V.1 And to the Church/Ecclesia in (a)Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the (e)seven Spirits of (b)God and the (e)seven stars; I know thy works and thou hast (c)a name that thou livest and art (d)dead.
(a) Ancient capital of Lydia (7-6 cent. B.C.) which Empire stretched from Aegean to central Anatolia, now Turkey; and a major centre of trade with all Asia. It housed a vast pagan temple to Cybele ("Mother of the gods". See Smyrna).
(b) God (Father as the revealed God and in the case of the Jews "Jehovah" as they were/are in “Covenant” relationship with Him; see all of Deut. etc.).
(c) See 2:17. Referring here to the Jewish Assembly; and Deut. 29 etc.
(d) Dead; = Alive no longer, but not dead bodies. Clearly not active in zeal! Clearly not addressing Christians, as they are "alive in Christ"; and at this stage are in Raptured form, in the opinion of the writers.
(e) See 1:20.
V.2 (a)Become watchful, and strengthen the (b)remaining things, that were ready to die: for I have not found thy (c)works (d)perfect before God.
(a) Implying they had been careless, see Matt. 24:42; remembering that Jesus was speaking to only Israel at that time. (For knowledgeable Christians, they too need to “watch”, the world events, especially the Middle East).
(b) Clearly the remaining values are precious to Christ, and linked to the Covenant they have with Jehovah.
(c) Works again emphasised, (as opposed to Grace now, which applies until the end of this Age/Dispensation).
(d) Not completed or accomplished. This as per their Old Testament behaviour, with its resultant "Lo-Ammi condition of Israel (Hos. 1-2)". The Lord again warned Israel of these faults in His first advent. See Luke 21:34-36, Mark 13:34-37, and elsewhere.
V.3 Remember therefore how thou has received and (b)heard, and keep, and repent. (a)If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a (c)thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
(a) Shows that those that do watch (the signs), will know the LORD'S return. This dire warning from Christ, shows that even as a specially blessed group, they are close to being excluded and possibly destroyed. This condition must have derived, due to under-valuing the call and commission of Christ, as opposed to their Earthly surroundings and temptations, under Satan at that time.
(b) Matt. 24:14.
(c) 1Thess. 5:2, Matt. 24:43, Luke 12:39 and 2Peter 3:10.
V.4 But thou hast a few (a)people in Sardis which have (d)defiled not their garments; and (e)they shall walk with Me in (b)white: for they are (c)worthy.
(a) The A.V. reads "names", but people is certainly correct.
(b) The white robes of Rev. 7:14 and 7:9.
(c) "Worthy", by the keeping of that received, (and 2:17). (John 16:33), Christ confirms that He has "Overcome" the world! He was the only One able to do so! This confirms in Revelation the special Empowering for the "Overcomers", not for them to misuse!
(d) This is a statement of WORKs, not GRACE; therefore addressed to Jews and Proselytes in "the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10)"!
(e) See Rev. 19:7-8. These are the "Bride".
V.5 He that (a)Overcometh, thus shall be clothed in (b)white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the (c)Book of Life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His (d)angels.
(a) See Chp. 2:17.
(b) White, representing purity (Rev. 7:9).
(c) Book of Life; One only, The Lamb’s, from the “foundation” of the world, (Rev. 13:8, 17.8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27 & 22:19). Also (Dan. 12:1, Ex. 32:32-33, Psm. 69:18, Isa. 4:3, Ezk. 13:9 & Luke 10:20). The word “foundation”, should be translated "overthrow", see comments on these references.
(d) Angels, these clearly have considerable standing. Matt. 16:27, 10:32, Luke 12:8, Mark 8:38 & Matt. 10:33-42, (Eph. 3:10 applies to the Church witness to Heavenly creation). The fact that here Christ witnesses to God and angels, as to the "Overcomers" success, with the help of the Holy Spirit (which they will request) underlines for Heaven’s occupants the perfection of God’s Plans of Salvation against Satan! That all this refers to the Jews is shown in the contrast of Romans 8, where the condition and blessing of people "in Christ", is shown, albeit pre. Acts. 28:28 at that time, with the "Spirit" (new nature) emphasised, (App. 101: 2 & 5).
