Lukewarm - An Answer To A Reader

Updated: Oct 22

Answers For the Heart

Brent Madaris

A reader of my articles in the Summerville News recently recognized that he is "Lukewarm" and wanted to know what to do about this state. The following is my attempt to answer his question.

I would like to discuss a very important word with you today. That word is


The word is found in Revelation 3:16.

Revelation 3:16

16 So then because thou art

lukewarm, and neither


nor hot,

I will spue thee out of my mouth.

This is the only place in the entire Bible that this word is found. There must be a singular truth here that we are being encouraged to discover and consider.

God is using these thermal understandings to show us something about the way he feels, and also about the way He wants us to be. The word, lukewarm means moderately warm; between hot and cold (and therefore not agreeable to the taste or to the mind).

Another word that could be used is the word tepid. The word tepid opens to us a broader understanding….an understanding which is clearly meant by the word “lukewarm” in this passage. Tepid can mean “lacking in passion, force, or zest.” Tepid can also mean that which is marked by an absence of enthusiasm or conviction

One can also understand the word “lukewarm” by comparing it to what it is not. In this verse, we discover what lukewarm is not cold (Cold means to have a low or inadequate temperature), nor is it “hot” (Hot means to have a high or higher than desirable temperature or giving off heat).

Now, may I remind you that God is not speaking about our body temperature here. He is talking about something altogether different. The context tells us to what God is referring, look at

Revelation 3:15

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

When God was talking about being hot, cold, or lukewarm, he was referencing the Laodicean believers “works.” Do you see that? Now these works were of a particular type. The type of “works” here described are also found here in the text. Please read

Revelation 3:14

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Each one of the designations in this verse, describing Jesus, are given for the purpose of showing the Laodiceans what they should be instead of what they were.

The “Amen” - Jesus is to be understood as God’s ultimate statement of affirmation. There is nothing else to be said after Jesus is called the “Amen.” This word summarizes the definitive, complete, strong, and powerful declaration of His value, aspect, and essence.

The “faithful and true witness” - Jesus is characterized by steadfast affection, dedication, and allegiance to the truth even though it led to his death. This is the uttermost limit of devotion!

The “beginning of the creation of God” - In the beginning, it was Jesus that initiated the creative acts we see recorded in Genesis, chapters one and two (See Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-2). These verses teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the creator! He is the cause of the existence of everything that we know.

Now then, let's go back to the cold, hot, and lukewarm metaphors and see if we can make better sense of them. It is obvious that the passage that we are dealing with here is encouraging the Laodiceans to be more zealous for Christ than what they were. However, when Jesus made this statement, he was not suggesting that the Laodicean church be ice cold in its reaction to the things of God. This would clearly be ridiculous.

What is being described here has to do with a first century understanding that is lost on us, unless we understand the history. There were two other prominent cities in the region of Laodicea (Colossae and Hierapolis).