¶ And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith
he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy
works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Sardis The meaning of the name of this city is uncertain. It was south of Thyatira. See Asia Minor map.
Seven Spirits See re0104.
stars See re0116. It's
good to know that the One who has the fullness of the Spirit jn0334f
holds stars which are the angels or messengers to the churches. And for
each star, a spirit. The bearers of God's specific counsel for each church
were led by the Holy Spirit.
Works Apparently the faith was missing ja0218, he1106.
Name Or "reputation." Having followed the darkest time of the church, Thyatira, they were known for having actively protested the darkness. They were Protestants.
Dead Their movement lost its mission. See the notes for this verse.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to
die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Watchful and strengthen Apparently the Sardis people were forgetting. On the whole, they were not continuing the works (deeds) of the faithful among the Thyatira people. As I understand it, the people who had seen the beauty of the Morning Star, had moved a little out of the darkness. They had begun to practice the new ideas, but had not kept the works of Christ "unto the end," as their fathers – the faithful among Thyatira – had been told to do. They stopped searching the word for more light and were losing what they did have. Let's look at the next verse addressed to Sardis.
|Perfect The English words "perfect" and "complete" are translated from the same Greek root word, pleroo. Our verse indicates that the "works" had not been completed (or perfected). What works? Let's look back at the previous church, Thyatira re0225. The links point to the first verse of target passages.|
|.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
The faithful who had stood for truth in the face of severe pressure from
the corrupt church passed the torch on down the line. The people of Sardis
were now forgetting how precious was the truth their ancestors in the faith
had received. Many had accepted the errors introduced in the Counter Reformation.
They had forgotten the importance of liberty and tolerance. They needed
not only to hold fast, but to repent. Compare da1134f.
Hour Judgment hour. See the note for this verse.
|.4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.|| Names
... shall walk It's interesting that the "names" would walk with
Christ. The text is obviously speaking of people ac0115.
In v1, Sardis was described as people with a misleading
name. There, sinful people were represented by a name. Here names represent
righteous people. The key to understanding the walking names is in v5.
I believe Christ spoke of the good people as good names because their names,
or characters, were written in the book of life. re2127;
Not defiled ... garments See 2pe0314. Also mt2211, re1615.
With me in white White indicates purity is0118, re1401.
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.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
A characteristic of each of the churches. For example, see v12.
Be clothed in white raiment See v4. The emphasis here is being clothed which is the result of vindication in judgment re1907, zc0304, re0611.
Not blot out To understand the significance of our names in the book, see the note for this verse.
|.7 ¶ And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;||
"brotherly love." The name may point to a time of more practical godliness
toward the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. Then
people were becoming disenchanted with the state church of the middle ages.
He that is holy See is4025, ha0303, lu0135, ac0427.
Key of David See is2222 and 2ki1818. Eliakim was given supervision over the house of David thus holding the keys. Christ would inherit David's throne, ez2127, is1605. So here we see Christ with authority over the kingdom of heaven – the church mt2818, ep0122, re0505, re2216.
Openeth This reminds us of the flood. See the note for this verse and see the next verse.
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.
More The comments at the right are brief. To understand see the notes page for this verse.
before thee an open door The door is in the
sanctuary in heaven. We will see it in more detail in the next chapter
The church of Philadelphia is to go through that door into the most holy
place for judgment le2329.
Since they aren't in heaven, they go there in spirit through Christ, the
Lamb who is our substitute re0509.
Clarified in he1019.
point to the first verse of passages.
Shut Those who doubt try to close the door for others.
Little strength (no article "a"). The faithful ones realize their helplessness, obey, and stand in spite of hardship.
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.
.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.
|See comments for verses 9 and 10 below.|
|.11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.||See comments for verse 11 below.|
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.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
A supporting part of the fellowship of faith. Citizenship in the New Jerusalem
is implied. See 1pe0205.
See comments for verse 12 below.
Notes for verses 9 and 10
False Jews humbled and the hour of trial
"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. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience [or "my command to persevere"], 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." (Rev. 3:9,10)
We have already met the false
Jews. See on re0209. Again the picture is
of a group in church history who claim to be God's true people but are
not. This time they apparently despise God's true remnant in the time of
Philadelphia. Verse 10 above is a promise that the true people would be
spared from the "hour of temptation [or "trial"] which shall come upon
all the world." This must refer to the final conflict as pictured in chapters
13 and especially 14:9-12.
Because this is Philadelphia and not the last church, Laodicea, we assume
that they may be laid to rest before that time. When we study chapter 10
we will find John eating a book that seemed sweet but was bitter in his
stomach. An angel announces that there will be "time no more." We will
show that the book's bitterness came from the mistaken expectation of the
final trial on earth associated with Jesus' return. The people would not
have to go through that final time of trouble (Dan. 12:1). Also the circumstances
of the churches overlap somewhat as the remnant of one becomes the whole
body of the next.
Christ said that they would be faithful to the word of His patience. They would belong to the final remnant whose descendants in Laodicea are described in 14:12: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." The promise of the wicked bowing before them would be after the close of probation when they have been resurrected.
This explanation includes understandings from the rest of Revelation and may be clearer after more study.
Note for verse
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3:11)
As we suggested in discussing verses 9 and 10, the remnant of Philadelphia
had expected the final time of temptation or trouble that would come to
all the earth. They knew Jesus would come at that time. This experience,
however, was not for them but for the final church, Laodicea. This verse,
too, refers to the coming of Jesus. Part of their promise here is reassurance
in the fundamental truth. Yes, Jesus would come and soon.
Their danger was that they or their children would grow weary of watching and fall asleep. They could lose the crown they had claimed. This verse helps us understand the matter of salvation. Crowns are for kings and priests with Christ re0105. It's possible to be in a saved position and later lose the crown. We saw the same danger in v5 referring to names blotted out of the book of life. Also see he0604-6.
Note for verse
A permanent decision and a new name
"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." (Rev. 3:12)
Names were an issue for the
previous church with a name of life while being dead. A few names were
undefiled (v.4). Jesus would confess the name of the overcomer before the
father (v.5) — a picture of Him as priest and now permanent names for those
who overcome. Our name is who we are. It's character or the identification
"And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev. 7:2, 3)
"And he shall go out no more." What a beautiful promise, one which we can claim as we ask for strength to overcome!