Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
New American Standard Version
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Adam Clarke Commentary

Behold, I stand at the door and knock - There are many sayings of this kind among the ancient rabbins; thus in Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 25, 1: "God said to the Israelites, My children, open to me one door of repentance, even so wide as the eye of a needle, and I will open to you doors through which calves and horned cattle may pass."

In Sohar Levit, fol. 8, col. 32, it is said: "If a man conceal his sin, and do not open it before the holy King, although he ask mercy, yet the door of repentance shall not be opened to him. But if he open it before the holy blessed God, God spares him, and mercy prevails over wrath; and when he laments, although all the doors were shut, yet they shall be opened to him, and his prayer shall be heard."

Christ stands - waits long, at the door of the sinner's heart; he knocks - uses judgments, mercies, reproofs, exhortations, etc., to induce sinners to repent and turn to him; he lifts up his voice - calls loudly by his word, ministers, and Spirit.

If any man hear - If the sinner will seriously consider his state, and attend to the voice of his Lord.

And open the door - This must be his own act, receiving power for this purpose from his offended Lord, who will not break open the door; he will make no forcible entry.

I will come in to him - I will manifest myself to him, heal all his backslidings, pardon all his iniquities, and love him freely.

Will sup with him - Hold communion with him, feed him with the bread of life.

And he with me - I will bring him at last to dwell with me in everlasting glory.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock - Intimating that, though they had erred, the way of repentance and hope was not closed against them. He was still willing to be gracious, though their conduct had been such as to be loathsome, Revelation 3:16. To see the real force of this language, we must remember how disgusting and offensive their conduct had been to him. And yet he was willing, notwithstanding this, to receive them to his favor; nay more, he stood and pled with them that he might be received with the hospitality that would be shown to a friend or stranger. The language here is so plain that it scarcely needs explanation. It is taken from an act when we approach a dwelling, and, by a well-understood sign - knocking - announce our presence, and ask for admission. The act of knocking implies two things:

(a)that we desire admittance; and,

(b)that we recognize the right of him who dwells in the house to open the door to us or not, as he shall please.

We would not obtrude upon him; we would not force his door; and if, after we are sure that we are heard, we are not admitted, we turn quietly away. Both of these things are implied here by the language used by the Saviour when he approaches man as represented under the image of knocking at the door: that he desires to be admitted to our friendship; and that he recognizes our freedom in the matter. He does not obtrude himself upon us, nor does he employ force to find admission to the heart. If admitted, he comes and dwells with us; if rejected, he turns quietly away - perhaps to return and knock again, perhaps never to come back. The language used here, also, may be understood as applicable to all persons, and to all the methods by which the Saviour seeks to come into the heart of a sinner. It would properly refer to anything which would announce his presence: his word; his Spirit; the solemn events of his providence; the invitations of his gospel. In these and in other methods he comes to man; and the manner in which these invitations ought to be estimated would be seen by supposing that he came to us personally and solicited our friendship, and proposed to be our Redeemer. It may be added here, that this expression proves that the attempt at reconciliation begins with the Saviour. It is not that the sinner goes out to meet him, or to seek for him; it is that the Saviour presents himself at the door of the heart, as if he were desirous to enjoy the friendship of man. This is in accordance with the uniform language of the New Testament, that “God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son”; that “Christ came to seek and to save the lost”; that the Saviour says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” etc. Salvation, in the Scriptures, is never represented as originated by man.

If any man hear my voice - Perhaps referring to a custom then prevailing, that he who knocked spake, in order to let it be known who it was. This might be demanded in the night Luke 11:5, or when there was apprehension of danger, and it may have been the custom when John wrote. The language here, in accordance with the uniform usage in the Scriptures (compare Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17), is universal, and proves that the invitations of the gospel are made, and are to be made, not to a part only, but fully and freely to all people; for, although this originally had reference to the members of the church in Laodicea, yet the language chosen seems to have been of design so universal ( ἐάν τις ean tis) as to be applicable to every human being; and anyone, of any age and in any land, would be authorized to apply this to himself, and, under the protection of this invitation, to come to the Saviour, and to plead this promise as one that fairly included himself. It may be observed further, that this also recognizes the freedom of man. It is submitted to him whether he will hear the voice of the Redeemer or not; and whether he will open the door and admit him or not. He speaks loud enough, and distinctly enough, to be heard, but he does not force the door if it is not voluntarily opened.

And open the door - As one would when a stranger or friend stood and knocked. The meaning here is simply, if anyone will admit me; that is, receive me as a friend. The act of receiving him is as voluntary on our part as it is when we rise and open the door to one who knocks. It may be added:

(1)that this is an easy thing. Nothing is more easy than to open the door when one knocks; and so everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented as an easy thing, if the heart is willing, to secure the salvation of the soul.

(2)this is a reasonable thing.

We invite him who knocks at the door to come in. We always assume, unless there is reason to suspect the contrary, that he applies for peaceful and friendly purposes. We deem it the height of rudeness to let one stand and knock long; or to let him go away with no friendly invitation to enter our dwelling. Yet how different does the sinner treat the Saviour! How long does he suffer him to knock at the door of his heart, with no invitation to enter - no act of common civility such as that with which he would greet even a stranger! And with how much coolness and indifference does he see him turn away - perhaps to come back no more, and with no desire that he ever should return!

I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me - This is an image denoting intimacy and friendship. Supper, with the ancients, was the principal social meal; and the idea here is, that between the Saviour and those who would receive him there would be the intimacy which subsists between those who sit down to a friendly meal together. In all countries and times, to eat together, to break bread together, has been the symbol of friendship, and this the Saviour promises here. The truths, then, which are taught in this verse, are:

(1)that the invitation of the gospel is made to all - “if any man hear my voice”;

(2)that the movement toward reconciliation and friendship is originated by the Saviour - “behold, I stand at the door and knock”;

(3)that there is a recognition of our own free agency in religion - “if any man will hear my voice, and open the door”;

(4)the ease of the terms of salvation, represented by “hearing his voice,” and “opening the door”; and,

(5)the blessedness of thus admitting him, arising from his friendship - “I will sup with him, and he with me.” What friend can man have who would confer so many benefits on him as the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is there that he should so gladly welcome to his bosom?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

The Guest of the heart

I. The stranger-guest wanting to come in. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.”

1. When a stranger comes to your door, it matters a good deal to your feeling as a host whether he be a mean man or a great one. An inhospitable act done to your Queen might never vex you at all if it was only done to an obscure wanderer. Who, then, is this? Is He mean? or is He great? He does not look very great in the starlight. But He is. At home He is worshipped, and wields all command; and beings before whom the mightiest of the earth are as infants, only venture to bow themselves at His feet when their faces are shielded from the lustre of His glory.

2. When a stranger comes to your door, it is a consideration for you whether he has come to a door only, or to your door; whether he has come to your door by chance, or to yourself on purpose. Has this Stranger, then, just happened upon this cottage-door as one that serves His turn as well as any other? or does He mean to seek this very home and this very board, if haply He may be welcomed as a friend? How deeply does He mean it, and how tenderly!

3. When a stranger comes to your door, it is of some moment to you whether he has come but a short distance to see you, or has come from far. This waiting Stranger--whence comes He? From another country? He has come from another world. Through peril, through tribulation, He has come hither.

4. When a stranger comes to your door, it is a thing of influence with you whether your visitor is in earnest to get in, or shows indifference, and soon gives up the endeavour. A caller who knocks and goes off again before you have had reasonable time to answer.

5. When a stranger comes to your door, it is of every consequence to you what may be the character of himself, and the complexion of his errand. Is he good, and likely come for good? or is he evil, and likely come for evil? What far-brought tidings, what peace, what hopes, what aids, what influence, he fetches with him!

II. The stranger-guest getting in. “If any man hear My voice, and open the door.”

1. The Stranger did not force an entrance. It is from the inside, after all, that a man’s heart opens to his Saviour-King.

2. At the same time it is of the utmost importance to note, that the transaction, with this indispensable element of free choice in it, is the veriest simplicity. “If any man hear,” “and open”--lo! it is accomplished, and the Son of God is within. Very natural it may be--after you have at last acknowledged the Voice by some beginnings of faith, and have arisen at its call to bustle long about the apartment in a process of rearranging, cleansing, tidying, adorning. Not less natural it may be to sit down, after a desponding glance around you, and endeavour to devise some plan by which you may entertain the Guest more worthily. All the while, and all the same, your Guest is standing without. The one luckless fact is the tardiness of your hospitality. The honour is done Him by nothing but by letting Him in. And more: your heart-home will only be made fit for His presence by His presence.

3. But there may be some one who is saying with a certain sincerity, “I have tried to open my heart to Christ, and I could not--cannot!” It will baffle your own strength. But what of your Guest Himself, and that power of His--so freely available now?

III. The stranger-guest in. “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” It is a scene with much light in it, and an atmosphere of security and deep peace. (J. A. Kerr Bain, M. A.)

Christ’s loving earnestness

I. The love of Christ. It is free love. It is large love. It is love irrespective of goodness in us.

II. The patience of Christ. He stands, and He has stood, as the words imply--not afar off, but nigh, at the door. He stands. It is the attitude of waiting, of perseverance in waiting. He does not come and go; He stands. He does not sit down, or occupy Himself with other concerns. He has one object in view.

III. The earnestness of Christ. If the standing marks His patience, the knocking marks His earnestness--His unwearied earnestness.

1. How does He knock?

2. When does He knock?

IV. The appeal of Christ to the Laodiceans. “If any man will hear My voice, and open the door.” It is--

1. A loving appeal.

2. A personal appeal.

3. An honest appeal.

4. An earnest appeal.

V. The promise of Christ.

1. I will come in to Him. His standing on the outside is of no use to us. A mere outside Christ will profit us nothing. An outside cross will not pacify, nor heal, nor save.

2. I will sup with him. He comes in as a guest, to take a place at our poor table and to partake of our homely meal.

3. He shall sup with Me. Christ has a banquet in preparation. (H. Bonar, D. D.)

The Christ at the door

These wonderful words need no heightening of their impressiveness, and yet there are two considerations which add pathos and beauty to them. The one is that they are all but the last words which the seer in Patmos heard in his vision, from the lips of the exalted Christ. Parting words are ever impressive words; and this is the attitude in which Jesus desired to be thought of by all coming time. Another consideration intensifying the impressive-Hess of the utterance is that it is the speech of that Christ whose exalted glories are so marvellously portrayed in the first chapter of this book. The words are marvellous too, not only for that picture, but for the clear decisiveness with which they recognise the solemn power that men have of giving or refusing an entrance to Him; and still further, for the grandeur of their promises to the yielding heart which welcomes Him.

I. The exalted Christ asking to be let in to a man’s heart. The latter words of the verse suggest the image of a banqueting hall. The chamber to which Christ desires entrance is full of feasters. There is room for everybody else there but Him. Now the plain sad truth which that stands for about us, is this: That we are more willing to let anybody and anything come into our thoughts, and find lodgment in our affections, than we are to let Jesus Christ come in. The next thought here is of the reality of this knocking. Every conviction, every impression, every half inclination towards Him that has risen in your hearts, though you fought against it, has been His knocking there. And think of what a revelation of Him that is! We are mostly too proud to sue for love, especially if once the petition has been repulsed; but He asks to be let into your heart because His nature and His name is Love, and being such, He yearns to be loved by you, and tie yearns to bless you.

II. Notice that awful power which is recognised here as residing in us, to let Him in or to keep Him out. “It any man will open the door”--the door has no handle on the outside. It opens from within. Christ knocks: we open. What we call faith is the opening of the door. And is it not plain that that simple condition is a condition not imposed by any arbitrary action on His part, but a condition indispensable from the very nature of the case?

III. The entrance of the Christ, with His hands full of blessing. It is the central gift and promise of the gospel “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” He Himself is the greatest of His gifts. He never comes empty-handed, but when He enters in He endows the soul with untold riches. We have here also Christ’s presence as a Guest. “I will come in and sup with Him.” What great and wonderful things are contained in that assurance! Can we present anything to Him that He can partake of? Yes! We may give Him our service and He will take that; we may give Him our love and He will take that, and regard it as dainty and delightsome food. We have here Christ’s presence not only as a Guest, but also as Host--“I will sup with him and he with Me.” As when some great prince offers to honour a poor subject with his presence, and let him provide some insignificant portion of the entertainment, whilst all the substantial and costly parts of it come in the retinue of the monarch, from the palace. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The heavenly Visitor

I. What is implied by the expression, “I stand at the door.”

1. That Christ is outside man’s heart.

2. That He is deliberately excluded.

3. That He is excluded in favour of other guests.

4. That notwithstanding He wishes to enter.

5. That He recognises our liberty to admit Him.

II. By what means He makes His presence known.

III. The blessings to be enjoyed by those who admit Him.

1. Reconciliation.

2. Communion.

3. Refreshment. (Thos. Heath.)

Christ at the door

I. The person. The Greatest at the door of the meanest.

II. The attitude.

1. Service.

2. Waiting expectation.

3. Supplication.

III. The action.

IV. The object. (Homilist.)

The pleading Saviour

I. The Saviour’s humility and condescension.

1. Patience. Repeated application where rudely repulsed.

2. Desire to enter. Not for His own good or gratification, but for our salvation, because He delights in mercy.

II. The Saviour’s persistent efforts.

III. The Saviour’s proffered reward. The presence of Christ is the highest privilege man can desire. It involves--

1. Familiarity.

2. Reciprocity.

3. Unity.

4. Enjoyment. (Homilist.)

Christ at the door

I. The suppliant for admission. A strange reversal of the attitudes of the great and of the lowly, of the giver and of the receiver, of the Divine and of the human! Christ once said, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” But He has taken the suppliant’s place. So, then, there is here a revelation, not only of a universal truth, but a most tender and pathetic disclosure of Christ’s yearning love to each of us. What do you call that emotion which more than anything else desires that a heart should open and let it enter? We call it love when we find it in one another. Surely it bears the same name when it is sublimed into all but infinitude, and yet is as individualising and specific as it is great and universal, as it is found in Jesus Christ. And then, still further, in that thought of the suppliant waiting for admission there is the explanation for us all of a great many misunderstood facts in our experience. That sorrow that darkened your days and made your heart bleed, what was it but Christ’s hand on the door? Those blessings which pour into your life day by day “beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye yield yourselves living sacrifices.” That unrest which dogs the steps of every man who has not found rest in Christ, what is it but the application of His hand to the obstinately-closed door? The stings of conscience, the movements of the Spirit, the definite proclamation of His Word, even by such lips as mine, what are they all except His appeals to us? And this is the deepest meaning of joys and sorrows, of gifts and losses, of fulfilled and disappointed hopes. If we understood better that all life was guided by Christ and that Christ’s guidance of life was guided by His desire that He should find a place in our hearts, we should less frequently wonder at sorrows, and should better understand our blessings.

II. The door opened. Jesus Christ knocks, but Jesus Christ cannot break the door open. The door is closed, and unless there be a definite act on your part it will not be opened, and He will not enter. So we come to this, that to do nothing is to keep your Saviour outside; and that is the way in which most men that miss Him do miss Him. The condition of His entrance is simple trust in Him, as the Saviour of my soul. That is opening the door, and if you will do that, then, just as when you open the shutters, in comes the sunshine; just as when you lift the sluice in flows the crystal stream into the slimy, empty lock; so He will enter in, wherever He is not shut out by unbelief and aversion of will.

