I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Weeks

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)
The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)
The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Rev 3:1-6)
The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)

B. Text of Rev 3:14-22

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: ‘I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, “I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!” And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:14–22, NLT)

C. Background and History of the City of Laodicea

The city of Laodicea was located 40 miles south east of Philadelphia. It was wealthy because of its production of black wool cloth, eye ointment and location as a major banking center. The city was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 60. Because the city was so wealthy it was able to rebuild without outside assistance. Yet, because of their economic security it was easy for the believers in the city to be content and lazy in their faith (Walvoord, Revelation, 87; Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 454).

The city’s water supply plays an important role in Jesus’s letter. The city had no fresh water supply. Therefore, drinking water was carried from the springs or the river in the valley below. Utility water was piped in from hot mineral springs about six miles away. By the time this water reached Laodicea it was lukewarm and because of the high mineral content would cause someone to vomit (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 452). Six miles north of Laodicea was a city called “Hierapolis” which was a city well known for its hot springs. Hierapolis became so well known for its warm water healing powers that it became a major healing center for people. Ten miles to the east of Laodicea was the city of Colossae which was known for its cold drinking water. Laodicea had no water supply of its own. It was a city located at a junction of trade routes for the commercial and military value (not for natural or agricultural value) (Osborne, Revelation, 205).

The church in Laodicea was older and well established. However, the economic efficiently of the area had made Christians spiritually complacent.

II. CORRESPONDENT (3:14)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:” (Revelation 3:14, NLT)

III. COMPLAINT (3:15-17)

A. Neither Hot nor Cold (v. 15)

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!” (Rev 3:15, NLT)

1. Hot

As a “hot” believer or church Christ hopes that they show genuine fervor and leave no question about their strong faith in Jesus Christ (Walvoord, Revelation, 89). Or, it could refer to the healing mineral waters of the hot springs near Hierapolis. Hierapolis was famous for its hot water that was known for its healing powers.

2. Cold

As a “cold” believer or church Christ describes the unbelieving world’s reaction to Christ (Walvoord, Revelation, 89). Or, it could refer to the fresh waters of Colossae. Colossae was famous for its cold, refreshing springs.

3. Distinct from Culture

Some say that the waters simply indicate that the Laodicean believers should just be distinct from their culture (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 452).

B. Lukewarm Water (v. 16)

“But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Rev 3:16, NLT)

C. Wretched, Miserable, Poor, Blind, and Naked (v. 17)

“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17, NLT)

The city of Laodicea was very wealthy. This wealth and self-sufficiently led to complacency in their faith. Because they were materially rich they assumed that they were spiritually rich. Now, the problem with the believers in Laodicea was not that they were rich, but it was the attitude they received as a result of their wealth.

IV. COMMAND (3:18-19)

A. Items from Jesus for Sale (v. 18)

“So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.” (Rev 3:18, NLT)

As mentioned in the introduction, Laodicea was famous and wealthy because of its production of wool cloth. Using the imagery and local knowledge, Jesus tells the Laodiceans to purchase white cloth which will cover their nakedness and rescue them from darkness and make them righteous

B. The Behavior Jesus Wants (v. 19)

“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” (Rev 3:19, NLT)

Jesus tells those in church who really are Christians but ask like lukewarm people around them to repent and to start acting like Christians because God loves them, if they discipline themselves then God won’t have to.

V. COVENANT (3:20-21)

A. Jesus Knocks at the Door (v. 20)

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Rev 3:20, NLT)

1. A Closer Look at Rev 3:20

a) “Look!”

