Revelation of John 3
In Sardis ( εν Σαρδεσιν ). Some thirty miles south-east of Thyatira, old capital of Lydia, wealthy and the home of Croesus, conquered by Cyrus and then by Alexander the Great, in B.C. 214 by Antiochus the Great, at the crossing of Roman roads, in a plain watered by the river Pactolus, according to Pliny the place where the dyeing of wool was discovered, seat of the licentious worship of Cybele and the ruins of the temple still there, called by Ramsay (op. cit., p. 354) "the city of Death," city of softness and luxury, of apathy and immorality, "a contrast of past splendour and present unresting decline" (Charles). Along with Laodicea it was blamed most of all the seven churches.
That hath the seven Spirits of God ( ο εχων τα επτα πνευματα του θεου ). For which picture of the Holy Spirit see 1:4.
And the seven stars ( κα τους επτα αστερας ). As in 1:16,20.
A name that thou livest ( ονομα οτ ζηις ). A name in contrast with reality. The οτ clause in apposition with ονομα.
And thou art dead ( κα νεκρος ε ). "The paradox of death under the name of life" (Swete). Not complete (a nucleus of life) death (verse 2), but rapidly dying. See the picture in Jas 2:17; 2Co 6:9; 2Ti 3:5.
Be thou watchful ( γινου γρηγορων ). Periphrastic imperative with present middle of γινομα (keep on becoming) and present active participle of γρηγορεω (late present from perfect εγρηγορα and that from εγειρω, as in Mt 24:42) and see 16:15 for γρηγορεω also. He does not say "Arise from the dead" (Eph 5:14), for there are vestiges of life. Those still alive are addressed through the angel of the church.
Stablish the things that remain ( στηρισον τα λοιπα ). First aorist active imperative of στηριζω, to make stable. Those not actually dead, but in grave peril. See a like command to Titus in Crete (Tit 1:5). Every new pastor faces such a problem.
Which were ready to die ( α εμελλον αποθανειν ). Imperfect active plural because the individuals, though neuter plural, are regarded as living realities. The imperfect looking on the situation "with a delicate optimism" (Swete) as having passed the crisis, a sort of epistolary imperfect.
For I have found no works of thine ( ου γαρ ευρηκα σου εργα ). "For I have not found any works of thine." Perfect active indicative of ευρισκω. The church as a whole represented by σου (thy).
Fulfilled ( πεπληρωμενα ). Perfect passive predicate participle of πληροω. Their works have not measured up to God's standard ( ενωπιον του θεου μου ).
Remember ( μνημονευε ). "Keep in mind," as in 2:5.
Therefore ( ουν ). Resumptive and coordinating as in 1:19; 2:5.
Thou hast received ( ειληφας ). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανω, "as a permanent deposit" (Vincent).
Didst hear ( ηκουσας ). First aorist active indicative, the act of hearing at the time.
And keep it ( κα τηρε ). Present active imperative of τηρεω, "hold on to what thou hast."
And repent ( κα μετανοησον ). First aorist active imperative of μετανοεω, "Turn at once."
If therefore thou shalt not watch ( εαν ουν μη γρηγορησηις ). Condition of third class with εαν μη and the first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of γρηγορεω, "if then thou do not wake up."
I will come ( ηξω ). Certainly future active here, though probably aorist subjunctive in 2:25.
As a thief ( ως κλεπτης ). As Jesus had already said (Mt 24:43; Lu 12:39), as Paul had said (1Th 5:2), as Peter had said (2Pe 3:10), as Jesus will say again (Re 16:15).
Thou shalt not know ( ου μη γνωις ). Strong double negative ου μη with second aorist active subjunctive of γινωσκω, though some MSS. have the future middle indicative γνωση.
What hour ( ποιαν ωραν ). A rare classical idiom (accusative) surviving in the Koine rather than the genitive of time, somewhat like Joh 4:52; Ac 20:16 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 470f.). Indirect question with ποιαν.
A few names ( ολιγα ονοματα ). This use of ονομα for persons is seen in the Koine (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 196f.) as in Ac 1:15; Re 11:13.
