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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Revelation 3

 

 

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Verse 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.

Sardis - the ancient capital of Lydia, the kingdom of wealthy Croesus, on the river Pactolus. The address is full of rebuke: not in vain; for Melito, Bishop of Sardis in the second century, was eminent for piety. He visited Palestine to assure himself and his flock as to the Old Testament canon, and wrote an letter on the subject (Eusebius, 4:, 26); also a commentary on the Apocalypse, (Eusebius, 4: 26; Jerome, 'Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum,' 24:)

He that hath the seven Spirits of God - i:e., the fullness of the Spirit (John 3:34; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6 : cf. Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10), proving His Godhead. Implying His infinite power by the Spirit to convict of sin and of a hollow profession.

And the seven stars - (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 1:20.) His having the seven stars, or presiding ministers, flows from His having the seven Spirits, or the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The human ministry is the fruit of Christ's sending the gifts of the Spirit. Stars imply brilliancy; the fullness of the Spirit, and of brilliant light in Him, form a contrast to the formality which He reproves.

Name ... livest ... dead - (1 Timothy 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16 : cf. Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 5:14.) Sardis was famed among Name ... livest ... dead - (1 Timothy 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16 : cf. Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 5:14.) Sardis was famed among the churches for spiritual vitality; yet He who sees not as man seeth, pronounces her dead: how great searchings of heart should her case create among even the best! Laodicea deceived herself as to her state (Revelation 3:17); but she is not mentioned as having a high name among the churches, as sardis.


Verse 2

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

Be , [ ginou (Greek #1096)] - 'Become' what thou art not, 'watchful' [ greegoroon (Greek #1127)], 'waking.'

The things which remain - those thy remaining few graces, which, in thy spiritual slumber, are not yet extinct (Alford). Hardly 'the PERSONS that are not yet dead, but ready to die;' for Revelation 3:4 implies that the "few" faithful at Sardis were not "ready, to die," but full of life.

Are. 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac, read, 'were ready' [emedon], 'were about to die,' at the time when you "strengthen" them. 'Thou art dead,' Revelation 3:1, is therefore to be taken with limitation; for those must have some life who can strengthen the things that remain.

Perfect , [ pepleeroomena (Greek #4137)] - 'filled up in full complement:' 'complete.' Lacking in living faith as the motive of works.

Before God - `in the sight of God.' 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, read, 'in the sight of MY God:' Christ's judgment is the Father's. In the sight of men, Sardis had 'a name of living:' 'so many and so great are the obligations of pastors, that he who would fulfill even a third of them, would be esteemed holy by men: whereas, if content with that alone, he would be sure not to escape hell' (Juan D'Avila). Note, in Sardis and Laodicea, alone of the seven, we read of no conflict with foes within or without. Not that either had renounced apparent opposition to the world; but neither had the faithfulness to witness for God by word and example, so as to 'torment them that dwelt on the earth' (Revelation 11:10).


Verse 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.

How thou hast received - (Colossians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:20.) Sardis is to "remember," not how joyfully she had received the Gospel, but how the precious deposit was committed to her originally, so that she could not say she had not "received" it. Not aorist (as Revelation 2:4, Ephesus, "Thou didst leave thy first love"), but "thou hast received" (perfect), and still hast, the deposit of doctrine. 'Keep' [ teerei (Greek #5083)], "hold fast." Observe the commandment thou hast received.

Heard - (aorist), 'didst hear,' namely, when the Gospel was committed to thee. Trench explains "how," with what demonstration of the Spirit from Christ's ambassadors the truth came to you, and how heartily you at first received it. Bengel, 'Regard to her former character (how it once stood) ought to guard Sardis against the future hour, whatsoever it shall be, proving fatal to her.' But thus the same exhortation would be addressed to Sardis as to Ephesus.

If therefore - seeing thou art so warned; if, nevertheless, etc.

