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Wesley's Notes on the Bible
1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
3:1 The seven spirits of God - The Holy Spirit, from whom alone all spiritual life and strength proceed. And the seven stars - which are subordinate to him. Thou hast a name that thou livest - A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance. But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty appearance vanishes before him.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3:2 The things which remain - In thy soul; knowledge of the truth, good desires, and convictions. Which were ready to die - Wherever pride, indolence, or levity revives, all the fruits of the Spirit are ready to die.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
3:3 Remember how - Humbly, zealously, seriously. Thou didst receive the grace of God once, and hear - His word. And hold fast - The grace thou hast received. And repent - According to the word thou hast heard.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
3:4 Yet thou hast a few names - That is, persons. But though few, they had not separated themselves from the rest; otherwise, the angel of Sardis would not have had them. Yet it was no virtue of his, that they were unspotted; whereas it was his fault that they were but few. Who have not defiled their garments - Either by spotting themselves, or by partaking of other men's sins. They shall walk with me in white - in joy; in perfect holiness; in glory. They are worthy - A few good among many bad are doubly acceptable to God. O how much happier is this worthiness than that mentioned, Rev 16:6.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
3:5 He shall be clothed in white raiment - The colour of victory, joy, and triumph. And I will not blot his name out of the book of life - Like that of the angel of the church at Sardis: but he shall live for ever. I will confess his name - As one of my faithful servants and soldiers.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
3:7 The holy one, the true one - Two great and glorious names He that hath the key of David - A master of a family, or a prince, has one or more keys, wherewith he can open and shut all the doors of his house or palace. So had David a key, a token of right and sovereignty, which was afterward adjudged to Eliakim, Isaiah 22:22. Much more has Christ, the Son of David, the key of the spiritual city of David, the New Jerusalem; the supreme right, power, and authority, as in his own house. He openeth this to all that overcome, and none shutteth: he shutteth it against all the fearful, and none openeth. Likewise when he openeth a door on earth for his works or his servants, none can shut; and when he shutteth against whatever would hurt or defile, none can open.
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
3:8 I have given before thee an opened door - To enter into the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every good work. Thou hast a little strength - But little outward human strength; a little, poor, mean, despicable company. Yet thou hast kept my word - Both in judgment and practice.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
3:9 Behold, I - who have all power; and they must then comply. I will make them come and bow down before thy feet - Pay thee the lowest homage. And know - At length, that all depends on my love, and that thou hast a place therein. O how often does the judgment of the people turn quite round, when the Lord looketh upon them! Job 42:7, and c.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience - The word of Christ is indeed a word of patience. I also will keep thee - O happy exemption from that spreading calamity! From the hour of temptation - So that thou shalt not enter into temptation; but it shall pass over thee. The hour denotes the short time of its continuance; that is, at any one place. At every one it was very sharp, though short; wherein the great tempter was not idle, Rev 2:10. Which hour shall come upon the whole earth - The whole Roman empire. It went over the Christians, and over the Jews and heathens; though in a very different manner. This was the time of the persecution under the seemingly virtuous emperor Trajan. The two preceding persecutions were under those monsters, Nero and Domitian; but Trajan was so admired for his goodness, and his persecution was of such a nature, that it was a temptation indeed, and did throughly try them that dwelt upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
3:11 Thy crown - Which is ready for thee, if thou endure to the end.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
3:12 I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God - I will fix him as beautiful, as useful, and as immovable as a pillar in the church of God. And he shall go out no more - But shall be holy and happy for ever. And I will write upon him the name of my God - So that the nature and image of God shall appear visibly upon him. And the name of the city of my God - Giving him a title to dwell in the New Jerusalem. And my new name - A share in that joy which I entered into, after overcoming all my enemies.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
3:14 To the angel of the church at Laodicea - For these St. Paul had had a great concern, Col 2:1. These things saith the Amen - That is, the True One, the God of truth. The beginning - The Author, Prince, and Ruler. Of the creation of God - Of all creatures; the beginning, or Author, by whom God made them all.
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
3:15 I know thy works - Thy disposition and behaviour, though thou knowest it not thyself. That thou art neither cold - An utter stranger to the things of God, having no care or thought about them. Nor hot - As boiling water: so ought we to be penetrated and heated by the fire of love. O that thou wert - This wish of our Lord plainly implies that he does not work on us irresistibly, as the fire does on the water which it heats. Cold or hot - Even if thou wert cold, without any thought or profession of religion, there would be more hope of thy recovery.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
3:16 So because thou art lukewarm - The effect of lukewarm water is well known. I am about to spue thee out of my mouth - I will utterly cast thee from me; that is, unless thou repent.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
3:17 Because thou sayest - Therefore I counsel thee, and c. I am rich - In gifts and grace, as well as worldly goods. And knowest not that thou art - In God's account, wretched and pitiable.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
3:18 I counsel thee - who art poor, and blind, and naked. To buy of me - Without money or price. Gold purified in the fire - True, living faith, which is purified in the furnace of affliction. And white raiment - True holiness. And eyesalve - Spiritual illumination; the unction of the Holy One, which teacheth all things.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
3:19 Whomsoever I love - Even thee, thou poor Laodicean! O how much has his unwearied love to do! I rebuke - For what is past. And chasten - That they may amend for the time to come.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
3:20 I stand at the door, and knock - Even at this instant; while he is speaking this word. If any man open - Willingly receive me. I will sup with him - Refreshing him with my graces and gifts, and delighting myself in what I have given. And he with me - In life everlasting.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
3:21 I will give him to sit with me on my throne - In unspeakable happiness and glory. Elsewhere, heaven itself is termed the throne of God: but this throne is in heaven.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear, and c. - This stands in the three former letters before the promise; in the four latter, after it; clearly dividing the seven into two parts; the first containing three, the last, four letters. The titles given our Lord in the three former letters peculiarly respect his power after his resurrection and ascension, particularly over his church; those in the four latter, his divine glory, and unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Again, this word being placed before the promises in the three former letters, excludes the false apostles at Ephesus, the false Jews at Smyrna, and the partakers with the heathens at Pergamos, from having any share therein. In the four latter, being placed after them, it leaves the promises immediately joined with Christ's address to the angel of the church, to show that the fulfilling of these was near; whereas the others reach beyond the end of the world. It should be observed, that the overcoming, or victory, (to which alone these peculiar promises are annexed,) is not the ordinary victory obtained by every believer; but a special victory over great and peculiar temptations, by those that are strong in faith.