III. The entrance and the feast. “I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me.” Well, that speaks to us in lovely, sympathetic language, of a close, familiar, happy communication between Christ and my poor self which shall make all life as a feast in company with Him. John, as he wrote down the words “I will sup with him, and he with Me,” perhaps remembered that upper room where, amidst all the bitter herbs, there was such strange joy and tranquility. But whether he did or no, may we not take the picture as suggesting to us the possibilities of loving fellowship, of quiet repose, of absolute satisfaction of all desires and needs, which will be ours if we open the door of our hearts by faith, and let Jesus Christ come in? (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Relation to Christ of the human soul

I. His attitude towards the soul. He is constantly in contact with the soul. He does not come occasionally and then depart; He stands.

1. His deep concern. In the eye of Christ the soul is no trifling object: He knows its capabilities, relations, power, influence, interminable history.

2. His infinite condescension.

3. His wonderful patience.

II. His action upon the soul. He does not stand there as a statue doing nothing. He knocks: He knocks at the door of intellect with His philosophic truths; at the door of conscience, with His ethical principles; at the door of love, with His transcendent charms; at the door of hope, with His heavenly glories; at the door of fear, with the terrors of His law.

1. The moral power of the sinner. The soul has the power to shut out Christ. It can bolt itself against its Creator. This it does by directing its thoughts to other subjects, by deadening its convictions, by procrastinations.

2. The consummate folly of the sinner. Who is shut out? Not a foe or thief; but a friend, a physician, a deliverer.

3. The awful guiltiness of the sinner. It shuts out its proprietor, its rightful Lord.

III. His aim in reference to the soul. It is not to destroy it; but to come into it and identify Himself with all its feelings, aspirations, and interests.

1. Inhabitation. “I will come unto him.” We are perpetually letting people into our hearts. How pleased we are if some illustrious personage will enter our humble homes and sit down with us, etc.

2. Identification. “Sup with him and he with Me.” I will be at home with him, be one with him. A conventionally great man deems it a condescension to enter the house of an inferior--he never thinks of identifying himself with the humble inmate. Christ does this with the soul that lets Him in. He makes its cares His own. (Homilist.)

The illustrious Visitor

I. The great kindness of the Redeemer to man.

1. Compassion for man.

2. Condescension to man.

3. Communion with man. The Saviour does not come as a stranger, He comes as a friend and a guest.

4. The consummation of man. He takes possession of our spirits to make them perfect and glorious. This will be the perfecting of our humanity, the consummation of all our best and brightest hopes and capacities.

II. The great unkindness of man to the Redeemer.

1. Ignorance is the cause in some cases why the visit of the Saviour is not welcomed. If the ignorance be involuntary and unavoidable, then it is not culpable; but if it be the result of a voluntary refusal to know who the Saviour is, and what His knocking means, then it shows great unkindness to the Redeemer, and is regarded by Him as a great sin.

2. Another cause is indifference. Some know that it is the Saviour standing at the door of their hearts; but they are so absorbed with other engagements, they are so careless about the unseen and eternal, that they let Him stand outside, and make no effort to let Him in.

3. Another cause is unbelief.

4. Prejudice is another cause of the unkindness of man to the Redeemer. The Cross is an offence to many. Prejudice blinds the eyes and hardens the heart and prevents man seeing Jesus as He really is--“the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely.”

5. The last cause of unkindness we will mention is ingratitude. (F. W. Brown.)

Christ at the door

I. Friendship with God is proposed as the grand privilege of the race.

1. The friendship which God offers is on entirely a human plane. Christian life is only a transfiguration of every-day life.

2. The friendship which God proposes is permanent in its continuance.

II. An undoubted proof of the Divine sincerity.

1. You see this in the fact that the entire proposal comes from Him. The grace of this transaction is absolutely marvellous.

2. You see this in the successive and persistent endeavours to bring this friendship within reach of the soul.

III. The assurance of the entire fulness of the atonement. There is no restriction in the offers of Divine grace.

1. There is no limit on the human side. If any man will open his heart, the Saviour will come in.

2. There is positively no limit on the Divine side either. The offer is made in terms utterly without restriction.

IV. An explicit recognition of human free agency under the plan of salvation by grace. It is well to inquire why it is He thus pauses on the threshold.

1. It is not because He is unable to force His way in. There is no opposition so violent that He could not crush it beneath His Omnipotent might.

2. The reason for the Divine forbearance is found in the inscrutable counsels of the Divine wisdom. In the beginning, He drew one line around His own action. He determined to create a class of beings who should have minds and hearts of their own. A free chance to choose between serving Him and resisting Him He now gives to every one of us. And when He had thus established men in being, He sovereignly decided never to interfere with the free-will He had bestowed.

V. If any man is finally lost, the responsibility rests upon his own soul. The Saviour has come so far, but it is perfectly clear He is coming no further.

1. Observe how unbeclouded is the final issue. There can be no mystery, there is no mistake about it. The Providence of God always clears the way up to the crisis, removing every side-consideration which can possibly confuse it. Education that fits for usefulness is a demand for usefulness; the love of our children is a hint for us to love God as children; social position, wealth, official station, accomplishments, popular favour; whoever has any of these ought to hear in them the accents of that quiet voice speaking to his heart: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

2. Observe the ease of the condition required of us. It is only to open the door. Great things under the gospel are always simple.

3. Observe then, finally, what it is that keeps the Saviour out. Nothing but will. This is the inspired declaration: “Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life.” That is, you set a definite purpose against the purpose of grace. Christ came and you resisted Him. (C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Christ knocking at the door of the soul

I. That there is in the human soul a door for the entrance of the truth.

1. The intellect. Is not the theology of the Bible in its broad outlines reasonable? Christ, in the evidence, enlightenment, and conviction of the truth, stands knocking at the mind of man, and the greater the knowledge of the truth, the louder is the appeal for entrance.

2. The heart. Man is endowed with the capability of love and sympathy. He has warm affections. He is so constituted as to be attracted by the pathetic and the beautiful. Hence, he looks out upon nature with admiring eye. And it is to this capability in man that the truth appeals. It presents to him an ideal beauty in the life of Christ, as recorded by the gospel narrative, which ought to win his spirit into an imitation of the same.

3. The conscience. Man has the ability to turn his natural judgment to moral and spiritual questions, and this is what we mean by conscience. To this faculty the truth presents its requirements; convinces of failure in the devotion of the inner life to Christ; and spreads out before it the threat of avenging justice.

4. But, strange to say, the door of the soul is closed to the entrance of the truth. The door of the mind is closed by error, by ignorance, and by prejudice. The door of the heart is shut by pride, by unbelief, and by wilful sin. The door of the conscience is barred by a continued habit of evil.

II. That at the door of the human soul truth makes continued appeals for entrance.

1. This appeal of truth is authoritative. Truth comes to men with authority, even with the claim of a sinless life, and with the emphasis of a Divine voice. Its distinguished character should gain for it an immediate and hearty welcome into the soul, as a king should be welcomed into a cottage. But truth comes to men not only with the authority of character, but also with the authority of right. The faculties of the human mind were made to receive it.

2. The appeal of Truth is patient. Other guests have entered--wealth in splendid apparel, ambition with loud clamour, and pride with haughty mien--but Christ with gentle spirit has remained without. His patience has been co-extensive with our neglect of Him. It is Divine.

3. The appeal of truth is benevolent. The truth does not seek to enter the soul of man merely to spy out its moral defilement, to pass woful sentence on its evil-doings, but to cleanse it by the Holy Spirit, to save it by grace, to enlighten it by knowledge, and to cheer it by love.

4. The appeal of truth is heard. “And knock.” Knocks at the door are generally heard. And certainly this is the case in reference to the advent of Christ to the soul. It is impossible to live in this land of religious light and agency without being conscious of Divine knockings at the portal of the soul.

III. That the human soul has the ability of choice as to whether it will open its door for the entrance of the truth or not.

1. The door of the soul will not be opened by any coercive methods. Does it not seem strange that Christ should have the key of the soul and yet stand without? This is only explained by the free agency of man. But though He enter not to dwell, the soul is visited by spiritual influences which are the universal heritage of man.

2. The door of the soul must be opened by moral methods. Calm reflection, earnest prayer, and a diligent study of the inspired Word, together with the gentle influences of the Divine Spirit, will open the soul to the entrance of Christ (Acts 16:14).

IV. That if the human soul will open its door to the reception of the truth, Christ will enter into close communion with it.

1. Then Christ will inhabit the soul. “I will come in to him.” Thus, if Christ come into the soul He will dwell in its thoughts, in its affections, in its aspirations, in its aims, and in all its activities. He will elevate and consecrate them all. True religion just means this, Christ in the soul, and its language is (Galatians 2:20).

2. Then Christ will be in sympathy with the soul. “And will sup with him.” It is impossible to have a feast in the soul unless Christ spreads the table; then the meal is festive. It removes sorrow; it inspires joy. While we are partaking of it we can relate to Christ all the perplexities of life. The good man carries a feast within him (John 4:32).

3. Then Christ will strengthen the soul. He will strengthen the moral nature by the food He will give, by the counsel He will impart, and by the hope He will inspire. The feast, the supply of holy energy will be resident within. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The self-invited Guest

I. That, in the dispensation of the Gospel, Christ is the uninvited guest, pleading for admission. Whatever acquaintance any of us may have with Jesus, the acquaintance began on His side: by Him are the first overtures invariably made.

1. The written gospel is a proof of it.

2. The Christian ministry is another proof.

3. The strivings of His Spirit are another instance of this. In the two former cases, His approach can more easily be avoided.

II. That consent alone is required, on our part, to give us a full participation in His friendship.

1. The consent which is required.

2. The friendship which is offered. (J. Jowett, M. A.)

Christ at the door of the heart

“Behold!” The sight is indeed a most astonishing one, which ought to fill our hearts with surprise and shame. God outside; He who ought to be recognised as Lord and Master of the human being, to whom we owe everything. I question whether there is any revelation made to us in the whole course of God’s Word that more strongly illustrates the persevering love of God. The love of God is not content with redeeming a guilty world, but He brings the redemption to the door of every human being. How, it is natural we should ask, is this extraordinary phenomenon to be explained? If we look at the context, we discover what the explanation is. “Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Ah! it is in those words that the clue is found to the extraordinary spectacle. I cannot understand a man going on, year after year, realising his own inward want, and yet not accepting the supply which God has given. How is it that Satan prevents this? How is it that he brings us to the position which is indicated to us by this figure? By filling us with all sorts of things which are not God. What are they? Some make their religion a substitute for God. That is one of the very worst substitutes that we can possibly fix upon. Again, how many persons there are who find an excellent substitute for Christ in morality. A man may have kept all the Ten Commandments, and yet, all the while, be shutting the door of his heart against Christ, and if a man does that, he keeps the letter of the Commandments, but not the spirit. Again, how many there are who take worldly pleasures as a substitute for God. Another thing set up in the place of God is the love of wealth. What is there that money cannot do? Another man puts learning in the place of God. What is there that intelligence cannot do? All these attempts to create substitutes, what are they? They are simply so many sins against your own soul. It would not have been at all a thing to be marvelled at, if we had read this passage thus: “The Lord once stood outside the door and knocked.” Had the Lord Jesus Christ given us one offer of mercy, and given one loud, thundering “knock,” and, being refused, left us to take the consequence, left us to our own miserable doom, you know we should have deserved it. Oh, deafen not your ears, men and women, against His call: do not be so blind to your own interest as to keep Him standing there: listen to what He says, “If any man hear My voice.” Notice that. He does not say, “If any man makes himself moral; if any man will try and make himself better.” That is not it, thank God! “If any man will shed oceans of tears.” No, that is not it. “If any man has deep sorrow.” No, that is not it. “If any man has powerful faith.” No, that is not it, What is it He says? “If any man will hear My voice.” As the preacher is speaking now, say, “God is speaking to my soul; He is speaking in all the infinity of His mercy: I cannot, I won’t deafen my ear against Him.” Well, as soon as the man hears the voice, he is on the highway to salvation. What more is wanted? Just one thing more. “If any man hear My voice, and will open unto Me.” It does not sound very much, does it? “Ah, but,” you say, “faith is so difficult. One man says, faith is this, and another says it is another thing.” Do you think the Lord Jesus Christ will stand back if you say that? I tell you, you will find those bolts and bars will fly back the moment you tell Him you are willing. Now, what are you going to do? Nay, what will He do? He says, “If any man will open to Me, I will come in.” Well, what will He do? Young man! you are thinking to yourself, “I should like to have Jesus as my Saviour, but if He comes to my heart He will bring a funeral procession with Him; my countenance will fall, my life will be overshadowed, my joy will be gone; my youthful pleasures will disappear, and I shall become mournful and morose.” I tell you that is the devil’s lie, not God’s truth. Wherever Jesus is, He carries a feast along with Him, and so He says to-night, “If any man will open unto Me, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

Christ at the door of the heart

This door, at which the Saviour knocks, is the heart of man. In the gospel there is more than enough to give full exercise to the most powerful intellect: yet the final aim is at the heart. What the heart is, that the man is; he who wins the heart has the whole man. The door is the sinner’s heart. That door is closed against Christ. He stands, and knocks. First, observe that it is the Lord who comes to us men, not we to Him. He not only comes to that door; He stands there waiting; nor doth He only stand and wait, but meekly standing thus and waiting, He knocks. So deeply does He long for entrance, that it is hard to make Him go. Canst thou not recall an hour, in which thy Saviour came to thee, and asked for entrance into thy thoughts and thy life? Many are called while yet children. The mind and heart of children are readier for the Lord than those of hardened men and women. Christ knocks at the hearts of children; if they do not open unto Him at that time, they may not do so until after many years; they may never do so, not even in the hour of death. “If any man hear My voice!” Can this be imagined, that any should not hear? or worse, that any would not hear? “The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation,” saith the psalmist: “the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.” That voice may call; something within the heart may deaden the sound or shut it out. How dreadful is the state of such a soul! Marvel not, with this history before you, that the door is shut. The longer the heart is closed against its God, the harder to open it. The processes of nature have their due effect; the elements do their work in silence and surely; a work which every day makes more effectual. The bars, long stationary, rust in the staples; some time since, a child might have slipped them out and laid them aside; now, the strength of a man would essay the task in vain. The rains and snows of many a season have beaten into the lock and choked it up. In former days, a path led to this door; a path by which the good angels could reach it, and all honest Christian friends; a pathway, pleasant to the eye, fresh with flowers, clean of rubbish, and easy to be found. Alas! how great the change I The pathway now is rough with stones, or seems to be, for so rankly is it overgrown with weeds, that its outline is all but lost. Breasthigh on either hand are come up the briar and the thorn; the wall crumbles; it is grey with mould; an aspect of desolation weighs down the spirit as we gaze. Who would walk on yonder pathway? Who would try to approach that door? Yet there is One, who cometh up this way. He looks toward that closed and rusted door; He turns His holy feet to that forsaken path. His face is grave and sad, earnest, and full of love. He hath on Him the vesture of the High Priest who maketh intercession for sin. He is coming up the path. He has reached the gate. Behold, He standeth at the door. Without, around, all is silence. He knocks. Oh soul thus called by Jesus Christ, what answer wilt thou make? Perhaps there shall be no reply. The knock resounds within: the voice is heard outside; but within there is silence: neither knock nor voice can reach the ear of the spiritually dead. The door may shake in its rusty hinges; the bars may creak in the staples; but none comes to open. No wonder. There is nothing inside, save that worse than nothing, a dead soul; dead in sin, and buried in forgetfulness. (Morgan Dix, D. D.)

The Saviour knocking at the door

I. Who knocks? The Son of God, Immanuel, the Mediator betwixt God and man, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of glory, the Redeemer of the lost, Almighty to save, and all-sufficient to satisfy your souls. What hinders that you should not let Him in?

