The last three churches of the Asia provence.
1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
A. John is now instructed to write to the congregation at Sardis. He identifies the speaker as Jesus by associating the speaker with symbols from chapter 1 just as with the previous four congregations.
B. One interesting point to note here, especially with regard to the capitalization of the word “Spirit” by the KJV. There is only one Holy Spirit, not seven. This is an example of the arbitrary capitalization of the word by translators, which is nothing more than (bad) interpretation. The seven spirits are “of” God in the sense that they follow after God. They represent the element within the congregations that are spiritually minded, that is, obedient to God’s will. See 1:4 for more.
C. Like all the rest, Jesus claims to know their activities. He also states that he knows that they have a reputation for being a living congregation but in truth were dead. This is not about individuals, but the congregation as a whole. To the world they seemed active, growing, strong, but because they had turned from the path God had described for humans to follow, they were in truth dead. Many congregations of the Lord’s church fit this description today.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
There are two admonitions here that relate to the coming events.
A. Jesus admonishes them to be watchful. This is the same as the watchmen taught about in both the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 21:6; Isaiah 62:6; Jeremiah 6:17; Jeremiah 51:12; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33; Hosea 9:8; Micah 7:4; Habakkuk 2:1) and in the New Testament (Matthew 24:36-44; Matthew 25:13; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:1-9; 1 Peter 4:7). The watchman is set to give warning about imminent events to the people of the city.
B. Jesus admonishes them to shore up the defenses that are about to crumble. He continues to rebuke them because their works are not perfect before God. An interesting rebuke is given here, especially in light of all those who continually make the dirty rags argument or “we are all sinners” argument. God demands perfection. Humans can achieve what God demands. When we don’t, the blood of Christ is there to continually cleanse us if we are walking in the light.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
This admonition harkens back to the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 24:43, in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 and and 2 Peter 3:10. If they don’t set a watch, if they aren’t looking for the signs that Jesus taught them to look for, He would come when they were unprepared because the exact timing was not given to them.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Jesus then indicates that there are a few individuals in the congregation who have remained faithful. These servants would be rewarded, walking with Christ and clothed in purity, for they are worthy!
One of my favorite things about studying Revelation is that it teaches the concept that Christians can be considered worth something to Christ. That we are not just a bunch of useless, poor, sinners in a welfare state where the government, Christ, gives us everything. We are a powerful, conquering, active kingdom who if we all did our duty instead of whining about how big of a looser we think we are, would conquer the world!
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
A. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment;…Edit
Overcoming is associated here with being clothed with white raiment, a symbol of purity.
B. and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,…=Edit
Overcoming is associated with not having their name blotted out of the book of life. Yet another powerful reason to study Revelation is that it firmly teaches that one a person is saved (written in the book of life) they can be blotted out (unsaved).
C. but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.Edit
In Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8, Jesus says exactly the same thing. Overcoming is associated with continually confessing Christ before the world, preaching the gospel. Confession is not a one time event that takes place before salvation at a person’s immersion into Christ, it is a lifetime work. Jesus reiterates His promise to confess or to speak on behalf of those who live faithfully to Him.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Same as in the previous chapter.
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
A. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;…Edit
John is now instructed by Jesus to write to the Philadelphia.
B. These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;Edit
With the previous five congregations, John has identified Jesus as the speaker by referring back to chapter 1 and the properties listed there which are associated with Jesus there. Here the reader is to understand that John is still identifying Christ as the speaker, but in so doing, he introduces new properties of Christ. By new, I do not mean previously unknown, but not previously referred to in this book.
- 1. He that is holy – Christ is separate and apart from the world, sinless
- 2. He that is true – true not just in the sense of truthful, but in the sense of faithful. Jesus is the one who fulfills all of His promises as stated and has never once reneged.
- 3. He that hath the key of David – This is an explicit reference to Isaiah 22:22. Within that context we find the meaning. The government over God’s people is invested in that key of David. Jesus is then identified here as the king, the antitype of Eliakim, over all the church.
- 4. He that opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens – Jesus, as king, is the deliverer of the law, the Law of Christ, and no man has the authority to change it. Here is another passage to be used to counter any modifications to the New Testament via modern “prophecy” or so-called “church tradition”.