Come on thee as a thief - in judgment on thee as a church; as stealthily and unexpectedly shall be my second coming, as the thief gives no notice of his approach. Christ, in language which in its full sense describes His second coming, describes His coming with judgments on churches and states (as Jerusalem, Matthew 24:1-51); these judgments being anticipatory earnest of that great last coming. 'The last day is hidden from us, that every day maybe observed by us' (Augustine). Twice Christ spake the same words (Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:39-40); which so deeply sank in the mind of the apostles, that they often repeat them (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15). The Greek proverb, 'the feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool,' expresses the noiseless approach and nearness of divine judgments, when they are supposed far off (Trench).


Verse 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.

'Aleph (') A B C,Vulgate, prefix 'nevertheless' (notwithstanding thy spiritual deadness), and omit "even."

Names - persons named in the book of life (Revelation 3:5), known by the Lord as His own (John 10:3). These bad the reality corresponding to their name; not a name among men as living, while really dead (Revelation 3:1). The gracious Lord does not overlook exceptional saints among unreal professors.

Not defiled their garments - their Christian profession, of which baptism is the initiatory seal, whence the candidates used in the ancient Church to be strayed in white. Compare Ephesians 5:27, and Revelation 19:8, as to the "fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the saints," in which it shall be granted to the Church to be arrayed; and "the wedding garment." Meanwhile she is not to sully her profession with defilement of flesh or spirit, but to 'keep her garments,' for no defilement shall enter the heavenly city. Not that any keep themselves here wholly undefiled; but, as compared with hollow professors, the godly keep themselves unspotted from the world; and when they contract defilement, they wash it away, so as to have "robes white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14). Not 'stain' [miainein], but 'defile,' besmear [molunein] (Song of Solomon 5:3).

They shall walk with me in white. The reward accords with the character of those rewarded: keeping their garments undefiled through the blood of the Lamb now, they shall walk with Him in white hereafter. On "with me," cf. Luke 23:43; John 17:24. "Walk" implies spiritual life; for only the living walk: also liberty, for it is only the free who walk at large. The grace of flowing garments is seen to best advantage when the person 'walks:' so the graces of the saint shall appear fully when he shall serve the Lord perfectly hereafter (Revelation 22:3). They are worthy - with worthiness (not their own, but that) which Christ has put on them (Revelation 7:14; Ezekiel 16:14). Grace is glory in the bud. 'The worthiness denotes a congruity between the saints' state of grace on earth, and that of glory, which the Lord has appointed for them, and is estimated by the law itself of grace' (Vitringa). Contrast Acts 13:46.


Verse 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.

The same - `THIS man;' he alone. So B but 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac, 'shall THUS be clothed,' etc.

White - glittering, dazzling white. Compare Matthew 13:43. The body transfigured into the likeness of Christ's, and emitting light reflected from Him, is probably the "white raiment."

Raiment - `garments.' "He that overcometh" shall receive the same reward as they who "have not defiled their garments" (Revelation 3:4): the two are identical.

I will not , [ ou-mee (Greek #3364)] - 'I will not by any means.'

Blot out his name out of the book of life - of the heavenly city. A register of citizens was kept in ancient states: the names of the dead were erased. So those who have a name that they live and are dead (Revelation 3:1), are blotted out of God's roll of the heavenly citizens; not that in God's electing decree they ever were there. But those having a high name for piety would be supposed to be in it, and were, as to privileges, actually among those in the way of salvation; these privileges, however, and the fact that they once might have been saved, shall not avail them. As to the book of life, cf. Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8. Many are enrolled among the called to salvation, who shall not be among the chosen at last. The pale of salvation is wider than that of election. Election is fixed. Salvation is open to all, and is pending (humanly speaking) in the case of those mentioned here. Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27, exhibit the book of the elect alone, after the erasure of the others.

Before ... before - `in the presence of.' Compare the same promise, Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9. He omits 'in heaven,' because there is, now that He is in heaven, no contrast between the Father in heaven and the Son on earth. He sets His seal from heaven upon many of His words uttered on earth (Trench). An undesigned coincidence, proving that these letters are, in words as well as substance, Christ's own; not even tinged with John's style, such as it appears in his gospel and letters. The coincidence is mainly with the three other gospels, not John's, which makes it more markedly undesigned. So also "He that hath an ear, let him hear," is not repeated from John's gospel, but from the Lord's own words in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9; Mark 4:9; Mark 4:23; Mark 7:16; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35).


