Study of Revelation, Chapter 3 – Message to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea

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Revelation

 In the study of Revelation, Chapter 3, it begins with the Letter to the church in Sardis, known as the dead or the reformed church.  They were in danger of spiritual death.  The church in Sardis was approximately 35-40 miles south-east of Thyatira.  Sardis was the capital of Lydia and was a pillar of strength and wealth.  They were the first city to mint gold and silver coins.  The city of Sardis was actually in two locations.  It began its origin on a mountain, and when it became over-populated, there was a new section that was built in the valley below.  In AD17, an earthquake destroyed at least 17 towns and cities, Sardis being affected the worst.  Tiberius, the Roman Emperor, agreed that for five years all taxes would be waived for all cities involved.  Even with the implementation of waiving taxes and aid that was received, Sardis never completely recovered.  The reputation of Sardis went from one of strength and wealth to one of idolatry and immorality.

In Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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, Jesus immediately states the judgment against the church in Sardis.  Jesus identifies Himself as the one who holds the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.

Isaiah 11:2Isaiah 11:2
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2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;  

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And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD

This church was in dire need of the ministry of the Holy Spirit! Jesus tells them ‘I know thy works, that thou has a name that thou livest, and art dead.’   The problem with this church was not their lack of belief, but their spiritual death.  He was basically saying “I know you have a reputation for being an ‘alive’ church, but you are dead”.  Jesus had no words of commendation for the church in Sardis.  They looked good on the outside, but were corrupt on the inside.

The seven stars are the angels, or pastors, of the seven churches [Revelation 1:20Revelation 1:20
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20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.  

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].  Because Jesus says ‘he that hath’ , I believe that to mean that He will hold each church accountable for the teachings, actions, and the example that they set.  The scriptures are very clear regarding the accountability of the church [Romans 14:10-12Romans 14:10-12
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10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  

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; Luke 12:48Luke 12:48
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48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.  

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; Matthew 12:36Matthew 12:36
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36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  

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; 2 Peter 2:192 Peter 2:19
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19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.  

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; 1 Peter 5:1-41 Peter 5:1-4
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5 1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; which...: or, as much as in you is 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. being lords over: or, overruling 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  

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;  1 Timothy 2:21 Timothy 2:2
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2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. authority: or, eminent place  

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; 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 Corinthians 4:1-2
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4 1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.  

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1 Timothy 3:1-51 Timothy 3:1-5
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3 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; of good...: or, modest 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; given...: or, ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5  

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].  Personally, I don’t believe that I would want to be a pastor of a church, or an attendee of a church, in which the teachings and preaching were not based solely on Scripture.  This church may have started out strong, but over time, they just withered out.  When the gifts of the Holy Spirit are denied by a church, they will eventually die out and become an empty shell.

Over time, many churches have changed in one way or another.  Scripture may be twisted, or left out of the message; there may be no encouragement to read and study the Bible; emphasis of saving the lost may fizzle out; fellowship among members may never seem to occur;  or attendance may not be encouraged among members.  These are just a few examples commonly seen among churches today.  Do you look forward to Church services?  Are you walking into church with great expectations with each visit?  God doesn’t want us to attend church because we feel guilty if we don’t, or that it is what is expected of us.  Attending a spiritually alive, scriptural based church will allow you a true fellowship with God.  It will allow you to receive the many blessings that He has for you.  Is your church alive with Christ?  Does your pastor share the Scripture with the congregation?  Does your pastor encourage your attendance?  Does your pastor encourage you to attend Bible Study classes and  to do personal, private study of the scriptures?

Each of us will account for our actions.  As bad as it may be that a leader of a church may not teach the truth in full, it is just as bad if we are aware of that and continue to sit under that leader.

Revelation 3:2-5Revelation 3:2-5
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2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, 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 angels.  

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2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die:  for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  3 Remember therefore how thou has received and heard, and holdfast, and repent.  If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  4 Thou has a few names even in Sardis which have not defile their garments; and they shall walk with me in white:  for they are worthy.  5 He that overcometh, 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 angels.