First, Jesus called attention by saying, “Look!’ (NLT) or “Listen” (NET) or “Behold” (ESV). These translations come from the Greek word ἰδου which is an aorist, middle, imperative of εἰδον, which is from the principle part ὁραω meaning “I see, notice, experience.” This word is often used to heighten the awareness of the reader and to grab the reader’s attention.

b) “I am standing at the door”

After grabbing the attention of the readers and hearers Jesus said, “I am standing,” which is the Greek word, ἑστηκα. This is a perfect tense verb but with the present force (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 579-580). One commentary says that this perfect tense can “indicate that Jesus took this stance at some previous point and continues to maintain it” (M. Robert Mulholland, Revelation, [2011], 18:463). However, the better explanation is that this verb is “lexically nuanced” because there is little distinction between the act and results (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 580).

c) “and I am knocking.”

Included in Jesus’ statement that he was standing at the door was that he also was knocking. This comes from the verb κρουω which means “I strike, knock.” This verb is the present, active, indicative form with a present progressive force. The present progressive force describes a scene that is in progress (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 518-519).

d) “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door”

This first clause, “If anyone hears my voice,” introduces a third class conditional statement with ἐαν plus a verb ἀκουςῃ, which is in the subjunctive mood. This third class conditional statement is uncertain of fulfillment but still is likely to be true (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 699). The referent here for “my voice” is Jesus’ voice, originally seen in Rev 1:17-18. The second clause, “and opens the door,” includes the second verb of the third class conditional statement which is uncertain of fulfillment but likely to be true. The verb used here is ἀνοιξῃ which is an action to be followed after the hearing of Jesus’ voice in the first clause. The “door” in this clause is the same door that Jesus was standing at and knocking on earlier in verse.

e) “I will enter the house”

Next, the future tense verb, ἐλευσομαι, is used in a way that if someone both hears Jesus’ voice and opens the door, then Jesus would enter the house. The Greek phrase, προς αὐτον, would seem to be translated “into him,” but this is an incorrect use of ἐλευσομαι προς αὐτον. The correct translation as seen above is “I will enter the house.”

That translation is a dynamic translation of “I will enter to/towards him.” Since Jesus was standing at the door and knocking, it is likely that the “entering” of Jesus was to be inside the house. If John was trying to describe that Jesus would “come into him,” he would not have used ἐλευσομαι προς but instead would have used ἐλευσομαι εἰς. Of all eight uses of ἐλευσομαι προς in the New Testament, that phrase is never used to describe penetration into a person. Instead, it is used to describe coming in to the presence of a person or a building. Examples of ἐλευσομαι προς are “the girl hurried back to the king” (Mark 6:25, NLT), “Joseph . . . went to Pilate” (Mark 15:43, NLT), “Gabriel came to her [Mary] (Luke 1:28, NLT), Peter “had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him” (Acts 10:3, NLT), “you enter the home of Gentiles” (Acts 11:3, NLT), Paul and Silas “returned to the home of Lydia” (Acts 16:40, NLT), Paul “went to the synagogue service” (Acts 17:2, NLT), “Paul went in and prayed for him” (Acts 28:8, NLT).

Therefore, it is clear that in Rev 3:20 Jesus would go into the house and eat with the person who let him in. Jesus would not go into the person who let him in, but he would go in to the person who let him through the door.

2. Is Rev 3:20 for the Lost or Believers?

The question still remains, is Revelation 3:20 a gospel invitation to a lost person or an invitation to believers?

a) For Weak and Self-Sufficient Believers

It is important to remember that Rev 3:20 is included in a passage where seven churches are addressed. In this passage Jesus provided a commendation of the first six churches (Ephesus 2:2-3, Symrna 2:9, Pergamum 2:13, Thyatira 2:19, Sardis 3:1b, Philadelphia 3:8-9). However, Jesus had nothing positive to say about the church of Laodicia. From the very beginning Jesus said that they were neither hot nor cold (Rev 3:15), but they were lukewarm. Jesus said that he would spit them out of his mouth (Rev 3:16). The people were content saying that they were rich and had everything that they wanted; therefore they did not need a thing (Rev 3:17). Jesus saw them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev 3:17). Jesus wanted them to buy gold, white garments, and ointment for their eyes (Rev 3:18). Jesus said that he would correct and discipline them to get them to do that because he loved them.

