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Revelation Chapter Three


Revelation 3

There is no threat of removing the candlestick: that was settled. Judgment, setting aside the assembly, was fixed. But this body would be treated as the world, not ecclesiastically as a corrupt assembly. (compare 1 Thess. 5) However, some had preserved their integrity, and would be owned; and they would walk with Christ as those that had done righteousness. This was the promise too. They had confessed His name practically before men, before the world, and theirs would be confessed before God when the nominal assembly was treated as the world. They were real Christians in the midst of a worldly profession, and their names would not be struck out of the register, then ill-kept on earth, but infallibly rectified by heavenly judgment. It has been remarked that, simultaneously with bringing in the Lord's coming, the ear to hear comes after the distinguishing the overcomers. Such a remnant only is looked for. I cannot doubt that we have Protestantism here.

The assembly of Philadelphia has a peculiarly interesting character. Nothing is said of its works, but that Christ knows them. But what is interesting in it is that it is peculiarly associated with Christ Himself. Christ, as in all these last assemblies, is not seen in the characters in which He walked in the midst of the assemblies, but in such as faith peculiarly recognises when ecclesiastical organization has become the hot-bed of corruption. Here it is His personal character, what He is intrinsically, holy and true, what the word displays and requires, and what the word of God is in itself-moral character and faithfulness. Indeed this last word includes all: faithfulness to God within and without, according to what is revealed, and faithful to make good all He has declared.

Christ is known as the Holy One. Then outward ecclesiastical associations or pretensions will not do. There must be what suits His nature, and faithful consistency with that word which He will certainly make good. With this He has the administration; and opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens. See what His path was on earth: only then graciously dependent, as we are. He was holy and true, to man's view had a little strength, kept the word lived by every word that proceeded out of God's lips waited patiently for the Lord, and to Him the porter opened. He lived in the last days of a dispensation, the holy and true One, rejected, and, to human eye, failing in success with those who said they were Jews, but were the synagogue of Satan. So the saints here: they walk in a place like His; they keep His word, have a little strength, are not marked by a Pauline energy of the Spirit, but do not deny His name. This is the character and motive of all their conduct. It is openly confessed, the word kept, the Name not denied. It seems little; but in universal decline, much pretension and ecclesiastical claim, and many falling away to man's reasonings, keeping the word of Him that is holy and true, and not denying His name is everything.

And this element is noticed. Christ, the holy and true One, is waiting. Here on earth He waited patiently for Jehovah. It is the character of perfect faith. Faith has a double character-energy which overcomes, and patience which waits for God and trusts Him. (See the first in Heb.11:23-34: the latter in vers. 8-22.) It is the latter which is found here; the word of patience kept.

But as regards the former substantive qualities, keeping the word and not denying Christ's name (though with a little strength) in presence of ecclesiastical pretension to a successional God-established religion, promises were given. Christ would force these pretentious claimants to divine succession to come and own that He had loved those who kept His word. An open door was given at present, and no man could shut it; just as the porter had opened to Him, so that scribes and Pharisees and priests could not hinder it. In the future they would have to own themselves humbled, and that those who followed the word of the holy and true One were those He had loved.Meanwhile His approbation was sufficient. This was the test of faith-to be satisfied with His approbation, content with the authority of His word.

But there was a promise also as to the Lord's judgments in the earth. Christ is waiting till His enemies be made His footstool. We must wait for it to see the world set right. We have to go on where the god of this world has his way, though under divine limitation. The thought that good is to have its rights in this world is to forget the cross and Christ. We cannot have our rights till He has, for we have none but His. Judgment (since Pilate had it, and Christ was the righteous One before him) has not yet returned to righteousness. Till then Christ waits, though at the right hand of God; and we wait. It is not persecution and martyrdom, as in Smyrna. It is as hard a task perhaps, or, at any rate, our task now-patience and contentedness with Christ's approbation, keeping His word, not denying His name.

