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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Revelation 3

Verses 1-22

SPECIAL DOCTRINO-ETHICAL AND HOMILETICAL NOTES (ADDENDUM)

Section Third

Earth-picture of the Seven Churches. The Seven Epistles (Chs. 2, 3)

General.—The seven Churches as real portraits and at the same time as typical pictures of the whole Church, as regards (1) local extension and (2) chronological development.—The seven Churches as the centre of the seven loosed Seals or unveiled worldly history; as the occasion for the seven penitential Trumpets for the world in the Church and the Church in the world; as the organ of the seven Thunders of awakening and reformation; as the object of the enmity of the kingdom of darkness in the seven Heads of Antichrist; purified and saved by the hardening judgments of the seven Vials of Anger which are poured out upon the Antichristian world, in order to the mediating of Christ’s appearing and His union with the Bride, in that one Spirit in Whom the Seven Spirits are united.—The seven Epistles as the all-sided sum of all messages of the heavenly Head-Shepherd to the shepherds and congregations of the Church; as the all-sided ensample of pastoral ministry on the part of the shepherds; and, at the same time, as prophetic alarm voices from the Spirit of the Church to the flocks themselves.—The Johannean Theology.—The Johannean Church.—Its historic continuance within Church History.—Its abiding fundamental features.—Its future.

The seven Churches as the seven candlesticks of the earth:—As portraits of the manifold configurations of Christianity.—Parallels and antitheses: Ephesus and Smyrna. Smyrna and Pergamus. Pergamus and Thyatira (Balaam and Jezebel). Thyatira and Sardis. Philadelphia and Laodicea.—Lights and Shadows: 1. The Metropolis: Growing churchliness, decreasing Christliness. Increased external works at the expense of inwardness—the first love. 2. Smyrna, the Martyr-Church, in conflict with a Judaizing, orthodoxistic tendency. 3. Pergamus, the confessing Church, lax in the exercise of church discipline towards antinomianism. 4. Thyatira, the enthusiastic Church, spotted with immoral fanaticism. 5. Sardis, the Church with a show of churchly life, but spiritually dead. 6. Philadelphia, small and pure—hence also a mission Church. 7. Laodicea, the lukewarm.—How the Lord’s threats and promises to the seven Churches have been fulfilled. Historic life-pictures.—The manifold forms of Christ in relation to the seven Churches. All agreeing with individual traits of His total appearance (Revelation 1:0.).

Special.—To avoid repetition, we here simply refer to the exegetical department.

1. Ephesus. The Mother-Church externally and legally faithful, hut gathering inward and spiritual darkness

How Christ presents Himself to this Church, the metropolis, in accordance with its need (Revelation 2:1). Commendation of the Church: its many virtues (Revelation 2:2-3). In contrast to these, the one great, threatening want (Revelation 2:4). Corresponding admonition, warning, threat (Revelation 2:5). A hopeful sign, limiting the censure of Christ. In the Church’s hatred of Nicolaitanism there remains a trace of the first love (Revelation 2:6). Alarm cry and ethically conditioned promise, in harmony with the Church’s stand-point. Ephesus the metropolis, and metropolises in Church History (Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, etc.).

2. Smyrna. The Martyr-Church persecuted by Judaism

Picture of Christ, in conformity to the needs of this Church (Revelation 2:8). Praise of the Church (Revelation 2:9). Its tribulation in the present and in the future, and the Lord’s word of encouragement (Revelation 2:9-10). The great promise (Revelation 2:10). The alarm cry and the glorious goal, in harmony with the conflict of the Church (Revelation 2:11). Smyrna and other martyr-churches in conflict with the various forms of Judaism and orthodoxism (with the false and the great ban). The synagogue of Satan.

3. Pergamus. The Martyr-Church persecuted by Heathenism

Proclamation: Christ as the possessor of the two-edged sword (Revelation 2:12). Praise of martyr faithfulness in external conflict (Revelation 2:13). Censure of false endurance when there was a call to spiritual conflict (Revelation 2:14-15). Admonition to repentance and threat of the judicial interference of Christ (Revelation 2:16). Peculiar promise, referring to the relations of the inner, spiritual life (Revelation 2:17). Pergamus, or the libertine Church, defective in the observance of church-discipline towards Nicolaitans and Balaamites. Balaam, the type of the false prophet or apostasy. The first Old Testament Judas (followed by Ahithophel and others), a prelude of the last Judas, the false prophet (Revelation 13:0).

4. Thyatira. The excited Church stained with antinomistic spiritual fanaticism

Announcement of the Searcher of hearts and reins in His holy motion (Revelation 2:18). Commendation of the Church’s zeal (Revelation 2:19). Censure of its toleration of Jezebel and the antinomistic extravagances of which she is the instigator (Revelation 2:20-21). Terribly earnest threat of punishment, in perfect harmony with the sin committed (Revelation 2:22-23). Limitation of the threat by a promise to spare the guiltless (Revelation 2:23-25). Promise of the spirit of holy discipline and of true progress in antithesis to a false advance—in harmony with the situation of the Church (Revelation 2:26-28). The alarm cry comes at the end, instead of preceding the promise, as heretofore. The same change of position between the conditional promise and the alarm cry obtains in the following Epistles. The architectonic distinction hence arising between the first three and the last four Churches may at the same time be suggestive of the antithesis of their geographical position. Smyrna and Pergamus lie to the north of Ephesus; Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, to the south of Pergamus.—Phases of Jezebel in Church History, or the manifold re-appearance of fanatical and immoral sects and schools. Corrupting women in ancient and modern Church History, contrasted with the line of pious women.

5. Sardis. The Church for the most part spiritually dead

Christ addresses Himself to this Church—in which there is a lack of the Spirit—in His whole general sovereignty over the entire Church and in the fullness of His Spirit. He begins by bringing against it the heavy charge of deadness—doubly a crime, since it has the name of living (Revelation 3:1). Alarm cry, in reference to the still extant remnants of life (Revelation 3:2-3). Recognition of the few innocent ones, conjoined with a promise corresponding to the fact that they have not defiled their garments (Revelation 3:4-5). Alarm cry (Revelation 3:6).—Sad instances of dead or dying congregations, and even whole Churches.

