The Church at
is city with two parts, an upper part of the city built on almost
impregnable cliffs, and a lower part of the city. The city had a strong
Jewish presence, which was hostile to its Christian inhabitants.
The city of Sardis
founded about 1200 B.C. and was the capital of ancient Lydia. King Croesus
(560-546 B.C.) was the last ruler of
defeated by Cyrus the Great in 546 B.C. In Sardis, gold and silver was
first minted into coins. Cyrus made Sardis the western terminus of the
royal Persian highway. Alexander the Great granted the city independence in
334 B.C., but after he died, his general Antigonus, subjected it in 322
B.C. Later it became a part of the Seleucid Empire ruled by a Seleucid
Roman conquest, the city became part of the
in 189 B.C. and a dependency of
Pergamum until 133 A.D.
church diocese remained in the city even after Muslim occupation (A.D.
716). The Mongul Timur (Tamerlane) destroyed the city A.D. 1403.
1 "And to the angel of
the church in
'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:
"I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are
The city was an
established city of idolatry. In the city was a temple to the goddess
Cybele, called, “the mother of the gods”. Worship of this Greek god was
vile and debasing, ending in a wild orgiastic celebration following three
days of mourning. In the midst of this city, a small Christian church
maintained an existence until at least the 15th century.
Jesus referring back
to chapter one, identifies Himself with the seven-fold ministry of the Holy
Spirit. (Isaiah 11:2-5). Jesus is complete in his ministry to this church,
the Holy Spirit has given this church the power to have victory. Jesus is
in complete charge of His church he not only dispenses the Spirit but he has
the stars or churches in his hand.
Many scholars question
whether this church ever had a commendation. Christ is exposing this
church. The churches work gave it a reputation of being a living church.
The works of the Sardis church demonstrate the church is not alive at all
but only gives the impression of being alive.
This message is warning
to all Christians, Jesus knows the true intention of hearts and our works.
He understands the motivation of our work.
You have a name….alive..
Sardis had a
reputation but the reputation was false. The church was not a living church
but a dead church. It was a church of appearance only, the works of the
church merely gave it an impression.
But are dead…
This church is the
prophetic foreshadowing of the Reformation movement. Following the pagan
church age of Rome, foreshadowed as the church of Thyatira, the Reformation
attempted to restore biblical Christianity.
Martin Luther and other
reformers who initially placed a great emphasis on scripture stressed Romans
1:17 “ But the righteous shall live by faith” they intentions soon fell to
political temptations. In
for example, the lords wanting to break free from
grip adopted Luther’s cause. Luther’s movement later known as Lutheranism
became the state
This again eliminated
the need for personal salvation but offered state salvation. By being a
citizen of Germany, one was automatically a Lutheran. The same happened in
England and the Netherlands as the nations rejected Roman church rule and
substituted national state churches.
The Reformation also
failed to correct many of the false unbiblical doctrines which had become
part of the Church such as baby baptism and the Eucharistic sacrifice which
teaches Jesus Christ being sacrificed again and again at communion
(transubstantiation). The Reformation church had a reputation for being a
living church but was dead.
2 "Be watchful, and
strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not
found your works perfect before God.
3 "Remember therefore how
you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not
watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I
will come upon you.
Jesus Christ has a
five-step plan to correct the problems in the
Church of Sardis. This
plan to correct the course applies to anybody who has outward appearance of
works, but is inwardly dead.
1. Be watchful…
Complacency is the
opposite of being watchful. The first thing
Sardis needs to do is
stop being complacent, and be on a state of alert. The ancient city of
had near impregnable fortress that taken twice because the city was
complacent in its security once in 546 B.C. and 218 B.C.
Translated from the
make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix. Jesus instructs this church and
the believer to firmly establish the sound aspects of the church. Once the
believer becomes aware of their sliding condition, they need to respond and
prevent any further sliding.
