John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. The seven spirits of God - The Holy Spirit, from whom alone all spiritual life and strength proceed. And the seven stars - which are subordinate to him. Thou hast a name that thou livest - A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance. But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty appearance vanishes before him.
Verse 2. The things which remain - In thy soul; knowledge of the truth, good desires, and convictions. Which were ready to die -Wherever pride, indolence, or levity revives, all the fruits of the Spirit are ready to die.
Verse 3. Remember how - Humbly, zealously, seriously. Thou didst receive the grace of God once, and hear - His word. And hold fast - The grace thou hast received. And repent - According to the word thou hast heard.
Verse 4. Yet thou hast a few names - That is, persons. But though few, they had not separated themselves from the rest; otherwise, the angel of Sardis would not have had them. Yet it was no virtue of his, that they were unspotted; whereas it was his fault that they were but few. Who have not defiled their garments - Either by spotting themselves, or by partaking of other men's sins. They shall walk with me in white - in joy; in perfect holiness; in glory. They are worthy - A few good among many bad are doubly acceptable to God. O how much happier is this worthiness than that mentioned, Revelation 16:6.
Verse 5. He shall be clothed in white raiment - The colour of victory, joy, and triumph. And I will not blot his name out of the book of life - Like that of the angel of the church at Sardis: but he shall live for ever. I will confess his name - As one of my faithful servants and soldiers.
Verse 7. The holy one, the true one - Two great and glorious names He that hath the key of David - A master of a family, or a prince, has one or more keys, wherewith he can open and shut all the doors of his house or palace. So had David a key, a token of right and sovereignty, which was afterward adjudged to Eliakim, Isaiah 22:22. Much more has Christ, the Son of David, the key of the spiritual city of David, the New Jerusalem; the supreme right, power, and authority, as in his own house. He openeth this to all that overcome, and none shutteth: he shutteth it against all the fearful, and none openeth. Likewise when he openeth a door on earth for his works or his servants, none can shut; and when he shutteth against whatever would hurt or defile, none can open.
Verse 8. I have given before thee an opened door - To enter into the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every good work. Thou hast a little strength - But little outward human strength; a little, poor, mean, despicable company. Yet thou hast kept my word - Both in judgment and practice.
Verse 9. Behold, I - who have all power; and they must then comply. I will make them come and bow down before thy feet - Pay thee the lowest homage. And know - At length, that all depends on my love, and that thou hast a place therein. O how often does the judgment of the people turn quite round, when the Lord looketh upon them! Job 42:7, &c.
Verse 10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience - The word of Christ is indeed a word of patience. I also will keep thee - O happy exemption from that spreading calamity! From the hour of temptation - So that thou shalt not enter into temptation; but it shall pass over thee. The hour denotes the short time of its continuance; that is, at any one place. At every one it was very sharp, though short; wherein the great tempter was not idle, Revelation 2:10. Which hour shall come upon the whole earth - The whole Roman empire. It went over the Christians, and over the Jews and heathens; though in a very different manner. This was the time of the persecution under the seemingly virtuous emperor Trajan. The two preceding persecutions were under those monsters, Nero and Domitian; but Trajan was so admired for his goodness, and his persecution was of such a nature, that it was a temptation indeed, and did throughly try them that dwelt upon the earth.
Verse 11. Thy crown - Which is ready for thee, if thou endure to the end.
Verse 12. I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God - I will fix him as beautiful, as useful, and as immovable as a pillar in the church of God. And he shall go out no more - But shall be holy and happy for ever. And I will write upon him the name of my God - So that the nature and image of God shall appear visibly upon him. And the name of the city of my God -Giving him a title to dwell in the New Jerusalem. And my new name - A share in that joy which I entered into, after overcoming all my enemies.
Verse 14. To the angel of the church at Laodicea - For these St. Paul had had a great concern, Colossians 2:1. These things saith the Amen - That is, the True One, the God of truth. The beginning - The Author, Prince, and Ruler. Of the creation of God - Of all creatures; the beginning, or Author, by whom God made them all.
Verse 15. I know thy works - Thy disposition and behaviour, though thou knowest it not thyself. That thou art neither cold - An utter stranger to the things of God, having no care or thought about them. Nor hot - As boiling water: so ought we to be penetrated and heated by the fire of love. O that thou wert - This wish of our Lord plainly implies that he does not work on us irresistibly, as the fire does on the water which it heats. Cold or hot - Even if thou wert cold, without any thought or profession of religion, there would be more hope of thy recovery.
Verse 16. So because thou art lukewarm - The effect of lukewarm water is well known. I am about to spue thee out of my mouth -I will utterly cast thee from me; that is, unless thou repent.
Verse 17. Because thou sayest - Therefore "I counsel thee," &c. I am rich - In gifts and grace, as well as worldly goods. And knowest not that thou art - In God's account, wretched and pitiable.
Verse 18. I counsel thee - who art poor, and blind, and naked. To buy of me - Without money or price. Gold purified in the fire - True, living faith, which is purified in the furnace of affliction. And white raiment - True holiness. And eyesalve -Spiritual illumination; the "unction of the Holy One," which teacheth all things.
Verse 19. Whomsoever I love - Even thee, thou poor Laodicean! O how much has his unwearied love to do! I rebuke - For what is past. And chasten - That they may amend for the time to come.
Verse 20. I stand at the door, and knock - Even at this instant; while he is speaking this word. If any man open - Willingly receive me. I will sup with him - Refreshing him with my graces and gifts, and delighting myself in what I have given. And he with me - In life everlasting.
Verse 21. I will give him to sit with me on my throne - In unspeakable happiness and glory. Elsewhere, heaven itself is termed the throne of God: but this throne is in heaven.
Verse 22. He that hath an ear, let him hear, &c. - This stands in the three former letters before the promise; in the four latter, after it; clearly dividing the seven into two parts; the first containing three, the last, four letters. The titles given our Lord in the three former letters peculiarly respect his power after his resurrection and ascension, particularly over his church; those in the four latter, his divine glory, and unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Again, this word being placed before the promises in the three former letters, excludes the false apostles at Ephesus, the false Jews at Smyrna, and the partakers with the heathens at Pergamos, from having any share therein. In the four latter, being placed after them, it leaves the promises immediately joined with Christ's address to the angel of the church, to show that the fulfilling of these was near; whereas the others reach beyond the end of the world. It should be observed, that the overcoming, or victory, (to which alone these peculiar promises are annexed,) is not the ordinary victory obtained by every believer; but a special victory over great and peculiar temptations, by those that are strong in faith.
on the Whole Bible