Bible Commentary on the
Book of Revelation
King James Version
To the Church in Sardis
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.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which
remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found
thy works perfect before God.
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.
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.
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.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches.
Church in Philadelphia
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
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.
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.
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.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown.
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.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches.
Church in Laodicea
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;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:
I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold
nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
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,
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.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous
therefore, and repent.
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.
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.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches.
AND UNTO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SARDIS
WRITE: THESE THINGS SAITH HE THAT HATH THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOO,
AND THE SEVEN STARS; I KNOW THY WORKS, THAT THOU HAST A NAME
THAT THOU LIVEST, AND ART DEAD.
And unto the angel of the
church in Sardis write
Sardis located some 30 miles
south east of Thyatira was one of the oldest cities in Asia
minor. The city of Sardis grew into power about 1150 B.C. built
upon a crumbling rock, it stood at an elevation of 1,500 feet.
It later became the capital of the kingdom of Lydia, one of the
richest kingdoms of the ancient world. Sardis is best known as
the place where modern money was born. Today it is a wilderness
of thorns, wildflowers and imposing ruins.
As Christianity spread through
Asia Minor, a Christian community grew up a Sard1s and it became
the seat of a bishop. The walls of a church erected before the
4th century A.D. are still standing.
The meaning of the name Sardis
is uncertain, however mostly it is given "song of joy" as the
Taking the Church of Sardis as
covering a period of history, it represents the Church in
general of the Reformation times. The Sardis period is usually
considered to extend from 1517 to 1798. The Reformation is
usually regarded as beginning in 1517 however the close of the
period has been chosen as it marks the close of the 1260 days or
years, a period of prophetic time mentioned many times in the
books of Daniel and Revelation.
These things saith He that
hath the Seven Spirits of God, and the Seven Stars
We have already noticed in
studying the 1st chapter of Revelation that the number 7 has a
special significance, it stands for completeness or perfection.
Seven Spirits of God
The Seven Spirits of God is a
symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit and His work for the
Church. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to mankind the
great love God has for those in this world who have been
separated from the heavenly family. Acts of the Apostles by EG
White, page 52 says "The Spirit is given as a regenerating
agency, to make effectual the salvation wrought by the death of
our Redeemer. The Spirit is constantly seeking to draw the
attention of men to the great offering that was made on the
cross of Calvary, to unfold to the world the love of God, and to
open to the convicted soul the precious things of the
The Holy Scriptures list a
number of things the Holy Spirit does in order and His work for
the Church, so we may understand the completeness of His
ministry it would be well to list them briefly.
when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin."
His first work is to convince us that we are sinners in need
"and of righteousness."
He directs our attention to the perfect righteousness of
"... and of judgment"
He brings to our attention the judgment, that Christ is our
judge and everyone of us must give an account of his or her
life to God.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father
will send in My name."
- The word "Comforter"
is often translated "Helper" in many late translations. The
Holy Spirit will be our teacher and guide in spiritual
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee; Except a man be born of
water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
- The Holy Spirit
brings about the new birth.
"..The world cannot receive, because it seeth him not,
neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with
you, and shall be in you."
- When we accept Christ as our
Saviour He grants to us a special favour, He sends the Holy
Spirit to dwell with us.
"...We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the
Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered."
- He takes our prayers and translates them into heavenly
"But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is
come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me..."
- It is the Holy
Spirit who gives us power to witness.
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will
guide you into all truth...".
- He guides us in
understanding all truth.
And the Seven Stars
This symbol is explained in
chapter 1 verse 20.
The book 'Acts of the Apostles' by EG White has this statement
saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand." These words are spoken to the teachers in the church: those
entrusted by God with weighty responsibilities. "The sweet
influences that are to be abundant in the church are bound up
with God's ministers, who are to reveal the love of Christ..."
I know thy works
As we have already noticed, the
Sardis church is the church of the Reformation period and in
such a period one would expect plenty of life and vitality in
the church. After the darkness of the
period of Thyatira, it would be natural to expect the new church
founded by the Reformers would be a church alive with zeal and
vigour, pure in faith and fully devoted to the service of God.
That thou hast a name that thou
livest, and art dead.
Some people are proud of their
names and most of us would do what we could to preserve the
honour of our name. Sardis had a name alright, but
it was living on its reputation. W.H. Fitchett writing in his
book 'Wesley and His Century' pp.11-15 puts his finger on what
the problem was, "The fatal thing in the
religion of that age was that it had ceased to be a life, or to
touch life. It was exhausted of its dynamic elements - the vision
of a Redeeming Christ; the message of present and personal
forgiveness. It was frozen into a theology; it was spun out into
ecclesiastical forms; it was crystalised into a system of
external ethics; it had become a mere adjunct to politics ...".
What happened in the
Reformation was that the strong personalities who led out in
that great movement could not agree on many of the doctrines and
so there was a division. Many adopted creeds that discouraged further search for truth, and that which started out so
well, came to the place where there was a death. All religion
dies without the Spirit and the power He imparts and so the
religion of Sardis became a form without the Spirit.
