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Bible Commentaries

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation
Revelation 3

 

 

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Verse 1

Revelation 3:1

Revelation 3:1 "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."

And unto the Angel of the Church in Sardis, write, etc.

Sardis was a city in Lydia, where King Crsus sometime had his court and residence, in which city the gospel also was preached, and had good success, for there was this church planted, among whom the holy ordinances were administered; neither were any such errors in doctrine, nor evil deeds in conversation, charged by Christ upon the ministers of this church, or members thereof, as was found in Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira. This church had some renown, and name of praise among the churches of God, yet all was not well, some among them were dead, and others ready to die. The titles which Christ take here unto himself in the inscription of this epistle, are two. First,

"He that hath the seven Spirits of God"

See exposition of Revelation 1:4.

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:4

Secondly, and

"the seven Stars"

See Revelation 1:16-20.

"I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest and art dead"

By a "name" to live, is meant, the great and honorable esteem which other churches of saints and ministers of Christ had of this church, her ministers and members. For, first, the appearance of the graces and gifts of the Spirit of God, which did shine forth and were perspicuous in some of the ministers of this church, made her renowned among other churches. {as Ezekiel 16:14} Secondly, the soundness of doctrine, purity of gospel-administrations in the worship of God, and the strictness of discipline in this church, did give her a name and a praise among other churches. {as Zephaniah 3:20} "And are dead." Whatsoever were the apprehensions which other churches had of this, or whatever her own ministers and members did esteem of her state and condition, yet our Lord Jesus (who best new the present state of this church) testified, that there was not that reality and sincerity found in some of her ministers or members that ought to be in the church of God; for some of her ministers or members were dead in trespasses and sins, {as Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13} others were ready to die; withering, decaying, backsliding, and much deadness, was seen by Christ among them.


Verse 2

Revelation 3:2

Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Here followeth the directions that Christ gives this church, in order to their recovery out of that dead state and decaying condition that they were in, which directions are two sorts; the first respecteth their present duty, and their future behavior or carriage for the time to come.

"Be watchful"

which doth more especially concern the Ministers of the church who are her watchman, { Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:2; Ezekiel 33:6-7} and watch for their souls, { Hebrews 13:17} which doth imply, that they were not so diligent in this duty as they ought to be; for there were some poor and precious souls under their charge in this church, who were neglected, and not so looked after, not watched over, as they ought to be. The Second direction respecteth what was past, and teacheth them what to do in regard to that.

"And strengthen the things which remain"

is meant, First, some remainders of the work of God's Holy Spirit and word in the hearts of some members of this church, which the ministers did not endeavor to nourish, cherish, and establish, as they should have done; and so partly through the security of those weak members, and partly through the negligence and carelessness of their ministers not visiting them, and not inquiring into their backsliding condition, they were ready to die: Or, Secondly, some work, or beginning of grace in some poor souls, which was the fruits of the ministry; and these poor souls, not being fed with the sincere milk of the word, and nourished up with good and sound doctrine, began to decay and cool, and were ready to die; that Isaiah , to cast away their confidence, to give over their hopes, and comforts and promises; and so began to decay in their gifts, to cool in their affections, and to neglect holy duties, in which respect they are said to be ready to die.

"The things which remain,"

to wit, the Spiritual gifts that remained, the saving grace that remained, the saving grace that remained, the heavenly comforts that remained, the holy duties that remained, the lively affections that remained, and the gracious desires, heart-pantings, soul-longings, and sincere hungerings, thirstings, sighnings, groanings, mournings, and feelings after Christ, which remained, (though ready to die and to be extinguished) ought to be strengthened, First, by spiritual counsel. { Isaiah 35:3-4} Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, say to them that are of a sorrowful heart, be strong. Secondly, by spiritual food; administering a word in season to the weary soul. {as Zechariah 10:12} And I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name,

"For I have not found thy works perfect before God".

Here followeth the reasons of Christ's former counsel and direction. Christ had examined and tried the works of this angel and church, and found some imperfection in them, whereupon he bears this testimony against them. There are three things necessary to make any perfect in the sight of God. First, It must be a work of faith, to wit, such a work as God hath commanded in his word; and the work of God must be the ground of our faith. { Hebrews 11:6} For whatsoever is not of faith is sin. { Romans 14:23} Secondly, It must be a labor of love, that Isaiah , the love of Christ must constrain believers to be fruitful and laborious in every good work, else it will not be acceptable to God, duties done from a principle of love to Christ, and service done from the same spiritual love to the saints, are well-pleasing to God. { Hebrews 6:10} Thirdly, It must be done in singleness and sincerity of heart. { 2 Corinthians 1:12}

And especially the angel's work (or the work of the ministry) must be done, First, in sincerity. { 2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 2:5} Secondly, with zeal to God's glory: And, thirdly, with affection to the souls of the people, { Colossians 4:12-13} by improving all their ministerial gifts, graces, and abilities to the utmost; making full proof of their ministry for the conversion of sinners unto Christ, the edification of the saints in faith, love, and good works; and the feeding, ruling the church according to the word of God. { 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Timothy 4:13-15; Colossians 1:28-29; Colossians 4:17} Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.


