More Letters To the Churches
- Revelation Three -
Revelation chapter three contains the last three of the church letters. In Revelation two we studied the letters written to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira. Now we observe what was said to the church at Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These last three letters follow the same form as the first four.
Each letter begins with a greeting sent to the angel or the messenger of the church. There is, in each letter, an exaltation of some quality or qualities of the Savior. All the letters contain the assurance that Jesus knew their works. Jesus carefully explained what He saw as He observed each church. He never failed to give specific instructions to the members of those churches as to what they could do to help their situations. These changes often involved repentance. The most serious part of each letter was the warning that was given as to what would happen if the necessary changes were not made.
There were commendation to the churches concerning good that they had done and encouragement to do better. Each letter contained the promise of great reward to the faithful. What an impression it must have produced in the minds of all when they heard Jesus say, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Letter to the church at Sardis - Revelation 3:1-6 : Sardis was a wealthy city that had started to decline in the days of John. It was situated at the junction of several trade routes. It was a place of "easy money." It was a city of luxury. Sardis was also an immoral city. This church heard Jesus say, "These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars." Seven is the number of completeness. Jesus has the fullness of the Holy Spirit to use in helping the church at Sardis if they were willing to serve Him.
What Jesus knew about Sardis was a mixture of good and bad. They had a reputation of being alive and active. Things seemed good for the church. However, Jesus said they were dead. You see Jesus sees us for what we really are. It was not that they were loosing the battle against Satan. They were not even in the fight. What they were doing did not measure up to God"s expectations. Being dead, the church in Sardis presented no threat to Satan. They were not even worth persecuting. Sardis was a church where proper form was maintained but heart and strength was all gone!
The Lord admonished the church at Sardis to, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 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." The good things that remained were still wroth saving. Jesus had not given up on them.
There were a few, even in Sardis who were still pleasing to God. Even among the dead Christians in Sardis, there was still a faithful remnant. The promise Jesus gave to these faithful ones was, "they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy." These who overcome are assured of heaven. "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..." (Revelation 3:5) The Christ is saying that, if we wish to remain on the roll of the citizens of God, we must keep our faith alive and active! The idea of being blotted out of the Book of Life should be taken seriously.
Letter to the church at Philadelphia - Revelation 3:7-13 : Philadelphia means brotherly love. The purpose of the city of Philadelphia was to spread the Greek language and the Greek way of life. This was a very prosperous city. It had beautiful buildings. Jesus is described to this city as, "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." This is a description that would fit God only. Jesus is man, but He is truly God also!
Jesus knew that the church at Philadelphia had served God under difficult circumstances. It was a church with an open door. This was a picture of evangelistic opportunity. The door was opened but they had to walk through it! This church had strength that needed to be used to spread the gospel.
This church was faithful to Jesus and His word. Jesus had nothing negative to say to the church at Philadelphia. Jesus challenged them, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Let us prepare for the Lord"s coming and stay faithful. This can be accomplished if we rely on Jesus as our source of strength.
Letter to the church at Laodicea - Revelation 3:14-17 : Laodicea was a wealthy city where many Jews lived. It was a city filled with wealth and pride. Jesus described Himself to these brethren as "the Faithful and True Witness." Most Laodiceans were neither faithful nor true. Jesus knew that the church at Laodicea was lukewarm. This is a picture of indifference and compromise. The Lord said, "I will vomit you out of My mouth." Is there a greater curse upon the earth than lukewarmness? Lukewarmness allows a lost world to go to hell unevangelized.
This church said they were rich. However they lived in spiritual poverty. They did not feel a real need for God. In fact, they felt like they did not need anything. They said they were rich and in need of nothing. Jesus said they were miserable, poor, blind, and naked. The Laodiceans are typical of our world today.
Conclusion of the Laodicean letter - Revelation 3:18-22 : These brethren had to learn what was really important. Jesus expressed His love for these brethren by the rebuke He gave. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." He challenged them to turn from their earthly riches to true wealth! True riches are found only in faithful service to the Christ.
Jesus gave a great invitation to this lukewarm church. "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." We often apply the idea of Jesus at the door to the sinner. Here it applies to the saint also. Jesus wants to come in to us, and dine with us. This is a picture of the intimate relationship Jesus desires with His followers.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany