REVELATION 3

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER THREE, VERSES 1 TO 6:

3:1  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.

3:2  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3:3  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.

3:4  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.

3:5  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.

3:6  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 

Verses 1-6    The letter to the church in Sardis

3:1  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.

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God- the fulness of Divine power is available to this church.  The Lord “hath” this fulness to give to them; the question is whether they will avail themselves of it.  This particular feature of having the seven Spirits is not found in the official presentation of Christ to the churches in chapter 1.  The idea comes from the words of verse 4, where John desires grace and peace to be known by the believers.  These favours come equally from “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come”, from “the seven Spirits which are before His throne”, and from “Jesus Christ”.  Since He is described as the first-begotten from the dead, He is in the place of administration, and dispenses the blessing that the Godhead has for the people of God.  As He addresses the church in Sardis, He reminds them of this, and is virtually inviting them to take advantage of it.
And the seven stars- when speaking to Ephesus, the point was that He held the seven stars, so that everything was under control.  Here it is simply that He has them, since the emphasis is on what is available to the believers.  But how are the seven stars available?  We are told in 1:20 that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches”.  The churches are being looked at as spheres of profession, and they have their heavenly counterpart in heaven.  Since the literal stars were created so as to rule the night, Genesis 1:16, so the churches are to display Divine rule in the dark night of Christ’s absence, and as they seek to do so, they may be encouraged to think that what they do on earth is represented by their angel before God. 
We are being reminded here that rule according to God in the church is still available to the believers.  Christ assures the church in Sardis that He is preserving the heavenly representatives of Divine rule in the assembly, so that His will may prevail.  The only question is whether they will avail themselves of this blessing, and submit to a Scriptural order of government, namely through elders. 
If we look at Sardis as representing the time of the Reformation, we can see the relevance of these things.  Valuable and courageous as the efforts of such men as Luther and Calvin were, they never broke free completely from the shackles of clericalism.  Luther wrote, “The right kind of evangelical order cannot be exhibited among all sorts of people, but those who are seriously determined to be Christians and confess the gospel with hand and mouth, must enrol themselves by name and meet apart, in one house, for prayer, for reading, to baptise, to take the Sacrament, and exercise other Christian works.  With such order it would be possible for those who did not behave in a Christian manner to be known, reproved, restored, or excluded, according to the rule of Christ, (Matthew 18:15)…but I cannot order or establish such an assembly, for I have not yet the right people for it”.  Accordingly, Luther and Calvin maintained order by the use of an army, and the magistrates, thus continuing the union of church and state begun by Constantine.  This was a tragedy, and not until the 19th Century would this matter be addressed. 
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead- sadly, their works were only in support of their profession, not the fruit of faith.  Their works consisted of the fact that they had a name.  They were content to make what they professed their work, and all they did was to further their profession, making “their church” their main concern.  We see this still in Protestantism, with its fierce defence of a particular denomination, to the ignoring of the essence of Christianity, which is the promotion of Christ. 
At Sardis they were content with having their names on the church roll.  Whether they functioned as members of the church was a different matter.  They were alive as far as being part of a congregation was concerned, but dead as to the reality of possessing eternal life.

3:2  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- as a city, Sardis was only conquered twice, and on both occasions it was when the watchmen fell asleep.  Alertness is essential, for the enemy is at the gates of the assembly as well.  Satan is always ready to attack.
And strengthen the things which remain- this refers to those things that have a remaining or abiding character, because they are of God.  It is not that those things are, or have become weak, and need to be restored to strength, but rather, the believers’ mental grasp of them should be firmer, so that they are held more strongly.
That are ready to die- the strengthening of abiding things in the mind is an urgent matter.  The Lord is awake to the problem, so they should be also.  “Ready to die” in connection with truth means “liable to become inactive and ineffective in our minds”. 
For I have not found thy works perfect- we should go as far as Scripture goes, and not be content with less.  Christ is our example in this, for He could speak of “the works which the Father hath given Me to finish”, John 5:36.  And at the end of His ministry He could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”, John 17:4.  Sardis was noted for its trade guilds, and the tradesmen were very busy people, but the believers had not brought to completion those things that the Lord had given them to do. 
Looking at the churches as giving a prophetic preview of the present age, Sardis represents that period when Protestantism was in the ascendancy, and the evil and corruption of Rome had been exposed, and justification by faith and the sufficiency of Scripture were proclaimed strongly.  But sadly, Protestantism did not go far enough, for as we have seen, clericalism was retained, albeit in a diluted form, and the true mode of gathering together was not recovered.
Before God- their energy may have impressed men perhaps, but God’s all-seeing eye noted their shortcomings. 

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 therefore how thou hast received and heard- energetic evangelists and fervent teachers had brought them the truth, and they should remember their zeal, and imitate it.  In our day we should remember the price that many have paid that we might have the truth of God freely available to us.  Some gave their lives for the sake of the translation and spread of the Scriptures.  Others gave their lives in a different sense, devoting their time to the interests of the people of God.  We should remember what they did, and how they did it, and not despise their labours by ignoring the truth they brought.
And hold fast- they should not let go of what they had been taught.
And repent- the attitude of mind which did not value their heritage as should be valued, needs to be altered.  It is not just sinners that need to repent; believers need to do so also if they have allowed their minds to be corrupted and turned aside. 
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- it is always serious when the Lord threatens believers in the same terms as He warns the unsaved.  The language used here is like that of the Olivet Discourse, where the Lord said, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh”, Matthew 24:43,44.  In this place the Lord is addressing His disciples as those who represent the remnant of Israel in the Tribulation Period, and who will need to keep alert.  The coming of the Son of Man always refers to His coming to earth, whether at His first coming at incarnation, or His second coming in judgement.  The apostle Paul made this distinction clear when he wrote to the Thessalonian believers in these terms, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night…But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief”, 1 Thessalonians 5:2,4.  So the church is not to know the Lord coming as a thief, but the metaphor of a thief coming in the night, is used by way of application to encourage the church of Sardis, and all believers everywhere, to be alert.

3:4  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.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis- how sad that it should be only a few.  The majority were content to be on the church register, but they were not listed in the Book of Life.
Which have not defiled their garments– they were alert to the defilement that mere religion represents.  It is only in the New Testament assembly that Divine order can prevail, truth can be preserved, and error excluded.  In the denominations, these things depend on who is the minister.  He may be faithful to the Scriptures, or he may not. Since in many cases he is chosen by the congregation, then believers are at the mercy of the wishes of the carnal believers amongst them.
Garments in Scripture speak of character, so it was not a question of physical defilement, but moral and spiritual.  James wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”, James 1:27.  And the apostle Paul urges us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, 2 Corinthians 7:1.
And they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy- there is no defilement in heaven, for the garments of the believer will be ever white there, as befits those who company with the Lord Jesus.  If we desire His companionship now, we should keep our garments clean from earth’s defilement. 
For they are worthy- the reward matches what merited it.  Those who walked in white on earth, and kept their garments pure, are worthy of the reward of walking in white in heaven.  Note that the Lord sees worth in keeping the garments clean; it is not a matter of little account to Him, nor should it be to us.

3:5  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 that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment- so those who do not defile their garments, as described in the previous verse, are, in fact, the overcomers. 
And I will not blot out his name out of the book of life- this is the Hebrew way of saying that the name will not be removed.  The two negative thoughts, “blot out”, and “not”, combine to make a strong positive.  The expression does not suggest that the name can be blotted out.  Rather, it affirms that it will never be.  Those in Sardis who were not real believers were content to have their names written in the church register.  The book of life will be opened at the great white throne judgement, but this will simply be to prove that the sinners who stand before God at that dread assize are not named there.
We should distinguish between the book of the living and the Book of Life.  The former is a list of all those who have lived upon the earth, and is the book Moses referred to when he offered to have his name blotted out of the book God had written, Exodus 32:32.  Moses was offering to be deleted from the list of those alive on the earth.  In other  words, he was prepared to die for the nation. 
This book of the living includes even the unborn, as we see from Psalm 139:15,16, where David wrote, “My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them”. 
But I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels- this showed they had confessed His name before men, for the Lord said, “Also I say unto you, ‘Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God”, Luke 12:8,9.  It is important to follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who “before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession”, 1 Timothy 6:13.

3:6  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- so what is said to Sardis is said to the other six churches; but it is also said to any company that professes to be a church.  There is the need for alertness and purity in any such company, otherwise the name of Christ might be blasphemed.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER THREE, VERSES 7 TO 13:

3:7  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;

3:8  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.

3:9  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.

3:10  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.

3:11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

3:12  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.

3:13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Verses 7-13 The church of Philadelphia

3:7  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;

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write- we may say that Philadelphia is the church with appreciation, after the deadness of Sardis.
These things saith He that is holy- one of the essential features of the address to this church is that the Lord is holy.  The things that are used to describe the Lord in this address are not found in the vision of chapter 1, unlike most of the other addresses.  It seems as though the distance that the title Son of Man suggests is absent, as are also the features that indicate His judgement, (such as the sword and the eyes as a flame of fire, and the feet as burning brass), and the Lord speaks in more intimate terms to them, telling them of His character rather than His offices.  They clearly appreciated the holiness of Christ, and He responds to that feeling towards Him.
He that is true- He is thoroughly genuine, and the Philadelphians valued that too.  After the falseness of Sardis, the genuineness of these believers is a relief.  They can have these features of Christ presented to them, and they do not expose any shortcomings. 
He that hath the key of David- there is an allusion here to the words of Isaiah 22:22, “”And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand…and the key of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so shall he open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open”.  So it was that Eliakim replaced Shebna, who is described in verse 15 as “this treasurer”. 
The context of these words is as follows.  Hezekiah, king of Judah, had sought to buy off the king of Assyria when he threatened him, by giving him all the silver that was in the house of the Lord, 2 Kings 18:15.  Later, Hezekiah showed the king of Babylon the treasures that were in his house, no doubt in pride, as 2 Chronicles 32:25 suggests.  This angered Isaiah the prophet, who foretold that Hezekiah’s descendants would be taken into Babylon, 2 Kings 20:16-18.  In was sometime during these events that Shebna the treasurer was replaced by Eliakim, with the implication that Shebna had been unholy and untrue, and Eliakim could be relied upon to be holy and true.  Accordingly, there was given to him the key of David, the key to David’s treasures, having been passed down to Hezekiah.  Eliakim can be trusted to not open those treasurers to the wrong people, and to only open them to the Levites if they need resources for the maintenance of the temple service. 
He that openeth, and no man shutteth- in a far higher sense the Lord Jesus opens the treasure-house of knowledge to His people, and can be trusted as He does so.  Paul writes to the Colossian believers and tells them that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, Colossians 2:3.  No-one can prevent the Lord from showing the believers these treasures.
And shutteth, and no man openeth- the Lord will not open those treasures to the gnostic false teachers who were trying to lead the Colossian believers away, claiming  to have superior knowledge.  The treasures of wisdom are known to the saints alone, for Paul writes of things hid from ages and generations, but now made manifest to the saints, to whom God makes known the riches of the glory of the mystery of Christ’s relationship with His people, Colossians 1:26,27.  A mystery is that which is known only to the initiated, and the saints (the holy ones), who were true to God, (the true ones), are alone given insight into the riches in Christ.  The door is closed to unbelief, and especially to gnostic unbelief.  We see now why the Lord addresses them as the holy and true one, for He only uses the “key of David” to open the door to those who are also are holy and true.  The unholy and the false are barred from entering.  Hezekiah showed himself unholy and untrue when he gave both the king of Assyria and the king of Babylon access to the treasures.  This is why the incident is not mentioned in the corresponding passage in Chronicles, for when Ezra wrote that book, he was encouraging the remnant of Israel that had returned to Jerusalem, and was showing them features about the kings of Judah that were a faint foreshadowing of what the Messiah would be like.  Hezekiah was not Messiah-like in this incident.

3:8  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 know thy works- the opportunity to enter into the treasures of wisdom and knowledge found in Christ had not made these believers careless in the matter of doing good works.  It is very easy to become so absorbed with truth, that the need to do good works is forgotten.  Good works should be the outcome of acquired wisdom.
Behold, I have set before thee an open door- they had the opportunity of entering in to all that the Spirit would tell them of Christ, for “in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, Colossians 2:3.  (It is very possible that the assembly at Sardis had read the epistle to the Colossians, because there seems to have been the circulation of apostolic letters, as we see from Colossians 4:16, where Paul instructs, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea”). 
And no man can shut it- if the church in Philadelphia was anything like the church in Colosse, (and they were not very far away from one another), then they would be assailed by gnostic heretics, who would seek to introduce false ideas into their minds, and seek effectively to shut the door of the treasure house.  Christ assures them that He will not allow false teachers to do that, for He has control of the door, and He has the key.
Sadly, evil doctrines did flood in to the church, and it was not until believers separated themselves from Babylonian influences that the rich heritage of the apostles’ doctrine was recovered, and they found that the door was still open.  Such truths as the special coming of the Lord Jesus for church saints, (as distinct from His coming to earth to reign); the literal 1000-year reign of the Lord Jesus over the earth, (which had been interpreted in a so-called spiritual way, and not taken literally); the priesthood of Christ, (which had been obscured by the rise of the clerisy); the priesthood of all believers, (which had been largely lost because individual men claimed the power to do everything in the congregations); the truth of the plurality of spiritual gifts, (long neglected because one man dominated in the meetings).  All these things were recovered in the 19th Century, in the goodness of God.  We should beware that we be like Hezekiah, and allow these things to be neglected, undervalued, and frittered away.
For thou hast a little strength- but a little strength is enough if we are dependent upon the Lord.  As Paul wrote, “when I am weak, then am I strong”, 2 Corinthians 12:10. In other words, when we acknowledge our own weakness, but acknowledge also that He is strong, for “His strength is made perfect in weakness, verse 9.  Hezekiah, when confronted with the power and might of the King of Assyria, sought to bribe him by giving him treasures from the house of the Lord, 2 Kings 18:13-16. 
And hast kept My word- having entered into the treasure-house of Divine wisdom and been instructed, these believers had kept what they had learned.  Not just in the sense that they did not forget, but they put it into effect.  The Spirit of God takes of the things of Christ and reveals them to interested hearts.
And hast not denied My name- those features of Christ which combine to make up His “name”, were precious to these believers, and despite pressure to recant and deny him, they refused to do so. 

3:9  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 will make them of the synagogue of Satan- this seems a very strong expression, but the experience of the apostle Paul in several synagogues would justify the language used.  The Jews had the opportunity to change their minds about their national rejection of Christ, as God very graciously gave them individual opportunity to repent and believe.  However, at the end of the Book of Acts, Paul warned the Jews who came to him that “the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it”, Acts 28:28.  They had largely rejected their Messiah again.  They did it first when He was here, and they crucified Him.  They have now done it again by rejecting the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the gospel.  The synagogue once upheld the truth of God in the law, now it has rejected the truth of God in Christ.  As such it is a tool of Satan.  The writings of the Jewish leaders, (copies of which are in every synagogue), are very hostile to Christianity and Christians.
Which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie- the Lord Jesus confronted those who claimed to be Abraham’s seed.  He warned them that they might be Abraham’s seed as to physical descent, but then so was Ishmael, and he was cast out and missed the blessing.  As far as their spiritual state was concerned, they were of their father the devil, see John 8:44.  So it is that the apostle Paul could write, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”, Romans 2:28,29.  So those who receive praise from God, (there is a play here on the word “Jew”, which comes from the word Judah, which means “praise”), are those who are in a heart-relationship with Him.  Because the Jews spoken of here are not believers, they are Ishmael-like in character, and not Isaac-like.  Because of this, they, like Ishmael, persecute those born after the Spirit, Galatians 4:29.
Behold- this word means “grasp this”.
I will make them to come and worship before thy feet- there are two possibilities here.  Either they come to believe the gospel, and therefore will stand with believers as they worship God for His Son.  Or, they refuse to believe, and are forced to worship God and His Son at the great white throne, whilst believers stand by.
And to know that I have loved thee- either way, whether as unbelievers or believers, they will come to realise that the Christians they hated were loved of God, for they loved His Son. 

3:10  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- John tells us at the beginning of the book that he was a “companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”, 1:9.  Christ is seated on His Father’s throne, “henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”, Hebrews 10:13.  The believer is in the kingdom already, by virtue of new birth, John 3:5, but the manifestation of that kingdom on earth is not yet, and so patience is needed.  The word of Christ’s patience is the teaching about the certainty of His coming reign, and those who keep that word and act upon it, allowing the implications of it to impact on their daily living, are given a promise from Him.
I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation- they showed themselves to be true believers by keeping the word of His patience, so His promise to the true believer is that He will keep His word, too.  That word through the apostle Paul was that believers are not appointed to wrath, (and in the context the wrath is that connected with the Lord’s coming to reign), but to obtain salvation though our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9.  The hour of temptation is the time of future tribulation which will try men to the utmost.
Which shall come upon all the world- just as the flood of Noah’s day engulfed the whole world, so the judgements of God in the future will be world-wide also.
To try them that dwell upon the earth- God will test men, to see whether they will repent and turn to Him.  It is not just that men happen to live on the earth.  The thought is that they are earth-dwellers.  They do not want heaven, they do not believe in hell, and they are content to try to make themselves comfortable on the earth, just like the descendants of Cain did, as described in Genesis 4:16-22.  They built cities, they herded cattle, they played music, they engaged in their technology, all the while being corrupt in morals, and forgetful of God.  It was upon such a world that the flood came Such is a description of the modern world, too. 

