Revelation 3:20

I stand at the door and knock
I stand is ἕστηκα [hestēka] , perfect tense: I have stood. Knock is κρούω [krouō] , present tense: I am knocking. He has been standing for a period of time and is still awaiting their response to his continual knocking. The knocking is accompanied by the voice of the bridegroom. When the bride lacks sufficient zeal and is slow to respond, the bridegroom has already withdrawn (Sos. Sos. 5:1-6). If the Laodicean church was truly zealous , they would have already opened the door (Luke Luke 12:35-36). The irony here in that Christ is outside His own church, desiring to be invited back in!1 The love of God and His desire to rectify the condition in Laodicea is reflected in the manner in which the God of the universe steadfastly waits outside the Laodicean door.

He at whose door we ought to stand, for He is the Door (John John 10:7), who, as such, has bidden us to knock (Mtt. Mat. 7:7; Luke Luke 11:9), is content that the whole relation between Him and us should be reversed, and instead of our standing at his door condescends Himself to stand at ours.2

Some have seen in this door an allusion to a monumental gate in the city.3 Elsewhere, Jesus is Himself the door (John John 10:9) providing full access to heaven and God (Heb. Heb. 10:19-20).

hears My voice
The voice is intentionally contrasted with the knock:

So far as we may venture to distinguish between the two, . . . to see in the voice the more inward appeal, the closer dealing of Christ with the soul, speaking directly by his Spirit to the spirit of the man; in the knocking those more outward gracious dealings, of sorrow and joy, of sickness and health, and the like, which He sends, and sending uses for the bringing of his elect, in one way or another, by smooth paths or by rough, to Himself.4

All men have ears, but not all hear His voice. See commentary on Revelation 2:7.

come in to him
Wallace argues from the grammar that this verse cannot denote an offer of salvation. He observes that Christ is promising to come in to the presence of (πρὸς αὐτόν [pros auton] ) the one who opens the door, not into the sphere of his person.5 But this is not essential for the verse to denote the fellowship associated with salvation. Elsewhere, salvation is described as the Father and Son coming to (not into) the believer:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him [πρὸς αὐτόν [pros auton] ] and make Our home with him.” (John John 14:21-23) [emphasis added]

Yet the context offers little to support an evangelistic emphasis:

The verse contains nothing of the gospel message as such—no mention of substitutionary atonement, of Christ’s resurrection, of repentance, of faith in the person and work of Christ. Neither is there anything in the adjacent context about these vital matters. Yet evangelists and personal workers everywhere commonly employ this verse as a gospel invitation. God, in His grace, does occasionally use it to help bring an unsaved person to Christ, since it does enjoin a proper attitude of openness to God’s call, but that is not its intent. It is addressed only to compromising, lukewarm Christians in compromising, lukewarm churches, and it is they whom Christ is seeking to draw back to Himself.6

and dine with him
After coming under the Mosaic Covenant, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and seventy of the elders of Israel “saw God” and “ate and drank” in His presence (Ex. Ex. 24:8-11). Dining conveys the idea of intimate fellowship (Luke Luke 19:5-7; John John 13:1). Jesus says he will dine with him in ongoing fellowship and intimacy as soon as the door is opened. There is also the promise of dining with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Mtt. Mat. 22:1-14; Mat. 25:1-13; Mat. 26:29; Luke Luke 22:16; Rev. Rev. 19:9+). “The consummation of this blessed intercommunion shall be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, of which the Lord’s Supper is the earnest and foretaste.”7 Jesus has promised not to partake of the Passover meal until he dines with believers in the Millennial Kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 8:11; Mtt. Mat. 26:29; Mark Mark 14:25; Luke Luke 22:18).


1 Steve Gregg, Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 80.

2 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 211.

3 “This ostentatious self-sufficiency reached a climax when the reconstruction was completed by the erection of great public buildings at the expense of individual citizens in the years immediately preceding the Domitianic date of the Revelation [in response to the earthquake of Nero’s reign]. The monumental triple gate thus donated may have been in mind in the writing of Rev. Rev. 3:20+.”—Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 208.

4 Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 212.

5 “The crucial phrase for our purposes is ‘I shall come in to him.’ This text has often been taken as a text offering salvation to a lost sinner. Such a view is based on two assumptions: (1) that the Laodiceans, or at least some of them, were indeed lost, and (2) that εἰσελεύσομαι πρὸς [eiseleusomai pros] means ‘come into.’ Both of these assumptions, however, are based on little evidence. With reference to the first assumption, that those in the Laodicean church were not believers, it is important to note that in the preceding verse, the resurrected Lord declares, ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.’ Here φιλεω [phileō] is used for ‘love’ a term that is never used of God/Jesus loving unbelievers in the NT. (Indeed, it would be impossible for God to have this kind of love for an unbeliever, for it routinely speaks of enjoyment and fellowship. ἀγαπα [agapa] , rather, is the verb used of God’s love for unbelievers [cf. John John 3:16], for it frequently, if not normally, speaks of commitment and, when used with God/Jesus as the subject, the idea is often of an unconditional love.) This φιλεω [phileō] must be applied to the Laodiceans here, for the verse concludes, ‘Be zealous, therefore, and repent.’ The inferential οὐ [ou] connects the two parts of the verse, indicating that the Laodiceans are to repent because Christ loves (φιλεω [phileō] ) them! The second assumption is that εἰσελεύσομαι πρὸς [eiseleusomai pros] means ‘come into.’ Such an assumption is based on a less than careful reading of the English text! The ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, for example, all correctly render it ‘come in to.’ (Note the space between the prepositions.) The idea of ‘come into’ would be expressed with eij as the independent preposition and would suggest a penetration into the person (thus, spawning the idea of entering into one’s heart). However, spatially πρό [pro] means toward, not into. In all eight instances of εἰσέρχομαι πρὸς [eiserchomai pros] in the NT, the meaning is ‘come in toward/before a person’ (i.e., enter a building, house, etc., so as to be in the presence of someone), never penetration into the person himself/herself. In some instances, such a view would not only be absurd, but inappropriate (cf. Mark Mark 6:25; Mark 15:43; Luke Luke 1:28; Acts Acts 10:3; Acts 11:3; Acts 16:40; Acts 17:2; Acts 28:8). What, then, can we say that this verse is affirming? First, we should answer in the negative: it is not an offering of salvation. The implications of this are manifold. Among other things, to use this text as a salvation verse is a perversion of the simplicity of the gospel. Many people have allegedly ‘received Christ into their hearts’ without understanding what that means or what the gospel means. Although this verse is picturesque, it actually muddies the waters of the truth of salvation. Reception of Christ is a consequence, not a condition, of salvation. As far as the positive meaning of this verse, it may refer to Christ having supremacy in the assembly or even to an invitation (and, consequently, a reminder) to believers to share with him in the coming kingdom. But to determine which of these is correct is beyond the scope of grammar. All grammar can tell us here is which view is almost certainly not correct—namely, that which sees this as an offering of salvation.”—Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999, 2002), 381.

6 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 3:20.

7 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877).