General comment: This verse underlines again that during the time enacted, (yet future), behaviour and works relative to the special calling of these seven groups determine whether they remain in the Lamb's Book of Life. This "Book" is certainly the same "Book of Life", referred to in the Old Testament, and is made up of those "known since the foundation (overthrow) of the world". Also those known prior to the overthrow, the Body of Christ, or the "True Church, were/are foreknown"!
V.6 (a)He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
(a) A formula of words used by the Lord alone. (See Comp. App. 142). In the Lord's Ministry (approx. 3 years), He is recorded as using this phrase and its meaning 7 times. The fact that it is unique to HIM, with all the Authority that conveys, clearly underlines His Authorship of Revelation, where it is used 8 times, 8 meaning "new beginning", (App. 10, Comp. Bible).
V.7 And to the angel of the Church in (d)Philadelphia write; These things saith the (c)Holy One, The (a)True One, He that hath the key of (b)David, He that openeth, and no one shutteth, and shutteth, and no one openeth.
(a) True, (Comp. App. 175.2). The fact of the need to state "The True One"; indicates the many false Christ's, that Jesus warned against (Mk. 13:22 and Matt. 24:24).
(b) "Key of David"; indicating clearly and totally Jewish context! (Isa. 22:22). In the whole of Isaiah 22, the emphasis is on the restoration of the whole house of Israel and Judah, in the form of the new true Israel "Jeshuran" brought about by Elohim (meaning whom Jehovah sets up), i.e. Christ at His return. (Rev. 1:18).
(c) See 4:8, and comments.
(d) Philadelphia was a pagan missionary base, for the pagan gods of originally Babylon. They bestowed the Roman Emperor with the title "the son of the holy one"!
V.8 (a)I know thy works: behold, I have (b)given before thee an open door, and no one can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and held fast My word (c)Logos, and didst not deny (d)My name.
(a) The all-knowing power of Almighty God, here expressed by Christ/Messiah.
(b) The door open before the Philadelphians, which no one can shut, is due to "little strength", (potential power still latent in them), which only Christ who "knows the heart", can hold open. Underlines the special, individual empowering of each group, being different, to suit the challenges but the power has to be requested!
(c) The word (logos) (re. the essential Truth of Jehovah/Christ's Plan and Mission), can be further developed by the Philadelphians, both in resisting Satan (V9) and in example and work, and honouring Jehovah/Christ's name.
(d) This holding and honouring of Jehovah’s name and command, in direct anti-thesis to the failure of Israel previously, in all their history; and will be eventually observed by all the Earth's population, and Heavenly Creation.
Also, the reference is to not receiving the Beast's mark etc., Chp. 13.
V.9 Behold, I will give them of the (a)gathering of (b)Satan, which say they are (c)Jews, and are not but do lie; behold (e)I will compel to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I (d)love thee.
(a) See Matt. 13:24-30, the tares and wheat in Palestine look identical until the harvest, when the tares (ZEWAN) turn almost black in the ear, and the sorting is then made easy, without damage to the wheat. It is almost certain that the harvest referred to is that of Rev. 14:15, as the Son of Man, and prior to the 7 last plagues. There are parallels in this present (Body) of the so called Church Age, regarding the workers of Satan.
(b) See whole of Comp. App. 19; which shows that the serpent of Genesis is a complete fabrication compared with the truth, which Satan is happy to leave in place, and for people to believe. The mistranslations do not show that Satan tempting Eve was (and still is) a magnificent creature of God's Creation, who anybody, let alone Eve, would listen to (obey is a different matter). The use of the word "serpent", is a Satan induced error of the Hebrew word Nachash = "a shining one", and Saraph = "a burning one". A correct understanding is derived by study of the words in context; i.e. Isa. 6:2 and 6, Num. 21 and many others. In the Hebrew and Chaldee, these words were interchanged frequently; and are "shining one", "burning one", also brass or bronze.
(c) See Chp. 2:9.
(d) Comp. App. 135:I 1.
(e) Isa. 60:14.
V.10 Because thou hast kept the word of My (a)patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, which is about to come upon all the (b)world, to try them that dwell upon the (c)land/Earth.
(a) See Rev. 13:10 & 14:12.
(b) "World". This directly contrary to the teaching that only Israel affected, (see App. 129 (3)).