When churches begin to change, I haven’t come to the conclusion yet as to whether or not they are aware of what they are doing.  From your studies, what has been your conclusion?  In these verses, Jesus is giving much instruction to the church in Sardis.  First, He declares that the church in this situation must open their eyes, be honest, and do a self-evaluation.  This church must wake up, alert themselves to the signs of the times, and be an advocate for God as they have never been before!  We have been entrusted By God with the Christian faith and He expects us to pass it on to others.  If we pass up this opportunity, then we are wasting a gift from God.  We must come to a place where we are a full-time Christian, living loyally full-time for the rest of our lives.  If we are inconsistent with our faith, then what are we teaching our children or showing others around us?

Secondly, He is recognizing that although this church is dead, there is still some good left and that they should build upon this good.  The church must assess itself, determining exactly what do they have left within the church that is justified by faith and lines up with the Word of God.

Thirdly, Jesus wants them to remember their message when the church first began.  He wants them to remember how it was when they first received Christ into their hearts.  He wants them to remember and return to the pure Word of God.  Many messages and Bible translations today have been watered down so much that we don’t even recognize it is supposed to be a message about God and Jesus Christ!  We hear many arguments from the Scientists and Evolutionists regarding the validity of the Bible.  Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by these arguments, or discussions, as this is only Satan rearing his ugly head trying to instill doubt into your mind.

Next, Jesus lets us know that we must hold fast to our belief; our faith.  When we are presented with the Bible for study, we are also presented with the question of whether we believe its content.  Again, there is no middle ground.  We either need to believe every word of the Bible, or not believe anything at all.  We cannot pick and choose what verses fit into our life and go with that.  We must believe It in Its entirety!  If we choose to ignore what is in the Bible and deny Christ, He will deny us before the Father.

Matthew 10:33Matthew 10:33
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33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.  

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But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Be aware of what you are hearing in church and studies.  No matter how much you love your church and the members, always test what you hear against Scripture.  We must be alert to any false teachings that separate us from God, or teach that there is no heaven or hell.  If you begin to believe these teachings, then you will slowly move away from the scripture, leaving yourself wide open for Satan’s attacks without the protection of God.

Genesis 6:3Genesis 6:3
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3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  

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And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh:  yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

God is telling His people that they had 120 years to change their sinful nature before the flood waters would come and destroy the earth.  God also shows us this great patience.  He gives us time to quit living our way and begin living His way, which is spelled out for us in the Bible.  Once again I say, everyone will be faced with the decision to make: Will I follow Christ?  or will I deny Him and continue to live my life the way I want to?  Will I study the Word of God, gleaming every bit of information, education, knowledge, love, and comfort I can from this book?  Or will I decline and set it aside on a shelf to gather dust?  If you haven’t accepted Christ, do not wait too long.  As in Noah’s day, your time may be running out as well.  Turn to God before it is too late.  Only He can make a sinner pure.  If we are not obeying the Word of God and being faithful to Christ, then you are open to be caught up in a sinful life.  In Galatians 5:16Galatians 5:16
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16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. ye...: or, fulfil not  

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, God tells us to walk in the Spirit, and we will not fulfill the lust of the world.  In 2 Corinthians 5:72 Corinthians 5:7
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7  

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, we are led to walk by faith, not by sight.  Other scripture that shares with us how we should live as Christians can be read in 1 John 2:61 John 2:6
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6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  

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; Romans 12:2Romans 12:2
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2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  

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; Ephesians 5:15-16Ephesians 5:15-16
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15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  

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 ; Micah 6:8Micah 6:8
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8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? walk...: Heb. humble thyself to walk  

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; 3 John 1:3-43 John 1:3-4
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3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  

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; Ephesians 4:1-32Ephesians 4:1-32
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4 1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, of the Lord: or, in the Lord 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. captivity...: or, a multitude of captives 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) fill: or, fulfil 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: in: or, into stature: or, age 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: speaking...: or, being sincere 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: blindness: or, hardness 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. true...: or, holiness of truth 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. to give: or, to distribute 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. to...: or, to edify profitably 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  

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; Deuteronomy 8:17-20Deuteronomy 8:17-20
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17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.  

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; 1 Corinthians 7:171 Corinthians 7:17
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17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.  

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; Galatians 5:25Galatians 5:25
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25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  

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; Galatians 2:20Galatians 2:20
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20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  

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and Isaiah 41:10Isaiah 41:10
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10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  

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.

