Attention! has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Revelation 3

Verse 1

1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Ver. 1. I know thy work ] Sapiens nummularius Deus est; nummum fictum non recipiet. (Bernard.) Though men may be deceived, God is not mocked. He knows that many cry, "The temple of the Lord," that yet nothing care for the Lord of the temple. Deifica professio et diabolica actio. (Ambrose.) God likes not such creaking and cracking.

And that thou hast a name ] Many content themselves with a name of Christians; as if many a ship hath not been called Safe-guard or Good-speed which yet hath fallen into the hands of pirates.

And art dead ] All thy specious works therefore are but dead works; thou canst not serve the living God.

Verse 2

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Ver. 2. Be watchful ] Rouse up thyself, and wrestle with God, shake thee out of sin’s lethargy, as Samson went out and shook him when the Philistines were upon him.

That are ready to die ] Because tainted with the infection of hypocrisy, that pernicious mangood.

Perfect before God ] Gr. full, without halting or halving. Omnis Sarmatarum virtus extra ipsos. (Tacitus.) All the hypocrite’s goodness runs outward; it is shored up by popularity, or other base respects.

Verse 3

3 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.

Ver. 3. And thou shalt not know ] Calamity the more sudden, the more terrible; for, 1. It amates and exanimates a man, as an unexpected storm doth a mariner, and as Satan intended Job’s messengers should do him. 2. It can as little be prevented as Eglon could prevent Ehud’s deadly thrust.

Verse 4

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Ver. 4. Thou hast a few names ] Though no thanks to the pastor, who was a mercenary eye-servant. Here the people’s praise is the pastor’s shame. These good souls were but few, their names (as one said of the good emperors) might have been written within the compass of a ring. Rari quippe boni (Juvenal, Sat. 13); Diaconos paucitas honorabiles feeit, saith Jerome. Christ’s flock is little. Few received him in the flesh, John 1:12 ; he wondered at one good Nathanael. At his coming shall he find faith upon the earth? Yes, sure, saith one; now he may find many faiths; such as they be; so many men, so many faiths, but few that hold faith and a good conscience together, 1 Timothy 1:19 , whereby they have put on Christ, Galatians 3:27 ; Ephesians 4:24 ; Revelation 16:15 .

They shall walk with me in white ] That is, they shall be glorified with perfect righteousness, purity, charity, dignity, and festivity.

For they are worthy ] In Christ’s account and acceptation. Like as those were not worthy that came not when called to the participation of his benefits,Matthew 22:8; Matthew 22:8 .

They are worthy ] Non dignitate sua, sed dignatione divina. Or, They are worthy, not absolutely, but in comparison of those before mentioned.

Verse 5

5 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, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Ver. 5. Clothed in white ] See Trapp on " Rev 3:4 "

The book of life ] Wherein the just that live by faith are written.

But I will confess his name ] His well-tried faith shall be found to praise, honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:7 . See Trapp on " 1Pe 1:7 "

Verse 6

6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Ver. 6. See Trapp on " Rev 2:7 "

Verse 7

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith 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;

Ver. 7. That is holy ] And therefore to be "sanctified in righteousness,"Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 5:16 .

True ] And therefore to be trusted.

That hath the key of David ] And is therefore to be sought unto for a door both of utterance and of entrance, Colossians 4:13 ; 2 Corinthians 2:12 ; Acts 16:14 .

Verse 8

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Ver. 8. An open door ] A fair opportunity of doing thyself good; which those that go about to deprive thee of shall be sure to lose oleum et operam, their toil and tallow.

A little strength ] A little grace well improved may do great matters, and set heaven open to a soul. The vine is the weakest of trees, but the most fruitful. Philadelphia with her little strength is discommended for nothing, she made all best use of it.

Verse 9

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Ver. 9. I will make them ] The conversion of the Jews shall be the wonder of the Gentiles.

Which say they are Jews, and are not ] The perverse Jews at this day pretend (but maliciously) that those few Jews that turn Christians are not of them, but poor Christians hired from other places to personate their part. (Blount’s Voyage, p. 112.)

