. . . This Great Monarch will assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth. Many princes and nations that are living in error and impiety shall be converted, and an admirable peace shall reign among men during many years, because the wrath of God shall be appeased through their repentance, penance, and good works. There will be one common law one faith, one baptism, one religion. All nations shall recognize the Holy See of Rome, and shall pay homage to the Pope. But after some considerable time fervor shall cool, iniquity shall abound, and moral corruption shall become worse than ever, which shall bring upon mankind the last and worse persecution of Antichrist, and the end of the world. (Saint Caesar of Arles, c. AD 469-543)
In the last period Christians will not appreciate the great grace of God who provided a monarch, a long duration of peace, a splendid fertility of the earth. They will be very ungrateful, lead a sinful life, in pride, vanity, unchastity, frivolity, hatred, avarice, gluttony, and many other vices, that the sins of men will stink more than a pestilence before God. (From the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, Syria, c. AD 700)
Laodicea: Church of the Seventh Age
And to the Angel of the Church of Laodicea write:
Laodicea concludes our journey of the Seven Churches of Asia. Asia, land of the rising Sun, figuratively refers to the Earth, as opposed to Heaven and the Church of Heaven. Laodicea prophetically refers to the Church of the future. At most maybe a few centuries away. Laodicea, a generation of Christians will spring up from the advanced generations of Philadelphia, a Church which will be inaugurated by the co-reign of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Monarch who have come out of the little Tribulation.
Laodicea is a future generation of Catholic Christians on Earth at the time of Antichrist. On Earth, Laodicea will not only suffer the reign of Antichrist, but they will also see the Return of Jesus. Holzhauser has the seventh age of Laodicea defined from the birth of Antichrist to the end of the world. But note that the sins committed by Roman Catholics which will induce the birth and reign of Antichrist begin prior to Antichrist's birth. See I don't think there is any clear cut date when the seventh age of Laodicea begins. Some late Catholic Christians of Philadelphia will generate those of Laodicea, and in general the world will have slipped away from the profound era of peace, holiness, health and happiness of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Monarch.
So Jesus, from Heaven, prophetically imparts one last set of critique and advice aimed at a Pope of what would be considered our 'future'. This Pope is figuratively represented by "Angel of the Church of Laodicea". Through this Pope, the critique and advice applies to the entire future Church and of course can also be used by us today. For,
All Scripture, having been divinely inspired, is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in justice, so that the man of God may be perfect, having been trained for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Laodicea has a fascinating word origin. Its almost to good to be true in context to the interpretive approach I've decided to take with the Seven Churches. It is poetic in its precision and without having to apply a whole lot of effort I can complete this interpretation in consistent style. Jesus chose this name with powerful foresight. Laodicea originates from the Greek words Laos and Dike.
Laos is Greek. It literally means 'a people' or 'the crowd'. In context of Sacred Scripture laos assumes the meaning 'people of the Lord' or 'God's chosen people'. The English word 'laity' originates in the Greek laos.
Dike is also Greek. It loosely means justice or punishment or judicial hearing. In classical Greek, dike is used to convey a legal decision based on justice . . . a judicial verdict of innocence or of guilt.
So combine the two concepts Laos and Dike into Laodicea and you see where we are going. The people of the Lord living in the future are judged by the Lord as severely guilty, especially in light of the rare and marvelous gifts lavished onto the Church and the world throughout the little Tribulation and beyond past its culmination. As a recompense, for having wasted these elect gifts they receive Antichrist.
There is also a deeper reason why Jesus used this name. Laodicea figuratively refers to the last Church and Church age in the midst of which Jesus will complete his work. Sometime after Jesus returns and destroys Antichrist he will initiate the Resurrection and Last Judgment, followed by the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth, upon which the New Jerusalem will land. So the name is fitting and fits in with my interpretive approach inspired by Ven. Bartholomew Holzhauser.
It is also interesting to note the descriptions Jesus uses about himself at the head of the letter:
Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, who is the Beginning of the creation of God.So you see we have gone full circle here. At the very end Jesus is emphasizing that all things were created through Him and that he is the ultimate object in the concept of creation, that is all things were created for Him. Everything belongs to Jesus, and he also earned this on the Cross and will complete what he set out to do from his Father.