BE WATCHFUL, AND
STRENGTHEN THE THINGS WHICH REMAIN, THAT ARE READY TO
DIE: FOR I HAVE NOT FOUND THY WORKS PERFECT BEFORE GOD.
Be watchful and strengthen
the things, which remain
The history of Sardis has a
lesson for every church and every individual
member. Sometimes a Christian begins with great promise of
success. Instead of remaining humble, often they become
overconfident which is a great danger. Just so, those who led out in
the Reformation were men of vigour and consecration, but their
followers thinking that the battles had been won, settled down
to organized religion. And great movements begun by
men like Luther and Knox became mere state religions supported
by the public treasury. Self sufficient and satisfied with past
attainments, these people failed to sense the need of the great
That are ready to die
Sardis Christians were dead but
not hopeless. The death mentioned here is a spiritual death,
however there is the possibility of a resurrection. And this is
just what did happen, God raised up those who brought new life
and vigour to the churches.
"The true awakening of the
religious life of the English speaking race dates from Wesley.
To say that he re-shaped the conscience of England is true, but
it is only half the truth. He re-created it! It was dead - twice
dead; and through His lips God breathed into it the breath of
life again..." Wesley and his Century. pp 11 -
For I have not found thy
works perfect before God.
"The analogy between the
Ephesian and Sardian letters is close, and the two have to be
studied together. History had moved on similar lines with the
two churches. Both had begun enthusiastically and cooled down.
Degeneration was the fact in both; but in Ephesus the
degeneration had not yet become so serious as in Sardis.
Hence in the Ephesian letters the keynote is merely change,
instability and uncertainty; in the Sardian letter the keynote
is degradation, false pretension and death." W.M. Ramsey,
'The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia', p. 369.
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 therefore how thou
hast received and heard
The Church at Sardis had not
only received the truth, but she still had it, not all had been lost. The lesson they needed to learn
was that a church, as well as the individual, must make constant
progress. It is impossible to maintain the
first love experience unless one is constantly engaged in either
witnessing for Christ or studying and feeding on God's word. As well as receiving, there
must be a giving out. The reason the Dead sea is dead, is
because it does not give out.
And hold fast and repent
Do not give up in
discouragement, that is what Satan would like us to do. We are to hold fast to
our faith, reach out and grasp God's hand. Here is a wonderful
statement telling us how we can do this. "By prayer, by the
study of His word, by faith in the abiding presence, the weakest
of human beings may live in contact with the living Christ, and
hold them with a hand that will never let them go." 'Ministry
of Healing' by EG White, p.182.
If therefore thou shalt not
In both verse 2 and 3 we are
told to watch or to be watchful. The Christian needs to be
always alert. Over and over again, right throughout the Holy
Scriptures, there is the call to be watchful. The enemy of souls
never seems to rest but is constantly setting his snares for
I will come on thee as a
Back in the time of John,
Sardis although situated in an almost impregnable position at
the top of a great rock and quite secure, had been captured
because of over confidence. One of Cyrus' soldiers scaled the
rock on a dark night when the guards were not watching. Entering
the city, he opened the gates to the Persians. The same thing
happened in the days of Antiochus the Great. The surrounding
country was a favourite haunt for thieves. The Saviour's warning was
designed to put them on their guard. Here is a very good statement
to help the Christian today. "With every conceivable
artifice and device he (Satan) is seeking to take souls captive. Unless
we are constantly on guard we shall fall on easy prey to his
unnumbered deceptions. Many today are asleep as were the
disciples. They are not watching and praying lest they enter into
temptation. Let us read and study those portions of God's
word that have special reference to these last days,
pointing out the dangers that will threaten God's people." Testimonies to the Church
by EG White Vol. 8 pp. 100, 101.
And thou shalt not know
what hour I will come upon thee
Right throughout the Bible the
emphasis is laid on secrecy concerning the Second Advent. The words,
"Watch," "Watch ye therefore", "Be ye also ready",
"In such an hour as ye think not", all suggest the unexpected. Christians
and look forward to the coming of Christ in glory, but it will
come as a surprise to those who have not been watchful.
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.
Thou hast a few names even
in Sardis which have not defiled
No matter how bad things are,
there are always some who refuse to be corrupted. Even at the time of the Flood
when men's thoughts were evil continually and the earth was
corrupted by man's wickedness, there was Noah that mighty man of
God. In the days of almost universal
idolatry there was Abraham. Even in Sodom there was one
man who honoured God, his name was Lot. When Ahab and
the wicked Jezebel reigned over Israel and apostasy was widespread there
was Elijah. Even during the time covered by
Sardis, there were those who were undefiled.
And they shall walk with me
Clothes in the Bible are often
used to represent goodness or evil. Dirty, or as the Bible calls
them filthy garments are a symbol of sin. White garments
represent purity of character. Those who have not defiled
their garments are to walk with the Saviour in white. They will be clothed in
the righteousness of Christ.
