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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 3

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 3

Revelation 3:1. The art. before ὄνομα (rec.) is, according to A, C, א, 11, 12, al., with Beng. and the more modern critics, to be deleted.

The καί before ζῇς, occurring instead of ὅτι, defended by Mill (Prol., § 1007 sqq.), received by Matth., follows ὅτι (Beng., Griesb., etc.) in a diplomatic as well as exegetical regard.

Revelation 3:2. στήρισον, according to A, C, 4, 6, 8, etc., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]; cf. Luke 22:32; Winer, p. 85. The form στήριξον (rec., א, Beng.) is, like the variations στηρίζων and τήρησον, an emendation.

μέλλει ἀποθανεῖν, rec. Yet the μέλλει has scarcely support in Arethas. Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.] have written correctly according to A, C, א, 12, 28, Vulg., Syr., ἔμελλον, to which the emendation ἔμελλεν ( ἤμελλεν, 16) also points. The var. ἔμελες ( ἔμελλες, ἤμελλες) occurs in such witnesses (2, 3, 4, 6, al., Arab., Matth.) as propose ἀποβάλλειν ( ἀποβαλεὶν) instead of the sufficiently guaranteed ἐποθανεῖν (A, א, Vulg., Syr., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]; besides which there is also the var. ἀποθνήσκειν

τοῦ θεοῦ μου), A, C, א, 2, 6, 7, 9, al., Vulg., Syr., Andr., al., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The omission of the pronoun in some witnesses (see Beng., rec.) is, perhaps, not without a theological purpose.

Revelation 3:3. The words καὶ ἤκουσας καὶ τήρει, Matth. has deleted according to his five Codd. (cf. 2, 3, 4, 6, al., in Wetst.), but against A, C, א, Vulg., rec. edd.

ἐπί σε before ὡς κλ. (rec, א, against A, 12, 28, Vulg., al.) is derived from the conclusion.

Revelation 3:4. καὶ before ἐν σαρδ. (rec) rejected already by Mill (Prol., § 1248) and Griesb. upon the ground of A, C, 2, 4, 6, al.

Instead of αὐκ ἐμολ. (rec. A, B, C, א, al.), Tisch. (1859) for not improbable, inner reasons has written (Vulg., al.).

Revelation 3:5. Instead of οὗτος (rec, Tisch.), read οὕτως, according to A, C, א, 2, 3, 9, al., Vulg., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.].

Revelation 3:9. The form διδῶ (Lach. [W. and H.]) is, according to A, C, to be preferred to δίδωμι of the rec. edd.; cf. Revelation 2:20, ἀφεῖς, א: δέδωκα, incorrectly from Revelation 3:8.

Instead of ἥξωσιν κ. προσκυνήσωσιν (rec, Griesb., Beng., Matt.), read ἥξουσιν κ. προσκυνήσουσιν according to A, C, א, 14, 28 (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). Concerning the ind. fut. after ἵνα (Revelation 22:14, Revelation 6:11, Revelation 14:13), cf. Winer, p. 271.

Revelation 3:12. καταβαίνουσα, A, C, א1, 12, 15, al., Griesb., Beng., etc.; cf. Revelation 2:20. Elz.: καταβαίνει.

Revelation 3:15. εἴης, rec. But, according to C, א, 2, 4, al., read ής (Mill, Prol, §1111; Beng., Lach., Tisch., Griesb.: ᾖς); cf. 2 Corinthians 11:1.

Revelation 3:17. The article before ἐλεεινός (A, 6, 11, al., Griesb., Lach., Treg., Tisch.) is uncertain ( א corr.). It is wanting in C (Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]), and grammatically is not to be expected.

Revelation 3:19. Instead of ζήλωσον (rec., א), read ζήλενε according to A, C, 2, 4, 9, al., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The emendation ζήλου (in Wetst.) also occurs.


Verse 1

Revelation 3:1. ἔχων τά ἐπτὰ πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ. This designation of the Lord is new rather as to form than as to sense; for Christ would not be everywhere Lord of the Church in the sense declared by the following predicate, and the entire description recurring in the commencement of the epistles (Revelation 1:12 sqq.), if he were not the one “having the seven spirits of God.”(1306) Christ, as the Son of God, has(1307) the Spirit of God, as of the Father; thus Christ works and speaks through the Spirit in and to the churches,(1308) and thus both designations of the Lord, ἔχων τὰ ἐπτὰ πνευ΄. τ. θ. and ( ἔχων) τοὺς ἐπτὰ ἀστέρας,(1309) appear in their inner connection.(1310) But, just because the ἔχειν τ. έ. πν. τ. θ. applies to Christ in his relation to his Church, not as something particular, but as something general, and as expressing a principle, the declaration ἔχον, κ. τ. λ., cannot be referred like, e.g., ἔχ. τ. ὀφθαλ΄όυς, κ. τ. λ. (Revelation 2:18), etc., in the beginning of the epistles, to any special manifestation of the Lord; neither to his omniscience, according to which he tries the hearts and reins, and also judges aright what is hidden;(1311) nor to his unlimited power to punish and reward.(1312) The Lord designates himself, in general, as the one from whom the spiritual life-forces of the Church proceed,(1313) and who thus continually rules in his churches,(1314) sending forth the seven spirits as his Spirit, and speaking, reproving, warning, consoling, and promising through the same. In a like general way, the relation of Christ to the churches (Revelation 2:1, Revelation 3:14) is made prominent; yea, even the more special features in the other titles to the epistles, with their more precise references to the special contents of the epistles, have, at the same time, an entirely general significance, and make known the specific position of the Lord with respect to his churches in general. Hence it is an arbitrary assumption, when Ebrard lays emphasis upon the fact that Christ, “in the first part of his missive, does not appeal to that point in his manifestation(1315) which afterwards(1316) is established with special reference to Sardis,(1317) viz., to the white robe; but to his general relation to all the seven churches.” There is, therefore, no foundation whatever for the explanation of this “remarkable” circumstance, by the fact that the epistle to the church at Sardis has, in addition to its historical, a special “prophetical sense;” and, as the first of the epistles referring to the “synchronistic” condition of the church, it symbolizes that “among the ecclesiastical bodies which arose in consequence of the Reformation,” in which “there was a possession and boast of pure doctrine, while there was such an over-estimate of doctrine and the objective institution of the Church, that, on that account, the continual reformation of the life was neglected.”(1318)

Upon οἶδα depends, first of all, the accus. σου τὰ ἔργα, then the clause ὅτι ὄν. ἔχ., κ. τ. λ., before which a καὶ dare not be inserted.(1319) The inner relation of the two expressions placed alongside of one another, without an express combination, is that the Lord, just because of his knowledge of the imperfection of the works of the church (Revelation 3:2), knows that the same, although it has the name that it lives, is nevertheless, in truth, dead. The expression ὀνομα ἔχεις refers neither to the individual name of the bishop, as Zosimus, Vitalis, etc.,(1320) nor to the name of his office;(1321) but designates the reputation and esteem of the church,(1322) yet in its opposition to actual truth, which is then expressly made prominent.(1323) The “life,” if it were actually present, and then, of necessity, would efficaciously manifest itself, would be “to live according to Christ;”(1324) but the judgment has the force: νεκρὸς εἷ; i.e., not “nigh to death,”(1325) but instead of the indeed seeming, yet deficient, life, death is there. This, of course, is to be understood, not unconditionally, but as, according to what follows already in Revelation 3:2, where the call to watch sounds forth, the being dead is represented as a sleep,(1326) it is to be limited according to the spiritual meaning of the expressions ζῇς and νεκρὸς ἐι. Cf. James 2:17.

όνομα μὲν εἶχε, ὡς ὑπʼ ἀθήνας ἐλαύνει, κατίετο δὲ ἐς πᾶσαν τὴν ἐλλάδα (“The expedition had a name, as though directed against Athens, while it was really put in motion against all Greece”).


Verses 1-6

Revelation 3:1-6. The epistle to the church at Sardis.

Sardis, the ancient capital of the kings of Lydia, of whom Crœsus was the last, in a rich plain irrigated by the auriferous Pactolus, bounded on the south by Mount Tmolus, lying about thirteen hours south of Thyatira, and three days’ journey east of Ephesus, was distinguished for its wealth and luxury. Under Tiberius, Sardis, with twelve other cities, suffered severely from an earthquake, and was restored by the assistance of the emperor.(1300) In the history of the Christian Church, it does not again appear until the middle of the second century, and then as the residence of the Bishop Melito.(1301) The present Sardis is a paltry village.

The church at Sardis is severely reproved; yet it is rather intimated than expressly said as to wherein its wrong consisted. We are not to think of a proper, i.e., intentional hypocrisy,(1302) but of a mode of life which did not agree with the confession firmly maintained externally.(1303) Its members had a dead(1304) faith; they faltered in their faith, and lacked the works, and the holy, pure life, which proceed from the living power of the true faith.(1305)

The supposition of Ewald, that their heathenish life protected the Christians at Sardis from being annoyed by the heathen, and, that, for this reason, nothing is said in the epistle concerning θλῖψις and ὑπο΄ονή, is only reconciled with the text with great difficulty. At all events, the church had enough Christian appearance (Revelation 3:1) to restrain the friendship of the heathen. But whether it had actually experienced no form of θλῖψις, even not from the Jews, and how this perhaps occurred, is not perceptible.


Verse 2

Revelation 3:2. γίνου γρηγορῶν, become watchful. This idea, Grot. interprets as indefinite: “beware of all sins.” N. de Lyra, with an oblique reference: “watchful for the recognition of defects in thyself and thy flock.” The Lord demands the condition of spiritual watchfulness, which is opposed to indolence or security, as spiritual sleep or death, and is occupied in holy works, or a holy life.(1327) Upon the essential identity of meaning in the two ideas of spiritual death and sleep, depends the connection of the command γίνου γρηγορῶν with the judgment νεκρὸς εἰ, and, again, with the admonition combined with the γίνου γρηγορῶν, viz., καὶ στηρ. τ. λ. ἐμ. ἀποθανεῖν. The last member of Revelation 3:2, in its connection with γάρ, and its reference to the works,(1328) is further explained from the proper conception of the one as well as of the other figurative designation.