But then there were other and blessed encouragements. There was an hour of temptation coming upon all the world to try those who belonged to earth, who dwelt there as belonging to it. Some might be spared, victorious in the trial; but those who kept the word of Christ's patience would be kept from it. On the whole world it would come; and where were they?-Out of the world. They had not belonged to it when in it. They had been waiting for Christ to take His power-waiting His time to have the world. They belonged to heaven, to Him who was there; and they would be taken to be with Him when the world was to be in the time of terrible trial. There was a special time before He took His power; and not only would they reign with Him in result, but they would be kept from that hour, and had the assurance of it in the time of their trial. And hence the Lord points them to His coming as their hope; not as warning that the unrepentant would be treated as the world when He appeared. He came quickly, and they were to look for the crown then, holding fast what they had, feeble but spiritually associated with Him as they were, lest any should take it.

We have now the general promise in heavenly places marked by special association with Christ; and they are publicly owned in that in which they seemed on earth to have nothing. Others had the pretension to be the people of God, the city of God-to have divine religious title; these were only consistent with His word, and they waited for Christ. Now, when Christ takes His power, when things are real, according to Him in power, they have this place according to God. It was the cross and contempt below; it is the display of God's name and heavenly city above.

Let us examine the promise to the overcomers here. He who had but a little strength is a pillar in the temple of the God in whom and with whom he is blessed. He was held perhaps for outside the ecclesiastical unity and order; he is a pillar in it in heaven, and will go no more out. On him who was hardly owned to have a part in grace has the name of his rejected Saviour's God been stamped publicly in glory. He who was hardly accounted to belong to the holy city has its heavenly name written on him too, and Christ's new name-the name not known to prophets and Jews according to the flesh, but which He has taken as dead to this world (where the false assembly settles down) and risen into heavenly glory. The careful association with Christ is striking here, and gives its character to the promise. "The temple of my God," says Christ; "the name of my God;", " of the city of my God", " my new name." Associated in Christ's own patience, Christ confers upon him what fully associates him in His own blessing with God. This is of peculiar blessing, and full of encouragement for us.

Laodicea follows. Lukewarmness characterises the last state of profession in the assembly. It is nauseous to Christ; He will spue it out of His mouth. It was not mere want of power, it was want of heart--the worst of all ills. This threat is peremptory, not conditional. It brought irremediable rejection. With this want of heart for Christ and His service, there was much pretension to the possession of resources and competency in themselves; " I am rich," whereas they had nothing of Christ. It is the professing assembly accounting itself rich without having Christ as the riches of the soul by faith. Therefore He counsels them to buy of Him true and approved righteousness, clothing for their moral nakedness, and what gave spiritual sight; for they were, as respects what Christ is and gives before God, poor, naked, and miserable, and specially so. This is Christ's judgment of their pretended acquisitions according to man. However, as long as the assembly subsists, Christ continues to deal in grace, stands at the door and knocks presses reception of Himself in the closest way on the conscience. If any one, still in what He was going to spue out, heard His voice and opened, He would give him admission to be with Him, and a part in the kingdom.

There is no coming here; nor was there for the judgment of Jezebel. That was practically Babylon; and she is judged before Christ comes. This is spued out of Christ's mouth, cast off as worthless to Him; but the general body is judged as the world. The Lord's coming is in Thyatira for the saints, and in Philadelphia too. That is its aspect as to the assembly, and that only. Sardis is reduced, if unrepentant, to the condition of the world, and judged as such. When the state of Laodicea arrives, the assembly is disowned and rejected of Christ in that character: but for that His coming is not to be spoken of. Although Thyatira goes down to the end and closes ecclesiastically the assembly's history, yet only in the first three is the assembly at large treated as the subject of repentance. In Thyatira space had been given Jezebel to repent, and she did not: and the scene is to close and be replaced by the kingdom. In this respect the last four assemblies go together. There is no prospect of repentance of the whole assembly, or restoration. Sardis is called to hold fast and repent, and remember what she had received; but, if she does not watch, is to be treated as the world. Hence, as we have seen, the call to hear is addressed to overcomers, after the promise.

The character of Christ in connection with this assembly must not be passed over. It brings out the passage from the various condition of the assembly to His authority above and beyond it over the world. Christ personally takes up what the assembly has ceased to be. He is the Amen, the fulfillment and verifier of all the promises, the real witness and revealer of God and of truth, when the assembly is not; and the beginning of the creation of God-Head over all things, and the glory and witness of what it is as from God-as the new creation. The assembly ought to have displayed the power of the new creation by the Holy Ghost; as if any man is in Christ, it is a new creation, where all things are of God. We, as its firstfruits, are created again in Him. The assembly has thus the things which remain. (2 Cor. 3) But she has been an unfaithful witness of it. Does she possess a part in it? It is because Christ does, and He is the true beginning of it as really displayed. The responsible witness of it by the Holy Ghost having failed, Christ now takes it up, coming in for its effectual display.