For they are worthy
They are worthy or righteous,
not through their own merits, but rather as a result of washing
their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.
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 that overcometh, the same
shall be clothed in white raiment
Sin has caused our garments to
become stained and dirty. In the book of Zechariah, God has
given us a picture of this very thing, and Satan is revealed as
the enemy who has been responsible.
Zechariah 3:1, "And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of
the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him."
While Joshua was interceding
before God for his people, Satan stood close by charging Joshua and
the people of Israel with sinfulness. He claimed that because of
their sins, they were unworthy of being restored to divine
||"Now Joshua was
clothed with filthy garments and stood before the angel."
- Joshua and his people had been defiled by sin and the enemy of God and man was
responsible. The wonderful thing is that the LORD is able to
cleanse sinners from all defilement of sin.
answered and spake unto those that stood before him saying, take
away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold,
I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe
thee with change of raiment."
- As Joshua confessed his and
Israel's sinfulness, he then pointed to their repentance and
humiliation and in faith he claimed the promises of God.
The sin pardoning Redeemer says
"I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee."
The filthy garments are removed
and undeserving man stands before the LORD cleansed from all
unrighteousness, and clothed with the imputed righteousness of
Christ. It is wonderful to know that
the overcomer will be clothed with white garments.
And I will not blot out his
name out of the book of life
There are three things brought
to our attention in this verse. Blot out - His name - The Book
of Life. We know what it means to blot
something out and this part of verse 5 says his name will not be
blotted out. Then we are told that his name
will be left in the Book of Life. This is a very interesting
statement: the one who overcomes, who is
clothed in white, will not have his name blotted out of the Book
of Life. However there is also the
suggestion that if a person does not overcome, nor have his
garments changed, his name will be blotted out of the Book of
When Israel sinned in the
wilderness by worshipping the golden calf, God was very angry
with them and was ready to destroy them. Moses pleaded very earnestly
with God on behalf of the people even suggesting that his own
name be removed from the Book of Life if this would save his
Will not blot out - his name -
the Book of Life.
Exodus 32:32,33 says, "'Yet now, if
thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee,
out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto
Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of
'Great Controversy' by EG White p.483
the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all
who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning
with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents
the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the
living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely
investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have
sins remaining upon the book of record, unrepented of and
unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life,
and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book
of God's remembrance."
Here is another excellent
statement regarding the Book of Life. 'Patriarchs and Prophets'
by EG White p. 326, "The book of life contains the
names of all who have ever entered the service of God. If any of
these depart from Him, and by stubborn persistence in sin
become finally hardened against the influences of His Holy
Spirit, their names will in the Judgment be blotted from the
Book of Life, and they themselves will be devoted to
But I will confess his name
before my Father and before His angels
It is quite clear that our
acceptance of Christ is the determining factor whether we have a
place in God's kingdom or not.
Matthew 10:32,33 says, "Whosoever
therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also
before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me
before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in
HE THAT HATH AN EAR,
LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES.
These messages are vitally
important not only to those in the Sardis church but to those of
us who are living in these last days. The Holy Spirit speaks to us
through these special messages. If we wish to have a place in
God's eternal kingdom, let us give heed to what the Spirit says.
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.
And to the angel of the
church in Philadelphia write
Philadelphia means "Brotherly
love" and covers a very short period of time from 1833 to 1844.
Philadelphia was situated some 28 miles south east of Sardis. It
was called "Little Athens" because of its many temples. The city has changed its name
several times, today its Turkish name is Alasehir, meaning 'The
Reddish City' or 'The City of God'. History records that it
was subject to frequent earthquakes and the populace lived
"always in the dread of disaster." Philadelphia early became the
centre of a Christian community. The prophetess Ammia flourished
there between 100 A.D. and 160 A.D. Today it has a resident bishop
and five Christian churches.
So representing the Church in
general, it covers a period known as the great religious
awakening and Advent message. At this time men from all
denominations were convinced that the coming of Christ was near.
Those who studied the prophecies of Daniel came to the
conclusion that the 2300 day period mentioned in
chapter 8 and
was to end in 1844, and with great joy they prepared for what
they thought was to be the return of Christ to this earth.
William Miller, a Baptist layman
from his studies of the books of Daniel and Revelation, arrived
at the conclusion that the time of the Lord's return was close
at hand. Although he was untrained as a
preacher he began to speak in a number of churches of all
denominations. In 1833 he received a license to preach from the
Baptist Church, and he went all over the country bringing to the
people the message of the Saviour's soon return.
Mourant Brock, an English
writer, states that about seven hundred ministers of the Church
of England were engaged in preaching the Advent message.
In South America, Lacunza, a
Spaniard and a Jesuit priest using the pen name Rabbi Ben-
Ezra, published his views of the return of Christ. He lived in
the eighteenth century but it was about 1825 that his book was
translated into the English language where it aroused
In Germany, Pastor Bengel, a
minister of the Lutheran Church, a noted biblical scholar, was
greatly impressed as he was preparing a sermon from Revelation
for "Advent Sunday." From that time on, he spent much time studying the
prophecies of Revelation and was convinced that the Lord's
return was near. Bengel's writings were well
known and widely read throughout Christendom.