II. Different hearts are bolted with different bars. Some are closed by carelessness, and some by ignorance, and some by indolence, and some by frivolity, and some by prejudice, and some by pride, and some by strong besetting sins.

III. Were you to yield to the striving spirit--were you to withdraw these bolts, and admit into your soul a mighty and merciful Redeemer, what would be the consequence? Pardon of sin would come. Peace of conscience would come. The smile of God would come into your soul. (James Hamilton, D. D.)

Christ standing at the door

I. Who is he?

1. It is clear that He is some one of importance. “Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door; I who could never have been expected to stand there.” He speaks, you observe, as though His coming to us would surprise us; just as we might suppose a monarch to speak at a beggar’s door. And there is a reason for this. It is the glorious Redeemer who is here, the Monarch of earth and heaven. See then how this text sets forth at the very outset of it the Divine mercy. We think it a great thing that God should sit on a throne waiting for sinners to come to Him, but here He describes Himself as coming to sinners.

II. What is the Lord Jesus doing at our door?

1. On our part, it implies this mournful fact, that our hearts are all naturally shut against Christ, yea, fastened, bolted, and barred, against Him.

2. On Christ’s part, this expression implies a willingness to enter our hearts; and more than a willingness, an earnest desire to enter them.

III. What does this gracious stranger at our door wish us to do?

IV. What will this exalted being at our door do for us, if we let him in?

1. “I will come in to him.” There His presence is promised, and with it the light and comfort and bliss and glory of it.

2. “I will sup with him, and he with Me.” This implies a manifestation of Christ in the heart He dwells in, and intercourse and communion with it. (James Hamilton, M. A.)

At the door

I. Who stands? An ancient patriarch, by keeping open heart and open house for strangers, was privileged to entertain angels unawares. This day we may obtain s visit of the Lord of angels, if only we will let Him in.

II. How near he comes. “Behold, I stand at the door.” We are not much moved by anything that is far distant. Whether the visitant be coming for judgment or mercy, we take the matter lightly, as long as he is far away. A distant enemy does not make us tremble--a distant friend fails to make us glad. When your protector is distant, you tremble at danger; when he is near, you breathe freely again. How near the Son of God has come to us! He is our Brother: He touches us, and we touch Him, at all points.

III. How far off he is kept. “At the door.” He in great kindness comes to the door; we in great folly keep Him at the door. The sunlight travels far from its source in the deep of heaven--so far, that though it can be expressed in figures, the imagination fails to take in the magnitude of the sum; but when the rays of light have travelled unimpeded so far, and come to the door of my eye, if I shut that door--a thin film of flesh--the light is kept out, and I remain in darkness. Alas l the light that travelled so far, and came so near--the Light that sought entrance into my heart, and that I kept out--was the Light of life! If I keep out that Light, I abide in the darkness of death: there is no salvation in any other.

IV. He knocks for entrance. It is more than the kindness of His coming and the patience of His waiting. Besides coming near, He calls aloud: He does not permit us to forget His presence.

V. Many things hinder the hearing. Other thoughts occupy the mind; other sounds occupy the car. Either joy or grief may become a hindrance. The song of mirth and the wail of sorrow may both, by turns, drown the voice of that blessed Visitant who stands without and pleads for admission.

VI. Hear, and open. Hearing alone is not enough. It is not the wrath of God, but His mercy in Christ, that melts the iron fastenings and lifts up these shut gates, that the King of Glory may come in. The guilty refuse to open for Christ, even when they hear Him knocking. They have hard thoughts of Him. They think He comes to demand a righteousness which they cannot give, and to bind them over to the judgment because they cannot pay. God is love, and Christ is the outcome of His forgiving love to lost men. He comes to redeem you, and save you. It is when you know Him thus that you will open at His call. (W. Arnot, D. D.)

The heavenly Stranger received

I. “If any man hear my voice.”

1. That the voice of Christ is either external or internal; or, that which is addressed to the senses only, and that which reaches the heart.

2. The internal voice of Christ is various, according to the different circumstances of the persons to whom it is directed. To some it is an awakening voice: it rouses them from their carnal security. To those who are bowed down with a sense of sin, and wounded with the fiery darts of Divine wrath, it is a healing and comforting voice.

3. In order to hear His voice aright, our hearts must be renewed. Dead sinners cannot hear the voice of Christ; but His is a life-giving voice, and what it commands it communicates.

II. And open the door.

III. “I will come in to him.”

1. Nearness.

2. Possession.

3. Inhabitation.

He not only comes near to the soul to converse with it, but into it to dwell there, and becomes the vital principle of all holy obedience.

IV. “And I will sup with him, and he with Me.” (B. Beddome, M. A.)

The heart a house

Your heart is a house with many rooms; one apartment is decorated for the occupancy of pride; in another one covetousness may keep its iron safe; on the walls of another, perhaps, sensuality has hung some pictures that, if Christ enter, must be pulled down. Unbelief has chilled and darkened the whole house. Satan has a mortgage on the whole of it, and by and by will foreclose it. An enormous amount of sin has accumulated in every room and closet, for you have never had a “house-cleaning” since you were born. To that dwelling-place of sin, which may yet become a dwelling-place of endless anguish, my loving Saviour has come again. If you will stop the turmoil of business, or the noise of merriment long enough to listen, you will hear a marvellously sweet voice outside, “Behold, I stand here and knock; if thou wilt open this door I will come in.” Christ without means guilt; Christ within means pardon. Christ without means condemnation; Christ within means salvation. Christ shut out means hell; Christ admitted is the first instalment of heaven. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Christ dwelling in the heart

A widow woman lives by herself in a little cottage by the seashore. Of all whom she loved, only one survives--a lad at sea; all the rest have passed “from sunshine to the sunless land.” She has not set her eyes upon him for years. But her heart is full of him. She thinks of him by day, and dreams of him by night. His name is never missed out from her prayers. The winds speak about him; the stars speak about him; the waves speak about him, both in storm and calm. No one has difficulty in understanding how her boy dwells in her heart. Let that stand as a parable of what may be for every believer in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (J. Culross, D. D.)

He knocks at our heart

Jesus stands at our gate and knocks, and there are many who never open to Him at all, and many more who open the door but slightly. The latter, while they may receive blessing, yet miss the fulness of Divine revealing which would flood their souls with love; the former miss altogether the sweetest benediction of life. (J. R. Miller, D. D.)

Christ standing

Whilst a man is standing He is going. (J. Trapp.)

Many fastenings to the sinner’s heart

When we were in Dublin, I went out one morning to an early meeting, and I found the servants had not opened the front door. So I pulled back a bolt, but I could not get the door open. Then I turned s key, but the door would not open. Then I found there was another bolt at the top, then I found there was another bolt at the bottom. Still the door would not open. Then I found there was a bar, and then I found a night-lock. I found there were five or six different fastenings. I am afraid that door represents every sinner’s heart. The door of his heart is locked, double-bolted, and barred. (D. L. Moody.)

The King slighted

When your King and Lord comes to claim the homage of your hearts, and to pay you a royal visit, you receive His message with coldness and indifference. You treat Him as the people of Alsace and Lorraine treated the Emperor of Germany and the Crown Prince after the Franco-Prussian war, when they pulled down their blinds, and locked and bolted their doors, and sat in gloomy silence as the emperor passed. They had some excuse for refusing to see him, as they were a conquered people, and his presence reminded them of their humiliation and defeat. But there is no excuse for you. (Isaac Marsden.)

God respects man’s freedom

It was said by a celebrated orator in the House of Lords a century ago, that an Englishman’s house is his castle, that the winds of heaven might enter by every window, that the rains might penetrate through every cranny, but that not even the sovereign of the land dare enter into it, however humble, without its owner’s permission. God treats you in the same way. He says, “Willingly open your heart to Me, and I will give you every blessing; but I must be made welcome.” (G. Warner.)

At the door

In Holman Hunt’s great picture called “The Light of the World,” we see One with gentle, patient face, standing at a door, which is ivy-covered, as if long closed. He is girt with the priestly breastplate. He bears in His hand the lamp of truth. He stands and knocks. There is no answer, and He still stands and knocks. His eye tells of love; His face beams with yearning. You look closely and you perceive that there is no knob or latch on the outside of the door. It can be opened only from within. Do you not see the meaning? (J. R. Miller, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 3:20". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Behold, I stand at the door and knock,.... The phrase of standing at the door may be expressive of the near approach, or sudden coming of Christ to judgment, see James 5:9; and his knocking may signify the notice that will be given of it, by some of the immediate forerunners and signs of his coming; which yet will be observed but by a few, such a general sleepiness will have seized all professors of religion; and particularly may intend the midnight cry, which will, in its issue, rouse them all:

if any man hear my voice; in the appearances of things and providences in the world:

and open the door; or show a readiness for the coming of Christ, look and wait for it, and be like such that will receive him with a welcome:

I will come unto him, and sup with him, and he with me; to and among these will Christ appear when he comes in person; and these being like wise virgins, ready, having his grace in their hearts, and his righteousness upon them, he will take them at once into the marriage chamber, and shut the door upon the rest; when they shall enjoy a thousand years communion with him in person here on earth; when the Lamb on the throne will feed them with the fruit of the tree of life, and lead them to fountains of living water, and his tabernacle shall be among them.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: 14 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.

(14) This must be taken after the manner of an allegory; (John 14:23).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

stand — waiting in wonderful condescension and long-suffering.

knock — (Song of Solomon 5:2). This is a further manifestation of His loving desire for the sinner‘s salvation. He who is Himself “the Door,” and who bids us “knock” that it may be “opened unto” us, 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. Compare Song of Solomon 5:4-6, which is plainly alluded to here; the Spirit thus in Revelation sealing the canonicity of that mystical book. The spiritual state of the bride there, between waking and sleeping, slow to open the door to her divine lover, answers to that of the lukewarm Laodicea here. “Love in regard to men emptied (humbled) God; for He does not remain in His place and call to Himself the servant whom He loved, but He comes down Himself to seek him, and He who is all-rich arrives at the lodging of the pauper, and with His own voice intimates His yearning love, and seeks a similar return, and withdraws not when disowned, and is not impatient at insult, and when persecuted still waits at the doors” [Nicolaus Cabasilas in Trench].

my voice — He appeals to the sinner not only with His hand (His providences) knocking, but with His voice (His word read or heard; or rather, His Spirit inwardly applying to man‘s spirit the lessons to be drawn from His providence and His word). If we refuse to answer to His knocking at our door now, He will refuse to hear our knocking at His door hereafter. In respect to His second coming also, He is even now at the door, and we know not how soon He may knock: therefore we should always be ready to open to Him immediately.

if any man hear — for man is not compelled by irresistible force: Christ knocks, but does not break open the door, though the violent take heaven by the force of prayer (Matthew 11:12): whosoever does hear, 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, like the natural sun, the moment that the door is opened, pours in His light, which could not previously find an entrance. Compare Hilary on Psalm 118:19.

I will come in to him — as I did to Zacchaeus.

sup with him, and he with me — Delightful reciprocity! Compare “dwelleth in me, and I in Him,” John 6:56. Whereas, ordinarily, the admitted guest sups with the admitter, here the divine guest becomes Himself the host, for He is the bread of life, and the Giver of the marriage feast. Here again He alludes to the imagery of Song of Solomon 4:16, where the Bride invites Him to eat pleasant fruits, even as He had 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 that Jesus brought, and those which 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 earnest and foretaste.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

I stand at the door (εστηκα επι την τυρανhestēka epi tēn thuran). Perfect active of ιστημιhistēmi (intransitive). Picture of the Lord‘s advent as in Matthew 24:33; James 5:9, but true also of the individual response to Christ‘s call (Luke 12:36) as shown in Holman Hunt‘s great picture. Some see a use also of So James 5:2.

If any man hear - and open (εαν τις ακουσηι και ανοιχηιean tis akousēi kai anoixēi). Condition of third class with εανean and first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of ακουωakouō and ανοιγωanoigō See John 10:3; John 18:37. See the picture reversed (Swete) in Luke 13:25; Matthew 25:10.

I will come in to him (εισελευσομαιeiseleusomai). Future middle of εισερχομαιeiserchomai See Mark 15:43; Acts 11:3 for εισερχομαι προςeiserchomai pros to go into a man‘s house. Cf. John 14:23.

Will sup (δειπνησωdeipnēsō). Future active of δειπνεωdeipneō old verb, from δειπνονdeipnon (supper), as in Luke 17:8. Fellowship in the Messianic kingdom (Luke 22:30; Mark 14:25; Matthew 26:29). Purely metaphorical, as is plain from 1 Corinthians 6:13.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I stand at the door and knock

Compare Song of Solomon 5:2, Κρούω Iknock was regarded as a less classical word than κόπτω . Κρούω is to knock with the knuckles, to rap; κόπτω , with a heavy blow; ψοφεῖν of the knocking of some one within the door, warning one without to withdraw when the door is opened. Compare James 5:9. “He at whose door we ought to stand (for He is the Door, who, as such, has bidden us to knock), is content that the whole relation between Him and us should be reversed, and, instead of our standing at His door, condescends Himself to stand at ours” (Trench). The Greeks had a word θυραυλεῖν for a lover waiting at the door of his beloved. Trench cites a passage from Nicolaus Cabasilas, a Greek divine of the fourteenth century: “Love for men emptied God (Philippians 2:7). For He doth not abide in His place and summon to Himself the servant whom He loved; but goes Himself and seeks him; and He who is rich comes to the dwelling of the poor, and discloses His love, and seeks an equal return; nor does He withdraw from him who repels Him, nor is He disgusted at his insolence; but, pursuing him, remains sitting at his doors, and that He may show him the one who loves him, He does all things, and sorrowing, bears and dies.”

My voice

Christ not only knocks but speaks. “The voice very often will interpret and make intelligible the purpose of the knock” (Trench).

Hear - open the door

No irresistible grace.

Will sup ( δειπνήσω )

See on Luke 14:12. For the image, compare Song of Solomon 5:2-6; Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 2:3. Christ is the Bread of Life, and invites to the great feast. See Matthew 8:11; Matthew 25:1sqq. The consummation will be at the marriage-supper of the Lamb (Mark 14:25; Revelation 19:7-9).

He with me

It is characteristic of John to note the sayings of Christ which express the reciprocal relations of Himself and His followers. See John 6:56; John 10:38; John 14:20; John 15:4, John 15:5; John 17:21, John 17:26. Compare John 14:23.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

I stand at the door, and knock — Even at this instant; while he is speaking this word.

If any man open — Willingly receive me.

I will sup with him — Refreshing him with my graces and gifts, and delighting myself in what I have given.

And he with me — In life everlasting.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

20.] Behold, I stand at the door (the construction with the prep. of motion after ἕστηκα, is perhaps owing to the idea of motion conveyed in the verb,—“I have placed myself.” See reff., especially ref. Luke) and knock (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 ( ἐλέγχω), partly by every interference in judgment and in mercy. Whenever His hand is heard, He is knocking at the door. But it is not His hand only that may be heard: see below): if any man hear my voice (here we have more than the mere sound of his knock: He speaks. See Acts 12:13 f. κρούσαντος δὲ τοῦ πέτρου τὴν θύρανἐπιγνοῦσα τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ πέτρου. In that case we must conceive Rhoda to have asked “who is there?” and Peter to have answered. It may not be uninstructive to fill up this connexion in a similar manner. “It is I,” is an answer the soul may often hear, if it will enquire the reason of an unexpected knock at the door of its slumbers; or we may compare Song of Solomon 5:2, φωνὴ ἀδελφιδοῦ μου κρούει ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν, ἄνοιξόν μοι), and open the door ( ἀκούσῃ, ἀνοίξῃ, aorists, because prior in time to the futures which follow: “shall have heard,” “shall have opened:” but it would be pedantry thus to render them in our language. On the sense, cf. Song of Solomon 5:6.