The use of the word “church” lends the interpreter to believe that this is a church of believers, and therefore Rev 3:20 is an invitation to a believer. This Greek word, ἐκκλησια is used Rev 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 and can be used in the NT several different ways. It can describe a regularly summoned legislative body (assembly) or a causal gathering of people (gathering), but the likely use here in Rev 3:14 to refer to the church in Laodicea is a people with shared belief in Christianity (community or congregation) (BDAG, 303-304). While it is likely that within any church there are some people who are not true believers, the focus of Revelation 3:20 is directed toward weak believers (John F. Walvoord, “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 941-942).

While the church was lukewarm (Rev 3:15-16) and content in their money (Rev 3:17), Jesus shared that he desired a relationship with them. This church likely included believers as the majority, but those believers had not been in close fellowship with Jesus.

b) For the Lost

While I have heard many people say that this verse is a invitation to the lost, I have yet to see any commentator take this position.

B. The Victorious Sit with Jesus and the Father (v. 21)

“Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.” (Rev 3:21, NLT)

The promise for believers to be able to sit with Jesus is not new. “Jesus replied, ‘I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” (Matt 19:28, NLT)

VI. THE PROMISE (3:22)

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Rev 3:22, NLT)

V. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

A Hot Faith

The Laodiceans are described as “lukewarm” in their faith. While they might have been on fire in their commitment to love God and follow him. Unlike the Laodiceans, we need to have a strong and active faith. This faith should permeate all areas of our lives and be strong so that others see it.

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Weeks

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)
The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)
The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Rev 3:1-6)

B. Text of Rev 3:7-13

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: ‘I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.’” (Rev 3:7–13, NLT)

C. Background and History of the City of Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia was located 28 miles south of Sardis. This city had a long history and was almost completely destroyed by earthquakes on several occasions. Grapes (the fruit) were one of the main crops and as a result Dionysus (the wine god) was one of the main objects of pagan worship (Walvoord, Revelation, 81). Along with Smyrna, there is no rebuke for the church in Philadelphia.

II. CORRESPONDENT (3:7)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open:” (Rev 3:7, NLT)

A. Holy One and True One

Christians should be holy just as God is holy (Exod 19:3-6; 1 Peter 1:15). Furthermore, God is the author of truth. Together as “holy” and “true” they show right doctrine and right living go together.

B. Key of David

The key of David is likely a connection to Isa 22:22, “I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them” (NLT). The “him” at the beginning of this verse is Eliakim who is given the key to Hezekiah’s household. This verse is a prophesy of Jesus with Eliakim as a “type.” Eliakim is a type of the exalted Christ who controls the keys of the kingdom (Osborne, Revelation, 187).

C. Open and Shut

This weak but faithful church needed assurance that God has power to bring about his sovereign will.

III. COMPLIMENT (3:8-9)

A. Obedience with Little Strength (v. 8)

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” (Rev 3:8, NLT)

1. An Open Door

The image of an open door is used by Paul to describe opportunities for Gospel witness and missionary work (1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3).

The believers in Philadelphia will have their faithfulness reward because of this promise of an open door that no one can close. God assures them that even though they have little power in a pagan city, their testimony will continue.

Other views are that this might be a door of “martyrdom,” “prayer,” to “salvation,” or to the “kingdom.”

2. Obedience with Little Strength

Two possible views for this “little strength.” I find Osborne’s comments to combine both views very well: “The church lacked size and stature in the community and was looked down upon and persecuted. They had ‘little authority’ or influence. ‘But’ they were faithful, and that has always been the text of divine blessing rather than success” (Osborne, Revelation, 189).

a) A Little or Small Christian Community

Most Christian churches at that time were small. This is a possible interpretation.

b) A Community with Little Influence

Since most Christians of John’s time were from less influential classes in the Roman culture, it is most likely that John was describing the small amount of influence the Christian community had on its city (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 448).

c) Implications

This verse provides hope to us as people that struggle to be obedient and loyal to God. While the people in Philadelphia had “little strength,” they still were able to obey God’s word and did not deny him. Important note! It does not say that they were perfect, but it does say that they obeyed God’s word.