Verse 3

Revelation 3:3

Revelation 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.

"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard", etc.

This verse contains another word of counsel, which consists of theses particular directions. First, to call to mind what they had heard and received. Secondly, to retain and hold fast what remains: And, thirdly, to repent wherein they had been defective. That which they had received, was, first the gospel. { 1 Corinthians 15:1} Secondly, Jesus Christ. { Colossians 2:6} Thirdly, the Holy Spirit. Fourthly, saving and sanctifying grace. Fifthly, spiritual gifts: And, sixthly, commandments how to walk and please God. { 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; Philippians 4:8-9} Those things which ye have both learned, received and heard, etc.

"Hold fast".

First, The form of sound words. { 2 Timothy 1:13} Secondly, the profession of faith, { Hebrews 10:23} also, your Christian confidence and hope. { Hebrews 3:6} And, thirdly, all spiritual good things received. { 1 Thessalonians 5:21}

"And Repent".

First, that which the angel and this church were to repent of, was their formality; for there appeared much more of the form of godliness amongst them than of the power. { 2 Timothy 3:5} Secondly, the hypocrisy of some that seemed to be what indeed they were not; they seemed to be religious, they had a name to live amongst men, but their works were not perfect in the sight of God.

"If therefore thou shalt not watch".

Here followeth a sharp threatening, whereby Christ presseth his former exhortation and direction to be watchful. { Revelation 3:2, See exposition of that verse} See KNOLLYS: Revelation 3:2 This communication is amplified by a secret and sudden visitation;

"I will come on thee as a thief", etc.

This visitation threatened here, is general, and may include any one, yea, every one of the former corrections wherewith Christ visited the other churches. { Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 2:22} To come as a thief, is to come with sudden destruction. { 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6} Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but watch, be sober. { Revelation 16:15}

"And thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee".

This notes the secrecy of Christ's visitation; At an hour when they think not of it, or in an hour that they know not of, will Christ come upon them, and visit them with his corrections and judgments.


Verse 4

Revelation 3:4

Revelation 3:4 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.

This verse contains a word of consolation, and encouragement unto this angel and church from Christ; which consists of three parts. First, a description of the persons in this church whom Christ would comfort. Secondly, the promise that he makes concerning them: And, Thirdly, the reason Christ gives why he makes this gracious promise.

The persons were some eminent and noted men among the ministers and members of that church; therefore "names" are here put for persons, or men of name, to wit, some in this church, which were more excellent for grace and holiness than the rest in Sardis. Lot and Job , in their generation, or such as Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, who were the chief men among the brethren, { Acts 15:22} and so the word names is put for persons or men of name Among the disciples of Christ, there were above five hundred brethren met together at once, that Isaiah , at one time, and in one place, unto whom Jesus Christ did appear after his resurrection, { 1 Corinthians 15:6-7} where, of them a hundred and twenty, { Acts 1:15} were the number of names or number of the men of name. So those persons here in this church of Sardis, though very eminent above others, yet they were but few. A few Names, the special notice of them, for the encouragement of this angel and church, as well as for their particular commendation.

"Thou hast a few Names even in Sardis".

And for a minister to have but a few members in the church, who are eminent for grace and holiness is more commendable, and more comfortable, than to have many that have a name to live, and are yet dead, and a few that are indeed alive, but their works, duties and gifts, withering, decaying, and ready to die.

"Which have not defiled their garments".

By "garments" we may not understand their outward profession, and form of godliness only, (no, nor chiefly), for in that respect, there were some formal professors in this church, who seemed as religious, and were eminent for gifts and parts; for they had a name to live, although some of them might be hypocrites, { Isaiah 33:14} and denied the power of Godliness, and so defiled the garments of their profession, etc. But by "garments" here is meant their white robes, even that inward purity of heart, and that spiritual power of Godliness in their life, which is called the brides array of fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints, { Revelation 19:8} to wit, of Christ's righteousness, of justification, sanctification and holiness; the saint's garments of salvation, { Isaiah 16:10} which these "few" kept undefiled, unspotted, uncorrupted, unpolluted, that Isaiah , pure and clean by faith, { Acts 15:9} not only in the sight of men, but also in the sight of God. Not that these few eminent saints in Sardis lived without sin in the sight of god, or that they kept their garments of fine linen so white and clean, that they were never defiled in any respect; but they were not polluted, corrupted, nor defiled with such enormities as others were, which were not the spots of God's children. {Deuteronomy 32:5} And, if at any time they contracted any filth of sin upon their fine Linen, then they washed their Robes, and made them white in the blood of Christ. { Revelation 7:13-14}

"And they shall walk with me in white".

