Wake up, little ones – “And Christ will shine on you!”


 

 


Luke 12:35-40

NASB

35 “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”


In response to my post on different approaches to interpreting Revelation, Wil of Swiss Defence League posted the video below, saying, 

“May Be I’m Off Topic A Little Bit…But If The Lamp Is Burning, Really, Then Anytime Will Do.

**Be Dressed Ready For Service And Keep Your Lamps Burning (Luke 12:35)”

Wil, you’re right!



 

Four very different approaches to the Book of Revelation – Resources



2 Corinthians 13:11

NASB

11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.


Intro

Throughout church history, there have been four different views regarding the book of Revelation: idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. The idealist view teaches that Revelation describes in symbolic language the battle throughout the ages between God and Satan and good against evil. The preterist view teaches that the events recorded in the book of Revelation were largely fulfilled in AD 70 with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. The historicist view teaches that the book of Revelation is a symbolic presentation of church history beginning in the first century AD through the end of age. . . The futurist view teaches that Revelation prophesies events that will take place in the future. . .

Dr. Patrick Zukeran, Four Views of Revelation

I’ve come to believe that if we would try to see what other Christians have observed and taught in different views of Revelation, that we would grow in love and discernment. That’s why the following comment on Puritan Board makes sense. Obviously this can’t mean that all of the views are completely Biblical and therefore of equal value. With one exception, we aren’t speaking about heresy. 


PURITAN BOARD forum

THREAD ANSWERING THIS QUESTION:

Historicist Hermeneutic: No Longer Feasible?

Comment by “greenbaggins,” Administrator and Staff Member

[Emphasis added]

“While I have some sympathy with the historicist idea that Revelation is a road-map of history, the problem is that historical identifications with elements in Revelation become, if not fanciful, at the very least, highly debatable. It is my opinion (along with Poythress) that Revelation has seven cycles of seven, wherein each cycle crescendos from the previous cycle, thus climaxing each cycle with the second coming.

Each of the four main interpretive approaches to Revelation has strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the preterist is that John wrote Revelation to a certain audience at a certain time, and any interpretation which fails to take this into consideration will get considerably jumbled. However, preterists go too far when they limit the applicability of Revelation to the first-century (either too much, as in partial preterists, or much too much, as in the heretical full preterists). Revelation is part of the canon. It must apply not only to the first-century audience, but also to the church of all ages. It does speak of the second coming of Christ and the new heavens and new earth, and not just in the last three chapters.

“The futurist approach’s strength is in recognizing the references to the second coming, and giving them full weight. Futurists tend to forget, however, the historical situatedness of Revelation. They also forget (sometimes) Revelation’s canonical status, applying to the church of all ages. They have, therefore, the corresponding and opposite strengths and weaknesses of the preterite positions.

“The strength of the historicist position is in recognizing Revelation’s canonical status, and that therefore it must apply to the church of all ages. The weakness has been already identified above, as its historical identifications are quite tenuous. I find myself thinking, ‘Yeah, possibly, but couldn’t it also mean a dozen other historical events?’

“The strength of the idealist position is in recognizing the cyclical (or better yet, spiral) nature of Revelation. Some idealist positions have a weakness, however, in de-concretizing the imagery of Revelation, and making just about everything quite vague.

“I believe that the strongest interpretation of Revelation will take elements of truth from all the four approaches, while seeking to minimize their weaknesses. As such, there are three main areas of applicability, all of which have to have their day in court: the first century, the history of the church, and the second coming of Christ. This is why I advocate a modified idealist approach wherein the beginning and the end both get full attention, and not just the cycles of how God works in history. I believe that John is describing over and over again (seven times, in fact) the time between the first and second coming of Christ.”


Hattip: Meg’s blog, The Antipas Chronicles

SO FAR MUST THE BEAST HAVE A HAND IN IT


RESOURCES

Chart explaining the major distinctive of each view of Revelation:

 

The Four Views of Revelation

Preterism

Partial Preterism (orthodox)

Full Preterism (heretical)

Futurism

Historicism

Idealism

(The most recent of the major approaches to Revelation)


Four Views of Revelation

Dr. Patrick Zukeran

Dr. Patrick Zukeran presents a summary of four of the major approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation and its meaning for the end times. . . For each, he presents the basic approach, strengths of the approach and weaknesses of the approach. Recognizing that God is the central mover in all of these, he encourages us to keep these questions from dividing Christians in our mission of sharing Christ with the world.


Interpreting Revelation

Dr. Cornelis P. Venema

One helpful way to meet the challenge of interpreting the book of Revelation is to become acquainted with some of the main approaches to its interpretation. In the history of the church, five predominant approaches have emerged: the futurist, the preterist, the historicist, the idealist, and the eclectic approach. While these approaches are not necessarily incompatible at every point, they represent distinct views of the message and themes of Revelation. Familiarity with these approaches, though no substitute for a direct reading and interpretation of Revelation, does provide a helpful map of the well-traveled paths that previous interpreters have found illuminating.


 

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.'”

.

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

.

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)”

.

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.