Our verse is a striking and decisive testimony to the practical freedom of our will to receive or reject the heavenly Guest: without the recognition of which, the love and tenderness of the saying become a hideous mockery.

We then open the door to Christ, when we admit Him, His voice, His commands, His example, to a share in our inner counsels and sources of action. To say that this can be done without His grace, is ignorance: to say it is done only by that grace irresistibly exerted, is far worse—it is, to deprive His gracious pleadings of all meaning), [and] (this καί is superfluous in the sense, merely expressing the sequence: and may on that account have been omitted) I will enter in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with me (the imagery is taken from the usages of intimate hospitality. But whereas in these it would be merely the guest who would sup with the host who lets him in, here the guest becomes himself the host, because He is the bread of life, and the Giver of the great feast of fat things and of the great marriage supper (Matthew 8:11; Matthew 25:1 ff.; ch. Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:9).

St. John is especially fond of reporting these sayings of reciprocity which our Lord uttered: cf. John 6:56 (John 10:38), John 14:20, John 15:4-5, John 17:21; John 17:26. This blessed admission of Christ into our hearts will lead to His becoming our guest, ever present with us, and sharing in all our blessings—and, which is even more, to our being ever in close union with Him, partaking ever of His fulness, until we sit down at His table in his Kingdom).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘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.’

Revelation 3:20

These are the words of the Risen Christ, the Resurrection Lord, Who still stands in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.

Let us look at the passage as affording a striking picture of the characteristics, cause, and cure of an unsatisfactory Christian experience.

I. The Characteristics.

(a) Self-satisfaction.

(b) Self-deception.

(c) Lukewarmness.

II. The cause of this lamentable condition. It is not always noticed that it is found in the position Christ occupies with reference to the Church. He is external to it. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock’ (Revelation 3:20). ‘But how,’ you ask, ‘can Christ be external to a true Church? Surely a Church is not a Church at all if Christ be still waiting for admittance.’ We have only to turn to the Song of Solomon 5:2 to see that a Church may be a true Church, and yet through drowsiness and slothfulness of spirit may keep her Master waiting at the door. For be it remembered the heart is a house of many chambers. There is the sunny chamber of the affections, and the throne chamber of the will. Are we quite sure that Christ has full possession of them all?

III. The Cure. How can Laodicea be changed? The answer is found in the next verse. Admit Christ, and He will do the rest. See, He stands and knocks. He is the ‘Heavenly Merchantman’ crying His wares, ‘Buy, buy, who’ll buy?’ He has gold tried in the fire to make you rich—gold that will never tarnish, the very currency of heaven. He has white raiment that you may be clothed—snow-white vestures in which to array your soul; those defiled and filthy garments, He can make them pass away. He can cleanse the very thoughts of your heart and habits of your soul by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit. He has eye-salve, sacred, costly ointment—holy ointment—Holy Ghost ointment, wherewith to anoint your eyes that you may see. Will you not admit Him? He brings these treasures with Him. Will you buy?

Rev. E. W. Moore.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 20. Behold, I stand] Christ stands, he doth not sit; now while a man is standing he is going. Christ is but a while with men in the opportunities of grace; he will not always wait their leisure. The Church sought him (when once gone) with many a heavy heart, Cant. iii.

And knock] By the hammer of my word and hand of my Spirit.

And open the door, &c.] sc. By teachableness and obedience. This is not spoken of the first act of conversion ( quae gratuita est et inopinata), but of the consequences of it; in which man, who being dead hath been made alive, ought to co-operate with God’s grace.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 3:20

Christ at the Door.

Consider, in the first place, the account which Christ gives of His dealings with men: He stands at the door and knocks; in the second place, the promise which He makes to such as yield to His solicitation: "I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me."

I. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." Then the heart is by nature closed against God. On no other supposition could it be needful that Christ should knock for admission. When we turn from considering men as members of society to considering them as creatures of God, then it is we may bring them all under one verdict and pronounce the corruption of our nature total and universal. Here it is that there is no difference, for the virtuous and the vicious are equally at enmity with God, equally void of love to God, equally indisposed to the service of God. When we try men by their love of God, by their willingness to submit to Him, by their desire to please Him, there is no difference whatsoever; all must be equally brought under the description, "The carnal mind is enmity against God." This truth it is which we derive from the words of our text; it is a truth that the heart of every one is naturally barred against God, so that although it may readily be opened at the touch of friendship or at the call of distress, yet does it obstinately exclude that Creator and Benefactor who alone can fill its mighty capacities. And if the Church thus shows the natural condition of the heart, it shows with equal accuracy by what kind of means Christ strives to gain the entrance which is wickedly denied. Observe, no sort of violence is used. There is nothing like forcing the door. Christ knocks, but when He has knocked, it still rests with man to determine whether he will obey the summons and let in the Guest.

II. Consider briefly the promise of the text. If men would deal candidly with others and with themselves, many would have to confess that they see little of what is pleasant in the account which Scripture gives of the joys and enjoyments of redeemed men in glory. They have no taste for adoring God and admiring Him in His perfections; and they cannot, therefore, be alive to the happiness of a state in which praising God will form the chief business, and knowing God the great delight. But if you have no relish for such happiness as heaven is to afford, this of itself should make you earnest in obeying Christ's summons and throwing open the door, for I do not know a more startling truth, if we be yet indifferent and impenitent, than that heaven would be no heaven to us, even if we could get within its precincts. But to those who can feel the worth of the promise in the text we need not say that there is a communion of intercourse between Christ and the soul which, if not capable of being described to a stranger, is inestimably precious to those by whom it is experienced. It is no dream of the enthusiast, it is the statement of soberness and truth, that Jesus so manifests Himself to those who believe on His name, and communicates such a sense of His presence, that He may be said to come in to them, to sup with them, and they with Him.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 3249.

The Waiting Saviour.

The Lord Jesus is continually asking for admission into the hearts of all of us. He asks in various ways and at various times.

I. He comes to us sometimes and showers blessings on our heads. He heaps mercy upon mercy and privilege upon privilege; He gives us all that makes life joyous and bright; He gives us the tender love of family and friends; He gives us a bright, happy, peaceful home; He gives us prosperity in our worldly affairs; sometimes He knocks by sending us mercies and deliverances, and seeks thus to awaken our gratitude, and seeks thus to draw forth our love.

II. Or, again, sometimes He knocks by sending us afflictions. He lays His hand upon us; He sends sickness into our family; He sends us trouble and anxiety in our worldly affairs; He sends us disappointment and sorrow; He takes from us those who are nearest and dearest to us on earth; and then, when we are crushed and broken in heart, then, when we are full of sorrowful and desponding thoughts—then it is that Christ knocks.

III. Again, the Lord knocks by means of warnings. We have most of us had certain solemn warnings in the course of our lives. Once more, He knocks at sacred seasons and at sacred services. We never come to church, we never listen to a sermon, we never read a chapter of God's word, but then Christ knocks at our hearts, then He calls to us, then He speaks to us. He bids us give up this and that sin; He bids us clear away those weeds, those rank, foul, hateful weeds, and open the door of our hearts, and give entrance to the Lord who died for us on Calvary.

IV. Lastly, consider why Christ knocks; consider what it is that He offers to do for us; consider why He desires to abide in our hearts. It is because He desires to make those hearts like Himself; it is because He desires to make them pure, and loving, and faithful, and true; it is because He desires to make them so completely one with Him that in all our thoughts, and words, and works we may reflect His glory, His purity, His love.

E. V. Hall, The Waiting Saviour, p. 13.

Welcoming Christ.

I. Note Christ's love at the present time: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." (1) Our first impression of this adorable figure is of wonder that He should be there at all. He, the Son of God, who has suffered such unspeakable wrongs for us, comes again in a form most Divinely fair, and offers Himself as our Guest. He who contains within Himself infinite treasures of love, who comprehends all creatures within His arms, comes down to us and stands at our door, as if we alone out of His whole Church required Him with us. (2) Look on this image of patience. There He stands in the cool evening hour, having waited till the heat and business of the day be past. He chooses the time when the mind is most likely to be at leisure, and to be quick to hear. The cares of the day are over; it is the hour of relaxation. The very solitude of the chamber disposes the mind to serious thought. Silence has its quiet influence. The spirit of the evening scene is peace. His footprints are on the threshold, marking His last visit, and no one has heeded them. No welcome, it is feared, for Him again to-night, waiting patiently till all within be hushed and His voice be heard.

II. "If any man hear My voice, and open the door." This is the condition of His entering, the welcome which He asks of us. Two possible states of life are indicated: a man may be so deaf that he cannot hear, or he may hear and not heed.

III. "I will come in to him," etc. In the whole Bible there is not a touch of Divine love more tender and penetrating than this. (1) The intimacy of Christ's love is here so great that the believer may shrink from it in fear. But this is not God's intention. Wherever Jesus enters He takes men as they are. All He asks is a welcome; that is, their faith. (2) When He sits at meat with you see the perfect interchange and equal communion of your spirit with His: "I will sup with him, and he with Me." Whatever He gives He gives Himself; He is all in all to the faithful soul, and the soul is all in all to Him.

C. W. Furse, Sermons at Richmond, p. 164.

References: Revelation 3:20.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 137; T. J. Crawford, The Preaching of the Cross, p. 57; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 91; J. Vaughan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 307; R. Glover, Ibid., vol. xxxii., p. 342; G. Macdonald, Ibid., vol. xxxiv., p. 215; Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 357.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: "Behold, I have stood for a long time, and I still stand at the door, and knock; waiting for admittance into your hearts. If any man hear my voice with a due regard, and open the door; if he welcome me with affection due to such a Friend and such a Saviour, how mean soever his circumstances in life may be, and how faulty soever his character may formerly have been, I will enter into his house, and,like some princely guest, will bring my own rich and delightful entertainment along with me; I will sup with him, and he shallsup with me; I will treat him with the most endearing and familiar friendship, accept the tokens of his affection, and give him the most solid evidences of mine." See Luke 14:15; Luke 14:35. John 10:2; John 10:42.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

These words are very expressive of the tender love and gracious condescension of Christ towards poor sinners; full of heavenly rhetoric, to win and gain their hearts unto himself.

Here observe, That man's heart is Christ's door, that this door of the heart is naturally shut, yea, locked and barred against Christ by ignorance and infidelity; that, notwithstanding this, Christ knocks graciously at the door of men's hearts by his word, by his rod, by his Spirit: knocking is a vehement motion, a reiterated motion, we knock again and again; a gradual motion, first more gently, then loudly; and it is a finite motion, men will not always continue knocking, but if none answer, they turn their backs and go their way. All the knocks 0f Christ will cease and end, his Spirit will not always strive.

Farther observe, Christ doth not only knock, but stands knocking; it denotes the assiduity of Christ in waiting upon sinners, and his patience in knocking; standing is a waiting posture, it denotes an earnest desire and patient expectation.

Observe, Though Christ knocks at the door of man's heart, he doth not break it open, he doth not offer violence to men's wills, and save them against their wills; but the Holy Spirit inclines them to hear Christ's voice, and enables them to open the door to him, causing them to approve of and consent to the offer and call of Christ.

Observe, That the door is no sooner open, but Christ comes in, and sups with the sinner: his coming in denotes our union to him; his supping, our communion with him, imperfect on earth, complete in heaven; there is a mutual, sweet, and intimate communion between Christ and believers here on earth; there will be a perfect, complete, and uninterrupted communion with him in heaven, when they shall ever be with the Lord.

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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

OUR blessed Lord, in his sermon on the mount, says, “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Now this is exactly what we might expect of a gracious God, and more especially of an all-merciful Redeemer. But who would ever imagine that this process should be inverted; and that, instead of a sinner knocking at the door of heaven in fervent supplications, the Son of God himself should come and knock at the door of his heart, soliciting admittance there? Yet this is the representation given us in my text: so infinitely are “God’s ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.” Let us contemplate this mystery: let us consider,

I. The marvellous condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ towards our sinful race—

The hearts of men are shut and barred against him—

[“The strong man armed,” even Satan, occupies the souls of men as his palace, and fills them with all manner of evil; and by his great power “he keeps them in peace,” unconscious of their subjection to him, and altogether satisfied with their bondage [Note: Luke 11:21.]. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to seek admission there, every possible resistance is made to him. The lusts, which have taken possession of them, bar the door against him. Prejudice and unbelief determine them to obstruct his entrance; whilst the world, and all its lusts, maintain their post, with a steadfastness that bids defiance to every effort, save that which is omnipotent — — —]

But he “stands at the door, and knocks”—

[He comes to men in his word, and demands that they yield themselves up to him — — — He comes also by the secret energy of his Spirit; and warns men of their danger, if they persist in their rebellion against him — — — He comes also by his providence, to awaken them by terrors, or soften them by afflictions, if by any means he may prevail upon them to open to him — — — Year after year does he “stand,” “waiting to be gracious to them,” and importuning them by every kind of argument to admit him. Of Israel it is said, that “forty years he suffered their manners in the Wilderness [Note: Acts 13:18.].” And many are the years that he has borne with us. The generality he finds so fast asleep, that not all the thunders of his law can waken them. Some are just roused from their slumbers: but, averse to receive him, they begin to put him off with frivolous excuses. Their language is like that of the Church of old; “I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. But I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them [Note: Song of Solomon 5:2-3.]?” Still, however, does he continue knocking with invincible patience: so true is that saying of the prophet, “All the day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people [Note: Isaiah 65:2 and Romans 10:21.].”]

What marvellous condescension is this!

[If we were to stand for any length of time imploring mercy from God, and were left without any answer of peace, it were nothing but what our sins have justly merited; nor could we have the smallest reason to complain. But that the Lord Jesus Christ should sue in vain for admission into our hearts, appears incredible; or, at all events, we might expect him, after the first refusal of his overtures, to say, “They are joined to idols; let them alone:” “My Spirit shall strive with them no more;” from henceforth I “give them over to their own heart’s lusts, to follow their own imaginations, till they have “filled up the measure of their iniquities,” and “wrath shall come upon them to the uttermost.” But, “behold!” yes, well may it be said “Behold;” for His condescension exceeds belief. Do but reflect, who it is that thus waits upon us: it is the Creator, importuning his guilty and rebellious creatures: it is the Judge, following the criminal with entreaties to accept of pardon, and to let his sentence of condemnation be reversed: it is the self-sufficient God, who would be equally happy and glorious if every child of man were left to perish like the fallen angels, that labours thus to ingratiate himself with the vilest of mankind, if by any means he may prevail on some of them to accept at his hands all the blessings both of grace and glory. Say, I pray you, Is not this a condescension, that surpasses all the powers of language to express, or of imagination adequately to conceive?]