3:11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Behold, I come quickly- it is appropriate that after the promise to keep the believers from the hour of temptation, there is mention of His coming.  He had said He would come quickly to the church in Ephesus, but there it was not the Rapture, but a coming to them collectively in judgement for their failure, 2:5.  Here it is the fulfilment of His promise to His own in the Upper Room, that if He went away, He would come again.  He has gone away, therefore He will come again.  The “quickly” does not refer to the interval of time between the promise to come and the actual coming.  Rather, it is that once the moment of His coming has arrived, He will not hesitate, but come immediately and swiftly.
Hold that fast which thou hast- Paul warned the Colossians of those who would try to beguile them with enticing words, Colossians 2:4; others who would spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and the rudiments of the world, verse 8; those who would criticise them for not keeping feast days, verse 16; and those who would seek to beguile them of their reward, verse 18.  The Philadelphians were in similar danger from false teachers, so the exhortation comes to them to keep a firm grasp of Christian truth, and not let it go in the face of the teachings of heretics, of whatever sort.  They had access to the treasure house of Divine truth, let them not be like Hezekiah, and allow others to take it away.
That no man take thy crown- the Lord rewards His people in different ways, for there are various crowns mentioned in the New Testament, to be awarded for the appropriate action and behaviour.  Here the crown is for holding fast to Divine truth.  There will be no crown for those who have jettisoned the precious truth of the Christian faith.  God does not reward unfaithfulness.  If the believers at Philadelphia allowed false teachers to persuade them, then they would lose the crown they might otherwise have.  It is not that they have a crown and it can be taken away; the crown is potential.  But the losing of it is potential, too, so they must be watchful.

3:12  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.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God- Solomon erected two pillars at the entrance to the temple, either side of his throne of judgement in the porch.  They did not hold the building up, but they did what all pillars do, namely, bore testimony.  The right hand one was inscribed “Jachin”, which means “He will establish”, and the left hand one “Boaz”, which means “In Him is strength”.  Clearly, Solomon was bearing testimony to his belief that if his kingdom was to prosper, then God must establish it, and also his belief that strength to govern lay in God’s hands too. 
Sadly, when the Babylonians came to take Jerusalem, they broke up these pillars and carried them into Babylon, together with the people and the king, 2 Kings 25:1-17.  So the fate of the kingdom was bound up in the fate of the pillars, and the kingdom was no longer established, and God was no longer its strength, and the broken pillars testified to this.
Here the promise to the overcomer, (the one who holds the word of Christ’s patience, demonstrating he is a true believer), is that he will be a pillar in the temple of Christ’s God.  The Lord Jesus knew the strengthening and establishing of His God as He lived down here as a dependent man, bearing true testimony to the truth of God.  Instead of a place of prominence in an earthly temple, the true believer is promised a place in the temple in heaven.  He bore witness to heavenly truth when he was on earth, so now the overcomer is rewarded accordingly. 
And he shall go no more out- unlike the men of Judah, who were taken into captivity, and dispossessed of their land, the promise to the overcomer is that he will not go out of the privileged position granted to him in heaven.
And I will write upon him the name of My God- just as the pillars in Solomon’s temple had names that told what God was like, that he was the strengthener and the establisher of the testimony to Him that the temple represented, so the overcomer is promised that the aspect of God’s character to which he most bore testimony, will be that which is inscribed on him as a pillar in the heavenly temple.  There will be a constant testimony borne to the particular way in which God strengthened and established him.
And the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God- the overcomer had distanced himself from the attitude of those who dwell upon the earth, and who had no interest in heaven.  His reward is to be associated publicly with the city which is of God, and which is heavenly in origin.  Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah oversaw the rebuilding of the old Jerusalem, but that was an earthly place.  The overcomer had only been interested in what was new, and of God.  Those who were of the synagogue of Satan would be very interested in old Jerusalem, but these overcomers had got beyond what was of man.
And I will write upon him My new name- there are at least two possibilities here.  Either “My new name” is the new name Christ has been given, or the new name the believer is given by Christ.  The latter seems the more appropriate meaning, given the context of reward.  That characteristic that Christ found most pleasing about the believer as he lived an overcoming life in Philadelphia, and which summarises his life, is now publicly made known, and contributes to the testimony in heaven to the enabling grace of God.

3:13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- may the Lord grant that we may ever have an open ear to the word the Spirit speaks to us, so we may overcome in our situation.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER THREE, VERSES 14 TO 22:

3:14  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;

3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

3:17  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:

3:18  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.

3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

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

3:21  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.

3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3    Verses 14-22  The church of the Laodiceans

Structure of the letter

Verse 14(a) The address to the church
Verse 14(b) The aspects of Christ relevant to the church
Verses 15-16 The assessment of the church
Verses 17-19 The appeal to the church as a whole
Verse 20 The attitude of Christ if His appeal is not heeded
Verse 21 The award for those who overcome
Verse 22 The admonition to all the churches

       
Verse 14(a)    The address to the church

3:14  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;

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write- note the different wording here from that to the other six churches.  With them it was where the church was physically.  With the Laodiceans, it was where the church was morally, for they looked at it as belonging to them.  This was the root of the problem, and all the other ills stemmed from it.  The truth is that a Scriptural assembly belongs to God.  Even the Corinthian assembly, for all its shortcomings, was “the church of God which is at Corinth”, 1 Corinthians 1:2.  Sadly, even they showed signs of a Laodicean spirit, for they had turned the Lord’s Supper into their supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20,21, so self-interest was in evidence.  The apostle Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus of their duty to “feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood”, Acts 20:28.  The local church therefore is of such value to God, that He was prepared to send His Son to the cross so that His blood might purchase each of its members.  The Laodiceans had forgotten this truth, and were acting as if the church belonged to them, and they could do as they wished.