B. Philadelphians Are the Ones Jesus Loves (v. 9)

“Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.” (Rev 3:9, NLT)

1. Satan’s Synagogue

The phrase here is almost identical to Rev 2:9 in the letter to Smyrna.

  • “I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.” (Rev 2:9, NLT)
  • “Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.” (Rev 3:9, NLT)
    Both the church in Smyrna and the church in Philadelphia experience severe persecution. Yet, neither church has a negative word spoken against them in Jesus’s address to them.

2. The Result

As a result of their faithfulness God promises unbelieving Jews who opposed them and their witness to the pagan city would be forced to acknowledge they were true followers of God.

IV. COVENANT (3:10-12)

A. The Time of Testing (v. 10)

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.” (Rev 3:10, NLT)

Because of their faithfulness they will be kept from the time of testing or judgement upon the earth. The importance of this verse cannot be passed over because its on of the most commented-upon verses in Revelation, especially since it is the most important single passage in the book for the dispensational position.

1. Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Bible scholars who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture see this as a key feature that suggests believers will be rescued from having to endure the hour of trial. In combination with the promise of the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan 9:25-27) and Paul’s promise that believers are not destined for wrath (1 Thess 5:9), some scholars see a pre-tribulation rapture and as such see the translation as from (pre-trib) instead of through (post-trib). Supporters for this view are Walvoord, Revelation, 84;

2. Post-Tribulation Rapture

Osborne takes the “protection through” position, even though he is a pre-rapture person (Osborne, Revelation, 192-194).

B. Jesus Is Coming Soon (v. 11)

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” (Rev 3:11, NLT)

1. When Is Soon

The word “soon” means suddenly and unexpectedly, not immediately. We are to be in constant expectation of the rapture.

2. The Crown

a) The Crown of Life

The crown mentioned here is the crown of life which consists of eternal life for the believer.

b) Proof of Loss of Salvation

In criticism of Mulholland (Revelation, [2011]), he does not define what the crown represents, but still believes it points to the fact that salvation does not guarantee eternal security. Instead, according to Mulholland, salvation is a dynamic relationship with God that can be broken and lost (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 450).

C. The Victorious (v. 12)

“All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.” (Rev 3:12, NLT)

1. Pillars in the Temple of God (v. 12a)

Those who are faithful will receive promised reward. They’ll be permanent fixtures (pillars) in God’s household. This promise might have had extra meaning to Philadelphia Christians since their city was destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD????

2. Citizens in the New Jerusalem (v. 12b)

See Mulholland, Revelation, 449, 450 (present tense participle), 590.

V. COMMAND (3:13)

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Rev 3:13, NLT)

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)
The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)

B. Text of Rev 3:1-6

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: ‘I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”’” (Revelation 3:1–6, NLT)

The Letter to the Church in Sardis (3:1-6)

“Letters to the Churches of Sardis and Philadelphia” Bamberg Apocalypse Bible

C. Background and History of the City of Sardis

Sardis was an important and wealthy city located on the trade route which ran east to west through Lydia (which Sardis was the capital of). Much of the city’s wealth came from its textile manufacturing, dye making, and jewelry trade. The city practiced pagan worship, maintained mystery religions, and had secret religious societies. Similar to the city of Ephesus, Sardis had large temple to the Greek goddess, Artemus. The temple was 160 feet by 300 feet with columns 48 feet high. (Walvoord, Revelation, 78; Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 446).

II. CORRESPONDENT (3:1a)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: ‘I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.’” (Rev 3:1, NLT)

Here is another mention of the “sevenfold Spirit of God” which most people believe is a reference to the Holy Spirit (R. M. Mulholland, Revelation, 444-445).