Another step to
correct action is to look to the start. Jesus counsels the Church at
Ephesus to do what they
did at first. (Rev. 2:5) Here Christ instructs Sardis, to look back the
process of their conversion. When they first heard and received the Gospel.
believers can help solve their struggle by looking back at their walk, and
retrace their steps from their conversion. Examine where they got off track
and go back, and start again. Jesus instructs
Sardis to go back, and
take hold of their initial conversion and take hold of it.
4. Hold fast…
Sardis needs to go
back to the foundational event, and “Attend carefully to it”. The problems
of the Reformation are they went beyond their foundation of scripture to
secure political security.
The final course of
correction for Sardis is to “Change their mind” which comes from the Greek
If you will….
refuses to implement this course of action, they will be surprised by
Christ’s judgment. Christ extends grace to his servants, he gives us time
to correct our walk, but their comes a point of chastening when Jesus Christ
must take action for the benefit of his church and the believer.
5 And you have forgotten
the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the
chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves
He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."
7 If you endure
chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a
father does not chasten?
Thief…what hour I will
Christ warns Sardis the consequences of “Not watching”. If Sardis does not
watch they will be taken unaware by Christ’s appearing. Throughout the
Gospels Christ stresses the need for the believer to be careful and keep
watchful eye for his “Imminent return”
In the parable of the 10
virgins, five are prepared for the bridegroom and five are not. When the
bridegroom comes the five foolish virgins are busy trying to buy oil for
their lamps in the marketplace.
The five wise virgins
leave and go to the wedding, the five foolish later try to enter the wedding
but are kept out, because the bridegroom does not know them. Christ warns
his church to be ready.
13 "Watch therefore, for
you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
In this prophetic
foreshadowing the state churches are warned, that unless they watch they
like the foolish virgins will be ushered into the tribulation period.
4 "You have a few names
even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with
Me in white, for they are worthy.
5 "He who overcomes shall
be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book
of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 "He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '
You have a few names…
Jesus makes a
distinction, not everybody has fallen to the complacency at the
church of Sardis. There
are still sincere believers who make up this Church. Melito Bishop of
Sardis demonstrates Christ words had an impact on the Church. Melito was
bishop of Sardis during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180). He
wrote many books defending the faith.
Sardis in fact had a
Christian presence until the time of the Mongol conqueror Tamerlane (A.D.
They shall walk…
The saved Sardis will be with Christ. They are described as wearing white,
which Revelation tells us represents the righteous acts of the saints (Rev.
Book of life…
Six times the book
of Revelation refers to the “Book of Life” ( Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 17:8,
20:12,15, 21:27, 22:19) Some have used the term “I will not blot” as
justification that one can loose their salvation.
First Christ is not
saying he has blotted out the name, but that he will not. Secondly, this
book is for those who are saved, and is also referred to as the Lamb’s “Book
of Life”. (Rev. 22:19)
The Church at
Today the city is called
Alasehir meaning either “Red city” or “city of Allah”. The original name
comes from King Attalus of Pergamum (159-138 B.C.) whose surname meant
Philadelphus meant “Loyal to his brother (Eumenes)”
The city was
almost completely destroyed several times by earthquakes. The most recent
rebuilding was in A.D. 17. Grapes were a principal crop of the city and
Dionysus, the god of wine (Bacchus) was one the chief objects of worship.
Christian presence was maintained in this city until the start of World War
7 "And to the angel of
the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who
is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and
shuts and no one opens":
8 "I know your works.
See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you
have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
9 "Indeed I will make
those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but
lie-indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know
that I have loved you.
10 "Because you have kept
My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which
shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
He who is Holy…true…
identifies himself to Philadelphia as Holy and True. The word is translated
from the Greek word
Christ’s righteousness is separate and apart from the sin of this world. The
church represents Christ in the world. Christ nature is perfect, He is
God’s Messiah, the “Truth” manifest in the world. Jesus describes Himself
as “The Way”, “The Truth” and “The Life” (John 14;6). Jesus is not one of
many truths but “The Truth”.
