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Revelation
Chapter Three

Commentary by Tom Brown

3 "To the angel a of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits b of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

To the angel a of the church. See 2:1.

you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Some churches work hard on their reputation without considering how their deeds look to God.

2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.

I have not found your deeds complete. It is not just a matter to doing good things, but the motive counts as well.

3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

I will come like a thief. Jesus used this analogy in his earthly ministry.

4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. It is a mistake to assume all church members are alike. There are some good churches with a few bad members and some bad churches with a few good members. God does not judge us by the kind of church we are in, but by the kind of person we are.

dressed in white. A reference to our righteousness in Christ.

5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

I will never blot out his name from the book of life. The hope of eternal security. However, eternal security is not unconditional; otherwise the threat to remove one’s name from the book of life would be an idle threat.

6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

church in Philadelphia. This is the sixth church. The number six for John means the present or the immediate future. Ex. “They are seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come” (17:9). John sees that the present church is coming into becoming a glorious bride that will bring Christianity to the ends of the earth. History has proved him right.  

8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

open door that no one can shut. Opportunity that even evil powers cannot stop.

9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars — I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Even our Jewish friends must acknowledge that God did something special through the church. While Judaism has struggled through the centuries and has seen a decrease of their religion Christianity has expanded across the globe. This prediction has come true.

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

keep you from the hour of trial. This church does not see the final battle of Armageddon. This church represent the period of the expansion of Christianity.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

no one will take your crown. This church is the one ruling.

12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

pillar in the temple of my God. An immovable stone. Invincible.

which is coming down out of heaven. While we anticipate the new Jerusalem, at the same time, the new Jerusalem “is” coming down out of heaven, not simply “will” come down.

13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

church in Laodicea. Seventh church. Seven signifies the last. Just as John anticipates the wonderful Philadelphia church, John sees at the end an apostasy taking place. One can only read the signs of the times and notice how only recently many denominations have turned away from sound doctrine and godly practices. Some churches question whether salvation is found only in Christ. Others have let down the standards of holiness. Ex. Ordaining opening practicing homosexuals and performing same sex marriages. This has never happened in the history of Christianity until now. Could it be that we have just begun the Laodicea age?

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

neither cold nor hot. This church does not completely deny the truth, but finds ways to contradict it by accommodating the world.

16 So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

lukewarm. Laodicea was known to have lukewarm springs that were neither good for bathing nor good for drinking.

17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. The Lord is not moved by the wealth or prestige that the world offers. What matters is the heart.

18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  

gold refined in the fire. Interestingly, as bad as this church was, it only needed to get rid of the dross (false teaching and compromised living) that infected it.

salve to put on your eyes. They were blinded by the devil so they could not really see how beautiful and unique Christ was.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. The Lord did not hate this church, but loved it. So today, the Lord does not hate the compromising, worldly church, but he does rebuke it so it can repent.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  

 

21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

I will give the right to sit with me on my throne. They failed to rule because of their compromise, but the Lord offers another opportunity to rule with him.

 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

 

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