Verse 14(b) The aspects of Christ relevant to the church

These things saith the Amen- as with the church in Philadelphia, the Lord Jesus does not use features taken from the revelations He gave of Himself in chapter 1, whether officially as Son of man, or personally to John as the Living One.  But whereas the Philadelphian believers were in harmony with the characteristics of Christ He mentions, here it is the opposite.  Christ presents Himself in such a way as to contrast with their character.
The word “amen” has the idea of firmness and certainty about it.  When we say Amen at the end of a prayer, we are saying, “Let what is said in that prayer be the certain outcome of the prayer, for we agree with what has been said in it”.  The one who gives certainty is Christ, for He describes Himself here as the Amen.  So definite are His dealings that Amen has become His title.
The Corinthian believers criticised Paul, for they thought he had let them down.  They thought that he was coming on a visit to them but did not come, and those who were hostile to him used this as a reason for not recognising his authority.  As he defended himself from this charge, the apostle reminds the believers that the gospel he, Silvanus and Timothy preached was not an uncertain thing.  He wrote, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.  For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us”, 2 Corinthians 1:19,20.  It would be gravely wrong for the apostle to act in a manner inconsistent with the message he brought.  And that message was one of definiteness and certainty.  God does not say “Yea, yea”, and then afterwards, “Nay, nay”, (see verse 18).  In other words, God does not go back on His word.  When He gives a promise in the gospel it is not yea, and then nay, affirming something and then immediately denying it.  Rather, God says “Yea” to the preaching of His gospel, and Amen also, confirming what He has promised.  And that Amen is grounded on the nature of the Person who is central to the gospel, even Jesus Christ, as the Son of God.  This links with the fact that God called Himself the God of Truth in Isaiah 65:16, or as it may be rendered, the God of Amen.  In other words, Amen is a Divine title, assuring us of the truthfulness and decisiveness of God.  And this is one of the titles with which Christ presents Himself to Laodicea. 
The faithful and true witness- if He is the Amen, then we would expect what He said to be reliable, and in accordance with the truth.  And so it is.  He could describe Himself as “A man that hath told you the truth”, John 8:40.  The church at Laodicea was supposed to be a faithful and true witness to Divine things, yet they were failing.  The local church is expected to be “the pillar and ground of the truth”, 1 Timothy 3:15.  A pillar in Scripture being a witness to something, and the church is to witness to the truth in all its aspects, not just the gospel.  Some churches are little more than preaching points.
The beginning of the creation of God- there are those who use this expression to attack the truth that the Lord Jesus is uncreated.  They say this phrase means that He is the first creature God made.  This is blasphemy.  The apostle John is very definite about this in John 1:1 and 3.  He states categorically that “the Word was God”.  Then he writes, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made”.  So there is a double assertion of the fact that Christ is uncreated; first, because He is God, and God cannot be a created being, or else He is not God; second, because He made every thing that is made.  He cannot therefore be made, or else He made Himself, which is impossible. 
The clue to the meaning of the phrase we are considering is found in the words of the apostle Paul, as he wrote to a church near the one in Laodicea, namely Colosse.  After he had described the way Christ had made all things in heaven and in earth, he went on to say, “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence”, Colossians 1:18.  Having previously spoken of created things, Paul now writes of believers.  As creator, Christ stands at the head of all things, for He is before all things, verse 17.  But He is the head of the church; He does not merely stand before it, but joins it to Himself, as a body is joined to its head.  At Jerusalem, during the Feast of Pentecost, a new thing was begun.  The Holy Spirit was sent by Christ so as to baptise His people into one body, as 1 Corinthians 12:12 explains.  As believers, those gathered in the upper room that day were already potentially a new creation in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; but now they are bonded together in a unique way.  The relationship they have to one another is like the relationship the various parts of our body have to one another, for though we have many limbs and organs we have but one body.  And their relationship to Christ is like the relationship of the body to the head.  We could survive with only one leg, or hand, or eye, but our head is indispensable, and controls everything.  Such is the position Christ has in relation to all the believers of this present age.  In connection with creation, Christ was the Beginner; in connection with the church, He is the Beginning.  Everything begins, continues and reaches its goal in reference to Him.  This has a very practical bearing on us as believers.  We should ask ourselves if Christ is the Beginning of everything in the church we belong to.  Do we give Him the right place, allowing Him to be the start of things?  Or do we initiate things ourselves and then ask Him to bless them?
In the phrase “the firstborn from the dead” we learn what it is that has given Him this place of supremacy regarding the church.  Every true believer is risen with Christ, and signifies that by being baptised.  But He rose first!  He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, Romans 6:4, the Father’s glory demanding that such a person as Christ should not remain in the grave a moment longer than necessary.  But we were not like that.  The glory of the Father demanded that we remain in the grave.  It is only as associated with Him that we can be on resurrection ground.  But He maintains His superior position, for He is “the first that should rise from the dead”, Acts 26:23.  As such, He has obtained the right to administer for God in relation to the church.

Verses 15-16    The assessment of the church

3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot- the Lord says “I know thy works” to each of the seven churches, but this instance is different, for it is as if their works consisted only in being neither cold nor hot.  They specialised in apathy, as if they thought that this was their main vocation as believers. 
I would thou wert cold or hot- there were hot springs outside of the town of Laodicea, and the waters were diverted into the town via a stone aquaduct.  However, by the time the waters reached the town, they were lukewarm.  Cold water is refreshing; hot water is cleansing, but lukewarm water is nauseating.  The Lord prefers that they be at the extremes, for both have their uses.  Lukewarmness is not satisfactory to Him.  It is often noticed that in Mark’s gospel the ministry of the Lord Jesus is marked by enthusiasm, as suggested by the words “immediately”, and “straightway”.  But it is also true that the disciples were marked by this, too.  And the secret of their enthusiasm was that the Spirit is said to act straightway also. 

3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth- this shows how serious their condition was.  Christ does not reject His true people, but He does need to warn those who merely profess.  Those who do not overcome amidst this situation will show themselves unbelievers, and as such will be rejected decisively at the Judgement Day.