A. Nomina Sacra Support for Holy Spirit Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Vision of the Son of Man
Letters to the Seven Churches
John Taken to Heaven to See the 24 Elders (Rev 4:1-6a)
John Take to Heaven to See 4 Living Beings (Rev 4:6b-11)
The One Worthy to Open the Scroll (Rev 5:1-7)

B. Text of Rev 5:8-14

“8And when the Lamb took the scroll the four living beings and twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (which are the prayers of the saints).9They were singing a new song:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slaughtered and in your blood you bought for God every nation, language, people, and ethnicity.10and he made you all kings and priests of our God and they will reign on earth.’

11Then I looked and I heard noise from many angels around the throne, from the living beings, and from the elders. The number of those around the throne were myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. 12The loud voice was singing:

‘The Lamb which was slaughtered is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.’

13I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea singing: ‘Praise, value, honor, and power to the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.’ 14Next the four living beings said ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 Why The Lamb Is Worthy to Open the Scroll (Rev 5:8-14)

“St. John Altarpiece” by Hans Memling (1433-1494)

C. General Remarks

“With this awe-inspiring introduction, the groundwork is laid for the unfolding revelation beginning in chapter 6, when the scene shifts once again from heaven to earth” (Walvoord, Revelation, 115).

“The scene of chapter 5 can be considered prophetic of future events in which the church of Jesus Christ will be with Him in heaven. Those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and who have entered into the blessings of His redemptive work will be numbered among the tens of thousands pictured as giving their worship and praise to the Savior. That which John saw in prophetic vision will be the future experience of raptured believers as they wait with Christ in heaven for the consummation events of the age and the establishment of His kingdom” (Walvoord, Revelation, 116).

II. THE SCROLL AND NEW SONG (5:8-10)

A. The Lamb Takes the Scroll (v. 8) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1)
Jesus’s Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2-3)
John Taken to Heaven and Sees the Throne Room with Four Living Beings and Twenty-Four Elders (Rev 4)

B. Text of Rev 5:1-7

“1Then I saw in the right hand of the one sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and outside that had been sealed with seven seals. 2Next I saw a strong angel who was announcing in a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and loosen its seals?’ 3But, no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll nor see it. 4As a result I was crying greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and to see it. 5One of the elders said to me: ‘Do not cry. Behold! The lion of the tribe of Judah—the root of David—has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ 6Then I saw a lamb standing as if it was slaughtered in the midst of the throne and the four living beings and in the midst of the elders. The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits God sent out to all the earth. 7The lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.” (Rev 5:1-7)

The One Worthy To Open the Scroll (Rev 5:1-7)

 “John’s Vision of Heaven” by Matthias Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks about Rev 5:1-7

Revelation 5 is “one of the most decisive moments in all scripture. What John has heard is the announcement of the lion. What he then sees is the lamb. He is to hold what he has heard in his head while gazing at what he now sees; and he is to hold what he is seeing in his head as he reflects on what he has heard” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 53).

Revelation 5:6 provides “one of the most beautiful mixed metaphors in all the Bible—the lion (5:5) is a lamb! The direction of the transformation is very important; the final stage is the lamb, not the lion. The paragraph of 5:6-10 tells how the lion of Judah has conquered, not through military power (though that will come) but through paschal sacrifice.” (Osborne, Revelation, 254).

“We are still looking, through John’s eyes, at the heavenly throne room, and it is not simply one long round endless, repetitive praise. This is the throne room of God the creator, and his world is not merely a tableau, a living picture to be enjoyed. It is a project. It is going somewhere. There is work to be done.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 51)

II. A SCROLL IN THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD (5:1-5)

A. A Scroll with Seven Seals (v. 1) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1)
Letters to the Seven Churches (Rev 2-3)
John Taken to Heaven To See the Twenty-Four Elders (4:1-6b)