Here Christ promised those saints in Sardis two things. First, communion and fellowship with himself, signified by walking with Christ. { Song of Solomon 2:4-6} He brought me into the Banqueting-house, and his Banner over me was love;( compare Colossians 2:6 with 1 John 1:3). In which walking and communion with Christ the saints enjoy his spiritual presence in his word preached, and in his holy ordinances administered unto them, which fills them with joy and peace through believing. { Psalm 16:11} In thy presence is fullness of joy. Secondly, conformity unto Christ; Christ was cloathed in white raiment { Matthew 17:2; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14} and his saints shall be cloathed also in white, { Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14} that Isaiah , they shall be like Christ. What marvelous love is this- that we shall be like him? { 1 John 3:1}

"For they are worthy"

Not in themselves, with respect to any merit of their own; for when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants, because we have left something of our duty undone; and also, because we have done our Master's will no better. The saints can merit nothing of God, { Job 9:15; Job 9:21; Job 35:7} but yet they may be accounted worthy, First, through God's gracious acceptance of their persons and services in his Son Jesus Christ; in which respect, as the saints are said to be righteous in Christ, so they may be said to be worthy in Christ, that Isaiah , so accounted of God. Secondly, through that meetness which is found in the saints to partake of Christ's favor and free-grace, to walk with him in white, Christ having granted them to be clothed in fine linen, clean and white, { Revelation 19:8} and they being watchful to keep their garments undefiled (as these few did), he is well-pleased to account them worthy, that is meet to walk with him in white. And the Greek word here used, is translated meet, { Matthew 3:8} meet or suitable unto repentance. And indeed, there was in some proportion a meetness in those few saints in Sardis, even in Christ's own gracious and righteous judgment, to walk with him in white who had kept their garments undefiled.


Verse 5

Revelation 3:5

Revelation 3:5 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.

"He that overcometh," etc.

This is one of the promises which Christ made to him that overcometh, whether he was any one of the ministers or members of this church, or of any other church of saints, or any particular Christian whosoever, that did or shall repent of his cooling, decaying, and backsliding condition, and be watchful, and so recover and overcome the world, Satan, and sin; and also overcome the beast, and get victory over his image, his name, his Mark , and the number of his name,

"the same shall be clothed in white raiment",

that is as before, he shall have communion with Christ; and be arrayed like the bride in fine linen, clean and white. { Revelation 19:8} Though they had defiled their garments with their defection and decaying, being ready to die, yet they should recover and wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and so shall walk with him in white, or shall be clothed in white raiment;

"and I will not blot out his name out of the book of Life"

By "the book of life," is meant, First, the decree of Gods election. { Philippians 4:3} Whole names are in the book of life, that Isaiah , in the record or decree of election. Secondly, Christ's record or memorial of those that the Father hath given to him before the foundation of the world, which is called the Lamb's Book of Life. { Revelation 21:17} Thirdly, the gospel and new covenant of grace, according to which, every one that liveth under that dispensation, shall be judged at the last day (Compare Romans 2:16 with Revelation 20:12). Now Christ promising him that overcomes, that he "will not blot out his name out of the book of life," doth mean, that he will not put his name out of his memorial, but bear his name upon his breast-plate among the names of all the Israel of God, as a perpetual memorial before the Father, as one of the election of grace, whom the Father gave unto him before the foundation of the world; and he shall be judged at the last day according to the gospel, and new covenant of the grace of God, whose name is written in the book of life.

"But I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels".

To wit, in the day of judgment Jesus Christ will own him that overcometh, and acknowledge him before God his Father, and before all his holy angels: That he is one of the election of grace, whom God the Father gave unto his Son Jesus Christ, for whom Christ laid down his life; and hath promised him eternal life. { Titus 1:2} In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began. { 1 John 2:25} And this is the promise which he hath promised us, even eternal life;{also 1 John 5:11-12} And this is the Record, that is to say, The Holy Scripture is the book of record that God hath given us, (namely, who believe) eternal Life; and this life is in his Song of Solomon , and that he that hath the Son hath this life.


Verse 6

Revelation 3:6

Revelation 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

See the exposition upon Revelation 1:3; Revelation 2:7

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:3

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:7


Verse 7

Revelation 3:7

Revelation 3:7 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;

"And to the Angel of the Church in Philadelphia, write," etc.

