Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the sixth seal


 


Revelation 6:12-17

NASB

The Sixth Seal – Terror

12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”


Thoughts

Below, I’ve given some history related to the sixth seal when it’s interpreted historically, expositions by historicists and futurists, and a passage from Eusebius describing what it was like when centuries of persecution came to an end in the Roman Empire. 


History related to the Sixth Seal when interpreted historically

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 713-714

The Day of Wrath at Hand

“Revolution. Upheaval. Convulsion. Consternation. Sun Darkened. Stars Falling. Heavens Rolled Up. Mountains and Island Removed. Kings and Peoples Frightened. . . Jesus had used similar language, in speaking of the Time of His Coming Again (Mathew 24:29,30; Luke 21:26). . . So had Isaiah, in predicting the Fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13:10). And Ezekiel, in predicting the Fall of Egypt (Ezekiel 32:7). . . Whatever else this Seal may refer to, it seems like a prediction of 4th century Upheavals in the Roman Empire.

“The Empire Ceased its Persecution of the Church. Emperor Constantine became a Christian (A.D. 312). Issued an Edict of Toleration (A.D. 313). Made Christianity the religion of his court. In A.D. 325 he issued a general exhortation to all to embrace Christianity. Moved his Capital to Constantinople. Theodosius (A.D. 378-395) made Christianity the State Religion of the Empire, and Church Membership Compulsory. A.D. 395 the Empire was Divided: the West with Rome its Capital, the East with Constantinople its Capital. This was the beginning of the break-up of the Mighty World Empire that had for 300 years tried so hard to destroy Christianity.”

Matthew 24:29-30

29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from [a]the sky, and the powers of [b]the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Isaiah 13:10

10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light.

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Western Roman Empire Timeline [Decline]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

285 CE – The Roman empire is split into the Western and Eastern Roman empires.

367 CE – Picts, Scots, Saxons, and Franks attack the Roman Empire. 
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378 CE – Eastern Roman Emperor Valens defeated at the Battle of Adrianople. Historians mark this as the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.
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391 CE – Emperor Theodosius closes pagan temples.
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402 CE – Ravenna becomes the capital of the Western Roman empire.
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410 CE – Alaric of the Visigoths sacks Rome.
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451 CE – Aetius defeats Attila of the Huns at the Catalaunian Fields, together with Rome’s allies.
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455 CE – Vandals sack Rome.
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476 CE – Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed by the Germanic King Odoacer. This is the ‘official’ end of the Roman Empire.
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476 CE – Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman emperor, deposed by Odoacer and sent into forced retirement in Campania.
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480 CE – Julius Nepos, the last Western Roman emperor, dies. This is the ‘unofficial’ end of the Western Roman Empire. . .

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Total Solar Eclipse, 9 March 2016, from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Ezagren ~ Lunar eclipse September 27 2015 greatest Alfredo Garcia Jr

Commentaries

Historicist

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 12 

“A great earthquake – A most stupendous change in the civil and religious constitution of the world. If it refer to Constantine the Great, the change that was made by his conversion to Christianity might be very properly represented under the emblem of an earthquake, and the other symbols mentioned in this and the following verses.

“The sun – the ancient pagan government of the Roman empire, was totally darkened; and, like a black hair sackcloth, was degraded and humbled to the dust.

“The moon – the ecclesiastical state of the same empire, became as blood – was totally ruined, their sacred rites abrogated, their priests and religious institutions desecrated, their altars cast down, their temples destroyed, or turned into places for Christian worship.

Verse 17

“. . . Dr. Dodd observes that the fall of Babylon, Idumea, Judah, Egypt, and Jerusalem, has been described by the prophets in language equally pompous, figurative, and strong. ‘Now,’ says he, ‘it is certain that the fall of any of these cities or kingdoms was not of greater concern or consequence to the world, nor more deserving to be described in pompous figures, than the fall of the pagan Roman empire, when the great lights of the heathen world, the sun, moon, and stars, the powers civil and ecclesiastical, were all eclipsed and obscured, the heathen emperors and Caesars were slain, the heathen priests and augurs were extirpated, the heathen officers and magistrates were removed, the temples were demolished, and their revenues were devoted to better uses. . . Maximin, Galerius, Maxentius, Licinius, etc., with all their adherents and followers, were so routed and dispersed that they hid themselves in dens, etc.; expressions used to denote the utmost terror and confusion. This is, therefore, a triumph of Christ over his heathen enemies, and a triumph after a severe persecution; so that the time and all the circumstances, as well as the series and order of the prophecy, agree perfectly with this interpretation.'” 