B. Text of Rev 4:6b-11

“6bin the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living beings full of eyes in front and in back. 7The first living being was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man’s face, and the fourth was like an eagle flying through the air. 8Each one of the four living beings had six wings and were covered with eyes around and within. During the day and during the night they never stopped singing:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. The one who was, is, and is still to come.’
9Whenever the living beings give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10the twenty-four elders fall down in front of the one who sits on the throne and they worship the one who lives forever and ever. These twenty-four elders lay their crowns in front of the throne saying:
11‘You are worthy—our Lord and God—to receive honor, glory, and power because you created everything. By your will everything exists and was created.’” (Rev 4:6b-11) 1

John Taken to Heaven to See 24 Elders (R

Bamberg Apocalypse Bible (AD 1000)

II. THE FOUR LIVING BEINGS (4:6b-9) Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Studies

B. Revelation 4:1-6a

“1After this I looked, and behold! There was a door open in heaven, and the first noise which I heard was like a trumpet sound to me saying: ‘Come up here and I will show you what is necessary to happen after this. 2Immediately I was in the spirit and behold! A throne was standing in heaven and there was someone sitting on the throne. 3The one sitting on the throne was like jasper and sardius in appearance. An emerald-colored rainbow was around the throne. 4Around the throne I saw twenty-four thrones. On those twenty-four thrones were elders wearing white clothes and golden crowns on their heads. 5Coming from the throne was lightening, noise, and thunder. There were seven lamps of fire burning in front of the throne which is the seven-fold Spirit of God. 6aIn front of the throne was something like a sea of glass resembling crystal.” (Rev 4:1-6a)

John Taken to Heaven to See 24 Elders (Rev 4:1-6a)

“The Four and Twenty-Four Elders” by John Henry Stock (1853-1930)

C. General Remarks about Rev 4:1-6a

“’Heaven’ and ‘earth’, as I have often said, are not, in biblical theology, separated by a great gulf, as they are in much popular imagination. ‘Heaven’, God’s sphere of reality, is right here, close beside us, intersecting with our ordinary reality. It is not so much like a door opening high up in the sky, far away. It is more like a door opening right in front of us where before we could only see this room, this field, this street. Suddenly, there is an opening leading into a different world – and an invitation to ‘come up’ and see what’s going on.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 42-43)

“The view that the book of Revelation beginning with 4:1 is future, from the standpoint of the twenty-first century, is a broad conclusion growing out of the lack of correspondence of these prophecies to anything that has been fulfilled.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 97)

II. THE TRIP TO HEAVEN (4:1) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Previous Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:18-29

“18Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:
19I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.
20But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

22Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

24But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you 25except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. 26To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. 28They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

29Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 2:18–29, NLT)

The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)

“The City of Thyatira” by Robert Walsh (1772-1852) and Thomas Allom (1804-1972)

C. History and Background of the City of Thyatira

Thyatira was a small thriving agricultural town. It was known for its purple dye. No one knows exactly how the church began in Thyatira. However, in Acts 16 Paul shares the gospel with a woman named Lydia who was a merchant of “expensive purple cloth” and was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). Lydia was in Philippi when she met Paul, and she might have returned to Thyatira and helped to start the church there (Walvoord, Revelation, 69-70).

N.T. Wright provides some helpful background information on the city of Thyatira. The trade unions were known for smelting copper and bronze (maybe where the description of Jesus is chosen in Rev 2:18). More importantly, the local patron deity of the area and of the bronze trade was “Apollo Tyrimnaeus” who appeared on local coins together with the “son of God”, who was the Roman emperor.

