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.

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