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The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, ©2007, pp. 154-157 

Excursus on Celestial and Terrestrial Signs

The language obviously intends to indicate a great revolution—a decisive and terrifying act of Divine judgment. Nevertheless, this text should derive its specific meaning from the use of such apocalyptic language in the Bible. What this implies may best be seen by examining the Old Testament occurrences of the symbols which describe this seal. . . As Joseph Mede in his ground breaking analysis of Apocalyptic structure indicated in 1632 (and many after him), such symbolism is a common way of referring to ‘the ruin of states and. . . their entire subversion’. . .”

Fulfillment

“. . . when we look for the fulfillment of this seal, we should look for a nation or government central to the unfolding revelation of this book which falls in consequence of a Divine judgment. Moreover, the chronology of the seal prophecies indicates that this judgment should have occurred soon after the persecutions of Diocletian predicted by the fifth seal. . . Just such an event did in fact occur, an event historians are unanimous in identifying as a major turning point in history—the fall about A.D. 325 of the pagan Roman Empire. Contemporary historians recorded with great wonder this unanticipated and revolutionary event.”


Compelling, whatever your view!

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 10, Chapter 1, (4) through (7)

“(4) Thus, as the Scriptures command upon us to sing a new song, we shall accordingly show that after those dreadful and gloomy spectacles and events, we have been privileged to see such things, and to celebrate such things as many of the pious and martyrs of God before us ardently craved to see and did not see them and to hear and did not hear them. (5) But they, indeed, hastening on their course, obtained ‘what was far better,’ being transferred to the heavens themselves and to celestial pleasures. Freely acknolwedging this state of things in our day as better than what we could expect, we have been astonished at the magnifitude of the grace manifested by the Author of our mercies and justly do we admire and adore him with all the powers of our mind. We bear witness to the truth of those declarations recorded, where it is said, (6) ‘Come hither and behold the works of God, the wonders that he hath done upon the earth; he removeth wars until the ends of the earth, he breaketh the bow and snappeth the spear asunder, and burneth the shields in fire’ (Ps. 46:8-9). Rejoicing in these things fulfilled in our day, we shall pursue the tenor our history. (7) All the race of the enemies of God were destroyed in the manner we have stated and were thus suddenly swept away from the sight of men, as the divine word again declares: ‘I saw the wicked lifted up and exalted like the cedars of Lebanon, and I passed by, and lo, he was not; and I sought, and his place was not found’ (Ps. 37:35).”


Commentaries

Futurist

Got Questions: What are the seven seals of Revelation? 

“. . . John writes, ‘I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals’ (Revelation 5:1). This scroll contains the judgments of God; the fact that it is written on both sides indicates the extensive nature of the judgment pending. . .”

Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible

Arno Gaebelein was a dispensationalist and an evangelist to the Jewish people.

“Are the things mentioned under this seal to be taken in a literal sense or symbolically? Most of it is symbolical, yet at the same time great physical phenomena are also involved. The earthquake possibly means a literal earthquake. Earthquakes in diverse places’ our Lord predicted. And they increase as the age draws to its close. But the language is symbolical. Everything is being shaken in this poor world. The civil and governmental powers on earth all go to pieces; every class from kings to slaves is affected by it and terrorized. The political and ecclesiastical world is going to pieces. And when these shaking times have come, when thrones fall and anarchy reigns, when the great collapse of civilization and human society has come with signs on earth and in heaven, the earth-dwellers will see in anticipation the approaching day of wrath. Terror fills every breast and those who sneered at prayer, as the Christ-rejectors do now, will gather for a prayer-meeting to appeal to the rocks to cover them. Read the following Old Testament passages in connection with this seal: Isaiah 24:1-23Isaiah 34:2-4Joel 2:30-31; Zephaniah 1:1-18; Haggai 2:6-7.”

Isaiah 34:2-4

And all the host of heaven will wear away,
And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;
All their hosts will also wither away
As a leaf withers from the vine,
Or as one withers from the fig tree.

