Bible Commentaries
Revelation 3

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-6

Letter to Sardis (3:1-6)

The church in Sardis had so much followed the ways of the society around it that it was Christian in name only. Spiritually it was dead (3:1). The Lord of the church can give it new life through the Spirit (see v. 1; cf. 1:4,20), but first the believers must wake up, change their ways, and determine to follow the teaching of the gospel they first believed. If not, swift judgment will fall upon them (2-3).
Some in the church had proved the genuineness of their faith by refusing to alter their beliefs or behaviour to suit the majority. They had ‘kept their clothes clean’. They will therefore join Christ in heaven in ‘clothes’ of greater purity; for he himself has cleansed them, made them his own and brought them into his heavenly Father’s presence (4-6).

Verses 7-13

Letter to Philadelphia (3:7-13)

Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only churches that receive no blame from the Lord, but only praise and encouragement. Yet Smyrna was poor and Philadelphia was small. Also, both churches received their opposition from the Jews.
He who carries the key of David has the authority to allow people into or shut them out from the city of David, which here is symbolic of the new Jerusalem, the kingdom of Jesus Christ (7; cf. v. 12). The Jews claimed they were the people of God’s kingdom and tried to shut the Gentiles out. But, Christ points out, the small group of Christians who form the church of Philadelphia are the true people of God in that city. Christ has opened the door for these Gentile Christians, and no Jew is able to close it. In entering God’s kingdom, Jews must follow the way of these Gentiles, not Gentiles follow the way of the Jews (8-9).
When God judges the ungodly, Christ will protect those who have remained loyal to him. He will reward them at his return (10-11). Each of the triumphant believers will be like a pillar in God’s temple, secure in his presence for ever. Through Christ, who has the key to life and death (see v. 7; cf. 1:18), they will belong permanently to God, to the heavenly city and to their Saviour (12-13).

Verses 14-22

Letter to Laodicea (3:14-22)

Laodicea was an important commercial, educational and administrative centre whose citizens were secure and prosperous, lacking nothing. Sadly, the spirit of self-satisfaction among the people at large was found equally in the church. This church has no accusation of idolatry or immorality brought against it, yet it receives the strongest condemnation of all seven.
The Laodiceans not only thought they had all they needed, but they believed their prosperity had resulted from their spirituality. Actually, they were lacking in spirituality. Because of their reliance on material things, they could not exercise genuine faith in God. Nor could their lives witness to the total satisfaction that Christ brings. Christ introduces himself as the one who is faithful, the true witness, the creator with authority over all material things. He tells them plainly that he finds their comfortable spiritual pride repulsive (14-16). He urges them to see themselves as he sees them, as spiritually poor, blind and naked. They must realize that Christ alone can produce truly spiritual qualities in their lives, and he can do this only when they turn from their sins and humbly seek his help (17-19).
Christ still loves his people and asks them to welcome him into every part of their lives. Even if the church as a whole ignores his request, those individuals who open their lives to him will know the joy of constant fellowship with him. If they share their lives with him now, he will share his glory with them in the future (20-22).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.