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Revelation 3

Donnie's Teaching Notes


Letters to the Seven Churches (Continued)

These churches were actual first century churches, but they contain specific end-times instructions and warnings for the individual and the church living during Daniel’s 70th week.  In other words, seven first century churches experienced the same kind of sufferings and tribulations that the church will have to face at the end of the age.  Thus, the sufferings described in the letters to the seven churches describe those sufferings that the church will endure during Daniel’s 70th week, especially during the first 6 seals.  Six of the seven churches are exhorted to “overcome!” 

Sardis – The Dead Church

[1] "To the angel of the church in Sardis write:  These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God (The Holy Spirit.  John is using this imagery to describe the Holy Spirit in His fullness; wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and fear of the Lord.  See Isaiah 11:2,3.  Jesus has authority to release the diverse ministries of the Spirit to equip and revive.) and the seven stars.  (The angels)  I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  (Many churches today show outward signs of life.  They have all of the accouterments we have come to associate with a successful church; a beautiful building, a great location, stain glass windows, choir gowns.  But many of these churches are spiritually dead on the inside.) [2] Wake up! (from your spiritual slumber)  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, (Recover what little spiritual life is left)  for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God  [3] Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, (A thief comes at an unknown hour and comes suddenly.  The Sardis church represents the spiritually dead and those who refuse to repent.  The Lord is saying that people in this kind of church will be caught off guard by the Last Days) and you will not know at what time I will come to you.  (The Day of the Lord will be a surprise – will come as a thief in the night – for unbelievers.  See 2 Peter 3, 1 Thess. 5.  The parable of the fig tree teaches the same principle; the Lord’s return will come on the unprepared unexpectedly!  In the days of Noah the people were totally oblivious to the approaching judgment.  But, like Noah, true believers should not be caught off guard, for they have been forewarned.)  [4] Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.  (Just as Noah was a believer surrounded by the spiritually dead, some in Sardis still trusted in the Lord)  They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (The true believers will be redeemed.  This also demonstrates that, as believers, we need to be more tolerant.  God has His people in all sorts of places – even a spiritually dead denomination may have a few remnant believers.  Moreover, the End of the Age will be a time of great confusion and deception, and great spiritual discernment will be required.)


[5]  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, (The “book of life” is the record of those who will spend eternity in heaven.  See Rev. 20:12, 15.  Exodus 32:30-35.  Dan. 12:1   But what is meant by the Jesus’ promise to not blot out their names from this book?  Two Views:  It probably refers to those who have been born again and their names are entered at the time of their new birth.  Others think the book contains the names of everyone who was given physical life, and their names are blotted out if they never accept Christ as Savior.) but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Eternal purity is promised to the Sardis overcomers who avoid worldly contamination.)  [6] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  (The fact that John uses the plural “churches” indicates the message applies not only to this individual church, but to all other, future churches as well.)

Philadelphia – The Loving Faithful Church Promised Protection

[7] "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:  These are the words of him who is holy (His holiness as a man and God) and true (His extravagant promises seem too good to be true), who holds the key of David.  (Jesus the Messiah alone has the key of David which gives men entrance into God’s prophesied heavenly kingdom.)  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  (Jesus alone has absolute power and authority to open heaven to us, or to exclude us from entering.)  [8] I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  (He has shared His power with the local church which has the privilege of opening heaven’s door through the preaching of the gospel of the gospel to all people.)  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (We are weak humans, but God uses us anyway.  During the Great Tribulation there will be tremendous pressure from the Antichrist to deny the name of Jesus.)  [9] I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars (This refers to those people who are Jews.  They are Jews “outwardly” but since they have rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they are not true Jews “inwardly.”  Rom 2:28-29.  A spiritual Jew, is one who accepts Jesus as the Messiah) – I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.  (The nation of Israel will acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah at the end of Daniel’s 70th.  See Rev 10:7.  At that time “all Israel will be saved.”  Rom 11:26.) 

[10] Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, (The Church in Philadelphia has endured and been faithful in the midst of great difficulty.  It has been a “pure bride” during the first 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week, a.k.a. the Beginning of the Birth pangs.  And as a result…) I will also keep you from (protect you in the midst of) the hour of trial (The Great Tribulation) that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.  (He will protect the church and give us supernatural strength during the midst of most severe testing in history, the Great Tribulation.  The faithful will be overcomers and remain steadfast in the hour of temptation.  Martyrdom is nothing the church should fear.  In martyrdom we conquer the beast.  Rev 15:2.  He will give strength to the faithful.)


