Revelation 3

The Word Made Fresh

1Write this to the angel of the church in Sardis, these are the words of the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

“I know your works. You are widely believed to be alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Make what remains stronger, for it is dying. I have not found your works to be perfect in my God’s eyes. 3So, remember what you were given, and what you heard. Obey it and repent. If you don’t I’ll come like a thief, and you won’t know exactly when I’ll do it. 4But there are still a few people in Sardis who haven’t gotten their clothes dirty. They’ll walk with me, and they’ll be wearing white because they are worthy. 5If you succeed, you’ll be wearing white like them, and I won’t erase your name from the book of life. Instead, I’ll mention your name to my Father and his angels. 6Let everyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit is telling the churches.”

7Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is what the holy and true one says, the one who has the key of David and opens what no one can close, who closes what no one can open:

8“I know what you have done. I have placed an open door before you which no one can close. I know you are weak, but still you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9Those who are of the synagogue of Satan and claim to be Jews are not Jews. They are lying, and I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. 10And because you have kept my word and patiently endured, I’ll keep you from the hour of trial that is coming to test all the people of the world. 11I’ll come soon, so hold tightly to what you have so that no one can take your crown. 12If you succeed, I’ll make you a pillar in my God’s temple, and you will never leave it. I’ll write my God’s name and my own new name on you, and also the name of the city of my God – the new Jerusalem that will come down from God out of heaven. 13Let all who have ears listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

14Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea. These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, and the beginning of God’s creation:

15“I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, 16but since you’re lukewarm I’m going to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich! I have succeeded and I don’t need anything.’ You don’t see that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18That is why I’m suggesting that you purchase gold refined in fire from me so that you will truly be rich; and also white robes to keep the shame of nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you can see. 19I lovingly correct and disciple those whom I love. Be serious, then, and repent.

20“I am standing at the door knocking. If you hear me and open the door I will come in to you and we will eat with one another. 21I will provide a place with me on my throne with the one who conquers, just as I conquered and sat with my Father on his throne. 22Let whoever has ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”


1-6: Christ now sends a message to Sardis, which was situated about 30 miles inland from Smyrna on the Hermus River (and 25 miles south of Thyatira). All these cities are close together in western Asia Minor. Among all the churches, Sardis seems to be the least faithful, with only a few who “haven’t gotten their clothes dirty,” and they are promised that they will “walk with [Christ],” which I believe is another allusion to eternal life. However, as faithless as the others have been, they, too, are offered the same reward if they repent. Here is the clear invitation to repentance and life that is given to every sinner, which means everybody.

7-13: Philadelphia was also in the Hermus valley, about 25 miles upstream from Sardis. Verse 7 is a quote from Isaiah 22:22, in which God declares that he will place on the shoulders of the Messiah “the key of David.” So, Christ offers the church an open door that cannot be shut. In other words, their invitation is secure. They are weak but have endured the attacks of the “synagogue of Satan” (see comments on 2:8-11). Their place in the new Jerusalem is waiting for them.

14-22: Finally, we have Laodicea, about 80 miles inland from Ephesus — so you see we have come around in almost a circle. Laodicea is lukewarm, he says. They are a wealthy congregation. They think they have everything they need, but they are mistaken. Their wealth has caused them to be turned toward themselves and ignore those in need around them. The message to them is that Christ wants to come in to them and be with them if they will but open the door. Those who conquer — who accept the invitation — will rule with Christ in the kingdom of God.


The church is always in danger of becoming lukewarm; it happens when the people settle into the comfort of being together and neglect the need to focus on the task of bringing others into the fold.