Revelation 3

Listen to Revelation 3

To the Church in Sardis

1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him 1who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation 2of being alive, 3but you are dead.
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works 4complete in the sight of my God.
3 5Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, 6I will come 7like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not 8soiled their garments, and they will walk with me 9in white, for they are 10worthy.
5 11The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never 12blot his name out of 13the book of life. 14I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
6 15He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

To the Church in Philadelphia

7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of 16the holy one, 17the true one, 18who has the key of David, 19who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8 "'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you 20an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make those of 21the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--behold, 22I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that 23I have loved you.
10 24Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try 25those who dwell on the earth.
11 26I am coming soon. 27Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize 28your crown.
12 29The one who conquers, I will make him 30a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him 31the name of my God, and 32the name of the city of my God, 33the new Jerusalem, 34which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own 35new name.
13 36He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

To the Church in Laodicea

14 "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the 37Amen, 38the faithful and true witness, 39the beginning of God's creation.
15 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. 40Would that you were either cold or hot!
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17 41For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, 42blind, and naked.
18 I counsel you 43to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and 44white garments so that you may clothe yourself and 45the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, 46so that you may see.
19 47Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and 48knock. 49If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, 50I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
21 51The one who conquers, 52I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as 53I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22 54He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

Images for Revelation 3

Revelation 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

Epistles to the church at Sardis; (1-6) at Philadelphia; (7-13) and Laodicea. (14-22)

1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on, that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all the angels, at the great day.

Verses 7-13 The same Lord Jesus has the key of government and authority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunity to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers; he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day of grace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia is commended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in a little, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to his people, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it. This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, and make them desire to be admitted into communion with his people. Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, as the reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall be given. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will make them faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought the good fight, and came off victorious.

Verses 14-22 Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, "The Amen;" one steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion; while others would conclude it could afford no real satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; "Because thou sayest." What a difference between their thoughts of themselves, and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves. Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags that would defile them. They were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the garments of holiness and sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply interesting to all men.

Cross References 54

  • 1. See Revelation 1:4, 16
  • 2. 1 Timothy 5:6
  • 3. See Luke 15:24
  • 4. Acts 14:26
  • 5. [2 Timothy 1:13]
  • 6. Revelation 2:5
  • 7. Revelation 16:15; Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10
  • 8. Jude 23
  • 9. Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:9; [Ecclesiastes 9:8]
  • 10. [Luke 20:35]
  • 11. See Revelation 2:7
  • 12. See Exodus 32:32
  • 13. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12, 15; Revelation 21:27; Philippians 4:3
  • 14. Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8
  • 15. [See Revelation 2:7 above]
  • 16. Revelation 6:10
  • 17. ver. 14; Revelation 19:11; 1 John 5:20
  • 18. Isaiah 22:22; [Luke 1:32]
  • 19. Job 12:14; [Matthew 16:19]
  • 20. Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3
  • 21. Revelation 2:9
  • 22. [Isaiah 45:14; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 60:14]
  • 23. Isaiah 43:4
  • 24. Revelation 1:9; 2 Peter 2:9
  • 25. Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8, 14; Revelation 17:8
  • 26. Revelation 22:7, 12, 20
  • 27. Revelation 2:25
  • 28. Revelation 2:10
  • 29. See Revelation 2:7
  • 30. 1 Kings 7:21; 2 Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 1:18; Galatians 2:9; [Psalms 23:6; Psalms 27:4]
  • 31. Revelation 14:1; Revelation 22:4
  • 32. Revelation 21:2; Ezekiel 48:35; [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22]
  • 33. Revelation 21:2; Ezekiel 48:35; [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22]
  • 34. Revelation 21:10
  • 35. Revelation 2:17
  • 36. [See Revelation 2:7 above]
  • 37. 2 Corinthians 1:20
  • 38. ver. 7; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 22:6
  • 39. Colossians 1:15, 18; [Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:13; Proverbs 8:22]
  • 40. [2 Peter 2:21]
  • 41. Hosea 12:8; Zechariah 11:5; 1 Corinthians 4:8
  • 42. John 9:39-41; Ephesians 1:18
  • 43. Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 13:44; Matthew 25:9; [Proverbs 8:19]
  • 44. [Revelation 19:8]; See ver. 4
  • 45. Revelation 16:15
  • 46. [See ver. 17 above]
  • 47. See Hebrews 12:6
  • 48. [Song of Songs 5:2]
  • 49. Luke 12:36
  • 50. John 14:23; [Luke 24:29, 30]
  • 51. See Revelation 2:7
  • 52. Revelation 20:4; [Revelation 2:26; John 12:26; 2 Timothy 2:12]; See Matthew 19:28
  • 53. Revelation 5:5; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 17:14; John 16:33
  • 54. [See Revelation 2:7 above]

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains the epistles to the churches at Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and begins with that to Sardis; in which the sender describes himself by some things taken out of a former description of him; and gives an account of the state of this church; that her works were known by him, which were imperfect; and that she had the name of a living church, but was dead; wherefore she is exhorted to watchfulness and diligence, to remember how she had heard and received the Gospel, and to hold it fast, and repent of her sins: if not, he threatens to come as a thief unawares upon her, Re 3:1-3, but excepts some few persons from this general account, who were not defiled with the corruptions of the majority, and who therefore should be favoured with communion with him, Re 3:4, and then some gracious promises are made to persevering saints, and the epistle is concluded in the usual form, Re 3:5,6. Next follows the epistle to the church at Philadelphia; in which the sender assumes some peculiar titles not before mentioned, taken from his holiness, truth, and power, Re 3:7, signifies his approbation of her works; declares he had set before her an open door, which could not be shut; affirms she had a little strength, and commends her for keeping his word, Re 3:8, and, for her encouragement, promises that some persons, formerly of bad characters, should come and worship before her, and should know what an interest she had in his love; and that since she had kept his word, he would keep her from an hour of temptation, which will be a trying time to all the world, Re 3:9,10, and in consideration of his speedy coming, he exhorts her to hold fast what she had, that she might not lose her honour and glory; and promises the overcomer a fixed place and name in the house of God; and closes the epistle as the rest, Re 3:11-13, and then follows the last epistle of all, which is that to the church at Laodicea; in which the sender describes himself by some characters taken from his truth and faithfulness, and from his eternity, power, and dominion, Re 3:14, represents the members of this church as lukewarm, and very disagreeable to him, Re 3:15,16, and as having a vain opinion of themselves, being ignorant of their real state and case, Re 3:17, wherefore he gives them some wholesome counsel and advice, suitable to their condition, Re 3:18, and whereas there were some among them he loved, he lets them know that his rebukes and chastenings were from love, and with a view to stimulate them to zeal, and bring them to repentance, which became them, Re 3:19, and then he informs them where he was, what he expected from them, and what they might upon a suitable behaviour enjoy with him, Re 3:20, and next promises to the overcomer great honour and glory, such as he had with his Father; and concludes the epistle in his usual manner, Re 3:21,22.

Revelation 3 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.