Revelation of John 3Thy works; thy doings,—thy character.—Dead; that is, in respect to ardor and interest in the cause of Christ.
As a thief; suddenly and unexpectedly.
Clothed in white raiment; the symbol, in ancient times, of official honor.
The key of David. A key is a symbol of trust and power. The key of David is the key of the house of David, as expressed, Isa. 22:22. It would represent, therefore, trust and power of the highest character over the people of God.
An open door; opportunities for promoting the cause of Christ. The image is in continuation of the metaphor expressed in the latter part of the preceding verse.
I will make them of the synagogue of Satan; deliver them up to the companionship and power of Satan.—Which say they are Jews, and are not; that is, whose professions of reverence for God are insincere. They say they are Jews, and not Christians, but by refusing to receive Jesus as the Messiah, they show that they are not honest believers in the Scriptures and have not really the spirit of Abraham. "He is not a Jew that is one outwardly," &c. (Rom. 2:28, 29.)—Worship before thy feet; join themselves humbly and reverently to the church of Christ.
The word of my patience, that is, my word enjoining patience.—To try them; to put their fidelity to test.
Hold that fast, &c.; be firm and decided in your Christian course.
The Amen, &c. The expressions by which Jesus designates himself are varied in the addresses to the several churches. Most of them are based on portions of the general description given of the appearance of the Son of man, as he manifested himself to John. (1:13-20.) The Amen is the one who confirms and establishes his word.
Hot. The word must not be understood as referring to excitement, but rather to energy and decision. It is calm and steady fidelity, resulting from settled principle, and not a short-lived ardor, which exhibits the true character of Christian devotion.
This mode of expression is only intended to express in a striking manner the displeasure of God against lukewarmness in his friends. We are by no means to understand from it that it is literally better to be open enemies. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus appear to have been timid and hesitating friends of Jesus; but their sin in not being more decided, was not as great as that of open enemies; and so Felix and Agrippa were not as guilty as Caiaphas and Herod And, in modern times, we find that those who regard the Institution, and truths of religion with the most friendly and respectful feelings, constitute the class from which, ordinarily, the greatest number of conversions to true Christianity take place. We are, therefore, clearly to understand this passage only as a pointed and antithetical manner of conveying the general idea that lukewarmness and indifference in the cause of Christ are very sinful, and highly displeasing to God.
I am rich rich; in piety and good works. They whose religious attainments are really the least, take generally the greatest pride in them.
This and similar passages, often occurring in the Scriptures, justly afford great comfort to the afflicted and the sorrowful. The view which they present is abundantly confirmed by daily experience, since the almost magic effect of trial and suffering in softening the heart, and opening it to the access of spiritual enjoyments, is very obvious to all who have experienced them.
Here end the epistles to the seven churches of Asia. These churches were situated on the main land, near to the Island of Patmos, where John was then residing; and they are named in geographical order, as they would naturally present themselves to the mind of the writer, as he passed in imagination from one to the other, over the region in which they were situated. The nature of the instructions which they contain,—the fact that a mystical number, seven, was the number of churches addressed,—the incorporation of the epistles into this mysterious book,—and, still more, the general address to Christians with which the several epistles are closed,—all conspire to indicate that these warnings and instructions were intended, even in a higher sense than the other Epistles of the New Testament, for the church at large in all ages. They have, accordingly, exerted an influence in respect to the standard of piety, and to the aims and obligations of the Christian life, fully equal to that of any other writings of the apostles. These letters constitute the first division of the book of Revelation. The reader will now enter upon a portion of the book entirely different from what has preceded it, both in structure and design.
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