Verse 6

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

Note, Revelation 2:7.


Verse 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;

Philadelphia - in Lydia, 28 miles southeast of Sardis, built by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, who died 138 AD It was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Tiberius (Tacitus, 'Annals,' 2:, 47). The connection of this church with Jews causes the address to have an Old Testament colouring in the images. It and Smyrna alone of the seven, the most afflicted, receive unmixed praise.

He that is holy - as in the Old Testament, "the Holy One of Israel." Jesus and the God of the Old Testament are one. God alone is absolutely holy [ hagios (Greek #40), separate from evil, perfectly hating it]. In contrast to "the synagogue of Satan" (Revelation 3:9).

True , [ aleethinos (Greek #228)] - VERY God, as distinguished from false gods, and from all who say that they are what they are not (Revelation 3:9); real, genuine. He perfectly realizes all that is involved in the name, GOD, Light (1 John 2:8), Bread, the Vine (John 6:32; John 15:1), as distinguished from typical, partial, imperfect realizations of the idea. His nature answers to His name (John 17:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). [ Aleethes (Greek #227), on the other hand, is truth-speaking, truth-loving (John 3:33; Titus 1:2).]

He that hath the key of David - antitype of Eliakim, to whom the "key" - emblem of authority 'over the house of David'-was transferred from Shebna, who was removed from the office of chamberlain or treasurer, as unworthy of it. Christ, the Heir of the throne of David, shall supplant all less worthy stewards who abuse their trust in God's spiritual house, and 'shall reign over the house of Jacob,' literal and spiritual (Luke 1:32-33) 'forever,' "as a Son over His own house" (Hebrews 3:2-6). It rests with Christ to open or shut the heavenly palace, deciding who is, and who is not, to be admitted. He also opens or shuts the prison, having the keys of hell (the grave) and death (Revelation 1:18). The power of the keys was given to Peter and the other apostles only when, and in so far as, Christ made him and them infallible. Whatever degrees of this power may have been committed to ministers, the supreme power belongs to Christ alone. Thus Peter rightly opened the Gospel door to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:17-18; especially Acts 14:27). But he wrongly tried to shut it again (Galatians 2:11-18). Eliakim had 'the key of the house of David laid upon his shoulder.' Christ, the antitypical David, Himself has the key of supreme 'government upon His shoulder' (Isaiah 9:6). His attribute accords with His promise. Though "the synagogue of Satan," false Jews (Revelation 3:9), try to "shut" the "door" which I 'set open before thee,' "no man can shut it" (Revelation 3:8).

Shutteth. So Vulgate and Syriac; but 'Aleph (') A B C, Coptic, Origen, 'shall shut.' And no man openeth. B 'Aleph ('), Coptic version, Origen, 'shall open;' A C, Vulgate, "openeth."


Verse 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 have set - `given;' my gracious gift to thee.

Open door - for spiritual usefulness. The opening of a door by Him to the Philadelphian church accords with His having "the key of David."

And. A B C, Origen, 'which no man can shut.'

For - `because.'

A little. This gives the idea that Christ sets before Philadelphia an open door, because she has some little strength: rather, He does so because she has 'but little strength:' consciously weak herself, she is the fitter object for God's power to rest on (Aquinas), that Christ may have all the glory (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

And hast kept - and so, the littleness of thy strength leading thee to rest wholly on My great power, thou didst keep my word. Grotius explains "little strength," that she had a church small in numbers and external resources: 'of small account in the eyes of men' (Trench). Aorist, 'Thou didst not deny my name,' on some particular occasion, when thy faithfulness was put to the test.


Verse 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.

I will make - present, 'I make;' 'I give' (note, Revelation 3:8). The promise to Philadelphia is larger than to Smyrna. To Smyrna it was that "the synagogue of Satan" should not prevail against the faithful in her; to Philadelphia, that she should even win over some of "the synagogue of Satan" to fall on their faces and confess God is in her of a truth (1 Corinthians 14:25). Translate, '(some) of the synagogue.' For until Christ shall come, when all Israel shall be saved, there is but "a remnant" being gathered out of her "according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:5). This shows how Christ set before her an "open door" - some of her greatest adversaries, the Jews, being brought to the obedience of faith. Their worshipping before her feet expresses the converts' willingness to take the lowest place in the Church, doing servile honour to those whom once they persecuted, rather than dwell with the ungodly (Psalms 84:10). So the Philippian gaoler before Paul.