Ancient Laodicea vs. Prophetic Laodicea
Like the other models Jesus used in this prophecy, Laodicea was an ancient city of what is today known as Turkey. Like Sardis, Laodicea was rich and prosperous. It was situated on a trade route. After incorporation by the first Roman Emperors, it became a flourishing commercial city where large money transactions and extensive trade were made.
Prophetic Laodicea will also be ultra-advanced, interconnected on a global scale, [maybe even more so today] immensely wealthy, and pleasure seeking. Banking will have long returned. Through military might, bribes, and cunning Antichrist will be able to take control of the whole world, as well as the Church, fairly easily, much more so than if he were to come in our generation (which he most certainly will not).
I know your works: that you are neither cold, nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm and are neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit you out of my mouth.
The Church will also be rich, but like Jesus alludes, she will be lukewarm, a behavior which Jesus obviously despises. The bar will be set high, and the stakes will be raised after the little Tribulation. The lavish gifts poured out on the Church and the world are not to be taken lightly.
For you declare, ‘I am wealthy, and I have been enriched further, and I have need of nothing.’ And you do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.The Church of Laodicea will also be presumptuous. This presumption will lead many into apostasy, rejecting of all the teachings of the Church, the Sacraments, and so on. Today, some fall into apostasy, but it is much more common to reject certain teachings of the Church or rejects certain Sacraments, but not all of them. In the future this wholesale rejection of all that Christ has given us will happen across the Church and the world.
Also notice the allusion to material wealth. Maybe the Earth's resources will be replenished after the little Tribulation because of the Comet Wormwood and miracles performed by God. People will think there is nothing left other than to enjoy whatever pleasures of the world are left. The sciences will have advanced as far as they can and all pleasures will be overflowing, and refined.
Jesus despises this, and references her deprivation in regards to spiritual works, that is works deriving from the Holy Spirit and done in cooperation with Him.
And so Jesus advises using figures:
I urge you to buy from me gold, tested by fire, so that you may be enriched and may be clothed in white vestments, and so that the shame of your nakedness may disappear. And anoint your eyes with an eye salve, so that you may see.The gold could refer to selfless love all of which originates in Jesus, and tried by temptations, the world, and so on. The eye salve, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Jesus Suggests the Great Tribulation
Those whom I love, I rebuke and chastise. Therefore, be zealous and do penance.Here Jesus suggests that he is going to initiate the Great Tribulation, which coincides with Antichrist's reign. This is also the time when Enoch and Elias will be sent from Paradise to the Earth. So the Church, named Laodicea, will also see Enoch and Elias and experience their preaching and miracles. Enoch and Elias will spark zeal and penance in some of those remaining. They will wake up from their lukewarm slumber.
Jesus Suggest He is about to Return
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and will open the door to me, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with me.In contradistinction to the letter to the Church of Philadelphia where Jesus says he is approaching quickly, later in the generation of Laodicea, Jesus is no longer approaching, he is standing at the door, and knocking so to speak. There is an implication of progression in the words of Jesus from "approaching quickly" in Philadelphia to "standing at the door and knocking" in Laodicea. And this supports the prophetic understanding that the Seven Churches of Asia are a temporal succession. But again within seven years of Antichrist's global rise to power Jesus will Return. This is quick.
This word of Jesus above could easily be taken figuratively, but maybe there is also some literal truth to this. When Jesus Returns, maybe he will stay at some people's houses and dine with them as he takes care of the situation on Earth.
Whoever prevails, I will grant to him to sit with me on my throne, just as I also have overcome and have sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”
Holzhauser's comments on the age of Laodicea
Other theologians have developed ideas about the Great Tribulation and beyond. And there is plenty of time for Christians of the future to develop interpretations so here we end the journey of the Seven Churches with Holzhauser's comments.
“The seventh and last period of the Church—the status desolationis, state of desolation—dates from the birth of Antichrist till the end of the world. In this age the apostasy from the faith will be general, and then will time come unto its end. To this period corresponds the seventh day of creation when God concluded His work, and celebrated the Sabbath. So will God now close the work of spiritual creation, and repose in eternity with His saints and His elect. The evils of this age will be lukewarmness in faith—coldness of love—perturbation of public order—folly on the part of pastors and rulers, who will be like unto autumnal trees without fruits---wandering stars---rainless clouds. This state of things is denoted by the name of the seventh community, Laodicea, which signifies the spitting out; for Christ the Lord will spit out His lukewarm Christendom, and deliver it over to the sons of perdition. (Beykirch, p. 33)