy ones." (Revelation 22:20, 21) Correspondingly, at its opening this book notes the fact that it is "a revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place." (Revelation 1:1) Since Jesus Christ is "the Amen," this assures that all the things shown to his Christian slaves in the Revelation will without fail take place, and that "shortly." What yet remains of this Revelation to take place will do so "shortly."

But in the message to the "angel" of the congregation in Laodicea, did the glorified Jesus Christ really say that he is "the beginning of the creation of God"? (Revelation 3:14, AV; AS; ER; Dy; Ro) In the language in which he spoke to the apostle John, did he really say that he was "the beginning" rather than 'the beginner' of the creation of God? In the language in which John wrote down the Revelation the Greek word is arkhé. This word occurs fifty-eight (58) times in the Greek text of the Authorized or King James Version and yet never is it translated as 'beginner' or 'originator.' In all of the apostle John's Bible writings (one Gospel, three letters and the Revelation) he used the Greek word arkhé twenty-three (23) times, and always in the sense of "beginning." In the Revelation alone he used this Greek word four (4) times and in three cases (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13, AV) John sets it in opposition to the "end" or "ending." So it is not consistent to think that in Revelation 3:14 the apostle John switches

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the meaning of arkhé from "beginning" to 'beginner' or 'originator.'

Other Scriptures, both in John's writings* and in other books of the Holy Bible, prove that Jesus Christ is the "beginning" or 'original one' of all creation by God. Jesus always spoke of himself as the Son of God, which proves that he received life from God as his heavenly Father and thus had a beginning of life as the "only-begotten Son" of God. (John 10:36; 3:16; 5:26) Also, in Colossians 1:15, 18 (AV) it is written that he "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning [arkhé], the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." His being the "firstborn from the dead" means that he himself was once dead, and his being the "firstborn of every creature" means that he himself was created by his heavenly Father. — Revelation 1:5, 17, 18; Acts 2:22-32.

It is not to Jesus Christ but to God that the apostle Peter applies the title "Creator" in 1 Peter 4:19. It is to this Almighty God on his heavenly throne that the creatures in heaven say: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:8-11, RS) It is to this Almighty God the Creator that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, comes to receive the mysterious scroll out of the right hand of that One on the heavenly throne. (Revelation 5: 1-10) It is by this Almighty God the Creator that the angel swears, according to Revelation 10:5, 6. All these things being taken into account, it is plain from the Bible itself that Jesus Christ the Son of God is not the Creator but that Almighty God the Creator used his only-begotten Son as his instrument


* See the 64-page booklet entitled " 'The Word' — Who Is He? According to John," published in 1962 by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
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in creating all other creatures or creations. (John 1:1-3; Ephesians 2:10, 15; 3:9; Colossians 1:16, 17; Revelation 19:13) Jesus Christ is the oldest of God's creatures, for he is the beginning of God's creation.

He is not ashamed to call his spirit-begotten, anointed followers his "brothers." (Hebrews 2:11) As the oldest fellow creature and oldest spiritual brother he said to the "angel" of the Laodicean congregation: "All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent." (Revelation 3:19) In the year 1919 C.E. the anointed remnant that had survived World War I needed to repent with respect to a number of things that were revealed to them as shortcomings. But they showed themselves zealous to do so and they were forgiven through Jesus Christ. They needed to be reproved, to be set straight as respects a number of things, and also to be disciplined especially with regard to theocratic organization. But they were glad to accept this reproof and discipline through Jesus Christ their oldest Brother, because they knew that all this was a display of his fondness or affection for them. They remembered what is written down in Hebrews 12: 2-11 concerning divine discipline. Just as Jesus had accepted discipline, so too the remnant did.

WHAT THE KNOCKER AT THE DOOR PROMISES

Their repenting and accepting discipline was to open the way to many spiritual privileges. This fact is made evident from the very next words of their oldest Brother: "Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and take the evening meal with him and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) Who was more worthy of their hospitality than their oldest spiritual Brother? Having accompanied his heavenly Father to the spiritual temple in the spring of 1918 for the work of inspection and purification, he was indeed invisibly standing at the door of receptiveness of the anointed remnant who needed so much

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spiritual help at the close of World War I on November 11, 1918. — Malachi 3:1-5.

The anointed remnant did show hospitality toward the Christ in his second but unseen presence and received him into their organizational "house." This meant the putting of themselves into position to receive many blessings, for now they received him as the reigning King, enthroned on the heavenly throne in 1914 C.E. He knocked at the door at the time of the "evening meal," or at supper. Back there in the days of the apostle John the main meal was the supper. It meant that the day's labor was over and that the family could come together. (Luke 17:7-9) At sunset the old day in which labor had been performed was ending, and a new day was beginning. Correspondingly, for the anointed remnant one feature of their work had ended, and with the start of the postwar period a new feature of their earthly work was opening up that had to do with God's established Messianic kingdom. For this they needed instruction and encouragement. Their guest at the evening meal or supper was the one to give this to them.