Philadelphia (that is brotherly love, so named by one Attalus Philadelphias) a was a City in Mysia, poor and mean, in comparison of some other Cities in Asia; and yet famous for one of the most pure and uncorrupted Churches in Asia. Smyrna and Philadelphia were the poorest and weakest among all the Churches in Gifts and other Externals, but they were the most rich and excellent in spirituals

The Titles which Christ here taketh to himself, are, First, Some Attributes of his Divine Nature, "he that is holy, he that is true;" and Secondly, Some Characters of his Kingly Power, and the Dignity of his Mediatorial Kingdom:

"He that is holy"

Christ is the holy one, that Isaiah , the holy God, { Isaiah 43:14-15} I am the Lord your holy ONE, the Creator of Israel, your King: And Christ is the holy one, that Isaiah , the holy Child or Son of God. { Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30; Mark 1:24} The holy ONE of God. { Acts 3:14} The holy ONE and the just ONE, for Christ was holy, and without Sin.

"He that is true"

Christ is the true God, { John 1:1} very God, { 1 John 5:20} who is God blessed for ever, { Romans 9:5} the only wise God our Savior, { Jude 1:25} and the faithful and true witness ( Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14; Revelation 19:11; and Revelation 6:10), O Lord, holy and true; and John 14:6, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ is the true living way unto the Father.

"He that hath the key of David",

and the execution thereof; "He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth"

"He that hath the key of David",

is meant the Dominion and kingdom of his Father David. { Isaiah 22:21-23} And the key of the House of David will I lay upon his shoulder: -And he shall be for a glorious Throne to his Father's house. And, Isaiah 9:6-7, And the Government shall be upon his shoulder: -Upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Justice. Luke 1:31-33 , And the Lord shall give unto him the Throne of his Father David, -And of his Kingdom they shall be no end.

Christ, as Mediator, shall have absolute Power and Dominion over all the Nations and Kingdoms of the World. { Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15} And that Nation, and that Kingdom that will not serve him, shall be destroyed { Isaiah 60:12; Luke 11:14 ,27}

"He that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth"

Christ openeth the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, saying, Hear ye deaf, and look ye blind, etc. { Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 42:18; Psalm 119:18} He opens the understanding, {Luke 24:45; Ephesians 1:18} yea, he openeth the Heart, { Acts 16:14} and no man shutteth, or can shut those Ears, Eyes, Understandings and Hearts, which he openeth; and if he open not, no man can open. { Revelation 5:1-5} None could open the Sealed Book but the root of David, to wit, Jesus Christ, who "hath the key of David." And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is Sealed, which they deliver unto one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is Sealed, etc. { Isaiah 29:11-12} If Christ shut, none can open. Job 12:14, He that shutteth up a Prayer of Manasseh , and there can be no opening; and Job 11:10 and Psalm 88:8, I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.


Verse 8

Revelation 3:8

Revelation 3:8 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.

I know thy works, etc.

This is not only a testimony of Christ's omniscience, common to all the Churches, but also of Christ's approbation, peculiar to the Church of Smyrna, and this of Philadelphia. Thy works, both the Work of the Ministry in all their Administrations, and the Work of Grace, Faith, Love, Patience, and every good Work that was dine by any Minister or Member of this Church, according to the Will of God. Christ took notice thereof, owns it, acknowledgeth it, and approves of it; yea, and will Crown it with acceptance, and reward of Grace and Glory. See the Exposition upon Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:19.

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:2

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:9

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:19

" Behold, I have set before thee an open door"

By an open door is meant an effectual and successful opportunity and season for the Preaching of the Gospel, and Administration of the Ordinances of God, both for the Edification of the whole Body there implanted, The Ministers of this Church had a door of utterance opened unto them to speak the mystery of Christ, { Colossians 4:3} and the Members and other Hearers had a door of entrance opened to them to receive the Gospel, not as the Word of Men, but as it is indeed the Word of God, { 1 Thessalonians 2:13} so that the Word of God had a free course, and was glorified { 2 Thessalonians 3:1} in which respect; it is said, that a great door and effectual was opened unto the Apostle. { 1 Corinthians 16:9}

" And no man can shut it"

None could hinder the Progress of the Gospel, nor the Liberty and Privileges of the Church, either to silence her Ministers, (for the Stars are in Christ's hand) nor Persecute her Members so as to disperse and scatter them; for Christ walked in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks. And therefore, none could remove this Candlestick out of its place, nor shut this door, which Christ had opened; which was an eminent proof of the power of the key of David, which Christ had, and here exercised in this Church of Philadelphia.

" For thou hast a little strength",

to wit, of Faith and Grace, which was manifested in two particulars; First, In keeping Christ's Word. Secondly, In not denying Christ's Name. See the Exposition upon Revelation 2:13. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:13


Verse 9

Revelation 3:9

Revelation 3:9 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.