Dr Joseph Wolff, the son of a
Jewish rabbi, accepted the Christian religion, and from his
studies he also concluded that the Lord's coming was close at
hand. He travelled extensively
throughout many countries earning the title "The missionary to
With this background, we are
able to understand why this church of Philadelphia means
These things saith he that
is holy, he that is true
The One who is speaking is
Christ. And speaking of Himself, mentions that He is holy and
true. Several times in the New Testament Christ is spoken of as
the Holy One. The angel Gabriel speaking to
Mary in Luke 1:35 says "... therefore also that holy thing which
shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Again Peter speaking under
inspiration at Pentecost says in
Acts 4:30, "... and that signs
and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."
Acts 3:14 says, "But ye denied the
Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto
you." Verse 15 first part says, "And killed the Prince of life
says Author) ..."
He that hath the key of
A key is a symbol of power or
authority. Christ is pictured as holding
the Key of David and this is fitting for He is really the
rightful heir to David's throne. Matthew traces the genealogy of
Christ through Joseph in the first chapter of his Gospel. The
angel Gabriel spoke to Joseph calling him "thou son of David",
in verse 20. Joseph knew that he was of the
royal line, it is even possible he may have been heir apparent
to the throne of David, judging by Matthew's genealogy.
In Luke chapter 3, Mary's
family line is given tracing it back to David and further still
to Adam. So through both family lines Christ is of royal blood.
Luke 1:32,33 says, "He shall be
great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord
God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he
shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom
there shall be no end."
He that openeth and no man
shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth
He who has the Key of David, is
able to open and to close at His will. We have already noticed
that the Key is a symbol of power and authority. According to
He has the keys of hell. and of death. With this Key He is able
to give eternal life to both the living and the dead.
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 know thy works
Nothing misses the scrutiny of
God for He is able to observe all things
whether they are good or bad. There are some who say that works
do not count with God, however in Revelation it clearly
indicates that works have an important part in the Christian's
life. It is by our works we reveal that God's love is in our
Behold, I have set before an
open door and no man can shut it
This church had the opportunity
to do that which had not been done for many centuries. Suddenly the world began to
open up for the Gospel, providence had opened the way of entry
into many lands. William Carey went to India in 1793, Robert
Morrison to China in 1807, Robert Moffat to Africa in
1817, followed by David Livingstone
in 1841. The British and Foreign Bible
Society began its work in 1804, and the American Bible Society
came into being in 1816. The Sunday-school movement also
began around this time. These were just the beginnings
of a great missionary programme that carried the Gospel to many
The Philadelphian period
reached its climax in the great Second Advent movement. Through
the study of the books of Daniel and Revelation and Christ's own
prophecies, Bible students were convinced that the return of
Christ was close at hand. The remarkable 'dark day' of May
19, 1780, and the 'falling stars' of 1833
the like of which had never been seen before were direct
fulfilment of Bible prophecy.
Yes suddenly the doors were
||The Door of
Access to the Father.
Desire of the Ages
by EG White, p. 113 says, "Our Redeemer has opened the way so that the most sinful, the
most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find access to
the Father. All may have a home in the mansions which Jesus has
gone to prepare ... "
||The Door to
Light and truth.
Testimonies to the Church by EG White, Vol
9, p. 182, "Jesus says, 'Behold, I have set before thee an open
door, and no man can shut it.' Revelation 3:8. Light is shining
from that door, and it is our privilege to receive it if we
will. Let us direct our eyes within that open door, and try to
receive all that Christ is willing to bestow."
||The Door to
2 Corinthians 2:12 says, "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel,
and a door was opened unto me of the Lord."
into the Most Holy Place.
Daniel 8:14 says "And he said unto
me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days: then shall the
sanctuary be cleansed."
In the cleansing of the
Sanctuary, the High Priest went into the second apartment or Most
Holy Place to do this. So in 1844 or at the end of the
2,300 days or years, Christ moved from the Holy Place into the
Most Holy Place to cleanse the heavenly Sanctuary. Thus the Door was opened and
those who caught a vision of what the opened door meant, went
forward to spread the good news to their fellowmen.
For thou hast a little
The little strength of Philadelphia
represents a more encouraging situation than that in Sardis. The
church at ancient Philadelphia was apparently neither large nor
influential, but it was pure and faithful. Knox's Translation gives it
this way, "I know how little thy strength is, and yet thou hast
been true to my message, and hast not denied my name." The
Philadelphian church of that particular period of the church in
general was not strong but was definitely active. Active in
missionary endeavours and active in Bible study.
And hast kept
My word, and hast not denied My name
As we have already noticed this
was a time of earnest Bible study when the Word of God was
closely examined. It was also one of great interest in the
fulfilment of Biblical prophecy and of looking for the early
advent of Christ, of great missionary activity when suddenly the
world began to open up as a vast mission field.