6. Philadelphia. The pearl among the Churches

Christ in the solemn aspect of the Administrator of the keys of David, i. e. true communion (Revelation 3:7). Great recognition of the Church’s faithfulness, and great promise—both in lively alternation (Revelation 3:8-10). Encouragement and extraordinary final promise (Revelation 3:11-12). Alarm cry (Revelation 3:13).—Characteristic of living Christian Churches and communities: An open door. Open outwardly for missions; open inwardly for communion.

7. Laodicea. The lukewarm Church—nigh unto reprobation

The view which we take of Laodicea—viz., that it has fallen into lukewarmness in consequence of its spiritualistic [spiritualistisch] tendency—is supported by the characteristic announcement of Christ. He appears here entirely as the historic Christ, and characterizes Himself in this very peculiarity as identical with the ideal primal principle of the creation (Revelation 3:14). The censure of the Church’s lukewarmness is immediately conjoined with the threat of the judgment of reprobation (Revelation 3:15-16). The Lord then discovers the source of the lukewarmness of the Church to be, pride in its supposed spiritual riches, whilst it is, in reality, in a state of inexpressible spiritual necessity (Revelation 3:16-17). With this condition, correspond Christ’s searching counsel (Revelation 3:18), the expression of His love and compassion in the censure which He administers (Revelation 3:19), and His peculiar admonition to repentance (Revelation 3:20). The ethically conditioned promise is of as concrete a character as the self-presentation of Christ at the beginning, in perfect accordance with the needs of a church dissolved in spiritualism ([Spiritualismus], Revelation 3:20-21). The closing paragraph concludes both the seventh Epistle and all the foregoing Epistles (Revelation 3:22).—Spiritualistic [spiritualistisch] back-ground of the lukewarm Church. An idealistic dream-life as unbelief in the historic power of ideas, or, rather, in the Incarnation of the Word.

Upon glancing over the entire group, we behold in most of the Churches a juxtaposition of light and shade—yet in very different proportions; only Laodicea incurs blame alone, and only Philadelphia is entirely free from censure. This contrast is explained by the spiritual pride of the one, and the humility and modesty of the other. Christ is different and yet the same in His posture toward each individual Church.—The celestially perfect Shepherd of the flock and Physician of the soul.
The wealth of homiletical works upon the Seven Epistles is so immense, and the works in question are so accessible, that, instead of attempting to augment this treasure, we shall refer to what is already extant. Even in more ancient times the Seven Epistles have afforded inducement to manifold dissertations on them, as is evident, e. g., from the list of productions relative to them in Lilienthal’s Biblischer Archivarius, pp. 811–819. We have cited on p. 74 of the Introduction the special works of Meister, Wichelhaus, Heubner, Zorn, Van Oosterzee. We have still to mention, among others, Lisko, Christenspiegel, Betrachtungen über die sieben Sendschreiben der Offenb. Joh., Berlin, 1837.—To the above may be added the numerous homiletical or generally edifying works upon the whole Apocalypse (see the Int.), especially those of Bengel, Hahn, Schulthess, Roos, Wächtler, et al. The Sermons of Wichelhaus made considerable impression in their time; Wächtler’s Sermons are energized by study, spirit and fervor; the Sermons of Van Oosterzee are especially distinguished by a plenitude of spirit and a grand play of oratory.

Starke: The title of Christ at the opening of every letter is taken from the vision and description of Christ in Revelation 1:11-18; it is, however, not always the same, but varies, on the contrary, in each epistle, corresponding in purpose and appearance with the contents of the epistle and the state of the Church addressed. The promise which in every epistle is given to the conqueror is adapted to the condition of each Church and to the evil that must be overcome.—The first love. The expression is drawn from the first love of married persons, which is wont to be pure and fervid, Jeremiah 2:2. (This first love is, therefore, the pure bridal phase of religious consciousness—i. e. its receptivity, purity [in the sense of being without admixture of foreign or contaminating elements], freedom, warmth and devotion; in one word, genuine earnestness and depth [wahrhaftige Innigkeit und Innerlichkeit]).—As common traits of the Old Testament Balaam and the New Testament Nicolaitans may be mentioned: 1. Boasting; 2. Covetousness; 3. Seduction to apostasy; 4. Bringing under judgment.—Warm or cold. Warmth is positively wished for; coldness is desired only inasmuch as it is accompanied by less danger and responsibility than lukewarmness.—(Starke allegorizes the names of all the seven Churches—a procedure to which the name of Philadelphia might offer special inducements.)

Lavater: Jesus Messias, oder die Zukunft des Herrn nach der Offenb. Joh. (a poetical work). Smyrna: Und der Herrliche rief mir: Schreibe dem Engel in Smyrna: Also der Erste, der Letzte, der todt war und ewiglich lebet: Ich weiss deine Werke, etc. [And the Glorious One cried unto me: Write to the angel in Smyrna: Thus (saith) the First and Last, Who was dead and eternally liveth. I know thy works, etc.]

The Kreuzritter ([Knight of the Cross] Von Meyer, Schlüssel zur Offenb. St. Joh.; see p. 73). “Be faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life.” Wreath or crown, it is all the same—except that the crowns of victors were wont to be made of living foliage. The Lord over death and life here demands of His followers such faithfulness and steadfastness as shall go with them even to a violent death. He Himself has won the wreath of victory and the highest crown of eternal life, and His first martyr, Stephen (i. e. wreath, crown), in the name that he bears, exhibits, as it were, to all martyrs their heavenly reward.

Van Oosterzee: Let us, then, contemplate the Revelation of the glorified Christ on Patmos: as, for John, never to be forgotten—full of significance for all the centuries of the time following it—rich in instruction for each one of us.—Christ stands before you as the Image of the invisible God, the priestly King of the Kingdom of God, the faithful Friend of His servants, the Lord and Judge of the future.—Smyrna: Poor Smyrna enriched; calumniated Smyrna honored; threatened Smyrna ensured; militant Smyrna faithful; triumphant Smyrna crowned.