Did not defile ( ουκ εμολυναν ). First aorist active indicative of μολυνω (1Co 8:7; 1Pe 1:4), pollution.
They shall walk ( περιπατησουσιν ). Future active of περιπατεω, promise of fellowship with Christ ( μετ' εμου, with me) "in white" ( εν λευκοις ), as symbols of purity (7:9,13) like the angel (Mt 28:3), with possibly a reference to Enoch (Ge 5:22). For they are worthy ( οτ αξιο εισιν ). To walk with Christ, not worthy in the same sense as God and Christ (4:11; 5:9), but in a relative sense. See Re 16:6 for bad sense of αξιος.
Shall be arrayed ( περιβαλειτα ). Future middle indicative of περιβαλλω, to fling around one, here and in 4:4 with εν and the locative, but usually in this book with the accusative of the thing, retained in the passive or with the middle (7:9,13; 10:1; 11:3; 12:1; 17:4; 18:16; 19:8,13).
In white garments ( εν ιματιοις λευκοις ). Apparently the spiritual bodies in the risen life as in 2Co 5:1,4 and often in Revelation (3:4,5; 6:11; 7:9,13f.; 19:8).
I will in no wise blot out ( ου μη εξαλειψω ). Strong double negative ου μη and the first aorist active (or future) of εξαλειφω, old word, to wipe out (Ac 3:19).
Of the book of life ( εκ της βιβλου της ζωης ). Ablative case with εκ. This divine register first occurs in Ex 32:32f. and often in the O.T. See Lu 10:20; Php 4:3; Re 13:8; 20:15; 21:27. The book is in Christ's hands (13:8; 21:27).
His name ( το ονομα αυτου ). The name of the one who overcomes ( ο νικων ). Clear reminiscence of the words of Christ about confessing to the Father those who confess him here (Mt 10:32; Mr 8:38; Lu 9:26; 12:8). Whether John knew the Synoptic Gospels (and why not?) he certainly knew such sayings of Jesus.
In Philadelphia ( εν Φιλαδελφια ). Some twenty-eight miles south-east of Sardis, in Lydia, subject to earthquakes, rebuilt by Tiberius after the great earthquake of A.D. 17, for a time called in coins Neo-Caesarea, in wine-growing district with Bacchus (Dionysos) as the chief deity, on fine Roman roads and of commercial importance, though not a large city, called by Ramsay (op. cit., p. 392) "the Missionary City" to promote the spread of the Graeco-Roman civilization and then of Christianity, later offering stubborn resistance to the Turks (1379-90 A.D.) and now called Ala-Sheher (reddish city, Charles, from the red hills behind it). The chief opposition to the faithful little church is from the Jews (cf. Ro 9-11). There are some 1,000 Christians there today.
The holy, he that is true ( ο αγιοσ, ο αληθινος ). Separate articles (four in all) for each item in this description. "The holy, the genuine." Asyndeton in the Greek. Latin Vulgate, Sanctus et Verus. Hο αγιος is ascribed to God in 4:8; 6:10 (both αγιος and αληθινος as here), but to Christ in Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34; Joh 6:69; Ac 4:27,30; 1Jo 2:20, a recognized title of the Messiah as the consecrated one set apart. Swete notes that αληθινος is verus as distinguished from verax ( αληθης ). So it is applied to God in 6:10 and to Christ in 3:14; 19:11 as in Joh 1:9; 6:32; 15:1.
He that hath the key of David ( ο εχων την κλειν Δαυειδ ). This epithet comes from Isa 22:22, where Eliakim as the chief steward of the royal household holds the keys of power. Christ as the Messiah (Re 5:5; 22:16) has exclusive power in heaven, on earth, and in Hades (Mt 16:19; 28:18; Ro 14:9; Php 2:9f.; Re 1:18). Christ has power to admit and exclude of his own will (Mt 25:10f.; Eph 1:22; Re 3:21; 19:11-16; 20:4; 22:16).
And none shall shut ( κα ουδεις κλεισε ). Charles calls the structure Hebrew (future active indicative of κλειω ), and not Greek because it does not correspond to the present articular participle just before ο ανοιγων (the one opening), but it occurs often in this book as in the very next clause, "and none openeth" ( κα ουδεις ανοιγε ) over against κλειων (present active participle, opening) though here some MSS. read κλειε (present active indicative, open).