Key of David…
Christ holds the Title to the throne of David. The Messiah, the son of
David, was to rule over the Earth in the kingdom age. Christ assures the
Church he is in charge. Christ will rule on David’s throne over the
nations. (See Isaiah 9:7, 11:1-7, 22: 22, Jeremiah 23;5)
He who opens…
Christ is the one
who opens the door. All authority under the Heavens and Earth belong to
Christ. We as a church operate under his authority.
18 And Jesus came and
spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on
earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 "teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age." Amen.
Church of Sardis, the
works of the Philadelphia Church there is not one word of condemnation for
this church. The works of Sardis lacked because the church fell away from
church represented the prophetic foreshadow of the Reformation church, the
Philadelphia church represented the prophetic foreshadowing of the
missionary church. The printing presses made Bibles accessible to the
common person, which in turn caused people to respond to God’s Word. This
response was fully manifest in the early 18th century. As
missionaries set out to spread the Gospel across the globe.
During the missionary
age, the doors closed to the Gospel began to open. Countries closed off to
the Gospel started to see scriptures printed in their own languages.
The basis of the
doors opening to the Gospel was not because of the wealth of the church, but
because of the power of the word. Biblical based Christianity apart from
the United States
is usually the minority and subject to persecution in many countries. The
strength comes from Christ alone.
foreshadowed the position this physically weak but spiritually strong
The secret behind the
power of this church was their fidelity to doctrine mixed with good works
and obedience. Christ commends this church for keeping his Word.
Philadelphia was true to the Gospel, which in turn allowed Christ to use
this church more then any other.
The church was not
ashamed of Christ. They were not concerned about what people thought of
them, they wanted others to know Christ. They did not deny him. This
allowed Christ to open the doors and the Gospel to go out.
Synagogue of Satan…
the Christians in Philadelphia faced opposition from a hostile Jewish
population. This also foreshadowed the opposition the Gospel would receive
by groups claiming the spiritual prerogative that belonged to Israel.
The Rapture of
I will keep you….
Jesus Christ makes
an unusual promise to this Church, not made to any other of the seven
kept the command and persevered in their walk, Christ promises to keep
Philadelphia from the “Hour” of trial.
This verse is the
subject of much debate. With the understanding of prophetic foreshadowing,
in the seven churches, Revelation 3:10 affirms the position of a
pre-tribulation rapture. Before the seven-year tribulation begins, the true
church, those who know Christ, regardless of denomination will be caught up
in the clouds, preserved from the tribulation that will affect the whole
earth. (I Thes. 4:13-18, I Corinthians 15: 50-54,)
Hour of trial:
The world will go
through a period of trial, translated from the Greek word
meaning a trial of proving. This trial will separate those on earth,
following the rapture will separate those who belong to God and those who do
The point that
makes is this trial will not be local in nature but involves the whole
world, or oijkoumevnh
Again, the point
made in the verse is the
will be kept from the time or hour this trial.
Test those who dwell
tells us the purpose of this trial is to test those dwelling on Earth, here
the Greek word,
is used as opposed to Oikoumene. Ge means arable land as opposed to
“Inhabited land”. In this verse Jesus Christ want the reader to understand
in simple terms the judgment coming is world wide, including both the
physical and inhabited earth. This is period of testing but the
Church of Philadelphia
will be kept or guarded from that hour.
Christ in Matthew also
warns of this coming world wide judgment unequaled in the history of the
world. Matthew 24:21-22
21 "For then there will
be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world
until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 "And unless those days
were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days
will be shortened.
11 "Behold, I am coming
quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
Jesus counsels those in
the Philadelphia to not let anybody take their crown, the crown here is the
victory crown (stevfano
presented at award
ceremonies. Christ is not talking about salvation but reward. He is
urging the Church to persevere, until he comes.
12 "He who overcomes, I
will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.
And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My
God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I
will write on him My new name.
13 "He who has an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '
Pillar in the temple…
is the future dwelling place of all the saints with Christ (Revelation
21-22). In New Jerusalem there is no temple, because the city itself is the
and we are part of his Temple.
Christ points this
Church toward the goal of eternity.