Verses 17-19    The appeal to the church as a whole

3:17  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, I am rich- the cities of Colosse and Laodicea were situated on the same River Meander.  The word meander means to wander, and when rivers wander, we know they are slow-flowing, and liable to silt up.  This is what happened, so that Colosse declined as a river-port with access to the Aegean Sea, and Laodicea flourished.  Sadly, the Laodicean believers allowed the increased prosperity all around them to affect their souls, with the result that they were clearly boastful of their riches, because the Lord says they were telling others about it, “thou sayest”, and they were shouting out their prosperity by vaunting their wealth.  They had become complacent, thinking that gain was godliness.  The apostle Paul warned Timothy to withdraw himself from people like that, for their attitude is liable to be contagious, 1 Timothy 6:5.  “Evil communications corrupt good manners”, 1 Corinthians 15:.  Their talking about their riches was an evil communication in the speaking sense, and an evil communication in the way in which it affected others.
And increased with goods- it is possible to tell a believer’s spiritual state by what he spends his money on.  These, instead of seeing their increased riches as an opportunity to do good, had spent them on material goods.  If they had been “rich unto God”, Luke 12:21, they would have met up with their riches in eternity, instead of having them burnt up in the fire at the dissolution of all things, 2 Peter 3:10. 
And have need of nothing- they thought all their needs had been met.  In one sense they had, materially, but in another sense they had one over-riding and pressing need, namely, to readjust their thinking and outlook.  They were like the rich and foolish farmer the Lord spoke of, who said, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, ease, drink, and be merry”.  But God said to him, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”  The point is not who benefitted from his will, but that he would go into eternity without those riches.  If he had been a believer, and had remembered there were those around him with needs he had the means to meet, then he would have met up again with those riches in eternity.  The wise man wrote, “There is that scattereth, yet increaseth: and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself”, proverbs 11:24,25. 
And knowest not that thou art wretched- the cause of their wrong attitude was ignorance of their true state, and also of the true nature of Christianity.  They had forgotten its first principles.  The five-fold description that the Lord gives of them might well have been given to Lazarus the beggar we read of in Luke 16:19-21. 
The word “wretched” literally means, “weighted down with trials”, with the word “weighted” being, ironically, the word for a valuable piece of money known as a talent.  So we are presented with the situation where the rich are weighted down with the talents in their pockets, and those who sit as beggars at their gate are weighted down with trials in the lives.  And there is no attempt by the rich to relieve the burden of the beggar.  But in reality the rich man is weighed down more- with shame for not relieving the poor when it was in his power to do so.  He is the really wretched one, surpassing the beggar in this.
Both James and John address this situation.  A brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and the response of a supposed believer is “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled”.  If it ended there, we would think all was well, for we would think that the needy believer has been supplied with that which is needed.  We would be wrong, for James goes on, “Notwithstanding, ye give them not those things which are needful to the body”.  Then he makes his point, “Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone”, James 2:15-17.  In other words, do not turn away a needy believer when you have the resources to help him or her, and expect the Lord to class you amongst His own. 
John speaks in similar vein.  “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”  These are stern words from the apostle of love, but he is speaking the truth in love, and we need to take heed.
And miserable- there is irony here, too, for the word comes from the word to pity.  So instead of this Laodicean pitying the poor, the Lord is pitying him for his meanness.  The apostle Paul wrote, “God loveth a cheerful giver”, 2 Corinthians 9:7, and the word he uses gives us our word “hilarity”.  We should be overjoyed that opportunities present themselves so that we can, even if in only a small way, meet a need.  Perhaps this is why there are so many miserable Christians around.
And poor- the Lord said to the believers in Smyrna that He knew their poverty, but then added, “but thou art rich”, 2:9.  They were poor financially, but rich spiritually.  The Laodiceans were the reverse.  They had become so absorbed in their money-making activities that they had neglected spiritual things to such an extent that they were poverty-stricken spiritually.  They had forgotten the lesson Abraham learned from Melchizedek.  Having rescued his nephew Lot from the hand of the enemy, and having recovered all that the King of Sodom had lost through defeat in battle, Abraham was going to be tested in the matter of material things.  The King of Sodom is coming towards him, but before he arrives, Melchizedek steps forward, brings forth bread and wine, and blesses Abraham in the name of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, who had delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hand, Genesis 14:19,20.  Abraham immediately sees the significance of these words, which were three-fold.  First, that God is the Most High, and therefore deserves our willing submission.  Second, that He is possessor of everything, so only what He gives is it legitimate to retain.  Third, He is the one who enabled Abraham to win the battle, and therefore is deserving of his utmost devotion.  As a result of learning these lessons about God, Abraham first of all pays tithes to Melchizedek, who is acting on God’s behalf.  The tithe was God’s portion, so this was an act of submission.  Then, strengthened by Melchizedek’s blessing, Abraham resolutely refuses the King of Sodom’s offer to keep the goods he had recovered.  And then, encouraged by the word of God to him, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward”, 15:1, he asked God for a spiritual blessing.  One which, moreover, would bless men for centuries, for it involved the coming of Christ, the true seed of Abraham.  So it was that Abraham learnt where true riches came from, and what to do when tempted by earthly gain.  He is the father of all them that believe, Romans 4:16, so he is our role-model in this matter.  May we be as quick to learn these lessons as Abraham was.
And blind- they no doubt had “an eye for a bargain”, and could see a good deal when it presented itself, but as to spiritual realities, they were blind.  Their eyes lit up when they opened their safe and the gold spilled out, but they were blind to the glories of Christ.  Thankfully, this situation is not without remedy, as the next verse will indicate.  Their blindness is not incurable blindness, as long as they respond to Christ’s word.
And naked- no doubt they came to the gatherings in their finery, with expensive cloth and lavish adornments, but in reality they were bare, as far as the Lord was concerned.  He looks within, on the heart, and He gives His frank assessment of them as they really are, not as they appear to men.