καὶ στήρισον τὰ λοιπὰ ἔμελλον ἀποθανεῖν. Grot.: “See to it lest, by neglecting one charge, you become altogether flagitious.” Thus the τὰ λοιπὰ appear as the blessings still remaining to their own souls,(1329) “the virtues which still have remained with thee;” as Ewald says, who, by the explanation necessary with his recension of the text ( ἔμελλες ἀποθανεῖν): “Strengthen the other things which, by dying, or keeping at leisure, thou art about to lose,” commends that interpretation of the τὰ λοιπὰ the very least.(1330) The neuter form by no means hinders us from referring the expression personally, i.e., to that part of the entire church which was already on the point of dying(1331) This personal reference is supported as well by the idea of the ἀποθανεῖν,(1332) as also of the στήρισον.(1333) Only we must not understand “the rest” as meaning the laity,(1334) under the presupposition that the angel of the church was the bishop, or the college of officers (Vorsteher); but the church contemplated in its unity and entirety, and, just because of the connection of its members, made in a mass responsible,(1335) has, in its actual reality, on the one hand,(1336) still vigorous living members, but also, on the other hand, and that, too, in a preponderating majority, those who could be preserved from the death already threatened only by strengthening on the part of the church again recovering, in its entirety, unto active, wakeful life.

The imp. ἔ΄ελλον can be understood from the standpoint of the writer of the letter, just as the aor. ἐ΄αρτύτησε (1, 2);(1337) but it is more probable, that, as in the immediately following εὓρηκα, the Lord himself, who speaks, looks back upon the investigation of the church previously undertaken by himself.(1338)

οὐ γὰρ εὓρηκα, κ. τ. λ. The entire preceding admonition to the church, in mass, to be watchful, and to strengthen their members already dying by rising to a new, energetic life, is founded upon the reference to their defective works, in which it has become visible to the eyes of the Lord that they have been dead,(1339) or sleeping. By ἔργα, as in Revelation 3:1,(1340) the entire activity of the inner life in its external activity and deportment is designated; it is not “good works”(1341) that are meant, as though they were blamed only because they were not altogether perfect in their goodness. This idea, which in itself is not altogether incompatible with the tenor of the words, is much too weak for what precedes. It would first be necessary, with De Wette, to find a litotes: “Thy works are not less than perfect.” But just in the simple precision, as the words proceed from the mouth of the Lord who judges his church, do they have their most forcible significance. The Lord who has tested(1342) the works of the church according to the absolute norm(1343) has found them not perfect, and therefore not corresponding to the measure applied to them.(1344) Whether much or little be wanting for the required perfection of the works, is not to be asked: it is enough that the only and unconditionally prescribed measure is not reached. The express allusion to the absolute norm of all Christian morality is here the more forcible, as the church, according to human judgment, has the name that it lives.(1345) Incorrect references, in Grot.: “You are inconstant; some things you do well, others ill;” and in Bengel: “However good the beginning was.”


Verse 3

Revelation 3:3. From the reproach(1346) follows(1347) the admonition to repentance. The πῶς dare neither be expressly changed into a ποία,(1348) nor be explained in a sense proceeding therefrom.(1349) Castalio, correctly: “How thou wast instructed.”(1350) But it is not made prominent as to “how finely” the church received the doctrine, i.e., how well they began their life of faith;(1351) there is also no allusion to the simplicity and purity of the apostolic mode of preaching.(1352) In accord with the text, Ebrard explains: “The ‘what’ received by Sardis, it had maintained; but the ‘how,’ i.e., the manner in which it formerly had received and heard the ‘what,’ it had lost. Once it had received this with holy zeal of heart, but now only with the head.” A description of the πῶς, as well in reference to the apostolic proclamation as the reception on the part of the hearers, is given by Paul (1 Thessalonians 1:5 sqq., Revelation 2:1 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 2:1 sqq.). The manifestation of spirit and power which occurs with the preaching belongs to the right mode of hearing and receiving, as it is that mode which is efficacious unto sanctification; cf. Ephesians 4:20; Colossians 2:6. Thus the quickening and refreshal of the dead Christian life must actually be begun by the remembrance ( ΄νη΄.) of their original reception of the gospel whereby the new holy life was wrought. Besides, the two other points of the admonition, καὶ τήρει καὶ ΄ετανόησον, and that, too, in immediate sequence of this, have their justification in the fact that the received divine truth, when it is maintained, has in itself the power to work true repentance, and thus evermore to cleanse, strengthen, and perfect the new life.

Not without artificial refinement does Bengel distinguish the ἔιληφας (“with the heart”) from the ἤκουσας (“with the ear”), and then remarks on τήρει, “in order that your reception may not be in vain,” and on ΄ετανόησον, “in order that your hearing may not be in vain.” Against this distinction between ἔιληφας and ἤκουσας in fact, while it rather lies in the mode of statement,(1353) the order of words already declares, which we would then expect to be reversed; the relation stated between the two ideas τήρει and ΄ετανόησον is, in itself, arbitrary. The change from perf. to aor., in case such fine distinction were actually intended by the writer, can be explained only with Ew. ii.: The Holy Spirit appears to be still present in the church which had formerly received him, but the first hearing of the gospel lies simply in the past. With the perfect ἔιληφα thus understood, the judgment on Revelation 3:1 ( νεκρ. εἰ) entirely harmonizes, because the latter is not absolute.(1354)

In the second sentence of Revelation 3:3, just as in Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16, the threat follows as to a case where the requirement of the Lord is unfulfilled. Yet the οὔν peculiar to this passage does not indicate that the fruitlessness of the warning with respect to the bad condition of the church is presupposed.(1355) Against this, the ἐὰν already declares, which sets forth the future as either thus or possibly otherwise.(1356) But it refers either to the preceding admonition,(1357) or to the accusation of Revelation 3:2.(1358) The latter seems the more correct as the expression γοηγορήσης connects with Revelation 3:2.

ἣξω ὡς κλέπτης. Not only is this based, as to the expression, upon Matthew 24:42 sqq., but the entire mode of contemplation, according to which the special judgment upon a particular congregation appears as a proof of the Lord’s coming to final judgment,(1359) is previously found in the eschatological discourse of the Lord, since there the special judgment upon Jerusalem appears combined with the final judgment at the parousia.

οὐ μή. Cf. Winer, p. 471.

ποίαν ὥραν. The ace determinative of time(1360) is not only Hebraic,(1361) but also Greek.”(1362)


Verse 4

Revelation 3:4. The accusation, admonition to repentance, and threat thus far made to the entire church, are contrasted ( ἀλλʼ), by way of limitation, in regard to individual members, with the commendation that these have kept themselves free from the general sinfulness, and a corresponding promise; cf. Revelation 2:4; Revelation 2:6.

ἔχεις. Because, as members, they belong to the entire church. Beng.: “These, even though indeed few, had not separated themselves; otherwise the angel of the church would not have them.”

ὀνόματα. “Men designated by name;”(1363) cf. Revelation 11:13; Acts 1:15; Numbers 1:2; Numbers 1:18; Numbers 1:20. Ewald. An allusion to the ὄνο΄α ἔχεις(1364) is not to be acknowledged, because there the conception is entirely different from here.

οὐκ ἐλόλυναν τὰ ἱ΄άτια αύτων. The figurative expression is arbitrarily pressed if the ἱ΄άτια be interpreted as something special, whether as referring to the bodies as the clothing of the soul,(1365) or the consciences,(1366) or the righteousness of Christ put on by faith.(1367) It is, further, without all foundation, when Ebrard, in the entire figurative expression, tries to find “a spiritual self-pollution arising from spiritual self-concupiscence,”—“spiritual onanism.” Too much also is made of the figure if the presupposed purity of the garment be derived from baptism by a mistaken appeal to Revelation 7:14.(1368) N. de Lyra already correctly abides by the general idea whereby the “being defiled” occurs by means of sin,(1369) in which sense, of course, it may be said that the ἱ΄άτια are the life itself, and actions of works,(1370) or profession and life.(1371) We have not to ask throughout as to what is properly meant by the garment; the entire figure of the defiling of the clothing is a designation of the impure and unholy life and conversation.(1372) To the commendatory recognition, corresponds also the promise of the reward: καὶ περιπατήσουσιν ΄ετʼ ἐ΄οῦ ἐν λευκοῖς (viz., ἱ΄ατίοις). Incorrectly, Aretius, who identifies the “white garments “with the undefiled garments: “They will persevere in the pursuit of good works.” The white garments, with their bright “hue of victory,”(1373) are peculiar to those in heaven.(1374) They who, in their earthly lives, have kept their garments undefiled will walk with Christ(1375) in white garments, since, thus adorned, they will live in “the state of immortal glory,”(1376) before the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the full and blessed enjoyment of his fellowship. [See Note XXXV., p. 183.] But the more definitely the promise περιπ. μετʼ ἐμ. ἐν λευκοῖς stands with respect to the testimony of acknowledgment οὐκ ἐμόλυναν τ. ἱμ. αὐτ.,—especially as marked by the addition on ὅτι ἄξιοί εἰσιν,—the more remote appears the side reference to the heavenly priesthood of the blessed which is to be indicated by the white garments, especially if, in connection therewith, the Jewish custom be thought of, that the priests examined before the Sanhedrim were clad in black or white garments, according as any defect were or were not found in their bodies.(1377)

ὅτι ἄξιοί εἰσιν. The foundation is entirely in the sense presented in Revelation 16:6.(1378) As, there, they who have shed blood must drink blood, so here, white garments are promised the undefiled because they are worthy of this. The idea, however, lying at the basis of the remuneration,(1379) leads also, in this passage, where the discourse is concerning reward, not to the Roman-Catholic idea of a merit, because, as Calov. correctly says, in substance, “Christ alone, by faith, renders them worthy.” Life itself,(1380) with all its powers exercised by those clad in white robes, is a free gift of the grace of the Lord; a meritum could be spoken of only when man, by his own powers, keeps himself undefiled. Thus, however, John designates only “a congruency between the acts and the honor rendered to them, even though the honor exceed the act.”(1381)

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXV. Revelation 3:4. περιπατήσουσιν μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἐν λευκοῖς

Trench: “The promise of life, for only the living walk, the dead are still; of liberty, for the free walk, and not the fast-bound.” Gerhard (Loc. Th., xx. 328) finds, in the white garments, “the symbol of victory, innocency, glory, and joy, yea, even royal dignity.” Gebhardt: “The bright or white garments symbolize positive purity, holiness, or righteousness (cf. Revelation 19:8).”


