Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Sardis--the ancient capital of Lydia, the kingdom of wealthy
Croesus, on the river Pactolus. The address to this Church is full of
rebuke. It does not seem to have been in vain; for
MELITO, bishop of Sardis in the second century,
was eminent for piety and learning. He visited Palestine to assure
himself and his flock as to the Old Testament canon and wrote an
epistle on the subject [EUSEBIUS Ecclesiastical
History, 4.26]; he also wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse
[EUSEBIUS, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26;
JEROME, On Illustrious Men, 24].
he that hath the seven Spirits of God--that is, He who hath all
the fulness of the Spirit
(Re 1:4; 4:5; 5:6,
with which compare
Zec 3:9; 4:10,
proving His Godhead). This attribute implies His infinite power by the
Spirit to convict of sin and of a hollow profession.
and the seven stars--
(Re 1:16, 20).
His having the seven stars, or presiding ministers, flows, as a
consequence, from His having the seven Spirits, or the fulness
of the Holy Spirit. The human ministry is the fruit of Christ's sending
down the gifts of the Spirit. Stars imply brilliancy and glory;
the fulness of the Spirit, and the fulness of brilliant light in Him,
form a designed contrast to the formality which He reproves.
name . . . livest . . . dead--
Eph 2:1, 5; 5:14).
"A name," that is, a reputation. Sardis was famed among the churches
for spiritual vitality; yet the Heart-searcher, who seeth not as
man seeth, pronounces her dead; how great searchings of heart
should her case create among even the best of us! Laodicea deceived
herself as to her true state
but it is not written that she had a high name among the other
churches, as Sardis had.
2. Be--Greek. "Become," what thou art not, "watchful," or
"wakeful," literally, "waking."
the things which remain--Strengthen those thy remaining few
graces, which, in thy spiritual deadly slumber, are not yet quite
extinct [ALFORD]. "The things that remain" can
hardly mean "the PERSONS that are not yet dead,
but are ready to die"; for
implies that the "few" faithful ones at Sardis were not "ready to die,"
but were full of life.
are--The two oldest manuscripts read, "were ready," literally,
"were about to die," namely, at the time when you "strengthen" them.
This implies that "thou art dead,"
is to be taken with limitation; for those must have some life who are
told to strengthen the things that remain.
perfect--literally, "filled up in full complement"; Translate,
"complete." Weighed in the balance of Him who requires living faith as
the motive of works, and found wanting.
before God--Greek, "in the sight of God." The three
oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic, read,
"before (in the sight of) MY God"; Christ's judgment is God the
Father's judgment. In the sight of men, Sardis had "a name of living":
"so many and so great are the obligations of pastors, that he who would
in reality fulfil even a third of them, would be esteemed holy by men,
whereas, if content with that alone, he would be sure not to escape
hell" [JUAN D'AVILA]. Note:
in Sardis and Laodicea alone of the seven we read of no conflict with
foes within or without the Church. Not that either had renounced the
appearance of opposition to the world; but neither had the
faithfulness to witness for God by word and example, so as to "torment
them that dwelt on the earth"
3. how thou hast received--
What Sardis is to "remember" is, not how joyfully she had
received originally the Gospel message, but how the precious deposit
was committed to her originally, so that she could not say, she had not
"received and heard" it. The Greek is not aorist (as in
as to Ephesus, "Thou didst leave thy first love"), but "thou
hast received" (perfect), and still hast the permanent deposit of
doctrine committed to thee. The word "keep" (so the Greek is for
English Version, "hold fast") which follows, accords with this
sense. "Keep" or observe the commandment which thou hast received and
heard--Greek aorist, "didst hear," namely, when the
Gospel doctrine was committed to thee. TRENCH
explains "how," with what demonstration of the Spirit and power
from Christ's ambassadors the truth came to you, and how heartily and
zealously you at first received it. Similarly
BENGEL, "Regard to her former character
(how it once stood) ought to guard Sardis against the future
hour, whatsoever it shall be, proving fatal to her." But it is
not likely that the Spirit repeats the same exhortation virtually to
Sardis as to Ephesus.