At the end of verse 3, Jesus gives a clear warning: If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Wow!  That is a pretty powerful warning.  He’s basically telling them that if they don’t get their act together and straighten up, then they are opening themselves up for God’s judgment!  It doesn’t get much clearer than that!

Jesus goes on to mention that ‘few’ have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Him in white.  These ‘few’ have remained faithful to God and were living a godly life even though changes were occurring in the church.  They were denying the ‘worldly’ temptations.  These ‘few’ will be acknowledged as belonging to Jesus and therefore, be allowed to enter into heaven.  But, Jesus also opens this as an invitation to all:  He that overcometh, 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 angels.  He is telling the church in Sardis that they have few that are pure in their faith, but anyone else who overcomes and returns to their faith in Christ will join them, and their names will not be erased.

Revelation 3:6Revelation 3:6
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6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  

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He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [Revelation 2:7Revelation 2:7
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7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.  

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]

There were only two out of the seven churches that Christ did not rebuke:  the church of Smyrna (discussed in chapter 2) and the church of Philadelphia.  Philadelphia kept the city clean from barbarians, and brought in Gree culture and language.  The same earthquake of AD 17 that destroyed Sardis, also destroyed Philadelphia.  Most people continued to worry about the stability of the city, therefore living outside of the city limits.

Jesus recognized this church as one of faithfulness, although they had little strength for advancement.  Their foundation in the Word of God was what got them through many difficult times.  In His address, you can  feel the love that Jesus had for this church.

Revelation 3:7Revelation 3:7
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7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  

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And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Jesus identifies himself as someone a Christian would recognize.  If you walk with the Lord, you know and understand the holiness of our Lord.  With the limited strength for advancement within this church, Jesus is opening a door of opportunity for them; one that no one can close.  He holds the key of David [Isaiah 22:22-23Isaiah 22:22-23
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22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.  

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], which gives Him the authority to do so.  Jesus is our door to heaven.

John 14:6John 14:6
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6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  

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Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The church in Philadelphia knew exactly who this was addressing them in a letter.  They had patterned their life after Jesus Christ, and were strong in the Word of God and their faith, and understood the power of prayer.  This church would be difficult to deceive.

Revelation 3:8Revelation 3:8
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8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  

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I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:  for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

When Jesus said they had ‘little strength’, He didn’t mean they were weak in their faith.  They were either low in members, or maybe resources within the church, but their faithfulness to God was noted.  Being weak was not a disadvantage, by any means, it was a blessing.

2 Corinthians 12:9-102 Corinthians 12:9-10
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9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  

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9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.

This church realized that any strength they had came from God!  The last compliment Jesus gave to this church was that they had kept His word and did not deny His name.  Do we deserve such a compliment in our churches today?  The Bible is the instruction book for life!  Do we live by His Word and set a living example of Jesus Christ?  Do we pronounce His Holy name each and every opportunity we have?  Do we pronounce to the world that Jesus is God who came to this earth in the flesh to die for our sins, providing us a road of salvation?

Revelation 3:9Revelation 3:9
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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 thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.  

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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 thy feet, and to know that I have love thee.

A synagogue is not a place of worship, but a place of instruction, and in a place where God is not Lord.  Any place could be a synagogue of Satan if evil prevailed, including a church if the true Word of God is not being taught and received by the members.  The church that is able to resist compromise and continues strong in faith and the Word will reign with Christ.  This church is one who has made the effort and Jesus is encouraging them to continue on.  They will receive a day of reward for those who can prevail against evil.

Verse 10 and 11 are two of my favorite verses in the Bible.  These are verses that God drew me near to very early in my Christian life and has continued to do so ever since.  I believe this to be one of God’s greatest promises to Christians everywhere!

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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0-11

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly:  hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

There are many scholars that believe this to have different meanings.  There are some that believe that there will be a future time of great tribulation from which true believers will be spared.  Others may understand this to mean that the church will go through a time of tribulation and that God will keep them strong during the difficult times.  And still others believe this to mean the church’s suffering through the ages, in general.

Let me, for just a moment, take a look at a verse that seems to go hand in hand with this verse, or it does for me.