Robert Morrison in China,
Adoniram Judson in Burma, Robert Moffatt in Africa, Hiram
Bingham in Hawaii, John Williams in the Society Islands.
Alexander Duff sailed for India and the renowned David
Livingstone began his work in Africa.
BEHOLD, I WILL MAKE
THEM OF THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN, WHICH SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE
NOT, BUT DO LIE; BEHOLD, I WILL MAKE THEM TO COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE
THY FEET, AND TO KNOW THAT I HAVE LOVED THEE.
I will make them of the
synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do
Satan has a church of his own.
There are many who pose as Christians who really are Satan's
followers. Jesus indicates that this is so in
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of My Father which
is in heaven." He goes on to say in verse 22, "Many will say to
me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Verse 23
says, "And then
will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye
that work iniquity."
'Testimonies to Ministers' by
EG White, p. 16 says, "Satan has a large confederacy,
his church. Christ calls them the synagogue of Satan because the
members are the children of sin. The members of Satan's church
have been constantly working to cast off the divine law and to
confuse the distinction between good and evil. Satan is working
with great power in and through the children of disobedience to
exalt treason and apostasy as truth and loyalty...". The master deceiver works in
many ways to confuse those who wish to know the truth.
Behold, I will make them to
come and worship before thy feet
While it is true that Satan
does have a large number of followers who claim that they really
are Christians, among those who make up this group, there are
those who make a real break with Satan and become genuine
worshippers of Christ.
Back in the time of the
Philadelphian church of John's day, there were those among the
Jews who opposed the truth but later on were converted to
Christianity. During the Philadelphian period of church history
there were also those who opposed the truth but later on
And to know that I have
Love has a magnetic drawing
power and to those who had opposed the truth, God's love was like a
ray of sunshine playing on a block of ice. If you were to trace
love back to its original source you will find that it comes
from God. 1 John 4:7 says, "Beloved let us love one another: for love
is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth
God." This magnetic love is able to
change lives and hearts and draw the repentant sinner
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
Christ encourages us to be
patient even as He was patient under trial.
I also will keep thee from the
hour of temptation
Twentieth Century New
Testament, gives this translation, "You kept in mind my teaching
as to endurance, and therefore I will keep you in mind in the
hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world, the hour that
will test all who are living upon the earth." In the book 'The Great Controversy' there
is an excellent statement in connection with this particular
passage, "Just before us is the 'hour of
temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them
that dwell upon the earth.' All whose faith is not firmly
established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome.
Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of the truth, and
are striving to purify their souls through obedience, thus doing
what they can to prepare for the conflict, will find, in the God
of truth, a sure defense. 'Because thou hast kept the word of My
patience, I also will keep thee,' is the Saviour's promise. He
would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His
people, than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by
Which shall come upon all
world, to try them that dwell upon the earth
This time of great trial and
temptation that comes, will cause a shaking among Christians.
Undoubtedly this is the same
time mentioned by Daniel the prophet in
Daniel 12:1 latter half,
"... and there shall be a time
of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to
that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered,
everyone that shall be found written in the book." This time comes just prior to
the 2nd Advent.
I COME QUICKLY: HOLD THAT FAST WHICH THOU HAST, THAT NO MAN TAKE
Behold, I come quickly
is a note of urgency, for time is moving towards the last days.
Hold that fast which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown
There is an air of excitement
in these verses, the messages are building up towards the second
coming. Notice some of them, "I come quickly", "crown",
"hold that fast." The apostle Paul looked forward
to receiving his crown.
2 Timothy 4:8 says, "Henceforth there
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love his appearing."
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
Him that overcometh will I
make a pillar in the temple of my God
This means that the overcomer
will hold a permanent place in the presence of God. We speak of certain individuals
as being pillars in the church and we understand by such an
expression that they have proved themselves to be of such
excellent character that they are as solid as the actual stone
pillars that support the temple itself.
1 Timothy 3:15, latter
half says, "... which is the church of the living God, the pillar and
ground of the truth." The church is made up of living
pillars, overcomers against every temptation of the evil one.
And he shall go no more out
When the time comes for this
part of the promise to be fulfilled and the overcomer is fully
established in God's kingdom, there will be no more danger of
his falling away from the truth, that person will never leave
the presence of God nor wish to do so.
And I will write upon him
the name of My God
This is continuing the
figurative language introduced by the pillar. In this case name
implies personality or character. The promise is that those who
overcome will receive the permanent impress of God's character.