When Jesus was on earth as a man, those who invited him in to sup with them would always receive something greater in return, by the spiritual instruction and upbuilding that he would give in connection with the supper. (John 12:1-11) On one occasion when a ruler of the Pharisees had Jesus in for a meal at his house, a certain fellow guest was so moved by what he heard Jesus say that he exclaimed: "Happy is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God." Jesus immediately proceeded to give the parable of the "grand evening meal" to which many were invited. (Luke 14:1-24) It was like this when the invisibly present Jesus Christ knocked at the door of the anointed remnant by unfolding to their understanding the Bible prophecies then due to be understood regarding the world situation and their work. Then the responsive remnant opened up to re-

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ceive him. This resulted in a great blessing for their hospitality. This spiritual supper that ensued meant a tremendous period of instruction and upbuilding for them from their heavenly Guest. More than his having the supper with them, they were rather having supper with him.

When he said: "I will come into his house and take the evening meal with him and he with me" (Revelation 3:20), the glorified Jesus Christ may have meant more than just the spiritual feast on earth that the hospitable remnant began to enjoy in the year 1919. He may have also had in mind their going into the heavenly "wedding celebration" into which the five wise virgins with lighted lamps were pictured as being admitted in his parable of the wise and foolish virgins, in Matthew 25:1-12. He may have been referring to the heavenly happiness spoken of in Revelation 19:9: "Happy are those invited to the evening meal of the Lamb's marriage." He may have meant the eating of "bread in the kingdom of God" through a resurrection from the dead to immortal life in the spirit heavens, there to eat bread, as it were, with the enthroned reigning King Jesus Christ. At least, the responsive remnant's opening the door after hearing his knock and voice in the year 1919 leads to such a blessed heavenly "supper."

Because of the timing and the circumstances, the "evening meal" begun in 1919 had to do with Kingdom matters. Not inappropriately, then, the glorified Jesus Christ went on from mentioning the "evening meal" to make the following promise: "To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21) At the time of his message to the Laodicean congregation, about the year 96 C.E., Jesus Christ had already sat down with his heavenly Father on his throne and at his right hand. (Acts 2:32-36; 7:55, 56; 1 Peter 3:22) But since the end of the Gentile Times in the year 1914 C.E. and since his installation as king

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to reign in the midst of his enemies in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1-6, he grants to his conquering followers to sit on the heavenly throne with him as reigning King. This he grants by raising them from the dead to be with him as his joint heirs. Inasmuch as he came to God's spiritual temple in the spring of 1918 C.E., those of the anointed remnant dying physically since then did not need to sleep on in death awaiting his return; they were given an instantaneous resurrection as spirit creatures into his heavenly presence. — Revelation 14:13; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

The promise of such a glorious thing is worth listening to and striving to make one's very own. Hence the closing words of the message to the "angel" or overseer of the congregation in Laodicea: "Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations." — Revelation 3:22.

Now that the special messages to all "the seven congregations that are in the district of Asia" have been delivered to their "angels," it is overwhelming, especially for the anointed remnant on earth, to consider all the things that the spirit of God has said to the congregations by way of promising rewards to the conquerors. To everyone that conquers within these congregations of spirit-begotten, anointed Christians is to be granted "to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7) He is to be given the "crown of life" and "will by no means be harmed by the second death." (Revelation 2:10, 11) He will be given "some of the hidden manna" and also a "white pebble, and upon the pebble a new name written which no one knows except the one receiving it." (Revelation 2:17) He will be given "authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels." He will also be given "the morning star." — Revelation 2:26-28.

Each worthy conqueror will walk with the glorified Christ "in white," yes, "arrayed in white outer

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garments," and there will be no move to "blot out his name from the book of life," but, says Christ, "I will make acknowledgment of his name before my Father and before his angels." (Revelation 3:4, 5) Each conqueror will, as Christ says, be made a "pillar in the temple of my God, . . . and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God, and that new name of mine." (Revelation 3:12) To each conqueror the glorified Christ also promises: "I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." — Revelation 3:21.

Only 144,000 spirit-begotten anointed Christians will prove worthy conquerors and share in all those magnificent rewards according to the will and power of God through Christ. They will form the heavenly spiritual Israel, in twelve equal tribes, as it were. During the past nineteen centuries, since the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. the work of sealing them in their spiritual foreheads with the spirit of God has been taking place, openly marking them as the special property of the God of spiritual Israel. Before the stormy "four winds of the earth" are permitted to blow in the approaching "great day of God the Almighty," all the remnant that are yet needed to complete the full final number of 144,000 spiritual Israelites must be sealed with God's spirit as a token of their future heavenly inheritance with Christ.  — Revelation 7:1-8; 16:14.

This sealing work is nearing its end. Then there will come upon all the world of mankind tribulation surpassing any trouble yet experienced on earth by men. After that comes the imprisoning of Satan the Devil and his demons, and then, O joy! the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom joint heirs, for the glory of God and the blessing of mankind with life in a paradise earth. — Matthew 24:21, 22, 31; Revelation 19:11 to 20:6; Luke 23:43.



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