(c) This applies to Israel, but more probably to all the inhabitants of the Earth/world. (App. 129:4). Interestingly the PshittA translation alludes to all the world, and a footnote states "all habitation". There is a possible allusion to the Roman Empire boundaries first, as within them are the named Nations of Psm. 83 which has veracity in the context of Daniel. As "all flesh", is being dealt with in power by Jehovah Zebaoth for the first time since the Flood, it is probable that this latter comment is close to accuracy. The initial application is to Israel, but the latter to the whole world; See Joel and App. 183 Comp. Bible.
V.11 (a)I come quickly: (b)hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.
(a) Reminiscent of the Acts period, but this time without the Jewish human qualification of acceptance; see Acts 28 i.e. had Israel accepted Christ Jesus at Acts 28:28; He would have returned, and John the Baptist would have been "as Elijah"; (Matt. 17:12-13), and on this occasion the statement "I come quickly", is a statement of fact, and not subject to corporate Israel's acceptance of Him as Messiah.
(b) This comment clearly applies to the Jews in context.
The Body of Christ does not have or need such reward, as they are "ever with the Lord" at the "Rapture", and to be with Him is reward enough (1Thess. 4:17). The timing of this event is one of great controversy, some teach at the beginning of the "7 year count down", (so called because it is deemed to be the last 7 years of the prophecy given to Daniel in Dan. 9), which is the writers view. An alternative teaching is 3½ years after the beginning of the 7 years, and coinciding with "the breaking of the Covenant" of Daniel 9. A third is that the Rapture event is at the end of the 7 years. A major theme in the parts of the N.T. that deal with this subject is that the Body of Christ would not be destined for the Wrath of Almighty God, and that logic seems to be backed by Scripture. A possibility is that the Wrath of God on the Gentile Nations, which is alluded to in O.T., and seems specific in N.T., starts after the Salvaging of Remnant Israel. As Remnant Israel is rescued at a critical point in their "Jacob's Trouble" period, some teach that the Rapture of the Lord's Body is not until that event and is simultaneous. This idea raises the distinct possibility that the marking of the forehead or hand by the Beast/Antichrist, is for Israel only, see later discussion on this subject.
V.12 Him that (a)Overcometh will I make a pillar in the Sanctuary 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 (b)new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from My God: and I will write upon him (c)My new name.
(a) See 2:17.
(b) See Comp. (Rev. 21: 2,3 & 10). (Psm. 48:1,2,8 & 9), & (Ezek. 48:35). Also (App.8 and 197(4)).
(c) See Comp. (Rev. 14:1& 22:4). (Isa. 62:2 & 65:15). This "new name", and the references go forward in time to the beginning of the Millennial. At the time of enacting, V.12 is almost certainly towards the end of the Tribulation period (i.e. 2nd 3½ year period), and just prior to the return of Christ to Earth to save the remnant of His people Israel. The shift forward in time shows the importance of the behaviour and example that these 7 groups of Jewish Overcoming Christ-ones are to the total plan of Jehovah;
V.13 (a)He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
(a) Formula of words used by the Lord alone. (App. 142), and comment on V6.
V.14 And unto the angel of the Church in the (a)Laodiceans write; These things saith (b)The Amen the faithful and true Witness, (c)the beginning/chief ruler of the Creation of God.
(a) In the past, an important city of Phrygia in Asia Minor, (Anatolia). Known also as "the city of Zeus". In AD the coinage showed worship of Zeus, Apollo, Aesculapius, and the Roman Emperors.
Many Jews lived there, mainly from the dispersion to Babylon and Assyria.
The old city was destroyed by the Turkish and Mongol invasions.
(b) "The Amen" (see 2Cor. 1:20) Christ as God, and embodying all the promises and future fulfilment of Jehovah to Israel and the world. The Enemy corrupted the Amen to Ammon with connection to the Greek Pagan chief god Zeus, with the obvious intention of corrupting and stealing the Hebrew meaning. "The Faithful and True witness", (John 18:37).
