By Prof. Pinchas Shir and Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

The book of Revelation contains seven letters intended for the seven assemblies of Christ-followers in the Roman province of Lydia. Some of the recipients were Jews, but most were not. To the seventh assembly, in the city of Laodicea he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).

Some Christians, while addressing a seeker, say: “Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. Open it for him and he will come into your heart.” However, the people of this assembly already knew God. They were, however, believers whose lifestyle did not allow for true fellowship with the Jewish Messiah and other (probably Jewish) followers of Jesus.

Jews did not eat when they visited the houses of their Gentile acquaintances, because Gentiles partook of the types of foods forbidden by Torah.  Because they generally did not avoid purchasing foods already offered to Roman deities in the market. Jews had no problem eating in their own homes with Gentiles, where the commitment to purity required by Torah was guaranteed.  This should not be confused with the issue that Paul confronted Peter about in Antioch.

The issue that Paul had with Peter (recounted by Paul in Galatians 2) had to with breaking fellowship with Gentiles who now worshiped Israel’s God in Christ, but did not go through conversion to Judaism. When Paul challenging Peter, said to him that he “lived as a gentile”, he did not refer to Peter’s allegedly non-Jewish lifestyle, but that Peter “lived” (i.e. was made alive) in Christ in exactly the same Gentiles were made alive in Christ – by grace through faith, and not because of obedience to the Torah (Eph.2:1-22). Peter’s apostolic commissioning to primarily minister to Jews, renders our modern de-Judaized interpretation (of “you live as a Gentile”) nothing short of absurd. This was very much in line with what Peter witnessed himself when a group of Gentile God-fearers became recipients of the Holy Spirit of Israel’s God, without first becoming fully committed to the entire Torah as Jews! (Acts 10)

Jesus’ rebuke to the church at Laodicea is harsh, yet offers incredible hope. Laodicean Christ-followers must abandon their pagan ways or face judgment. But if they bring themselves into compliance with the letter of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) which reminded Gentile believers of the Torah requirements for sojourners with Israel, the Judean Messiah Jesus would visit their homes personally in order to have an intimate fellowship around the table together with them. There was no greater privilege for Jew or Gentile alike! There are even more hidden treasures just waiting for you to unearth when you begin to read the scriptures from a Jewish perspective.

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Did Jesus really say repent? (Rev 3:19) In my mind repentance (faith) is a continual process. We do not need to take the sacrifice over and over and over again. I think the word metanoeo is associated with entombed, the key, and works (our resurrection from the dead). Jesus is the Amen (we are in agreement), the faithful (evidenced in our lives), and the true witness (revealed). I gotta understand metanoeo to move on 🙂

  2. Quote from Rev 3.20 , this is I take it after Yeshua has passed away on the cross and the message is from the spiritual revelation? ie Rev 1.1 “and he sent and signified it by his Angel unto his servant John”. Then I have to say that I think your interpretation is missing a vital point, your last paragragh in particular seems to be refering to the mundane rather than the enlightened. Also your divergence to another point entirely that ” should not be confused with the issue Paul confronted Peter about at Antioch” has confused the issue.

  3. Sorry Dr. Eli but I found this lesson to be totally off base. To begin with Rev.3:20 has nothing to do with food or with fellowship between gentile & Jewish believers. The Laodicean church was aware of the concept of G-D and of Jesus but their church was guilty of an intellectual understanding only while following the precepts of men and they were being warned about that. The Laodicean church was a shadow of today’s church. Jesus offers the church today the same thing he offered Laodicea, open the door to Jesus or be judged.

  4. Ouch! This one hit a raw nerve in some. I’m not going to criticize, only add something. In the deuterocanonical book of Judith the heroine of the story dines in the tent of a pagan general. However she had her handmaiden prepare and serve her food which was brought from her home. So Jews could eat in the dwellings of Gentiles, but the principle is the same as you describe: no unclean foods. Then she kills him; which has nothing to do with food either, but like your segue into the incident with Shaul and Kefa seemed germain.