But the series of preparatory events in the world must first be gone into. And it is to be remarked, that there is no mention here of the fact of the Lord's coming in reference to the assembly. It is promised that He will come quickly; and the assembly is threatened with being spued out of His mouth. But the fact of His coming for His own, or the assembly's rapture at any time, is not stated. This falls in fully with what we have seen of John' [1] -his being occupied with the manifestation of the Lord on earth, and scarce touching (and only when needed on leaving the disciples) on heavenly promises. In John 14 and 17 he does it exceptionally. Here it is left out. Even in chapter 12, which remarkably confirms what I say, the rapture is only seen as identified with the catching up of the man-child, Christ Himself. Hence we have no specific relative epoch noted for the taking away the saints here, save that they are taken before the war in heaven which leads to the last three years and a half. But on the other hand the saints belonging to the assembly, or before, are always seen above when the epistles to the assemblies are ended. They are waiting for judgment to be given to them for the avenging of their blood; but they are never seen on earth.


[1] His character too was for judgment among the assemblies and the assembly on earth; not His own bride, but the outward body here on earth.

── John DarbySynopsis of Revelation


Revelation 3

Chapter Contents

Epistles to the church at Sardis; (1-6) at Philadelphia; (7-13) and Laodicea. (14-22)

Commentary on Revelation 3:1-6.

(Read Revelation 3:1-6.)

The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on, that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all the angels, at the great day.

Commentary on Revelation 3:7-13

(Read Revelation 3:7-13)

The same Lord Jesus has the key of government and authority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunity to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers; he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day of grace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia is commended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in a little, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to his people, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it. This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, and make them desire to be admitted into communion with his people. Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, as the reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall be given. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will make them faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought the good fight, and came off victorious.

Commentary on Revelation 3:14-22

(Read Revelation 3:14-22)

Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, "The Amen;" one steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion; while others would conclude it could afford no real satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; "Because thou sayest." What a difference between their thoughts of themselves, and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves. Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags that would defile them. They were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the garments of holiness and sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply interesting to all men.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 3

Verse 1

[1] And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

The seven spirits of God — The Holy Spirit, from whom alone all spiritual life and strength proceed.

And the seven stars — which are subordinate to him.

Thou hast a name that thou livest — A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance. But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty appearance vanishes before him.

Verse 2

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

The things which remain — In thy soul; knowledge of the truth, good desires, and convictions.

Which were ready to die — Wherever pride, indolence, or levity revives, all the fruits of the Spirit are ready to die.

Verse 3

[3] Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Remember how — Humbly, zealously, seriously. Thou didst receive the grace of God once, and hear - His word.

And hold fast — The grace thou hast received.

And repent — According to the word thou hast heard.

Verse 4

[4] Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Yet thou hast a few names — That is, persons. But though few, they had not separated themselves from the rest; otherwise, the angel of Sardis would not have had them. Yet it was no virtue of his, that they were unspotted; whereas it was his fault that they were but few.

Who have not defiled their garments — Either by spotting themselves, or by partaking of other men's sins.

They shall walk with me in white — in joy; in perfect holiness; in glory.

They are worthy — A few good among many bad are doubly acceptable to God. O how much happier is this worthiness than that mentioned, Revelation 16:6.

Verse 5

[5] He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

He shall be clothed in white raiment — The colour of victory, joy, and triumph.

And I will not blot his name out of the book of life — Like that of the angel of the church at Sardis: but he shall live for ever.

I will confess his name — As one of my faithful servants and soldiers.

Verse 7

[7] And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

The holy one, the true one — Two great and glorious names He that hath the key of David - A master of a family, or a prince, has one or more keys, wherewith he can open and shut all the doors of his house or palace. So had David a key, a token of right and sovereignty, which was afterward adjudged to Eliakim, Isaiah 22:22. Much more has Christ, the Son of David, the key of the spiritual city of David, the New Jerusalem; the supreme right, power, and authority, as in his own house. He openeth this to all that overcome, and none shutteth: he shutteth it against all the fearful, and none openeth. Likewise when he openeth a door on earth for his works or his servants, none can shut; and when he shutteth against whatever would hurt or defile, none can open.