Verse 5

Revelation 3:5. νικῶν. This designation recurring uniformly at the close of every epistle, and therefore not of a conception to be united by means of οὕτως, results from what precedes. Here is meant the energetic manifestation of the life received in faith, which cannot occur without a victorious conflict with the world and one’s own flesh. An express pointing backward to what precedes is made by the οὕτως, which makes the promise here bestowed upon the victor ( οὕτ. περιβ. ἐν. ἱμ. λευκ.)(1382) appear to coincide with that which (Revelation 3:4) was given to the one whose garments were not defiled.(1383)

The second promise, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐξαλείψω τὸ ὄν. αὐτ. ἐκ τ. βίβλ. τ. ζωῆς has likewise reference to what precedes, because not only he who has the name that he lives, but he who besides actually lives,(1384) can remain written in the book of life. The figure of the book of life(1385) is not derived from “the genealogical records of the priests,”(1386) but from lists such as, e.g., the magistrates kept, and from which the names of deceased citizens were stricken.(1387) A man is not written in the book of life(1388) when he becomes participant of new spiritual life (cf. Revelation 3:1), when he receives the quickening truth (cf. Revelation 3:3), or becomes a child and heir of God through faith in Christ.(1389) This ethical accommodation referring to the temporal conduct of man is actually not present. In the book of life, which according to its nature is eternal, there is from the beginning of the world(1390) God’s attestation of the eternal salvation which those written in the book are to experience. The rejection of what is deterministic, and the maintenance of what is ethical, lie in the further declaration whereby the of course not to be realized possibility of the erasure of the name from the book of life is stated. Yet it is in reality by the free conduct of the believer, that his name may remain in the book. The name of the victor remaining faithful and walking worthily, will not be blotted out of the book of life; the victor, therefore, will receive hereafter the heavenly gracious reward of eternal life with the Lord, while those not written in the book of life will be rejected by the Lord.(1391) [See Note XXXVI., p. 183.] Still, in a third way, is the promise given the victor expressed: καὶ ὁμολογήσω κ. τ. λ. This stands, of course, as the recurrence of τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ already signifies, in connection with what immediately precedes, yet not as Eichh. states: “And as often as recitation is made from it, I will declare his praises.” With the idea of the book of life, that of the frequent reading of the name is not in itself consistent;(1392) and the ὁμολ., κ. τ. λ., can only(1393) have the sense that the Lord, speaking as Judge, expressly testifies that he knows the name of the victor (written in the book of life) as the name of one of his own, and, therefore, that the one named belongs to him, the Lord, and on this account shall have part in the glory of his kingdom.(1394)

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXVI. Revelation 3:5. τῆς βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς

If an erasure from the book of life be regarded possible, the inscription cannot refer to election, as this is indefectible. But it seems to be pressing the passage too far, to derive from it such meaning; as the expression is, in fact, simply a litotes whereby to emphasize the certainty of salvation, i.e., an assumed, but not a real, possibility.


Verse 7

Revelation 3:7. The designation of the Lord is derived, of course, not immediately and in its particular details from Revelation 1:12 sq., but is formed with reference to the contents of the epistle that follows;(1399) yet the essential meaning of the predicates here used is no other than that expressed in the entire description, Revelation 1:12 sq., as only the peculiar mode of statement is conditioned by the opposition to false Judaism. Christ, rejected and traduced by the “synagogue of Satan,” is nevertheless the absolutely Holy One, the true Messiah, and the Lord of the earth.

ἅγιος. Incorrectly Eichh., Heinr.: “A divine ambassador.” So, too, the conception of holiness is improperly obtained by Calov.: “Christ, the Holy One, as the model of the holiness of bishops;” by Vitringa:(1400) “Christ the Holy One of Israel,(1401) as the antitype of the high priest, the prefect of the heavenly sanctuary; “by Ewald:(1402) “Who, on account of his very holiness, avenges the injury inflicted upon Christians by proud Jews.”(1403) “Too indefinite is Ebrard’s reference: “To whom every thing ungodly, even what is most deceptive, is an offence.” The ἅγιος, as well as the ἀληθινός, receives its living relation only in connection with the ἕχων τ. κλεῖν, and with respect to the epistle which follows. Incorrect are all interpretations of the ἀληθινός depending upon the presumption that ἀληθινός is synonymous with ἀψευδής or ἀληθής,(1404) while ἀληθινός means “genuine, with its idea corresponding to its name.” So the Lord calls himself (Revelation 3:14) μάρτυς πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, because he is a trustworthy witness, and, just on that account, such an one as actually merits this name. Cf. Revelation 6:10, Revelation 19:2; Revelation 19:9, Revelation 16:7; John 17:3;(1405), 1 John 5:20 sqq.; Hebrews 9:24. Passages also like Revelation 21:5, Revelation 22:6, Revelation 15:3, Hebrews 10:22, are to be explained according to this idea. Incorrect, therefore, is the exposition of Vitr.: “Christ as the Mediator of divine truth, as the wearer of the true Urim and Thuminim.” Calov.: “Because he wishes that they who have received it of him guard the word of truth.” Ewald, Stern, etc.: “His promises in reference to the reward are fulfilled to the faithful.” Ebrard: “Who does not join in the falsehoods of those who malign Philadelphia, but on his part (Revelation 3:10) will bring the truth to light.” The proper meaning of the expression ἀληθινός has been correctly apprehended by Alcas., C. a Lap., and Grot.,(1406) but has been misapplied by them, as they have combined the two predicates ἅγιος, ἀληθιονός: “Who has true and perfect holiness—the superlative of holiness.” But the ἀληθ. has in itself(1407) an important meaning. Hengstenb. has given the correct interpretation, when in reference to Revelation 3:9 he mentions the calumnies of the Jews, attested by Justin Martyr, who wished to see in the Lord only “the one hanged,” and therefore a false Messiah. As opposed to such calumniating Jews, Christ is designated as the absolutely holy, and connected therewith as the true, i.e., the actual and genuine Messiah, heir and Lord of the truly abiding theocracy ( ἐχ. τ. κλ. τ. δαυΐδ, κ. τ. λ.). In a similar sense, the apostles in their discourses to the Jews have vindicated the holiness, and, accordingly, the true Messiahship and Sonship of God of the Crucified.(1408)

ἔχων τὴν κλεῖν δαυἱδ, κ. τ. λ. Incorrect is the conjecture τ. κλεῖν τάφεθ ( τώφεθ), made by Wolf, in consideration of Revelation 1:18.(1409) Without any ground, N. de Lyra explains(1410) the key of David, by appealing to Luke 11:52; Luke 24:32, as “the power to open the understanding of the Scriptures,” and, accordingly, the words ἀνοίγων, κ. τ. λ.: “No one can hinder those from understanding the Scriptures whom he wishes to instruct, nor can any one understand them unless he unlock them.” So on Revelation 3:9. In like manner is the explanation of Alcasar solved, concerning the cross of Christ as “the instrument of omnipotence.” With entire correctness is “the key of David,” and the succeeding description of its management, interpreted by almost all expositors in general, of the Lord’s own supreme power(1411) in the kingdom of God. The expression contains an allusion to Isaiah 22:22,(1412) but also(1413) a significant modification of that passage, since the Lord here appears as the one who has not the key of the house of David,(1414) but the “key of David.” Consequently the Lord is represented not as a second Eliakim, as his antitype, which is also in itself inapposite, but he appears in a series with King David himself, as heir of his royal house and kingdom.(1415) The key of David belongs to one who, as David himself, has a peculiar right, and is Lord(1416) in his royal house,—not in the temple,(1417)—and accordingly in the entire kingdom of David. But this is applicable to Christ as the new David(1418) unconditionally, because the ancient David, with his theocratic kingdom, was only a prophetic type of the Lord and his eternal kingdom. Just as in Acts 2:29 sqq., Acts 13:22 sqq., Acts 13:33 sqq., this is here applied to unbelieving Jews.

ἀναίγων, κ. τ. λ. The construction in the second member is Hebraic,(1419) as the participle makes a transition to the finite tense,(1420) without on that account requiring a ὃς to be supplied before κλείει.(1421) The entire thought of ἀνοίγων

οὐδεὶς ἀνοίγει depends upon the predicate ἔχων τ. κλεῖν τ. δ., and is an explanation thereof. But the idea is defined too narrowly, on the one hand, by those who, by a comparison of Matthew 16:19, regard the power of Christ here as being that to forgive sins, and thus to receive into the kingdom of heaven,(1422) and, on the other, by those who derive from Revelation 3:8 ( θύραυ ἀνεῳγ΄.) a limitation to Revelation 3:7, and thence infer that Christ opens the opportunity for entrance into his kingdom;(1423) while, on the contrary, Revelation 3:8 makes prominent only a special point of what in Revelation 3:7 is said far more generally, and applied on the other side ( καὶ κλείει, κ. τ. λ.). Not once is the distinction of the earthly and heavenly kingdoms to be marked, but the latter is to be regarded in its indivisible completeness, as Christ the Lord and King of the realm admits therein or excludes therefrom.(1424) The supreme power of Christ, belonging to him as the true Messiah, is declared of him entirely in connection with all preceding predicates, and the succeeding epistles.(1425) As an essential part thereto, there belongs especially the irrevocable and inevitable twofold decision in the final judgment. [See Note XXXVII., p 183.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXVII. Revelation 3:7. τὴν ελεῖν δαυείδ

Trench: “Those keys which he committed to Peter and his fellow-apostles (Matthew 16:19), he announces to be, in the highest sense, his own. It depends on him, the supreme κλῃδοῦχος in the house of God, who shall see the King’s face, and who shall be excluded from it. From the highest tribunal on earth, there lies an appeal to a tribunal of yet higher instance in heaven,—to His, who opens, and no man can shut; who shuts, and no man can open; and when, through ignorance or worse than ignorance, any wrong has been done to any of his servants here, he will redress it there, disallowing and reversing, in heaven, the erring or unrighteous decrees of earth.”