The Sixth Seal: The Day of Divine Wrath (6:12-17)

John F. Walvoord

“There are a number of reasons for preferring to take this passage in its literal meaning. While this is not the final breakup of the world as described later in Revelation, when a further period of terrible judgments will be poured on the world, it does seem to indicate that beginning with the sixth seal God is undertaking a direct intervention into human affairs. The judgments of war, famine, and death, and the martyrdom of the saints have largely originated in human decision and in the evil heart of man. The judgment described here, however, originates in God as a divine punishment inflicted upon a blasphemous world.

“In view of the catastrophic and climactic character of the period, there is no good reason why there should not be precisely the elements mentioned here, namely, disturbances in the heavens and earthquakes on the earth. This is borne out by the effect upon the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the chief captains, the mighty men, bondmen, and freemen mentioned in verse 15, who hide themselves in dens and in the rocks of the mountains. The events are of such character that all are impressed with the fact that the day of the wrath of the Lord has come and their judgment is now about to take place. . .

“The day of wrath is at the beginning of the day of the Lord, that extended period when God is going to deal directly in governing the entire world. It is significant that early in the book of Revelation the day of wrath is declared as having already come. It is another evidence that the great tribulation is already under way.

“The day of wrath is in contrast to the day of grace. Though God in every dispensation deals with believers and saves them by grace, the present age is supremely designed to manifest grace not only as the way of salvation but as the way of life. Today God is not attempting to bring divine judgment to bear upon sin. Though there may be some forms of immediate retribution, for the most part God is not settling accounts now. Neither the righteous are rewarded nor the wicked judged in a final sense today. This day of grace will be followed by the day of the Lord which features early in its progress the day of wrath. . .”


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the fifth seal

 


A Bible study


Revelation 6:9-11

GNV

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were killed for the word of God, and for the testimony which they maintained.

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Lord, which art holy and true! dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them, that dwell on the earth?

11 And long white robes were given unto every one, and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season until their fellow servants, and their brethren that should be killed even as they were, were fulfilled.


Thoughts

Much trouble – tribulation – is happening right now and will most certainly happen in the future, but we must remember that much suffering and tribulation lies in our past also. 

Paulicians

Waldenses in France

Lollards

Scottish Covenanters

Reformation martyrs under Henry VIII and his descendants

Anabaptists of the 16th and 17th century

Nate Saint and other martyrs of the Ecuadoran Mission

Christians around the world in our day, of whom the world is not worthy.

Hebrews 11

35 The women received their dead raised to life: others also were racked, and would not be delivered, that they might receive a better resurrection.

36 And others have been tried by mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover by bonds, and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned, they were hewn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword, they wandered up and down in sheep’s skins, and in goats’ skins, being destitute, afflicted,  and tormented:

38 Whom the world was not worthy of: they wandered in wildernesses and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth.


Related Scriptures

Revelation 12:11

11 But they overcame him by that blood of that Lamb, and by that word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 14:13

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, The dead which die in the Lord, are fully blessed. Even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


Letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

And unto the Angel of the Church of the Smyrnians write, These things saith he that is first and last, which was dead and is alive.

I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, it shall come to pass, that the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

11 Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.


History related to the Fifth Seal

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 712-713

Chapter 6:9-11.    The Fifth Seal

“There were Ten Imperial Persecutions of the Church, from Nero, A.D. 64, to Diocletian, A.D. 305. The vision may also be a prophetic hint of the Papal Persecutions of the Middle Ages, and perhaps also of the Persecutions of the Tribulation Period of the Last Days.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: The Ten Primitive Persecutions

The First Persecution, under Nero:

“This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

“To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.”

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

HT: Meg, The Antipas Chronicles

The Annals (Latin: Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68″ (Wikipedia). John received and wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81–96 A.D.) Tacitus wrote The Annals in 109 A.D. The Annals address events of the first of the “Ten Primitive Persecutions” – Nero’s – and recount his efforts to shift the blame from himself to Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The following excerpt shows how the world viewed us in Tacitus’ day. Is this how it sees us now?
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“But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. . .

“Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

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Colosseum Innen Rom - Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum In Rome – Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Mark Cartwright

Under Domitian [14 September 81 – 18 September 96], dramas were also held in the Colosseum but with a bloodthirsty realism. . . [It] was also the scene of many executions during the lunch-time lull (when the majority of spectators went for lunch), particularly the killing of Christian martyrs. Seen as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of Pagan Rome and the divinity of the Emperor, Christians were. . . killed in a myriad of cruelly inventive ways.

