1. Exposition

What does Jesus’ assessment of the congregation as “neither cold nor hot” mean?

Revelation 3:15 (ESV)

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!

Cold water is refreshing; hot water has healing and cleansing qualities. Water that is lukewarm has been standing in a pail for any length of time and so is potentially stagnant and perhaps unhealthy; it’s certainly not appealing. Given the glory of the gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ, the Saviour expects his church in Laodicea to demonstrate enthusiasm for the gospel (be hot for the Lord) and be a source of refreshment to those around them (cold water; see Matthew 10:42). But Jesus sees in the congregation only lukewarmness, spiritual stagnation, and thus a source of unhealth for those who might seek to drink from them. We might picture the congregation as coming to church or reading the Bible (they’re doing the right thing), but what they hear in the preaching or read in their Bibles does not arouse them to joy in the Lord or to remorse for their sins. They leave church unchanged, untouched; their spiritually stagnant, “lukewarm.”