I have set ( δεδωκα ). Perfect active indicative of διδωμ, "I have given" (a gift of Christ, this open door). See Lu 12:51 for a like use of διδωμ.
A door opened ( θυραν ηνεωιγμενην ). Perfect (triple reduplication) passive predicate participle of ανοιγω (verse 7) accusative feminine singular. The metaphor of the open door was a common one (Joh 10:7-9; Ac 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Col 4:3; Re 3:20; 4:1). Probably it means here a good opportunity for missionary effort in spite of the Jewish hostility.
Which ( ην--αυτην ). Pleonastic vernacular and Hebrew repetition of the personal pronoun αυτην (it) after the relative ην (which). Direct reference to the statement in verse 7.
That ( οτ ). This conjunction resumes the construction of οιδα σου τα εργα (I know thy works) after the parenthesis ( ιδου--αυτην, Behold--shut).
A little power ( μικραν δυναμιν ). Probably "little power," little influence or weight in Philadelphia, the members probably from the lower classes (1Co 1:26f.).
And didst keep ( κα ετηρησας ). "And yet (adversative use of κα ) didst keep" (first aorist active indicative of τηρεω ) my word in some crisis of trial. See Joh 17:6 for the phrase "keeping the word."
Didst not deny ( ουκ ηρνησω ). First aorist middle indicative second person singular of αρνεομα. The issue was probably forced by the Jews (cf. 2:9), but they stood true.
I give ( διδω ). Late omega form for διδωμ, but the -μ form in 17:13 ( διδοασιν ). These Jewish converts are a gift from Christ. For this use of διδωμ see Ac 2:27; 10:40; 14:3. There is ellipse of τινας before εκ as in 2:10 ( εξ υμων ) and see 2:9 for "the synagogue of Satan."
Of them which say ( των λεγοντων ). Ablative plural in apposition with συναγωγης. On the construction of εαυτους Ιουδαιους εινα see on 2:9 ( Ιουδαιους εινα εαυτους, the order of words being immaterial).
But do lie ( αλλα ψευδοντα ). Present middle indicative of ψευδομα, explanatory positive, addition here to κα ουκ εισιν of 2:9, in contrast also with ο αληθινος of verse 7 and in Johannine style (Joh 8:44; 1Jo 1:10; 2:4).
I will make them ( ποιησω αυτους ). Future active indicative of ποιεω, resuming the prophecy after the parenthesis ( των--ψευδοντα, which say--but do lie).
To come and worship ( ινα ηξουσιν κα προσκυνησουσιν ). "That they come and worship" (final clause, like facio ut in Latin, with ινα and the future active of ηκω and προσκυνεω ). The language is based on Isa 45:14; 60:14. The Jews expected homage (not worship in the strict sense) from the Gentiles, but it will come to the Christians at last (1Co 14:24). Later Ignatius (Philad. 6) warns this church against Judaizing Christians, perhaps one result of an influx of Jews.
And to know ( κα γνωσιν ). Continuation of the purpose clause with ινα, but with the second aorist active subjunctive rather than the less usual future indicative. See both constructions also with ινα in 22:14. Probably a reminiscence of Isa 43:4 in εγω ηγαπησα σε (I loved thee), first aorist active indicative.
Patience ( υπομενης ). "Endurance" as in 13:10; 14:12 as also in 2Th 3:5.
Thou didst keep ( ετηρησας )
--I also will keep ( καγω τηρησω ). Aorist active indicative and future active corresponding to each other. For a like play on the tenses of this verb by Christ see Joh 17:6 ( τετηρηκαν ), Joh 17:11 ( τηρησον ), Joh 17:12 ( ετηρουν ).
From the hour of trial ( εκ της ωρας του πειρασμου ). This use of εκ after τηρεω in Joh 17:15, απο in Jas 1:27. Trial brings temptation often (Jas 1:2,13). Jesus endured (Heb 12:1f.) and he will help them. There is still a church in Philadelphia in spite of the Turks.
