Laodicean Christians compromising their faith

At the early stage of the Jesus’ movement, the followers of Jesus where considered a Jewish sect and as Jews they where exempt from the requirements of emperor worship (as part of the Pax Romana).

In the beginning composed almost entirely of Jews there did not seem a problem for the Roman rulers. However, as more Gentiles (non-Jews) converted to Christianity, the percentage of Jewish people in the Christian Church decreased, and, therefore, Christians’ special status as Jewish monotheists, which permitted them to refrain from emperor worship, was removed.

Those who refused to worship the image of the beast (the emperor) were killed. Christians,affected by Domitian’s decrees, could no longer buy or sell unless they had taken the mark of the beast (Revelation 13). The pressure upon rich Christians to maintain their wealth was intense. Since a great deal of Laodicea’s wealth depended upon trade, the Christian merchants were in a quandary. Would they cooperate with the imperial cult and maintain their trade associations, or would they forswear Domitian and reaffirm their faith in Christ? Many of the Laodicean Christians compromised their faith in such ways that the writer of the apocalypse could say, “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Already in the writings from the apostles we come to hear how several people where caught up in their will to please those around them and to go with the Roman rulers. The last of seven churches addressed in Revelation, the church of Laodicea, therefore became called “lukewarm” by the apostle John. The compromising of their faith had become a fact and brought in later years the possibility that a majority could find themselves happy in churches where one kept to the pagan traditions. This also may declare why the Christians at Laodicea — located in modern Turkey — who wavered in their commitments to the Christian faith, could find 20 ancient Christian chapels and churches in their region. The largest church at Laodicea, called the Church of Laodicea took up an entire city block and dates to the beginning of the fourth century, when it had become a bishopric (seat of a Christian bishop), and could host a Christian council.


The Church of Laodicea. Dated to the beginning of the fourth century C.E., the Church of Laodicea spanned an entire city block. The church faced east and was decorated with marble floors. Photo: © Mark R. Fairchild, Huntington University.

Read also:The Church of Laodicea in the Bible and Archaeology


One thought on “Laodicean Christians compromising their faith

  1. Pingback: From Jewish Christians to Gentiles and origin of Christianity | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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