1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Note.-- Following the Reformation there came upon the reformed churches a time of formalism and spiritual deadness. The Sardian likeness was recognized by many living in the time. Dr. Thomas Gill, a clergyman of the Church of England and an author, said in 1748: "We are in the Sardian church state.... There are many things said of that church which agree with us, as that we have a name that we live, and are dead."
Dr. A. Maddock, Church of England, wrote in 1777: "Little more need be done than to read that epistle to see our own likeness." He said that the time was evidently near when the next, or Philadelphian, stage would arrive, and looked to see the revival of religious life, particularly in the new land of America. "It is very probable," he wrote, "that the candlestick of the next church-state will be set up, and the chief seat of the Philadelphian church, be in that country, as the chief seat of the Sardian church is in Britain." So eyes were looking for some awakening and setting up of new bases of evangelical life and activity.
7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth:
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 say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast 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 New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Note.-- Many Bible students in those post-Reformation times who had recognized the Sardian likeness, were looking to see an awakening indicated by the next, or Philadelphian, stage of the churches. This awakening came, led on by the great revival of religious life under the preaching of Wesley, Whitefield, and others. Out of the awakening came the great movement of modern missions; and yet later, in the first decades of the nineteenth century, came the advent awakening. Thousands of voices in Europe and America were proclaiming the doctrine of Christ's second advent, and out of this awakening there arose the definite advent movement which is described more fully in chapter 14.
14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God.
Note.-- "Laodicea" signifies a judging work; a people before the judgment seat. Before Christ comes the second time, a work of judgment takes place in the heavenly temple, drawing the line forever between those who are ready or saved and those found unready and unsaved. While this last stage of the church is continuing, the message of Revelation 14:7 is due to the world: "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come." And to those living in this last solemn hour of the church, the Laodicean stage, in a time of an opened Bible and great light, the True Witness here bears the message calling for more than a mere form and knowledge of the truth. The real experience of the converting power and grace of Christ is to be sought and found in Him. God's holy law must be written in heart and life by the indwelling Christ. Nothing less can prepare souls to stand in the judgment.
15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Note.-- We of this day live in the time of this last church period, decisions for eternity will be made, Let us say to the Lord: "Yea, Lord, our ears hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. We acknowledge that, of ourselves, we are poor, and blind, and naked. Give to us the true riches, the gold of character, anoint our eyes to see, and clothe us with the garment of righteousness that Christ offers freely, And, dear Saviour, we open the door of our hearts. Come and abide within, making us overcomers even as thou didst overcome."