To the Church in Sardis:
3:1 And unto the messenger of the church in Sardis write; These things says he that has the seven Spirits of Yahweh, and the seven stars [the messengers]; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, [but]
and are dead.
The SAVIOR was the embodiment of the seven Spirits of Yahweh, which is power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. These seven Spirits were available to all the churches through the Holy Spirit.
The church in Sardis was dead; they had no spiritual Life. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is Life and peace. The Sardis messenger failed to search the depths of the Holy Spirit, which was the seven Spirits of Yahweh. He settled for the milk of the word that was more appealing to the carnal mind than the meat of the word. To say he had the name for being alive, is to say he had an outward show of godliness, but on the inside he lacked the truth that would bring his church into Life.
3:2 Be watchful [be awake], and strengthen the [ones]
things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before Yahweh.
3:3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come [among]
on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come [among] upon you.
This church was being reminded of how they received the truth that they had. Obviously they had gotten so busy in physical matters that they failed to seek the Word and yield to the Holy Spirit. If they didn’t continue to grow in righteousness, they were going to come to a place where they didn’t recognize corruption as they drifted into it.
Our Creator is not in the business of killing or destroying people; he is Life and Truth. He was reaching out to this church to awaken and strengthen them. Their works (deeds) were not perfect before him. They needed to hold fast to the Word they had and repent—to think differently; otherwise, they would not realize when he was in their midst; he would came as a thief to them.
3:4 You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
There were a few that had not drifted off into corruption, but most of them had soiled garments. A soiled garment symbolizes unrighteous living. They had already lost sight of righteousness and were following the ways of the Gentiles.
3:5 He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before my FATHER, and before his [messengers]
3:6 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.
To be arrayed in white signifies a person’s righteous character (see Revelation 19:8). The Overcomers were going to be manifestations of righteousness because righteousness was going be a part of their nature, that is, they were going to be living examples of the FATHER’s Spirit in fleshly bodies.
John 14:16-23, I will pray the FATHER, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day [when the Spirit of Truth is come] you shall know that I am in my FATHER, and you in me, and I in you. He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my FATHER, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my FATHER will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our [residence in]
abode with him.
The word “Book” is “scroll.” The Book of Life was the Scroll of Life. It is a metaphorical expression that originated from the custom of keeping genealogical records. The statement “written in the Scroll of Life,” refers to ones spiritual walk. It is the Word of Life that is written in the hearts that is known and read of all men as a witness that the believers are the sons of Yahweh. To have one’s name written in the Scroll of Life is to have the believer’s character manifesting Life.
2 Cor. 3:3-6, Forasmuch as you are [rendered apparent]
manifestly declared to be the epistle [a written letter] of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of Yahweh; who also hath made us able ministers of the new [will] testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Rom. 8:13-14, If you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of Yahweh, they are the sons of Yahweh.
John 1:12, As many as received him [the SAVIOR], to them gave he power to become the sons of Yahweh, even to them that believe on his name.
To have the believer’s name written in the Scroll of Life is to be spiritually minded, and to be spiritually minded is Life. To have Life is to have the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) dwelling in the believer. The believer becomes a living, visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit; his actions and thoughts are righteous because the believer has the same mind (same thoughts and actions) as the Anointed SAVIOR (Phil. 2:5).
For the SAVIOR to “confess” the overcomers’ name before the FATHER and his messengers, it would signify that the overcomers’ character was in harmony with the FATHER and his messengers. It is an acknowledgment of union with them in principles and in Spirit.
History of Sardis quoted from the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.
“Sardis, as the apocalyptic letter put it “had a name but was dead.” Ramsay writes: It was a city whose history conspicuously and pre-eminently blazoned forth the uncertainty of human fortunes, the weakness of human strength and the shortness of the step which separates over-confident might from sudden and irreparable disaster. It was a city whose name was almost synonymous with pretensions unjustified, promise unfulfilled, appearance without reality, confidence which heralded ruin” All the imagery of the letter is vivid in the history of the place, the works undone, the climbing “thief in the night,” the sudden surprise. The Christian community was infected by the complacency of the place.”
Some Christian inscriptions have been found in Sardis, but nothing is known of the origins or end of the Christian Community.
