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The Church in the World. Chapters 1 – 3. (Matthew 28:20) [Chapters 1 Timothy 3:0; 1 Timothy 3:01 Timothy 3:0 form the basic foundation of this entire book. Revelation is made up of “picture symbols,” which, like “modern art,” are intended to express an idea. Each of these picture-symbols presents one central idea. Be careful not to try to give a “deeper meaning,” any more than is necessary to bring out this central idea. To evaluate these, ask: (1) How much description forms the entire picture-symbol? (2) What is the central idea?]
To the angel of the church in Sardis. To the evangelist. See note on Revelation 1:20. I know what you are doing. Sardis was sinking into the death of spiritual apathy. Christ has the “seven [life-giving] spirits” of God. He knows their need of life, and calls for them to repent and live.
So wake up. Sardis still has a good name, but it sleeps spiritually. In Pergamum and Thyatira, a small part of the church had been captured by the temptation of the world. At Sardis, almost the entire church had fallen. But, there is still hope that renewal can come! Not yet perfect. The forms were there, and the ceremonies, but the spirit and power were lacking (compare 2 Timothy 3:5).
Remember . . . obey it. They had received the gospel of Christ. They must obey it again, as they had once done. Like a thief. A grim warning of sudden disaster, if they do not repent.
But a few of you. God had some few who were still faithful to him. These were “lights” in the darkness. Clothed in white. Symbolic of the victory of God’s people (see Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 19:8).
Those who win. Those who are spiritually dead will have their names erased from the book of the living. Those who win will receive everything the Lord has promised them! [Book of the living: ancient cities wrote the names of their citizens in a book. Criminals had their names erased, also the dead.] I will declare openly. See Matthew 10:32-33. Christ will cite those who cite him! [CITE: to single out and call special attention to.]
If you have ears. A warning to listen to Jesus and to obey his command.
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia. To the evangelist, See note on Revelation 1:20. Who holds the key. A key opens and shuts. Christ has the authority to do this. He has the power of David’s throne (Isaiah 22:22; Matthew 16:19; Matthew 28:18; Revelation 5:5; Acts 15:15-18).
I know what you do. Christ knows their living faith and their spiritual strength. I have opened a door. Symbolic of great opportunities (compare Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3).
Listen! As for that group. Bitter opposition from those who claim to be Jews. (See note on Revelation 2:9.) I will make them come. Victory over the opposition. Also, some of these who fight against them will come to Christ and join in praising him.
Because you have kept. They lived their faith (compare James 2:14-26). They continued to proclaim the gospel. I will also keep you safe. A promise of Divine protection. Note that it goes hand in hand with “Keep safe what you have” in the next verse, The “time of trouble” comes on the earth again and again, to test people and to call them to turn to God. (Compare Revelation 16:10-11; Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9.)
I am coming soon. His promise. Jesus comes in judgment through his angels (Revelation 1:1). He will come in person at the Second Coming (Revelation 1:7).
I will make him. The victory prize is to be permanently with God! See Psalms 27:4. In the temple. The church of Christ (Ephesians 2:22). I will write on him. When one enters Christ’s church, the spiritual temple on earth, three names are written on him [Father, Son, Holy Spirit – Matthew 28:19]. When he enters the Eternal temple, three names are written on him [the name of my God, the name of the city of my God, my new name (Jesus speaking)].
If you have ears. Listen carefully to the words of promise!
To the angel of the church in Laodicea. To the evangelist. See note on Revelation 1:20. The Amen. See 2 Corinthians 1:20.
I know what you have done. Sardis was sinking into death, but Laodicea was already dead spiritually. Christ has no word of praise for them. They are barely warm (tepid). They are not hostile to Christ, but neither do they love him.
I am going to spit you out of my month. Symbolic of intense disgust!
I am rich and well off. They had lots of money and a very high standard of living. But they had mistakenly substituted this for spiritual wealth. [They were a success by the world’s standards.] You are poor, naked, and blind. This was how God saw them.
I advise you. A call to turn to Christ! Gold. Symbolic of true wisdom (Colossians 2:3). White clothing. Symbolic of union with Christ (Matthew 22:11-13; Galatians 3:27). Medicine. Symbolic of being able to “see” the truth (1 John 2:20), and of “removing blindness.”
I reprove and punish all whom I love. As a father spanks his children to teach them (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Listen! I stand at the door and knock. Christ is always knocking at the door, but they must turn from sin and open the door to him. Faith and turning from sin are man’s action. These are Christ’s own people, but they have forgotten him and are being called to renewal.
To those who win the victory. The promise is available! Sit by me. Share his rule (compare 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Just as I have been victorious. He has already defeated Satan (Hebrews 12:2).
If you have ears, then. A grim word of warning; but also a promise!
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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28