Verses 7-13

Revelation 3:7-13. The epistle to the church at Philadelphia.

Philadelphia in Lydia, named after its founder, King Attalus Philadelphia of Pergamos, lay thirteen hours south-east of Sardis, likewise at the foot of Tmolus. The present Alah Schahr, a not entirely unimportant town, inhabited by Turks and Christians, contains many ruins of ancient Phil.

Of the Christian church at Phil., this Apoc. epistle contains the first trace. A Christian prophetess, Ammia, was mentioned at Phila.(1395) According to the Apostolic Constitutions, vii. 46, Peter installed there the first bishop, Demetrius. Many expositors(1396) have regarded a bishop Quadratus(1397) the receiver of the Apocalyptic message. The apologist Quadratus was bishop of Athens.(1398)

The church, like that at Smyrna (Revelation 2:9), was exposed to the hostility of the Jews; but, although by no means of imposing importance on account of its extent or other external relations, it had confessed the name of the Lord Jesus with patient fidelity (Revelation 3:8): among the promises imparted to this church is, accordingly, that also of true victory over the hostile Jews, who in all humility were to seek a share in the salvation discerned in the church (Revelation 3:9). This relation to Judaism is testified also by the entire mode of conception and expression of the epistle, which with especial definiteness supports itself upon the divine foundation of the O. T., so that, in opposition to false Judaism as the synagogue of Satan, the Church of Jesus Christ appears the more distinctly as the true people of God.


Verse 8

Revelation 3:8. With οἷδά σου τὰ ἔργα we are not to immediately combine the ὅτι μικρ. ἐχ. δυν. as though the latter words(1426) contain an explicit statement of the ἔργα;(1427) for, in a formal respect, it is impracticable to regard the entire clause ἰδού

ἀυτήν as a parenthesis; and, as to the subject, the point expressed in the assumed parenthesis belongs already also in the idea of τὰ ἔργα. But(1428) by the words οἷδά σου τὰ ἔργα, the Lord testifies chiefly, without any further determination, that every thing is known to him with which the church in its present life is engaged.(1429) To the church at Philadelphia this is a word of commendation and consolation. This results from the words of the Lord which immediately follow: ἰδού, δέδωκα, κ. τ. λ., in which the thought is expressed that the fidelity maintained by the church, notwithstanding its external helplessness, depends not only upon a gracious gift of the Lord, but also serves the purpose,—and that, too, again through his government,—that through the faithful church the Lord’s kingdom is increased. This sense depends chiefly upon the correct interpretation of the figurative expression δεδ. ἐν. σ. θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην, κ. τ. λ. The door is opened, viz., either in order that the church itself may enter,(1430) or in order that by means of the church others may enter.(1431) According to the former idea, N. de Lyra,(1432) etc., explain: “a door is opened for understanding the Scriptures.” Arethas: τὴν εἴσοδον πρὸς ἀπολαυσιν (“entrance to fruition”). Bengel: “Entrance into the joy of thy Lord, and meanwhile into unhindered progress in all good.” Eichh.: “Entrance to me lies open to thee;” in the shallow sense: “I desire well for thee.”(1433) Züllig: “Entrance into the temple.” Hengstenb.:(1434) “Entrance to the house of David, or the kingdom of God.” According to another mode of representation, it is explained by Andr., Rib., Alcas., C. a Lap., Stern, Grot., Calov., Vitr., Wolf, Ew., De Wette, Ebrard, etc., who think of the favorable and successful opportunity for the missionary activity of the church. A decision in favor of this explanation, and that, too, in reference, not to heathen,(1435) but to Jews who are to be won by the fidelity of the believing church, is made by the connection with Revelation 3:9. A special intimation of the connection of δέδωκα, διδῶ, and ποιήσω, lies even in the threefold ἰδού.(1436) A declaration concerning the entrance of’ the church into heavenly joy, of which alone, according to the first mode of statement, we can think, could scarcely be made at the very beginning of the epistle. The statement correctly understood stands, consequently, in close connection with the designation of the Lord, Revelation 3:7, ἔχων τ. κλεῖν δ., κ. τ. λ., and emphasizes a special point, corresponding to the further contents of the epistle, of the supreme power in reference to his kingdom, to be ascribed from Revelation 3:7, in unlimited universality, to the Lord; i.e., Christ expressly, and with visible results, attests his Davidic power of the keys in this, that he has opened a door before his faithful and steadfast church, through which a multitude of still unbelieving Jews are to enter. For the words ἰδού, ποιήσω αὐτοὺς ἵνα ἥξουσι, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 3:9, are in substance an exposition of ἰδού, δεδ. ἐν. σ. θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην, κ. τ. λ., as they state the actual, but yet future, consequence of an opportunity already given ( δέδωκα, perf.). That Christ can say of himself δεδωκα and ποιήσω, depends upon the fact that it is he who has the key of David.

ἐνώπιόν σου. To be distinguished from σοι(1437) only in mode of contemplation, but not(1438) in substance. The Hebraic coloring of the formula(1439) corresponds well with the statement in this passage, and the style of the Apoc. in general.

The demonstrative αὐτήν, brought in after the relative ἣν, is also Hebraistic.

ὅτι. Incorrectly, Vitr.: “Even though.” Rather is that which immediately precedes based upon on ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν κα ἐτήρησας, κ. τ. λ. The “little strength,” viz., of the church, cannot be explained by the lack of miraculous gifts,(1440) but refers to the smallness. of the church,(1441) which must also be regarded in destitution when compared with the richer Jews.(1442) As now with the μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν, the καὶ ἐτήρησας is combined, these two members of the sentence externally united by the mere καὶ show themselves to have a definite inner relation: “and (yet) hast kept,” etc(1443) Concerning the subject itself, cf. Revelation 3:10; Revelation 2:3. The church, therefore, already had had opportunity, as the aor. forms ἐτήρησας and ἠρνήσω indicate, to confess the Lord’s name in opposition to unbelievers,—apparently Jews and heathen. Therefore, because ( ὅτι) the church has done this, although of insignificant outward power, the Lord has given it an “open door,” the meaning of which is stated in Revelation 3:9. [See Note XXXVIII., p. 183.] Thus the idea is advanced, that the faithful, steadfast confession of the church, indicated especially in τὰ ἔργα, is the cause whose effect and reward, through the Lord’s disposing ( δέδωκα, cf. διδῶ, ποιήσω, Revelation 3:9), is to be the conversion of a number of his enemies. Faithful confessing has itself opened the door, but of course only because the Lord had given believers power for testimony. Thus the clause ἰδού, δέδωκα, κ. τ. λ., stands upon the idea τὰ ἔργα, and the whole (Revelation 3:8) upon the designation of the Lord, Revelation 3:7.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXVIII. Revelation 3:8. ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν

Plumptre: “The words point to something in the past history of the church of Philadelphia and its ruler, the nature of which we can only infer from them and from their context. Some storm of persecution had burst upon him, probably at Smyrna, instigated by the Jews, or the Judaizing section of the church. They sought to shut the door which he had found open, and would have kept so. They were strong, and he was weak; numbers were against him, and one whose faith was less real and living might have yielded to the pressure. But he, though not winning, like Antipas, the martyr’s crown, had yet displayed the courage of the confessor. Like the faithful servant in the parable, he had thus been faithful in a very little (Matthew 25:23); and therefore, as the promise that follows shows, he was to be ‘made ruler over many things.’ ”


Verse 9

Revelation 3:9. διδῶ, not “I will suffer,” as Wolf recommends. Hengstenb also incorrectly: “I give thee, or the Christian Church, and therefore also thee.” The διδῶ, to which as object the partitive gen. τῶν λεγόντων belongs,(1444) is again taken up in the formally (fut.) more definitely fixed ποιήσω, as then the σὐτούς also recurs to the just-mentioned object τῶν λεγόντων, κ. τ. λ. The words ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς τοῦ σατανᾶ designate the persons meant, with respect to their origin. They are not false Christians,(1445) but(1446) Jews who just because of their enmity to the true Messiah (Revelation 3:7) are not true Jews, but the synagogue of Satan. Yet also in that the Lord brings some from this synagogue, and causes them to come humbly and believingly to his church, he shows that he is the one who has the key of David.

ποιήσω αὐτοὺς, ἵνα ἥξουσι, κ. τ. λ. Concerning the attraction αὐτούς, cf. Winer, p. 282; concerning ἵνα, also John 11:37, after ποιεῖν, with the ind. fut., cf. Revelation 6:11, Revelation 22:14; 1 Peter 3:1; Mark 3:2; Winer, p. 272.

The ποιήσω marks the still entirely future result which the Lord will work;(1447) the inner relation to διδῶ and δέδωκα (Revelation 3:8) is this, that the δέδωκα (perf.) extends to the present, and continues in its operation, while the διδῶ is present in its work, and will proceed to the ποιήσω. The opened door still stands open, and the Lord will work that a multitude of still unbelieving Jews may enter.