Return to the top
To the Church in Philadelphia:
3:7 And to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens;
Remember John’s vision is a revealing of the SAVIOR. The SAVIOR is holy, that is, he is pure and morally blameless. The statement, “he that is true” declares the SAVIOR’s integrity, that is, his essence—Truth. The SAVIOR was and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
The SAVIOR having the “key of David” signifies his power and authority in the heavenly realm. Announcing that he had the key assured the messenger of the Philadelphian church that the Kingdom of Righteousness was accessible unto them through the Anointed SAVIOR.
3:8 I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
The “door” being opened and not shut indicated that the Anointed Word was not limited to the Philadelphian church. Because this messenger had kept Yahweh’s word, he was not influenced by the carnal minds of those around him.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
A synagogue of satan is a church full of adversaries, people who work against the principles of Yahweh. The church in Philadelphia, by their light of truth, was going to have a great impact on the lives of the churches that lived according to the lust of their flesh. The Philadelphian messenger was going to have the joy of seeing their conversion.
Below are the churches that verse 9 speaks of:
Rev. 2:4, 6, I have somewhat against you because you have lost your first love. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
In verse 13, it is indicated that the Nicolaitans were of the doctrine of satan. This church was bound because they lost their love for the people that were in bondage to the Nicolaitan doctrine.
Rev. 2:9, I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan.
Notice, these Jews were called a synagogue of satan, a synagogue of adversaries.
Rev. 2:13, I know your works, and where you dwell, even where satan’s seat is.
Verse 14 refers to the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans indicating that these two are doctrines of satan (adversaries of the Spirit of Righteousness).”
Rev. 2:20, You suffered that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants. Verse 24 refers to her doctrine as the depths of satan.”
The spiritual eyes of these four churches were going to be opened; they were going to see that the Philadelphian church worshiped the true God and was preaching the Word of Truth.
3:10 Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try [to discipline, bring obedience] them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown [influence you with corruption and steal your victory].
12 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple 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 New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
These scriptures are loaded with thought. These overcomers are going to be the leaders, teachers, and elders (pillars) in the Kingdom of Yahweh. They will be established in truth— they would “go no more out,” that is, they would never again be tempted to go back into sin. They would be the born from above believers growing into the image of their FATHER.
Not only will these overcomers be pillars in the temple of Yahweh, they will also have Yahweh’s name. Having Yahweh’s name signifies that they have Yahweh’s character and power in their lives.
New Jerusalem symbolizes Yahweh’s relationship with the overcomers. It is his government and principles in their hearts and minds. It is not like the old Jerusalem that was governed by the Levitical order; it is a Kingdom of Peace and Righteousness that is within the believers.
13 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.
History of Philadelphia: quoted from the Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
“Philadelphia’s modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, “the city of God,” but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of “Little Athens” because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it.
Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. One of the Seven Churches of the Book of Rev. (Rev. 3:7) was there, and it was the seat of a bishop. As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. During the reign of Tiberius the city was destroyed by an earthquake, yet it was quickly rebuilt. Frederick Barbarossa entered it while on his crusade in 1190. Twice, in 1306 and 1324, it was besieged by the Seljuk Turks, but it retained its independence until after 1390, when it was captured by the combined forces of the Turks and Byzantines. In 1403 Tamerlane captured it.
Ala-shehir is still a Christian town; one-fourth of its modern population is Greek, and a Greek bishop still makes his home there. One of the chief modern industries is a liquorices factory; in the fields about the city the natives dig for the roots. On the terrace upon which the ancient city stood, the ruins of the castle and the walls may still be seen, and among them is pointed out the foundation of the early church. The place may now best be reached by rail from Smyrna.”
The Philadelphian church had a positive influence on their town and the surrounding areas.
To the Church in Laodicea:
3:14 And unto the messenger of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of Yahweh;
The SAVIOR assures the Laodicean messenger that he is trustworthy—his church can depend on him.
The SAVIOR’s witnesses were the FATHER and the work he accomplished. There are no greater witnesses than these.
John 5:36, I [the SAVIOR] have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the FATHER has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the FATHER has sent me.