If therefore--seeing thou art so warned, if, nevertheless, &c.
come on thee as a thief--in special judgment on thee as a
Church, with the same stealthiness and as unexpectedly as shall be My
visible second coming. As the thief gives no notice of his
approach. Christ applies the language which in its fullest sense
describes His second coming, to describe His coming in special
judgments on churches and states (as Jerusalem,
these special judgments being anticipatory earnests of that great last
coming. "The last day is hidden from us, that every day may be observed
by us" [AUGUSTINE]. Twice Christ in the days of
His flesh spake the same words
(Mt 24:42, 43;
Lu 12:39, 40);
and so deeply had His words been engraven on the minds of the apostles
that they are often repeated in their writings
1Th 5:2, 4, 6;
The Greek proverb was that "the feet of the avenging deities are shod
with wool," expressing the noiseless approach of the divine judgments,
and their possible nearness at the moment when they were supposed the
farthest off [TRENCH].
4. The three oldest manuscripts prefix "but," or "nevertheless"
(notwithstanding thy spiritual deadness), and omit "even."
names--persons named in the book of life
known by name by the Lord as His own. These had the reality
corresponding to their name; not a mere name among men as
living, while really dead
The gracious Lord does not overlook any exceptional cases of real
saints in the midst of unreal professors.
not defiled their garments--namely, the garments of their
Christian profession, of which baptism is the initiatory seal, whence
the candidates for baptism used in the ancient Church to be arrayed in
white. Compare also
as to the spotlessness of the Church when she shall be presented to
as to the "fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the
saints," in which it shall be granted to her to be arrayed; and "the
wedding garment." Meanwhile she is not to sully her Christian
profession with any defilement of flesh or spirit, but to "keep her
garments." For no defilement shall enter the heavenly city. Not that
any keep themselves here wholly free from defilement; but, as compared
with hollow professors, the godly keep themselves unspotted from the
world; and when they do contract it, they wash it away, so as to
have their "robes white in the blood of the Lamb"
The Greek is not "to stain" (Greek, "miainein"),
but to "defile," or besmear (Greek, "molunein"),
they shall walk with me in white--The promised reward accords
with the character of those to be rewarded: keeping their garments
undefiled and white through the blood of the Lamb now, they shall
walk with Him in while hereafter. On "with me," compare the very
"Walk" implies spiritual life, for only the living walk; also liberty,
for it is only the free who walk at large. The grace and dignity of
flowing long garments is seen to best advantage when the person
"walks": so the graces of the saint's manifested character shall appear
fully when he shall serve the Lord perfectly hereafter
they are worthy--with the worthiness (not their own, but that)
which Christ has put on them
"perfect through MY comeliness which I had put upon thee." Grace is
glory in the bud. "The worthiness here denotes a congruity
between the saint's state of grace on earth, and that of
glory, which the Lord has appointed for them, about to be
estimated by the law itself of grace" [VITRINGA].
5. white--not a dull white, but glittering, dazzling white
The body transfigured into the likeness of Christ's body, and emitting
beams of light reflected from Him, is probably the "white raiment"
the same--Greek, "THIS man"; he and
he alone. So one oldest manuscript reads. But two oldest manuscripts,
and most of the ancient versions, "shall THUS be
raiment--Greek, "garments." "He that overcometh" shall
receive the same reward as they who "have not defiled their garments"
therefore the two are identical.
I will not--Greek, "I will not by any means."
blot out . . . name out of . . . book of
life--of the heavenly city. A register was kept in ancient cities
of their citizens: the names of the dead were of course erased. So
those who have a name that they live and are dead
are blotted out of God's roll of the heavenly citizens and heirs of
eternal life; not that in God's electing decree they ever were
in His book of life. But, according to human conceptions, those who had
a high name for piety would be supposed to be in it, and were, in
respect to privileges, actually among those in the way of salvation;
but these privileges, and the fact that they once might have been
saved, shall be of no avail to them. As to the book of life,
13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27;
In the sense of the "call," many are enrolled among the called
to salvation, who shall not be found among the chosen at last.
The pale of salvation is wider than that of election. Election is
fixed. Salvation is open to all and is pending (humanly speaking) in
the case of those mentioned here. But
Re 20:15; 21:27,
exhibit the book of the elect alone in the narrower sense, after the
erasure of the others.
before . . . before--Greek, "in the presence
of." Compare the same promise of Christ's confessing before His Father
those who confessed Him,
Mt 10:32, 33;
Lu 12:8, 9.