Both the ἥξουσι and the προσκυνήσουσι ἐνώποιν τῶν ποδῶν δου are explained in connection with the O. T. prophecies of the conversion of the heathen, by the fact that for unbelieving Jews, as they have just been described, the Church of Jesus Christ, viz., of him who has the key of David, Revelation 3:7, is the true Zion, in which they, no less than the heathen, must seek and will find the truth of God, and the fellowship of salvation. Thus, so far as the expressions are concerned, such prophecies as Isaiah 60:14; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 2:3; Psalms 72:9; Zach. 8:20 sqq., are in full harmony with what is here stated. The προσκυνεῖν, κ. τ. λ., especially as an expression of homage,(1448) has its complete justification in the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ stands there as beloved of the Lord ( κ. γνῶσιν, ὅτι ἠγάπησά σε), and as the mediator of the divine salvation. Yet the Catholic interpretation without any ground has: “The highest devotion of believers, and reverence and submission to the Church and its prelates, are signified. For this adoration proceeds from the apprehension of an excellence of prelates that is more than human, and less than divine.”(1449)

καὶ γνῶσιν, ὅτι ἠγαπησά δε. On the one hand, the aorist form ἠγάπησα,(1450) and on the other the connection and allusion to Revelation 3:7, furnish the reference to the definite proof of the Lord’s love, in that he has died for his Church. Just this must the unbelieving Jews acknowledge who now still reject and blaspheme the Lord as a crucified evil-doer.(1451) Incorrect reference of the ἠγαπ. in N. de Lyra: “By advancing thee not only to the catholic faith, but also to the episcopal dignity; “in Ew., to Revelation 3:10, or(1452) to Isaiah 63:4; Isaiah 66:24. De Wette too, indefinitely: “That I have acknowledged thee as a faithful church, and furnished thee with my gifts and power.”


Verse 10

Revelation 3:10. ὅτι ἐτήρησας

κἀγώ σε τηρήσω. The form of the antanaclasis(1453) corresponds with the inner relation between the performance of the church, and the reward on the Lord’s part; but even the performance of the church depends entirely upon the Lord’s grace, as the λόγος τ. ὑπο΄. itself, which the church has kept, is full of divine power, nourishes and supports the faith, fidelity, patience, and hope of the church, and thus qualifies the same for victory.

τὸν λόγον τῆς ὑπο΄ονῆς ΄ου. The gen. ὑπο΄ονῆς designates the λόγος according to its peculiar nature, as it depends upon its contents;(1454) the pronoun ΄ου belongs not only to τῆς ὑπο΄.,(1455) but(1456) to the whole conception τ. λογ. τ. ὑπο΄.(1457) The form of statement in Revelation 1:9 is therefore, at all events, a different one.(1458) Consequently τ. λογ. τ. ὑπο΄. ΄ου cannot be: “the word concerning Christ’s patience, concerning the sufferings of Christ patiently endured for us,” or “the word of constancy in Christ’s faith;”(1459) or “the word which makes its demands partly according to its contents and spirit,(1460) and partly by virtue of the duty of confession and steadfastness in following, as it belongs to me and mine;”(1461) also not: “my patience, i. e., the specifically Christian, expressly required by the Lord himself, and enjoined as a preservative against the judgments threatened against the world.”(1462) The vacillation and juncture of different ideas by all interpreters who wish to refer the μου only to τ. ὑπομ. reveals the unnaturalness of the combination. The λόγος τῆς ὑπομονῆς of the Lord dare not, however, be explained: “the word which among other commandments contains that of patience also,” an explanation which is incorrectly ascribed to Grot., who, as many others vacillating concerning the relation of the μου, says at one time: “My precept concerning patience,” and then, again, that the patience of Christ signifies “that which Christ has enjoined.” The whole word of God as a word of patience rather appears to be the view of the Revelation in general, and of our epistle in particular, because with respect to troubles unavoidable to believers it gives and demands steadfast, faithful, and hopeful patience, i.e., the virtue which alone can lead us from all troubles to glory.(1463) With respect to the already present and still future troubles, every thing to the believer turns upon the fact that he “overcomes.” This he can attain only through the ὑπομονή, to which the word of his Lord points him. Thus the writer of the Apoc. can from his point of vision regard the whole word of Christ as a λόγον τῆς ὑπομονῆς with the same right as, e.g., Paul, the preacher of righteousness, alone by faith in the Crucified, represents the whole gospel as the λόγος τοῦ σταυροῦ(1464)

In the words κἀγώ σε τηρήσω ἐκ τῆς ὥρας, κ. τ. λ., the church at Philadelphia is not promised that it shall be preserved from the hour of trial, i.e., that it shall not meet with sufferings full of trial,(1465) but in accordance with the presentation of the Apoc., that the troubles before the coming of the Lord will befall all believers, who of course are sealed,(1466) lest by the temptation in the troubles they may fall;(1467) and in accordance with the corresponding expression τηρ. ἐκ,(1468) in distinction from τηρ. ἀπό,(1469) the church at Philadelphia, since it has already maintained victorious patience, is also to be delivered by his confirming grace from the universal distress impending before the coming of the Lord.(1470)

The ὥρα τοῦ πειρασ΄οῦ, κ. τ. λ., i.e., the precise period wherein the temptation is to occur,(1471) refers to no persecution whatever proceeding from the Roman emperors,—neither that of Nero,(1472) nor some one after Domitian,(1473) possibly under Trajan,(1474)—also not, as Primas and Beda(1475) arbitrarily agree, to sufferings occasioned by antichrist; but the idea, here not more minutely defined, is to be referred, according to the further development of the Apoc., to all the afflictions which, before the personal coming of the Lord,(1476) are to burst upon believers;(1477) the punishments impending by God’s wrath only over unbelievers before the appearing of the Lord are not meant.(1478)

The idea of the πειρασμός and πειράσαι(1479) has its justification because, on the one hand, to believers the danger of a fall into such suffering is present,(1480)—and hence there go with it the promise σὲ τηρήσω, the command κράτει, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 3:11, and the pledge to the victor, Revelation 3:12,—but, on the other hand, to unbelievers such suffering must actually be a temptation,(1481) and that, too, of such kind as that because of their impenitent unbelief they will ever fall by it the deeper, and their hostility to what is holy be always the more revealed by despair and blasphemy.(1482)

ἐπὶ τὴς οἰκουμένης ὅλης. The remark that hereby the Roman empire is designated(1483) is correct only so far as in John’s historical horizon the whole world appears comprehended in the Roman empire. Yet by this (erroneous) limitation, the prophetic truth remains untouched, that the hour of temptation is to come to the actual οἰκουμένη ὅλη, as certainly as the Lord himself is to appear as absolutely Judge of all.

πειράσαι τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Those dwelling on the earth are, according to the constant mode of expression in the Apoc.,(1484) the mass of men, in contradistinction to believers redeemed from all nations and tongues.(1485) The πειράσαι refers to them in so far only as they are not kept ( σὲ τηρήσω).


Verse 11

Revelation 3:11. ἔρχομαι ταχύ. The message resounding throughout the entire Revelation,(1486) which proclaims judgment against enemies and the impenitent,(1487) serves faithful believers(1488) as a consolation and encouragement,(1489) and here is made especially prominent by the more explicit admonition to receive the crown(1490) from the hand of the coming Lord: κράτει ἐχεις, κ. τ. λ. What the church has, must be that because of which it is to receive the crown, if it hold the same fast.(1491) Thus, e.g., the church at Ephesus “has” this, that it hates the works of the Nicolaitans.(1492) What the church at Phila. has, is to be discerned from Revelation 3:8-10; viz., this, that in trouble they had patiently kept the word of the Lord, and had not denied his name. Holding fast is by perseverance unto the end;(1493) but the victor’s crown of eternal life—the hope laid up(1494)—would be taken away,(1495) if the church would not hold fast to what it had, but in the impending temptation would waver and apostatize. Hence the Lord who pledges his gracious preservation (Revelation 3:10) admonishes to faithful holding fast. Inconsistent with the context is the definition of the ἔχεις by N. de Lyra as “grace given thee;” and by Ew.,(1496) “the ornament of thy virtues.” Better, C. a Lap.:(1497) “faith and patience.”

From the general mode of expression ἳνα ΄ηδεὶς λάβῃ, the idea must not be pressed that another could retain for himself the crown snatched from the church.(1498) This possibly would have been expressed by ἄλλος(1499) But the idea itself is impossible.(1500)


Verse 12

Revelation 3:12. As in all the epistles, so here, the concluding promise to the “victor” (cf. Revelation 3:11) proceeds to the time of eternal glory after the coming of the Lord. This is, besides, especially indicated here by the expression τ. καιν. ἰερους., κ. τ. λ. The incorrect reference to “the Church militant,”(1501) or “the Church militant and triumphant,”(1502) causes the most perverted interpretations of individual points. Thus N. de Lyra interprets, by understanding ἐν τ. ναῷ τ. θ. ΄. and τ. πόλεως τ. θ. ΄. of the Church militant, and the ποιήσω αὐτ. στύλον, recalling Galatians 2:9 : “Brave and powerful in faith, not only for himself, but also for comforting and sustaining others;” and remarks on ἔξω οὐ ΄ὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι, “by apostasy, not by excommunication;” on γρ. έπʼ αὐτ. τ. ὄν τ. θ. ΄., “for they [viz., bishops] represent in the Church the person of God;” on καταβ. ἑκ τ. οὐρ.: “For the Church militant is ruled and directed by the Holy Spirit;” and on τ. ὄν, ΄. τὸ καινόν: “As the Lord himself at the circumcision was called Jesus, and afterwards Christ, so believers are first called disciples of Jesus, and then(1503) Christians.(1504) Similar distortions occur in Grot.,(1505) Wetst.,(1506) etc. The correct reference to the future glory(1507) is not in any way, as with Beng., to be so limited that the first promise ποιήσω αὐτ. στύλον ἐν τ. ναῷ τ. θ. μ. is fulfilled already at the time of Revelation 7:15, and before that of ch. 19, on the ground that there will be no temple in the new Jerusalem.(1508) For if it be said that in the new Jerusalem there will be no special place for the worship and revelation of God, as God himself will be immediately near all the blessed, this does not prevent, that, according to an idea of an entirely different kind, but of essentially the same meaning, the entire community of perfected believers is contemplated as the temple of God, in which individuals may appear as pillars. This is only a transfer of the figure of the temporal to that of the heavenly communion of saints;(1509) while the figure contains a significant feature, founded neither upon Isaiah 22:23,(1510) nor 1 Kings 7:15 sqq.,(1511) in that(1512) by being compared not to foundation-stones, but to the pillars of the temple,(1513) they are represented in their immutable firmness ( κ. ἔξω, κ. τ. λ.) and glorious adornment. Incorrectly, Eichh.:(1514) “The friends of the King, having more intimate access to him, who are admitted to his counsels, maybe called columns.”