This verse contains one encouragement unto this Angel and Church, her ministers and members, against the reproaches and persecutions which they suffered by the Synagogue of the Jews in this City,

[Idou didwmi ek thv sunagwghv tou satana &c.] Behold, I will give (some) of the Synagogue of Satan which is expounded [ina pipsw aupuv, &c.] Behold, I will cause them or make them, to wit of the Synagogue of Satan; the sense is the same, and the meaning of both expressions Isaiah , that Christ would give them his Grace, and having called them effectually by his grace, and given them His Holy Spirit as a fruit of this angels ministry, Christ would also cause them, and make them join unto this Church in Philadelphia, as members thereof, and worship God with them most humbly, or before the angels and Churches feet. Compare Deuteronomy 33:29 and Isaiah 60:14-15 with 1 Corinthians 14:25 and this should be as a signal testimony of Christ's love to this church and Angel in Philadelphia, which those converted Jews shall. acknowledge.

[Behold I will make them to come and worship before thy feet and to know I have loved thee.] See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:9


Verse 10

Revelation 3:10

Revelation 3:10 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.

Here followeth another word of encouragement to this Angel and Church, amplified, First, By a promise of preservation. Secondly, by a ground or reason of Christ's great favour to them. By the word of Christ's patience is meant the Gospel of Christ; so called, First, Because persecutions do attend both the preachers and professors of the gospel, which ought to be endured with patience, Colossians 1:11 as the Churches of saints did, 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Secondly, because Christ Himself did patiently suffer after He had preached the gospel, and therefore it is so called the word of His patience

Kept the Word,

signifies, First, to receive the gospel or Word of God, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14, though accompanied with much affliction and persecution. Secondly, To lay it up for ourselves by faith, and so to keep it as in a treasure, Psalm 119:11 and Luke 1:66. Thirdly, To obey the gospel, and keep the ordinances of Christ in our practice, Romans 6:1-23; Romans 16:27. and 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 And, Fourthly, To hold fast the faithful Word, whatsoever tribulations and persecutions we endure for the name and gospel of Christ, 2 Timothy 1:13 and Revelation 2:13-25.

I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.

That Isaiah , from the evil of that hour, and of those temptations. By temptation here we may understand any kind of trial; viz. of affliction, of persecution, of tribulation, and of temptation, which the Churches, the ministers and saints should suffer in those days, (especially that hour, Matthew 24:21-30) that were to come shortly after John's writing of this book, James 1:2. And by the hour of temptation is meant an indefinite time; and also a certain time, though secret and unknown to men, yet limited and appointed by the Lord, when it shall come, and how long it shall last, called an hour, to signify, that it should be but a short time, our times are in thy hand, O Lord, Psalm 31:15. The time when the Churches, their ministers and members tribulation shall begin; the time how long their trials and troubles shall last; an the time when their sorrows and sufferings shall end, is all in God's hand; that Isaiah , at the Lords appointment.

Which shall come upon all the world.

By the world, we are to understand here Caesar's world, Luke 2:1 throughout all the kingdoms, nations, and countries under the Roman Pagan emperors in every city and village, where any of the Churches of Christ were planted; God would suffer a general persecution to fall upon the Churches of saints in all parts of the world, wheresoever they were, but especially in Asia; and that whilst this Church in Philadelphia was in being: Which hour of temptation came upon the Churches and saints in the following bloody persecutions raised against them by the pagan emperors, from the evil of which temptations, this Church, ministers and members were preserved and kept.

To try them that dwell upon the earth.

By earth is meant, the saints and churches of saints that then were militant upon earth: Earth is not put here in opposition unto heaven, nor can it be so understood in this place; for the men of the world and inhabiters of the earth, were not the object of this hour or temptation, but were instruments in the persecutions of the Churches and saints that inhabited in the earth: So then, earth being contradistinguished to the Church triumphant in heaven, doth signify the Church militant here on earth, who was the object of this hour of temptation, Daniel 12:10. Many shall be purified and made white and tried, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 1 Peter 4:17 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13-15.


Verse 11

Revelation 3:11

Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

The last thing in the matter of this Epistle, is Christ's gracious advertisement unto this angel and Church; amplified, First, By an assertion,

I come quickly,

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:16 and See KNOLLYS: Revelation 3:3 but more especially See KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:7 Secondly, By a precept or charge,

hold that fast which thou hast;

which implies, First, That this Church, and her ministers and members, had received saving grace, spiritual gifts, and gospel liberties from Christ. Secondly, That they ought to hold fast the faith which they had received, and to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and Galatians 5:1. And Thirdly, By a word of caution,

that no man take thy crown,

which contains both a promised and a possessed reward of grace and glory; a crown of grace given and enjoyed; and a crown of glory promised, and hereafter to be received, Isaiah 28:5; 1 Peter 5:4 and James 1:12. That crown of grace received, was, that which they are here charged to keep; and not to lose that royal dignity and crown of Glory, which they had obtained who had kept the Word of Christ, and not denied His name.