He omits "in heaven" after "My Father," because there is, now that He
is in heaven, no contrast between the Father in heaven and the
Son on earth. He now sets His seal from heaven upon many of His
words uttered on earth [TRENCH]. An undesigned
coincidence, proving that these epistles are, as they profess, in their
words, as well as substance, Christ's own addresses; not even tinged
with the color of John's style, such as it appears in his Gospel and
Epistles. The coincidence is mainly with the three other Gospels, and
not with John's, which makes the coincidence more markedly undesigned.
So also the clause, "He that hath an ear, let him hear," is not
repeated from John's Gospel, but from the Lord's own words in the three
(Mt 11:15; 13:9;
Mr 4:9, 23; 7:16;
Lu 8:8; 14:35).
6. (See on
7. Philadelphia--in Lydia, twenty-eight miles southeast of
Sardis, built by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, who died
A.D. 138. It was nearly destroyed by an earthquake
in the reign of Tiberius [TACITUS, Annals,
2.47]. The connection of this Church with Jews there causes the address
to it to have an Old Testament coloring in the images employed. It and
Smyrna alone of the seven receive unmixed praise.
he that is holy--as in the Old Testament, "the Holy One
of Israel." Thus Jesus and the God of the Old Testament are one. None
but God is absolutely holy (Greek, "hagios," separate
from evil and perfectly hating it). In contrast to "the synagogue of
"VERY God," as distinguished from the false gods
and from all those who say that they are what they are
real, genuine. Furthermore, He perfectly realizes all that is
involved in the names, GOD, Light
as distinguished from all typical, partial, and imperfect realizations
of the idea. His nature answers to His name
The Greek, "alethes," on the other hand, is
he that hath the key of David--the antitype of Eliakim, to whom
the "key," the emblem of authority "over the house of David," was
transferred from Shebna, who was removed from the office of chamberlain
or treasurer, as unworthy of it. Christ, the Heir of the throne of
David, shall supplant all the less worthy stewards who have abused
their trust in God's spiritual house, and "shall reign over the house
of Jacob," literal and spiritual
(Lu 1:32, 33),
"for ever," "as a Son over His own house"
It rests with Christ to open or shut the heavenly palace, deciding who
is, and who is not, to be admitted: as He also opens, or shuts, the
prison, having the keys of hell (the grave) and
The power of the keys was given to Peter and the other apostles, only
when, and in so far as, Christ made him and them infallible. Whatever
degrees of this power may have been committed to ministers, the supreme
power belongs to Christ alone. Thus Peter rightly opened the Gospel
door to the Gentiles
(Ac 10:1-48; 11:17, 18;
end). But he wrongly tried to shut the door in part again
Eliakim had "the key of the house of David laid upon his shoulder":
Christ, as the antitypical David, Himself has the key of the supreme
"government upon His shoulder." His attribute here, as in the former
addresses, accords with His promise. Though "the synagogue of Satan,"
try to "shut" the "door" which I "set open before thee"; "no man can
shutteth--So Vulgate and Syriac Versions read. But
the four oldest manuscripts read, "shall shut"; so Coptic
Version and ORIGEN.
and no man openeth--Two oldest manuscripts, B, Aleph,
Coptic Version, and ORIGEN read, "shall
open." Two oldest manuscripts, A, C, and Vulgate Version support
English Version reading.
8. I have set--Greek, "given": it is My gracious
gift to thee.
open door--for evangelization; a door of spiritual usefulness.
The opening of a door by Him to the Philadelphian Church accords
with the previous assignation to Him of "the key of David."
and--The three oldest manuscripts, A, B, C, and ORIGEN read, "which no man can shut."
a little--This gives the idea that Christ says, He sets before
Philadelphia an open door because she has some little strength;
whereas the sense rather is, He does so because she has "but
little strength": being consciously weak herself, she is the fitter
object for God's power to rest on [so AQUINAS],
that so the Lord Christ may have all the glory.
and hast kept--and so, the littleness of thy
strength becoming the source of Almighty power to thee, as leading
thee to rest wholly on My great power, thou hast kept My word.
GROTIUS makes "little strength" to mean that she
had a Church small in numbers and external resources: "a little
flock poor in worldly goods, and of small account in the eyes of men"
[TRENCH]. So ALFORD. I prefer
the view given above. The Greek verbs are in the aorist tense:
"Thou didst keep . . . didst not deny My name": alluding to
some particular occasion when her faithfulness was put to the test.