John 5:37, The FATHER himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. [Also see John 8:18.]
The statement that the SAVIOR was “the beginning of the creation” was a declaration that he was the Light of the world—the Word of Yahweh.
John 1:1-4, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Yahweh, and the Word was Yahweh. The same was in the beginning with Yahweh. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
As the beginning of Yahweh’s creation, the SAVIOR, the Anointed Word, was before all and by him all exist (Col 1:17). In him is the eternal, unalterable standard by which all men must be measured.
3:15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
This messenger catered to a certain amount of corruption so he might be accepted by those around him. Because of their complacency and lukewarm allegiance, they were not thriving spiritually.
3:17 Because you said, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see [understand].
The Laodicean church was not aware of their spiritual condition; it appeared that they assumed their natural prosperity was synonymous with spiritual success. To be miserable, poor, blind, and naked are characteristics of beggary. John’s message would inform them that they were in spiritual poverty. His message of correction would open their spiritual understanding and give them hope.
Gold tried in fire is the process that gold goes through to remove all the impurities. After being tested, it is ready for use. As this church went through the fire, their works would be tested and that which was not of Yahweh would be burned up and righteousness would be left (1 Cor. 3:13; Mal. 3:2-3). The SAVIOR’s works stood the test of the furnace and came through as pure gold.
The messenger of the Laodiceans church was told to invest in the SAVIOR—his doctrine and his principles. Those who knew and stood against sin had already been tested and proven righteous.
John 14:10-12, …the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the FATHER that dwells in me, he does the works. Believe me that I am in the FATHER, and the FATHER in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my FATHER.
Prov. 17:3, The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but Yahweh tries the hearts.
To “buy of me gold tried in the fire” is to invest in the SAVIOR. It is to believe in his principles, accept his Word, and what he is. He is the Way, the Truth, and Life. The “way” is a course taken; “truth” is reality; and “life” is a condition of the mind (Rom. 8:6).
James 1:12, Blessed is the man that endures [adversity]
temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life [crown of victory], which the Lord has promised to them that love him [be an overcomer].
Rich in good works:
1 Tim. 6:17-18, “Charge them that are rich in this [age]
world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in [Yahweh] the living, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
White raiment represents a pure, righteous, mind. The word “naked” symbolizes shame. Living an unrighteousness life is to live spiritually naked.
The messenger of Laodicea did not realize he lacked understanding of truth; he needed to be enlightened. His concept and conduct were a shame and a reproach unto the Kingdom of Yahweh. Gold, white raiment, and clear vision all represent the principles of life—gold symbolizes faith:
1 Peter 1:7, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the [manifestation]
appearing of Anointed SAVIOR.”
White raiment symbolizes righteous principles.
Eph. 4:24, That you put on the new man, which after Yahweh is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Vision symbolizes having spiritual enlightenment:
Eph. 1:17-19, That the God of our Lord, the Anointed SAVIOR , the FATHER of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
3:19 As many as I love, I [admonish]
rebuke and [educate] chasten: be zealous therefore, and [repent] think differently.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Truth, which is the SAVIOR, was knocking on the door of their hearts. To sup with the SAVIOR involved spiritual fellowship. In order for them to fellowship with the SAVIOR, there had to be a sharing of common interests, goals, and values. For them to share with the SAVIOR, they first had to hear his voice (the word) and then desire after righteousness.
Matt. 5:6, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
3:21 To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne [power], even as I also overcame, and am set down with my FATHER in his throne [power].
To sit on the throne of the SAVIOR with the FATHER is to be in the same state of righteousness as they are:
Heb. 1:8-9, Unto the Son he said, “Your throne, O Yahweh, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore Yahweh, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
22 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.
History of the Laodiceans church: quoted from the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.
The most extensive reference to the city and its inhabitants is found in the address to it in the Revelation of John. In the course of centuries, many theories of the proper hermeneutics for the interpretation of this passage have been advanced. In the historical prophetic views of the text this church and its spiritual destitution has been seen as the final state of apostasy before the parousia. On the basis of the reiterative explanations it has been viewed as a classic warning against shortsighted and superficial faith. It is the last mentioned and addressed of the seven churches. Unfortunately the remains and explanations of the post-apostolic period along with the archeological remnants shed no light upon the state of the church which is assumed in the address in Revelation.