John 15:19John 15:19
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19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  

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If ye were of the world, the world would love his own:  but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are reborn into a newness.  We are no longer of this world.  When I read verse 10 and 11 in Revelation, I understand Jesus to be telling us that because we have been obedient, keeping His Word and His commands, He will keep us from horrible times.  When that statement is added with ‘shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’, I believe Jesus is talking about the Tribulation period.  He is telling us to hold onto our faith and to hold tightly to the strengths that we have.  Let no one deceive us into believing anything that is not tested true against the scripture.  I believe that this scripture is making reference to the Rapture, when Jesus will descend on a cloud and call His children to meet Him in the sky, and we will forever be with our Lord [ 1 Thessalonians 4:14-181 Thessalonians 4:14-18
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14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. prevent: or, come before, or, anticipate, or, precede 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. comfort: or, exhort  

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].  In 1 Thessalonians 1:101 Thessalonians 1:10
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10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.  

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, we are told to wait for Jesus, and He will deliver us from the wrath to come.  The Rapture will be quick, in a blink of an eye, believers will be gone from this earth [ 1 Corinthians 15:51-521 Corinthians 15:51-52
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51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  

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There are many views surrounding the Rapture.  There are pre-Tribulation believers, who believe that Jesus will come for His children right before the start of the seven year Tribulation.  Others believe in a mid-Tribulation Rapture, and still others believe that the Rapture will not occur until the end of the Tribulation. And then, of course, there are some who do not believe in a Rapture at all.   Each view supports their belief with scripture, but I suggest that you pray for wisdom and understanding, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your reading and show you the truth.

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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2-13

12 Him that overcometh 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 cometh down out of heaven from my God:  and I will write upon him my new name.  13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The new Jerusalem is the future home of the people of God.  Everything will be new, pure, and secure.  I have no idea the location of name of God, the name of new Jerusalem, and Jesus’ new name but it really doesn’t matter.  Just knowing that we belong to God is a WOW factor to me!  I tend to believe that God will make it a visible sign and we will proudly display the names as we navigate through Heaven and worship at the feet of our Lord!

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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4-15

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:  I would thou wert  cold or hot.

The city of Laodiceans was approximately 45-50 miles southeast from Philadelphia.  Unlike other cities, Laodicean was not devastated by the earthquake in AD 17.  Laodicean was the wealthiest city out of the seven cities.  They were well known for their banking industry, manufacture of wool, and a medical school that was famous for their eye salve.  The one down fall of the city was that they had an issue with their water supply.  An aqueduct had been built to bring water to the city from the nearby hot springs. Unfortunately, by the time the water made it to the city, it had become tepid, neither hot nor cold.  Jesus’ message to this church is interesting as He uses the particulars of the city, good and bad, to deliver His message.

The letter to the Laodiceans is addressed differently than the other six letters. If you notice, Jesus refers to the church of the Laodiceans,  whereas when writing to the other six churches, He addresses them as the church in or of that particular city.  The use of the words ‘of the’ strongly suggests that the people in Laodicean believed the church belonged to the people and not God.

When Jesus addresses the Laodiceans, He doesn’t cut any corners, He goes right to making His point.  Jesus is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God!  The meaning of Amen is it is so, or so be it.  Jesus is letting the people of Laodicean know that He IS and WILL BE the faithful and true witness, and what He says IS and WILL BE.   He IS the beginning, ruler, supreme authority, and the origin of all creation [ Colossians 1:15-18Colossians 1:15-18
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15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. in...: or, among all  

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The church of the Laodiceans is also representative of the Apostate Church.  The description of being neither cold nor hot and being lukewarm is of the spiritual condition of the church.  They didn’t necessarily deny Christ, but they had become stagnant with an empty profession of their faith.  They had become as pungent as the spring water that was being brought into the city.  Jesus would rather they would be cold or hot, take a stand for something!  Don’t just be neutral to the Word of God.

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Well, this is pretty cut and dry.  Jesus left no room for imagination when He said these words.  He wanted them to make a choice, but as they stood right now, He would spit them out of His mouth!  No questions asked!  Jesus has the power to just do away with a church such as this if He wants to.  Why not?  They aren’t accomplishing anything for God.