Literature: Trench, Comm. on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 1867 [New York, 1872].

[From M. Henry: Revelation 2:1. He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand. The ministers of Christ are under His special care and protection.—He walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. Christ is in an intimate manner present and conversant with His churches, and knows the state of each one of them.

Revelation 2:2. I know thy works and thy labor. Those that are stars in Christ’s hand had need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all about them.—Thy patience. It is not enough that we be diligent, but we must be patient, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.—Thou canst not bear them that are evil. It consists very well with Christian patience, not to dispense with sin, much less allow it.

Revelation 2:4. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee. Those that have much good in them, may have something much amiss in them; and our Lord Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of both.—Thou hast left thy first love. Observe, (1) The first affections of men toward Christ, and holiness, and heaven, are usually lively and warm. (2) These lively affections will abate and cool, if great care be not taken, and diligence used, to preserve them in constant exercise. (3) Christ is grieved and displeased with His people when He sees them grow remiss and cold toward Him, and He will one way or other make them sensible that He does not take it well from them.

Revelation 2:5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works. Observe, 1. Those that have lost their first love must remember from whence they are fallen; they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now. 2. They must repent; they must be inwardly grieved and ashamed for their sinful declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. 3. They must return and do their first works; they must, as it were, begin again, go back step by step, till they come to the place where they took the first false step; they must endeavor to revive and recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as they did when they first set out in the ways of God.—Or else I will come unto thee quickly, etc. If the presence of Christ’s grace and Spirit be slighted, we may expect the presence of His displeasure.

Revelation 2:7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Observe, 1. What is written in the Scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God. 2. What is said to one church, concerns all the churches, in every place and age. 3. We can never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to the word of God.—To him that conquereth. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end; we must fight the good fight till we gain the victory; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward.—To eat of the tree of life, etc. They shall have that perfection of holiness, and that confirmation therein, that Adam would have had. If he had gone well through the course of his trial, then he would have eaten of the tree of life which was in the midst of paradise, and that would have been the sacrament of confirmation to him in his holy and happy state. So all who persevere in their Christian trial and warfare, shall derive from Christ, as the Tree of Life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly (Revelation 22:1-2).

Revelation 2:8. Christ was dead, and by dying purchased salvation for us; He is alive, and by His life applies this salvation to us.

Revelation 2:9. I know thy tribulation. They who will be faithful to Christ, must expect to go through many tribulations; but Jesus Christ takes particular notice of all their troubles.—Thy poverty (but thou art rich). Poor in temporals, but rich in spirituals: poor in spirit, and yet rich in grace; their spiritual riches are set off by their outward poverty. Many who are rich in temporals, are poor in spirituals. Some who are poor outwardly are inwardly rich. Spiritual riches are usually the reward of great diligence; the diligent hand makes rich.—I know the blasphemy. He knows the wickedness and falsehood of the enemies of His people.

Revelation 2:10. He foreknows the future trials of His people, forewarns them of them, and forearms against them. Forearms them, 1. By His counsel. 2. By showing them how their sufferings would be alleviated and limited: (1) They should not be universal; (2) They should not be perpetual; (3) It should be to try them, not to destroy them. 3. By promising a glorious reward to their fidelity. Observe, 1. The sureness of this reward: I will give thee. 2. The suitableness of it: (1) A crown, to reward their poverty, fidelity and conflict. (2) A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself, in fidelity to Christ.

Revelation 2:11. He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death. Observe, 1. There is not only a first, but a second death; a death after the body is dead. 2. This second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in agony and in duration—it is eternal death, to die, and to be always dying. 3. From this hurtful, this destructive death, Christ will save all His faithful servants.

Revelation 2:13. I know where thou dwellest, etc. Christ takes notice of the trials and difficulties His people encounter.

Revelation 2:14. Observe, 1. Corrupt doctrines and a corrupt worship often lead to corrupt conversation. 2. To continue in communion with persons of corrupt principles and practices is displeasing to God, and causes those who thus do to become partakers of other men’s sins. Though the Church, as such, has no power to punish the persons of men, either for heresy or immorality, with corporal penalties, yet it has power to exclude them from its holy communion; and if it do not so, Christ will be displeased with it.

Revelation 2:19. It should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Christians that their last works may be their best works.

Revelation 2:21. Observe, 1. Repentance is necessary to prevent the sinner’s ruin. 2. Repentance requires time. 3. Where God gives space for repentance, He expects fruits meet for repentance. 4. Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.

Revelation 2:23. All the churches shall know, etc. God is known by the judgments that He executeth. Note here, 1. His infallible knowledge of the hearts of men. 2. His impartial justice.

Revelation 2:28. Christ is the Morning Star: He brings day with Him into the soul; the light of grace and of glory.

Revelation 3:3. I will come unto thee as a thief, etc. Observe, 1. When Christ leaves a people as to His gracious presence, He comes to them in judgment; and His judicial presence will be very dreadful to those who have sinned away His gracious presence. 2. His judicial presence to a dead declining people will be surprising; their deadness will keep them in security, and, as it procures an angry visit from Christ to them, it will prevent their discerning it and preparing for it. 3. Such a visit from Christ will be to their loss; He will come as a thief, to strip them of their remaining enjoyments and mercies, not by fraud, but in justice and righteousness, taking the forfeiture they have made of all to Him.

Revelation 3:4. God takes notice of the smallest number of those who abide with Him; and the fewer they are, the more precious in His sight.—They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. In the stole, the white robes of justification, and adoption, and comfort; or in the white robes of honor and glory, in the other world. This is an honor proper and suitable to their integrity and fidelity, and no way unbecoming Christ to confer upon them, though it is not a legal, but a gospel worthiness that is ascribed to them; not merit, but meetness.