The local trade unions (woolworkers, linen workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leatherworkers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave dealers, and bronze smiths) regularly held meetings and ceremonies that included idol worship as a way to invoke divine favor onto the trade work. This put Christians in a difficult place if they expected to find work (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 25; Metzger, Breaking the Code, 36).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA (2:18) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1:1-8)
John’s Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1:9-20)
The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)

B. Text of Rev 2:12-17

“12Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword. 13I know where you live. It is where Satan’s throne is. However, you hold on to my name and do not disown my faith in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness. He was killed among you where Satan lives. 14But, I have a few things against you. Namely, that you have people adhering to the teaching of Balaam, who taught/told Balak to throw enticement to sin before the people of Israel, namely to eat food offered to idols and to commit sexual sin. 15In this manner, you have people holding to the same teaching as the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore, repent! If not, I will come to you quickly and I will wage war against you (namely, the Nicolaitans and Balaamites) with the sword of my mouth. 17The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: I will give to the one who overcomes manna which is hidden and I will give a white amulet. On the amulet is written the new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Rev 2:12-17) 1

St. Antipas of Pergamum

St. Gregory of Agrigentum and St. Antipas of Pergamum

Church of Pergamum

“Church of St. Antipas of Pergamum” by Shakko/Wikipedia

C. History and Background of the City of Pergamum

The city of Pergamum had a long history of idol and goddess worship. There were four deities the residents of Pergamum worshipped: Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios. Zeus was seen as the “savior-god” and Athena was seen as the “victory-bearing” goddess. Each of those were a testimony to the Greek spirit and influence. Dionysos was the god of the royal family. Asklepios was more of an animal god associated with serpents, people would feed a living serpent in the temple (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 179). Worship of the emperor of Rome was very strong and active in Pergamum. Thomas writes, “Caesar-worship was the most intense here [Pergamum]. In other cities a Christian might be in danger on only one day a year when a pinch of incense had to be burned in worship to the emperor. In Pergamum, however, Christians were in danger every day of the year for the same reason” (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 180).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE CHURCH IN PERGAMUM (2:12)

“Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: ‘This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword.’” (Rev 2:12) 2

Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:8-11

“8Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives. 9I know about your oppression and poverty, but you are rich. I also know about the people who claim to be Jews but are not, instead they are part of the synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil is about to throw some of you into prison in order to tempt you and you will experience oppression for ten days. Have faith until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: ‘The one who overcomes will not be harmed by the second death.” (Rev 2:8-11) 1

John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna

Bamberg Apocalypse Bible: “The Letter to the Church in Ephesus and Smyrna” (AD 1,000)

C. History and Background of the City of Smyrna

Among the seven cities that John sent letters to, Smyrna is the only city that still exists today (now called Izmir which is Turkey’s third largest city with seven hundred thousand [Walvoord, Revelation, 59-60]). The city of Smyrna was about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. Besides Ephesus, Smyrna was the wealthiest city in the area because of its seaport. It was also known for its science and learning.

Walvoord points out that the word “Smyrna” comes from the word “myrrh” which was a sweet perfume used in embalming dead bodies (Pss 45:8). It was also a holy anointing oil used in tabernacle worship in the Old Testament (Exod 30:23). It is mentioned by the bridegroom in the Song of Solomon (Song of Sol 3:6) and the heavenly bridegroom in the Psalms (Pss 45:8). The “protecting deity of Smyrna was a local adaptation of Cybele, which was known as the Sybeline Mother. Greeks identified her with Nemesis which was the Greek goddess of retributive justice. The city also created a temple to the goddess Roma (195 BC) (Osborne, Revelation, 127).

In addition to that deity worship, worship of the Roman Emperor was also very common. In AD 26 Smyrna beat out ten other cities for the honor of building a temple to honor the emperor Tiberias (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Under Domitian (AD 81-96), every year each citizen had to burn incense on Caesar’s altar in order to receive a certificate. Failure to receive a certificate meant death if someone found out. About sixty years after Domitian, the famous bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp (the disciple of John), was burned alive for refusing to call Caesar “Lord” (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Who and how the church started in Smyrna is a mystery. It could be from Paul’s three-year stay in Ephesus, which was nearby (Walvoord, Revelation, 60; Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 158-160).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA (2:8)

“Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives.” (Rev 2:8) 2

This brief verse emphasis two aspects of Christ’s deity: eternality and resurrection.

A. Christ’s Eternality and Sovereignty
Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own