LAODICEA. The lukewarm church.

If someone asked you what Laodicea means, what would you say? Wouldn’t you mostly likely respond that Laodicea means the lukewarm church? Isn’t that what we have heard our whole lives? Laodicea is lukewarm, she’s neither hot nor cold, and Jesus is about to spew her out of His mouth. Yes, and that is indeed what the verse says.

But it isn’t until you start looking at the meaning of this Greek word that you begin to really grasp what the problem with Laodicea is! Are you ready? Oh, you are in for a surprise! Then let’s look!

The Greek word for Laodicea is Laodikeus, G2994. Strong’s defines it as such: “a Laodicean, that is, inhabitant of Laodicia: – Laodicean,” (Strongs Concordance).

Laodikeus comes from the word Laodikeia (Laodicia, a place in Asia Minor: – Laodicea), which in turn comes from a compound word made up of G2992 and G1349. The two words that make up this compound word are laos (G2992) and dike (G1349)

Laos means “a body of people; a concourse of people, a multitude, Mat 27:25; Luk 8:47; the common people, Mat 26:5; a people, nation, Mat 2:4; Luk 2:32; Tit 2:14; ὁ λαός, the people of Israel, Luk 2:10” (Strongs Concordance).

And dike means: “right, justice; in NT judicial punishment, vengeance, 2Th 1:9; Jud 1:7; sentence of punishment, judgment, Act 25:15; personified, the goddess of justice or vengeance, Nemesis, Paena, Act 28:4” (Mounce Concordance).

The combination of these two words mean “justice of the people.” Laodicea, the lukewarm church, means “justice of the people.” Is this confusing you?

Let me point out a couple of names mentioned above in the definition of the word dike; they are Nemesis and Paena. For those of us that don’t know much about Greek mythology these names may leave us cold, but once we know that they were not only goddesses but goddesses of justice, then our ears may perk up.

Nemesis was a goddess and personified moral agent, the spirit of “retribution.” She represented the punishments suffered by those who committed injustice, those who violated the established laws, or those guilty of hybris against the gods. But Nemesis could also represent more destructive anger and vengeance. She was typically regarded as the daughter of Nyx, the primordial personification of night, yet there were other traditions about her parentage too.

In literature and art, Nemesis was represented with the symbolic trappings of justice, including the all-measuring rod and scales. Her mythology was limited, but she was worshiped throughout the ancient Greek world as a goddess associated with justice and fate, but her earliest cults were Ionic.

Taken from Mythopedia.

Behold the Lady! Now better known as Lady Justice.

In our modern era, Nemesis is better known as Lady Justice. She has a different name (one that, for most people, takes the Greek goddess connotation out of her ) but she embodies and represents the same principle as Nemesis: that of retributive justice.

Notice some of Lady Justice’s features. First of all, she holds in her right hand the scales of justice, good and evil, or reward and punishment. At her feet is the serpent, “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12: 9).  In her left hand is the sword with which she metes out her punishments.

There is a quote that comes to mind, from the chapter on Justice in our second book, God on Trial: Have We Been Lied To? Is God a Killer? 

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner {DA 761.4, emphasis added}.

God on Trial, p. 201

We suggest that the reader spend some time reading this chapter in order to understand what the true problem with Laodicea is.

Please stay tuned for our next post which will delve into more details about Laodicea—”the justice of the people” church. We will discuss what this really means for you and me, and why is it that Jesus is about to spew us out of His mouth if we stay in our lukewarm state.