SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 3
In this chapter the Lord continues to praise, warn, and instruct these last three churches with the exception of the church in Philadelphia who got only praise due to their faithfulness!
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead.
The angel/bishop of the church was St. Clement of Sardis who was one of the original seventy apostles. The seven spirits of God is not the same as the seven archangels that are called the seven spirits before God’s throne in Rev. 1:4. The seven spirits of God is the sevenfold work of grace of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Isaiah, “The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety; and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of God (11:2-3).” The seven stars are the seven bishops as mentioned in Rev. 1:20.
2 Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. 3 Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.
To strengthen what remains and is on the point of death means that Christ is calling those who were Christians but are rushing to destruction. St. Peter says, “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they had known it, to be turned backward (2 Pet. 2:21).” What they had received and heard was Apostolic Doctrine. Christ does not let us know at what hour He is coming in order that we will be motivated to constantly prepare for it.
4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; 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.’
A few names, “He calls His own sheep by name (Jn. 10:3).” Not soiled their garments means purity of their bodies as well as white garments. The book of life , and to be blotted out …
From Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, “For the book of life is the inscription of those ordained to eternal life, to which one is directed from two sources; namely, from predestination, which direction never fails, and from grace; for whoever has grace, by this very fact becomes fitted for eternal life. This direction fails sometimes; because some are directed by possessing grace, to obtain eternal life, yet they fail to obtain it through mortal sin. Therefore those who are ordained to possess eternal life through divine predestination are written down in the book of life simply, because they are written therein to have eternal life in reality; such are never blotted out from the book of life. Those, however, who are ordained to eternal life, not through divine predestination, but through grace, are said to be written in the book of life not simply, but relatively, for they are written therein not to have eternal life in itself, but in its cause only. Yet though these latter can be said to be blotted out of the book of life, this blotting out must not be referred to God, as if God foreknew a thing, and afterwards knew it not; but to the thing known, namely, because God knows one is first ordained to eternal life, and afterwards not ordained when he falls from grace.”
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.
The angel/bishop here is Demetrius. The key of David is royal authority, since Christ was born of the family of David. To open and shut also means to bind and loose (Matt. 16:19) and to separate the worthy from the unworthy, and Christ entrusted that authority to the Church.
8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.
The open door is the spiritual door of the Church, and it is never shut by the power of anyone because Christ is the one who opened it. synogogue of Satan and those who say they are Jews and are not see Rev. 2:9, Satanic infiltration, explain. To make them bow at their feet means that many of them will come to Philadelphia to receive the Faith in Christ. The hour of trial is literally the time that took place of the emperor Domitian in 81-96. The faithful Philadelphians were kept from the hour of trail in the sense that they were able to recognize it and to avoid its deceptions. This will also take place during the time of the Antichrist at the end of time when the faithful that endure will also recognize the sign of the times and will avoid the temptations and deceptions of the Antichrist.
11 I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
He is coming soon in the sense that He is eternal and time is nothing to Christ. Assuredly the Lord would not threaten that the crown might be taken away, were it not that, when righteousness departs, the crown must also depart. To be a pillar is to be holy and to strengthen the Church by your support. The temple of God is the one Universal Church, the Body of Christ. The name of God is the name Christian, and the name of the city, the New Jerusalem is also the Church. It comes down out of Heaven because the grace with which God formed it is of Heaven. The new name is Christian, and it is called new because God’s people were not called Christians from the beginning, but only until the faith spread and the faithful multiplied(Acts 11:26).
14* “And to the angel of the church in La-odicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
The angel/bishop is either St. Nymphas or St. Sagaris, or could be St. Archippus who is mentioned in the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.46. Jesus is said to be the beginning of God’s creation, not that He was created or had a beginning because he is eternal, He has always existed. But He is the beginning in the sense that He is the ruler of God’s creation, all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
Cold means unbelieving while hot means fervent in faith. Lukewarm means neither, which is worse than cold because the unbelieving does leave a hope of attaining the faith while lukewarm means withdrawal from the faith through idleness, which is much harder to recover from. To spew them out is to repel them from Himself as something repulsive.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
To buy gold refined by fire is to be purged by doing righteous works. Clothed with white garments means being clothed with Baptism, “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).” Those in nakedness are those who are deprived of divine grace by disobedience to God’s commands. And salve to anoint your eyes is the divine gift and grace of the Holy Spirit who illumines the eyes of the mind.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered 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.'”
God shows that He loves them despite them being the sort of people the text describes, and His reproof and chastisement is evidence that God loves us because it is for our good. The door means the door of our hearts that Christ truly desires to come into. To eat with Him and He with us is reference to the holy Eucharist (Lord’s Supper). By the throne is meant the judiciary power which Christ has from the Father: and in this sense He is said “to sit in the Father’s throne.” But other saints have it from Christ; and in this respect they are said “to sit on Christ’s throne“; according to Mt. 19:28: “You also shall sit upon twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”