With no evidence to show who they were or how they lived, it is evident that Yahweh spewed them out of his mouth.
It is obvious from the warnings given to each church that there was a catastrophe that was going to take place in their very near future. To Ephesus it was said, “I will come unto you quickly” (2:5); to Smyrna it was said, “You will have tribulation ten days” (2:10); to Pergamos it was said, “I will come unto you quickly” (2:16); to Thyatira it was said, “Hold fast till I come” (2:25); to Sardis it was said, “I will come on you as a thief” (3:3); to Philadelphia it was said, “Behold, I come quickly” (3:2); and to Laodicea it was said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” (3:20). These warnings had special meaning to those to whom they were addressed. There wasn’t a moment to be lost and any negligence or delay on their part would prove to be fatal.
This concludes the personal conversation to the churches. As you continue to read, you will see that the remaining part of the prophecy in its entirety is also to the seven churches. John was not instructed at any time to address anyone other than the seven churches.
John was told to get off the natural things so he could see Spiritual things—things that he could not see with his natural eyes because they were spiritually discerned. These were things that only the Spirit of Yahweh could reveal to him. John’s way of thinking had to come up higher than the carnal realm before he could comprehend “the revealing” of the SAVIOR.
John’s vision revealed the Anointed SAVIOR and his relationship with his Body, the Church. I found it fascinating that the vision starts out at the beginning of the SAVIOR’s life and ends with him united with his Body—he is the beginning and ending of John’s vision.
The first part of John’s vision was dealings with the seven churches—their actions, their desires, and their dedication—and could be understood by the natural mind. But their future was uncertain; it would take the Holy Spirit to reveal the mystery of their future. The fate of each church was up to its pastor—they could fall or stand. It was the leader’s conduct that determined the future existence of his church. If the shepherd was righteous, he would hear the Spirit and lead his flock into righteousness. But, if he was unrighteous, he would not hear the voice of the Spirit and would keep his flock (followers) in their state of ignorance and corruption. This is what the Spirit meant when he said, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches?”
Overview of the Message to the Seven Churches
The good qualities of the seven churches:
- They labored
- Were patience
- Could not stand evil
- Were steadfast
- Were faithful
- Held fast to the name
- Did not deny the faith
- Had love
- Kept the Word
- Did not deny the name of Yahweh
The bad qualities of the seven churches:
- Left their first love
- Accepted the doctrine of Balaam – and corrupted the people
- Accepted the doctrine of Nicolaitans – with unrestrained indulgence
- Accepted Jezebel’s doctrine – worshipped other gods
- Had a great name but no works
- Was lukewarm (they straddled the fence)
The promises to the overcomers:
- They would be partakers of the Tree of Life – the SAVIOR
- They would not be hurt with the second death
- They would eat of the hidden manna
- They would have a new name
- They would be given the Morning Star
- They would be clothed in white raiment
- They would be members in the Book of Life
- They would sit with Yahweh on his throne.
Brief Summary of Chapters 2-3
These churches were very real with definite issues that Yahweh dealt with. I’m sure that John completed his mission by taking his visions and Yahweh’s message to each of them. If the visions and the messages were beyond their comprehension, then these seven churches would have been forsaken by Yahweh and the statement “John to the seven churches which are in Asia” would have been only a deception created by Yahweh.
The SAVIOR spoke to the seven churches in order to purify them and to help them stand without condemnation. Pergamum was warned about the Balaamite teaching. Thyatira was warned about the false prophet Jezebel who led their church into spiritual idolatry. Laodicea thought they were rich, but in reality they were poor. Smyrna and Philadelphia were both troubled with false Jews who were slanderous. Ephesus had sound doctrine and remained steadfast under hardship, however, they had lost their first love. The church in Sardis was very close to becoming extinct and would possibly not be able to withstand any more attacks from the enemy (corruption).
There were promises of rewards to those who overcame sin. Those who overcame were those who believed that the SAVIOR was the Son of Yahweh (1 John 5:5). They were to be reigning priests in the Kingdom of Yahweh