9. I will make--Greek present, "I make," literally, "I
give" (see on
The promise to Philadelphia is larger than that to Smyrna. To Smyrna
the promise was that "the synagogue of Satan" should not prevail
against the faithful in her: to Philadelphia, that she should even win
over some of "the synagogue of Satan" to fall on their faces and
confess God is in her of a truth. Translate, "(some) of the
synagogue." For until Christ shall come, and all Israel then be
saved, there is but "a remnant" being gathered out of the Jews
"according to the election of grace." This is an instance of how Christ
set before her an "open door," some of her greatest adversaries, the
Jews, being brought to the obedience of the faith. Their worshipping
before her feet expresses the convert's willingness to take the
very lowest place in the Church, doing servile honor to those whom once
they persecuted, rather than dwell with the ungodly. So the Philippian
jailer before Paul.
10. patience--"endurance." "The word of My endurance" is My
Gospel word, which teaches patient endurance in expectation
of my coming
My endurance is the endurance which I require, and which I
practice. Christ Himself now endures, patiently waiting until
the usurper be cast out, and all "His enemies be made His footstool."
So, too, His Church, for the joy before her of sharing His coming
kingdom, endures patiently. Hence, in
follows, "Behold, I come quickly."
I also--The reward is in kind: "because thou didst keep," &c. "I
also (on My side) will keep thee," &c.
from--Greek, "(so as to deliver thee) out of," not
to exempt from temptation.
the hour of temptation--the appointed season of
affliction and temptation (so in
the plagues are called "the temptations of Egypt"), literally,
"the temptation": the sore temptation which is coming on: the
time of great tribulation before Christ's second coming.
to try them that dwell upon the earth--those who are of earth,
"Dwell" implies that their home is earth, not heaven. All mankind,
except the elect
(Re 13:8, 14).
The temptation brings out the fidelity of those kept by Christ
and hardens the unbelieving reprobates
(Re 9:20, 21; 16:11, 21).
The particular persecutions which befell Philadelphia shortly after,
were the earnest of the great last tribulation before Christ's coming,
to which the Church's attention in all ages is directed.
11. Behold--omitted by the three oldest manuscripts and most
I come quickly--the great incentive to persevering faithfulness,
and the consolation under present trials.
that . . . which thou hast--"The word of my patience,"
which He had just commended them for keeping, and which involved with
it the attaining of the kingdom; this they would lose if they yielded
to the temptation of exchanging consistency and suffering for
compromise and ease.
that no man take thy crown--which otherwise thou wouldst
receive: that no tempter cause thee to lose it: not that the tempter
would thus secure it for himself
12. pillar in the temple--In one sense there shall be "no
temple" in the heavenly city because there shall be no distinction of
things into sacred and secular, for all things and persons shall be
holy to the Lord. The city shall be all one great temple, in which the
saints shall be not merely stones, as m the spiritual temple now
on earth, but all eminent as pillars: immovably firm (unlike
Philadelphia, the city which was so often shaken by earthquakes,
STRABO [12 and 13]), like the colossal pillars
before Solomon's temple, Boaz (that is, "In it is strength") and Jachin
("It shall be established"): only that those pillars were outside,
these shall be within the temple.
my God--(See on
go no more out--The Greek is stronger, never more at
all. As the elect angels are beyond the possibility of falling,
being now under (as the Schoolmen say) "the blessed necessity of
goodness," so shall the saints be. The door shall be once for all shut,
as well to shut safely in for ever the elect, as to shut out the lost
the type, Eliakim). They shall be priests for ever unto God
"Who would not yearn for that city out of which no friend departs, and
into which no enemy enters?" [AUGUSTINE in
write upon him the name of my God--as belonging to God in a
(Re 7:3; 9:4; 14:1;
therefore secure. As the name of Jehovah ("Holiness to the Lord") was
on the golden plate on the high priest's forehead
so the saints in their heavenly royal priesthood shall bear His name
openly, as consecrated to Him. Compare the caricature of this in the
brand on the forehead of the beast's followers
(Re 13:16, 17),
and on the harlot
name of the city of my God--as one of its citizens
(Re 21:2, 3, 10,
which is briefly alluded to by anticipation here). The full description
of the city forms the appropriate close of the book. The saint's
citizenship is now hidden, but then it shall be manifested: he shall
have the right to enter in through the gates into the city
This was the city which Abraham looked for.
new--Greek, "kaine." Not the old Jerusalem, once
called "the holy city," but having forfeited the name. Greek,
"nea," would express that it had recently come into
existence; but Greek, "kaine," that which is new and
different, superseding the worn-out old Jerusalem and its polity.