The Church at
The city used to be
known as Diospolis (City of Zeus) or Rhoas but Antiochus II (250 B.C.)
renamed the city after his wife Laodice. The city is located about 160 km
(100 miles) east of Ephesus and 18 km (11 miles) west of Colossae.
Romans became rulers of the city in 133 B.C., they reconstructed the roads
became the major junction of traffic west to
and the Aegean, north and west to Philadelphia, Pergamum and Smyrna, and
south to the Mediterranean. The small city grew rapidly under Roman rule
and became very wealthy. This is demonstrated by the fact an earthquake in
A.D. 60 destroyed the city and the city refused imperial financial aid to
rebuild. The chief exports of the city was a seamless garment made of
glossy black wool. The city was also known for its water system, the
aqueduct was built from large tightly stones with a central circular
channel. The water was transported to the city from mountain springs.
The city had a
cosmopolitan population including Roman colonizers, the original Phrygians,
Jews and immigrant Syrian settlers. The wealth of Jewish population is
demonstrated by Cicero who reported 20 pounds of gold, as the annual
contribution Jews to
in 62 B.C. The city had a medical school to which was connected the famous
“Phrygian powder” a salve for the eyes. Zeus and Isis worship were known in
14 "And to the angel of
the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the
Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
Christ describes Himself to Laodicea as the Amen. The word come from Hebrew
and means “So be it”. This church unlike any of the other, received not one
single word of commendation. Christ using this term demonstrates the
certainty of His promise.
This church was a
horrible witness for the Gospel. Despite their faithlessness, Christ is
faithful and true. He is a contrast to their lack.
Some have tried to argue
this verse teaches Christ had a beginning. This verse in fact describes
Christ nature as being the start of creation. John 1:1-3 describe Christ as
being God incarnate who brought creation into existence.
were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
The Laodiceans rejoiced
in material gain and possessions. Christ reminds them He is the source of
15 "I know your works,
that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 "So then, because you
are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
17 "Because you say, 'I
am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that
you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-
Neither cold nor hot…
condition of church at
is one of indifference. They are in limbo. They are not excited about
Christ nor are they lacking any interest. The church deceived about its
condition, is complacent and smug in their own spirituality.
Christ in the Gospels
levels his harshest criticism at the self-righteous religionists who were
content in their own righteousness. In Matthew 23, Jesus lists seven “Woes”
against the Pharisees and scribes. These two groups more then any other
would have been viewed by the outside world as being the epitome of
25 "Woe to you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish,
but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
26 "Blind Pharisee, first
cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be
27 "Woe to you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed
appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all
They were wealthy and
content in their religious life, this self-righteousness masked the
corruption and poverty underneath. Christ later describes this church as
miserable, poor, blind and naked the exact opposite of their
Jesus would prefer
Laodicea to be cold rather then in the middle. If the church was cold
toward Christ then at least they could be revived. In the current state,
the church is resting on deception of being righteous.
Jesus uses the Greek
meaning tepid. This condition caused Christ to want to vomit.
Philadelphia foreshadows the state of the church in the end times. Paul
refers to the condition in last days 2 Tim. 3:1-5
1 But know this, that in
the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers
of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its
power. And from such people turn away!
2 Tim. 3:1,2,5
Christianity in many
parts of the world is established and accepted as part of the culture. Many
liberal churches are champions of the social issues of the day including
“Gay marriage” and “Abortion rights”. Issues clearly repudiated in the Old
and New Testaments are dividing churches such as the Anglicans,
Presbyterians and Methodists. The mere fact that there is a debate about
these issues demonstrates the fallen nature of many of these churches.
Many of these same
churches might comfort themselves with the notion they are being open and
confirming by accepting a gay lifestyle.
This churches problem was its own self-deception. They equated earthly
wealth with God’s pleasure. God warned Israel about this very same problem
before they entered the Promised Land. The wealth they would acquire would
be a snare causing them to forget the Lord. (Deut. 8:12-14) Laodicea fell
into this very same snare.