'Testimonies to Ministers' by EG White p. 446 says, "The indelible mark of God is
placed upon them (the sealed saints). God can plead that his own
name is written there. The Lord has shut them in. Their
destination is inscribed - 'God, NEW JERUSALEM'. They are God's property, His
And the name of the city of
MY GOD, which is New Jerusalem
In Hebrew, the name Jerusalem
meant "city of peace". This name fits perfectly the
character of the New Jerusalem. This passage of Scripture has
been explained very well in the book 'Sons and Daughters of God'
p. 370 says, "All who enter (the New
Jerusalem) will have on the robe of Christ's righteousness, and
the name of God will be seen in their foreheads. This name is the symbol which
the apostle saw in vision, and signifies the yielding of the
mind to intelligent and loyal obedience to all of God's
Which cometh down out of
heaven from my God
This is the first mention of
the Holy City coming down to this earth. Later on in
further mention of this. However, it is very clear from
what the Saviour says in these verses that those who will have a
place in that wonderful city, the New Jerusalem, will be the overcomer who have
become a pillar in the temple of God.
And I will write upon him my
The third name written on the
symbolic pillar is that of Christ Himself. Christ's new name is unknown to
us at present however one day soon this will
be revealed also. Great emphasis is placed on the
name of Christ in the plan of Salvation.
Acts 4:12 says, "Neither is there
salvation in any other: for there is none other name under
heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Another text that emphasises
the importance of Christ's name is
John 20:31 which says, "But these
written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son
of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."
HE THAT HATH AN EAR;
LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES.
If only the Philadelphian
church had heeded the message of the Holy Spirit then greater
things would have been accomplished. It is because the church or
individual allows that voice to go unheeded, that real spiritual progress is
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
And unto the angel of the
church of the Laodiceans write
The town of Laodicea lay 43
miles southeast of Philadelphia and about a 100 miles from
Ephesus. It was a wealthy city and a considerable part of the
wealth of Laodicea came from the cloth and clothing industry. In
Laodicea there was a famous medical school which was noted for
two kinds of medicine, one to cure sore ears and the other was
an eye powder. The Laodiceans were people who
put their trust in material prosperity. William Barclay in his
'Letters to the Seven Churches' pp. 90-95. says, "The church of
Laodicea stands as a warning to those who remember intensely
that man has a body and forget completely that man has a soul.
It stands as a warning to those who put their trust in material
things and who leave out God."
The Laodicean period began in
1844 - the last of the seven churches. Laodicea means "Judging the
People". The Greek word Laodicea is made
up of two Greek words: laos- people, dikaios - righteous,
right, lawful. The word Laodicea would mean
something like, the righteous people or the "judged", or "justified people".
The church at Laodicea was
probably founded by some of Paul's associates while he was
labouring at Ephesus. Paul mentions this church by name in
4:13, 15. Considered in the historic
setting, this letter is addressed not only to a church located
in a wealthy cultural city of Asia Minor, but also to the
present wealthy, cultured generation to which we belong. Every part of this message
applies to this sophisticated, self-sufficient and
self-glorifying generation we live in today.
These things saith the Amen
The word "amen" is a Hebrew
word meaning "firm," faithful," "true". It is used as a
participle of affirmation, meaning "verily", "of a truth",
be it". This is the only instance where
it is used in the Bible as name. Applied here as a title of
Jesus it is suggestive of finality as this is God's final message, the
last message of Jesus' last church, the title 'Amen' is certainly a
The faithful and true
Christ the One who was with the
Father in the beginning, who is the express image of the Father,
is the only One who is able to reveal to mankind the character
and the will of the Father. That is why He is called the
faithful and true witness. This comes through very clearly
in John 14:8,9. "Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the
Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I
been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me,
Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how
sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"
'Ministry of Healing'
by EG White
pp. 418,419 says, "As a personal being God has revealed Himself in His
Son ... Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling
splendour of His divinity and came to live as a man among men,
that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with
their Creator... Christ came to teach human beings what God
desires them to know ... He (God) sent His Son into the world to
manifest, so far as could be endured by human sight, the nature
and attributes of the invisible God." All that man needs to know
or can know of God has been revealed in the life and character
of His Son.
The beginning of the
creation of God
This text is often used to
support the belief of some that Jesus was a created being.
However the evidence is very strong that Jesus is a member of the eternal
Godhead. The New English 8ible translation of the above verse
helps to make it clearer, for it declares the Christ is "the
prime source of all God's creation." The Twentieth Century New
Testament renders it this way, "The one through whom God began
to create." Knox's Translation says, "The
source from which God's creation began." Jerusalem Bible
says, "Before anything was created He existed."
There are a number of
statements in Scripture which speak of Christ as Creator.
||"And He is before all things, and
by Him all
||"... who created all things by Jesus Christ."
||"Hath in these
last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of
all things, by whom also He made the worlds;"
things were made by him; and without him was not anything made
that was made."
In the book Evangelism by EG
615, there is an excellent statement "Christ is the pre-existent
Son of God ... in speaking of His pre-existence, Christ carries
the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there
never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the
eternal God. He to whose voice the Jews were then listening had
been with God as one brought up with Him". - Signs of the Times, Aug. 29,
1900. "... He is the eternal,
self-existent Son". - Manuscript 101, 1897.
I KNOW THY
WORKS, THAT THOU ART NEITHER COLD NOR HOT; I WOULD THOU WERT COLD OR HOT.