That I have loved thee ] The Church is την ψυχην την ηγαπημενην , the "dearly beloved of God’s soul," Jeremiah 12:7 , or (as the Septuagint render it) his beloved soul.

Verse 10

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Ver. 10. The word of my patience ] So called,

1. Because we must suffer for the truth of it.

2. Because, hid in the heart, it worketh patience.

I will keep thee ] From the hurt, if not from the smart of it; from the common distraction, if not from the common destruction.

Which shall come upon all the world ] So the Romans in their pride called their empire.

To try them that dwell ] sc. By that sharp and sore persecution under Trajan the emperor.

Verse 11

11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Ver. 11. That no man take thy crown ] Not that crown of eternal life (for that is unlosable), but that honour that God hath put upon thee, Revelation 3:9 . A Christian may, by falling into reproachful courses, "lose what he hath wrought," 2 John 1:8 . 2 John 1:1 . In respect of the praise of men. 2. In respect of inward comfort. 3. In respect of the degrees of glory in heaven; he may miss being a pillar in the temple of God, as Revelation 3:1 .

Verse 12

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Ver. 12. Will I make a pillar ] Pillars are both the firmament and ornament of temples. Understand it of that fulness and constancy both of grace and of glory in heaven.

Which is new Jerusalem ] It was a pride in Montanus to overween his Peruza and Tymium (two pelting parishes in Phrygia) and to call them Jerusalem, as if they had been the only churches. (Euseb. v. 15.) And surely, it is nothing else but pride in the Brownists to avow that their churches are nothing less than the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven: that the very crown, sceptre, and throne of Christ’s kingdom consists in them. (See Mr Bailey’s Dissuasive, p. 17.)

My new name ] viz. That which he received from his Father in his exaltation, Ephesians 1:20 ; Philippians 2:9 .

Verses 13-14

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Ver. 14:. And unto the angel ] Archippus, it may be; for he was a pastor here, and began to cool long before this,Colossians 4:17; Colossians 4:17 .

These things saith the Amen ] The God of Amen, as Isaiah calleth him, faithful in performing his promises to the remnant that he reserved in this lukewarm Church, among so careless a multitude. To these Christ became a beginning of the creation of God; so the new birth is here called, as being of no less fame and wonder than the making of the world.

Verse 15

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Ver. 15. That thou art neither cold ] Such are our civil justiciaries, political professors, neuterpassive Christians; a fair day mends them not, and a foul day pairs them not; peremptory never to be more precise; resolved to keep on the warm side of the hedge, to sleep in a whole skin, suffer nothing, do nothing, that may interfere with their hopes or prejudice their preferments.

I would thou wert ] Better be a zealous Papist than a lukewarm Protestant. A zealous Papist (saith one) dare tell us to our heads that our religion is error, ourselves heretics, our end destruction; that one heaven cannot hold us hereafter, one church now; that our damnation is so clearly set down in our own Bibles, that there needs no more to assure us thereof than to open our eyes and read it; that if we be not damned, he will be damned for us, &c. This is better than forlorn recklessness in right religion, and that detestable indifference above specified. (Campian, Revelation 10:0 ; Bristow, Mot. 36; Coster ad Osiand.)

Verse 16

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Ver. 16. I will spue thee out ] I will please myself in thy just punishment. Ah (saith God, as one ridding his stomach), "I will ease me of mine adversaries, I will avenge me of mine enemies,"Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 1:24 . Now the basest places are good enough to cast up our gorge in. The hypocrite’s punishment must needs be heavy. Laodicea is commonly looked upon as a type of England. And surely that facies hypocritica hypocricitical look of our nation is facies hippocratica, a mortal complexion, a sad prognostic.

Verse 17

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Ver. 17. Because thou sayest ] Si dixisti, satis est, periisti, saith Augustine. He that thinks he knows anything, knows nothing yet as he ought to know, 1 Corinthians 8:2 .

And knowest not ] Whatever thou deemest and dreamest of thyself, as setting up thy counter for 1000 pounds, and working thyself into the fool’s paradise of a sublime dotage.