(c) "Beginning and chief ruler of the Creation of God", (Col. 1:15-19, Prov. 8:22-31 & Rev. 4:11). The fact of Christ's existence before the overthrow ("Creation"), also gives meaning and understanding to the fact that Christ-ones were "known before the foundation of the world", (Eph. 1:4). That He as "Chief ruler", is part of His function through to the handing back to the Father of the completed work (1Cor. 15:24). The completed work is profound, and entails the binding of the great Enemy Satan, the banishment of the demons, ruling with "a rod of iron" the Nations of the world, and via. Michael the arc-angel, defeating Satan’s last attempt to corrupt the world and its peoples, and Israel. All Creation will be witness to these events in Heaven and on Earth. They will see the triumph of the Father's Love in Christ as "All in All".
V.15 (a)I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
(a) The tendency to "lukewarm”, is prevalent worldwide, and is the preferred human tendency, (and is propagated as "civilised and humane etc." by the Enemy). It is noticeable that "extremism" in most spheres is not condoned worldwide and in most cases is understandable. However; in the case of "The Truth", the Enemy has hijacked the principle to his own advantage through the Ages. In this case in V.15, it is clear that when Truth is known, the Lord requires courage and action, especially as He provides the enabling, for this Jewish Ecclesia, when they request!
V.16 (a)So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of My mouth.
(a) See V15, and comments; this verse shows the utter contempt Christ and the Father have for this type of group or person, especially in that Age (Administration), where the old failures are being retested, (Lev. 18: 25-28, 20:22, Zech. 11:1-9 and Hos. 4:6-7), prior to Satan's bondage and with Christ's enabling. This strong statement by the Lord Himself again indicates that these are future events. It is a fact that in the Church groupings of the Acts period, the tendency was to strong action.
In the Church Age (current) there are many Church groupings which are as described in verse 16, (i.e. weak) and they have not been spoken to or dealt with by Christ as He is threatening here on Laodicea/Ecclesia; as at present all is under "Grace", and the miss-teaching and inaction of many present Churches is subject to the "Bema" Judgement of Christ; or "Great White Throne Judgement of God", Rev. 20:11!
V.17 (a)Because thou sayest, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing"; and knowest/perceive not that thou art the wretched one and miserable, and in need/destitute, and blind, and naked.
(a) V.17 clearly shows the deception, misery and true blindness of the Laodiceans as they will rely on worldly wealth (gold etc.) instead of the True wealth of Christ in God, His knowledge and His enabling Spirit! (See Chapter 18). There is here reminiscence to Hos. 2:5-9.
V.18 I council thee to buy of Me (a)gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed and that the (b)shame of thy nakedness be not manifest; and (c)anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
(a) This reminiscent and comparable to Mal. 3:3, Hos. 2:18 and Hag. 2:8. The clear instruction in V.18, is to reverse their abject poverty and inability to "see", by purchasing the True gold, (wealth) of Christ, who is the "gold tried in the fire"! The question is begged, what do they use to purchase True gold? (See Chapter 18). Much effort is exerted by mankind in obtaining wealth (gold) as this gives a security and power of sorts. The whole world system is geared to that effect by the "god of this world". The security is illusory and short lived. Christ exhorts them to look to Him for the True security and empowering, and He gives the "true gold", His empowering spirit which He is ready to give them by their request and faith! (See Chps 2 & 3 exhortations). Their forefathers refused to do that, and instead relied on themselves, their idols and even the surrounding tribes; including their enemies at times! Moses and other prophets and leaders did, avail themselves of the "true gold"; See Heb. 11. The Greek word used can be interpreted "to buy", or "redeem".
The pressure at that time by the Enemy will be so great, the very act of faith of obeying the exhortation will affect the purchase from Christ, and is the constantly repeated exhortation "to Overcome" . It is clear that in each of the narratives of these 7 "Churches", groups, the main elements used against them by Satan are the same as used against their forbears, who failed miserably. Their redemption when He (Christ) appeared, they rejected. The same rejected One (Christ) is here restating the commands given by Jehovah to the forefathers, with His request, to overcome, as did He V.21.
The contest at this stage has reached a fine point, and the 7 Ecclesia groups, with Christ amongst them in Spirit, is re-enacting the Age old battle with the Enemy, in a very much shortened time scale.
These future facts, underline and emphasise the gift which is now available in this Age of Grace, to all who will accept the Father's love in Christ's work on the cross of Calvary, (John 3:16 and Acts 4:12); which is the "True Gold"!
(b) Jer. 13:25-26 & Hos. 2:3, etc.
(c) Isa. 59:10.
