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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Revelation 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-6

Revelation 3:1-6. The Letter to the Church at Sardis.—Sardis was a little more than 30 miles SE. of Thyatira: formerly a city of great importance, at this time it had become a town of the second rank. It had been destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17, and though rebuilt it had not recovered its former glory.

Revelation 3:1. seven spirits of God: Revelation 1:4*.—name that thou livest: this is the severest condemnation passed upon any of the churches.

Revelation 3:2. the things that remain: the church is not entirely lost to hope; there is still the possibility of revival.—found no works: in the case of the other churches there is always something to praise, but Sardis has no record of achievements to call forth admiration.

Revelation 3:3. how thou hast received: the church is urged to remember its past history and the mercies vouchsafed to it.

Revelation 3:4. few names: there are even in Sardis a few persons (cf. Revelation 11:13 Gr.) who have not sullied the purity of their Christian life.

Revelation 3:5. white garments: white is the emblem of purity (cf. Revelation 7:13 f.).—book of life: originally this title was applied to the roll or register of the citizens of Jerusalem. Subsequently it was used to denote the roll of God's people (Exodus 32:32, Psalms 69:28, Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15).—confess his name: cf. the saying of Jesus, Matthew 10:32*.


Verses 1-22

Revelation 2:1 to Revelation 3:22. The Letters to the Seven Churches.—These letters are addressed to individual churches, but their messages are intended for the Church as a whole. In every letter there occurs the phrase, "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."


Verses 7-13

Revelation 3:7-13. The Letter to the Church at Philadelphia.—Philadelphia was about 30 miles SE. of Sardis. Like Sardis it was subject to frequent earthquakes, and consequently never attained any great size. The condition of the church seems to have been satisfactory; the difficulties arose from Jewish rather than pagan opponents.

Revelation 3:7. that hath the key of David: cf. Isaiah 22:22, where the key of the house of David is given to Eliakim after the deposition of Shebna. The key was the symbol of office, especially of the Treasurer's or Chancellor's office. It is Christ who here carries "the key" which indicates His authority over the House of God.

Revelation 3:8. door opened: probably the door of opportunity (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12). Possibly there is an allusion to the geographical position of Philadelphia, which was situated in the centre of Asia, and so had abundant opportunities of evangelizing the neighbouring districts.

Revelation 3:9. synagogue of Satan: as at Smyrna (cf. Revelation 2:9), the opposition comes from the Jews.

Revelation 3:10. the word of my patience: the teaching which emphasized and held up as an example the endurance of Christ.—the hour of trial: the hour of testing, i.e. the persecution.

Revelation 3:12. a pillar in the temple: the man who remains steadfast in the hour of testing will become a "pillar" (cf. Galatians 2:9, of "James and Cephas and John"), i.e. one of the chief supports of the Church of God.—name of my God: three names are written on the "pillar man," (a) the name of God (cf. Numbers 6:27), to indicate that his life was consecrated to the service of God; (b) the name of the New Jerusalem, to indicate that he was a citizen thereof; (c) the new name of Christ (cf. Revelation 19:12), to indicate that he was to share in His victory. For the description of the New Jerusalem cf. Revelation 21:2. See also Galatians 4:26*.


Verses 14-22

Revelation 3:14-22. The Letter to the Church at Laodicea.—Laodicea was 40 miles SE. of Philadelphia and near Colossæ. It was famous for its wealth, and when it was overthrown by an earthquake in A.D. 60, it disdained to receive a subsidy from Rome, preferring to restore the damage out of its own resources. It was, according to Sir W. M. Ramsay, one of the great banking and financial centres of the time.

Revelation 3:14. the Amen: cf. Isaiah 65:16 (RVm.), "the god of the Amen," here applied to Christ because "His character and nature are in themselves a guarantee for the truth of His testimony" (Swete).—faithful and true witness: cf. Revelation 1:5*.—the beginning of the creation: cf. Colossians 1:15, "firstborn of all creation." The phrase does not signify that Christ was the first to be created, but rather that He was the principle and source of the creation.

Revelation 3:15. neither cold nor hot: Laodicea was free from the vices which corrupted Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis, but it had its own sin, the spirit of indifference.

Revelation 3:16. "A draught of tepid water provokes nausea, and a tepid Christianity is nauseous to Christ. . . . There is probably an allusion to the hot springs of Hierapolis, which in their way over the plateau become lukewarm, and in that condition discharge themselves over the cliff right opposite to Laodicea" (Swete).

Revelation 3:17. I am rich: an allusion to the wealth of Laodicea and its self-reliant, self-satisfied spirit.

Revelation 3:18. The true wealth can only be obtained from Christ, who alone possesses the "unsearchable riches."—white garments: in contrast to the garments made of the glossy black wool of the sheep for which Laodicea was renowned.—eye-salve: Laodicea was famous for a particular ointment.

Revelation 3:19. be zealous: what the church at Laodicea needed was enthusiasm, hence this injunction.

Revelation 3:20. stand at the door: the metaphor was probably suggested by Ca. Revelation 5:2. Swete thinks the words have an eschatological reference, and indicate the near approach of the Parousia (cf. Matthew 24:33, James 5:9), but the phrase, "if any man hear my voice," seems to indicate that the more common and popular interpretation of the verse is correct.

Revelation 3:21. sit with me on my throne: cf. Luke 22:30.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Revelation 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/revelation-3.html. 1919.

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