"John, in the Gospel, applies to the old city the Greek name
Hierosolyma. But in the Apocalypse, always, to the heavenly city
the Hebrew name, Hierousalem. The Hebrew name is the
original and holier one: the Greek, the recent and more secular
and political one" [BENGEL].
my new name--at present incommunicable and only known to God: to
be hereafter revealed and made the believer's own in union with God in
Christ. Christ's name written on him denotes he shall be wholly
Christ's. New also relates to Christ, who shall assume a new
character (answering to His "new name") entering with His saints on a
kingdom--not that which He had with the Father before the worlds, but
that earned by His humiliation as Son of man.
GIBBON, the infidel [Decline and Fall, ch.
64], gives an unwilling testimony to the fulfilment of the prophecy as
to Philadelphia from a temporal point of view, Among the Greek colonies
and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect,--a column in
a scene of ruins--a pleasing example that the paths of honor and safety
may sometimes be the same."
13. (See on
14. Laodiceans--The city was in the southwest of Phrygia, on the
river Lycus, not far from Colosse, and lying between it and
Philadelphia. It was destroyed by an earthquake,
A.D. 62, and rebuilt by its wealthy citizens
without the help of the state [TACITUS,
Annals, 14.27]. This wealth (arising from the excellence of its
wools) led to a self-satisfied, lukewarm state in spiritual things, as
describes. See on
on the Epistle which is thought to have been written to the Laodicean
Church by Paul. The Church in latter times was apparently flourishing;
for one of the councils at which the canon of Scripture was determined
was held in Laodicea in A.D. 361. Hardly a
Christian is now to be found on or near its site.
Hebrew, "Bless Himself in the God of Amen . . .
swear by the God of Amen,"
He who not only says, but is, the Truth. The saints used
Amen at the end of prayer, or in assenting to the word of God;
but none, save the Son of God, ever said, "Amen, I say unto you," for
it is the language peculiar to God, who avers by Himself. The
New Testament formula, "Amen. I say unto you," is equivalent to the Old
Testament formula, "as I live, saith Jehovah." In John's Gospel
alone He uses (in the Greek) the double "Amen,"
Joh 1:51; 3:3,
&c.; in English Version," Verily, verily." The title happily
harmonizes with the address. His unchanging faithfulness as "the Amen"
contrasts with Laodicea's wavering of purpose, "neither hot nor cold"
The angel of Laodicea has with some probability been conjectured to be
Archippus, to whom, thirty years previously, Paul had already given a
monition, as needing to be stirred up to diligence in his ministry. So
the Apostolic Constitutions, [8.46], name him as the first
bishop of Laodicea: supposed to be the son of Philemon
faithful and true witness--As "the Amen" expresses the
unchangeable truth of His promises; so "the faithful the true witness,"
the truth of His revelations as to the heavenly things which He has
seen and testifies. "Faithful," that is, trustworthy
(2Ti 2:11, 13).
"True" is here (Greek, "alethinos") not
truth-speaking (Greek, "alethes"), but "perfectly
realizing all that is comprehended in the name Witness"
Three things are necessary for this: (1) to have seen with His own eyes
what He attests; (2) to be competent to relate it for others; (3) to be
willing truthfully to do so. In Christ all these conditions meet
beginning of the creation of God--not he whom God created first,
but as in
the Beginner of all creation, its originating instrument. All
creation would not be represented adoring Him, if He were but one of
themselves. His being the Creator is a strong guarantee for His
faithfulness as "the Witness and Amen."
15. neither cold--The antithesis to "hot," literally, "boiling"
requires that "cold" should here mean more than negatively cold; it is
rather, positively icy cold: having never yet been warmed. The
Laodiceans were in spiritual things cold comparatively, but not
cold as the world outside, and as those who had never belonged
to the Church. The lukewarm state, if it be the transitional stage to a
warmer, is a desirable state (for a little religion, if real, is better
than none); but most fatal when, as here, an abiding condition, for it
is mistaken for a safe state
This accounts for Christ's desiring that they were cold rather
than lukewarm. For then there would not be the same "danger of
mixed motive and disregarded principle" [ALFORD].
