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The Epistles to the Seven Churches (concluded)
1-6. To the Church in Sardis Christ speaks as He who gives the spirit and looks for spiritual life. There is no praise for this Church. Its life is without spiritual reality (Revelation 3:1). Yet, even now, awakening is within its power. But if it continue to sleep, Christ will come in sudden judgment (Revelation 3:2.). A few individuals have remained faithful. To them, and to all such, Christ promises gladness and life, and that He will acknowledge them as His (Revelation 3:3.).
1. Sardis] about 35 m. S. of Thyatira. When there was a kingdom of Lydia, before 549 b.c., Sardis was its capital. It was still an important city at the time of the Apocalypse, but is now only a ruin. Spirits] cp. Revelation 1:4; Romans 8:9.
Name] i.e. its Christianity was nominal.
2. Not found thy works perfect] RV ’found no works of thine fulfilled,’ i.e. up to the proper standard.
3. Received] i.e. the gospel: cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Heard] RV didst hear’; Christ appeals to the memory of their conversion: cp. Galatians 3:1. As a thief] cp. Revelation 16:15; Matthew 24:43.
4. Names] i.e. persons: cp. Acts 1:15. Have not defiled] RV ’did not defile,’ i.e. at some crisis of persecution, when most yielded: cp. Acts 7:14. Walk] i.e. spend their life. White] the colour of victory: cp. Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:18, Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:9.
5. The same shall be clothed] RV ’shall thus be arrayed’; ’thus’ = ’as I am’: cp. Revelation 1:13. Book of life] i.e. the number of Christ’s people: cp. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12, Revelation 20:15; Exodus 32:32; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3.
7-13. To the Church in Philadelphia Christ speaks as He by whom alone comes entrance into the Church, the spiritual house of God (Revelation 3:7). The Church is praised for its faithfulness in persecution. Its own power is small, but Christ is with it, and He is giving it an opportunity for the conversion of some of those Jews who have aided the persecutors (Revelation 3:8.). The Church shall be brought safely out of the coming trial (Revelation 3:10). Christ will quickly come, therefore let the Church endure a little longer (Revelation 3:11). Those who ’overcome’ shall have an honourable place in the heavenly sanctuary and a joyful knowledge of Christ (Revelation 3:12).
7. Philadelphia] 28 m. SE. from Sardis, a rather rich and powerful city. ’It had the most glorious history of all the cities of Asia Minor in the long struggles against the Turks’ (Ramsay). It is still to a large extent Christian.
Key of David] a reference to Isaiah 22:22. As authority over the royal house was conferred upon Eliakim, so Christ has authority in the Church, above all earthly ministers, and it is really He who admits or excludes, who gives the ’open door’ of Revelation 3:8.: cp. John 10:9; John 14:6.
8. An open door] i.e. the Church shall win converts: cp. 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3, perhaps from the persecuting Jews (cp. Revelation 3:9), and perhaps also from the Phrygian land on the road to which Philadelphia lay. Hast not denied] RV ’didst not deny,’ i.e. in a time of persecution.
9. I will make] RV ’I give.’
Synagogue] see on Revelation 2:9. Evidently, here, Jews proud of their national privileges, and powerful in numbers and in wealth. No doubt they despised the Jewish Christians as traitors. Loved thee] cp. Isaiah 43:4.
10. The word, etc.] i.e. the message which sets forth ’patience,’ i.e. steadfast endurance, as part of Christ’s life and of the life of His people. Temptation] RV ’trial’: a general persecution is foretold, but the Philadelphian Church will be so kept that, though they may suffer in outward matters, their life in Christ will be unharmed: cp. Luke 21:18. (RV).
12. A pillar] i.e. he shall have a permanent place in the ’temple,’ i.e. the Church, here the glorified Church: cp. 1 Kings 7:21; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 2:20. 1 Peter 2:5. Temple] cp. 1 Corinthians 3:16.. Named, etc.] i.e. he shall receive the full knowledge and blessing of belonging to God, to the kingdom of Glory and to Christ: cp. Revelation 2:17; Revelation 19:12-16.
New name] Ramsay points out that about 17 a.d. Philadelphia had taken the name ’Neokaisareia,’ that is, city of young Cæsar, and disused its own. No doubt at the same time a shrine of the young Cæsar, with priest and ritual, was established. Thus it wrote on itself the name of this imperial god, and called itself the city of the imperial god. With this St. John contrasts what Christ will do for His own. There will be a name written on the victorious Christian, which will be the name of God and the name of the ’Church,’ and the new name of Christ: see on Revelation 2:17.
14-22. To the Church in Laodicea Christ speaks as He through whom alone comes true life with its riches and blessings (Revelation 3:14). The Church is blamed for luke warmness, self-satisfaction and worldliness (Revelation 3:15.). Instead of trusting in itself let it turn to Christ for the true riches (Revelation 3:18). He chastens the Church because He loves it. What it needs is zeal (Revelation 3:19). Even in this proud Church Christ humbly knocks at the door of each heart, and is ready to enter with blessing (Revelation 3:20). Those who share Christ’s victory over the world shall share Christ’s honour (Revelation 3:21).
14. Laodicea] SE. of Philadelphia and E. of Ephesus. Its site is now utterly deserted. In 60 a.d. Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake, but did not accept help from the emperor for the rebuilding, as many cities did. It was a great banking centre. It was also famous for the glossy black wool of its sheep, and did a large trade in the garments made from the wool: cp. Revelation 3:17. An article called ’Phrygian powder,’ used to cure weakness of the eyes, may be alluded to in Revelation 3:18. A bishop of Laodicea was martyred 166 a.d.
14. Amen] i.e. Truth (cp. Isaiah 65:16; RM); He is the Reality behind all passing things; His life is the life which is life indeed; His promises are sure; He can be trusted utterly.
Witness] see on Revelation 1:5. The beginning, etc.] i.e. He who is the source of all life: cp. Colossians 1:18.
15. Cp. Matthew 21:31.
16. An allusion to the nauseating effect of lukewarm water.
17. Cp. Hosea 12:8; Matthew 23:12; Luke 1:52; James 2:1.
18. Buy] cp. Isaiah 55:1. Raiment] RV ’garments’: cp. Isaiah 55:4. Matthew 22:11. Anoint.. eyesalve] RV ’eyesalve to anoint thine eyes.’ See] cp. John 9:40.
19. Cp. Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6.
20. Knock] cp. Song of Solomon 5:2; Luke 12:36. Hear] cp. John 10:4, John 10:28. Come in] cp. John 14:23. Sup] The blessings which Christ gives, both here and hereafter, are often spoken of under the figure of a feast: cp. Revelation 19:9; Matthew 25:1; Luke 22:29. With him.. me] cp. John 15:4; John 17:21.
21. Cp. John 16:33; John 17:24.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13