But this subject will appear more fully in its true light, if we consider,

II. The mercies which he desires to impart unto them—

These are expressed under a familiar and most significant metaphor—

[The metaphor of a guest is not uncommon in the Holy Scriptures. Our Lord said to his Disciples, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him [Note: John 14:23.].” And this shall be realized, in the most endearing manner, to all who open to him: “He will come in to them, and sup with them, and they with him.” We cannot conceive of any act of friendship that is not comprehended under this term. But how shall I convey any adequate idea of its import? What sweet manifestations of his love will he impart to the soul, and what rich communications of his grace! Who can fully explain that declaration of the Apostle, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ [Note: 1 John 1:3.]?” We may think of all the familiarities and endearments that ever were enjoyed, even among the most attached friends or relatives, and they will fall infinitely short of that blessedness which he will impart to the believing soul. When he comes in to sup with us, he will, if I may so say, bring his own provision along with him. What “exceeding great and precious promises” will he set before us, for our support! What tastes of his love will he give us, when he shall “shed it abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost?” And what foretastes also of his glory will he communicate, when he bids us to drink of the cup of his salvation!]

Nor is there a person under heaven excluded from this benefit—

[His own word is, “If any man hear.” It matters not how unworthy any man may be: if he had all the sins of Manasseh himself upon his soul, the mercy here proffered should be imparted to him. We are told of Manasseh, that he filled Jerusalem itself with the blood of innocents, and made the people worse than the heathen whom the Lord had destroyed before them: yet, when he humbled himself, God heard his supplication, and made himself known to him under the endearing character of Israel’s God [Note: Jeremiah 19:4. 2 Chronicles 33:9; 2 Chronicles 33:12-13.]. We may be sure, therefore, that no person under heaven shall be excluded from a participation of the grace that is here so freely offered. All that is required of any man is, to “hear the Saviour’s voice, and open to him.” O that this were duly considered by us all! Brethren, you are not called upon to merit any thing at the Saviour’s hands, but only to receive thankfully what he so freely offers. Only be sensible that you have hitherto excluded him from your hearts, whilst you have given a ready reception to the basest lusts; be sensible, I say, of this, and now open your hearts to him, and all the blessings of salvation shall be yours, for your present comfort, and for your everlasting possession.]


1. Those who are yet strangers to the Saviour’s love—

[The generality of men who call themselves Christians would quite revolt at the expression in my text, and at all the wonders of love contained in it. But, brethren, wherefore is it thus with you? Is it because there is no truth in these representations? or because ye have never yet sought to experience them in your souls — — — Would ye but now open your hearts to him, verily, there is not one amongst you of whom it should not be said, that “Christ is gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner [Note: Luke 19:7.].” But if ye refuse his entreaties now, the time will come, when ye shall cry to him, but not be heard [Note: Proverbs 1:24-31. Isaiah 55:6.].]

2. Those who have had some experience of it in their souls—

[Be not satisfied with any measure of intercourse that you have yet enjoyed with your Lord and Saviour. Ye cannot expect, with Paul, to be caught up into the third heavens: but ye may expect from the Saviour such an abundance of grace and mercy and peace as shall be a foretaste of heaven itself. Only cast out, with increasing zeal and diligence, the lusts that have occupied your heart, sweeping from every corner of it “the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump,” and your feasts with the Saviour here shall be only a prelude to that richer feast which you shall enjoy above: for all with whom he has supped on earth shall “sit down with him at the marriage-supper of the Lamb in heaven” for evermore [Note: Revelation 19:9.].]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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

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.]


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.”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 3:20. ἰδοὺ—, behold—) The observation respecting retrograde order depends almost entirely upon this very increase of close approach, respecting which see Erkl. Off.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

There is a double interpretation of this text, each of them claiming under very valuable interpreters; some making it a declaration of Christ’s readiness to come in to souls, and to give them a spiritual fellowship and communion with himself; others interpreting it of Christ’s readiness to come to the last judgment, and to take his saints into an eternal joyful fellowship and communion with himself: hence there is a different interpretation of every sentence in the text.

I stand at the door; either, in my gospel dispensations, I stand at the door of sinners’ hearts; or, I am ready to come to judge the world.

And knock, by the inward monitions and impressions of my Spirit, or my ministers more externally; or, I am about to knock, that is, I am ready to have the last trump sounded.

If any man hear my voice, and open the door; that is, if any man will hearken to the counsels and exhortations of my ministers, and to the monitions of my Spirit, and not resist my Holy Spirit; or, if any man hath heard my voice, and opened his heart to me.

I will come in to him; I will come in by my Spirit, and all the saving influences of my grace; or, I will come to him as a Judge to acquit him.

And will sup with him, and he with me; and I will have a communion with him in this life, he shall eat my flesh, and drink my blood; or, I will have an eternal fellowship and communion with him in my glory. The phrase seems rather to favour the first sense; the so frequent mention before of Christ’s coming to judgment, and the reward of another life, as arguments to persuade the angels of the churches to their duty, favours the latter sense.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Се, стою у двери и стучу Согласно обычному традиционному толкованию, Христос стучит в сердца невозрожденных людей, но, пожалуй, предпочтительней объяснить, что Христос пытался войти в ту церковь, которая носила Его имя, но в которой не было ни одного истинного верующего. Это горькое замечание выражалось в Его стуке. Если хотя бы один из присутствующих признал свое духовное банкротство и ответил спасающей верой, Христос бы вошел в церковь.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

I stand at the door; representing his readiness and desire to bestow all needed good upon all who serve him.

Sup with him, and he with me; which would be to their rich mutual joy. Christ is ready to save men; but in order to be saved by him, they must receive him in faith and love as their Redeemer, and devote life to his service. If they are lost, it will be on account of their opposition to him, and their refusal to accept of his salvation.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

is a clear reference to that parable. The Son of Man, Whom John saw standing among the lampstands, is pictured as having arrived and as standing and knocking at the door of this church so that He may come in and sup with them. ‘I am here’, He says, ‘knocking’. But the inference is that they are not ready to hear.

So He next makes His plea to individuals in the church. If any one will hear His voice and open the door He will come in to him and they will eat together. In other words He wishes the church to see Him as on the verge of His coming in glory, and to respond on that basis. At some stage He will come, and no one knows when, so they must be like servants making ready.

But He recognises that they are so complacent that He is doubtful of their response so He then addresses each individual member. If any individual will therefore recognise Him as the coming Lord and welcome Him, even before His coming, He will sup with them, and they with Him. This does not really represent the heart’s door, but it does refer to an individual’s willingness to receive Him and welcome Him, which is much the same thing.

This reminds us that all these letters sent to the churches are sent as from the Lord Who is about to come in His glory. They are to see Him as on the verge of coming. As we learn here, this is in order to awaken them. It is also an encouragement to them to persevere in the face of hardship and tribulation. He is still on the verge of coming today. He delays only because He is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9). But who knows when He will finally arrive?

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

4. "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"--3:20.

Here is the note of deep affection in the metaphor of the common meal, which the ancients regarded as a manifestation of fraternal confidence. The old term sup here signifies spiritual communion, which the Lord offered to restore with the Laodiceans. In common parlance today the word fellowship is in vogue.

The remedial import of this high light in the Lord's persuasions to Laodicea, is that reconciliation begins with Jesus Christ. He reverses here the order of Matthew 7:7 : "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Here the Lord himself knocks, asking that they open unto him. The people of old accompanied their knocking with addressing those inside, in order that they might know who was knocking, and thus whether to open. Jesus here announces himself as the One seeking admission; but he does not force entrance. Here the truth of free moral agency incidentally appears--man can receive or reject divine overtures.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door. The figure is not intended to convey to the church the thought of the Lord’s constant presence, but rather the assurance that He has taken up a new position, that He is at hand for judgment, and that He will immediately admit His people to the full enjoyment of His promised blessedness.

And knock. These words bring more forcibly home to us the Lord’s standing at the door and the nearness of His presence. No knocking in various ways, by providence, by conscience, by the ordinances of the Church, by the work of the Spirit, is referred to. The words simply show how near Jesus is, and how ready to bless (comp. James 5:9).

If any one hear my voice, etc. The picture is one of the heavenly reward, and both statements, I will sup with him, and he with me, are to be taken together. The first is not confined to the blessedness of earth, the second to the blessedness of heaven; but the two combined express the glory and joy of the future world, where the believer shall be for ever with his Lord.—Different opinions have been entertained as to the foundation of the figure, a very common supposition being that it rests upon St. John’s own personal intercourse with Jesus related at John 1:39, and upon his Master’s visits to him at the close of many a day’s labour during His earthly ministry. Such a reference is far-fetched; and it is much more natural to think of the words of the Song of Solomon in chap. Revelation 5:2, and to behold here the festivity and joy of the time of the Lord’s marriage to His Church. Revelation 19:9, where we read of the marriage supper of the Lamb, appears to confirm this. May we not also connect with the supper of this verse the thought of the last supper in the upper chamber at Jerusalem? We are dealing with the last of the Epistles, and the imagery may well be drawn from one of the closing acts of the Saviour’s life on earth. That Supper is not a mere memorial of death: it is a spiritual feast in which the life of the believer is most intimately bound up with that of his Lord, in which the union between them is the closest of all unions, that between the Bridegroom and the bride.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

stand. Literally have taken my station.

knock. The call to the wedding feast (Revelation 19:9), to which the parables pointed, e.g. Luke 12:35-38 "when He cometh and knocketh". The popular belief that the Lord is ever knocking at the hearts of sinners is a distortion of Scripture akin to blasphemy.

any man. App-123.

sup, &c. A gracious promise to His servants (See Revelation 1:1). See Luke 12:37.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The Waiting Guest

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.—Revelation 3:20.

The Church of Laodicea, to which these words were originally addressed, had grievously declined, so that it scarce retained any sign of spiritual life. Words cannot be found to express more strongly a decayed and almost desperate moral condition than those which Christ addresses to this once flourishing community. Spiritual pride, strange to say, is the most common attendant and fatal sign of spiritual degeneracy, as though, the worse men grew, the better they fancied themselves. But when Christ solemnly rebuked the Church of Laodicea, depicting its condition in terms which lead us to expect nothing else than its final condemnation, then it is that, in place of assuming the office of Judge and thundering forth the vengeance of heaven, Christ still presents Himself as a pleader with the obdurate, and makes one more effort to prevail on them to be saved. This is one of those exquisite transitions which give the Bible such power of persuasiveness.

The text was originally spoken in reference to the unworthy members of a little Church of early believers in Asia Minor, but it passes far beyond the limits of the lukewarm Laodiceans to whom it was addressed. And the “any man” is wide enough to warrant us in stretching out the representation as far as the bounds of humanity extend, and in believing that wherever there is a closed heart there is a knocking Christ.

Of all the pictures which flashed before the mind of the prisoner-seer of Patmos, the most wonderful is that which shows Jesus standing as a suppliant at a door, and that the door of a church (Revelation 3:20). It was only the other day that I discovered for myself the reason why this is the most wonderful picture in the Apocalypse. Others may have found it out before, but it was only then that I saw that the words in Revelation 3:14 should be read as an inscription over the door—“The Church of the Laodiceans.” I had not thought of that before; the door had been any door to me. And while it was wonderful that Jesus should stand there and knock, His action has all the effect of a surprise when it is seen that He is standing and knocking at the door of the Church of the Laodiceans, of which He had said, “Because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” What was the matter with this Church? It was not a society of unbelievers or hypocrites. It was not accused of unfaithfulness or of heresy, or of any gross or open sin. It was not even a cold Church. Evidently it was not without some faith or love or obedience. Jesus said it was “lukewarm” obedience. What was the cause of this lukewarmness? Our answer is found in the position of Jesus. He is standing at the door—outside. The Church bore His name, and called Him Lord and worshipped Him, but He was not “in the midst” of it. That is enough to account for its spiritual condition. Intensity of devotion is impossible while He remains at the door.1 [Note: J. Reid, in The Churchman, Feb. 1910, p. 133.]

We have represented in the text—

I. The Waiting Christ.

II. The Closed Door.

III. The Door Opened.

IV. The Entrance and the Feast.


The Waiting Christ

Who knocks? The exalted Christ. What is the door? The closed heart of man. What does He desire? Entrance. What are His knockings and His voice? All providences, all monitions of His Spirit in man’s spirit and conscience, the direct invitations of His written or spoken word—in brief, whatsoever sways our hearts to yield to Him and enthrone Him. This is the meaning, in the fewest possible words, of this great text.

1. This wonderful picture of Christ standing at the door like a weary traveller asking to be let in just reverses the common view which one is apt to take of the religious life. We commonly think of truth as hiding itself within its closed door and of ourselves as trying to get into it. We speak of “finding Christ,” or “proving God,” or “getting religion,” as if all these things were mysteries to be explored, hidden behind doors which must be unlocked; as if, in the relation between man and God, man did all the searching, and God was a hidden God. But the fundamental fact of the religious life is this—that the power and love of God are seeking man; that before we love Him, He loves us; that before we know Him, He knows us; that antecedent to our recognition of Him must be our receptivity of Him. Coleridge said that he believed in the Bible because it found him. It is for the same reason that man believes in God. God finds him.

It is coming more and more to be seen that such religious progress as man has made is not so much his endeavour to find God, as God’s endeavour to find him; that it is more satisfactory to represent man’s religious history as a continuous knocking on the part of God at the door of man’s heart than as a continuous spontaneous search on man’s part after God. To Christians, indeed, no other view is at all possible; for of course to represent the relation between man and God as search on man’s part instead of revelation on God’s part would be to empty the idea of God of all meaning.

The sunlight travels far from its source in the deep of heaven—so far that, though it can be expressed in figures, the imagination fails to take in the magnitude of the sum; but when the rays of light have travelled unimpeded so far, and come to the door of my eye, if I shut that door—a thin film of flesh—the light is kept out, and I remain in darkness. Alas! the Light that travelled so far, and came so near—the Light that sought entrance into my heart, and that I kept out—was the Light of life!1 [Note: W. Arnot, The Anchor of the Soul, 278.]

Behold, I knock! Methinks if on My face

Thou wouldst but rest thine eyes,

Wouldst mark the crown of thorns, the sharp nails trace,

Thou couldst not Me despise!

Thee have I yearned for with a love so strong,

Thee have I sought so earnestly and long;

My road led from a cross unto this place;

Behold, I knock!

2. But we have in the text a hint of the Divine long-suffering, which does not merely knock, and then, if it be not opened to it at once, go away and leave us to ourselves, to our own impenitence and hardness of heart. Christ rather, as one who knows that He has a message which it supremely concerns men that they should receive, and who will therefore take no denial, knocks, and, not being admitted, knocks again, with all the importunity of love. “Behold! I stand at the door and knock.” There is in the words a revelation of an infinite long-suffering and patience. The door has long been fastened; we have, like some lazy servant, thought that if we did not answer the knock, the Knocker would go away when He was weary. But we have miscalculated the elasticity and the unfailingness of that patient Christ’s love. Rejected, He abides; spurned, He returns.

There is a familiar picture by Holman Hunt that paints the idea of our text. There is shown a cottage neglected, falling into ruin. In front of the window tall thistles spring up, and long grass waves on the pathway, leading to the door overgrown with moss and rank poisonous weeds. In front of the fast-closed door with rusted hinges a tall and stately figure stands amid the night dews and the darkness with a face that tells of toil and long, weary waiting, and one hand uplifted to knock and another bearing a light that may perhaps flash through some of the chinks of the door. It is Christ, the Son of God, seeking to get into our sinful hearts.1 [Note: W.G. Elmslie, Memoir and Sermons, 86.]

3. Christ does not only knock; He also speaks; He makes His “voice” to be heard—a more precious benefit still! It is true, indeed, that we cannot in our interpretation draw any strict line of distinction between Christ knocking and Christ speaking. Both represent His dealings of infinite love with souls for winning them to receive Him; yet at the same time, considering that in this natural world a knock may be anyone’s, and on any errand, while the voice accompanying that knock would at once designate who it was that stood without, and with what intention, we have a right, so far as we may venture to distinguish between the two, to see in the voice the more inward appeal, the closer dealing of Christ with the soul, speaking directly by His Spirit to the spirit of the man; in the knocking those more outward gracious dealings, of sorrow and joy, of sickness and health, and the like, which He sends and, sending, uses for the bringing of His elect, in one way or another, by smooth paths or by rough, to Himself. The “voice” very often will interpret and make intelligible the purpose of the “knock.”