Also, there is more hope of the "cold," that is, those who are of the
world, and not yet warmed by the Gospel call; for, when called, they
may become hot and fervent Christians: such did the
once-cold publicans, Zaccheus and Matthew, become. But the
lukewarm has been brought within reach of the holy fire, without
being heated by it into fervor: having religion enough to lull
the conscience in false security, but not religion enough to save the
soul: as Demas,
Such were the halters between two opinions in Israel
16. neither cold nor hot--So one oldest manuscript, B, and
Vulgate read. But two oldest manuscripts, Syriac, and
Coptic transpose thus, "hot nor cold." It is remarkable that the
Greek adjectives are in the masculine, agreeing with the angel,
not feminine, agreeing with the Church. The Lord addresses the angel as
the embodiment and representative of the Church. The chief minister is
answerable for his flock if he have not faithfully warned the members
I will--Greek, "I am about to," "I am ready to": I have
it in my mind: implying graciously the possibility of the threat not
being executed, if only they repent at once. His dealings towards them
will depend on theirs towards Him.
spue thee out of my month--reject with righteous loathing, as
Canaan spued out its inhabitants for their abominations. Physicians
used lukewarm water to cause vomiting. Cold and
hot drinks were common at feasts, but never lukewarm.
There were hot and cold springs near Laodicea.
17. Self-sufficiency is the fatal danger of a lukewarm state
thou sayest--virtually and mentally, if not in so many words.
increased with goods--Greek, "have become enriched,"
implying self-praise in self-acquired riches. The Lord alludes to
The riches on which they prided themselves were spiritual riches;
though, doubtless, their spiritual self-sufficiency ("I have need of
nothing") was much fostered by their worldly wealth; as, on the other
hand, poverty of spirit is fostered by poverty in respect
to worldly riches.
knowest not that thou--in particular above all others. The
"THOU" in the Greek is emphatic.
art wretched--Greek, "art the wretched one."
miserable--So one oldest manuscripts reads. But two oldest
manuscripts prefix "the." Translate, "the pitiable"; "the one
especially to be pitied." How different Christ's estimate of men, from
their own estimate of themselves, "I have need of nothing!"
blind--whereas Laodicea boasted of a deeper than common
insight into divine things. They were not absolutely
blind, else eye-salve would have been of no avail to
them; but short-sighted.
18. Gentle and loving irony. Take My advice, thou who
fanciest thyself in need of nothing. Not only art thou not in
need of nothing, but art in need of the commonest necessaries of
existence. He graciously stoops to their modes of thought and speech:
Thou art a people ready to listen to any counsel as to how to
buy to advantage; then, listen to My counsel (for I am
buy of ME" (in whom, according to Paul's
Epistle written to the neighboring Colosse and intended for the
Laodicean Church also,
Col 2:1, 3; 4:16,
are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge). "Buy"
does not imply that we can, by any work or merit of ours,
purchase God's free gift; nay the very purchase money consists
in the renunciation of all self-righteousness, such as Laodicea had
"Buy" at the cost of thine own self-sufficiency (so Paul,
Php 3:7, 8);
and the giving up of all things, however dear to us, that would prevent
our receiving Christ's salvation as a free gift, for
example, self and worldly desires. Compare
"Buy . . . without money and price."
of me--the source of "unsearchable riches"
Laodicea was a city of extensive money transactions [CICERO].
gold tried in, &c.--literally, "fired (and fresh)
from the fire," that is, just fresh from the furnace
which has proved its purity, and retaining its bright gloss. Sterling
spiritual wealth, as contrasted with its counterfeit, in which Laodicea
boasted itself. Having bought this gold she will be no longer
mayest be rich--Greek, "mayest be enriched."
white raiment--"garments." Laodicea's wools were famous. Christ
offers infinitely whiter raiment. As "gold tried in the fire" expresses
faith tested by fiery trials: so "white raiment," Christ's
righteousness imputed to the believer in justification and imparted
appear--Greek, "be manifested," namely, at the last day,
when everyone without the wedding garment shall be discovered. To strip
one, is in the East the image of putting to open shame. So also to
clothe one with fine apparel is the image of doing him honor. Man can
discover his shame, God alone can cover it, so that his nakedness shall
not be manifested at last
Blessed is he whose sin is so covered. The hypocrite's shame may
be manifested now; it must be so at last.