Revelation 3:5. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment. The purity of grace [Revelation 3:4] shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory.—I will not blot his name, etc. Observe, 1. Christ has His book of life, a register and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life: (1) the book of eternal election; (2) the book of remembrance of all who have lived to God. 2. Christ will not blot the names of His chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life. 3. Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; this He will do as their Judge, and as their Captain and Head.

Revelation 3:7. He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David. Note here Christ’s personal, and His political character.—Observe the acts of His government: 1. He opens—a door of opportunity to His churches, a door of utterance to his ministers, a door of entrance, the heart, a door of admission into the visible Church, laying down the terms of communion, and the door of admission into the Church triumphant, according to the terms of salvation fixed by Him. 2. He shuts the door; when He pleases, He shuts the door of opportunity, and the door of utterance, and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of their hearts; He shuts the door of church-fellowship against unbelievers and profane persons, and He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of grace, and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be.

Revelation 3:10. Observe, 1. The gospel of Christ is the word of His patience; it is the fruit of the patience of God to a sinful world, it sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ in all His sufferings for men, it calls those who receive it to the exercise of patience in conformity to Christ. 2. This gospel should be carefully kept by all who enjoy it. 3. After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation; a day of gospel-peace and liberty is a day of God’s patience, and it is seldom so well improved as it should be, and therefore is often followed by a day of trial and temptation. 4. Sometimes the trial is more general and universal; it comes upon all the world. 5. They who keep the gospel in a time of peace shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation.

Revelation 3:15. Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion be a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it be not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it.—I will spew thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ against them. … They shall be rejected, and finally rejected; far be it from the holy Jesus to return to that which has been thus rejected.

Revelation 3:17. Here observe what a difference there was between the thoughts that the Laodiceans had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them.

Revelation 3:19. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God’s word and rod as tokens of His good-will to their souls, and should accordingly repent in good earnest, and turn to Him that smites them.

Revelation 3:20. Observe, 1. Christ is graciously pleased by His Word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners. 2. He finds this door shut against Him. 3. When He finds the door shut, He does not immediately withdraw, but He waits to be gracious, even till His head be filled with the dew. 4. He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to Him; He calls by His word, and He knocks by the impulses of His Spirit upon their conscience. 5. They who open to Him shall enjoy His presence, to their great comfort and advantage; He will sup with them, He will accept of what is good in them, He will eat His pleasant fruit, and He will bring the best part of the entertainment with Him; He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, and love, and delight.

Revelation 3:21. It is here implied that notwithstanding the lukewarm and self-confident character of this Church, it was possible that by the reproofs and counsels of Christ they might be inspired with fresh zeal and vigor, and come off conquerors in their spiritual warfare. 2. That if they did so, all former faults should be forgiven, and they should have a great reward.—Those who are conformed to Christ in His trials and victories, shall be conformed to Him in His glory.

From The Comprehensive Commentary: By a frequent Scripture metaphor a person, living in the defilements of this world, and neglectful of preparation for another, is said to be “dead while he liveth,” while he who meets death in the discharge of his Christian duty, is pronounced “living though he die,” John 11:25-26; 1 Timothy 5:6; 1 John 3:14 : Judges 12:0. (Woodhouse.)

Barnes: Revelation 2:10. Ye shall have tribulation ten days. Affliction in this life, however severe, can be but brief; and in the hope that it will soon end why should we not bear it without murmuring or repining? … Be thou faithful unto death, etc. It is true of every one who is a Christian, in whatever manner he is to die, that if he is faithful unto death, a crown of life awaits him.—Revelation 3:3. It is always well for Christians to call to remembrance the “day of their espousals,” and their views and feelings when they gave their hearts to the Saviour, and to compare those views with their present condition, especially if their conversion was marked by any thing unusual.—Thou shall not know what hour I will come upon thee. Every man who is warned of the evil of his course, and who refuses or neglects to repent, has reason to believe that God will come suddenly in His wrath and call him to His bar. Proverbs 29:1.

Revelation 3:15. I would thou wert hot or cold. Any thing better than this condition, where love is professed, but where it does not exist; where vows have been assumed which are not fulfilled.

Revelation 3:20. If any one hear My voice. Any one, of any age, and in any land, would be authorized to apply this to himself, and, under the protection of this invitation, to come to the Saviour, and to plead this promise as one that fairly included himself.—Chaps. 2, 3. Though the churches to which these epistles were addressed have long since passed away, yet the principles laid down in them still live, and they are full of admonition to Christians in all ages and all lands.—From Trench: Revelation 2:2 : I know thy works. These are words of comfort and, strength for all who, amid infinite weakness, are yet able to say, “Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24), or with St. John, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17); but words of fear for every one who would fain keep back any thing in his outer or inner life from the Lord.—Revelation 3:4. Observe the gracious manner in which the Lord recognizes and sets His seal of allowance to the good which any where He finds.—From Vaughan: Revelation 2:10. Christ says to each one of us, Be thou faithful: use well the talent that I have given thee; forget not Who gave it; forget not Who will call for an account of it.—From Bonar: Revelation 3:7 : He that hath the keys of David. The key (1) Of David’s house, (2) Of David’s castle, (3) Of David’s city, (4) Of David’s treasure-house, (5) Of David’s banqueting-house.

Revelation 3:20. Note here (1) the love of Christ: in the message as addressed to Laodicea, the unloving and unlovable; (2) the patience of Christ: I stand at the door; (3) the earnestness of Christ: I knock; (4) the appeal of Christ: If any man will hear my voice and open the door; (5) the promise of Christ: I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:21. We have here—I. The battle; II. The victory; III. The reward. I. The battle: The Christian’s life in this world a warfare: (1) Inner warfare; (2) Outer warfare; (3) Daily warfare; (4) Warfare not fought with human arms; (5) Warfare in which we are sharers with Christ. II. The victory: multitudinous as is the battle. Sure through Him Who Himself overcame. Individual. III. The reward: (1) A throne; (2) Christ’s throne.]

