Revelation 3

3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis [rich and important commercial center; city characterized by moral decadence / center for worship of pagan deity Cybele, a sex goddess; no indication that Christians were persecuted there] write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God [refers to the Holy Spirit in His perfection; God worked through the Holy Spirit in the seven churches] and the seven stars [cf. Rev. 1:16,20]. I know your deeds; you have a reputation [name] of being alive [lots of activity], but you are dead [inward spiritual condition; no threat to their immoral community; perhaps under influence of immoral surroundings; cf. Rom. 12:2].

3:2 Wake up [urgent admonition to be watchful; city had experienced two military defeats because sentries fell asleep at their posts]! Strengthen what [Christian traits or members] remains and is about to die [need for urgent/decisive action], for I have not found your deeds [works not measure up to God’s standards] complete [unfulfilled purpose] in the sight of my God.

3:3 Remember [recall], therefore, what [the gospel and instruction about the Christian life] you have received and heard; obey [hold fast or keep a firm grip on] it, and repent [imperative not option]. But if [condition] you do not wake up [continual watchful attitude], I will come [(perhaps final) warning of sudden judgment] like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you [suggests they would be unprepared].

3:4 Yet you have a few [not all members were a disappointment; God notices faithfulness of individuals; some had not given in to indifference/complacency] people in Sardis who have not soiled [mingling with pagan life] their clothes [lives/attitude toward God]. They will walk [fellowship] with me, dressed in white [purity/upright life or heavenly raiment], for they are worthy [made possible by fellowship with the Lord].

3:5 He [any member of the church] who overcomes will [church was not beyond hope], like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out [erase/remove] his name from the book of life [registry of citizens of heaven], but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels [cf. Matt. 10:32].

3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia [located in a mountainous area; wine producing area; chief god of city was Dionysius or Bacchus, the god of wine; gateway to the East] write: These are the words of Him who is holy [set apart for God’s work; cf. 4:8] and true [genuine, not an imitation like pagan gods worshiped in Philadelphia; cf. 6:10], who holds [cf. John 14:6] the key [signifies power and authority] of David [Jesus is the promised Messiah of David’s lineage]. What He opens [door to the kingdom or door of faith as in Acts 14:27] no one can shut [regardless of what their persecutors said], and what He shuts no one can open.

3:8 I know [have accurate insight] your deeds [service to Christ in midst of difficulties]. See, I have placed before you an open door [perhaps a reference to missionary or evangelistic opportunity; cf. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3] that no one can shut. I know that you have little [suggests church in Philadelphia was small, poor, and lacking in influence] strength, yet you have kept [suggests specific occasion when they could have done otherwise] my word [did not embrace heresy] and have not denied my name [did not call Caesar “Lord” but remained loyal to Christ].

3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan [cf. 2:9], who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars — I will make them come and fall down at your feet [defeated enemies] and acknowledge [recognize] that I have loved you [you are God’s true people – His church; vindication before enemies].

3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you [keep faithful while undergoing trial] from the hour of trial [perhaps intensity of pressure to participate in emperor worship or perhaps final ordeal of judgment] that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

3:11 I am coming soon [imminent return]. Hold on [remain loyal even though they had “little strength” (v. 8:b)] to what you have [do not allow your commitment to be sabotaged], so that no one [opponents of Christ] will take your crown [reference to reward not salvation; crown of victory awarded to victorious athlete].

3:12 Him [every believer] who overcomes I will [promise] make a pillar [gives stability to a structure; meaningful because Philadelphia was a city subject to earthquakes] in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it [no possibility of separation from the Lord]. I will write on [to establish identification, recognition, and ownership] him the name of my God [identity with God] and the name of the city of my God [signifying citizenship], the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name [signifying ownership].

3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear [and understand and act upon; cf. Mark 4:9] what the Spirit says to the churches.

3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea [important and wealthy commercial center located in the Lycus valley] write: These are the words of the Amen [represented Christ’s stability and complete trustworthiness], the faithful and true [genuine as opposed to imitation] witness [the absolute truth about God], the ruler [agent as in Col. 1:16-18 and authority over whole created order] of God’s creation.

3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold [like pure invigorating waters of Colossae] nor hot [like healing/medicinal waters of Hierapolis]. I wish you were either one or the other!

3:16 So, because you are lukewarm [tepid; spiritual lethargy; indifferent and uncommitted] – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out [with disgust] of my mouth [indicates impending judgment].

3:17 You say, ‘I am rich [proud and self-sufficient]; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize [unaware of real spiritual condition; “you don’t know how bad off you are” (CEV)] that you are wretched, pitiful, poor [destitute, as in 2:9], blind [to pitiful spiritual condition; Laodicea produced a salve made from “phrygian powder” mixed with oil to treat eye diseases: applied in form of doughy paste] and naked [physically well-dressed but spiritually naked; ironic analogy because Laodicea bred sheep whose glossy black wool was used to make expensive garments].

3:18 [threefold admonition] I counsel you [church in Laodicea] to [1] buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich [for eternity]; and [2] white [suggests purity] clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness [symbol of judgment and humiliation]; and [3] salve to put on your eyes, so you can see [spiritually; see themselves as they were].

3:19 Those whom I love [underlying motivation] I rebuke and discipline [with a redemptive aim]. So be earnest [zealous in devotion to God; same root word as for “hot” in v. 15; not complacent], and repent [imperative not option].

3:20 [Behold!] Here I am [a call to take notice]! I stand at the door [outside and away from the central place of the church and life of the individual] and knock [keeping on knocking; intended to get attention of those inside]. If anyone hears my voice [in addition to knocking, Christ was calling out] and opens the door [Christ will not force His way inside], I will come in and eat with him [fellowship], and he with me.

3:21 To him [individual] who overcomes [refers to those who have continuous fellowship with Christ], I will give the right to sit with me on my throne [signifies great honor], just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

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