Verse 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.

Patience. 'The word of my persevering endurance' is my Gospel word, which teaches it in expectation of my coming (Revelation 1:9). My endurance is the endurance which I require and I practice. Christ Himself now endures, patiently waiting until the usurper be cast out, and all "His enemies be made His footstool." So, too, His Church, for the joy before her of sharing His coming kingdom, endures patiently. Hence, (Revelation 3:11) follows, "Behold, I come quickly."

I also. The reward is in kind: 'because thou didst keep,' etc., 'I also (on my side) will keep thee,' etc.

From , [ ek (Greek #1537), not apo (Greek #575)] - '(so as to deliver thee) out of,' not to exempt from temptation.

The hour of (the) temptation - the appointed season of affliction (Deuteronomy 4:34, the plagues are called "the temptations of Egypt"): the sore temptation coming on: the great tribulation before Christ's second coming.

To try them that dwell upon the earth - of earth, earthy (Revelation 8:13). "Dwell" implies their home is earth, not heaven. All mankind, except the elect (Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:14). The temptation brings out the fidelity of those kept by Christ, and hardens the reprobates (Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 16:11; Revelation 16:21). The persecutions which befell Philadelphia shortly after, were the earnest of the great tribulation before Christ's coming, to which the Church's attention in all ages is directed.


Verse 11

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

Behold. Omitted by 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac.

I come quickly - the great incentive to faithfulness, and the consolation under trials.

That fast which thou hast - "the word of my patience" (Revelation 3:10), just commended to them for keeping: involving with it the attaining of the kingdom. This they would lose if they exchanged consistency and suffering for compromise and ease.

That no man take thy crown - that no tempter cause thee to loss what otherwise thou wouldst receive: not that the tempter would secure it for himself (Colossians 2:18).


Verse 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.

Pillar in the temple. In one sense there shall be 'no temple' in the heavenly city, because there shall be no distinction of things sacred and secular; for all shall be holy to the Lord. The city shall be one great temple, in which the saints shall be not merely stones, as in the spiritual temple on earth, but eminent as pillars: immovably firm (unlike Philadelphia, the city so often shaken by earthquakes, Strabo, 12 and 13:), like the colossal pillars before Solomon's temple, Boaz (i:e., 'in it is strength') and Jachin ('it shall be established'). Those pillars were outside, these shall be within the temple.

My God - (note, Revelation 2:7.)

Go no more out , [ ou-mee (Greek #3364) eti (Greek #2089)] - never more at all. As the elect angels are beyond possibility of falling, being under 'the blessed necessity of goodness,' so shall the saints be priests forever unto God (Revelation 1:6). The door shall once for all shut safely in forever the elect, and shut out the lost (Matthew 25:10; John 8:35 : cf. Isaiah 22:23, the type, Eliakim). 'Who would not yearn for that city out of which no friend departs, into which no enemy enters?' (Augustine.)

Write upon him the name of my God - belonging to God in a special sense (Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4; Revelation 14:1; especially Revelation 22:4), therefore secure. As the golden plate on the high priest's forehead bore Yahweh's name, "Holiness to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36-38), so the saints in their royal priesthood shall bear His name openly, as consecrated to Him. Compare its caricature in the brand on the forehead of the beast's followers (Revelation 13:16-17), and on the harlot (Revelation 17:5 : cf. Revelation 20:4).

Name of the city of my God - as one of its citizens (Revelation 21:2-3; Revelation 21:10), briefly alluded to by anticipation here. The full description forms the appropriate close of the book. The saints' citizenship is now hidden, then it shall be manifested: he shall have the right to enter in through the gates into the city (Revelation 22:14) - the city which Abraham looked for (Hebrews 11:10).

