When addressing the lukewarm Church of Laodicea, Christ suggested the following:

Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV):

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so 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 and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

What did Jesus mean by "buy from me gold refined by fire" and "salve to anoint your eyes"? Of course, these are figures of speech, so what was Jesus actually trying to say? How are these "figures of speech" to be interpreted and put into practice?

1 Answer 1



There are three words in the book of Revelation denoting gold.

  • χρυσίον (chrusion) Rev 3:18, 17:4, 18:16, 21:18, 21 is used to denote either true gold associated with the Jew Jerusalem (Rev 3:18, 21:18, 21) or false gold associated with false Babylon (Rev 17:4, 18:6). Technically, it is a diminutive form of that below.
  • χρυσός (chrusos) Rev 9:7, 18:2 is used to denote a false gold of the crowns on the demonic locusts and the false gold traded by mystic Babylon. Elsewhere in the NT it denotes either money (Matt 2:11, 10:9, Acts 17:29, James 5:3) or the gold associated with temple items (Matt 23:16, 17, 1 Cor 3:12).
  • χρυσοῦς (chrusous) is an adjective, "golden" denoting either the golden lampstands (Rev 1:12, 20); the golden sash around Jesus or the saints (Rev 1:13, 15:6); golden crown on the saints (Rev 4:4, ); golden bowls (Rev 8:3, 15:7); the golden altar of incense (Rev 8:3, 9:13); golden rod (Rev 21:15). Twice it is used of something false associated with Babylon (Rev 9:20, 17:4)
  • χρυσόω (chrusoó) a verb meaning to adorn or overlay with gold, ie, pretend to be gold but is not as per Rev 17:4, 18:16.

Note the important distinction throughout the book of Revelation:

  • The true gold associated with Jesus, the saints, the temple items and the city of New Jerusalem
  • The false gold and plated gold of the great prostitute and the city of Babylon

The gold of Rev 3:18 is thus the true gold of heaven because it has been tried in the fire. There are many parallels to this in Scripture such as:

  • Zech 13:9 - This third I will bring through the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ ”
  • Jer 9:7 - Therefore this is what the LORD of Hosts says: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do because of the daughter of My people?
  • Prov 17:3 - A crucible for silver and a furnace for gold, but the LORD is the tester of hearts.
  • Isa 48:10 - See, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
  • 1 Peter 1:7 - so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Cor 3:13 - his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work.

Thus, the gold refined by fire appears to be a common Bible metaphor for the godly character refined by trials permitted by the LORD for such purposes.

Eyesalve for the eyes

κολλούριον (kollourion) is a NT hapex legamenon. Its meaning is simply "eyesalve" (as per BDAG, Thayer, etc). This was clearly a treatment for a common eye condition associated with laodicea (one its claims to fame).

The eyes feature significantly in the book of Revelation (1:7, 14, 2;18, 3:18, 4:6, 8, 5:6, 7:17, 19:12, 21:4) and always (with the exception of the first) metaphorically. This is consistent with NT usage (Matt 6:22, 23, 7:3-5, 20:15, 33, 7:3-5, Mark 7:22, John 4:35, 9:39-41, etc.) That is, "eyes" were for spiritual eyesight of spiritual understanding.

Thus, Rev 3:18 advises the residents of Laodicea to acquire three things:

  • gold refined in the fire - a sterling character polished by Godly trials and afflictions
  • white garments representing the righteous acts of the saints (Rev 19:8)
  • eye-salve to improve and heal spiritual eyesight

Verb: "buy"

Ellicott succinctly observes:

(18) I counsel thee to buy.—There is, perhaps, a touch of irony here. How could the poor and naked buy? But the irony has no sting, for the counsel but recalled the invitation of the prophet to buy “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).

  • I'm not sure what you mean by "spiritual eyesight". Are you talking about some "sixth sense" that allows you see into the spiritual realm? Is "spiritual eyesight" a metaphor for something else? Sounds like you are explaining a figure of speech with another figure of speech. Dec 26, 2021 at 21:43
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - I am using it in the sense of John 9:39-41 - spiritual understanding, or spiritual discernment by the Holy Spirit. We use the same figure of speach today when we say, "I see", meaning, "understand".
    – Dottard
    Dec 26, 2021 at 22:10
  • spiritual understanding, or spiritual discernment by the Holy Spirit - Oh I see (pun intended), in other words you are talking about the lead of the Holy Spirit, as in Romans 8:14 "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God". Dec 26, 2021 at 22:14
  • And what about the verb "buy"? Jesus said "buy from me", as if there is a price to be paid (in fact, I've heard the expression "paying the price" in difference contexts, such as "pay the price for the anointing", "pay the price for revival", etc.) Dec 26, 2021 at 22:17
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - I have added something to answer this question - final section.
    – Dottard
    Dec 27, 2021 at 9:14

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