anoint . . . with eye-salve--The oldest manuscripts
read, "(buy of Me) eye-salve (collyrium, a roll of ointment),
to anoint thine eyes." Christ has for Laodicea an ointment far
more precious than all the costly unguents of the East. The eye
is here the conscience or inner light of the mind. According as it is
sound and "single" (Greek, "haplous," "simple"), or
otherwise, the man sees aright spiritually, or does not. The Holy
Spirit's unction, like the ancient eye-salve's, first smarts with
conviction of sin, then heals. He opens our eyes first to ourselves in
our wretchedness, then to the Saviour in His preciousness. TRENCH notices that the most sunken churches of the
seven, namely, Sardis and Laodicea, are the ones in which alone are
specified no opponents from without, nor heresies from within. The
Church owes much to God's overruling Providence which has made so often
internal and external foes, in spite of themselves, to promote His
cause by calling forth her energies in contending for the faith once
delivered to the saints. Peace is dearly bought at the cost of
spiritual stagnation, where there is not interest enough felt in
religion to contend about it at all.
Pr 3:11, 12;
Heb 12:5, 6.)
So in the case of Manasseh
As many--All. "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. And
shalt thou be an exception? If excepted from suffering the scourge,
thou art excepted from the number of the sons"
[AUGUSTINE]. This is an encouragement to Laodicea
not to despair, but to regard the rebuke as a token for good, if she
profit by it.
I love--Greek, "philo," the love of gratuitous
affection, independent of any grounds for esteem in the object
loved. But in the case of Philadelphia
"I have loved thee" (Greek, "egapesa") with the love of
esteem, founded on the judgment. Compare the note in my
English Gnomon of BENGEL,
I rebuke--The "I" in the Greek stands first in the
sentence emphatically. I in My dealings, so altogether unlike man's, in
the case of all whom I love, rebuke. The Greek,
"elencho," is the same verb as in
"(the Holy Ghost) will convince (rebuke unto conviction) the
world of sin."
chasten--"chastise." The Greek, "paideu," which in
classical Greek means to instruct, in the New Testament
means to instruct by chastisement
(Heb 12:5, 6).
David was rebuked unto conviction, when he cried, "I have sinned
against the Lord"; the chastening followed when his child was
taken from him
(2Sa 12:13, 14).
In the divine chastening, the sinner at one and the same time
winces under the rod and learns righteousness.
be zealous--habitually. Present tense in the Greek, of a
lifelong course of zeal. The opposite of "lukewarm." The
Greek by alliteration marks this: Laodicea had not been "hot"
(Greek, "zestos"), she is therefore urged to "be zealous"
(Greek, "zeleue"): both are derived from the same verb,
Greek, "zeo," "to boil."
repent--Greek aorist: of an act to be once for all
done, and done at once.
20. stand--waiting in wonderful condescension and
This is a further manifestation of His loving desire for the sinner's
salvation. He who is Himself "the Door," and who bids us "knock" that
it may be "opened unto" us, is first Himself to knock at the door of
our hearts. If He did not knock first, we should never come to knock at
His door. Compare
which is plainly alluded to here; the Spirit thus in Revelation sealing
the canonicity of that mystical book. The spiritual state of the bride
there, between waking and sleeping, slow to open the door
to her divine lover, answers to that of the lukewarm Laodicea
here. "Love in regard to men emptied (humbled) God; for He does not
remain in His place and call to Himself the servant whom He loved, but
He comes down Himself to seek him, and He who is all-rich arrives at
the lodging of the pauper, and with His own voice intimates His
yearning love, and seeks a similar return, and withdraws not when
disowned, and is not impatient at insult, and when persecuted still
waits at the doors" [NICOLAUS CABASILAS in TRENCH].
my voice--He appeals to the sinner not only with His hand (His
providences) knocking, but with His voice (His word read
or heard; or rather, His Spirit inwardly applying to man's spirit the
lessons to be drawn from His providence and His word). If we refuse to
answer to His knocking at our door now, He will refuse to hear our
knocking at His door hereafter. In respect to His second coming also,
He is even now at the door, and we know not how soon He may
knock: therefore we should always be ready to open to Him
if any man hear--for man is not compelled by irresistible force:
Christ knocks, but does not break open the door, though the
violent take heaven by the force of prayer
whosoever does hear, does so not of himself, but by the drawings
of God's grace
repentance is Christ's gift
He draws, not drags. The Sun of righteousness, like the natural
sun, the moment that the door is opened, pours in His light,
which could not previously find an entrance. Compare HILARY on Psalm 118:19.