New , [ kainees (Greek #2537)]. Not the old Jerusalem, once "the holy city," but having forfeited the name. [Nea would express that it had recently come into existence; kainee (Greek #2537), that which is new and different, superseding the worn-out old Jerusalem and its polity (Hebrews 8:13).] 'John, in the gospel, applies to the old city the Greek, Hierosolyma; but in the Apocalypse, always, to the heavenly city, the Hebrew, Hierousalem. The Hebrew is the original and holier name; the Greek, the recent secular one' (Bengel).

My new name - at present incommunicable: only known to God; to be hereafter revealed as the believer's own in union with God in Christ. Christ's name written on him denotes he shall be wholly Christ's. New also relates to Christ, who shall assume a new character (answering to His "new name"), taking with His saints a kingdom; not what He had with the Father before the worlds, but that earned by His humiliation as Son of man. Gibbon ('Decline and Fall,' ch. 64:) gives an unwilling testimony to the fulfillment of prophecy as to Philadelphia temporally: 'Among the Greek churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect-a column in a scene of ruins; a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may sometimes be the same.'


Verse 13

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

(Note, Revelation 2:7.)


Verse 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;

Laodiceans - in the southwest of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, not far from Colosse, lying between it and Philadelphia: destroyed by an earthquake, 62 AD rebuilt by its wealthy citizens without the help of the state (Tacitus, Annals, 14:, 27). This wealth (arising from the excellence of its wools) led to a self-satisfied, lukewarm state in spiritual things, as Revelation 3:17 describes. Note on Colossians 4:16, on the letter thought to have been written to the Laodiceans by Paul. The church in later times was flourishing; for one of the councils at which the canon of Scripture was determined was held in Laodicea, in 361 AD Hardly a Christian is now to be found near its site.

The Amen - (Isaiah 65:16, Hebrew, 'Bless Himself in the God of Amen ... swear by the God of Amen;' 2 Corinthians 1:20.) He who not only says, but is, the Truth. The saints used Amen at the end of prayer, or the Word of God; none, except the Son of God, ever said, 'Amen, I say unto you:' it is language special to God, who avers by Himself. The New Testament 'Amen, I say unto you,' is equivalent to the Old Testament formula 'As I live, saith Yahweh.' In John's gospel alone He uses the double "Amen" (John 1:52; 3:3 , etc.): English version, "Verily, verily." The title harmonizes with the address. His unchanging faithfulness as "the Amen" contrasts with Laodicea's wavering - "neither hot nor cold" (Revelation 3:16). The angel of Leodices has, with probability, been conjectured to be Archippus, to whom, thirty years previously, Paul had given a needed monition to diligence in his ministry (Colossians 4:17). So the 'Apostolic Constitutions,' 8:, 46, name him as first Bishop of Laodicea: supposed to be the son of Philemon (Philem 2).

Faithful and true Witness. "The Amen" expresses the truth of His promises; "the true Witness," the genuineness of His revelations of heavenly things which He has seen and testifies (John 3:11-12). "Faithful,"

i.e., trustworthy (2 Timothy 2:11; 2 Timothy 2:13). "True" is here [ aleethinos (Greek #228)] not truth-speaking [ aleethes (Greek #227)], but 'perfectly realizing all that is comprehended in "Witness" ' (1 Timothy 6:13). Three things are necessary:

(1) to have seen with His own eyes; (2) to be competent to relate it;

(3) to be willing truthfully to do so.

In Christ all these conditions meet (Trench).

Beginning of the creation of God - not He whom God created first, but as in Colossians 1:15-18 (note), the Beginner of all creation: its originating instrument. All creation would not be represented adoring Him, if He were but one of themselves (Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 5:13). His being the Creator is a guarantee for His faithfulness as 'the Witness and Amen.'


Verse 15

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

Neither cold - antithesis to "hot" [ zestos (Greek #2200) boiling ("fervent," Acts 18:25; Romans 12:11 : cf. Song of Solomon 8:6; Luke 24:32), requires that "cold" should mean more than negatively cold; positively, icy cold: never warmed]. The Laodiceans were cold comparatively, not as the world outside, and those who never belonged to the Church. The lukewarm state, if the transitional stage to a warmer, is desirable (for a little religion, if real, is better than none); but fatal when an abiding condition, for it is mistaken for a safe state (Revelation 3:17). Hence, Christ desires that they were cold rather than lukewarm; for there would not be the same 'danger of mixed motive and disregarded principle' (Alford). There is more hope of the cold - i:e., these of the world not yet warmed by the Gospel call; for, when called, they may become fervent Christians: as the once-cold publicans, Zaccheus and Matthew. But the lukewarm has been within reach of the holy fire, without being kindled into fervour; having religion enough to lull the conscience in security, not enough to save the soul: as the halters between two opinions in Israel (1 Kings 18:21 : cf. 2 Kings 17:41; Ezekiel 20:39; Matthew 6:24).