The snare of religion
rather then relationship also trapped those in this Church age who have
ornate church buildings and a wealthy membership. However they compromised
the message, so they can be part of the world. This is what faces many
churches in the
United States, which want to conform to the standards of the world and water
down doctrinal positions to be more accepting and in turn accepted by the
Christ describes the
condition of this church in terms totally contrasted to their self
first term he uses is wretched to describe them. This means dejected in
state, afflicted. The members would probably disagree with Christ, they
were wealthy and not dejected at all.
word means to be pitied. Here again Laodicea was proud and wealthy church
they would be shocked with the thought they should be pitied. Contrast this
to the Philadelphia church described as having “Little strength” this church
had worldly riches.
Again the church was
wealthy but Christ calls it poor. Wealthy in the world does not equate to
spiritual wealth. Christ here refutes the idea the of the wealth Gospel,
which equates wealth with spiritual favor.
The church thought it
was in Christ’s will but Christ tells them they are blind. They are away
from the truth. Many bible believing Christians find it hard to understand
how issues such as gay and abortion rights are even issues in churches. The
reason they are issues is because many of the wealthy liberal churches have
become blind. They do not see scripture as their guiding light, and have
become blind like the Laodiceans.
The wealthy Church would
have not lacked in clothing but Christ describes it as a naked church.
Clothing of the saints is represented as righteousness. This church though
priding on its deeds, was completely naked. They did not have any good
works, even though they would have objected to such a charge.
The modern church would
also object to the charge of nakedness. Many of the liberal churches would
point to their “Good works” and Ecumenism. They would see gay rights as
civil rights, abortion rights as protecting personal freedoms and protecting
the environment as good stewardship. They might point to their Hindu,
Buddhist, Muslim prayer service and see themselves fulfilling the command to
love their neighbor.
They might frown on the
idea as Jesus being the “Only Way” as bigoted and intolerant. Christ
however is very clear and straightforward. There is only one way to heaven,
18 "I counsel you to buy
from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments,
that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be
revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 "As many as I love, I
rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 "Behold, I stand at
the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come
in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Buy from Me…
Christ now give the
solution to this miserable church. They need to acquire their wealth from
Christ not from self-righteous works. Christ echoes the call made in
1 Ho, every one that
thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy,
and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Spiritual wealth is not
a matter of earthly money but sincere relationship. Christ calls the Church
to come to Him that they may attain true wealth.
White garments… The
black glossy wool garments was one item that this city wealthy. Here Christ
instructs the church to cover its nakedness with white garments of
Christ again appeals to
one of this cities prized commodities, “Phygian Power” or Tepha Phrygia.
John Walvoord quoting Barclay writes,
the eye-powder of Laodicea, was world-famous. It was exported in tablet
form; and the tablets were ground down and applied to the eye. This Phrygian
powder was held to be a sovereign remedy for weak and ailing eyes.
The condition of the
church was spiritual blindness. They had strayed from the word and did not
recognize their blindness.
The words to the church
are hard and they demonstrate the Christ love for the church. Jesus wants
each of the churches to be their best. He gives instructions out of His
love for these churches to correct their problems.
31 For if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are
judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with
I Corinthians 11:31-32
Christ instructs this
“Tepid” church to burn literal burn with action. They need to wake up out
of their self-righteousness and return to Christ with burning emotion. They
need to repent or have a complete change of heart.
I stand at the door…
Christ is on the outside of this Church, they need to invite Him back in.
The picture of the 5 foolish virgins knocking on the bridegrooms door will
ultimately be fulfilled in the end times as the churches without Christ are
left, and the true church is taken up in the rapture.
Now Christ stands at the
door of his church to be let back in, so fellowship can be restored.
21 "To him who overcomes
I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down
with My Father on His throne.
22 "He who has an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' "
sit with me…
The victorious saints
will rule with Christ in the Millennium. The parable of the Talents will be
fulfilled when the saints will rule and reign with Christ in his kingdom.
This promise is made available to the lukewarm church.