Verses 1-22

SPECIAL DOCTRINO-ETHICAL AND HOMILETICAL NOTES (ADDENDUM)

Section Third

Earth-picture of the Seven Churches. The Seven Epistles (Chs. 2, 3)

General.—The seven Churches as real portraits and at the same time as typical pictures of the whole Church, as regards (1) local extension and (2) chronological development.—The seven Churches as the centre of the seven loosed Seals or unveiled worldly history; as the occasion for the seven penitential Trumpets for the world in the Church and the Church in the world; as the organ of the seven Thunders of awakening and reformation; as the object of the enmity of the kingdom of darkness in the seven Heads of Antichrist; purified and saved by the hardening judgments of the seven Vials of Anger which are poured out upon the Antichristian world, in order to the mediating of Christ’s appearing and His union with the Bride, in that one Spirit in Whom the Seven Spirits are united.—The seven Epistles as the all-sided sum of all messages of the heavenly Head-Shepherd to the shepherds and congregations of the Church; as the all-sided ensample of pastoral ministry on the part of the shepherds; and, at the same time, as prophetic alarm voices from the Spirit of the Church to the flocks themselves.—The Johannean Theology.—The Johannean Church.—Its historic continuance within Church History.—Its abiding fundamental features.—Its future.

The seven Churches as the seven candlesticks of the earth:—As portraits of the manifold configurations of Christianity.—Parallels and antitheses: Ephesus and Smyrna. Smyrna and Pergamus. Pergamus and Thyatira (Balaam and Jezebel). Thyatira and Sardis. Philadelphia and Laodicea.—Lights and Shadows: 1. The Metropolis: Growing churchliness, decreasing Christliness. Increased external works at the expense of inwardness—the first love. 2. Smyrna, the Martyr-Church, in conflict with a Judaizing, orthodoxistic tendency. 3. Pergamus, the confessing Church, lax in the exercise of church discipline towards antinomianism. 4. Thyatira, the enthusiastic Church, spotted with immoral fanaticism. 5. Sardis, the Church with a show of churchly life, but spiritually dead. 6. Philadelphia, small and pure—hence also a mission Church. 7. Laodicea, the lukewarm.—How the Lord’s threats and promises to the seven Churches have been fulfilled. Historic life-pictures.—The manifold forms of Christ in relation to the seven Churches. All agreeing with individual traits of His total appearance (Revelation 1:0.).

Special.—To avoid repetition, we here simply refer to the exegetical department.

1. Ephesus. The Mother-Church externally and legally faithful, hut gathering inward and spiritual darkness

How Christ presents Himself to this Church, the metropolis, in accordance with its need (Revelation 2:1). Commendation of the Church: its many virtues (Revelation 2:2-3). In contrast to these, the one great, threatening want (Revelation 2:4). Corresponding admonition, warning, threat (Revelation 2:5). A hopeful sign, limiting the censure of Christ. In the Church’s hatred of Nicolaitanism there remains a trace of the first love (Revelation 2:6). Alarm cry and ethically conditioned promise, in harmony with the Church’s stand-point. Ephesus the metropolis, and metropolises in Church History (Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, etc.).

2. Smyrna. The Martyr-Church persecuted by Judaism

Picture of Christ, in conformity to the needs of this Church (Revelation 2:8). Praise of the Church (Revelation 2:9). Its tribulation in the present and in the future, and the Lord’s word of encouragement (Revelation 2:9-10). The great promise (Revelation 2:10). The alarm cry and the glorious goal, in harmony with the conflict of the Church (Revelation 2:11). Smyrna and other martyr-churches in conflict with the various forms of Judaism and orthodoxism (with the false and the great ban). The synagogue of Satan.

3. Pergamus. The Martyr-Church persecuted by Heathenism

Proclamation: Christ as the possessor of the two-edged sword (Revelation 2:12). Praise of martyr faithfulness in external conflict (Revelation 2:13). Censure of false endurance when there was a call to spiritual conflict (Revelation 2:14-15). Admonition to repentance and threat of the judicial interference of Christ (Revelation 2:16). Peculiar promise, referring to the relations of the inner, spiritual life (Revelation 2:17). Pergamus, or the libertine Church, defective in the observance of church-discipline towards Nicolaitans and Balaamites. Balaam, the type of the false prophet or apostasy. The first Old Testament Judas (followed by Ahithophel and others), a prelude of the last Judas, the false prophet (Revelation 13:0).

4. Thyatira. The excited Church stained with antinomistic spiritual fanaticism

Announcement of the Searcher of hearts and reins in His holy motion (Revelation 2:18). Commendation of the Church’s zeal (Revelation 2:19). Censure of its toleration of Jezebel and the antinomistic extravagances of which she is the instigator (Revelation 2:20-21). Terribly earnest threat of punishment, in perfect harmony with the sin committed (Revelation 2:22-23). Limitation of the threat by a promise to spare the guiltless (Revelation 2:23-25). Promise of the spirit of holy discipline and of true progress in antithesis to a false advance—in harmony with the situation of the Church (Revelation 2:26-28). The alarm cry comes at the end, instead of preceding the promise, as heretofore. The same change of position between the conditional promise and the alarm cry obtains in the following Epistles. The architectonic distinction hence arising between the first three and the last four Churches may at the same time be suggestive of the antithesis of their geographical position. Smyrna and Pergamus lie to the north of Ephesus; Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, to the south of Pergamus.—Phases of Jezebel in Church History, or the manifold re-appearance of fanatical and immoral sects and schools. Corrupting women in ancient and modern Church History, contrasted with the line of pious women.

5. Sardis. The Church for the most part spiritually dead

Christ addresses Himself to this Church—in which there is a lack of the Spirit—in His whole general sovereignty over the entire Church and in the fullness of His Spirit. He begins by bringing against it the heavy charge of deadness—doubly a crime, since it has the name of living (Revelation 3:1). Alarm cry, in reference to the still extant remnants of life (Revelation 3:2-3). Recognition of the few innocent ones, conjoined with a promise corresponding to the fact that they have not defiled their garments (Revelation 3:4-5). Alarm cry (Revelation 3:6).—Sad instances of dead or dying congregations, and even whole Churches.