The Martyrdom Of Polycarp, or The Letter Of The Smyrnaeans

Early Christian Writings – ©Peter Kirby

[Polycarp, A.D. 69 – 155]

“13:3  Immediately then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him. As they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said: ‘Leave me as I am; for He that has granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, even without the security which you seek from the nails.’

“14:1  So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;

“14:2  ‘I bless You because You have granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of Your Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Your presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You did prepare and reveal it beforehand, and have accomplished it, You that art the faithful and true God.

“14:3  For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through Whom, with Him and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and ever and for the ages to come. Amen.’

“15:1  When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire.”

Diocletian

[20 November 284 – 1 May 305 A.D.]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Donald L. Wasson

“Aside from the continued problems with finance and border security, Diocletian was concerned with the continuing growth of Christianity, a religion that appealed to the both the poor and the rich. The Christians had shown themselves to be a thorn in the side of an emperor since the days of Nero. The problem grew worse as their numbers increased. Diocletian wanted stability and that meant a return to the more traditional gods of Rome, but Christianity prevented this. To most of the emperors who preceded Diocletian, Christians offended the pax deorum or ‘peace of the gods.’ Similarly, since the days of Emperor Augustus, there existed the imperial cult – the deification of the emperor – and Jews and Christians refused to consider any emperor a god.

“However, part of the problem also stemmed from Diocletian’s ego. He began to consider himself a living god, demanding people prostrate themselves before him and kiss the hem of his robe. He wore a jeweled diadem and sat upon a magnificent, elevated throne. In 297 CE he demanded that all soldiers and members of the administration sacrifice to the gods; those who would not were immediately forced to resign. Next, in 303 CE he ordered the destruction of all churches and Christian texts. All of these edicts were encouraged by Galerius. However, throughout this Great Persecution the Christians refused to yield and sacrifice to the Roman gods. Leading members of the clergy were arrested and ordered to sacrifice or die and a bishop in Nicomedia who refused was beheaded. Finally, any Christian who refused was tortured and killed. At long last, the persecution came to an end in 305 CE.”


Commentaries

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

“Observe, (1.) Even the spirits of just men made perfect retain a proper resentment of the wrong they have sustained by their cruel enemies; and though they die in charity, praying, as Christ did, that God would forgive them, yet they are desirous that, for the honour of God, and Christ, and the gospel, and for the terror and conviction of others, God will take a just revenge upon the sin of persecution, even while he pardons and saves the persecutors. (2.) They commit their cause to him to whom vengeance belongeth, and leave it in his hand; they are not for avenging themselves, but leave all to God. (3.) There will be joy in heaven at the destruction of the implacable enemies of Christ and Christianity, as well as at the conversion of other sinners. When Babylon falls, it will be said, Rejoice over her, O thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, ch. 18:20 .3. He observed the kind return that was made to this cry (v. 11), both what was given to them and what was said to them. (1.) What was given to them—white robes, the robes of victory and of honour; their present happiness was an abundant recompence of their past sufferings. (2.) What was said to them—that they should be satisfied, and easy in themselves, for it would not be long ere the number of their fellow-sufferers would be fulfilled. This is a language rather suited to the imperfect state of the saints in this world than to the perfection of their state in heaven; there is no impatience, no uneasiness, no need of admonition; but in this world there is great need of patience. Observe, [1.] There is a number of Christians, known to God, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, set apart to be God’s witnesses. [2.] As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted martyred servants of Christ. [3.] When this number is fulfilled, God will take a just and glorious revenge upon their cruel persecutors; he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, and to those that are troubled full and uninterrupted rest.”

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007, pp. 146-147

“So severe were Diocletian’s edicts of extermination that his reign has come to be known as the Era of the Martyrs. Churches were razed, libraries of sacred books were burned, and believers were tortured to death. Prior persecutions had been local and spasmodic – generally inconsequential against the spread of the Christian faith. Diocletian’s war against the Church is the outstanding exemplar of pagan fear and hatred of the true Faith.* At least two conclusions are implied by this text. First, the chronological sequence of the seal prophecies appropriately targets Diocletian’s persecution. Second, the message of the fifth seal also focuses more generally on suffering and martyrdom, a phenomenon which occurred in various locations and with various intensities throughout the entire earlier period of the seals, as well as after Diocletian until Constantine became sole emperor. The completion of the number of martyrs mentioned in verse 11 was to await yet another era foretold in Revelation 13. The symbolic “Beast,” an apostate church, was to conduct a war against the true faith which would dwarf the persecutions of the pagan Emperors. . .” 