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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7

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with good, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

There is no doubt that Laodiceans were materialistic in every aspect of the word, and what they could see and buy had become more valuable to them than what is unseen and eternal.  They were boastful of the riches, but were spiritually blind.  They had become self-sufficient and although they believed in God, they felt they didn’t need Him.  They believed they were doing just fine without Him in their life.  Do you ever feel like this, that you are doing just fine and don’t need God in your life?  Having wealth brings a false sense of security.  This can be very dangerous.  We should never forget where our wealth comes from, and that the wealth is not what is important, but our faith.

1 Timothy 6:6-101 Timothy 6:6-10
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6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. erred: or, been seduced  

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6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.  9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  10 For the love of money is the root of all evil:  which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We must learn to be content with what God gives us on earth.  Those things are not important, nor can you take them with you when you die.  Protect yourself, and do not be deceived by Pastors who preach the idea that the more money you contribute to the church, the more secure your salvation is.  Remember to test everything you hear with Scripture.  We cannot pay for our salvation.  Jesus already paid that bill in full!

The Laodiceans were deceived.  They confused riches and prosperity with blessings from God.  As I noted before, they were wealthy, but spiritually poor.  They were famous for their eye salve, but were spiritually blind.  They housed a successful wool industry, but they were spiritually naked.

Revelation 3:1Revelation 3:1
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3 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  

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8-19

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:  be zealous therefore, and repent.

As with all of the other churches, Jesus gave them what needed to be done in order to remedy their problem within the church.  They were to buy of me gold tried in the fire.  Fire refines gold.  They needed to let the Word of God refine them spiritually and do away with the lukewarm status.  Only then, would they be rich.  Secondly, Jesus told them to buy of me white raiment. By renewing their commitment to God, and re-dedicating their life to God, they would be assured to be ‘dressed’ in heaven.  Being dressed in fine linen, or white raiment, is described in Revelation 19 :8 as the righteousness of saints.  Thirdly, they are to anoint there eyes with eyesalve so that they may see.  The Word of God is the eyesalve that will open their eyes, and will bring about a changed life.

Jesus’ grace and mercy for us is astonishing, to say the least!  He declares His love for this church, but has made it clear that if they don’t turn away from their indifference toward Him, He would discipline them.  God’s purpose in discipline is not to punish, but is utilized to bring His people back to Him.  Do you ever feel God is disciplining you in your life?  Do you find yourself ‘lukewarm’ in your devotion to God?  Jesus tells the Laodiceans to be zealous and repent.  We must do the same.  We must get excited and energized about our Lord!  Repenting of our sins should become a continuous part of our day!

Thank you God for loving us as much as you do.  We are not perfect, and even as hard as we try not to sin, we fall short of your glory.  Forgive me for my sins and search my heart.  Holy Spirit, revitalize me!  I submit myself to you God.  Make me usable for your Glory today.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Revelation 3:20-22Revelation 3:20-22
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20 Behold, I stand 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. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  

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20 Behold, I stand 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.  21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The thought of Jesus standing outside of my door, knocking, waiting for me to let Him in is saddening.  Jesus wasn’t the focus of their devotion anymore.  He was on the outside.  Jesus loves us and wants to fellowship with us, no matter how messed up our life is.  He will always knock and ask to come in.  He will never intrude upon you.  But, be careful, even though He will knock and has patience with us, if we don’t allow Him to come in, He will eventually stop knocking.

Jesus makes the same promise to the church of Laodiceans as He did to the church of Thyatira:  those who overcome will sit with Him in His throne.  This means that one day, we will reign with Jesus Christ in His Kingdom!

Each letter to the seven churches touch on a different aspect of behavior.  Which letter did you find to speak the most to your church?  Do any of the letters have a direct bearing on your spiritual condition at this time?  Do you feel God knocking on the door of your heart?  Will you respond?

As each letter ended with the urging to listen and understand, I feel it is important that we do the same.  We must take a deep, hard look into our hearts and clean out the cobwebs.  We must do a honest, self-evaluation of our spiritual life.  How can we live more Christ-like?  What changes can we make that will glorify God?  How can we improve our prayer time?  How can we become more involved with the church and their missions?  Can we witness more for Christ?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Study of Revelation, Chapter 1

Study of Revelation, Chapter 2

Study of Revelation, Chapter 4

Detailed Description of the Seven Churches

Do You Believe In The Rapture

The Proclamation of the Three Angels in Revelation, Chapter 14

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Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

2 thoughts on “Study of Revelation, Chapter 3 – Message to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea

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