Verse 16

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

Neither cold nor hot. So A, Vulgate; but 'Aleph (') B C, Syriac, Coptic, transpose, 'hot nor cold.' The adjectives are in the masculine, agreeing with the angel; not with the Church (feminine). The Lord addresses the angel as representing the Church. The chief minister is answerable for his flock, if he had not faithfully warned it.

I will , [ melloo (Greek #3195)] - 'I am about to;' I have it in my mind: implying graciously the possibility of the threat not being executed, if only they repent at once. His dealing toward them will depend on theirs toward Him.

Spue thee out of my mouth reject with righteous loathing as Canaan spued out its inhabitants for their Spue thee out of my mouth - reject with righteous loathing, as Canaan spued out its inhabitants for their abominations (Leviticus 18:28). Physicians used lukewarm water to cause vomiting. Cold and hot drinks were common at feasts: never lukewarm. There were hot and cold springs near Laodicea.


Verse 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:

A lukewarm state generates fatal self-sufficiency (note, Revelation 3:15).

Thou sayest - mentally, if not in words.

Increased with goods , [ peplouteeka (Greek #4147)] - 'have become enriched:' self-praise in self-acquired riches. Alluding to Hosea 12:8. The riches on which they prided themselves were spiritual; their spiritual self-sufficiency ("I have need of nothing") was fostered by worldly wealth, as poverty of spirit is fostered by poverty in worldly riches. Compare Matthew 5:3, with Luke 6:20.

Knowest not that thou - in particular, above all others.

Art wretched - `art the wretched one.'

Miserable. So 'Aleph (') C but A B prefix 'the.' [ Ho (Greek #3588) eleeinos (Greek #1652), 'the pitiable:' especially to be pitied.] How different Christ's estimate from men's own estimate of themselves!

Blind. Laodicea boasted of a deeper than common insight into divine things. Not absolutely blind: else eye-salve would have been of no avail, but comparatively.


Verse 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.

Gentle, loving irony. Take my advice, thou who fanciest thou 'needest none.' Not only art thou not in need of nothing, but in need of the commonest necessaries. He graciously stoops to their modes of thought. Thou art ready to listen to any counsel how to buy to advantage: then, listen to mine (for I am "Counsellor," Isaiah 9:6), "buy of ME" (in whom, according to Paul's letter to the neighbouring Colosse, intended for the Laodiceans also, Colossians 2:1; Colossians 2:3; Colossians 4:16, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge). "Buy:" not that we can, by any merit of ours, purchase God's free gift; nay, the purchase money consists in renouncing all self-righteousness (Revelation 3:17). "Buy" at the cost of thy self-sufficiency (so Philippians 3:7-8), and of all things, however dear, that would prevent receiving Christ's salvation as a free gift-e.g., self and worldly desires. Compare Isaiah 55:1.

Of me - the source of "unsearchable riches" (Ephesians 3:8). Laodicea had extensive money transactions (Cicero).

Gold tried in , [ pepuroomenon (Greek #4448)] - 'fired from the fire;' i:e., fresh from the furnace which proved its purity; retaining its glens. Sterling spiritual wealth, contrasted with its counterfeit, in which Laodicea boasted. Having this gold, she will be no longer poor (Revelation 3:17).

Mayest be rich - `enriched.'

White raiment - `garments.' Laodicea's wools were famous. Christ offers infinitely whiter raiments. As "gold tried in the fire" expresses faith tested by fiery trials, so "white raiment" Christ's righteousness imputed to the believer in justification, imparted in sanctification.