6. Philadelphia. The pearl among the Churches

Christ in the solemn aspect of the Administrator of the keys of David, i. e. true communion (Revelation 3:7). Great recognition of the Church’s faithfulness, and great promise—both in lively alternation (Revelation 3:8-10). Encouragement and extraordinary final promise (Revelation 3:11-12). Alarm cry (Revelation 3:13).—Characteristic of living Christian Churches and communities: An open door. Open outwardly for missions; open inwardly for communion.

7. Laodicea. The lukewarm Church—nigh unto reprobation

The view which we take of Laodicea—viz., that it has fallen into lukewarmness in consequence of its spiritualistic [spiritualistisch] tendency—is supported by the characteristic announcement of Christ. He appears here entirely as the historic Christ, and characterizes Himself in this very peculiarity as identical with the ideal primal principle of the creation (Revelation 3:14). The censure of the Church’s lukewarmness is immediately conjoined with the threat of the judgment of reprobation (Revelation 3:15-16). The Lord then discovers the source of the lukewarmness of the Church to be, pride in its supposed spiritual riches, whilst it is, in reality, in a state of inexpressible spiritual necessity (Revelation 3:16-17). With this condition, correspond Christ’s searching counsel (Revelation 3:18), the expression of His love and compassion in the censure which He administers (Revelation 3:19), and His peculiar admonition to repentance (Revelation 3:20). The ethically conditioned promise is of as concrete a character as the self-presentation of Christ at the beginning, in perfect accordance with the needs of a church dissolved in spiritualism ([Spiritualismus], Revelation 3:20-21). The closing paragraph concludes both the seventh Epistle and all the foregoing Epistles (Revelation 3:22).—Spiritualistic [spiritualistisch] back-ground of the lukewarm Church. An idealistic dream-life as unbelief in the historic power of ideas, or, rather, in the Incarnation of the Word.

Upon glancing over the entire group, we behold in most of the Churches a juxtaposition of light and shade—yet in very different proportions; only Laodicea incurs blame alone, and only Philadelphia is entirely free from censure. This contrast is explained by the spiritual pride of the one, and the humility and modesty of the other. Christ is different and yet the same in His posture toward each individual Church.—The celestially perfect Shepherd of the flock and Physician of the soul.
The wealth of homiletical works upon the Seven Epistles is so immense, and the works in question are so accessible, that, instead of attempting to augment this treasure, we shall refer to what is already extant. Even in more ancient times the Seven Epistles have afforded inducement to manifold dissertations on them, as is evident, e. g., from the list of productions relative to them in Lilienthal’s Biblischer Archivarius, pp. 811–819. We have cited on p. 74 of the Introduction the special works of Meister, Wichelhaus, Heubner, Zorn, Van Oosterzee. We have still to mention, among others, Lisko, Christenspiegel, Betrachtungen über die sieben Sendschreiben der Offenb. Joh., Berlin, 1837.—To the above may be added the numerous homiletical or generally edifying works upon the whole Apocalypse (see the Int.), especially those of Bengel, Hahn, Schulthess, Roos, Wächtler, et al. The Sermons of Wichelhaus made considerable impression in their time; Wächtler’s Sermons are energized by study, spirit and fervor; the Sermons of Van Oosterzee are especially distinguished by a plenitude of spirit and a grand play of oratory.

Starke: The title of Christ at the opening of every letter is taken from the vision and description of Christ in Revelation 1:11-18; it is, however, not always the same, but varies, on the contrary, in each epistle, corresponding in purpose and appearance with the contents of the epistle and the state of the Church addressed. The promise which in every epistle is given to the conqueror is adapted to the condition of each Church and to the evil that must be overcome.—The first love. The expression is drawn from the first love of married persons, which is wont to be pure and fervid, Jeremiah 2:2. (This first love is, therefore, the pure bridal phase of religious consciousness—i. e. its receptivity, purity [in the sense of being without admixture of foreign or contaminating elements], freedom, warmth and devotion; in one word, genuine earnestness and depth [wahrhaftige Innigkeit und Innerlichkeit]).—As common traits of the Old Testament Balaam and the New Testament Nicolaitans may be mentioned: 1. Boasting; 2. Covetousness; 3. Seduction to apostasy; 4. Bringing under judgment.—Warm or cold. Warmth is positively wished for; coldness is desired only inasmuch as it is accompanied by less danger and responsibility than lukewarmness.—(Starke allegorizes the names of all the seven Churches—a procedure to which the name of Philadelphia might offer special inducements.)

Lavater: Jesus Messias, oder die Zukunft des Herrn nach der Offenb. Joh. (a poetical work). Smyrna: Und der Herrliche rief mir: Schreibe dem Engel in Smyrna: Also der Erste, der Letzte, der todt war und ewiglich lebet: Ich weiss deine Werke, etc. [And the Glorious One cried unto me: Write to the angel in Smyrna: Thus (saith) the First and Last, Who was dead and eternally liveth. I know thy works, etc.]

The Kreuzritter ([Knight of the Cross] Von Meyer, Schlüssel zur Offenb. St. Joh.; see p. 73). “Be faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life.” Wreath or crown, it is all the same—except that the crowns of victors were wont to be made of living foliage. The Lord over death and life here demands of His followers such faithfulness and steadfastness as shall go with them even to a violent death. He Himself has won the wreath of victory and the highest crown of eternal life, and His first martyr, Stephen (i. e. wreath, crown), in the name that he bears, exhibits, as it were, to all martyrs their heavenly reward.

Van Oosterzee: Let us, then, contemplate the Revelation of the glorified Christ on Patmos: as, for John, never to be forgotten—full of significance for all the centuries of the time following it—rich in instruction for each one of us.—Christ stands before you as the Image of the invisible God, the priestly King of the Kingdom of God, the faithful Friend of His servants, the Lord and Judge of the future.—Smyrna: Poor Smyrna enriched; calumniated Smyrna honored; threatened Smyrna ensured; militant Smyrna faithful; triumphant Smyrna crowned.