* “Eusebius believed that the tragedy was God’s judgment against excesses of the Church.” 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:14-22, Laodicea


Mark 4:24

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.


A Bible study


Revelation 3:14-22

gnv

14 And unto the Angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write, These things saith Amen, the faithful and true witness, that beginning [origin, source]∗ of the creatures of God.

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou werest cold or hot.

16 Therefore because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, it will come to pass, that I shall spew thee out of my mouth.

17 For thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not how thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried by the fire, that thou mayest be made rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that thy filthy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and amend.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock, If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and sit with my Father in his throne.

22 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.

*The beginning of the creation of God (η αρχη της κτισεως του τεουhē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou). Not the first of creatures as the Arians held and Unitarians do now, but the originating source of creation through whom God works (Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:18, a passage probably known to the Laodiceans, John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2, as is made clear by Revelation 1:18; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:13). 

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament


Thoughts

May the Lord not count us in their number, but among the noble-minded Bereans and faithful Philadelphians!


History

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Laodicea

“The city of this name mentioned in Scripture lay on the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, about 40 miles east of Ephesus (Revelation 3:14), on the banks of the Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis and then Rhoas, but afterwards Laodicea, from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II, [Seleucid] king of Syria, who rebuilt it. It was one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. At a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity (Colossians 2:1; 4:15; Revelation 1:11, etc.). It is now a deserted place, called by the Turks Eski-hissar or ‘old castle.'”

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

LAODICEA

“. . . Little is known of the early history of Christianity there; Timothy, Mark and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) seem to have been the first to introduce it. However, Laodicea was early the chief bishopric of Phrygia, and about 166 A.D. Sagaris, its bishop, was martyred. In 1071 the city was taken by the Seljuks; in 1119 it was recovered to the Christians by [Byzantine Emperor] John Comnenus, and in the 13th century it fell finally into the hands of the Turks. . .”

E.J. Banks

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Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, Zondervan, p. 699

“. . .  The city lay on one of the great Asian trade routes, and this ensured its great commercial prosperity. Laodicea was a leading banking center. In 51 B.C. Cicero, en route for his Cilician province, cashed drafts there. It was no doubt the rich banking firms which, in A.D. 60, financed the reconstruction of the city after the great earthquake which prostrated it. Laodicea refused the Senate’s earthquake relief. She was ‘rich and increased with goods’ and had ‘need of nothing’ (Revelation 3:17). The Lycus valley produced a glossy black wool, the source of black cloaks and carpets, for which the city was famous. Laodicea was also the home of a medical school, and the manufacturer of collyrium, a famous eye-salve. The scornful imagery of the apocalyptic letter to Laodicea is obviously based on these activities. It also has reference to the emetic qualities of the soda-laden warm water from nearby Hierapolis, whose thermal springs ran into the Meander. Laodicea’s water supply also came from Hierapolis, and Sir William Ramsay suggests that its vulnerability, together with the city’s exposed position, and its easy wealth caused the growth in the community of that spirit of compromise and worldly-mindedness castigated in the Revelation. Under Diocletian [Roman Emperor, A.D. 284-305], Laodicea, still prosperous, was made the chief city of Phrygia – Wikipedia. (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary)”

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Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Laodice’a

“. . . We have good reason for believing that when, in writing from Rome to the Christians of Colossae, he [Paul] sent a greeting to those of Laodicea, he had not personally visited either place. But the preaching of the gospel at Ephesus (Acts 18:19; Acts 19:41) must inevitably have resulted in the formation of churches in the neighboring cities, especially where Jews were settled; and there were Jews in Laodicea. In subsequent times it became a Christian city of eminence, the see of bishop and a meeting-place of councils. The Mohammedan invaders destroyed it, and it is now a scene of utter desolation, as was prophesied in (Revelation 3:14-22) and the extensive ruins near Denislu justify all that we read of Laodicea in Greek and Roman writers. Another biblical subject of interest is connected with Laodicea. From (Colossians 4:16) it appears that St. Paul wrote a letter to this place when he wrote the letter to Colossae. Ussher’s view is that it was the same as the Epistle to the Ephesians, which was a circular letter sent to Laodicea among other places. The apocryphal Epistola ad Laodicenses is a late and clumsy forgery.


