Bible Study: Revelation 3: Three Remaining Churches

Revelation is the only book that says we are blessed to read, hear and keep the things that are written, for the time is near. Hence, let us not be like hypocrites without discerning times and seasons. Here we will look into Revelation 3 and understand what it says.

(Rev 1:3) Blessed [is] he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time [is] near.  

(Luke 12:56) “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how [is it] you do not discern this time?

Sardis

(Rev 3:1-6) And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Below is a tabulation for the above verse which helps to easily understand what was said to the church of Sardis.

Church of Sardis
Introduction Christ introduces Himself as the One who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars
Appreciation The church have a few names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy
Failures Christ knew their works, that they have a name that they are alive, but they are dead.
Warning Christ warns the church to be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die (or lose faith), for He had not found their works perfect before God. Therefore if they will not watch, He will come upon them as a thief, and they will not know what hour He will come upon them.
Reward He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and Christ will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but He will confess his name before His Father and before His angels
Christ introduces Himself as the One who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars and warns this church of having their works not perfect before God. Some had nearly lost faith in Christ and many have their garments defiled. In other words, this church is a sinful church.

(Rev 16:15) “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Christ coming as a thief during the days of the pouring of the 6th bowl is mentioned as a warning for this church.

Sardis is in ruins and was abandoned around 1402 AD. Hence, we will look into how this prophecy applies today and future churches.

(Luke 12:45-46) “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

Christ mentioned regarding the Kingdom of Heaven in a parable about the faithful and evil servant. Hence, the church of Sardis who knowing all the righteous judgment of God, backslides because of the delay in His second coming and began to sin.

Philadelphia

(Rev 3:7-13) And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens : I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie–indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Below is a tabulation for the above verse which helps to easily understand what was said to the church of Philadelphia.

Church of Philadelphia
Introduction Christ introduces Himself as He who is holy and true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.
Appreciation Christ knew their works. He had set before them an open door, and no one can shut it; for they have a little strength, had kept His word, and had not denied His name.
Failures Nil
Warning Christ is coming quickly. Therefore Christ warns them to hold fast what they have, that no one may take their crown.
Reward Christ will make those of the synagogue of Satan, to come and worship before their feet, and to know that He had loved them. Because they have kept His command to persevere, He also will keep them from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. He who overcomes, Christ will make him a pillar in the temple of our God, and he shall go out no more. He will write on him the name of our God and the name of the city of our God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from our God. And He will write on him Christ’s new name.

This is a church Christ loved. He introduces Himself as holy and truth with keys of David. He will make those of the synagogue of Satan come and serve the church of Philadelphia. He will also keep this church from the great tribulation because they had kept His command to persevere. There are no faults or failures mentioned. If they hold fast what they have and overcome , Christ will make them a pillar in the temple of God.

Christ will write on them the following:
  • God’s name
  • Name of New Jerusalem
  • Christ’s new name

What is key of David?

(Isa 22:20) ‘Then it shall be in that day, That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe And strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem And to the house of Judah. The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.

The key of David is a phrase mentioned as a prophecy in Isaiah 22 which is also a prophecy about Christ. The specialty of this key is that, it opens and no one can shut and it can shut and no one can open.

(Luke 1:37) “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Ofcourse for God nothing is impossible, but the point being, it is God who will make it impossible for anyone to open or close except Himself. The key of David seems to be a special blessing given to king David.

The interesting fact about Philadelphia is that, Christ will keep this church from the great tribulation which will come upon the whole world. This suggests the following statement but both cannot be correct:

  • The church existed when there was great tribulation
  • The church will exist when great tribulation happens.

There was no known great tribulation in the past, or when this ancient church existed. We know great tribulation is a future event (since it had not yet begun as of writing this). Philadelphia is not the only church that will exist during great tribulation. If church of Philadelphia will exist in the days of great tribulation, and being saved from it, then it suggests that the other churches will go into tribulation. Hence, the seven churches can also be seven types of churches through out ages.

Laodiceans

(Rev 3:14-22) And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked– I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Below is a tabulation for the above verse which helps to easily understand what was said to the church of Laodiceans.

Church of Laodiceans
Introduction Christ introduces Himself as the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God
Appreciation Nil
Failures They are neither cold nor hot. Because they are lukewarm, Christ will vomit them out of My mouth. They say they are rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing but they do not know that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Christ counsel them to buy from Him gold refined in the fire, that they may be rich; and white garments, that they may be clothed, that the shame of their nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint their eyes with eye salve, that they may see. 
Warning As many as Christ love, He rebuke and chasten. He warns them to be zealous and repent.
Reward If anyone hears the voice of Christ and opens the door, He will come and dine with them. To those who overcome He will grant to sit with Him on His throne, as He also overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne.
This is a lukewarm congregation.

(Matt 6:24) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

It is a church which does not have righteousness of Christ, walking naked. A classic example is Joel Osteen’s church.

(2Tim 4:3-4) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

A rich congregation but blind and doesn’t see the Truth. They want Christ and also the world. God says, He does love the church but rebukes and chasten. If they didn’t repent, God will vomit them out.

(2Pet 2:22) Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

If God did vomit them out, He is not a dog to put it back. So, repent if you are going to such rich and naked lukewarm churches. Lukewarm is nothing but seeker-friendly churches, who sacrifice the Truth in Scripture to make it comfortable for a seeker without offending them of their sin.