Will anyone venture to say, “This mysterious voice has never uttered itself to spiritual ear of mine”? Is it indeed so? Have we then never had our times of gracious visitation? Assuredly we all have had them, and not seldom. We may indeed have missed them and their meaning altogether; but the times themselves not the less have been ours—times of a great joy, and times of a great sorrow; times when our God has given to us so much, and times when He has taken away so much; times of weary sickness, and times of unlooked-for recovery; times with no ominous hour for long years knocking at our door with its tidings of mishap; or times when we have had sorrow upon sorrow; times when we have been made to enter on the miserable possession of our past sins; times when we have walked in the glorious liberty of the children of God; times when the world was sweet unto us, and when the world was bitter; times when we walked compassed with troops of friends, and times when lonely paths were appointed for our treading. Has not our God been speaking to us in all this joy and in all this sorrow? He can gently speak as well as loudly knock; and happy is the man who has ears to hear. In every gracious thought that visits us, in every yearning after better things, in every solemn resolution for the days to come, in every tender memory of days gone by, Christ is standing before our door, saying, “It is I.”

The boy Samuel, lying sleeping before the light in the inner sanctuary, heard the voice of God, and thought it was only the grey-bearded priest that spoke. We often make the same mistake, and confound the utterances of Christ Himself with the speech of men. Recognize who it is that pleads with you; and do not fancy that when Christ speaks it is Eli that is calling; but say, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.”

It will be as well, I think, to explain these locutions of God, and to describe what the soul feels when it receives them, in order that you may understand the matter; for ever since that time of which I am speaking, when our Lord granted me that grace, it has been an ordinary occurrence until now, as will appear by what I have yet to say.

The words are very distinctly formed; but by the bodily ear they are not heard. They are, however, much more clearly understood than they would be if they were heard by the ear. It is impossible not to understand them, whatever resistance we may offer. When we wish not to hear anything in this world, we can stop our ears, or give attention to something else: so that, even if we do hear, at least we can refuse to understand. In this locution of God addressed to the soul there is no escape, for in spite of ourselves we must listen; and the understanding must apply itself so thoroughly to the comprehension of that which God wills we should hear that it is nothing to the purpose whether we will it or not; for it is His will, who can do all things. We should understand that His will must be done; and He reveals Himself as our true Lord, having dominion over us. I know this by much experience.1 [Note: The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (ed. 1911), 213.]


The Closed Door

1. The “knock” and the “voice” may alike remain unheard and unheeded. It is in the power of every man to close his ear to them; therefore the hypothetical form which this gracious promise takes: “If any man hear my voice, and open the door.” There is no irresistible grace here. It is the man himself who must open the door. Christ indeed knocks, claims admittance as to His own; so lifts up His voice that it may be heard, in one sense must be heard, by him; but He does not break open the door, or force an entrance by violence. There is a sense in which every man is lord of the house of his own heart; it is his fortress; he must open the gates of it; unless he does so, Christ cannot enter. And, as a necessary complement of this power to open, there belongs also to man the mournful prerogative and privilege of refusing to open; he may keep the door shut, even to the end. He may thus continue to the last blindly at strife with his own blessedness, a miserable conqueror who conquers to his own ever-lasting loss and defeat. There are times in our lives when we are not at home to the serious thoughts that come to visit us, to the higher life embodied in Christ that would enter in, when we dare to exercise towards God that tremendous power which all of us have, the power not to open the door even to Him, to disregard even His knocking.

I remember hearing some years ago of an incident which occurred near Inverness. A beautiful yacht had been sailing in the Moray Firth. The owners of it—two young men—landed at Inverness, purposing to take a walking tour through the Highlands. But they lost their way, and darkness found them wandering aimlessly about in a very desolate spot. At last, about midnight, they fortunately came upon a little cottage, at the door of which they knocked long and loudly for admittance. But the inmates were all in bed, and curtly the young men were told to go elsewhere, and make no more disturbance there. Luckily, they found shelter in another house some distance away. But next morning the inhospitable people heard a rumour that filled them with chagrin, and gave them a lesson they would not be likely soon to forget. What do you think it was? Just this: that the two young men who knocked in vain at their door the previous night were Prince George (now our King) and his brother the late Duke of Clarence—the most illustrious visitors in the kingdom. You can fancy the shame the people must have felt thus unconsciously to have shown themselves so inhospitable to the noblest persons in all the land. But are we any better? Are we not, indeed, much worse, if we shut Jesus Christ, the greatest of all Kings, out of our hearts?1 [Note: W. Hay, God’s Looking-Glass, 91.]

The late Dr. William Arnot of Edinburgh relates a story that beautifully illustrates this text: “I was visiting,” said he, “among my people of Edinburgh. I looked up at the high houses to see whether Betty Gordon, an aged saint of God, was at home. I knew she was in, for when she went away she always carefully pulled down the blind, and this day the blind was not drawn. I knew that she was poor, but she trusted God, and I was glad that somebody had given me some money that morning to give to the poor. I put aside Betty’s rent for a month in my pocket and climbed up the winding stone stairs to her door. I knocked softly, but there was no answer. Then I knocked louder, but there was still no answer. At last I said, ‘Betty forgot to pull down the blind, and she has gone out. What a pity!’ Then I went down the stairs. The next morning I went back and knocked at the door. After a little waiting, Betty came and opened it. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘is it you, Mr. Arnot? I am so glad to see you! Come in!’ There were tears in her eyes and a look of care. I said, ‘Betty, what are you crying for?’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘Mr. Arnot, I am so afraid of the landlord. He came yesterday, and I hadna the rent, and I didna open the door, and now I am afraid of him coming; for he is a hard man.’ ‘Betty,’ I asked, ‘what time did he come yesterday?’ ‘He came between eleven and twelve o’clock,’ she said. ‘It was twenty-five minutes to twelve’. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it was not the landlord; it was I, and I brought to you this money to pay your rent.’ She looked at me, and said, ‘Oh, was it you? Did you bring me that money to pay my rent, and I kept the door shut againt you, and I would-na let you in? And I heard you knocking, and I heard you ringing, and I said, That is the landlord; I wish he would go away. And it was my ain meenister. It was my ain Lord who had sent ye as His messenger, and I wouldna let ye in.’”1 [Note: J.L. Brandt, Soul Saving, 185.]

2. Although it must be for Christ a sad thing—a thing which cuts Him to the heart—that we should trust Him so little as not to care to admit Him, yet it is less for His own sake than for ours that He is vexed. Ours is the loss. He comes with blessings in both hands. This Prince of Love has help and healing for every part of us. It is our unwillingness to open up to Him, and nothing else, that checks the current of His benefactions, and reduces Him to stand, with hands still “laden” and half His kindly purpose unfulfilled, a suppliant Saviour. Yet He will do no more than knock and call. Though the urgency is on His side, He will not open. Though as crowned King He stands, with title to command and power to compel, yet He will not open. God will do no violence to man’s reluctance; nor does it beseem One who draws near in grace ungraciously to force a passage. Nor in truth can the door to our heart’s affections be broken through from without, only opened consentingly from within. Permission He must crave; He cannot, and He will not, enter undesired. A man is the only being that can open the door of his own heart for Christ to come in. The whole responsibility of accepting or rejecting God’s gracious Word, which comes to him all in good faith, lies with the man himself. He knows that at each time when his heart and conscience have been brought in contact with the offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, if he had liked he could have opened the door and welcomed the entrance of the Saviour. And he knows that nobody and nothing kept it fast except only himself. “Ye will not come to me,” said Christ, “that ye might have life.” Men, indeed, do pile up such mountains of rubbish against the door that it cannot be opened, but it was they that put the rubbish there; and they are responsible if the hinges are so rusty that they will not move, or the doorway is clogged that there is no room for it to open.

When Holman Hunt painted that wonderful picture of the thorn-crowned King outside the door knocking, he showed his picture to his dearest friend, in the studio before it was publicly exhibited. His friend looked at it, at the kingly figure of Christ, at the rough and rugged door, and at the clinging tendrils which had spread themselves over the door. Suddenly he said: “Hunt, you have made a terrible mistake here.” “What mistake have I made?” said the artist. “Why, you have painted a door without a handle.” “That is not a mistake,” replied Hunt. “That door has no handle on the outside. It is inside.”1 [Note: G. Campbell Morgan.]

But all night long that voice spake urgently,

“Open to Me.”

Still harping in mine ears:

“Rise, let Me in.”

Pleading with tears:

“Open to Me, that I may come to thee.”

While the dew dropped, while the dark hours were cold:

“My Feet bleed, see My Face,

See My Hands bleed that bring thee grace,

My Heart doth bleed for thee,—

Open to Me.”

So till the break of day:

Then died away

That voice, in silence as of sorrow;

Then footsteps echoing like a sigh

Passed me by,

Lingering footsteps slow to pass.

On the morrow

I saw upon the grass

Each footprint marked in blood, and on my door

The mark of blood for evermore.2 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti, Poetical Works, 241.]

3. It is one of the commonplaces of our experience that we do not like people to force themselves on our acquaintance, to force their friendship on us; and any attempt to do that generally results in creating dislike to those who try to come into our hearts without knocking, who do not respect the privacy of our choice of friends, but walk straight in without announcing themselves or waiting till they are asked to come in. Now it makes the great truth of God’s search for us, God’s wonderful insistence in meeting us at every point of life, all the more solemn that it is part of the Divine humility, part of God’s respect for our freedom, a proof that He wants love and trust that are freely given, that He does not force Himself on our acquaintance, as it were. So we come to this, that to do nothing is to keep our Saviour outside; and that is the way in which most men that miss Him do miss Him. There are many who have sat in the inner chamber, and heard the gracious hand on the outer panel, and have kept their hands folded and their feet still, and done nothing. To do nothing is to do the most dreadful of things, for it is to keep the door shut in the face of Christ. No passionate antagonism is needed, no vehement rejection, no intellectual denial of His truth and His promises. If we want to ruin ourselves, we have simply to do nothing!

Why does Christ not come in? Is not this Divine Spirit omnipotent? Has He not power to enter where He will, to breathe where He chooses, to blow where He listeth? Why, then, does He stand without, knocking at the door of a frail human heart? Could He not break down that door in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and annihilate that opposing barrier which disputes His claim to universal empire? Yes, but in so doing He would annihilate also the man. What makes me a man is just my power to open the door. If I had no power to open or to forbear opening, I would not be responsible. He meant me to respond to Himself, to open on His knocking at the door. He could have no joy in breaking down the door, in taking the kingdom of my heart by violence; there would be no response in that, no answer of a heart, no acceptance of a will by His will. Therefore, He prefers to stand without till I open, to knock till I hear, to speak till I respond.1 [Note: G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, 144.]

My friend Mr. Collier, of Manchester, told me of an incident that occurred during one of his mission services at the Central Hall. Holman Hunt’s picture was on the screen. In front sat a working man and his little boy. A great hush was over the audience. Presently the little boy nudged the man and said, “Dad, why don’t they let Him in?” The man was a little nonplussed, then after a moment’s silence said, “I don’t know, Jimmy. I expect they don’t want Him to come in.” Again a moment’s silence, and Jimmy said, “It’s not that. Everybody wants Him.” After a pause he continued, “I know why they don’t let Him in. They live at the back of the house.” The man who refuses to admit Jesus has some motive, something kept behind and out of sight. He is living at the back.1 [Note: G. Campbell Morgan.]


The Door Opened

1. Notice the simple conditions of the text—“If any man will hear my voice and open the door.” Christ does not say: “If any man make himself moral; if any man will try and make himself better; if any man has deep sorrow; if any man has powerful faith.” No, that is not it. This is what He says: “If any man will hear my voice, and open the door.” The condition of His entrance is simple trust in Him as the Saviour of the soul. That is opening the door, and if we do that, then, just as when we open the shutters, in comes the sunshine; just as when we lift the sluice in flows the crystal stream into the slimy, empty lock, so Christ will enter in.

2. The text is a metaphor, but the declaration, that “if any man open the door” Jesus Christ “will come in to him,” is not a metaphor; it is the very heart and centre of the gospel: “I will come in to him,” dwell in him, be really incorporated in his being. There is no more certain fact in the whole world than the actual dwelling of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is in heaven, in the spirits of the people that love Him and trust Him. Into our emptiness He will come with His fulness; into our sinfulness He will come with His righteousness; into our death He will come with His triumphant and immortal life; and He being in us, we shall be full and pure and live for ever, and be blessed with the blessedness of Jesus.

The manner and the way, whereby Christ’s righteousness and obedience, death and sufferings without, become profitable unto us, and are made ours, is by receiving Him, and becoming one with Him in our hearts, embracing and entertaining that Holy Seed which, as it is embraced and entertained, becometh a Holy Birth in us, which in Scripture is called: “Christ formed within”; “Christ within, the hope of glory” (Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:27), by which the body of sin and death is done away, and we cleansed and washed and purged from our sins, not imaginarily but really; and we really and truly made righteous and holy and pure in the sight of God: and it is through the union betwixt Him and us (His righteous life and nature brought forth in us, and we made one with it, as the branches are with the vine), that we have a true title and right to what He hath done and suffered for us.

It is not the works of Christ wrought in us, nor the works which we work in His spirit and power, that we rest and rely upon as the ground and foundation of our justification; but it is Christ Himself, the Worker revealed in us, indwelling in us; His life and spirit covering us, that is the ground of our justification.1 [Note: Robert Barclay, Truth Cleared of Calumnies (Works, i. 164).]


The Entrance and the Feast

1. “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” These words speak to us in lovely, sympathetic language of a close, familiar, happy communion between Christ and our poor selves, which shall make all life as a feast in company with Him. We remember who is the mouthpiece of Jesus Christ here. It is the disciple who knew most of what quietness of blessedness and serenity of adoring communion there were in leaning on Christ’s breast at supper, casting back his head on that loving bosom; looking into those deep, sad eyes, and asking questions which were sure of answer. And St. John, as he wrote down the words, “I will sup with him, and he with me,” perhaps remembered that Upper Room where, amidst all the bitter herbs, there was such strange joy and tranquillity. But whether he did or not, may we not take the picture as suggesting to us the possibilities of loving fellowship, of quiet repose, of absolute satisfaction of all desires and needs, which will be ours if we open the door of our hearts by faith and let Jesus Christ come in?

Let Thy Holy Spirit be pleased, not only to stand before the door and knock, but also to come in. If I do not open the door, it were too unreasonable to request such a miracle to come in when the doors were shut, as Thou didst to the apostles. Yet let me humbly beg of Thee, that Thou wouldst make the iron gate of my heart open of its own accord. Then let Thy Spirit be pleased to sup in my heart; I have given it an invitation, and I hope I shall give it room. But, O Thou that sendest the guest, send the meat also; and if I be so unmannerly as not to make the Holy Spirit welcome, O let Thy effectual grace make me to make it welcome.1 [Note: Thomas Fuller, Good Thoughts in Bad Times.]

Speechless Sorrow sat with me;

I was sighing wearily,

Lamp and fire were out: the rain

Wildly beat the window-pane.

In the dark we heard a knock,

And a hand was on the lock;

One in waiting spake to me,

Saying sweetly,

“I am come to sup with thee!”