Which is to come ( της μελλουσης ερχεσθα ). Agreeing with ωρας (feminine), not with πειρασμου (masculine).
Upon the whole world ( επ της εποικουμενης ολης ). The inhabited earth ( γης ) as in Re 12:19; Lu 2:1; Ac 16:6, etc.), not the physical earth, but the world of men as explained by the next clause.
To try ( πειρασα ). First aorist active infinitive of purpose from πειραζω, probably to tempt (cf. the demons in 9:1-21), not merely to afflict (2:10).
That dwell upon the earth ( τους κατοικουντας επ της γης ). Present active articular participle of κατοικεω, explaining "the whole world" just before.
I come quickly ( ερχομα ταχυ ). As in 2:16; 22:7,12,20. "The keynote of the book" (Beckwith). But allow the author's own meaning of "quickly."
Hold fast that which thou hast ( κρατε ο εχεις ). Sort of motto for each church (2:25).
That no one take ( ινα μηδεις λαβη ). Purpose clause with ινα and second aorist active subjunctive of λαμβανω. Here to take away "thy crown" (2:10) which will be thine if really won and not forfeited by failure (2Ti 4:8). In that case it will go to another (Mt 25:28; Ro 11:17f.).
He that overcometh ( ο νικων ). Nominative absolute as in 2:26, resumed by the accusative αυτον (him).
A pillar ( στυλον ). Old word for column, in N.T. only here, 10:1; Ga 2:9; 1Ti 3:15. Metaphorical and personal use with a double significance of being firmly fixed and giving stability to the building. Philadelphia was a city of earthquakes. "Temple" ( ναος ) here is also metaphorical (7:15), as in 1Ti 3:15 for the people of God. In 21:22 we read that there is no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem (21:10-22:5) descending as the new Jerusalem with God himself as the temple, though the metaphorical temple is mentioned in 7:15.
He shall go out thence no more ( εξω ου μη ελθη ). Strong double negative ου μη with the second aorist active subjunctive of ερχομα. The subject is ο νικων (the one overcoming). "Fixity of character is at last achieved" (Charles). He, like the στυλος (pillar), remains in place.
Upon him ( επ' αυτον ). Upon ο νικων (the victor), not upon the pillar ( στυλος ). He receives this triple name (of God, of the city of God, of Christ) on his forehead (14:1; 7:3; 17:5; 22:4) just as the high-priest wore the name of Jehovah upon his forehead (Ex 28:36,38), the new name (2:17), without any magical or talismanic power, but as proof of ownership by God, as a citizen of the New Jerusalem, with the new symbol of the glorious personality of Christ (Re 19:12), in contrast with the mark of the beast on others (13:17; 14:17). For citizenship in God's city see Ga 4:26; Php 3:20; Heb 11:10; 12:22; 13:14.
The new Jerusalem ( της καινης Ιερουσαλημ ). Not νεας (young), but καινης (fresh). See also 21:2,10 and already Ga 4:26; Heb 12:22. Charles distinguishes between the Jerusalem before the final judgment and this new Jerusalem after that event. Perhaps so! In the Apocalypse always this form Ιερουσαλημ (3:12; 21:2,10), but in John's Gospel Hιεροσολυμα (1:19, etc.).
Which cometh down ( η καταβαινουσα ). Nominative case in apposition with the preceding genitive πολεως as in 1:5; 2:20, etc.
Mine own new name ( το ονομα μου το καινον ). For which see 2:17; 19:12,16. Christ himself will receive a new name along with all else in the future world (Gressmann).
In Laodicea ( εν Λαοδικια ). Forty miles south-east of Philadelphia and some forty miles east of Ephesus, the last of the seven churches addressed with special messages, on the river Lycus on the border of Phrygia, near Colossae and Hierapolis, recipient of two letters by Paul (Col 4:16), on the great trade-route from Ephesus to the east and seat of large manufacturing and banking operations (especially of woollen carpets and clothing, Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, p. 40ff.), centre of the worship of Asklepios and seat of a medical school and also of a provincial court where Cicero lived and wrote many of his letters, home of many Jews, called by Ramsay (op. cit., p. 413) "the City of Compromise," the church here founded apparently by Epaphras (Col 1:7; 4:12f.), now a deserted ruin, one of six cities with this name (meaning justice of the people). No praise is bestowed on this church, but only blame for its lukewarmness.