Commentary

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, pp. 96-97

15. The Laodiceans were spiritually neither cold nor hot. 16. Because you are . . . neither hot nor cold—am about to spit you out. The analogy of hot and cold is best understood of the medicinal hot springs at Hieropolis and the cold, pure water of Colossae. The point is not that the ‘spiritual temperature’ of the Laodiceans is medium. Though they excelled in the material arts and commerce, spiritually they lacked any utilitarian value. Their works were barren. . .”

 


Interesting!

Private Tour – Laodicea

Laodicea today

“The present-day visitor to Laodicea finds a large area littered with broken marble, tops of stone masonry walls, and here and there public buildings: two theaters, a large stadium, nearby it a water tower, an odeon, and the nymphaeum which was excavated in 1961-1963. In the side of the hill just as one approaches Laodicea one can also see the truncated conduits that were part of the water supply system for the city. Much, much more is obviously right under foot.”

Ancient medicines

“One of the principles of medicine at that time was that compound diseases required compound medicines. One of the compounds used for strengthening the ears was made from the spice nard (spikenard? an aromatic plant). Galen says that it was originally made only In Laodicea. . . Galen also described a medicine for the eyes made of Phrygian stone. Aristotle spoke of it as a Phrygian powder. Ramsay tries to explain what kind of medicine it was by saying it was not an ointment but a cylindrical collyrium that could be powdered and then spread on the part affected. The term used by John in Revelation is the same that Galen uses to describe the preparation of the Phrygian stone.  Would not these medicinal concoctions be a reason why John cautions the Laodiceans to buy ‘ointment for your eyes so that you may see’ (Rev. 3:18)?”

[Bausch and Lomb makes collyrium eyewash for personal use. Collyrium is also used in an emergency to flush foreign bodies and chemicals from the eye.]


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Laodicea is in the neighboring province of Phrygia, spelled LAODIKEIA. 


Laodicea temple: Rjdeadly


Hieraoplis. Hot thermal springs have medicinal value. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

 


Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:7-13, Philadelphia


Φιλαδέλφεια

“the city of him who loves his brother”



Revelation 3:7-13

gnv

And write unto the Angel of the Church which is of Philadelphia, These things saith he that is Holy, and True, which hath the key of David, which openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.

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.

9 Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which call themselves Jews, and are not, but do lie: behold, I say, I will make them that they shall come and worship before thy feet, and shall know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, therefore I will deliver thee from the hour of tentation [temptation], which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come shortly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

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 the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new Name.

13 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 


Rosa gallica purpuro-violacea magna, a painted engraving of a rose by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840).

The Church at Philadelphia –

the church of the city of him who loves his brother –

Pleasing Jesus,

hearing His commendation,

and receiving His certain and blessed promises.

Hallelujah! 


History

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or ‘inkwells’; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. A.D. was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, ‘the city of God,’ but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of ‘Little Athens’ because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. . . As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. . .

E. J. Bank


Commentary

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“Christ addresses the church of Philadelphia as the One whose words are from ‘him who is holy and true’ (7a). ‘Who is like you – majestic in holiness?’ (Exod 15:11) ‘There is no one holy like the LORD’ (1 Sam 2:2). ‘He who is holy and true’ is a clear affirmation of the Deity of Jesus. The absolute holiness of Christ indicates that He is set apart as God from all imperfection and moral evil. As holy, His authority is unblemished and His promises sure. 

“Jesus walks among the churches as one who holds the keys to David’s theocratic kingdom. The concept is covenant-oriented. Jesus is the true Davidic king and the fulfillment of the theocratic kingship by which God rules over the hearts of believing men. He absolutely controls their destiny regardless of Satan’s opposing forces which have invaded the evil world, even at times Christ’s church, as at Philadelphia. 

“Because Christ holds the keys, the same keys He delegated to Peter and the Apostles (Matt 16:19; 18:18), He opened the door of opportunity to His church to be Christ’s servant and messenger to the world. As Pergamum is the gateway to Phrygia, so every local church placed by Christ has neighboring peoples who need the Gospel. Philadelphia was not a strong church but, in the face of opposition and with the enablement of the Spirit of God, they had remained faithful. They had not denied their Lord. There is no higher calling of the church of Jesus Christ in any circumstance than to obey the Word of God. With obedience there is ultimate victory and vindication.