All my room was dark and damp;

“Sorrow,” said I, “trim the lamp;

Light the fire, and cheer thy face;

Set the guest-chair in its place.”

And again I heard the knock;

In the dark I found the lock:—

“Enter! I have turned the key!

Enter, Stranger!

Who art come to sup with me.”

Opening wide the door He came,

But I could not speak His name;

In the guest-chair took His place;

But I could not see His face!

When my cheerful fire was beaming,

When my little lamp was gleaming,

And the feast was spread for three,

Lo! my Master

Was the Guest that supped with me!2 [Note: Harriet M. Kimball.]

2. “I will come in to him, and will sup with him” suggests that our Lord not only confers a blessing but receives one; that He not only gives us satisfaction in His presence, but gets satisfaction out of our presence. It is one of the most beautiful thoughts presented to us in the Bible, that “the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” We often think of what God can do for us. Do we ever think of what we can do for God? We often talk about our trusting God. Have we a holy ambition to be such that it shall be possible for God to trust us? We think of our loving God. Do we ever think of His loving us? We think of God’s giving us pleasure. Do we ever think of our giving Him pleasure? And yet our blessed Lord indicates that if the door is opened to Him, and He comes in to a soul that has hitherto excluded Him, He is going to bring a blessing and to get a blessing; He is going to confer good and to receive it; He is going to impart joy, and His own Divine heart is going to get a thrill of joy from the obedience, and the confidence, and the communion of the willing soul.

Oh that we could take that simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing which lies before us is to please God! What gain is it to please the world, to please the great, nay, even to please those whom we love, compared with this? What gain is it to be applauded, admired, courted, followed, compared with this one aim of not being disobedient to a heavenly vision? What can this world offer comparable with that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have who in sincerity love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ?1 [Note: J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, viii. 32.]

3. Where Christ is welcomed as guest, He assumes the place of host. “I will sup with him, and he with me.” After the Resurrection, when the two disciples, moved to hospitality, implored the unknown Stranger to come in and partake of their humble fare, He yielded to their importunity and, when they were in the guest-chamber, took His place at the head of the table, and blessed the bread and gave it to them. In the beginning of His miracles, He manifested forth His glory in this, that, invited as a common guest to the rustic wedding, He provided the failing wine. And so, wherever a poor man opens his heart and says, “Come in, and I will give Thee my best,” Jesus Christ comes in, and gives the man His best, that the man may render it back to Him. He accepts the poorest from each, and He gives the richest to each.

With One so condescending and communicative, the blessed soul in whom Jesus dwells ventures to be open too. With happy boldness we begin to tell Him everything. We consult Him even in trifles. We lay great and little cares on Him. We ask His aid in every affair. Thus He shares in all of ours as we in His, and communion attains completion. When such an exchange of sweet and secret actings on one another becomes the habit of the inner life, then these two grow together—the soul and its Saviour—inweaved into each other, till neither can be at any moment satisfied without the other’s presence, or is to be thought of as sundered or alone. This action and reaction, this varied play of friendship, this sense of common possession, this familiar commerce of giving and receiving—what else is this but the joy of supping with Him and He with us?

All life to the positive mystic is full of God here and now. Dante found that “In His will is our peace.” His dying to self was not a blind negation: it was a living unto God, in whom the personality is strengthened, purified, consecrated and made conjunct with a life larger than, yet kindred to, its own. The “I” and the “Thou” are only lost as they are in love: lost to be enriched, surrendered to be ennobled: the soul comes back, laden with precious fruits, with new activities, with intellect, conscience, will—nay, the whole being sanctified and enlarged.

The mystical books tell of the saint who knocked at the door of Paradise. “Who is there?” asked the Lord. “It is I,” answered the saint, but the gate did not open. Again the saint tremblingly drew near and knocked. “Who is there?” said the voice from within. “It is Thou,” replied the saint, grown wiser, and immediately the door opened. He had found the Paradise of the soul. And it is in the apprehension of the “Not I” that the “I” passes into a higher state of activity, where it is at once “in tune with the infinite,” and passes into a new power of life and service. “We know that we have passed from death into life.” Because He wills, and we will with Him in conscious choice, is the secret of positive mysticism.1 [Note: D. Butler, George Fox in Scotland, 108.]

4.The promise of the text is fulfilled immediately when the door of the heart is opened, but it shadows and prophesies a nobler fulfilment in the heavens. Here and now Christ and we may sit together, but the feast will be like the Passover, eaten with loins girt and staff in hand, the Red Sea and the wilderness waiting to be trodden. But there comes a more perfect form of the communion, when Christ at the last will bring His servants to His table in His Kingdom, and there their works shall follow them; and He and they shall sit together for ever, and for ever “rejoice in the fatness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”

Come in, Thou Saviour-King, who art knocking at our very souls this day for leave to show us all Thy love, come in and traverse these unclean chambers of our being! Purge them by Thy blood. Enlighten their darkness. Fill their empty spaces with Thy riches. Make what is ours, Thine. See, we give it unto Thee—infirmity, error, sorrow: bear it with us! Make what is Thine, ours. See, we open ourselves wide for it—pardon, strength, gladness: share Thy blessings with us! So shall we sup with Thee and Thou with us; till in this communion our spirits echo after their poor measure that ever-sounding song which circles round Thy heavenly banquet-hall—“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing!”1 [Note: J. O. Dykes.]

I love Thee, Lord, for Thou didst first love me,

And didst a home in this poor mansion seek.

I heard Thy knock, and straight unbarred my heart,

And listened wondering to Thine accents meek.

I long had lived unknowing of Thy love,

And selfishness directed all my will;

The name of God was but a name to me,

And earthly thoughts and aims enthralled me still.

Briers and thorns obstructed all approach,

And tangled weeds lay rotting at the door;

But Thou didst come, with bleeding hands and feet,

And ask admittance to my sin-stained floor.

I saw Thy love, I heard Thy pleading voice;

Thy words of grace enkindled high desire;

And, led by Thee, my Father I adored,

And on me fell the Holy Spirit’s fire.

I love Thee, Lord, but oh! how cold my love:

Abide Thou still within my trembling heart;

Lay Thou on me the purifying cross,

And let Thy life within my life have part.1 [Note: J. Drummond, Johannine Thoughts, 30.]

The Waiting Guest


Aitken (W. H. M. H.), Mission Sermons, iii. 68.

Arnot (W.), The Anchor of the Soul, 275.

Bain (J. A. K.), For Heart and Life, 41.

Bonar (H.), Light and Truth: The Revelation, 152.

Champness (T.), Plain Preaching for Plain People, 159.

Clark (H. W.), Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, 94.

Dix (M.), Christ at the Door of the Heart, 1.

Dykes (J. O.), Plain Words on Great Themes, 101.

Elmslie (W. G.), Memoir and Sermons, 81.

Gregg (J.), Sermons Preached in Trinity Church, Dublin, ii. 106.

Hutchison (G.), Sermons, 222.

Hyde (T. D.), Sermon Pictures for Busy Preachers, ii. 320.

Ingram (A. F. W.), The Gospel in Action, 37.

Kelly (W.), Sermons, 75.

McFadyen (J. E.), Thoughts for Silent Hours, 201.

Maclaren (A.), Expositions: Epistles of John to Revelation, 302.

Maclean (J. K.), Dr. Pierson and his Message, 193.

Matheson (G.), Moments on the Mount, 144.

Monod (H.), in Foreign Protestant Pulpit, ii. 446.

Moore (E. W.), The Christ-Controlled Life, 174.

Mursell (W. A.), Sermons on Special Occasions, 253.

Peabody (F. G.), Mornings in the College Chapel, i. 107.

Ryle (J. C.), The Christian Race, 281.

Speirs (E. B.), A Present Advent, 113.

Trench (R. C.), Brief Thoughts and Expositions, 91.

Trench (R. C.), Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 216.

Christian World Pulpit, x. 166 (J. S. Exell); xxxiv. 215 (G. MacDonald); lxiv. 420 (L. A. Johnson); lxvi. 371 (E. Rees); lxix. 387 (G. C. Morgan); lxx. 173 (S. M. Crothers); lxxvi. 365 (N. G. Phelps); lxxxi. 131 (A. H. McElwee); lxxxiv. 216 (C. Brown).

Churchman, New Ser., xxiv. 133 (J. Reid).

Free Church Year Book, 1908, p. 39 (P. T. Forsyth).

Preacher’s Magazine, xxi. 494 (J. Edwards); xxiv. 269 (G. W. Polkinghorne).

Twentieth Century Pastor, xxxiv. (1914) 19 (C. F. Aked).

Weekly Pulpit, ii. 3 (T. Phillips).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
I stand
Song of Solomon 5:2-4; Luke 12:36
I will
John 14:21-23
will sup
19:9; Luke 12:37; 17:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 18:8 - stood;  Exodus 25:29 - to cover;  Leviticus 3:11 - the food;  2 Samuel 9:7 - eat bread;  1 Kings 2:7 - eat;  1 Kings 22:52 - in the way;  2 Chronicles 9:4 - the sitting;  Psalm 95:7 - if ye;  Psalm 101:6 - that they;  Song of Solomon 1:12 - sitteth;  Song of Solomon 2:4 - brought;  Song of Solomon 2:8 - voice;  Song of Solomon 5:5 - rose;  Ezekiel 41:22 - This is;  Ezekiel 44:3 - to eat;  Matthew 8:11 - shall sit;  Matthew 25:7 - GeneralMark 14:14 - where I;  Mark 16:19 - and sat;  Luke 14:16 - bade;  Luke 19:5 - for;  Luke 22:11 - Where is;  John 1:39 - abode;  John 2:2 - both;  John 4:40 - he abode;  John 6:21 - they willingly;  John 6:56 - dwelleth;  John 10:3 - the porter;  John 10:16 - they shall;  John 10:27 - sheep;  John 12:2 - they made;  John 14:23 - make;  Acts 16:14 - whose;  Romans 2:4 - goodness;  Galatians 2:20 - but;  Ephesians 2:6 - sit;  Ephesians 3:17 - Christ;  Colossians 1:27 - Christ;  Hebrews 3:7 - hear;  James 5:9 - the Judge;  Revelation 13:8 - whose

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation

Christ"s Loving Earnestness.

Revelation 3:20.

This is the sound of a trumpet. Yet it is not the iron, but the silver trumpet that here sounds out, "Behold!" The church is asleep, and needs to be awakened; or she is busy with worldliness and pleasure, and needs to be recalled to Him whom she is forgetting. Jesus loves her, but she loves not Jesus; or at least has grown lukewarm in her love. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold.

Laodicea is the worst of the seven Churches; of whom her Lord has not one good thing to say. She has not rejected His name, nor disowned His cross, nor departed from the faith; but she is neither cold nor hot. She is one whom it is difficult to know how to deal with or to discipline. If she were "cold," He would put her under special discipline; if she were "hot" ("fervent in spirit," Acts 18:25; Romans 12:11), He would commend her, and make her to become more and more fervent. But she is in the worst state of all—"lukewarm;" distasteful and useless—and therefore she must be "spued out"—rejected as utterly loathsome, in the most loathsome way. Yet it is to this Church that the Lord sends His most gracious messages—loving her to the last.

As He sent His words of largest grace to Israel in their worst state, by the prophets in the Old Testament, and by His Son in the New, so He does to Laodicea. The tone of this epistle is marvelous for its kindliness; and the words no less marvelous for the generosity and tenderness. This is not the manner of men; but it is truly the way of the Lord—of Him who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I. The love of Christ.Herein is love. It is the love that passes knowledge. It is love not to the lovable and the loving, but to the unloving and unlovable. It is love to the worst of sinners, the worst of backsliders; love to those who had left their first love; who had once known Christ and His love, but had begun to go back. It is free love. It is large love. It is love irrespective of goodness in us. It is love which has broken through many a barrier in order to reach us; love which many waters could not quench, nor the floods drown. This whole verse and this whole epistle breathe true and unequivocal love. There is but one interpretation that can be put upon them—love. If they mean not this, what can they mean? This speaks out in every line. "I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely."

Here is the fullness of the grace of Him who wept over Jerusalem; who said, "him who comes to me I will never cast out." Here is the good news to all—for that which takes in Laodicea will surely take in the ungodliest, the farthest gone in declension and apostasy. "Return unto me, you backsliding children." "How shall I give you up? Can even Laodicea answer this question? It is one which God Himself leaves unanswered.

II. The patience of Christ."I standat the door." He stands, and He has stood, as the words imply—not afar off, but near, at the door. He stands. It is the attitude of waiting—of perseverance in waiting. He does not call from a distance—He comes. He does not come and go—He stands. He does not sit down, or occupy Himself with other concerns. He has one object in view—to get access to this poor Laodicean—and therefore He stands. Patiently and untiringly He stands. At the door of a backslider He stands. Day after day He is seen in the same posture, immoveable in His patient love. "Behold! I stand." Here, surely, is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; the "meekness and gentleness of Christ;" the patience of Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself."

III. The earnestness of Christ."I knock." If the standing marks His patience, the knocking marks His earnestness—His unwearied and persevering earnestness—as if He were renewing the ancient oath, and swearing by Himself, because He can swear by no greater—"As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner." He callsas well as knocks; for He says, "If any man hears my voice." One of our modern literary men (Carlyle) has described the Bible as "that most earnest of all earnest books;" and here is one of the passages which exhibit its unutterable earnestness. Christ does not merely speak or call to Laodicea. He is too much in earnest for that; and, besides, she is so much engrossed with the world that a voice would not reach her deaf ears. It needs knock upon knock to startle her. So He continues knocking; not forcing the door, or using violence, for God always treats us as reasonable and responsible creatures; and, besides, force cannot change the will or heart, and it is with these that Christ has to do; it is unto them that He is seeking entrance.

We cannot by stripes or angry words compel a man to love us. Hearts not won either by force or gold. Only love wins love—only earnestness overcomes rebelliousness. Christ treats us respectfully as well as reasonably, as we treat each other when wishing to enter their dwelling, counting that dwelling sacred, and only to be entered with the consent of the owner. How condescending is the Master; how meek and lowly! How He exemplifies His own precept, "Knock, and it shall be opened!" Hear His words of old, "It is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, Open to me, my sister my love, my dove, my undefiled—for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night" (Song of Solomon 5:2). We ask—

(1.) HOW does He knockBy His word; His warnings; His invitations. By providences; by trials; by comforts; by sorrows; by joys; by family troubles and national calamities; by wars at home or abroad; by the confusions and distresses of nations. By convictions; by sermons; by friends; by the changes of the year. By His Holy Spirit ever working; every striving. By this message here.

(2.) WHEN does He knockContinually. Day and night. All the day long. No man passes a day, no, an hour, without a knock—sometimes louder, sometimes gentler. He is always knocking; and His knocks seem to get louder as the last days draw on, and His coming approaches.

O sinner, O Laodicean, listen! The Lord is knocking! Listen! Do not let Him longer stand without. Open, and bid Him welcome.

IV. The appeal of Christ to the Laodiceans."If any man will hear my voice, and open the door." It is—

(1) a loving appeal;

(2) a personal appeal;

(3) an honest appeal;

(4) an earnest appeal.

"If anyman!" Here in another form is the often-repeated "whoever" of other places; and the force or point of the expression is, "Oh that every man—every one of you!" "If you had known" is equal to "Oh that you had known;" so "If any man" means "Would that each of you!" What an appeal! And is it to do some great thing? No! only to hear His voice and to open the door—only that. Christ will do all the rest. Hear, O man, O Laodicean! The Lord speaks to you from heaven. Is His voice inarticulate and inaudible? Does He not mean you? Are His knockings not for you? Are His love, His patience, His earnestness, not for you? At each door He knocks, saying to the inhabitant—Hear and open. No lost soul hereafter shall be able to say, He did not knock at my door, else I would have heard and opened.

