I SPENT WEDNESDAY paraphrasing Revelation 3 for the Casual English Bible.
I won’t post Revelation until I finish all 22 chapters. But here’s a sneak peek at my first, unproofed draft of the short letter to Christians in the church at Laodicea. That’s a city in what is now western Turkey, between Ephesus on the coast and Colossae inland.
I’m trying to make the book of Revelation as understandable as possible, and as easy to read. That’s a tall order for this book, loaded with extreme symbolism, which sometimes sounds, I don’t know, bizarre.
If you’ve got any suggestions, I’m listening.
3:14. Write this.
TO: The angel of the Laodicea church.
This is a message from one who is truthful, a reliable witness to what he has seen, and the ruler of God’s creation.
3:15. I know about the work you’ve done there. I also know that you’re neither fired up nor stone-cold dead. I’d prefer either one of those, compared to what you are.
3:16. You’re stuck in the middle. You’re not hot. You’re not cold. You’re so grossly lukewarm that I’m about to vomit you out of my kingdom.
3:17. You brag, “I’m prosperous and downright rich. I don’t need a thing.” Church, you have no idea you’re a miserable loser. You’re poor, blind, and naked. And you’re too ignorant to know it.
3:18. Take my advice. Invest in me. Buy some of my gold that has been refined in fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy some of my white clothes to cover yourself. Buy some of my eye salve so you can see.
3:19. When someone I love does something wrong, I call them out for it and hold them accountable by disciplining them. So, take me seriously and stop messing around.
3:20. Just so you know, I’m standing here at your door and knocking. If any of you hear me and open the door, I’ll come into your home and we can eat together.
3:21. Those who win their spiritual battle with this world have a privilege waiting for them. I’m saving them a place with me on my throne, just as my Father saved a place for me on his throne after I won my battle.
3:22. You’ve got ears. Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
 3:14. More literally “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, and the Beginning of God’s creation.” “Amen” may point back to Isaiah 65:16 and it’s reference to the God of Truth/Amen. “Faithful and true” also describes the rider on the white horse (Revelation 19:11). The word “beginning” can mean Jesus existed before Creation, or he ruled it, or he started the work of Creation. It could also refer to something Paul wrote about Jesus to the neighboring church at Colossae: “When it comes to everything in Creation, he comes first” (Colossians 1:15).
 3:16. More literally, “vomit you out of my mouth.” It’s a graphic way of expressing God’s rejection of the people in this church.
 3:18. Laodicea was a financial center and home to a lot of rich folks, some of whom may have attended the local church meetings. People in Laodicea also produced healthcare products. So it might seem odd for them to get a letter telling them to buy some decent clothes and eye salve. Jesus seems to be telling the church to stop focusing so much on building their earthly assets and start investing for the long term—for eternal life.
 3:20. It could sound like Jesus wants to share more than a meal. He might want to share a life.