Verse 8

[8] I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

I have given before thee an opened door — To enter into the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every good work.

Thou hast a little strength — But little outward human strength; a little, poor, mean, despicable company. Yet thou hast kept my word - Both in judgment and practice.

Verse 9

[9] Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Behold, I — who have all power; and they must then comply.

I will make them come and bow down before thy feet — Pay thee the lowest homage.

And know — At length, that all depends on my love, and that thou hast a place therein. O how often does the judgment of the people turn quite round, when the Lord looketh upon them! Job 42:7, etc.

Verse 10

[10] Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience — The word of Christ is indeed a word of patience. I also will keep thee - O happy exemption from that spreading calamity! From the hour of temptation - So that thou shalt not enter into temptation; but it shall pass over thee. The hour denotes the short time of its continuance; that is, at any one place. At every one it was very sharp, though short; wherein the great tempter was not idle, Revelation 2:10. Which hour shall come upon the whole earth - The whole Roman empire. It went over the Christians, and over the Jews and heathens; though in a very different manner. This was the time of the persecution under the seemingly virtuous emperor Trajan. The two preceding persecutions were under those monsters, Nero and Domitian; but Trajan was so admired for his goodness, and his persecution was of such a nature, that it was a temptation indeed, and did throughly try them that dwelt upon the earth.

Verse 11

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

Thy crown — Which is ready for thee, if thou endure to the end.

Verse 12

[12] Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God — I will fix him as beautiful, as useful, and as immovable as a pillar in the church of God.

And he shall go out no more — But shall be holy and happy for ever.

And I will write upon him the name of my God — So that the nature and image of God shall appear visibly upon him.

And the name of the city of my God — Giving him a title to dwell in the New Jerusalem. And my new name - A share in that joy which I entered into, after overcoming all my enemies.

Verse 14

[14] And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

To the angel of the church at Laodicea — For these St. Paul had had a great concern, Colossians 2:1.

These things saith the Amen — That is, the True One, the God of truth.

The beginning — The Author, Prince, and Ruler.

Of the creation of God — Of all creatures; the beginning, or Author, by whom God made them all.

Verse 15

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

I know thy works — Thy disposition and behaviour, though thou knowest it not thyself.

That thou art neither cold — An utter stranger to the things of God, having no care or thought about them.

Nor hot — As boiling water: so ought we to be penetrated and heated by the fire of love.

O that thou wert — This wish of our Lord plainly implies that he does not work on us irresistibly, as the fire does on the water which it heats.

Cold or hot — Even if thou wert cold, without any thought or profession of religion, there would be more hope of thy recovery.

Verse 16

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

So because thou art lukewarm — The effect of lukewarm water is well known.

I am about to spue thee out of my mouth — I will utterly cast thee from me; that is, unless thou repent.

Verse 17

[17] Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Because thou sayest — Therefore "I counsel thee," etc.

I am rich — In gifts and grace, as well as worldly goods.

And knowest not that thou art — In God's account, wretched and pitiable.

Verse 18

[18] I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

I counsel thee — who art poor, and blind, and naked.

To buy of me — Without money or price.

Gold purified in the fire — True, living faith, which is purified in the furnace of affliction.

And white raiment — True holiness.

And eyesalve — Spiritual illumination; the "unction of the Holy One," which teacheth all things.

Verse 19

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

Whomsoever I love — Even thee, thou poor Laodicean! O how much has his unwearied love to do! I rebuke - For what is past.

And chasten — That they may amend for the time to come.

Verse 20

[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.

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.

Verse 21

[21] To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

I will give him to sit with me on my throne — In unspeakable happiness and glory. Elsewhere, heaven itself is termed the throne of God: but this throne is in heaven.