καὶ ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι. The subject is not στύλος,(1515) but νικῶν.(1516) Therefore the remark on ἐξέλθῃ is in no wise necessary, that the verb as intransitive expresses the(1517) sense of a passive.(1518) He who once, in the sense above indicated, is made a victor in the temple of God, henceforth shall no more go forth, either voluntarily (viz., by a fall), or under constraint.

καὶ γράψω ἐπʼ αυτὸν τὸ ὄνο΄α τοῦ θεοῦ ΄ου. Cf. in general Tr. Bara bathra, p. 75, Revelation 2 :(1519) “R. Samuel … says that R. Jochanan said that three are called by the name of God; e.g., the righteous,(1520) the Messiah,(1521) and Jerusalem.(1522)

ἐπʼ αὐτόν, viz., upon the victor,(1523) not upon the pillar.(1524) Areth. says more accurately: ἐπὶ τὸν νοητὸν στύλον [on the mental pillar]; yet here the αὐτόν is entirely identical with the preceding object ( ποιήσω) αὐτόν. If the question be asked as to where the inscription is to be regarded as written, the answer is to be given otherwise than Revelation 2:17, and according to Revelation 14:1, Revelation 22:4 (cf. Revelation 17:5, Revelation 7:3): “upon the forehead.” Since the ναός is mentioned, the thought is closely connected therewith of the inscription upon the high priest’s(1525) diadem, קרש ליהוה;(1526) and that, too, the more as by τὸ ὄνο΄α τ. θ. ΄. ft. the holy name יהוה(1527) is meant.(1528) At all events,(1529) the holy and blessed state of belonging to God is expressed.

So, too, the name of the city of God—which is arbitrarily traced to a breast-shield of the wearer, instead of the names of the twelve tribes(1530)—designates the right of citizenship in the new Jerusalem.(1531) The name “city” need not, however, be derived from Ezekiel 48:35,(1532)—although the description (Revelation 21:3 sqq.) is applicable as an exposition of that significant designation,—but John himself calls the city of God καινὴ ἱερουσαλή΄.

καταβαίνουσα, κ. τ. λ. The construction as Revelation 1:5. The meaning of the expression is elucidated by ch. 21. Falsely rationalizing, not only Grot.: “It has been procured by the wonderful kindness of God,” but even Calov.:(1533) “It has God as its author.”

κ. τ. ὄνο΄ά ΄ου τὸ καινὸν. Not the name mentioned in Revelation 19:16,(1534) but that meant in Revelation 19:12.(1535) But he who bears the new name of the Lord is thereby designated as eternally belonging to the Lord as though with the Lord’s own signature. If, however, the name of the Lord in this sense and significance can be placed alongside of that of God and the new Jerusalem, the Lord must verily be the one that in Revelation 3:7 he professes to be; in that also he says of himself ποιήσω, γράψω, he proclaims himself as one who is to be recognized as the eternal King of the kingdom of heaven.


Verse 14

Revelation 3:14. ἀμήν. This Hebraistic expression(1547) is, as to its meaning, entirely synonymous with the following Greek expressions: ΄άρτυς, πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινὸς;(1548) but the double designation of the Lord establishes with earnest emphasis the indubitable certainty of all that the Lord, who is the absolutely faithful witness (Revelation 1:5), has now to say to this church of his at Laod.; viz, the accusations (Revelation 3:15 sqq.), the advice (Revelation 3:18), the threatening and promise.(1549) Not inappropriate, therefore, is the admonition that in and through Christ all God’s promises are, and are to be, fulfilled;(1550) from which the inference has been derived, that the epistle to the church at Laod. is to be regarded the Amen of all the seven epistles,(1551) or that in the designations of the Lord, Revelation 3:14, a warrant is to be sought for the fulfilment of what is said in chs 4 sqq.(1552) The question here is not with respect to the promises or other utterances of God,(1553) which have their fulfilment in Christ, but with respect to the discourses of Christ himself which have in him(1554) their guaranty. Hence it is not correct when N. de Lyra adds to ΄αρτ., κ. τ. λ., “of paternal majesty.” As a “witness,” the Lord here manifests himself, however, as entirely determined by all his testimonies in the following epistle.

ἀληθινός. Not synonymous with πιστός (= ἀληθής: so ordinarily), but just because the Lord is a faithful, and, because of his truth, an unconditionally trustworthy witness, is he a true, actual, and genuine witness who deserves this name.(1555)

ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf. Colossians 1:15 sqq., on which Meyer has refuted the erroneous expositions which essentially recur in reference to this passage. According to the wording, ή ἀρχῆ τ. κτ. τ. θ. cannot signify ἄρχων, the prince of God’s creation;(1556) also the κτίσις τ. θ., “the creature restored, creates new things,” the church;(1557) and still less can the expression signify what in Revelation 1:5 follows of course the μαρτ. πιστ., although there it is said in clear words: πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν(1558) The wording in itself allows only two conceptions: either Christ is designated “the beginning of the creation of God,” i.e., as the first creature(1559) of God,(1560) as Ew. and Züll. understand it in harmony with the Arians;(1561) or, the Lord is regarded as the active principle of the creation.(1562) Unconditionally decisive for the latter alternative, which, however, dare not be perverted by a reference to the spiritual new creation,(1563) is the fundamental view of Christ, which is expressed in the Apoc., as well as in every other book of the N. T. How could Christ have caused even the present epistle to be written, if he himself were a creature? How could every creature in heaven and earth worship him,(1564) if he himself were one of them?(1565) The designation of the Lord, that he is α and ω, need only be recalled in its necessary force, and it will be found that in the α lies the fact that Christ is the ἀρχή of the creation,(1566) while in the ω lies the fact of Christ’s coming to make an end of the visible creation. [See Note XXXIX., p. 184.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXIX. Revelation 3:14. ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως

Philippi (Kirch. Glaub., ii. 215): “He is the beginning of the creation; the beginning, and, as such, the principle, the original source, and author, and therefore not himself a creature. So God himself is also called the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6), and, in like manner, Christ (Revelation 22:13).” Gebhardt (pp. 90–98) refutes the interpretations of Baur, Hoekstra, Köstlin, Weiss, and Ritschl; and states the true interpretation to be as follows: “What exposition is demanded by the laws of language? Without further delay, I reply, that, had the seer written ‘the beginning of the creatures ( κτίσματα) of God,’ or had he written ‘the first, or the first-born, or the first-fruit ( πρῶτος, πρωτότοκος, ἀπαρχή), of the creation of God,’ then the expression might be understood to denote the first created, or that which precedes all things, the first creature in time and rank. But the seer has written ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, which can mean nothing else than principium creationis, the principle, the ἐν , διʼ οὗ, εἰς , of the creation of God. After this affirmation of the literal sense, I may say that it finds confirmation in Revelation 1:17-18; Revelation 2:8.… To a church in which Christ not only discovers self-blindness, but which he threatens to spew out of his mouth, which he counsels to seek help from himself for its disease, to which he says that he rebukes and chastens those whom he loves,—in a word, to a church to which he reveals himself as to no other in his fullest and highest significance, and we must remember that we have to do with the last of the seven letters,—“the first creature” has not, in any of its possible meanings, a really satisfactory sense; and we find that sense only when we understand it to mean the principle of the creation of God, i.e., the personal, mediatorial, essential ground and end of the creation. Thus simply explained, according to the laws of language, the passage (Revelation 3:14), taken in connection with those quoted before, furnishes us with a very remarkable result, viz., that the seer has expressed the ‘Logos’ idea itself in its highest meaning.”


Verses 14-22

Revelation 3:14-22. The epistle to the church at Laodicea.

Laod. in Phrygia, so called after Laodice, the wife of King Antiochus II. (formerly Diospolis, then Rhoas), reckoned by Tacitus(1536) among the “renowned cities of Asia,” a rich manufacturing and commercial city,(1537) lay east of Ephesus, south-east of Philadelphia, in the neighborhood of Colosse,(1538) on the river Lycus,—and hence called, in distinction from other places of the same name, λ. ἐπὶ λύκῳ,—or, more accurately, on the river Caprus, which, flowing into the Lycus, is received by the Meander. The ruins of ancient L. are found at the present unimportant town of Eski-Hissar.(1539) Already at the time of the Apostle Paul,(1540) a Christian church existed at L. A bishop and martyr at L., Sagaris, in the year 170 A.D., is mentioned by Eusebius, H. E., iv. 26, v. 24; but even Archippus(1541) is already named as bishop.(1542) Each of these has been regarded the “angel” of the church; and Hengstenb. immediately afterwards in the expression ἀρχὴ τ. κτ., Revelation 3:14, discovers an allusion to the name of Arch-ippus as the most influential elder at Laodicea.(1543)

According to Colossians 2, Paul had the same care for the church at Laod. as for that at Colosse,(1544) since these neighboring churches were exposed in like manner to certain Judaizing, and at the same time theosophizing (gnosticizing), erroneous doctrines. Of these there is no immediate trace in the Apoc. epistles.(1545) But, on the contrary, the lukewarmness and proud self-sufficiency and self-righteousness of the church are rejected. Perhaps the state of affairs is to be regarded in such a way, that, while the peculiar gnosticizing aberration was averted from the church by the “conflict” of the Apostle Paul, yet that this, scarcely without the influence of its own riches, and of the entire tone of worldly culture and worldly enjoyment prevailing in a wealthy commercial city, had occurred in a worldly way, in which, on the one hand, the candid confession of the Lord, always opposing worldliness in warm words and zealous conduct, was missed, while, on the other hand, the trust in a certain external inoffensiveness manifested itself as an arrogant self-righteousness, which even before(1546) was in another way to be dreaded.


