Archives For Christopher L. Scott

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 7:9-17

“9After this I looked and behold: A great crowd which no one was able to count. The crowd was from every ethnicity, nation, people, and language and stood before the throne and before the Lamb wearing white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God—the one who sits on the throne—and to the Lamb.’ 11All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, the four living beings, and they fell before the throne on their faces and they worshipped God 12saying, ‘Amen! Praise, honor, wisdom, thanksgiving, reverence, power, and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!’ 13Then one of the elders asked me, ‘Who are these clothed in long white robes and where did they come from?’ 14Then I replied to him, ‘My lord, you know the answer.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming from out of the great persecution, clothed in their long-flowing robes, and made white through the blood of the Lamb.’ 15This is why they are in front of the throne of God and serve him during the day and during the night in his Temple. The one sitting on the throne will live with them. 16They will not be hungry nor will they be thirsty, nor will the sun fall on them or its burning heat 17because the Lamb in the midst of the throne shepherds them and leads them to the fountain of living water. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:9-17) 1

 

God and the Lamb Are Praised (Rev 7:9-17)

Photo Credit: Nheyob

C. General Remarks

“The verbs in this section are very diverse, combining present, future, aorist, and perfect tenses. There is a great debate as to the temporal orientation of the passages, with some contending for a preterist interpretation (applying to the members of the seven churches), others to a millennial setting, still others to the time just before eternity is ushered in, and finally many to eternity itself” (Osborne, Revelation, 334).

“But, as so often in Revelation (and in Christian thinking generally), present and future overlap and interlock in various confusing ways, and already some of the blessings of the final city are to be experienced by these people – by these people who, John is eager to say, are you, you who are about to suffer in Ephesus, or Smyrna, or Pergamum, or wherever” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 75).

II. PRAISE FROM THE HEAVENS (Rev 7:9-12)

A. The Crowd in White Robes (v. 9) Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

  • John’s Introduction (1)
  • John’s Letters (2)
  • John’s Vision in Heaven (4-5)
  • First Six Seals (6)

B. Text of Rev 7:1-8

“1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds of the earth so they would not blow neither on the sea nor against the trees. 2Then I saw another angel coming up from the east (where the sun rises) and the angel had the seal of the living God. The angel cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given ability to harm the earth and the sea 3saying, ‘Do not harm the earth neither the sea nor the trees, until we seal the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ 4Then I heard the number of those who had been sealed—144,000—who were sealed from the descendants of Israel. 5From the tribe of Judah: 12,000 were sealed. From the tribe of Reuben: 12,000. From the tribe of Gad: 12,000. 6From the tribe of Asher: 12,000. From the tribe of Nephtali: 12,000. From the tribe of Manasseh: 12,000. 7From the tribe of Simeon: 12,000. From the tribe of Levi: 12,000. From the tribe of Issachar: 12,000. 8From the tribe of Zebulun: 12,000. From the tribe of Joseph: 12,000. From the tribe of Benjamin: 12,000 were sealed.” (Rev 7:1-8) 1

144,000 People Marked with the Seal of God (Rev 7:1-8)

Photo Credit: Matthais Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks

“Just when you think you are nearly at the top of the mountain, you crest a ridge and there . . . is another ridge half a mile ahead, steeper than the one you’ve just climbed. This is how it feels to get to this point [Rev 7] in the sequence of the ‘seals’ which have kept the purposes of God, written on the scroll, from being put into effect” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 69). Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Greek text is from the NA28

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 6:9-17

“9And when the Lamb opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of their testimony. 10Then they cried out in a loud voice: ‘How long, Lord—Holy and True—until you judge and punish those who live on the earth for our blood?’ 11Each of them was given a long white robe and was told they will rest a little longer until the number of their fellow slaves and brothers (who are about to be killed as they were) is fulfilled. 12Next I looked and the Lamb opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake and the sun became like dark sackcloth hair and the whole moon was like blood. 13The stars in the sky fell to the earth as a fig tree throws its unripe figs from a great wind which is stirring. 14The heavens separated like a book being rolled up and the mountains and islands were shaken from their place. 15The kings of the earth, dignitaries, military leaders, rich, strong, every slave and free person hid themselves in caves in the rocks of the mountains. 16They said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of the one who sits on the throne and from the anger of the Lamb.’ 17They said this because their great day of wrath has come, and who has power to stand?” (Rev 6:9-17) 1

 

The Fifth and Sixth Seals Effects on the Earth (Rev 6:9-17)

“The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals” Matthais Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks

“The book of Revelation discredits those who teach that God is so loving and kind that He will never judge people who have not received His Son. Though the modern mind is reluctant to accept the fact that God will judge the wicked, the Bible clearly teaches that He will. The Scriptures reveal a God of love as clearly as they reveal a God of wrath who will deal with those who spurn the grace of Christ. The passage before us is a solemn word that there is inevitable judgment ahead for those who will not receive Christ by faith.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 135)

II. THE FIFTH SEAL’S MARTYRS (6:9-11) Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Greek text is from Nestle-Aland 28

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

B. Text of Rev 6:1-8

“1Then I saw the Lamb as he opened the first of the seven seals. I heard one of the four living beings saying like the noise of thunder: ‘Come!’ 2Then I looked and behold: a white horse. The one riding the horse was holding a bow, a crown was given to him, and as a conquerer he went out in order to conquer. 3When the Lamb opened the second seal I heard the second living being say: ‘Come!’ 4Another horse came which was fiery red. The rider was given ability to take peace from the earth so that people will kill each other, so he was given a large sword. 5When the Lamb opened the third seal I heard the third living being say, ‘Come.’ Then I looked and behold: a black horse! The rider was holding a scale in his hand. 6Then I heard something like a voice in the midst of the third living being saying: ‘A quart of grain will be a day’s pay. Three quarts of barely will be a day’s pay. But olive oil and wine must not be affected.’ 7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal I heard a voice from the fourth living beings saying: ‘Come!’ 8Then I looked and behold: a pale green horse! The rider was named ‘Death,’ and ‘Hades’ was following him. Power was given to them to kill one-fourth of the earth with sword, famine, disease, and by beasts of the earth.” (Rev 6:1-8) 1

The Four Horsemen (Rev 6:1-8)

Photo Credit: “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” Matthais Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks

“From this introduction to the judgments portrayed in Revelation, it should be evident that the world is facing a time of trouble never known before. The dream of the optimist for a world becoming increasingly better scientifically, intellectually, morally, and religiously does not fit the pattern of God’s prophetic Word. The ultimate triumph of God is assured, as Revelation makes plain, Christ will reign over the earth and bring in a kingdom of peace and righteousness after the time of trouble has run its course. First, however, there must be the awful time of the great tribulation” (Walvoord, Revelation, 130).

“In books, in newspapers, in magazine articles, and in radio broadcasts, we read and hear about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are riding across the earth today” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 59).

“Any exposition of Revelation must have presuppositions based upon a study of the entire Word of God and consider the question of whether prophecy should be interpreted with the same degree of literalness as other portions of Scripture. Though Revelation abounds in signs and symbols, it was intended to be interpreted with far greater literalness than has been commonly applied. Such an approach yields a remarkable picture of the end of the age that coincides with other prophetic revelation” (Walvoord, Revelation, 121). Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise note, all English translations are my own

If you are like me you become sad when you see homes take down their Christmas lights, remove Christmas decorations, and toss the Christmas tree out to the road for the garbage man to pick up. However, the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ’s birth—is about much more than the one month of celebration during December. It is about the things Christ did for us through his life and death. There are five things that I like to use to describe what Christ did on the cross. Continue Reading…

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…