3:18  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 to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich- notice that the Lord does not command them to do this, but advises them for their best spiritual interests.  He is looking for willing obedience.  They have to buy.  They were used to buying in the marketplace with the currency of Laodicea, but this is purchasing with the currency of heaven.  The Lord values submission, and changes of heart, and acknowledgement of past wrong attitudes.  He is prepared to exchange them for real riches when these things are in evidence.  Spirituality cannot be bought with earth’s money, but it can be purchased by spiritual exercise.  He does not offer to give these riches to them, for really speaking that has already been done.  What He is looking for is an occupation with things they already have, but which they have neglected.  They had only to re-read the epistle to their neighbouring assembly, Colosse, to realise that they already had “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” in Christ, Colossians 2:3.
Paul writes, “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, Colossians 2:1-3.
Paul agonised in prayer, (the word “conflict” is “agona”, from which we derive the word agony, and it is used in Luke 22:44 of Christ’s conflict in Gethsemane), in view of the greatness of the truth he has just written about in chapter one, and in view, also, of the greatness of the danger that lurked all around them, which danger he is about to write about.  Agony is the exertion of the athlete as he strives to attain his objective.  Paul is not striving to win for himself, but that the Colossians might do so.  He knows that hostile spirit-forces are opposing the believers, seeking to make them go off course.  Jericho was a barrier to Israel, the stronghold that prevented them from entering in to the inheritance that God had given them.  The word Jericho means “City of the moon”, and Paul reminds the Ephesians believers that they wrestle against “the rulers of the darkness of this world”, Ephesians 6:12.
Even though we have an intercessor on high, Romans 8:34, and an intercessor within, 8:26, we still need to pray ourselves, for the Spirit helps us as we pray; He does not intercede instead of us but alongside of us.  Prayer is a sign of our dependence on God and faith in God.
Interestingly, Paul was praying for the Laodiceans also, and others that he had not met personally.  As we have seen, the believers in Laodicea suffered spiritually because they allowed material prosperity to affect their appreciation of Christ.  This can easily happen when prosperity comes, for dependence upon the Lord can easily decline and we become self-sufficient.  We must remember that even though in Old Testament times financial prosperity was a sign of God’s approval, in this age it is not so.  In fact, the apostle writes to Timothy that he should turn away from those who said that gain was a sign of godliness, 1 Timothy 6:5.  As the Lord Jesus said, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”, Matthew 16:26.  As we start out on the Christian pathway we should resolve to go in for spiritual things, even if that means less material things.  This will be to the profit of our souls.  This will prevent the tragedy of looking back on a life spent in worldly pursuits, and asking what, out of the accumulated wealth we have acquired, can we give to buy back the lost opportunities.  The answer is, of course, nothing.
Paul sums up the spiritual riches that are available to us in the phrase, “all riches of the full assurance of understanding”. This is one of Paul’s complicated phrases.  It is best understood by beginning at the end and working backwards. The main subject of the phrase is “understanding”.  Then we have the “full assurance of understanding”.  Then we have “all riches of the full assurance of the understanding”. 
The word understanding as used here means literally “to put together”, and refers to the believer’s ability to relate truth to truth so as to gain a right appreciation of Divine things.  This demands effort, concentration and persistence, but it reaps a reward, as the word riches indicates. 
Full assurance may be thought of as complete confidence.  Many believers lack assurance because they do not allow the truth of the word of God to govern their thinking.  Instead of appreciating what God has done for them and in them through Christ, they look to themselves, and find failure and weakness.  This only unsettles and disturbs, whereas if we look to what God has done we shall be assured in our hearts.  This is not to say that we may be complacent about our failures and shortcomings, but we should remember that the true believer is “accepted in the Beloved”, Ephesians 1:4, not accepted by God because of anything he has done or been.
No wonder the apostle speaks of “all riches”, for every conceivable blessing has been granted to the believer, Ephesians 1:3, and it only remains to enter in to an appreciation of these things in faith.
The great goal the apostle had as he prayed for these believers is now set out for us.  We might well pray this prayer for our fellow-believers, too, as well as for ourselves.  He desires that they fully acknowledge, or are fully acquainted with, the truths that he, as an apostle, had been entrusted with, and which had passed on to the saints. 
He has set us the goal of the (full) knowledge of God, in 1:10.  The eternal life we receive when we believe not only enables us to know God initially, but it empowers us to get to know Him increasingly.  This is the highest goal set before us, and the life we have been given enables us to achieve it, in dependence upon God.  To have the knowledge of God in this way will mean that we have God alone as our object; all other knowledge will recede.  Believers will be totally absorbed with who and what God is, in eternity.  Moreover, with that knowledge will come insight into all that is mysterious now.  Those many things which seem so puzzling will be resolved then, as we are enabled to fathom to some degree the inner secrets of God’s purpose.  We should strive for that now, but it will only be fully realised in eternity, when all that hinders us will have been removed.
There was a mystery about God as Father that has now been disclosed to believers.  The Lord Jesus, when He prayed to His Father as recorded in John 17, was able to say “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it”, verse 26.  So the name, (meaning the person), of the Father had been declared by the Son by His life down here.  God had not been addressed as Father by any in the Old Testament.  The psalmist had used a figure of speech when he wrote of God pitying His children as a father does, Psalm 103:13, but the revelation of God as Father was only given when the Son came to reveal Him.  This revelation was so complete that He could say, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father”, John 14:9.  And as the apostle John wrote, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we might know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ”, 1 John 5:20.  As a result, when He went back to heaven He ascended back to one who is not only His Father, but ours too, John 20:17.
There is a mystery to be known about Christ as well. The word Christ, is a title, and relates to an office.  The word means “Anointed”, and marks out the Lord Jesus as the long-promised Messiah.  There is a further dimension to His Christ-hood, however, as indicated by Peter on the Day of Pentecost.  He declared that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.  The Jews knew that the Christ or Messiah would be their King; now they learn that He will have another way to exercise His office, for as the Ascended One He unites His people with Himself in the same way as the human body is joined to its head.  It was the special task of the apostle to set these things out; it remained for the Colossian believers to enter into an understanding of them.  As they did so, they would discover that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ.
Something of the spiritual excitement of the apostle as he thought of this wisdom and knowledge is conveyed to us by the word treasures.  To him, the knowledge Christ gives is worth more than earth’s riches.  We read about wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and there wisdom is personified, (an anticipation of the coming of Christ the Wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24), and speaks like this, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.  Riches and honour are with me;  yea, durable riches and righteousness.  My fruit is better than gold;  yea, than fine gold;  and my revenue than choice silver.  I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgement:  that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance;  and I will fill their treasures”, Proverbs 8:17-21.
Notice that the Lord offers gold tried in the fire.  This tells us two things about the gold.  First, that it has no dross.  The Gnostic teachers who circulated in Asia Minor were seeking to contaminate the pure gold of Christ’s glory with the base metal of man’s reasonings.  Second, it means that it is durable.  The fire that will dissolve the gold of earth at the dissolution of all things will not affect it; it will endure for ever.  How much more worth having is such gold than the filthy lucre of earth. 
And white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear- as soon as doctrine is ignored, character suffers.  Clothing in Scripture is symbolic of character.  Sadly, the Laodiceans, for all the resources at their disposal to buy fine raiment, they were, in God’s eyes, naked and shamed.  The apostle Paul had exhorted the believers at nearby Colosse to “put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man hath a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness”, Colossians 3:12-14.  This is what it means to be clothed with white raiment, displaying the features of Christ.  If they do this, not only will they be out of sight, (“the shame of thy nakedness shall not appear”), but they will be clothed, (so that Christ alone is seen).
And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see- in their pre-conversion days it could be said of them as of the Ephesians, “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart”, Ephesians 4:18.  The gospel had changed all that, and they could say, like the blind man, “once I was blind, but now I can see”, John 9:25.  That initial insight needs to deepen, so that Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened, that they might know more fully the things of God.  The way this happens is for the Spirit to become to us the Spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:17,18.  This is similar to the anointing with eyesalve that is spoken of to the Laodiceans, so that, recovered to full sight, they could go on to fuller enlightenment.  They do not have to buy the Spirit, for He already indwells them if they are believers.  What they need to do is apply Him to their situation, and avail ourselves of His ministry of restoration.
It has often been pointed out that Samson, the last judge in the Book of Judges, (although Samuel judged after him), was blinded by the Philistines.  Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, was blinded by the Babylonians as Ezekiel had prophesied when he said, “yet he shall not see it, though he die there”, for he would be blinded before he arrived as a captive in Babylon, Ezekiel 12:13; 2 Kings 25:7.  And now the Laodiceans, the last church addressed, had been blinded by the world also.