V.19 As many as I love I (a)convict and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
(a) Convict; the translation "rebuke", does not give the true meaning. A rebuke can be rejected, and most often is.
Conviction brings response from the heart, which is evident in these groups.
V.20 (a)Behold, I have taken My station 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.
(a) The context here is still Jewish, and refers to the 7 groups initially. However, the Jewish Nation will read and understand these words in the future and it will apply to many of them. As the present time (Age) applies to the Church (which is Christ's Body) the sense of this is that this yet future grouping will relate to Christ eventually as Bride. Hence the Bridegroom will be Christ and Christ-ones, and the Bride will be all the above mentioned, at least! (See Luke 12:35-38 and Rev. 19:9, etc.). The misapplication of the words "Behold, I stand at the door and knock", "if any man hear my voice", initially by Jerome, and subsequently by the Roman Church, followed by others, is to use Dr. Bullinger's words, "akin to blasphemy". As said the context is Jewish, the timing is certainly the latter part of the "7" remaining years of the revelation to Daniel, and is therefore the "Ammi", or just prior to the "Ammi" period. Further; the words "any man", should from the Greek be "certain men", meaning a particular grouping, in this context Jews.
V.21 (a)To him that Overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also Overcame, and am sat down with My Father in His throne.
(a) Here again the emphasis on Overcoming the Enemy and all his wiles etc., which their forefathers failed to do as the chosen people, and the "firstborn son"! The Overcoming principle will be easy for the Jewish groups to understand and to accept, as they are even now racked with guilt in their SIN. Jews, both the lay and the religious, are constantly trying to justify their position re. Jesus Christ. The religious in particular using mainly the "Wisdom Writings" which have been produced since Ezra and Nehemiah and which try to salve their conscience on "sin"! Christ railed against these writings produced by the "elite" of Israel, and showed their corruptions. This is one of the reasons Jesus was rejected by them!
The profound reality shown in the "Churches"/Ecclesia of Revelation, is that with the Spiritual help of the Risen Jesus Christ, which will be given on request, as it was in the Old Testament to Moses and many others, all the failures of Israel will be possible to be "Overcome". The profound nature of the reward for the Overcomers is shown by their extreme elevation, as described, as they shall sit with Christ in His throne, which certainly is the Millennial throne. This gives the sense to Matt. 20, where the sons of Zebedee are requesting an un-authorised future position by their mother. The Lord's answer gives the profound gravity of the conditions prevailing at the time of Revelations enactment. (See notes 19:5 (a)).
V.22 (a)He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
(a) Again, the Lord’s unique word usage, App. 142) and V.6.
Comment; what is being seen in these early Chapters of Revelation, is a repeat of the spiritual condition between Jehovah God, and His "Chosen People Israel" in the Old Testament, right through to the end of Acts, the Holy Spirit of Jehovah was available to the Jews in a dramatic form, but had to be requested in all cases by the action of their free will! It is notable that when Jehovah dwelt among Israel both in the Tabernacle and the Temple; they were at their greatest blessing. When the "Shekinah" (His Glorious Presence) left Israel, they declined, and for hundreds of years were not able to call on Jehovah's help in the same way, due to their evil acts and consorting with Canaan's gods and women!
When they had the chance of renewal with Jehovah, which was at Acts 2, and Peter's declaration, the enabling Holy Spirit was theirs again to use for witness etc!
This ceased at Acts 28:25-28, and Israel became "Lo-Ammi", which continues today, until this "Age of the Gentiles" ceases.
Gentiles (and Jews), can obtain the Holy Spirit's presence in the form of "the new nature", which is described in Romans 8 (and elsewhere) in correctly translated Scripture.
At the same time, the Christian is "sealed in Heaven", awaiting the completion!
This is not the same as the false claims of the "Charismatic Churches", who claim that they can "heal" etc., in the same mode as the Acts period! The "new nature", described by Paul, is at war with the "old man", as he described in Romans 7; and that remains the case until the completion, when Christ Jesus calls His Body to resurrection.
This "new nature" is not the same as the offer to Israel, which is eventually as "the Bride of Christ", but is akin to Christ Himself, as His "Body"! The "Bride", and the "Body", are eventually united in One, in Eternity!
At that stage "Christ will be All in All".
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