Verse 12

Revelation 3:12

Revelation 3:12 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.

Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.

There were two pillars in the temple at Jerusalem, 1 Kings 7:15. One, Solomon called Jachin, that Isaiah , he shall establish; the other he called Boaz, that Isaiah , with strength, 1 Kings 7:21. The pillars in God's gospel temple, are Christ's able ministers of the New Testament, Galatians 2:9. Peter, and James and John , who seemed to be pillars: I will; make him a pillar; that is Christ will establish him. and strengthen him, so that he shall be able to strengthen others who are weak, and help to support and strengthen them. Another use of pillars; is to bear forth the edicts and laws of kings, and their renowned acts engraven upon them; such was Absalom's pillar, 2 Samuel 18:18 so the Church of the living God, is called the pillar and ground of truth, 1 Timothy 3:15.

And he shall go no more out,

that Isaiah , he shall have a name in the house of God, and dwell there, and abide there.

And I will write upon him the name of my God.

By the name of God, here we may understand his communicable attributes of truth, faithfulness, mercy, and holiness, which Christ writes upon those pillars in God's house; not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, 2 Corinthians 3:3 in the fleshly tables of their hearts.

And the name of the city of my God.

This city is the new Jerusalem, mentioned Revelation 21:1-2. and is the Church of the first-born, written in heaven, Hebrews 12:22-24.

And I will write upon him my new name,

that Isaiah , the Son of God, Revelation 21:7 and he shall be my Son. So then, He that overcometh shall be made a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19.


Verse 13

Revelation 3:13

Revelation 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:7


Verse 14

Revelation 3:14

Revelation 3:14 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;

And unto the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans, write.

Laodicea was a great and rich City in Phrygia, by the River Licus, near to Coloss; where the gospel was preached, and this Church was planted in the faith and order of the gospel;

These things saith the Amen.

That Isaiah , unchangeable, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and to day, and the same for ever, Hebrews 13:8. Christ is also the Amen of all the promises of God, 2 Corinthians 1:20.

The faithful and true witness,

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:5

The beginning of the creation of God,

Proverbs 8:22-30. Christ is the first-born of every creature, Colossians 1:15, also the first-born amongst many brethren, Romans 8:29 and therefore Christ in all things hath the preeminence, Colossians 1:18.


Verse 15

Revelation 3:15

Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.

Christ had tried all the works of this Church, of here elders and members; all their administrations, all their worship and ordinances, all their duties to God, and all their services of love one to another; and Christ found the elders and members of this Church to be Luke -warm, neither cold nor hot.

I would thou wert cold;

that Isaiah , one that makes no profession of God and Godliness, of Christ, and of the gospel; or rather,

I would thou wert hot;

that Isaiah , had zeal, life, grace, faith, etc. and the zealous, lively, fervent acts and exercise thereof.


Verse 16

Revelation 3:16

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

So then, because thou art Luke -warm, &c

To be Luke -warm, is a metaphor taken from boiling water that was very hot, but being taken off from the fire, cools and becomes Luke -warm, or else when cold water which hath been set on the fire, and beginning to heat, is Luke -warm, neither cold nor hot: Such were the ministers and members of this Church, who seemed to be religious, had the form of Godliness, but not the power of it, 2 Timothy 3:5

I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Which expression implies, First, That the formality and Luke -warmness of this Church, her elders and members, was very burdensome unto Jesus Christ, Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 1:15. Secondly, That Christ was heart-sick of those formalists, and their formality in the worship of God, and he was willing to ease himself of them. Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and make them as loathsome as that which is vomited up, Habakkuk 2:16. The cup of the Lord's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory. Thirdly, That Christ would utterly reject this Church, her ministers and members, for their Luke -warmness, formality, hypocrisy, &c. Zechariah 11:7; Zechariah 11:14


Verse 17

Revelation 3:17

Revelation 3:17 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:

Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods.

Rich in grace, rich in faith, and rich in good works; so the Church elders and members ought to be, and they boasted that they were so; and they said they increased in goods, in spiritual gifts, grace, and good works, &c. They boasted of their growth, and increase in spirituals; though it was otherwise with them, as Christ testified in this verse.

And have need of nothing:

They thus gloried in appearance, as 2 Corinthians 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 4:8 as if they needed no spiritual gifts, or grace; no admonitions nor reproofs from Christ, no power from on high, no reformation or amendment, no counsel or advice.