3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten- the rebuking and chastening of the Lord is an evidence of His love and concern, and should not be resented.  As Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs, (the handbook he wrote for his son Rehoboam, to instruct him how to rule wisely), “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth”, Proverbs 3:11,12.  Interestingly Solomon went on to say, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.  For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.  She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her”, Proverbs 3:13-15.  So the verdict of Solomon, (and remember he was given wisdom and riches by God, even though he only asked for wisdom, 2 Chronicles 1:7-12), was that there was merchandise consisting of wisdom and merchandise consisting of silver, gold and rubies.  The wise believer will choose the former.  It may be the Lord will give him the latter as well, for wisdom enables a man to handle riches.  But if it should be that we choose the riches without the wisdom, then, to remedy the situation, chastening may have to be applied to us to bring us to our senses. 
Be zealous therefore, and repent- instead of being zealous in the pursuit of riches, they should change their mind and their attitude radically.

Verse 20    The attitude of Christ if His appeal is not heeded

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

Behold I stand at the door and knock- where there is a prevailing attitude of self-sufficiency and self-congratulation in a company, then clearly the Lord cannot associate Himself with that, for it is foreign to His nature.  He became poor that we might be spiritually rich.  He has not changed His attitude now that He has gone back to heaven.  The apostle Paul commanded Timothy to withdraw himself from those who said that gain was godliness, 1 Timothy 6:5.  That was not the situation in the Old Testament.  If a man like Abraham had large flocks and herds, then it was a sign of God’s favour.  Under the law, obedience was rewarded by bountiful harvests, and disobedience brought with it famine.  It is not so now, for the coming of Christ has changed everything.  Now, those who pursue wealth are to be turned from, for they clearly have not learnt the basic principles of Christianity.  Or, if they have learned them do not follow them.
The passage does not explicitly say that Christ is outside of the church.  After all, He is seen as walking in the midst of the circle of seven churches in Asia, 2:1, so He is surveying them from the outside.  So the emphasis here is not on what He is outside of, but what He desires to enter into.  He has been excluded from the lives of many in the company, and He appeals to them to repent; but He also appeals to those who value Him and seek fellowship with Him.  If they are to survive the carnal conditions prevailing in the professed church, they must be in a spiritual state individually. 
So it is that the Lord stands outside of the heart’s door of the true believer, longing to have fellowship with him; He can have no fellowship with the majority in the company.  This is a similar situation to the one described by the Lord in the upper room, when He said, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him…if a man love Me, he will keep My words”, John 14:21, 23. 
If any man hear My voice- this is one of the tests of a true believer, for the Lord said about the true shepherd, “the sheep hear His voice…and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice…And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”, John 10:3,4,16,27.  This corresponds to the word about keeping His commandments in John 14.
And open the door- in the discourse about the Good Shepherd, the porter opened the door to the true shepherd because he knew who He was, knew He was genuine, and was waiting to welcome Him.  The Lord is looking for those like that in Laodicea. 
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me- in John 14 he takes the initiative and enters, here the one inside is responsible for opening the door, thus showing a heart that is in harmony with Him. 
The word for sup is the same as is used for the Lord’s Supper; but that does not mean that the Lord is here sanctioning the taking of the Lord’s Supper privately.  That Supper is a collective action on the part of the assembly, and is not individual.  What is in view here is what the two on the road to Emmaus knew when they constrained the Lord to abide with them, Luke 24:25-32.  They had listened to His words, and were obviously in harmony with Him, for they said later that their hearts burned within them while He talked with them.  As they partook of an evening meal together, the Lord took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.  They would have given thanks for the meal before they started to eat, but this is a special action by the Lord, and it transformed the ordinary meal into a time of special fellowship.  So it is that the promise to the one who opens the door of his life to Christ when He stands and knocks, is that He will sup with him, for He sees a heart that is full of love to Him.  But the fellowship is mutual, for it is “he with Me”, and the two are bonded in love and common interest.  This will more than compensate for any lack of real fellowship as the church meets together.

Verse 21    The award for those who overcome

3:21  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.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne- what a contrast is presented here.  On the one hand the believer is almost an outcast as regards those in the church, but now he is given the place of highest honour with Christ.  He had stood firm for spiritual principles during his life and testimony, and is now associated with the very place from which those principles emanated.  That position is a grant from Christ Himself, the archetypal overcomer, who has appreciated the stand this believer took for Him, and now compensates him.  At the present time the Lord Jesus is on the throne of God in heaven, having sat Himself down there in confidence, knowing that His work of purging sins at Calvary was done to His Father’s satisfaction, Hebrews 1:3.  In a day soon to come, however, He will occupy the throne of His father David on earth, Hebrews 1:8, and it is this throne that the overcomer will be associated with. 
Even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne- He overcame every obstacle, and is example to us.  It is said of Him, “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”, Hebrews 12:2.  He has overcome every obstacle, and is now “the Author and Finisher of our faith”, our great example, who, as Author, inspires our faith, and as Finisher, ensures it reaches its climax. 

Verse 22    The admonition to all the churches

3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Here is a warning to all churches, lest they become like Laodicea, and an encouragement to Laodicea, that the word to them is from the Spirit of God, and is designed to empower them to repent and change their attitudes and ways.

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