Verse 22

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

He that hath an ear, let him hear, … — This stands in the three former letters before the promise; in the four latter, after it; clearly dividing the seven into two parts; the first containing three, the last, four letters. The titles given our Lord in the three former letters peculiarly respect his power after his resurrection and ascension, particularly over his church; those in the four latter, his divine glory, and unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Again, this word being placed before the promises in the three former letters, excludes the false apostles at Ephesus, the false Jews at Smyrna, and the partakers with the heathens at Pergamos, from having any share therein. In the four latter, being placed after them, it leaves the promises immediately joined with Christ's address to the angel of the church, to show that the fulfilling of these was near; whereas the others reach beyond the end of the world. It should be observed, that the overcoming, or victory, (to which alone these peculiar promises are annexed,) is not the ordinary victory obtained by every believer; but a special victory over great and peculiar temptations, by those that are strong in faith.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Revelation


Rev. 3:17

One of Aesop’s fables is the story of the dog who saw his image reflected in a pool of water beneath his feet. Though he already had a bone, he was jealous of the bone he saw in the “other” dog’s mouth. He opened his jaws to snarl and snatch at the bone’s reflection—and of course lost his bone when it fell into the water.

How accurately this pictures the “church in Laodicea’! Not satisfied with the promises of God, the church in this wealthy Roman city sought for and acquired earthly power through wealth. But she had in reality become poor, and in the end her wealth would be denied her.