And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Wretched that Isaiah , in a wretched condition; First, As being without God, and without Christ, and without grace, Ephesians 2:11-12. Secondly, As being miserably captivated by their corruptions, Romans 3:11-16; Romans 3:18 and Romans 7:23-24.

And poor, and blind, and naked.

That Isaiah , some of them had not a grain of grace, others dark in their understanding, and others naked; that Isaiah , in a shameful, filthy, and polluted condition, Revelation 3:18, that the shame of thy nakedness doth not appear.


Verse 18

Revelation 3:18

Revelation 3:18 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.

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire.

As there was a depth of hypocrisy and formality in this Church, so here is a greater depth of mercy and mystery in her cure, which Jesus Christ propounded by his gracious council unto them; and the excellent commodities which Christ here offers them, and counsels them to buy of him. Christ is the most wise and best counsellor, Isaiah 9:6 and we may buy all his spiritual commodities without money, and without price, Isaiah 55:1-3.

Buy of me,

that Isaiah , accept what I offer you, and take it freely, Revelation 22:17.

The spiritual commodities, which Christ offered this Church, her ministers and members, are three, tried gold, white raiment, and eye-salve. These are metaphorical and mystical expressions: By

Gold tried in the fire,

we are to understand precious faith, 2 Peter 1:1 and all the graces, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, John 1:14 which God the Father gives freely and abundantly to all that are poor in spirit, Ephesians 4:7.

And white raiment,

that Isaiah , the robe of Christ's righteousness, and the garments of his salvation, Isaiah 61:10 and Revelation 19:7-8.

And anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.

Christ's eye-salve is the unction of the Holy ONE, 1 John 2:20-27, that Isaiah , of the holy Spirit of God; whereby, the eyes of their understanding are enlightened to see, &c as Ephesians 1:17-20.


Verse 19

Revelation 3:19

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Christ rebukes and chasteneth them whom he loveth, Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:5-8; Hebrews 12:13 that Isaiah , He doth reprove them by His Word, and correct them with His rod; but it is in love to their souls.

Be zealous therefore and repent.

First, Repent, that Isaiah , sorrow after a godly manner for your sins, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 of formality, hypocrisy, Luke -warmness, &c. Secondly, Be zealous, that Isaiah , be fervent in Spirit, Romans 12:11 having a fervent zeal for the glory of God, the honor of Christ and the credit of the gospel, and the example of others.


Verse 20

Revelation 3:20

Revelation 3:20 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.

Behold I stand at the door, and knock.

Christ called this Church, her elders and members, to consider how unwilling He was to leave them, to forsake them, and cast them off, if they would take His counsel and amend. Behold, that Isaiah , observe well what I have yet further to say to you, ere I depart from you.

I stand at the door, and knock.

Christ knocks at the door of our hearts by the powerful operations of his Holy Spirit, as 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. and Hebrews 4:12. Christ continued his presence still with this Church, notwithstanding their Luke -warmness, (as he did of old, Hosea 6:4-9. and Hosea 11:1-4; Hosea 11:7-12. How shall I give thee up Ephraim?—How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together;) because, First, Christ knew some of those Luke -warm ones were elect ones, whom the Father had given unto him, John 6:37-40 and 2 Timothy 2:19. and John 10:16 or else Christ doth this to leave them without excuse, Romans 1:20 and Hebrews 2:1-3.

If any man hear my voice, and open the door

That is in the ministry of the Word, and open the door of his heart, by a willing content to accept his offers of grace upon gospel-terms.

I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

This is a great encouragement unto them to answer his earnest desire, and gracious invitation to open their hearts, and to admit him entrance, by promising them, First, Union with him;

I will come in to him.

Secondly, Communion with him;

And sup with him, and he with me.

By supping together, we may understand the mutual fellowship between Christ and their souls, in the sacred ordinances of God, 1 John 1:3.


Verse 21

Revelation 3:21

Revelation 3:21 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.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.

To be with Christ in His throne, doth signify, First, That they are made kings, and shall reign on earth, Revelation 5:9-10. There are two sorts of thrones, where Christ and all His saints shall sit, and reign together. One throne is on earth; for Christ shall be king of all the earth, Zechariah 14:9. The kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints of the most high, Daniel 7:27. Both these prophecies, and that also Revelation 11:15 will shortly be fulfilled; even in the days of those kings. Daniel 2:44-45. Suddenly after the resurrection (or restoring) of Christ's two slain witnesses, that Isaiah , His Churches and His ministers, Revelation 11:11-15 which will be in three prophetical days and in half, Numbers 4:34 and Ezekiel 4:5-6 whereof more fully in the Exposition of the Eleventh chapter of this Revelation. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 11:1[ff] The other throne is in Heaven; where Christ and His saints shall reign to eternity, Matthew 25:24 and shall judge the world of the wicked; and the fallen angels, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 called the eternal judgment, Hebrews 6:1-5.