Verse 15-16

Revelation 3:15-16. οἰδα σου τὰ ἔργα, ὅτι, κ. τ. λ. Cf. Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:8. The works, i.e., the entire life as it comes into manifestation, show that the church is “neither cold nor hot,” but “lukewarm.” The rabbinical expression כינינים, “the intermediates,”(1567) has only a very indefinite resemblance to this passage. Every explanation referring to the general sphere of psychology and ethics is unsatisfactory, as the question here is with regard to the relations of the church to its Lord.(1568) It is plain that the ζεστός(1569) is an actual believer, who with ardent love cleaves only to his Lord, and therefore asks for none else.(1570) Such “heat” Paul, e.g., records in Philippians 3:8 sqq. In contrast with such a ζεστός, the ψυχρός can only be one who is “beyond all influence of the Divine Spirit, as unbelievers, the heathen;”(1571) but such contrast is inapplicable here, where such persons are addressed, to whom divine things and the workings of the Holy Ghost are actually not entirely foreign. This, Hengstenb. has correctly felt, but incorrectly applied, when he first explains the “coldness” very indefinitely as “selfishness,” but then—with reference to the wish ὄφελον, κ. τ. λ.—understands such coldness “as is combined with the painful consciousness that one is cold, and with the heartfelt desire to become warm.” This is entirely against the context. Rather the “coldness” in direct and absolute opposition to “hot,” unconditional love to the Lord, is to be regarded as hostility and opposition. Thus Saul was “cold” as long as he persecuted the Lord. But since as from Saul a Paul, and from one that is cold, one that is hot can be made more readily than from one that is lukewarm,(1572) the wish ὄφελον, κ. τ. λ., is therefore justified.(1573)

Concerning ὄφελον as a particle, and combined with the imp., cf. 2 Corinthians 11:1.(1574)

οὓτως. Cf. Romans 1:15. It is noted that the relation is not in fact of such a kind as has just been wished, but rather as is stated by the accusation, which also here in explanation of the οὓτως is expressly repeated, so that the reason for the threatening is completely established: ΄έλλω σε ἐ΄έσαι, κ. τ. λ.

χλιαρός. The definite, positive expression for the οὔτε ψυχρὸς οὔτε ζεστός designates the indecision and incompleteness of the relation to the Lord, where he is neither entirely rejected nor entirely received,—a position which cannot exist(1575) without inner sordidness, indolence, and self-deception.(1576) See, in general, Matthew 6:24; Matthew 12:30; 1 John 2:15; James 4:4.

The threatened ἐ΄έσαι ἐκ τ. στο΄. ΄. is stated in accordance with the idea of the χλιαρός, because lukewamness provokes nausea. By the ΄έλλω, the Lord refers to his judgment which is already approaching; he is already just about coming, and then rejecting this church opposing him, for it may be that it will yet first obey his call to repentance (Revelation 3:20). While Revelation 2:5, Revelation 16:21, Revelation 3:3, declare the indubitable judgment in the future with respect to the case, there expressly designated, of not being converted, the ΄έλλω(1577) here leaves the possibility open that the judgment may be averted, although the condition for it is expressly stated first in Revelation 3:20.(1578)


Verse 17-18

Revelation 3:17-18. ὅτι λέγεις gives the foundation for the συμβουλεύω following in the second part of the sentence, Revelation 3:18.(1579) Hengstenb. incorrectly finds the reproach of lukewarmness grounded in Revelation 3:17; this has occurred already in Revelation 3:15.(1580) The construction is like that of Revelation 18:7-8.

ὃτι recitative.

πλούσιος

ἔχω. The decision as to whether wealth in earthly money and property,(1581) or the fancied(1582) wealth in spiritual blessings,(1583) be meant,—in no event both at the same time,(1584)—depends not upon the (doubtful) prefiguration of Hosea 12:9,(1585) nor upon the fact that the speech put into the mouth of the church must refer to possessions of the same kind, as the reply of the Lord ( καὶ οὐκ οἰδας, κ. τ. λ.) manifestly referring to spiritual treasures,(1586) but upon the fact that the self-witness of the church ( ὅτι πλούσιος εἰ΄ί, κ. τ. λ.) must harmonize inwardly with the reproach of lukewarmness (Revelation 3:15-16), and with the entire discourse of the Lord that follows. But this would not be the case, had the church fallen into the grossest mammon-worship, and entirely forgotten any higher need beyond that of their earthly riches. A church, on the contrary, which trusts in its spiritual riches, and still has the consciousness of having obtained these riches, will not be entirely without them,(1587) but is, of course, implicated in an arrogant self-deception concerning its spiritual wealth. The church is in reality not rich;(1588) for, if it were, it would not say so, as in Revelation 3:17. [See Note XL., p. 184.] The three expressions πλούσιος εἰ΄ί

πεπλούτηκα

οὐδὲν χρείαν ἔχω, designate a gradation:(1589) the riches have so increased, that now at last there is no longer any need, but satiety has entered.(1590)

καὶ οὐκ οἰδας. Therefore a self-deception of the church, for the Lord’s knowledge(1591) is decisive.

ὅτι σὺ εί. The σὺ has an emphatic position: just thou, thou who regardest thyself so rich.

ταλαίπωρος. This adjective occurs in the N. T., besides here, only in Romans 7:24. Because of his ταλαιπωρία,(1592) one is ἐλεεινός, i.e., ἐλέους ἄξιος (worthy of pity).(1593) The article before ταλ. notes with similar emphasis as the σύ before εἰ, that just the one thinking himself rich and elevated above all want is he to whom the ταλαιπ. applies. First of all, the ταλαιπ. and ἐλλεειν. stand in sharp opposition to the final words of boasting, οὐδ. χρείαν ἔχω; then the καὶ πτωχός to the πλουσ. εἰ΄ὶ κ. πεπλούτ.; while the ideas of the τυφλός and γυ΄νός are combined with that of the πτωχός, since spiritual poverty essentially identical with spiritual misery may be considered spiritual blindness and nakedness. Thus what the Lord judges concerning the true character of the church appears most definitely expressed in the three items πτωχός, τυφλός, and γυ΄νός; hence the advice which now follows (Revelation 3:18) revolves about the same, as the χρυσίον

πλουτήσῃς applies to the πτωχός, the ἱ΄άτια

γυ΄νότητος σου to the γυ΄νός, and the κολλούριον

ἵνα βλέπῃς to the τυφλός.

συ΄βουλεύω. Not without a certain irony,(1594) provoked by the arrogant imagination of the one so miserable and poor. Beng. finds in the expression an indication of estrangement, since it is only to strangers that advice, while to those who are one’s own, a command, is given;—inapplicable.

ἀγοράσαι. The Roman-Catholic idea of a meritum de congruo can be derived from the ἀγράσαι only when by pressing the expression, and in opposition to the context (Revelation 3:17, πτωχός), an equivalent purchase price is in some way stated; and this is defined as “good works,”(1595) or as “prayer, tears, repentance, good works.”(1596) But if the spiritual good to be obtained from the Lord be once regarded as χρυσίον, the result is,—especially according to the type of Isaiah 55:1,—that the corresponding concrete idea of the ἀγοράσαι is as readily designated as the purity of the χρυσίον by the metaphorical statement πεπυρω΄ένον ἐκ πυρός; and it is just as incorrect in the latter expression to think of a confirmation of faith in trouble,(1597) etc.,(1598) as to treat the ἀγοράσαι in an unevangelical sense. In accord with the sense, Beng. explains: “It costs no more than the surrender of the idea of one’s own wealth.”(1599)

παρʼ ἐ΄οῦ: As the only Saviour. Cf. especially Revelation 1:5; in regard to the white garments which are to be purchased of the Lord, cf. Revelation 7:14.

χρυσίον. Spiritual good as that which actually makes rich ( ἵνα πλουτῆσῇς), in contradistinction to the poverty of the church. To interpret the χρυσίον as “love,”(1600) or as “faith,”(1601) is too special.

πεπυρω΄ένον ἐκ πυρός. πυρύω = צָרַף, Zechariah 13:9. The ἐκ represents the πῦρ as the cause whence the πυροῦσθαι proceeds;(1602) according to the sense, it is therefore correctly rendered “purified by fire.”(1603) The entire expression designates not “wisdom inflamed with love,”(1604) or “tested faith;”(1605) as, on the contrary, the exposition must be made, that it is only through faith that the χρυσ. πεπυρ. ἐκ πυρ. is won: but as the purified gold is completely pure and truly precious, so is the spiritual good to be obtained of the Lord unconditionally holy and true, and eternally enriching.

καὶ ἱ΄ατία λευκά, κ. τ. λ. Cf. Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 19:8. Only in the figurative mode of presentation, and not in the proper sense, are the “white garments” to be distinguished from the “gold,” just as nakedness is in reality nothing but poverty. The remark of Ebrard is arbitrary, that “the command is to be executed in the reverse order from that in which it is given. The ultimate end, to become rich, viz., in good fruits that have some value before God, is first named; for this, gold must be bought. But before gold can be considered, garments must first be purchased in order to cover the nakedness; and as the covering of the nakedness cannot be accomplished before the eyes are open, eyesalve must first of all be applied.” But the “gold” is mentioned first only because, with respect to fancied riches and actual poverty (Revelation 3:17), this is the nearest thought; but the succession of the particular items neither in Revelation 3:17 nor Revelation 3:18 is to be urged, since the τυφλός and γυ΄νός are connected with the πτωχός, in Revelation 3:17, in a different order from the corresponding members in Revelation 3:18. Only the chief idea πτωχός, and the corresponding clause in Revelation 3:18, naturally precede.

καὶ ΄ὴ φανερωθῇ. N. de Lyra: “Before God and the holy angels.” Beng.: “Before God.” But no such restriction is needed.