Chapter 3. Letters to Three Churches

What He Opens
No One Can Shut

I. To the Church in Sardis

  1. Exist in Name Only
  2. A Few Pure People
  3. Worthy of Dressing in White

II. To the Church in Philadelphia

  1. Hold on to What You Have
  2. Keep the Lord's Command
  3. Pillars in the Temple

III. To the Church in Laodicea

  1. Neither cold Nor Hot
  2. Poor and Blind
  3. Sit with the Lord on Throne

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Three General Review
1) To examine the last three of seven letters to the churches in Asia
2) To glean what we can about the condition of each church:  their 
   strengths and weaknesses, the warnings and promises given
The Lord continues His letters to the churches in Asia, with this 
chapter containing those written to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
The church in Sardis is rebuked for having a name that they are alive,
when in reality they are dead.  With their works not perfected before
God, they are exhorted to be watchful and to strengthen the things 
which remain.  They are also told to remember how they had received and
heard in the past, to hold fast and repent.  Otherwise, the Lord will 
come upon them as a thief in the night.  Notice is taken, however, of a
few in Sardis who had not defiled their garments and are still worthy,
who are promised to walk with the Lord in white (1-6).
The church in Philadelphia is promised an open door that none can shut
because they had kept the Lord's word and not denied His name.  Their
enemies, those who claim to be Jews but are not, will be made to 
worship before them, and the church will be kept from the trial that 
was about to test those on the earth.  With an announcement of His 
quick coming, they are exhorted to hold fast what they have that none
take their crown (7-13).
The church of the Laodiceans is then described as lukewarm, for which
the Lord threatens to spew them out of His mouth.  While claiming to be
rich, they are blind to their true condition.  Therefore the Lord 
counsels them to buy from Him those things they truly need.  His strong
words are indicative of His love for them, and the fact that He stands
ready to re-enter their hearts if they will open to Him (14-22).
As before, each letter ends with wonderful promises to those who 
overcome.  In most cases, the manner in which the promises are to be 
fulfilled is illustrated in the visions to come.
      1. "He who has the seven Spirits of God" - cf. Isa 11:1-2; Zech 
         4:1-10; Re 1:4; 4:5
      2. "...and the seven stars"
      1. Condemnation
         a. They have a name that they are alive, but they are dead
         b. Their works have not been found perfect before God
      2. Warning
         a. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain and are
            ready to die
         b. Remember how they had received and heard
         c. Hold fast and repent
         d. If they don't watch, the Lord will come upon them as a
      1. There are few names in Sardis who have not defiled their 
      2. They shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy
      1. He who overcomes...
         a. Shall be clothed in white garments
         b. The Lord will not blot his name from the Book of Life
         c. The Lord will confess his name before My Father and His
      2. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
      1. "He who is holy, He who is True"
      2. "He who has key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and
         shuts and no one opens" - cf. Isa 22:22
      1. The Lord has set an open door before them and none can shut it
      2. For they have a little strength, have kept His word, and not
         denied His name
      1. Concerning the "synagogue of Satan" (who claim to be Jews, but
         are not)...
         a. He will make them come and worship before their feet
         b. He will make them know that He has loved those in 
      2. Because the church has kept His command to persevere...
         a. He will keep them from the hour of trial
         b. Which is coming to test those who dwell on the earth
      3. Behold, He is coming quickly!
         a. Hold fast what they have
         b. That no one may take their crown
      4. He who overcomes, the Lord will...
         a. Make him a pillar in the temple of His God, and he shall go
            out no more
         b. Write on him:
            1) The name of His God
            2) The name of the city of His God, the New Jerusalem which
               comes down out of heaven from His God
            3) His new name
      5. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
      1. "The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness"
      2. "The Beginning of the creation of God"
      1. Condemnation
         a. They are neither cold or hot
            1) He wished they were cold or hot
            2) But because they are lukewarm, He will spew them out of
               His mouth
         b. They are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
            1) Though they say they are rich, wealthy, and in need of 
            2) Therefore He counsels them...
               a) To buy from Him:
                  1/ Gold refined in the fire, that they may be rich
                  2/ White garments, that their nakedness be not 
               b) To anoint their eyes with eye salve, that they might
      2. Warning
         a. As many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens; therefore be 
            zealous and repent
         b. He stands at the door and knocks; if any will hear Him and
            open the door, He will come in and dine with him
      1. To him who overcomes...
         a. The Lord will grant to sit with Him on His throne
         b. Just as He overcame and sat down with His Father on His 
      2. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Letter to the church in Sardis (1-6)
   - Letter to the church in Philadelphia (7-13)
   - Letter to the church in Laodicea (14-22)
2) For what does the Lord condemn the church in Sardis? (1-2)
   - They have a name that is alive, but they are dead
   - Their works have not been found not perfect before God
3) What does the Lord exhort those at Sardis to do? (2-3)
   - Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain and are ready
     to die
   - Remember how they had received and heard
   - Hold fast and repent
4) What warning is given to them? (3)
   - If they do not watch, He will come upon them as a thief
5) What did the Lord find commendable at Sardis? What did the Lord 
   promise them? (4)
   - They had a few people who had not defiled their garments
   - They shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy
6) What did the Lord promise to those who overcome? (5)
   - They shall be clothed in white garments
   - He will not blot their names from the Book of Life
   - He will confess their names before His Father and the His angels
7) What had the Lord done for those in Philadelphia? Why? (8)
   - Set before them an open door which none could shut
   - They had a little strength, had kept His word, and not denied His
8) What was the Lord going to do to those who claimed to be Jews but
   were actually the synagogue of Satan? (9)
   - Make them come and worship at the feet of those in Philadelphia
   - Make them know that Jesus had loved them
9) What did the Lord say He would do for those in Philadelphia?  Why?
   - He would keep them from the hour of trial that was coming upon the
   - Because they kept His command to persevere
10) What warning and exhortation does He then give? (11)
   - Behold, I come quickly!
   - Hold fast what you have, that none may take your crown
11) What promise does the Lord give to him who overcomes? (12)
   - To make him a pillar in the temple of His God
   - To write on him the name of His God
   - To write on him the name of the city of His God, the New Jerusalem
   - To write on him His new name
12) For what does the Lord condemn those at Laodicea? (15-16)
   - They are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot
13) What does the Lord say He would do because of their lukewarmness?
   - Spew them out of His mouth
14) What had they claimed?  What was their true condition? (17)
   - To be rich, wealthy and in need of nothing
   - Wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
15) What does the Lord counsel them to do? (18)
   - To buy from Him gold refined in the fire, that they might be rich
   - To buy from Him white garments to cover their nakedness
   - To anoint their eyes with eye salve, that they might see
16) What justification does the Lord give for such a strong rebuke? 
   - As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten
17) What does He say to such Christians? (19,20)
   - Be zealous and repent
   - He stands at the door and knock; those who hear and open the door,
     He will dine with them
18) What will be granted to him who overcomes? (21)
   - To sit with the Lord on His throne
   - Even as the Lord overcame and sat with His Father on His throne
19) What exhortation is given at the end of each letter in this 
    chapter? (6,13,22)
   - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the 

--《Executable Outlines


Letters to three churches

What He opens

No one can shut


I.  To the church in Sardis

1.    Exist in name only

2.    A few pure people

3.    Worthy of dressing in white

II.To the church in Philadelphia

1.    Hold on to what you have

2.    Keep the Lord’s command

3.    Pillars in the temple

III.       To the church in Laodicea

1.    Neither cold nor hot

2.    Poor and blind

3.    Sit with the Lord on throne

── Chih-Hsin Changan Outline of The New Testament