Revelation 3

Chapter 3

To Sardis.[a] 1 “To the angel of the Church in Sardis,[b] write:

“ ‘These are the words of the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

“ ‘ “I know your deeds. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. 2 Be on guard and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death. For I have not found any of your deeds perfect in the sight of my God. 3 Therefore, remember the teaching that you have received and heard. Hold on to it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.

4 “ ‘ “However, there are still a few in Sardis who have not soiled their robes, and they will walk with me dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 Anyone who is victorious will be dressed like these in white robes, and I shall not blot his name from the book of life.[c] Rather, I shall acknowledge it in the presence of my Father and his angels.

6 “ ‘ “Whoever has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.” ’

To Philadelphia.[d] 7 “To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia,[e] write:

“ ‘These are the words of the holy one,
the true one,
who has the key of David,
who opens the door,
and no one can shut it;
who closes the door,
and no one can open it:

8 “ ‘ “I know your deeds. I have set before you an open door[f] that no one will be able to close. I know that your strength is limited, yet you have kept my word and have not disowned my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who claim to be Jews but are not, for they are lying—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and recognize that I have loved you.

10 “ ‘ “Because you have kept my word to endure patiently, I will keep you safe during the time of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to put the inhabitants of the earth to the test. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you already have so that no one may rob you of your crown.

12 “ ‘ “Anyone who is victorious I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and never again will he depart from it. I will inscribe 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, as well as my own new name.[g]

13 “ ‘ “Whoever has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.” ’

14 To Laodicea.[h]“To the angel of the Church in Laodicea,[i] write:

“ ‘These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation:

15 “ ‘ “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either hot or cold. 16 As it is, since you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot,[j] I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich; I have prospered; I have everything I want,’ never realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.[k]

18 “ ‘ “I advise you to buy from me gold that has been refined by fire so that you will be truly rich, and white robes to clothe you so that you may keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline all those whom I love.[l] Therefore, be sincere in your desire to repent.

20 “ ‘ “Behold, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with that person and that person with me. 21 To anyone who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself overcame and sat with my Father on his throne.

22 “ ‘ “Whoever has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.” ’ ”

Footnotes

  1. Revelation 3:1 This community seems to be dead! Hence, it is urged to change and become spiritually alive. From now on people must align themselves with Christ (see Mt 10:32). Those who truly follow Jesus will one day be clad in a white garment, which recalls the white garment worn by Jesus at the Transfiguration and Resurrection. It was the garment already being given at Baptism.
  2. Revelation 3:1 Sardis: capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, it was a wealthy and famous city.
  3. Revelation 3:5 Those who are victorious are promised three things: (1) they will receive white garments like those Christ will give to the faithful Sardinians; (2) their names will never be blotted out of the book of life; and (3) their names will be acknowledged by Christ in the presence of the Father and his angels.
    White garments symbolize God’s righteousness, victory, and glory (see Rev 3:18; 6:11; 7:9, 13f; 19:14). The book of life is a reference to the divine register in which the names of the redeemed are written (see Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; Dan 12:1; Phil 4:3). Christians who were loyal to Christ were continually threatened with being stripped of their citizenship in cities they inhabited, i.e., having their names blotted out of the city’s register. Christ’s acknowledgment of them in heaven offers an eternal, safe citizenship in his eternal Kingdom (see Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8).
  4. Revelation 3:7 The Messiah, Son of David—who holds all power over the lot of the People of God, according to the image of Isa 22:22—addresses himself to the community of Philadelphia. Like the Church of Smyrna, it was suffering persecution, but it remained faithful. The reward of those who are faithful is evoked in symbolic terms: they will live in God’s dwelling and meet God; they will be members of Christ’s Body, bearing his name and sharing his lot.
  5. Revelation 3:7 Philadelphia: the gateway to the central plateau in the province of Asia. The holy one, the true one: see Rev 6:10 and Isa 40:25; Hab 3:2-3; Mk 1:24. Key of David: Christ is the Davidic Messiah empowered to control entrance into the Kingdom (see Isa 22:22; Mt 16:19).
  6. Revelation 3:8 The open door may refer to the missionary apostolate.
  7. Revelation 3:12 Inscribe on him . . . my own new name: this may be a name that characterizes his redemptive work and will not be known until the Second Coming or the name “the Word” (see Rev 19:13).
  8. Revelation 3:14 Christ cannot bear lukewarmness, since he is the “Amen,” the one who commits himself completely (see 2 Cor 1:19-20). By his love he urges people to change their lives. He stands at the door and knocks, i.e., his coming is imminent (see Mk 13:29; Lk 12:35; 22:16). This may seem to be a threat, but it is above all a wonderful invitation—the invitation to share the most lovable intimacy with Christ, of which the Eucharistic Banquet is the inauguration. He invites us to be at his side when the Judgment and the destiny of the world are fulfilled.
  9. Revelation 3:14 Laodicea: a very wealthy city known for its banks, medical school, and textile industry as well as its lack of sufficient water, to each of which the letter alludes. Amen: a divine title (see Isa 65:16) applied to Christ (see 2 Cor 1:20). Source of God’s creation: a concept that is found in Jn 1:3; Col 1:16f; Heb 1:2; see also Prov 8:22-31; Wis 9:1f.
  10. Revelation 3:16 Lukewarm, neither cold nor hot: i.e., complacent, self-satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith in Christ—hence, lacking in zeal and useless.
  11. Revelation 3:17 Never realizing that you are . . . naked: the spiritual wretchedness of the community of Laodicea in contrast to its material prosperity. The Laodiceans may have interpreted their material wealth as a blessing from God and were thus deceived into thinking that their spiritual state was better than it truly was.
  12. Revelation 3:19 I . . . discipline all those whom I love: see Job 5:17; Ps 94:12; Prov 3:11f; 1 Cor 11:32; Heb 12:5-11.

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