The Amen ( ο Αμην ). Personal (masculine article) name here alone, though in Isa 65:16 we have "the God of Amen" understood in the LXX as "the God of truth" ( τον θεον τον αληθινον ). Here applied to Christ. See 1:5 for ο μαρτυς ο πιστος (the faithful witness) and 3:7 for ο αληθινος (the genuine), "whose testimony never falls short of the truth" (Swete).
The beginning of the creation of God ( η αρχη της κτισεως του θεου ). Not the first of creatures as the Arians held and Unitarians do now, but the originating source of creation through whom God works (Col 1:15,18, a passage probably known to the Laodiceans, Joh 1:3; Heb 1:2, as is made clear by 1:18; 2:8; 3:21; 5:13).
Neither cold ( ουτε ψυχρος ). Old word from ψυχω, to grow cold (Mt 24:12), in N.T. only Mt 10:42 and this passage.
Nor hot ( ουτε ζεστος ). Late verbal from ζεω, to boil, (Ro 12:11), boiling hot, here only in N.T.
I would thou wert ( οφελον ης ). Wish about the present with οφελον (really ωφελον, second aorist active indicative of οφειλω, without augment) with the imperfect ης (instead of the infinitive) as in 2Co 11:1, when the old Greek used ειθε or ε γαρ. See 1Co 4:8 for the aorist indicative and Ga 5:12 for the future.
Lukewarm ( χλιαρος ). Tepid. Old adjective from χλιω, to liquefy, to melt, here alone in N.T.
I will ( μελλω ). "I am about to," on the point of.
Spew thee ( σε εμεσα ). First aorist active infinitive of εμεω, old verb to vomit, to reject with extreme disgust, here alone in N.T.
I am rich ( οτ πλουσιος ειμ ). Recitative οτ like quotation marks before direct quotation. Old adjective from πλουτος, riches, wealth. Laodicea was a wealthy city and the church "carried the pride of wealth into its spiritual life" (Swete).
Have gotten riches ( πεπλουτηκα ). Perfect active indicative of πλουτεω, old verb from πλουτος, used here of imagined spiritual riches which the church did not possess, just the opposite of church in Smyrna (poor in wealth, rich in grace). This church was in a rich city and was rich in pride and conceit, but poor in grace and ignorant of its spiritual poverty ( ουκ οιδας, knowest not).
The wretched one ( ο ταλαιπωρος ). Old adjective from τλαω, to endure, and πωρος, a callus, afflicted, in N.T. only here and Ro 7:24. Note the one article in the predicate with all these five adjectives unifying the picture of sharp emphasis on "thou" ( συ ), "thou that boastest."
Miserable ( ελεεινος ). Pitiable as in 1Co 15:19.
Poor ( πτωχος ). See 2:9 for spiritual poverty. Perhaps some local example of self-complacency is in mind.
Blind ( τυφλος ). Spiritual blindness as often (Mt 23:17), and note "eye-salve" in verse 18.
Naked ( γυμνος ). "The figure completes the picture of actual poverty" (Beckwith). See 15,16.
I counsel ( συμβουλευω ). Present active indicative, old compound from συμβουλος, counsellor (Ro 11:34), as in Joh 18:14. Almost ironical in tone.
To buy ( αγορασα ). First aorist active infinitive of αγοραζω (from αγορα, market-place), rich as they think themselves to be.
From me ( παρ' εμου ). From my side, emphatic.
Refined by fire ( πεπυρωμενον εκ πυρος ). Perfect passive participle of πυροω (as in 1:15) and the metaphor carried on by εκ πυρος, "fired by fire." Purity by removing dross (Ps 66:10) like 1Pe 1:7.
That thou mayest become rich ( ινα πλουτησηις ). Purpose clause with ινα and the ingressive first aorist active of πλουτεω, spiritual riches.