Literature: Trench, Comm. on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 1867 [New York, 1872].

[From M. Henry: Revelation 2:1. He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand. The ministers of Christ are under His special care and protection.—He walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. Christ is in an intimate manner present and conversant with His churches, and knows the state of each one of them.

Revelation 2:2. I know thy works and thy labor. Those that are stars in Christ’s hand had need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all about them.—Thy patience. It is not enough that we be diligent, but we must be patient, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.—Thou canst not bear them that are evil. It consists very well with Christian patience, not to dispense with sin, much less allow it.

Revelation 2:4. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee. Those that have much good in them, may have something much amiss in them; and our Lord Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of both.—Thou hast left thy first love. Observe, (1) The first affections of men toward Christ, and holiness, and heaven, are usually lively and warm. (2) These lively affections will abate and cool, if great care be not taken, and diligence used, to preserve them in constant exercise. (3) Christ is grieved and displeased with His people when He sees them grow remiss and cold toward Him, and He will one way or other make them sensible that He does not take it well from them.

Revelation 2:5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works. Observe, 1. Those that have lost their first love must remember from whence they are fallen; they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now. 2. They must repent; they must be inwardly grieved and ashamed for their sinful declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. 3. They must return and do their first works; they must, as it were, begin again, go back step by step, till they come to the place where they took the first false step; they must endeavor to revive and recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as they did when they first set out in the ways of God.—Or else I will come unto thee quickly, etc. If the presence of Christ’s grace and Spirit be slighted, we may expect the presence of His displeasure.

Revelation 2:7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Observe, 1. What is written in the Scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God. 2. What is said to one church, concerns all the churches, in every place and age. 3. We can never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to the word of God.—To him that conquereth. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end; we must fight the good fight till we gain the victory; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward.—To eat of the tree of life, etc. They shall have that perfection of holiness, and that confirmation therein, that Adam would have had. If he had gone well through the course of his trial, then he would have eaten of the tree of life which was in the midst of paradise, and that would have been the sacrament of confirmation to him in his holy and happy state. So all who persevere in their Christian trial and warfare, shall derive from Christ, as the Tree of Life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly (Revelation 22:1-2).

Revelation 2:8. Christ was dead, and by dying purchased salvation for us; He is alive, and by His life applies this salvation to us.

Revelation 2:9. I know thy tribulation. They who will be faithful to Christ, must expect to go through many tribulations; but Jesus Christ takes particular notice of all their troubles.—Thy poverty (but thou art rich). Poor in temporals, but rich in spirituals: poor in spirit, and yet rich in grace; their spiritual riches are set off by their outward poverty. Many who are rich in temporals, are poor in spirituals. Some who are poor outwardly are inwardly rich. Spiritual riches are usually the reward of great diligence; the diligent hand makes rich.—I know the blasphemy. He knows the wickedness and falsehood of the enemies of His people.

Revelation 2:10. He foreknows the future trials of His people, forewarns them of them, and forearms against them. Forearms them, 1. By His counsel. 2. By showing them how their sufferings would be alleviated and limited: (1) They should not be universal; (2) They should not be perpetual; (3) It should be to try them, not to destroy them. 3. By promising a glorious reward to their fidelity. Observe, 1. The sureness of this reward: I will give thee. 2. The suitableness of it: (1) A crown, to reward their poverty, fidelity and conflict. (2) A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself, in fidelity to Christ.

Revelation 2:11. He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death. Observe, 1. There is not only a first, but a second death; a death after the body is dead. 2. This second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in agony and in duration—it is eternal death, to die, and to be always dying. 3. From this hurtful, this destructive death, Christ will save all His faithful servants.

Revelation 2:13. I know where thou dwellest, etc. Christ takes notice of the trials and difficulties His people encounter.

Revelation 2:14. Observe, 1. Corrupt doctrines and a corrupt worship often lead to corrupt conversation. 2. To continue in communion with persons of corrupt principles and practices is displeasing to God, and causes those who thus do to become partakers of other men’s sins. Though the Church, as such, has no power to punish the persons of men, either for heresy or immorality, with corporal penalties, yet it has power to exclude them from its holy communion; and if it do not so, Christ will be displeased with it.

Revelation 2:19. It should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Christians that their last works may be their best works.

Revelation 2:21. Observe, 1. Repentance is necessary to prevent the sinner’s ruin. 2. Repentance requires time. 3. Where God gives space for repentance, He expects fruits meet for repentance. 4. Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.

Revelation 2:23. All the churches shall know, etc. God is known by the judgments that He executeth. Note here, 1. His infallible knowledge of the hearts of men. 2. His impartial justice.

Revelation 2:28. Christ is the Morning Star: He brings day with Him into the soul; the light of grace and of glory.

Revelation 3:3. I will come unto thee as a thief, etc. Observe, 1. When Christ leaves a people as to His gracious presence, He comes to them in judgment; and His judicial presence will be very dreadful to those who have sinned away His gracious presence. 2. His judicial presence to a dead declining people will be surprising; their deadness will keep them in security, and, as it procures an angry visit from Christ to them, it will prevent their discerning it and preparing for it. 3. Such a visit from Christ will be to their loss; He will come as a thief, to strip them of their remaining enjoyments and mercies, not by fraud, but in justice and righteousness, taking the forfeiture they have made of all to Him.

Revelation 3:4. God takes notice of the smallest number of those who abide with Him; and the fewer they are, the more precious in His sight.—They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. In the stole, the white robes of justification, and adoption, and comfort; or in the white robes of honor and glory, in the other world. This is an honor proper and suitable to their integrity and fidelity, and no way unbecoming Christ to confer upon them, though it is not a legal, but a gospel worthiness that is ascribed to them; not merit, but meetness.

