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Revelation 3:4

Revelation 3:4

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis
The Alexandrian copy and others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, read, "but thou hast a few names" or "a few men", as the Ethiopic version renders it; who were called by name, and were men of renown, excellent men, men famous for holding the truth of doctrine, and for powerful and practical godliness; men of great light and grace, and who were known by name to God and Christ: these are said to be but "few", not in comparison of the world, in which sense all the elect of God are but few, though a large number, considered in themselves; but in comparison of formal lifeless professors of religion, with which this church state abounds; and which, if we were not as dead as we are, might easily be observed; there may not only be hypocrites in churches, but a majority of them: yea, these few may be understood in comparison of the greater number of true believers; for in this period of the church there are but few, even of them, that are lively, zealous, and careful, and are heartily concerned for the purity of doctrine, discipline, worship, and conversation; and a few there are, blessed be God, even in this our Sardian church state. God will have a few in whom he will be glorified in the most declining times; and the Lord knows and takes notice of these few; and for their sake the church state is kept up, the Gospel and its ordinances are continued; nor is a church to be judged of by the number of its members, nor is a multitude to be followed to do evil.

Which have not defiled their garments;
the Ethiopic version adds, "with a woman", the woman Jezebel. They were not guilty either of corporeal or spiritual fornication, which is idolatry; they kept their outward conversation garments pure, and maintained a profession of Christ and his truths incorrupt; they did not defile it by an unbecoming walk, or by a denial of Christ and a departure from him, and by embracing false doctrines; they were neither erroneous in their principles, nor immoral in their practices; few there, are indeed of this sort. Defiled garments, in either sense, very ill become members of the reformed churches. Among the Jews {i}, if a priest's garments were spotted or defiled, he might not minister; if he did, his service was rejected.

And they shall walk with me in white;
there is a walking in Christ by faith; and a walking before him as in his sight; and a walking worthy of him, in all well pleasing in his ways and ordinances; and here a walking with him, in a way of special and comfortable communion, both here and hereafter: and this is in white; in white raiment, meaning either in the robe of his own righteousness, compared to fine linen and white; or in the shining robes of immortality and glory; and may be expressive of that spiritual joy which such shall be partakers of, as well as of their spotless purity and innocence in the other world. White raiment was used among the Romans as a token of joy at festivals, and on birthdays, and at weddings, and such like times.

For they are worthy;
not of themselves, or through any works of righteousness done by them, which are neither meritorious of grace here, nor of glory hereafter; but through the grace of God, and worthiness of Christ. The Jews have a saying somewhat like this F11;

``they that walk with God in their lifetime, (Mykwz) , "are worthy" to walk with him after their death;''

In the Apocrypha we read:

``Take thy number, O Sion, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord.'' (2 Esdras 2:40)

This clause is left out in the Ethiopic version.


FOOTNOTES:

F9 T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 35. 1.
F11 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 10. 3.
Read Revelation 3:4