“Christ is coming soon! Though the original readers in the Philadelphia church didn’t live to witness that event, their next moment of consciousness beyond death will witness Christ in his glory and introduce them into the blessed age to come (1 Cor 15:18-23; 1 Thess 4:15). Then they with us will be made perfect (Heb 11:39), and we will be crowned with life and immortality, for ‘our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:20).”

°

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“An Open Door, which None Can Shut”, 3:8

“God had warned the churches of Ephesus and Sardis against boasting of their influential standing. Here, He cautions the Church in Philadelphia not to be discouraged because they are a nobody; for God is not dependent on worldly prestige.”

“Kept from Trial”, 3:10

“The Church in Smyrna had been told that they were to Suffer Persecution (2:10). Here, to the Church in Philadelphia, the promise is to Keep them from Suffering (3:10). Both Faithful Churches, God does not deal with all in the same way, but with each as He Himself knows best, beyond our understanding till we reach the other shore.”

 


Greek study for Revelation 3:10

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 3

StudyLight.org

Verse 10

Patience (υπομενηςhupomenēs). “Endurance” as in Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12 as also in 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Thou didst keep (ετηρησαςetērēsas) – I also will keep (καγω τηρησωkagō tērēsō). Aorist active indicative and future active corresponding to each other. For a like play on the tenses of this verb by Christ see John 17:6 (τετηρηκανtetērēkan), John 17:11 (τηρησονtērēson), John 17:12 (ετηρουνetēroun). From the hour of trial (εκ της ωρας του πειρασμουek tēs hōras tou peirasmou). This use of εκek after τηρεωtēreō in John 17:15, αποapo in James 1:27. Trial brings temptation often (James 1:2, James 1:13). Jesus endured (Hebrews 12:1.) and he will help them. There is still a church in Philadelphia in spite of the Turks. Which is to come (της μελλουσης ερχεσταιtēs mellousēs erchesthai). Agreeing with ωραςhōras (feminine), not with πειρασμουpeirasmou (masculine). Upon the whole world (επι της εποικουμενης οληςepi tēs epoikoumenēs holēs). The inhabited earth (γηςgēs) as in Revelation 12:9; Luke 2:1; Acts 16:6, etc.), not the physical earth, but the world of men as explained by the next clause. To try (πειρασαιpeirasai). First aorist active infinitive of purpose from πειραζωpeirazō probably to tempt (cf. the demons in 9:1-21), not merely to afflict (Revelation 2:10). That dwell upon the earth (τους κατοικουντας επι της γηςtous katoikountas epi tēs gēs). Present active articular participle of κατοικεωkatoikeō explaining “the whole world” just before.


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Philadelphia is a little south of the center of the province.


Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.


 

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon's Message Board.

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.

 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:1-6, Sardis

 



Revelation 3:1-6

gnv

1 And write unto the Angel of the Church which is at Sardis, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, I know thy works: for thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead.

2 Be awake, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou wilt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Notwithstanding thou hast a few names yet in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, shall be clothed in white array, and I will not put out his Name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels.

6 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.

🌿

Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


Thoughts

The message to the Angel of the Church at Sartis contains a statement that leads to a troubling question: Can someone who is born again, in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells, have their name blotted out of the Book of Life? Here is help to answer this:

A problem has arisen in the minds of some. If the Lord states that He will not blot out the name of the overcomer from the book of life, does this not mean that other names can be blotted out of the book of life? In other words, does this verse not teach that it is possible for one who has really been born again to lose his salvation?. . . The problem will disappear when we realize the principle of Scriptural interpretation that no obscure passage should ever be quoted in contradiction to a clear line of Scriptural teaching for which there are plain statements and great masses of teaching.

Life in the Scripture is eternal life. Salvation is eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). This is the only kind of life and salvation the Scriptures know anything about. 

REVELATION: An Expository Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan, 1971

I’m grateful for light on this passage. The message to Sardis not only contains this difficulty but it is sad, or rather, somber. Do you agree that it is? May the Lord help us to live in the light of eternity and to let go of this world which is passing away!