That thou art wretched and miserable, &c. ] Semper inops, misera, infelix, rerum omnium egena as Favolius saith of Athens, and her inhabitants at this day under the Turk.

Verse 18

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Ver. 18. I counsel thee ] Having first convinced thee,Revelation 3:17; Revelation 3:17 , who before wert uncounselable; the Gibeonites sent not for Joshua till besieged; the Gileadites sought not after Jephthah till distressed; nor will men hearken after Christ till driven out of themselves.

To buy of me ] "Buy the truth and sell it not." Make a thorough sale of sin and all (with the wise merchant) to purchase Christ the pearl of price, for whom St Paul (that great trader both by sea and land, 2Co 11:23 ; 2Co 11:25-26 ) counted all but dung and dog’s meat, Philippians 3:7-8 . Diogenes taxed the folly of the men of his times (may not we the men of ours?) quod res pretiosas minimo emerent, venderentque vilissimas plurimo, that they undervalued the best things, but overvalued the worst.

Gold tried in the fire ] Precious faith, 1 Peter 1:7 .

White raiment ] The righteousnesses of the saints, that of justification, and the other of sanctification.

And that the shame of thy nakedness ] But be covered as the priest’s nakedness was by his linen breeches. Nature teacheth us to cover our nakedness; therefore when a man hath committed a sin, he blusheth; the blood as it were would cover the sin. Aaron by making the golden calf had made the people naked unto their shame among their enemies,Exodus 32:25; Exodus 32:25 . Maximilian the emperor, when he yielded up the ghost, gave charge that none should see his dead body naked. Erat enim omnium mortalium verecundissimus, saith mine author. Buy we this white raiment of Christ; so shall our sins never shame us.

Eyesalve ] That unction, 1 John 2:20 . Light and sight, the saving, knowledge of heavenly mysteries.

Verse 19

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Ver. 19. As many as I love ] q.d. Think not that I hate you, because I thus chide you. He that escapes reprehension may suspect his adoption. God had one Son without corruption, but none without correction. We must look through the anger of his correction to the sweetness of his loving countenance; as by a rainbow we see the beautiful image of the sun’s light in the midst of a dark and waterish cloud. See more in my Treatise upon this verse, the second edition.

And repent ] So they did in likehhood; for Eusebius commends this Church as greatly flourishing in his time. Oh, the divine rhetoric and omnipotent efficacy of repentance, saith a divine. This is the rainbow, which if God seeth shining in our hearts, he will never drown our souls.

Verse 20

20 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.

Ver. 20. Behold, I stand ] Christ stands, he doth not sit; now while a man is standing he is going. Christ is but a while with men in the opportunities of grace; he will not always wait their leisure. The Church sought him (when once gone) with many a heavy heart, Cant. iii.

And knock ] By the hammer of my word and hand of my Spirit.

And open the door, &c. ] sc. By teachableness and obedience. This is not spoken of the first act of conversion ( quae gratuita est et inopinata ), but of the consequences of it; in which man, who being dead hath been made alive, ought to co-operate with God’s grace.

Verse 21

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Ver. 21. To sit with me in my throne ] The thrones of those eastern kings were large and capacious, after the manner of a couch, set on high and covered with tapestry, so that besides the king’s own room, others whom the king would honour might sit by him in the same throne. (Lud. de Dieu. in loc.) And hereunto our Saviour seemeth here to allude. This honour he promiseth to him that overcometh, as Alexander the Great by his last will left his dominions τω κρατιστω , to the worthiest of his princes, to him that should best deserve it.

And he with me ] Christ is no niggardly or beggarly guest. His reward is with him, he brings better commodities than Abraham’s servant did, or the Queen of Sheba, gold, raiment, eyesalve, &c.

Even as I also ] That is, because I also overcame, by virtue of my victory, ως for οτι . See the likeJohn 17:2; John 17:2 ; Luke 4:36 . It is by Christ that we do exceedingly overcome, Romans 8:37 .

Verse 22

See Rev 4:1

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.