O deaf Laodicean, listen and open, before it be too late; before He has gone away and left you alone in your worldliness. Lukewarmness may seem little now, but what will it be hereafter? Christ"s knocks may be unheeded now, but each one of them will come back to memory, when too late, to torment you forever. Oh hear and open! Quickly, quickly, for the time is short!

V. The promise of Christ.This is threefold, and each of the three parts full of meaning and love.

(1) I will come in to him.His standing on the outside is of no use to us. No doubt His standing there tells us His love, and forms one of the great items in the good news which we bring even to such a sinner as that of Laodicea. But a mere outside Christ will profit us nothing. An outside cross will not pacify, nor heal, nor save. It must come in; and it comes in upon our believing. We hear the knock, and we say to the knocking One, "come in, You blessed of the Lord;" and immediately He comes in with His healing, saving cross; He comes in with His divine fellowship and love. The gracious promise is, "We will come in to him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). The presence of the Lord Jesus in our dwelling, turns darkness into light. His absence is gloom; His presence is glory and gladness.

(2) I will sup with him.When He comes in, He does not give a hasty salutation, a brief "Peace be with you," and then depart. He sits down—not to rest Himself, as He did at Jacob"s well, but to sup with us, as at Emmaus. He comes in as a guest, to take a place at our poor table, and to partake of our homely meal. The King comes in—not to His banqueting-house, but to our earthly cottage. He comes in lowliness and love, as He entered the house of Zaccheus, with "Today I must abide at your house" upon His lips. At this table of ours, it is He who shares with us what we possess; it is we who give to Him that whereon to feast, and not He to us. Such are the meekness and gentleness of Christ! So affable, so accessible, so condescending He is! The knock comes to every door. Who will shut Him out?

(3) He shall sup with me.Christ has a banquet in preparation, a feast of fat things—"the marriage supper of the Lamb." To this He invites us here, promising that they with whom He sups on earth shall hereafter sup with Him in His kingdom, when that shall be fulfilled which He spoke, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of God." The wise virgins go in to the marriage and the supper; the foolish are shut out. Here is the gracious promise, to be fulfilled hereafter when He comes again in His glory. He first sits down at our table, and then, while sitting there, He gives us the invitation to sit down with Him at His royal table, in the great bridal hall, where the marriage is to be consummated, and the festival held.

Now is the fast day—the feast day is coming. The absence shall be ended, the everlasting presence and fellowship begun. We have here a feast in absence, when we feed on the symbols of the body and the blood; but the feast of the presence is coming, when we shall feed on the divine "show-bread" (or presence bread), Christ Himself being at once the provider and the substance of the feast. O everlasting festival, when will you begin? O song that never ends, when shall your first notes be heard? O lamps of the heavenly hall, when will you be lighted, to shine down on the great supper-table, in the King"s own banqueting-house, where we shall feast forever, and go out no more?

While Christ is thus knocking at our door, He is bidding us knock at His. "Knock, and it shall be opened." He will certainly hear our voice, and open the door to us. He will not be deaf to our voice, nor bar the door, nor keep us standing, nor send us empty away.

Whether the parable of our Lord as to the waiting servants (Luke 12:35-37) may not point to the same scene as that here in Laodicea, I do not say. They have some points in common. For it is the Lord that there is said to knock that His servants may open to Him immediately. There is, no doubt, a difference. In Luke He is represented as returning from the wedding to His own house. In the Revelation, He comes to ours. But still, in both cases it is He who knocks. His Church will be found in different circumstances when he comes. Then, as well as now, there may be many kinds of knocking; yet in all it is the same earnest desire on his part to be admitted, that is described. He wants to enter. His knock and His voice are sincere and loud. He will not force the door; but still He wants to be in. O Church of God, keep Him not out. How much you lose! For His absence, no outward prosperity, nor riches, nor numbers, can compensate. If He be kept out, all is sadness, and leanness, and poverty. If He be admitted, all is well. Happy the Church with which Christ is daily feasting. Happy the soul in which He has come to dwell, and who, in daily communion by faith, tastes the Bridegroom"s love!

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Bonar, Horatius. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 3:20. — "Behold, I stand at the door, and am knocking; if any one hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he with Me." This touching and tender call has for centuries been the foundation of Christian song and sermon. The last appeal addressed to the collective body is contained in verse 19; this is spoken to individuals only. Between the threat of rejection (v. 16) and its execution the Lord takes an outside place: "Behold, I stand at the door," thus morally disowning the professing Christian body. The Lord both knocks and speaks. What a rich display of grace in the worst of circumstances! The Lord neither commands to buy (v. 18) nor forces an entrance. He counsels in the one case, and knocks in the other. "I stand, . . . and am knocking." It is a present and continuous action. The continuity of both actions is affirmed: He stands, He knocks. The Lord will not force His presence where and when it is not desired. To the disconsolate travellers to Emmaus "He made as though He would have gone further" (Luke 24:28). They constrained Him to enter, saying, "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them." In the presence of Jesus risen all is changed, He becomes the host and they His guests (v. 30). "If any hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he with Me." It is the last season of communion ere the night of judgment dawns. It is essentially individual. If denied Church fellowship, how exceedingly sweet the promise! The voice here is not that of Christ in quickening power, nor is it the knocking of salvation at a sinner's heart. The word to sinners is, "I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved" (John 10:9). They have not to knock, for it is an ever open door, and they have simply to enter in. To believers the word is, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9). But in our text He continues standing and knocking. He wants the place in the hearts of His own. He will make a feast for us even now; together with Him we joy and rejoice, but He dispenses the joy.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The specific subject matter for the various churches seems to have been completed. This verse represents the general attitude of the Lord toward all human beings. The door is that of the heart into which Jesus will enter if given a welcome. He will not force an entrance into a man"s life, for the only kind of service that will be pleasing to Him is a willing service. Hence the human heart must respond to the call of the Lord. Sup with him and he with me. In old times it was one of the surest indications of hospitality for a man to eat with another. It also was a token of recognition and endorsement. (See Mark 2:16; 1 Corinthians 5:11.) This mutual supping between Christ and his host is a figure of speech to indicate the great intimacy that He offers to share with a human being it permitted to do so.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 3:20

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Behold I stand at the door, and knock.

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

I stand at the door, and knock.

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

If any man hear my voice, and open the door

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

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

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

I will come in to him.

Secondly, Communion with him;

And sup with him, and he with me.

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

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 3:20. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any one hear my voice and open the door, I will go into him, and sup with him, and he with me. The first part of the verse alludes to the Song of Solomon 5:2, "I sleep, but my heart wakes. There is the voice of my beloved who knocks: Open to me my beloved, my sister, my dove, my undefiled." The reference does not lie merely in the particular words. The spiritual state of the person addressed is the same in both passages. The bride is between sleeping and waking, incertum vigilans (comp. Revelation 3:2), corresponding to the state of lukewarmness here: she cannot at first overcome her slumbering inactivity, and delays to let the bridegroom in. This mere allusion to the commencement calls up before the trembling soul all that follows; how repentance seizes her, and she would then open to the bridegroom, while he meanwhile has gone away: "I sought him but 1 found him not, I called, but he answered not;" how she hied after him, and was beaten by the watchmen. The grief of a soul, that has driven the Lord from it, could not be more graphically exhibited than it is there. The second member of the verse, as well as the first, points to the Song. There the supper is spoken of which the Lord will hold with the soul and it with him. Immediately before the passage of Canticles just referred to, in Song of Solomon 4:16, the bride speaks to the bridegroom, "Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits;" and the bridegroom says in Song of Solomon 5:1, "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I break my myrrh together with roots; I eat my honey with my comb; I drink my wine with my milk." This is the foundation for the saying here, "I will sup with him." In the Song, Song of Solomon 2:3, the bride says, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sit under his shadow, which I desired, and his fruit is sweet to my taste." This is the foundation for the other clause, "and he with me." In what the supper consists, which the bride prepares for the bridegroom, and he again for her, is rendered plain by the Epiphonem of the sacred bard, with which the whole piece concludes, that Song of Solomon 4:16 belongs to, and after which we find the commencement of a new part at Song of Solomon 5:2, presenting Sulamith to our view in another and less joyful situation: "Eat, O friends, and drink, and be drunk of love." It is love, to the enjoyment of which the bride invites the bridegroom, and which she enjoys again of him. We have substantially the same thing as this mutual supping between Christ and the believer in John 14:21, "He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him." This passage and that of John 14:23, "He that loveth me, will keep my works, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him," stand in the closest relation to the one before us, though of such a kind, that we cannot think of imitation. They, too, in their tender sympathy, in their sweet and affectionate tone, point back to the Song. Aversion to that portion of Scripture, however, has led some to deny that there is here any reference to it. The objection is urged, that no references are anywhere else to be found in the New Testament to Canticles. But it is enough to point in reply to John 7:38, "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture says, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The reference is to Song of Solomon 4:15, where the bride is called "a garden-spring, a well of living waters, and they flow from Lebanon;" comp. Song of Solomon 4:12, where she is called "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." The belly, which has respect to an Old Testament mode of representing the relation between the Lord and his church, only to be found in Canticles, is from Song of Solomon 7:3, combined with Song of Solomon 4:15. Accordingly, whenever we meet with the bride there, we are to think of believers. The formula, with which the Lord quotes the passage, "as the Scripture says," should be heard as the cry, "Put off your shoes, for it is holy ground," by those who are yet incapable of understanding the book, or even abuse it to improper purposes. To that Song our Lord farther refers in Matthew 9:15, when he compares himself to the bridegroom; and likewise in the parable of the bridegroom and the ten virgins. John the Baptist points to it in John 3:29, and Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:27, comp. with Song of Solomon 4:7, "Thou art altogether beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in thee." There are other parts of this book also, which refer to the Song; the bride in ch. Revelation 22:17, Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9, the marriage supper of the Lamb in ch. 19. And it confirms the reference to the Song here, that the passage, Song of Solomon 4:15, which is quoted by our Lord in the Gospel of John, that of Song of Solomon 4:16, which forms the ground for "I will sup with him," and Song of Solomon 5:2, on which the clause, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," rests, are all quite contiguous to each other. The Lord stands at the door for every one who belongs to the number of his people, and has not yet committed the sin against the Holy Ghost; he did so even for Judas the traitor up to the moment when Satan entered into him, so that there is no occasion for the remark of De Wette, "If he still stood so near to them, their state could not have been so very perilous.'' The more perilous the state was (if only it was not absolutely hopeless), the more must the Lord have stood at the door, and knocked the more loudly. The knocking, with which we are to associate calling, because this among the ancients was commonly connected with knocking, unless we may take the knocking itself as a symbolical calling, which, perhaps, is the simpler way:

This knocking is accomplished in various ways, by the word of God, and by the providences which stir emotions in the soul. Here it is done more immediately by this epistle. In the promise respect is not had to what may be experienced in a future state of being, which is first brought into view in the following verse; but, as appears also from the parallel passages of the Gospel, to a relation to Christ, which may exist even in this troublous world, and with all true believers is found to be as a heaven upon earth, and that a light illuminates their darkness.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Behold—The apparently broken connexion between this and the former verses of this address will be restored, if we consider the verse as a quotation from Solomon’s Song, Song of Solomon 5:2-6. The Church of Laodicea is represented by the sleepy bride at whose door the bridegroom knocks, but she is so remiss that she opens the door too late, for he is gone. She says, “It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my love; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.” The allusion shows to Laodicea the love between the Saviour and the Church, but the fearful danger of a deferred welcome to him.

I stand at the door, and knock—There is a wonderful pathos in the picture. It is the supplicator Christ. It is night, and the darkness and damps are falling upon him. He is rejected by the sons of men almost the entire world round, and comes for admission at the door of one who professes to love him.

If any man—Of the Laodicean Church immediately, of the whole world inferentially.

Open the door—For, though Lord of all power, he will never force the door open. There is a solemn if which every man must decide for himself.

I will—God’s will is to knock; and if man’s will is to open, then comes Christ’s will to come in.

Sup—The evening dinner, as we may say; the principal meal of the day.

With him—As his guest.

He with me—As my guest; I being truly his host. And, continuing the reference to Solomon’s Song, this is the supper of Christ and his bride, the Church; the marriage supper of the Lamb, which is symbolically ever repeating itself here, but plenarily consummated at the resurrection of the just. Note 19.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 3:20. The language recalls Song of Solomon 5:2 ( · , for contemporary evidence of the allegorical use of Canticles see Gunkel’s note on 4 Esdras. 5:20 f. and Bacher’s Agada d. Tannaiten, i. 109, 285 f. 425, etc.) interpreted in the eschatological sense ( Mark 13:29 = Matthew 24:33) of the logion in Luke 12:35-38 upon the servants watching for their Lord, (whereupon, as here, he grants them intimate fellowship with himself and takes the lead in the matter). To eat with a person meant, for an Oriental, close confidence and affection. Hence future bliss (cf. En. lxii. 14) was regularly conceived to be a feast (cf. Dalman i. § 1, [910]. 4 a and Volz 331), or, as in Luke 22:29-30 and here (cf.Revelation 3:21), feasting and authority. This tells against the otherwise attractive hypothesis that the words merely refer to a present repentance on the part of the church or of some individuals in it (so e.g. de Wette, Alf., Weiss, Simcox, Scott), as if Christ sought to be no longer an outsider but a welcome inmate of the heart (cf. Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies, § 95). The context (cf. 18 and 21), a comparison of Revelation 16:15 (which may even have originally lain close to Revelation 3:20), and the words of James 5:9 ( ) corroborate the eschatological interpretation (so e.g. Düsterdieck, Pfleid., Bousset, Forbes, Baljon, Swete, Holtzmann), which makes this the last call of Christ to the church when he arrives on the last day, though here Christ stands at the door not as a judge but as a friend. Hence no reference is made to the fate of those who will not attend to him. In Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16, need not perhaps be eschatological, since the coming is conditional and special, but by itself (Revelation 3:11) and (Revelation 2:25) must be, while Revelation 3:3 probably is also, in view of the context and the thief-simile. The imminent threat of Revelation 3:16 is thus balanced by the urgency of Revelation 3:20. For the eschatological cf.Revelation 1:7, Revelation 16:15, Revelation 21:3, Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12. , implying that the voice is well-known. To pay attention to it, in spite of self-engrossment and distraction, is one proof of the moral alertness ( ) which means repentance. For the metaphorical contrast (reflecting the eternal paradox of grace) between the enthroned Christ of 21 and the appealing Christ of 20, cf. the remarkable passage in Sap. 9:4; 9:6 f., 10 f., where wisdom shares God’s throne and descends to toil among men; also Seneca’s Epp. lxi. (quemadmodum radii solis contingunt quidem terram, sed ibi sunt unde mittuntur; sic animus magnus et sacer conüersatur quidem nobiscum, sed haeret origini suae [Revelation 5:6]: illinc pendet, illuc spectat ac nititur, nostris tanquam melior interest). By self-restraint, moderation, and patience, with regard to possessions, a man will be some day a worthy partner of the divine feast, says Epictetus (Enchir. xv.): “but if you touch none of the dishes set before you and actually scorn them, .

[910] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

20. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. Christ is always knocking at the door, but they must turn from sin and open the door to him. Faith and turning from sin are man’s action. These are Christ’s own people, but they have forgotten him and are being called to renewal.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 3:20". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.