History

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“. . . Sardis was famous for arts and crafts, and was the first center to mint gold and silver coinage. So wealthy were the Lydian kings, that  Croesus became a legend for riches, and it was said that the sands of the Pactolus were golden. Croesus also became a legend for pride and presumptuous arrogance, when his attack on Persia led to the fall of Sardis and the eclipse of his kingdom. The capture of the great citadel by surprise attack by Cyrus and his Persians in 549 B.C., and three centuries later by the Romans, may have provided the imagery for John’s warning in Revelation 3:3. The great earthquake of 17 A.D. ruined Sardis physically and financially. The Romans contributed 10,000,000 sesterces in relief, an indication of the damage done, but the city never recovered.”

 

🌿

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“Sardis is of special interest to the student of Herodotus and Xenophon, for there Artaphernes, the brother of Darius, lived, and from there Xerxes invaded Greece and Cyrus marched against his brother Artaxerxes. . . It was moreover one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor, and until 549 BC, the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It stood on the northern slope of Mt. Tmolus; its acropolis occupied one of the spurs of the mountain. At the base flowed the river Pactolus which served as a moat, rendering the city practically impregnable. Through the failure to watch, however, the acropolis had been successfully scaled in 549 BC by a Median soldier, and in 218 by a Cretan (compare Revelation 3:2,3). Because of its strength during the Persian period, the satraps here made their homes. However, the city was burned by the Ionians in 501 BC, but it was quickly rebuilt and regained its importance. In 334 BC it surrendered to Alexander the Great who gave it independence, but its period of independence was brief, for 12 years later in 322 BC it was taken by Antigonus. In 301 BC, it fell into the possession of the Seleucidan kings who made it the residence of their governor. It became free again in 190 BC, when it formed a part of the empire of Pergamos, and later of the Roman province of Asia. In 17 AD, when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the Roman emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the people and rebuilt the city, and in his honor the citizens of that and of neighboring towns erected a large monument, but Sardis never recovered its former importance (compare Revelation 3:12). Again in 295 AD, after the Roman province of Asia was broken up, Sardis became the capital of Lydia, and during the early Christian age it was the home of a bishop. The city continued to flourish until 1402, when it was so completely destroyed by Tamerlane that it was never rebuilt. Among the ruins there now stands a small village called Sert, a corruption of its ancient name . . .”

E. J. Banks


Commentary

IVP New Testament Commentaries

The Message to Sardis

“. . . The message to Sardis lists no specific enemies, internal or external. There is no name calling – no liars, no Balaam or Jezebel, no deep secrets of Satan, no synagogue of Satan, no throne of Satan. Consequently, of all the congregations in Asia, we know least about Sardis and its problems. Yet no other message is more damaging or more urgent than this one. . .

“[Sardis’s] greatest days were behind it, but. . . was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry. Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78). A sermon of Melito, a Christian bishop at Sardis, entitled On the Passover (see Hawthorne 1975:147-75), testifies to a spirited, sometimes bitter, debate with this Jewish community in the second century. Yet as far as we are told, the problem of the congregation in John’s time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself. . .

You are dead (v. 1) is a dramatic way of saying “you are spiritually asleep” (compare Eph 5:14), for the angel is then told, Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die (v. 2). The call to awake, and to remember, obey and repent (v. 3) assumes the real possibility of change. Yet the milder-sounding words that follow, I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (v. 2), are deliberately understated, implying that the angel’s works are unacceptable to God, and therefore a failure (Beckwith 1922: 474; compare Dan 5:27, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”). . .

“The message to Sardis reveals nothing definite about the church’s predicament beyond the fact that it is about to die. Only the metaphorical reference to those few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes (v. 4) offers a possible clue. They are promised that they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy (v. 4), a promise immediately reinforced by a word to those who ‘overcome,’ who will, like them, be dressed in white, whose names will not be blotted from the book of life, but rather acknowledged before my Father and his angels (v. 5; compare Mt 10:32-33 par. Lk 12:8-9). At Sardis, clearly, the few who had not soiled their garments were the ‘overcomers.’

“. . . It is likely that the problem at Sardis was a strong tendency to compromise Christian faith for the sake of conformity to social and cultural standards set by Asian society and the Roman Empire. This spirit of compromise was linked not to one particular faction in the Christian community (as at Pergamum and Thyatira) but to the majority. The ones who had not soiled their clothes had become marginalized. They were the small faction. This explains the severe tone of the message, but it is impossible to be more specific as to the exact nature of the compromises made at Sardis.”


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.


Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copywrite Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon's Message Board - https://bleon1.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/sardis-a-dead-church-with-a-name/

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copyright: Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon’s Message Board.