This church is in a lukewarm
condition. A lukewarm Christianity is a dangerous thing, a very
serious state to be in. The Laodicean church period
unfortunately is characterized by a lack of zeal and enthusiasm.
Speaking of Laodicean Christians of today, there is this scathing
comment in 'Testimonies to the Church' by EG White, Vol 4. page
87, "The Laodicean message applies
to the people of God who profess to believe present truth. The
greater part are lukewarm professors, having a name but no zeal
... They profess to love the truth, yet are deficient in
Christian fervour and devotion. They dare not give up wholly and
run the risk of the unbeliever, yet they are unwilling to die to self and follow out
closely the principles of their faith." A lukewarm spiritual
condition always results in spiritual apathy, indifference, and
lack of action in soul winning.
'Testimonies to the Church' by
EG White Vol
2. p.176 says, "It would be more pleasing to the Lord, if lukewarm
of religion had never named His name. They are a continual weight
to those who would be faithful followers of Jesus. They are a
stumbling block to unbelievers, and evil angels exalt over hem,
and taunt the angels of God with their crooked course ..."
BECAUSE THOU ART LUKEWARM, AND NEITHER COLD NOR HOT, I WILL SPUE
THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH.
The Laodicean Christians would
understand perfectly what the Saviour meant by this expression.
Laodicea was well known for the remarkable hot springs which
attracted thousands of sick because of the medicinal properties
they possessed. These waters although suitable for bathing were
nauseous for drinking. This lukewarm condition of the
church is nauseating to the Saviour for it is so hard to do
anything with those in such a state. If they were cold at least they
could be warmed up. If they were hot, then it is
possible they could be cooled down. Taylor Bunch puts it very
well in his 'The Seven Epistles of Christ',
p. 222, "The church in its lukewarm state is divided between
Christ and the world. It is too religious to entirely cast off
the name of Christ, and too worldly to take a firm and united
stand for Him. There is much pretension but little genuine
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, I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing
Laodicea was a prosperous town,
and doubtless some of the Christians there were well to do. Apparently this church suffered
no serious persecution as it is not recorded, but pride in its
prosperity led naturally to spiritual complacency. A self satisfied church living
on past attainments is typical of the church of our own age. 'Early
Writings' by EG White, pp. 107, 108 says, "Many who profess to be looking for the speedy coming of Christ
are becoming conformed to this world and seek more earnestly the
applause of those around them than the approbation of God. They are cold and formal ...
The words addressed to the Laodicean church describes their present
condition perfectly. ... Many of these professed
Christians dress, talk, and act like the world, and the only thing
by which they may be known, is their profession. Though they
profess to be looking for Christ, their conversation is not in
heaven, but on worldly things..."
And knowest not that thou art
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked
One might say how is it
possible to be rich and miserable at the same time? Or how does one manage to be
"increased with goods," and still be naked? You see the people of Laodicea
say they are rich, but God knows that they are not. The reason for this is because
human values are different to God's values. The world's values are
on wealth, possessions and things. God knows full well that none
of these things will bring happiness but rather they often are a
curse. 'Testimonies to the Church' by EG White
Vol. 1 pp. 141-143 says, 'Worldly mindedness,
selfishness, and covetousness have been eating out the spirituality and
life of God's people."
COUNSEL THEE TO BUY OF ME GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE, THAT THOU MAYEST BE RICH;
RAIMENT, THAT THOU MAYEST BE CLOTHED, AND THAT THE SHAME OF MY
NAKEDNESS DO NOT APPEAR; AND ANOINT THINE EYES WITH EYESALVE,
THAT THOU MAYEST SEE.
I counsel thee to buy of me
gold tried in the fire
It is very important that we
make sure our investments are in those things that are eternal
value. The gold mentioned here is figurative
for it represents spiritual riches. Gold tried in the fire is in
its purified form. Gold tried in the fire,
suggests faith. For faith to really grow and expand it needs to
be tried and tested. James 1:3 says, "Knowing this, that
the trying of your faith worketh patience." 'Christ's Object Lessons'
by EG White p.
158 says, "The gold tried in the fire is faith that works by love.
Only this can bring us into harmony with God."
That thou mayest be rich
The true riches are not
material things, the trouble is that we are too materially minded. Heaven wants us to look
further than these. Jesus urged us to make the
says, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor
And white raiment, that thou
mayest be clothed
This figure of white raiment
had a special significance for the Christians of Laodicea for
their city was famous for its black woollen cloth. 'Testimonies to the Church'
by EG White Vol
4. p.88 says, "The white raiment is purity of character, the
righteousness of Christ imparted to the sinner. This is indeed
a garment of heavenly texture, that can be bought only of Christ
for a life of willing obedience."
And that the shame of thy
nakedness do not appear
If we are not clothed in
heaven's garments then in God's sight we are naked. This
condition is rather graphically described in the parable of the
man who attended the wedding feast without the right kind of
garment. 'Christ's Object lessons' by EG White page
310 says, "The guests at the gospel feast are those who profess to
serve God, those whose names are written in the book of life."