Appear - `be manifested' at the day when everyone without the wedding garment shall be discovered. To strip, in the East, implies putting to open shame. So to clothe with fine apparel is the image of doing honour. Man can discover his shame; God alone can cover it, so that his nakedness shall not be manifested at last (Genesis 3:7; Genesis 3:21; Colossians 3:10-14). Blessed is he whose sin is so covered (Psalms 32:1). The hypocrite's shame may be manifested now, it must be so then.

Anoint ... with eye-salve. 'Aleph (') A C [ engchrisai (Greek #1472)], '(buy of me) eye-salve (collyrium, a roll of ointment) to anoint thine eyes.' Christ, the Anointed, has for Laodicea an ointment far more precious than all the costly unguents of the East (John 9:6; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). The eye is the conscience or inner light of the mind. According as it is sound and 'single' [ haplous (Greek #573), 'simple'], or otherwise, the man sees spiritually, or does not (Matthew 6:22). The Holy Spirit's unction, like ancient eye-salves, first smarts with conviction of sin, then heals: He opens our eyes first to our wretchedness, then to the Saviour's preciousness. The most sunken churches of the seven, Sardis and Laodicea, are those in which were no opponents from without nor heresies from within. The Church owes much to God's providence, which makes internal and external foes, in spite of themselves, to promote His cause, by calling forth her energies in contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. Peace is dearly bought at the cost of spiritual stagnation, where there is not interest enough felt in religion to contend about it at all.


Verse 19

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

(Proverbs 3:11-12.) So Manasses (2 Chronicles 33:11-13).

As many. All. 'And shalt thou be an exception? If excepted from the scourge, thou art excepted from the number of the sons' (Augustine). An encouragement to Laodicea not to despair, but to regard the rebuke as a token for good, if she profit by it.

I love , [ filoo (Greek #5368)] - gratuitous affection, independent of grounds for esteem in the object loved. But Philadelphia (Revelation 3:9), "I have loved thee" [ eegapeesa (Greek #25)] with love of esteem, founded on the judgment. Note my 'English Gnomon' of Bengel, John 21:15-17,

I rebuke. "I" stands first emphatically. I in my dealings, so unlike man's, rebuke all whom I love. [ Elengchoo (Greek #1651) is the same verb as in John 16:8, '(the Holy Spirit) will convince (rebuke to conviction) the world of sin.']

Chasten - `chastise' [ paideuoo (Greek #3811): in classical Greek, to instruct; in the New Testament, to instruct by chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-6)]. David was rebuked unto conviction when he cried, "I have sinned against the Lord:" the chastening followed, when his child was taken (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In divine chastening, the sinner at once winces under the rod and learns righteousness.

Be zealous - habitually. [Present, zeeleue (Greek #2206): a lifelong course of zeal, opposite of "lukewarm."] I The alliteration marks this: Laodicea had not been "hot," [ zestos (Greek #2200)], she is therefore urged to "be zealous" [ zeeleue (Greek #2206)]: both are from the same [ zeoo (Greek #2204), to boil].

Repent , [ metanoeeson (Greek #3340), aorist] - of an act to be done once for all, and at once.


Verse 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.

Stand - waiting in wonderful condescension and long-suffering.

Knock - a further manifestation of His loving desire for our salvation. Himself "the door" (John 10:7), who bids us "knock," that it maybe "opened unto" us (Matthew 7:7), is first Himself to knock at the door of our hearts. If He did not knock first, we should never come to knock at His door. Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 5:4-6, is plainly alluded to; the Spirit here sealing the canonicity of that mystical book. The spiritual state of the bride there, between walking and sleeping, slow to open the door to her divine lover, answers to the lukewarm Laodicea. 'Love toward men emptied God; for He does not remain in His place and call to Him the servant whom He loved, but comes down Himself to seek him; He who is all-rich arrives at the lodging of the pauper, with His own voice intimates His yearning love, seeks a similar return, withdraws not when disowned, is not impatient at insult, and when persecuted still waits at the doors (Nicolaus Cabasilas in Trench).