I will come in to him--as I did to Zaccheus.
sup with him, and he with me--Delightful reciprocity! Compare
"dwelleth in me, and I in Him,"
Whereas, ordinarily, the admitted guest sups with the admitter, here
the divine guest becomes Himself the host, for He is the bread of life,
and the Giver of the marriage feast. Here again He alludes to the
where the Bride invites Him to eat pleasant fruits, even as He
had first prepared a feast for her, "His fruit was sweet to my taste."
Compare the same interchange,
the feast being made up of the viands that Jesus brought, and those
which the disciples brought. The consummation of this blessed
intercommunion shall be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, of which
the Lord's Supper is the earnest and foretaste.
21. sit with me in my throne--
(Re 2:26, 27; 20:6;
Mt 19:28; 20:23;
Joh 17:22, 24;
The same whom Christ had just before threatened to spue out of His
mouth, is now offered a seat with Him on His throne! "The
highest place is within reach of the lowest; the faintest spark of
grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame of love" [TRENCH].
even as I also--Two thrones are here mentioned: (1) His
Father's, upon which He now sits, and has sat since His ascension,
after His victory over death, sin, the world; upon this none can sit
save God, and the God-man Christ Jesus, for it is the incommunicable
prerogative of God alone; (2) the throne which shall be peculiarly
His as the once humbled and then glorified Son of man, to
be set up over the whole earth (heretofore usurped by Satan) at His
coming again; in this the victorious saints shall share
The transfigured elect Church shall with Christ judge and reign over
the nations in the flesh, and Israel the foremost of them; ministering
blessings to them as angels were the Lord's mediators of blessing and
administrators of His government in setting up His throne in Israel at
Sinai. This privilege of our high calling belongs exclusively to the
present time while Satan reigns, when alone there is scope for conflict
and for victory
(2Ti 2:11, 12).
When Satan shall be bound
there shall be no longer scope for it, for all on earth shall know the
Lord from the least to the greatest. This, the grandest and crowning
promise, is placed at the end of all the seven addresses, to gather all
in one. It also forms the link to the next part of the book, where the
Lamb is introduced seated on His Father's throne
(Re 4:2, 3; 5:5, 6).
The Eastern throne is broad, admitting others besides him who, as
chief, occupies the center. TRENCH notices; The
order of the promises in the seven epistles corresponds to that of the
unfolding of the kingdom of God its first beginnings on earth to its
consummation in heaven. To the faithful at Ephesus: (1) The tree of
life in the Paradise of God is promised
(2) Sin entered the world and death by sin; but to the faithful at
Smyrna it is promised, they shall not be hurt by the second
(3) The promise of the hidden manna
to Pergamos brings us to the Mosaic period, the Church in the
wilderness. (4) That to Thyatira, namely, triumph over the
(Re 2:26, 27),
forms the consummation of the kingdom in prophetic type, the period of
David and Solomon characterized by this power of the nations.
Here there is a division, the seven falling into two groups,
four and three, as often, for example, the Lord's Prayer, three
and four. The scenery of the last three passes from earth to heaven,
the Church contemplated as triumphant, with its steps from glory to
glory. (5) Christ promises to the believer of Sardis not to blot his
name out of the book of life but to confess him before His Father and
the angels at the judgment-day, and clothe him with a glorified body of
(Re 3:4, 5).
(6) To the faithful at Philadelphia Christ promises they shall be
citizens of the new Jerusalem, fixed as immovable pillars there, where
city and temple are one
here not only individual salvation is promised to the believer, as in
the case of Sardis, but also privileges in the blessed communion of the
Church triumphant. (7) Lastly, to the faithful of Laodicea is given the
crowning promise, not only the two former blessings, but a seat with
Christ on His throne, even as He has sat with His Father on His