  5. Is Lydia in Acts 16:14 part of Laodicea (a place of prayer outside the gate)? She is a worshiper of God. The Lord strengthened her to follow Paul’s instructions to be baptized. Why was she baptized???? She invited Paul into her house. Paul must have judged her a believer because he went to her house (place of prayer). In this context inviting someone into your house has to do with worship, so to sit with Jesus on his throne means worship. How do we open the door? Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the…

  6. The second sentence in para.3 makes no sense whatsoever. Why would an observant Jew have no scruples about buying food already offered to a pagan god? Especially since this “food” may have been meat that was not slaughtered halachically, but instead strangled or even tortured before killing? The entire article seems weirdly mixed up. How can you be so sure that the recipients of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost were not fully committed to obeying Jewish commandments? While not born Jews, they seem to have accepted laws of Jewish life or they would not have been there.

    • Johanna, this (I think) was an editors mistake. You absolutely correct. Read it again, I think know it makes perfect sense (paragraph 3).

    • What makes anyone think that the commandments of God are Jewish? Is God the creator of all a Jew? Romans 3:29-31: “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is he not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

      Now look! If we’re saved by faith, why serve the law? Because the law is holy, the commandment holy, just and good. We don’t “uphold it” or “establish” it to get saved, we do so because we are saved, and we know that it is just, Holy, and good. Consider this principle: We are not saved by works either, but being saved, don’t we do good works? Same principle. Doing good works after we believe unto salvation is not being a Judahizer or Legalizer (These terms are of catholic origin and mean nothing to confident Christians. We’re not trying to get saved twice. We have letters from the early churches showing that they were still writing the law of God on their heart, so as not to sin against God according to Jeremiah 21, well into the 2nd century in the post Apostolic age. That’s right, long after Paul. Anybody who wants to see? Just ask.

      • Jews wrote the Word of G-d .Y’Shua Himself is a Jew .All 613 mitzvot’s were given to Moshe on Mt .Sinai .Y’Shua was born in Beit Lechem not Rome !Y’Shua came to His own people the Jews .When He returns it will be in Yerushalayim not Rome !

  7. The Jerusalem Council said that Gentile believers should avoid pollutions of idols, refrain from fornication and sacrifices offered to the pagan deities every one else worshipped and sacrificed to. Considerably less than the yoke the Law imposed on the rest of the Jewish population and one it could not bear.

    • Actually, yes, but not exactly! 🙂 Take a look at this Acts 15 text: 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. Not here meat and strangled animals (both are kashrut prohibitions). My sense is that these 4 things are not the ONLY THINGS Gentiles are to keep (what about 10 commandments????!!!!!), instead of this these four prohibitions (notice all these Christ-following Jews did not

      • But Doc, the entire Mosaic Covenant was done away, fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah, so why go back to slavery to the letter? Besides, if we keep one law, we must keep all, what? 613 of them? What happened to the law written on the fleshy tables of our hearts– the Law of Christ, the Law of love? We who are saved need no laws; we obey God almost instinctively, & if we fall, we cannot help but repent. It’s our new nature, no? To continue in the Mosaic Covenant while professing Christ is called Ebionism I believe. Please tell me that’s not what you mean.

        • Stravo, you have mixed a lot of different things together. First, *which* 613? That number comes from a particular application of gematria, and various teachers have given different lists of 613.

        • Stravo , you blenderized Ezekiel+Jeremiah but are basically referencing Jeremiah 31:31-33. Continue to v34: ” And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest…” Obviously not yet fulfilled.

        • Read Matt .5:17 .Y’Shua said ,I did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets .The Torah is very much alive !

      • Dr. E, since the very next verse after those 4 things are enumeraed says “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (v 21). The reference to Moses is a clear reference to Torah, and that he is read in every synagogue (where believers both Jewish and God-fearers should be each Shabbat) clearly means they will learn more over time as they listen to the parshah reading and teaching each Shabbat. Those 4 things were a starting place, the minimum in order to be admitted into fellowship. But they were not the only things required of any believer over time.