If any man hear - for man is not compelled; Christ knocks, but does not break open the door, though the violent take heaven by force of prayer (Matthew 11:12). Whosoever hears, does so not of himself, but by the drawings of God's grace (John 6:44): repentance is Christ's gift (Acts 5:31). He draws, not drags. The Sun of righteousness, the moment the door is opened, pours in His light, which could not previously find entrance.

My voice. He appeals to the sinner not only with His hand (His providence) knocking, but with His voice (His word: or rather, His Spirit applying to man's spirit the lessons to be drawn from His providences and His word). If we disregard His knocking at our door now, He will disregard our knocking at His door hereafter. As to His second coming, He is even now at the door (James 5:9); we know not how soon He may knock; we should always be ready to open to Him immediately.

I will come in to him - as I did to Zaccheus.

Sup with him, and he with me. Delightful reciprocity. Compare John 6:56, end. Ordinarily, the admitted guest sups with the admitter: here the divine guest becomes Himself the host, for He is the bread of life, and Giver of the marriage feast. Here again He alludes to Song of Solomon 2:3; Song of Solomon 4:16, where the Bride invites Him to eat pleasant fruits, even as He first prepared a feast for her: "His fruit was sweet to my taste." Compare the same interchange, John 21:9-13, the feast being made up of the viands Jesus brought, and those the disciples brought. The consummation of this blessed intercommunion shall be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, of which the Lord's Supper is the foretaste.


Verse 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.

Sit with me in my throne - (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 20:23; John 17:22; John 17:24; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 20:6.) He whom Christ just before threatened to spue out of His mouth, is now offered a seat with Him on His throne! 'The highest place is within reach of the lowest: the faintest spark of grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame' (Trench).

Even as I also. Two thrones are mentioned:

(1) His Father's, upon which He has sat since His ascension, after victory over death, sin, the world: upon this none can sit except God, and the God-man Christ Jesus, for it is the incommunicable prerogative of God;

(2) the throne peculiarly His as the once humbled and then glorified Son of man, to be set up over the whole earth (heretofore usurped by Satan) at His coming again: in this the victorious saints shall share

(1 Corinthians 6:2).

The transfigured elect shall with Christ judge and reign over the nations in the flesh, and Israel foremost of them: ministering blessings to them, as angels were the Lord's mediators of blessing and administrators of government in setting up His throne in Israel at Sinai. This privilege belongs exclusively to the present time while Satan reigns, when alone there is scope for conflict and victory (2 Timothy 2:11-12). When Satan shall be bound (Revelation 20:4) there shall be no longer scope, for all on earth shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. This, the crowning promise, at the end of all the seven addresses, gathers all in one. It forms the link to the next part, where the Lamb is seated on His Father's throne (Revelation 4:2-3; Revelation 5:5-6). The Eastern throne is broader than ours, admitting others besides the chief in the center. Trench, The order of the promises corresponds to the unfolding of the kingdom of God from its first beginnings on earth to its consummation in heaven. To the faithful at Ephesus:

(1) the tree of life in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7) answering to Genesis 2:1-25 (1) the tree of life in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7), answering to Genesis 2:1-25.

(2) Sin entered the world, and death by sin: to the faithful at Smyrna it is promised they shall not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11). The promise of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17) to Pergamos

(3) answers to the Mosaic period, the Church in the wilderness.

(4) That to Thyatira, triumph over the nations (Revelation 2:26-27), consummates the kingdom, answering to the prophetic type, David and Solomon's power over the nations. The seven fall into two groups, four and three, as the Lord's prayer, three and four. The last three pass from earth to heaven; the Church contemplated as triumphant, with its steps from glory to glory.

(5) Christ promises to the believer of Sardis not to blot his name out of the book of life, but to confess him before His Father and the angels at the judgment day, and clothe him with a glorified body of dazzling whiteness (Revelation 3:4-5). To believers at Philadelphia,

(6) that they shall be citizens, fixed as immoveable pillars in the new Jerusalem, where city and temple are one (Revelation 3:12). Here not only individual salvation is promised, as in Sardis, but also privileges in the blessed communion of the Church triumphant.

(7) Lastly, to the faithful of Laodicea is given the crowning promise, a seat with Christ on His throne, even as He sits with His Father on His Father's throne (Revelation 3:21).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-3.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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