Verse 22

Revelation 3:22

Revelation 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Besides the Exposition of the eleventh verse of the second Chapter; See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:11 consider, that the Holy Spirit spake some things in every epistle to every Church, that concerned all the Churches to hear, and every particular person that could hear, to hearken diligently unto those things that

the Spirit spake unto the Churches in those seven epistles that St. John wrote unto them.

Before I proceed unto the Exposition of the fourth chapter, I think it meet for me, and not unprofitable for the conscientious and diligent reader, to say a few words touching the Churches of God in these latter days.

First, the fit matter of a true visible Church of God under the gospel, is a company of sanctified, baptized believers; such was the Church at Jerusalem, the Churches in Judea, the Church at Rome, in Corinth, and all the Churches of Christ at their first constitution, in the days of the apostles, Acts 4:23-32; Acts 8:12; Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 14:23-33, Churches of saints.

Secondly, The essential form of a true visible Church of God, is the right joining and orderly compacting of those sanctified believers together into one mystical body, by the ministers of Christ, according to the constitution of the gospel, Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.

Thirdly, The end why the Church is so planted, builded, and formed, is that they may meet together in ONE to worship God publicly in Spirit and in truth in all His sacred gospel ordinances, to the glory of God, and for the mutual edification of that mystical body of Christ, whose head He Isaiah , 1 Corinthians 14:23; Hebrews 10:25; John 4:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Corinthians 14:12-26, let all things be done to edifying.

Fourthly, It is not lawful for any member of a true Church to separate himself from it, nor forsake the assembling of himself with it, Hebrews 10:25; 1 John 2:19. Our blessed Lord Jesus did not blame, nor reprove any of the ministers or members of any of those Churches in Asia, (although Christ reproved the Churches and their elders for suffering errors in doctrine, in worship, and in manners, among them;) but commended them that held their communion with the Church, and kept themselves free from those errors, Revelation 2:24; Revelation 3:4. Separation from a true Church is schism, and schism is a sin, 1 Corinthians 12:25 which causeth division, 1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 11:18 although the apostles did command the saints in Corinth to separate themselves from idolatrous Gentiles, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 and he himself did separate the disciples from the unbelieving Jews, Acts 19:9 yet, neither Paul, nor any of the apostles, nor our Savior, commanded any of the saints to separate themselves from any true Church of Christ.

Fifthly, The ministers and members of a Church may keep themselves from being partakers of other men's sins, and from being defiled with them, by bearing their testimony and witness orderly in the Church, against them that hold any unsound doctrine, or any corrupt manners, or any false worship, 2 Timothy 4:2-3; Ephesians 5:11; Matthew 18:15-17. We ought to be followers of Christ, who bare His witness against the unsound doctrine, and corrupt manners, and neglect of discipline in some of the seven Churches in Asia, and waited patiently for their repentance; yet He did not forsake them, nor reject them, but owned them to be His Churches, Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:12-16; Revelation 2:18; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 2:22-23; Revelation 3:14; Revelation 3:19; Revelation 3:22, until they added final impenitency unto their iniquity and transgressions.

Sixthly, The Churches of Christ, and the ministers and members thereof shall be broken, dispersed, scattered, and mystically slain and killed, Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:15-17.

Seventhly, God will gather His Churches or saints again; and will glorify the house of His glory and give them pastors after His own heart, pure worship and ordinances, and they shall serve him with one consent, Zephaniah 3:9-13; Zephaniah 3:17-20; Psalm 50:5; Isaiah 49:18; Isaiah 60:4; John 11:52; Ephesians 1:11.

Eighthly, When the Churches of saints are scattered by persecution, as Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:12, then the ministers and members may assemble themselves together in several companies, as Acts 4:1-3; Acts 18:1-23; John 20:19-23; John 20:26; Acts 1:2-4; Acts 1:13-15; 1 Corinthians 15:6 and they may also break bread from house to house, Acts 2:42-46 not only on the first day of the week, for Christ did break bread on the fifth day, Matthew 26:26-31; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. The apostle also did break bread on the second day morning early, Acts 20:7-11, after midnight, before break of day. And the brethren that have received a spiritual gift may minister the same one to another, 1 Peter 4:10-11 building up themselves in their most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20-21. Read 1 Corinthians 14:3-12; 1 Corinthians 14:31, let all things be done to edifying, 1 Corinthians 14:26

 


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Bibliography Information
Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 3:4". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-3.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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