κολλούριον. In classical writers, κολλύριον. The word designates a substance brought to the long round form of a κολλύρα, roll (e.g., breadcake), which being mixed with various drugs was used for anointing the eyes.(1606) The Jewish designation ( קילורית) קולורין agrees with the form κολλούριον. Here is meant, not the word of God itself,(1607) but the gift of the Holy Ghost which enlightens,(1608) offered indeed by means of the word, and that, too,(1609) already by the present word with its reproof(1610) and grace.(1611) Cf. 1 John 2:27. Even here the prefixed παρʼ ἐ΄οῦ applies,(1612) for the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, sent by him.(1613) The correct knowledge attained by such enlightening ( ἵνα βλέπῃς) is, however, in fact, at the same time the true treasure, spiritual riches. Upon this depends the inner harmony in the co-ordination of the three points χρυσίου, κ. τ. λ, ἱ΄άτια λευκά, κ. τ. λ., and κολλούριον κ. τ. λ., as in Revelation 3:17 πτωχός, τυφλός, and γυ΄νός.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XL. Revelation 3:17. οὐκ οἷδας ὅτι, κ. τ. λ.

Plumptre: “As Mr. Carlyle has somewhere put it, in one of those epigrams that haunt one’s memory, ‘it is the hypocrisy which does not know itself to be hypocritical.’ It may be noted, as tending to confirm the assumption that the Gospel of St. John and the Apoc. were the work of the same writer, that this is the fault which in the former, again and again, he notes for special condemnation. Those who could not believe are less the object of his censure than those who, believing, feared to confess the Christ lest they should be put out of the synagogue (John 12:42-43).”


Verse 19

Revelation 3:19. ἐγώ emphatically prefixed. The Lord, who alone is the true witness (Revelation 3:14), and, at the same time, the one from whom the true gold can be obtained (Revelation 3:18), appears as witness against those whom he loves, since through his ἐλέγχειν and παιδεύειν he wishes to make them zealous unto repentance ( ζηλ. κ. μεταν), and thus participant of his eternal blessings.

ὅσους ἐὰν φιλῶ. Concerning the ἐὰς after the relative in N. T. diction, cf. my note on 1 John 3:20. Grot. says incorrectly: “ φιλῶ, not absolutely, but relatively; i.e., those whom I have not altogether determined, because of their long-continued sins, to cast away and harden.” Upon a similar misunderstanding rests the remark of Vitringa, that the kind address is directed only to the better part of the church. On the contrary, the entire church is still an object of the seeking love of the Lord.

ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω. The distinction between the two expressions does not lie in the ἐλέγχειν occurring by means of words, and the παιδεύειν by chastisements;(1614) but the παιδεύειν designating discipline, i.e., education in general,(1615) may occur as well by ἐλέγχειν, as by perceptible chastisements, as ΄αστιγοῦν.(1616) The ἐλέγχειν(1617) occurs when the wrong is so placed before the eyes of any one that he must acknowledge it. From Revelation 3:15 on, the Lord has exercised his ἐλέγχειν by completely disclosing the faults of the church; yet he expressly says that this, as well as his entire παιδεύειν, proceeds from love. It is nowhere said that in this he has already employed, or will employ, what are the proper means of chastisement (blows). On the other hand, to the παιδεύειν belongs the advice of Revelation 3:18. Yet this advice contains the express assurance, that, with the Lord, gold, etc., shall not be lacking. Hence not only the relentless ἐλέγχειν, but also the tendering of grace, is a παιδεύειν, which testifies to the Lord’s love. But if the Lord thus manifests himself to the “lukewarm” church, it follows that this ( οὐν) has to do what the command expressly says: ζήλενε οὔν καὶ ΄ετανόησον. The words contain not a hysteron proteron,(1618) but require of the church which is convicted of lukewarmness, an ardent zeal, enkindled by the love manifested by the Lord, and, as the proof of this zeal, a true change of mind.(1619)


Verse 20

Revelation 3:20. If the epistle to the church at Laodicea be regarded as having a design differing in no essential point from that of the other epistles, neither can Revelation 3:20 be regarded the epilogue,(1620) which rather comprises only Revelation 3:21-22, nor can the eschatological sense in Revelation 3:20, which is properly made prominent by Ebrard, be denied, as is usually done. The ἰδού ἕστηκα ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν καὶ κρούω, κ. τ. λ., is essentially nothing else than the ἐρχο΄αι ταχύ, or ἥξω with its paracletic applications.(1621) The door before which the Lord stands, and asks entrance by his knock ( κρούω) and call (cf. ἀκ. τ. φωνῆς ΄ου), is ordinarily understood as the door of the heart,(1622) and, accordingly, the κρούειν, as the preaching of the gospel,(1623) the movements occasioned by the Holy Spirit,(1624) while special providential dispensations, are also added.(1625) The ἐισελεύσο΄αι, κ. τ. λ., is not then understood in its full personal sense,(1626) and the δειπνήσω limited either entirely to the blessed communion of believers with the Lord in this life,(1627) or, as is entirely out of place, to the communion in the present and the future life.(1628) The latter reference Beng. obtains by understanding the δειπν. ΄ετʼ αὐτοῦ of the earthly, and the κ. αὐτ. ΄ετ ἐ΄οῦ of the heavenly life. In their peculiar nature the κρούειν and the φωνή of the Lord, whereby he asks entrance, are not distinct from the ἐλέγχειν and παιδεύειν, Revelation 3:19, just as it is from the same love that he does both the former and the latter. His coming is near; he stands already before the door. And he wishes the church at Laodicea also to be prepared to receive him, in order that he may not come in judgment,(1629) but to enter therein, and hold with it the feast of blessed communion.(1630) The sense, especially of the formula δειπν. ΄ετʼ αὐτοῦ κ. αὐτὸς ΄ετʼ ἐ΄οὺ, expressing the complete communion of the one with the other, is that of John 17:24; Colossians 3:4.(1631)

An immediate connection with Song of Solomon 5:2(1632) is not discernible; although it is incorrectly asserted(1633) that in the N. T. in general, and in the Apoc. especially, no trace whatever of the Song of Solomon can be detected. Ebrard, appropriately: “The figure (of the wedding), or this idea together with the general doctrine of the relation of Christ to his Church as bridegroom, depends upon the Song of Solomon.” But in our passage the idea, in general, of Christ as bridegroom is not definitely expressed.(1634) [See Note XLI., p. 184.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLI. Revelation 3:20. ἰδοὺ ἔστηκα, κ. τ. λ.

Alford, on the contrary: “The reference to Song of Solomon 5:2 is too plain to be for a moment doubted; and, if so, the interpretation must be grounded in that conjugal relation between Christ and the Church,

Christ and the soul,—of which that mysterious book is expressive. This being granted, we may well say that the vivid depiction of Christ standing at the door is introduced to bring home to the lukewarm and careless church the truth of his constant presence, which she was so deeply forgetting. His knocking was taking place, partly by the utterance of these very rebukes, partly by every interference in justice and mercy.” Trench: “The very language which Christ uses here, the κρούειν ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν, the summons ἀνοίγειν recurs. Nor is the relation between the one passage and the other merely superficial and verbal. The spiritual condition of the bride there is, in fact, precisely similar to that of the Laodicean angel here. Between sleeping and waking, she has been so slow to open the door, that, when at length she does so, the Bridegroom has withdrawn. This exactly corresponds to the lukewarmness of the angel here. Another proof of the connection between them is, that, although there has been no mention of any thing but a knocking here, Christ goes on to say, ‘If any man hear my voice.’ What can this be but an allusion to the words in the canticle, which have just gone before: ‘It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh’?”

The reference, by Bengel, of the δειπνήσω to the communion both in this life and the life to come, may have found, in the distinction between μετʼ αὐτοῦ and μετʼ ἐμοῦ, more than is intended; nevertheless, we can see, in this passage, only the blessed communion with God begun here on earth, and consummated in heaven,—not two communions, but one, at two different stages. Gebhardt (p. 127) finds the thought of the Lord’s Supper suggested. Luthardt’s brief notes refer to Luke 12:36; interpreting the knocking as the impending return of the Lord, the opening of the door, by suggesting the familiar hymn of Paul Gerhardt,—

“Oh, how shall I receive thee?”—

and the supping, by the Lord’s Supper in the kingdom of God (Matthew 26:29; Luke 22:29-30).

In connection with the ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ τῆς φωνῆς, Trench’s remarks are important as to the incompatibility of this passage with any doctrine of irresistible grace; as well as his warning against the Pelagian error, “as though men could open the door of their heart when they would, as though repentance was not itself a gift of the exalted Saviour (Acts 5:31). They can only open when Christ knocks, and they would have no desire at all to open unless he knocked.… This is a drawing, not a dragging; a knocking at the door, not a breaking open the heart.” So Gerhard (L. T., ii. 275): “When God, by his word, knocks at the door of our heart, especially by the proclamation of his law, the grace of the Holy Spirit is at the same time present, who wishes to work conversion in our heart; and therefore, in his knocking, he not only stands without, but also works within.”


Verse 21-22

Revelation 3:21-22. Cf. Revelation 2:26-27. The νικᾶν embraces the temptations and perils lying in the peculiar circumstances of the Church,(1635) but is not limited thereto, so that it can correspond to the Lord’s conflict and victory in suffering.(1636)

The promised reward δώσω αὐτῷ καθίσαι, κ. τ. λ., i.e., participation in Christ’s royal dominion,(1637) is here, just as at the close of all the epistles, to be expected as the victory over the world, sin, and death,(1638) only in eternity, and not in this life, since the ἐκάθισα, κ. τ. λ., has occurred to the Lord through his ascension.(1639) Entirely wrong is Calov.’s distinction between the throne of God the Father, whereon Christ sits, and the throne of Christ, whereon the believer is to sit with him, The throne of God and of the Lamb is one;(1640) the glory of the victor is communion with the Father and the Son.(1641) The promise to the victor is here made so strong, not because the struggle which the Laodiceans had to maintain against their own lukewarmness is regarded the most severe,(1642) but because it is natural and suitable, that, in the last of the seven epistles, such a promise should be expressed as would combine all the others, and designates the highest and most proper goal of all Christian hope, and the entire Apocalyptic prophecy.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-3.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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