Revelation 3:5. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment. The purity of grace [Revelation 3:4] shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory.—I will not blot his name, etc. Observe, 1. Christ has His book of life, a register and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life: (1) the book of eternal election; (2) the book of remembrance of all who have lived to God. 2. Christ will not blot the names of His chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life. 3. Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; this He will do as their Judge, and as their Captain and Head.

Revelation 3:7. He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David. Note here Christ’s personal, and His political character.—Observe the acts of His government: 1. He opens—a door of opportunity to His churches, a door of utterance to his ministers, a door of entrance, the heart, a door of admission into the visible Church, laying down the terms of communion, and the door of admission into the Church triumphant, according to the terms of salvation fixed by Him. 2. He shuts the door; when He pleases, He shuts the door of opportunity, and the door of utterance, and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of their hearts; He shuts the door of church-fellowship against unbelievers and profane persons, and He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of grace, and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be.

Revelation 3:10. Observe, 1. The gospel of Christ is the word of His patience; it is the fruit of the patience of God to a sinful world, it sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ in all His sufferings for men, it calls those who receive it to the exercise of patience in conformity to Christ. 2. This gospel should be carefully kept by all who enjoy it. 3. After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation; a day of gospel-peace and liberty is a day of God’s patience, and it is seldom so well improved as it should be, and therefore is often followed by a day of trial and temptation. 4. Sometimes the trial is more general and universal; it comes upon all the world. 5. They who keep the gospel in a time of peace shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation.

Revelation 3:15. Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion be a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it be not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it.—I will spew thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ against them. … They shall be rejected, and finally rejected; far be it from the holy Jesus to return to that which has been thus rejected.

Revelation 3:17. Here observe what a difference there was between the thoughts that the Laodiceans had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them.

Revelation 3:19. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God’s word and rod as tokens of His good-will to their souls, and should accordingly repent in good earnest, and turn to Him that smites them.

Revelation 3:20. Observe, 1. Christ is graciously pleased by His Word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners. 2. He finds this door shut against Him. 3. When He finds the door shut, He does not immediately withdraw, but He waits to be gracious, even till His head be filled with the dew. 4. He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to Him; He calls by His word, and He knocks by the impulses of His Spirit upon their conscience. 5. They who open to Him shall enjoy His presence, to their great comfort and advantage; He will sup with them, He will accept of what is good in them, He will eat His pleasant fruit, and He will bring the best part of the entertainment with Him; He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, and love, and delight.

Revelation 3:21. It is here implied that notwithstanding the lukewarm and self-confident character of this Church, it was possible that by the reproofs and counsels of Christ they might be inspired with fresh zeal and vigor, and come off conquerors in their spiritual warfare. 2. That if they did so, all former faults should be forgiven, and they should have a great reward.—Those who are conformed to Christ in His trials and victories, shall be conformed to Him in His glory.

From The Comprehensive Commentary: By a frequent Scripture metaphor a person, living in the defilements of this world, and neglectful of preparation for another, is said to be “dead while he liveth,” while he who meets death in the discharge of his Christian duty, is pronounced “living though he die,” John 11:25-26; 1 Timothy 5:6; 1 John 3:14 : Judges 12:0. (Woodhouse.)

Barnes: Revelation 2:10. Ye shall have tribulation ten days. Affliction in this life, however severe, can be but brief; and in the hope that it will soon end why should we not bear it without murmuring or repining? … Be thou faithful unto death, etc. It is true of every one who is a Christian, in whatever manner he is to die, that if he is faithful unto death, a crown of life awaits him.—Revelation 3:3. It is always well for Christians to call to remembrance the “day of their espousals,” and their views and feelings when they gave their hearts to the Saviour, and to compare those views with their present condition, especially if their conversion was marked by any thing unusual.—Thou shall not know what hour I will come upon thee. Every man who is warned of the evil of his course, and who refuses or neglects to repent, has reason to believe that God will come suddenly in His wrath and call him to His bar. Proverbs 29:1.

Revelation 3:15. I would thou wert hot or cold. Any thing better than this condition, where love is professed, but where it does not exist; where vows have been assumed which are not fulfilled.

Revelation 3:20. If any one hear My voice. Any one, of any age, and in any land, would be authorized to apply this to himself, and, under the protection of this invitation, to come to the Saviour, and to plead this promise as one that fairly included himself.—Chaps. 2, 3. Though the churches to which these epistles were addressed have long since passed away, yet the principles laid down in them still live, and they are full of admonition to Christians in all ages and all lands.—From Trench: Revelation 2:2 : I know thy works. These are words of comfort and, strength for all who, amid infinite weakness, are yet able to say, “Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24), or with St. John, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17); but words of fear for every one who would fain keep back any thing in his outer or inner life from the Lord.—Revelation 3:4. Observe the gracious manner in which the Lord recognizes and sets His seal of allowance to the good which any where He finds.—From Vaughan: Revelation 2:10. Christ says to each one of us, Be thou faithful: use well the talent that I have given thee; forget not Who gave it; forget not Who will call for an account of it.—From Bonar: Revelation 3:7 : He that hath the keys of David. The key (1) Of David’s house, (2) Of David’s castle, (3) Of David’s city, (4) Of David’s treasure-house, (5) Of David’s banqueting-house.

Revelation 3:20. Note here (1) the love of Christ: in the message as addressed to Laodicea, the unloving and unlovable; (2) the patience of Christ: I stand at the door; (3) the earnestness of Christ: I knock; (4) the appeal of Christ: If any man will hear my voice and open the door; (5) the promise of Christ: I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:21. We have here—I. The battle; II. The victory; III. The reward. I. The battle: The Christian’s life in this world a warfare: (1) Inner warfare; (2) Outer warfare; (3) Daily warfare; (4) Warfare not fought with human arms; (5) Warfare in which we are sharers with Christ. II. The victory: multitudinous as is the battle. Sure through Him Who Himself overcame. Individual. III. The reward: (1) A throne; (2) Christ’s throne.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/revelation-3.html. 1857-84.