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Jesus again makes the claim that He knows of their activities and has provided for them an opportunity. This opportunity is providential in nature and comes through the Law of Christ itself. Philadelphia has some strength to them remaining obedient when so many others have denied Christ (a parallel to those who continued to confess Christ in Sardis).
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
As before, them of the synagogue of Satan are the physical Jews who are no longer God’s people. Jesus through the events of this book, will cause the old Jews to acknowledge the Christian’s place in God’s scheme of things, that they are the beloved of God now and the Jews, who for so long rejected God, have been rejected by Him.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Read Matthew 25:31-46. The word “world” here is oikoumene and it means the empire. Jesus is telling the congregation in Philadelphia that because they have adhered to the warning to be patient and have endured to this point, He will spare them from the harsh events that will trouble the entire empire that then existed, the Roman empire. The purpose of these events was to try those who dwelt in the land of Judah (the earth/[promised] land).
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Jesus tells them that their patience has paid off. He is coming in a short amount of time, hold on just a little longer so that no one takes their victory from them.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Overcoming here is associated with:
A. will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out:…Edit
Jesus is speaking here of the full establishment of the church which was founded on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. In fact each of the properties listed here for those that overcome have to do with the final establishment of the church.
B. and I will write upon him the name of my God,…Edit
The name Jehovah. This is a statement of the claim to family God will make of the church, which is the bride that marries His Son.
C. and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God:…Edit
The city of God is the New Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-23) which is the church (more on this in chapter 21). Note here that the city of God is coming down out of Heaven, therefore cannot logically BE Heaven. The word “cometh” is present tense and denotes that the New Jerusalem was coming out of Heaven as John wrote the book of Revelation. This is in contrast to what we read about at the end of the kosmos in 1 Corinthians 15:24 where the church is being given up to the Father in Heaven.
D. and I will write upon him my new name…Edit
A reiteration of 2:17 and Isaiah 62:2. The new name is Christian, the given of the family name to the new bride of Christ.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Listen, study, and understand what the messenger sent to you has to say.
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;
A. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;…
The last congregation that John writes to is the church at Laodicea which was near Colossae (Colossians 4:16). B. Here again Jesus is going to be identified by three new concepts rather than by those given in chapter 1. He has already been introduced as the speaker by implication.
- 1. These things saith the Amen,… The end of all things. The “so let it be”. The one with the final say in all matters.
- 2. the faithful and true witness,… The one person who did God’s will without failing even once and who testified to the veracity of Jehovah (John 14-16).
- 3. the beginning of the creation of God;… Jesus is Creator God (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-2 ).
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Jesus knows their activities as well and they are all Rinos and Blue Dogs, everyone there is a John McCain.
Seriously though, they are the middle of the road, easy going, learned the milk but did not get into the meat type Christians. They focused on the physical, on the basic needs, and basic understandings of the gospel.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because of there status, which is further explained in the next few verses, Jesus will reject them when He comes.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
The church at Laodicea had much material wealth and thought that represented blessings from God so that they did not need to grow any further. But without the growth, without the constant activity in service to God, without getting into the meat, Jesus says they are spiritually just the opposite of what they believed themselves to be.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Read 1 Corinthians 3. Get to work, study, grow, become rich in the things that matter.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Zealous is equal to hot, the thing that Jesus ultimately wants of them. He loves them and so He corrects them. The true measure of love which so many in the world reject. I judge you, I correct you, BECAUSE I love you.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
A reference to the wedding reception soon to follow Christ’s return. Note here the choice implied in this statement. God does not overpower us forcing us to become and remain Christians. He provides the opportunity (knocks) but we are the ones that must open the door. IF is the biggest little word. It indicates conditions to the statements.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Overcoming is associated with sitting in a place of authority with Christ and ruling. At the end of time there will be nothing to rule. Jesus is referring back to what He stated in 2:27 and will state again later in the book. This is the establishment of a new system of government for God’s people while the universe remains. It is NOT about the end of the kosmos.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
And once again Jesus admonishes them to listen to the messenger John sends, study, and understand what is being said. The only way they could do this was through a study of the Old Testament and the parts of the New Testament that had already been written. They did not have the “church fathers” or other uninspired historians to appeal to for understanding.
In Tuth and Love.