'Great Controversy' by EG White page 428 says, "Previous
to the wedding the king comes in to see the guests, to see if
all are attired in the wedding garment, the spotless robe of
character washed and made white in the blood of the lamb."
Some might think it was unfair
for the groom's father to throw out a poor guest at his son's
wedding who could not afford formal attire. But it was not. Every guest had
been offered suitable apparel by the groom's father. Thus it
was an insult to the wedding party for the guest not to wear it.
This man was not clothed in heaven's garments but in clothing of
his own choice.
And anoint thine eyes with
eyesalve, that thou mayest see
Near Laodicea was a temple to
the Phrygian god, Men Karou. A famous school of medicine
grew up in connection with this temple, it was here an eye powder
might be secured. The figurative eye salve offered
to the Laodiceans is to cure their spiritual blindness.
The Holy Spirit is the
anointing agency which gives spiritual vision.
Acts 10:38 first part
says, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with
power ...". E.G. White, in the Review and Herald wrote,
"The Laodiceans boasted of a deep knowledge of Bible truth, a
deep insight into the Scriptures. They were not entirely blind,
else the eye-salve would have done nothing to restore their
sight, and enable them to discern the true attributes of Christ. The eye is the sensitive
conscience, the inner light, of the mind ... The eye-salve, the Word of
God, makes the conscience smart under its application, for it
convicts of sin. But the smarting is necessary that the healing
AS MANY AS I LOVE, I
REBUKE AND CHASTEN: BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT.
As many as I love, I rebuke
No one likes to be scolded or
corrected and Christ only does this in our own interests. It is better to be scolded or
rebuked than to lose out entirely. Although His rebuke has been a
very sharp one, He has hot turned away from them or abandoned
them. Rather He was standing near and
ready to supply their need.
Be zealous therefore, and
Christ warns the church that it
cannot continue in its half-hearted way, that something has to
happen. The only way the church can
escape from such an condition is for a revival to take place. To be
zealous means to be on
fire for Christ, actively engaging in soul winning work. There must be a warmth and
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
This is not referring to the
door of opportunity or the door of salvation. The door mentioned here is
under the control of man himself. This is the door to a man's
soul. The fact that Christ is on the
outside and is knocking, indicates that it is the unsurrendered
heart and the Saviour is seeking entrance. 'Testimonies to the Church'
by EG White Vol
1. p.143 says, "Many have so much rubbish
piled up at the door of their heart that they cannot get the
door open. Some have difficulties between themselves and their
brethren to remove. Others have evil tempers, selfish
covetousness, to remove before they can open the door. Others
have rolled the world before the door of their heart, which bars
the door. All this rubbish must be taken away, and then they can
open the door and welcome the Saviour in."
If any man hear my voice,
and open the door
A door is either a means of
entrance or a barrier. It either lets a person in or
keeps him out, according to the will of the housekeeper. Always the locks and bars are
on the inside of the door, and the door that keeps the Saviour
out is barred by the sinner. 'Desire of Ages' by EG White p. 489
says, "Every warning, reproof, and
entreaty in the word of God or through His messengers is a knock
at the door of the heart. It is the voice of Jesus asking for
entrance." There is a great blessing which
comes to those who open the door for the Saviour for He steps right into the
life and transforms the character.
I will come in to him, and
will sup with him, and he with me
Salvation is always a very
personal matter. It is as individuals that we must heed His voice and
let Him in. The figure of eating is suggestive of fellowship. 'Desire of Ages'
by EG White, page 32 says, "When
the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes
possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can
never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work,
bringing a supernatural element into human nature..."
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.
To him that overcometh will I
grant to sit with Me in my throne
What wonderful encouragement
these words are, considering the severe denunciation of the
Laodicean Christian as found in this letter. Despite the apathy
and lukewarmness of this Church, there are those who have risen
above this condition and will eventually shine as stars in God's
Christ was victorious through
the Spirit's power and we can gain the victory through the same
power. So the promise is that the victorious one will share in
the glory and power of Christ even as Christ shares in the glory
and power of His Father.
Even as I also overcame, and
am set down with my Father in his throne
Jesus chose to do the will of
His Father rather than His own
Philippians 2:8. "And being found
in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Jesus emptied His life of self
so He might gain a complete and lasting victory. It is only as
we too follow in His example that we will be able to take our
place in His everlasting kingdom.
HE THAT HATH AN
EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES.
We have come to the close of
the messages to the Seven Churches. What lessons they contain for
all Christians in all ages! No other church is administered
so sharp a rebuke as the Laodicean church. However it is worth noting that
no other is offered more tender evidence of Christ's love.
There are those who believe
that because of the severe and uncompromising tone of the
Laodicean message that there is no hope for the Christian of that
church. This is not so, for if the
spiritual poverty of the Laodiceans were beyond hope, they would
not have been offered "gold" by the True Witness, or heavenly
eyesalve that they might see their great need of the
Righteousness of Christ.
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