Friday, January 16, 2009

Bible Study: Revelation - What Was, What Is, What Is To Come - Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Revelation Chapter 3. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations.

3:1 — Jesus signs this letter "from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars" because they knew what the sevenfold Spirit of God is!

What other reason might Jesus have for addressing the church in this way?

Sardis, the magnificent capital of Lydia, was a wealthy city that began at a strategic mountaintop location, but when the population outgrew the area, they expanded to the valley below. The city was known for its dying and wool industry. They also had a flourishing carpet trade. Gold and silver coins were first minted here in the 6th century BC. Croesus, their king, was once the richest man alive. He was captured by Cyrus the Great in 546 BC, and Lydia became a Persian satrapy. This nearly impregnable citadel was captured in 499 BC by the Ionians during the Persian Wars. In 133 it passed to the Romans. After being destroyed by an earthquake in AD 17, it was rebuilt by the Romans. Excavations of the city have uncovered Roman baths and a gymnasium, as well as the Greek Temple of Artemis (dating from the 4th century BC).

3:1 — the problem in the Sardis church was spiritual death.

3:2 — the reality of our faith will be known by how we live our lives. Empty words will not save us. see Matthew 7:21.

3:5 — See Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1 (AMP)

3:7 — Jesus signs this letter "from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open" because Christ has the authority to open the door of invitation to salvation. No one can close that door. If we reject Him, He closes that door and we become subject to His judgment. He is holy and true, unlike the pagan (Dionysus) worship practices of the area. Also, the concept of the door may speak to the fact that the city was built as a gateway to Asia Minor.

What other reason might Jesus have for addressing the church in this way?

Philadelphia was founded by the citizens of Pergamos. Built in a frontier area as a gateway to Asia Minor, residents kept barbarians out of the region and brought in Greek culture and language. Philadelphia, which means “brotherly love”, was the center of the wine-making industry and engaged in Dionysus worship. Destroyed by earthquake in AD 17, Philadelphia was rebuilt by Tiberias Caesar. But the aftershocks kept the people so worried that most lived outside the city limits.

key of David — since keys unlock doors and Christ is the supreme authority to open doors, Jesus is the one who holds the key of David.

What door do you think the key unlocks?

Phladelphia was built in a volcanic area located about 28 miles southeast of Sardis. It was completely rebuilt after being destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17. This is probably the same earthquake that damaged Sardis. How would it have affected the other churches?

See Isaiah 22:22 (AMP)

3:8 — What is the open door that no one can shut? Context suggests the door to the kingdom. (NIVSB) See 4:1.

3:9 — synagogue of Satan — see 2:9. See Isaiah 43:4; 49:23; 60:14 (AMP)

3:10 – this passage is used as evidence that believers will be spared the tribulation.

"keep you from the hour of trial" — the word 'from' is the Greek word ek, which can mean either 'keep you from undergoing' or 'keep you as you undergo'.

3:11 — hold onto what you have... - implies that our crowns can be taken away. Not salvation, but rewards.

3:12 — see Isaiah 62:2; Ezekiel 48:35 (AMP)

3:14 — Jesus signs this letter "from the one who is the Amen — the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's new creation" because He is the Last, the First, and the Witness of everything in between. My Pastor said it like this in a sermon, once. "Amen — His words are final; Ideal Witness — His testimony is inexplicably true; Beginning — He sees things clearly from the earliest motives.”

What other reason might Jesus have for addressing the church in this way?

Founded by Antiochus (remember him? One of Alexander the Great’s generals spoken of in Daniel.) who named it for his wife, Laodicea was the wealthiest of the cities, known for banking, manufacture and trade of expensive, black wool garments, and a well-known medical school famous for the eye salve it produced. It was a major East-West trade route. The city’s problem was that there was no water supply. They built aqueducts to bring cold water from mountains and hot water from mineral springs, but when water arrived in town, it was lukewarm. It was located about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 100 miles east of Ephesus. Laodicea often suffered from earthquakes and was completely destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60.

The church of Laodicea is mentioned in Colossians 4:15-16. This city was already destroyed by the time John wrote the book of Revelation. Was the purpose to allow the city to serve as a "living" example of what it meant to be spit out of the Lord's mouth?
See Isaiah 55:4; Proverbs 8:22 (AMP)

The comments about the Jews of Laodicea embracing Greek ideals reminds me of the explanation my Pastor gave about the Saducees being the Jews who embraced Greek culture.

3:14 — ruler of God's creation — refers to Jesus as the originator of creation.

3:15-16 — lukewarmness = indifference led to idleness, which meant doing nothing for Christ.

3:16 — The Laodiceans were comfortable. They liked attention. They desired acceptance. They were spiritual "fat cats." They were nauseating to Christ. They had become like stagnant water.

3:17 — "... you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." — Christ hits them right where they think their strengths are.

See Hosea 12:8 (AMP) — "Ephraim boasts, 'I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin."

3:18 — Fire — pyr — fire, flames (Strong's 4442/KWSB 4786). Describing gold refined in the fire. (see 1 Peter 1:7)

What do you think the fire represents? Does this appear to represent judgment due to sin? Can you see the fire destroy what has been corrupted by sin?

3:19 — See Proverbs 3:12 (AMP)

3:20 — The Laodicean church is so comfortable that it is totally blind about the reality of its true condition. Jesus is outside of this church, knocking to get in. This is NOT where Jesus belongs!

3:22 — seven churches — although a literal number of churches, "seven" is representative of all.

  • Remember that the main message of the book of Revelation is the infinite love, power and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ. How is this evident in today’s text?
  • What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
  • What scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

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