    • StewartinOz , if we are to take the Bible seriously, we must believe that it gives us a consistent message from our Creator. Given that as foundation, where do you ever find “the law” characterized as a yoke and a burden? It is never done so in all of scripture.

      • Do you also connect Galatians 5’s “yoke of slavery”, “weak and beggarly elements” with Tanakh? Is it not “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12)

  8. Am I to understand from this article that after my acceptance of Jesus as my Saviour and receiving the Holy Spirit, I do not begin practicing Jewish laws and customs that I am not truly saved? Your articles imply that only those who become Jews after salvation are truly not saved. I sincerely hope that is not your intention.

    • Dear Dan, I think you misread the ideas in the article. Neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor Peter expected non-Jews to become Jews through their salvation. There is one non-negotiable matter of faith practice though… interacting with idols and eating idol-sacrificed food is considered idolatry by most people in the 1st century. And that is unacceptable for any worshiper of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob both for Jews and Gentiles. That was the sin if Laodiceans.

  9. Love this, especially the last paragraph. However, many Christians still ague that it is not a sin for them to eat meat/food offered to idols based on the words of Paul in 1 cor 8 4 v 11. Could you please say something about this passage?

    • Corinthians is a special context, Israel. Can’t explain what I would like in a paragraph. What can I say to the sensible thinkers is this… If people are so “strong” that they cannot limit themselves in what they eat… Some strength. I choose to limit myself, to deny my urges, to be weak, knowing that my strength is in God and food is not the issue, but our attitude of striving to please God in all we do. That is love. I will join Paul in his example in 1 Cor 8:13 and choose the safe alternative.

      • Well said. I choose to please GOD. IF He can’t count on us to do the little things now,how can he in His Kingdom. Anyone show me where the Law has been done away with from the KJV.

  10. In your second paragraph you say that the people are believers who knew God but the didn’t have a relationship with the Jewish messiah. My question: is having a relationship with Jesus not what our salvation hinges on? Is it not true that believers and unbelievers alike know God? Did he not send the messiah so that we could be saved? You make reference to Acts and the messiah visiting them. Would that not be a spiritual visitation…knocking on the door of their hearts as said in Revelations? Jesus would have ascended already…not so?

  11. Sorry Prof Pinchas & Dr Eli, but your understanding of Yeshua’s message to the church in Laodicea has nothing to do with kosher diet or the edict of the Jerusalem council. Elohim is seeking those who will worship him in nshamah & truthfulness. Yeshua dwells in our spirit, but the laodicean believers were only willing to worship Yeshua with their minds. This is still the case with the majority of believers today. If we open our hearts to Yeshua He becomes our very life and nourishment. We can only live Yeshua if we “eat” Him.

  12. Romans !4 teaches a very different principle. You should read it. There is no way to get around the teaching in Romans 14 with issues about context, or background of the reader. The crescendo verse is v 14 ” nothing is unclean in itself, but to him who thinks it is unclean, to him it is unclean.”
    I am not bound by dietary laws, but you probably are, judging from your teaching. I am only bound not to judge or condemn you. If we went out to dinner together, I would not order pork.
    Similarly, you should be careful about binding others. I say this with respect. I do love the Jews and our Jewish Messiah, though. Thanks to Him we are free from this and many other things.

    • I did read it… and probably have a different take on it. The context is everything and no words should ever be interpreted outside of the context in which they were originally spoken. Does anyone like being taken out of context? Ever? I hate when people do it to me. Bob, I am bound by God, who communicated his will to me explicitly, which I strive to obey. That does not mean that what God ordained for me he expects of others. I do not believe that Jews and non-Jews should act alike in all respects and dietary laws are not universal. Idol worship… I draw the line.

  13. “We can only live Yeshuah if we “eat” him. So true Christian. I understand it in that way: the jewish Mashiah JeshuahHamashiah, who also is the Mashiah/Saviour of the nations for all those who accepted Him in their hearts, confess/witness Him with their mouth and let HIM consume them from the inside out will study the Bible and follow HIS commandments, yes Eli not only the four in Acts 15, but of Course the 10 as Jeshuah never came to abolish the Thora, but to fulfill it. As it is written that the word became flesh, we all understand that HE is the word who manifested as flesh in order to reconcile us and Show us the way to the Father. So Jeshuah is the Living Thora and way to God. If Hesekiel (1) and Johanan (Rev.10) consumed the thorascroll and prophesized later to believers (house of Israel), the way to study, pray over and live the Thora – eat Jeshuah will be the way of life the times we live in now and also our influence by beeing Light for the nations in the future. I think central is also the eucharist/holy supper that’s why it is so clearly written how we should take that (Reconciliation with your brother and God, cause you’re be one with Jeshuah and all your Brothers and Sisters, often it is said “come and see how good the Lord tastes”. So, let Him consume you from the inside out and consume HIm (by reading and following the Bible and worship him in spirit and truth with all your heart and Soul) and offer Him your life that HE will consume you from the inside out.

  14. In the church of Laodiceans, it was their belief system because it states that they are neither cold or hot. As for knocking at the door of your heart It would be the Holy spirit is doing the knocking but the prompting of the person to return to the Lord and if they do so then they will be follow Jesus again. in other word they have closed their hearts and mind to listening to the Holy Spirit, and there is no food involved with this scripture. but i understand that there was a dispute about circumcision and this is what some of the Jews said was required to be saved to circumcised and moses law but this brought in all kinds of trouble to the Gentiles. so Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to the Disciples(apostles) and James came up with the solutions to the problem for the new Christians to abstain from food offered to Idols and of eating or drinking of blood, and sexual immorality.

  15. After Christ’s resurrection there is no longer Jew or Greek. The dispensations have changed from Law to Grace. All are Christians if they accept Christ. I think, this means Christ can sup with anyone.

    • I think both Jews and Greeks would disagree. 🙂 But well, if you are to be believed, then you should insist that there are no more differences between males and females either. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Context changes everything…

  16. The problems of each church God would ask his people to check their hearts as each and everyone of us are in danger of the same thing at one time or other. As for the food. Yeshua came to witness to Truth. What was the Truth? It was His Fathers Testimony. What was the Testimony? It was His Tora. Yeshua never removed Gods Torah. what he did do was remove the traditions and doctrines of men. Yeshua spoke nothing new. Everything He spoke was in the Torah somewhere. The Torah is our instruction on how to continue to walk in holiness and in Hus Kingdom. The only thing that changed when Yeshua came was the sacrificial system at His death. Nothing else has changed. The dietary laws are still in place, the Shabbat is still in place and so forth.
    Why is it those who follow Jesus only follow the New Testament. Those who follow Yeshua, and that is The Son of God’s real name, that is where God’s resides in takes you back to the beginning.

  17. Although we do have to watch what we eat, the text does speak about the heart. Jesus always new about our generation too so, wr also, have to call on him for salvation.

  18. Jesus always knew about our generation, for salvation so, he knew we had to call on Him to be safe. I still believe that we do have to be careful with what we eat but, the text does refer to Salvation he will come into us and dine with us and we with Him ❤

  19. Consider Romans 2:26, 27, 28 and also verse 29 – (29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

  20. If you are keeping the law, you are nailing the Christ to the execution stake once again. The law is written in our hearts.

    • The law was written on our hearts at Sinai – Deut. 4:49, Dut 6:6, Duet 11:18. Jesus lived it, Paul taught it, James proclaimed it, Peter obeyed it! Matt 7:23 – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

      • I struggle resolving these verses w/Jeremiah 31:33-34, clearly unfulfilled. In Deuteronomy, *we* keep/impress/lay Torah on our hearts. In Jeremiah, God writes. Is that the difference?

        • Fulfillment is a tricky idea, not very Jewish in its core. There are always layers and layers and multiple fulfillment is implied in cyclical Semitic thought. There is a difference, but there is a definate connection between the two passages. Too long to explain here. It would make an excellent study, though.

          • Yes, that would be a great study!

            Jeremiah 31:34(a) has definitely not yet come true. That’s what I meant by unfulfilled.

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