[11]  I am coming soon. (The translation does not mean Jesus could return “at any moment”, but rather “without delay.”  The Lord is explaining that once the specific prophesied events of the Book of Revelation begin to occur, things will happen very quickly during the 7 years of Daniel’s 70th week and he will return during that period of time to establish His kingdom.)  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  (“Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”  Rev 2:10.  Similarly, believers will need to train well to endure the Great Tribulation.  See 1 Cor 9:25.)  [12] Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; (This is referred to in Rev 21,22.  The overcomers who stay strong in the face of physical persecution are promised eternal fellowship in the presence of God.  The new Jerusalem, the city Jesus is preparing, will reside on the new earth.  Isaiah 66:22-23.) and I will also write on him my new name.  (In the end times, the followers of the Antichrist will bear his name (666) and the followers of Jesus will bear the name of God, the name of the city and Jesus’ new name.  It is a new name that only He knows!)  [13] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Laodicea – The Materialistic Church

[14] "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:  These are the words of the Amen, (Jesus describes himself as the “Amen,” emphasizing the certainty and validity of His promises.) the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. (Jesus is the creative source of the entire universe.  In Him all things hold together.) [15] I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other! (The Lord reveals that an indifferent attitude concerning spiritual issues nauseates Him.) [16] So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  (This is some of the strongest, harshest language in Scripture designed to rouse the church out of her spiritual lethargy.  The church in Laodicea was spiritually dead.   The Lord explains that this is a very dangerous condition, even more so than rejecting the Church outright.  When you are lukewarm, you think you are alright – you are lulled into a false sense of security; “I go to church…sometimes. ”  “I read the Bible…occasionally.”  The majority of the churches in America probably fit into this category.  What creates this condition?  Riches, money and self-sufficiency.  The Church in Laodicea was materially rich and was thus spiritually complacent.)  [17] You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' (Spiritual pride had set in and pride is one of the seven sins the Lord hates.  Proverbs 6:16-19)  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (This church had one opinion of themselves, and Jesus had another opinion about them.)  [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; (spiritually) and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; (put on the righteousness of Jesus) and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  (Laodicea was known for their eye ointment.  Jesus is saying they need spiritual eye salve in order to see correctly.  They were spiritually blind and couldn’t even evaluate their own condition.) [19] Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.


In closing, the seven churches may represent stages in church history.  They do represent actual, historical first century churches.  Every church in the past 2000 years exemplify various characteristics of these seven churches, but, as the language clearly states, these seven churches uniquely characterize the condition of the church in the end times.  In general we learn three truths about the church entering Daniel’s 70th week.  First, faithful churches (Christians) will be offered God’s protection within the hour of testing.  Second, spiritually dead churches (Christians), unless they repent, will lose all opportunity for salvation and will endure the wrath of God in the Day of the Lord.  Compromising churches (Christians) will face the full brunt of the Great Tribulation by Antichrist.


How To Have A Testimony For Jesus

[20] Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (The Laodecians who overcome their spiritual blindness are promised intimate fellowship with the Lord.)

How many people have been become followers of Jesus  using this verse?  This is one of the finest explanations in the whole Bible of how to become a Christian.  It can be divided up into three simple parts:

First, there comes a sense that Jesus is outside your life and knocking at the door of your heart, wanting to come in.  That occurs when you feel your life is not what you want it to be.  You feel empty.  You feel disturbed about yourself.  You hear the good news about Jesus, the kind of Lord He is, what He alone can do for you… and something within you responds. 

Second, and this is very important, you must open the door.  He will not, and cannot, open it for you.  Jesus will never force Himself upon you; he never forces anyone into salvation.  Instead, Jesus offers salvation to you as a gift.  If you open the door of your heart, He will come in!  But you must invite Jesus into your heart.  You must say something like this;  Come in Lord Jesus.  Enter my life and be my Lord.  Deliver me from my sins and be my Savior.

The third step is both certain and easy.  He will enter in.  John 1:12: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

[21] To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  (Jesus will reward believers with everlasting life and allows those who repent to rule with Him).  [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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