Knocking on Whose door? Rev. 3:20 Biblically reclaimed There are so many misunderstandings on some of our most familiar verses that sometimes the task of setting things right seems overwhelming. Maybe the best way to do it is to tackle it the way I used to have to get my weeds under control - one at a time. The first weed - one I have had my eye on for some time - is this misapplication of Revelation 3:20. Here is the passage: 14. "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.' Down to verse 19: 19. 'Those whom I love (phileo), I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20. 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him (not "into", but "in to") and will dine with him, and he with Me." Most of you have seen the mawkish paintings of Jesus meekly knocking at the door, patiently waiting for the sinner to open the door. In this scenario Jesus has to go away frustrated, since most of the hearts who are "knocked on" (sic) remain obstinately closed. What is wrong with this picture - and with the application from the text? Plenty. The verse in question (20) is directed toward Christians and not the unsaved. The Laodiceans are indeed very feeble spiritually, but the context indicates that they are saved. Notice verse 19: "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline". This should sound familiar. Hebrews 12:6 is the cross-reference: " For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives." (This is not a quote from any one OT verse, but a distillation of verses like Deut. 8:5; Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 23:13- 14.) DISCIPLINE NOT FOR EVERYONE Reading further down in Hebrews 12:7- 8, we see that not everyone gets disciplined - not this kind. There are those whom God leaves alone, does not discipline, because they are not sons. They are not chastened because they are not of the elect. Chastening is for the elect. This principle is seen in verses like Amos 3:2. So the disciplined ones of both Hebrews 12 and Revelation 3:14- 20 are a smaller group of people. They are the elect and not every single person. Christ cannot be said to be knocking on the door of the heart of every single person that we present the Gospel to, because verse 19 of Rev. 3 is linked to verse 20; Christ is speaking of the same people. PHILEO IS FELLOWSHIP LOVE Phileo is the word used in Rev. 3:19. "Agape" can be used for God's love for the elect or for our love for Him or others, but "phileo" is used of the love of fellowship, friendship and communion. Speaking of the use of this word in this very verse, Daniel Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary professor and editor of the NET Bible) says "phileo"is... "--a term that is never used of God/Jesus loving unbelievers in the NT. (Indeed, it would be impossible for God to have this kind of love for an unbeliever, for it routinely speaks of enjoyment and fellowship." God does not enjoy fellowship with every single person on the earth. This picture in our minds of Jesus' knocking on the doors of the hearts of all obscures the true focus of God's redemptive purpose for His elect. I did not mean to state this case so negatively, wanting rather to describe positively what God's plan is, not what it isn't. Yet we often need to clear away the misconceptions before we can be more biblically correct. We are laboring under so much wrong doctrine and the groundwork must first be laid. And that picture of Jesus knocking abjectly at the door must go too.