That thou mayest clothe thyself ( ινα περιβαλη ). Purpose clause with ινα and second aorist middle (direct) subjunctive of περιβαλλω, to fling round one as in 3:5.
Be not made manifest ( μη φανερωθη ). Continued purpose clause with negative μη and first aorist passive subjunctive of φανεροω.
Nakedness ( γυμνοτητος ). Late and rare word from γυμνος, naked, in N.T. only here, 2Co 11:27; Ro 8:35. Cf. Re 16:15; 20:13; 2Co 5:2f.
Eye-salve ( κολλουριον ). Diminutive of κολλυρα (coarse bread of cylindrical shape), object of αγορασα, name for a famous Phrygian powder for the eyes made in Laodicea (Charles), Latin collyrium (used for eye-salve by Horace and Juvenal).
To anoint ( εγχρισα ). First aorist active infinitive (epexegetic) of εγχριω, late compound ( εν, χριω, Strabo, Epictetus), to rub in, here only in N.T.
That thou mayest see ( ινα βλεπηις ). Another purpose clause with ινα and the present active subjunctive (keep on seeing).
Free rendering of Pr 3:12 (in Heb 12:6), but with ους εαν (indefinite relative plural) for ον (definite relative singular), with φιλÂω instead of αγαπÂα and with the first person παιδευÂω for παιδευε (the Lord chastens, from παις, child, training a child) and with ελεγχÂω (reprove) added.
Be zealous ( ζηλευε ). Present active imperative of ζηλευω, in good sense (from ζηλοσ, ζεω, to boil), in opposition to their lukewarmness, here only in N.T. (elsewhere ζηλοω ), "keep on being zealous."
Repent ( μετανοησον ). Ingressive first aorist active imperative of μετανοεω.
I stand at the door ( εστηκα επ την θυραν ). Perfect active of ιστημ (intransitive). Picture of the Lord's advent as in Mt 24:33; Jas 5:9, but true also of the individual response to Christ's call (Lu 12:36) as shown in Holman Hunt's great picture. Some see a use also of So 5:2.
If any man hear--and open ( εαν τις ακουση κα ανοιξη ). Condition of third class with εαν and first aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of ακουω and ανοιγω. See Joh 10:3; 18:37. See the picture reversed (Swete) in Lu 13:25; Mt 25:10.
I will come in to him ( εισελευσομα ). Future middle of εισερχομα. See Mr 15:43; Ac 11:3 for εισερχομα προς, to go into a man's house. Cf. Joh 14:23.
Will sup ( δειπνησω ). Future active of δειπνεω, old verb, from δειπνον (supper), as in Lu 17:8. Fellowship in the Messianic kingdom (Lu 22:30; Mr 14:25; Mt 26:29). Purely metaphorical, as is plain from 1Co 6:13.
He that overcometh ( ο νικων ). Absolute nominative again as in 3:12, but resumed this time by the dative αυτω as in 2:26.
To sit ( καθισα ). First aorist active infinitive of καθιζω. This promise grows out of the prophecy that the saints will share in the Messiah's rule, made to the twelve (Mt 19:28; Lu 22:29f.), repeated by Paul (1Co 6:2f.), enlarged in Re 22:1-5 (to last forever, 2Ti 2:11f.). James and John took this hope and promise literally (Mr 10:40) not metaphorically.
As I also overcame ( ως καγω ενικησα ). First aorist active indicative of νικαω, looking back on the victory as over in the past. In Joh 16:33 before the Cross Jesus says Εγω νενικηκα τον κοσμον (perfect active), emphasizing the abiding effect of the victory.
Sat down ( εκαθισα ). "I took my seat" (Heb 1:3) where Christ is now (Re 22:3; Col 3:1). Cf. 1Jo 5:4; Re 2:27f. Each of these seven messages begins alike and ends alike. Each is the message of the Christ and of the Holy Spirit to the angel of the church. Each has a special message suited to the actual condition of each church. In each case the individual who overcomes has a promise of blessing. Christ the Shepherd knows his sheep and lays bare the particular peril in each case.
Welcome to STEP Bible
From Tyndale House, Cambridge UK
Use the search box to find Bibles, commentaries, passages, search terms, etc. Here are some examples: