1 1 ＂To the angel of the church in Sardis, 2 write this: ＂ 'The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: ＂I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2 Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
3 Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.
4 However, you have a few people in
5 ＂‘＂The victor will thus be dressed in white, 3 and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.
6 ＂‘＂Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.＂'
7 4 ＂To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, 5 write this: ＂ ‘The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open, says this:
8 ＂‘＂I know your works (behold, I have left an open door 6 before you, which no one can close). You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make those of the assembly of Satan who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying, behold I will make them come and fall prostrate at your feet, and they will realize that I love you.
10 Because you have kept my message of endurance, 7 I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.
12 ＂‘＂The victor I will make into a pillar 8 in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as well as my new name.
13 ＂ ‘＂Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.＂'
14 9 ＂To the angel of the church in Laodicea, 10 write this: ＂ ‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God's creation, says this:
15 ＂I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. 11 I wish you were either cold or hot.
16 12 So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17 13 For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,' and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire 14 so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.
20 ＂‘＂Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. 15
21 I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.
22 ＂‘＂Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.＂'＂
1 [1-6] The letter to
2  Sardis: this city, located ca. thirty miles southeast of Thyatira, was once the capital of Lydia, known for its wealth at the time of Croesus (6th century B.C.). Its citadel, reputed to be unassailable, was captured by surprise, first by Cyrus and later by Antiochus. The church is therefore warned to be on guard.
3  In white: white is a sign of victory and joy as well as resurrection; see the note on Rev 2:17. The book of life: the roll in which the names of the redeemed are kept; cf Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; Philippians 4:3; Daniel 12:1. They will be acknowledged by Christ in heaven; cf Matthew 10:32.
4 [7-13] The letter to
5  Philadelphia: modern Alasehir, ca. thirty miles southeast of Sardis, founded by Attalus II Philadelphus of Pergamum to be an ＂open door＂ (Rev 3:8) for Greek culture; it was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17. Rebuilt by money from the Emperor Tiberius, the city was renamed Neo-Caesarea; this may explain the allusions to ＂name＂ in Rev 3:12. Key of David: to the heavenly city of
6  An open door: opportunities for sharing and proclaiming the faith; cf Acts 14:27; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12.
7  My message of endurance: this does not refer to a saying of Jesus about patience but to the example of Christ's patient endurance. The inhabitants of the earth: literally, ＂those who live on the earth.＂ This expression, which also occurs in Rev 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8, always refers to the pagan world.
8  Pillar: this may be an allusion to the rebuilding of the city; see the note on v 7. New Jerusalem: it is described in Rev 21:10-22:5.
9 [14-22] The letter to
10  Laodicea: ca. forty miles southeast of Philadelphia and ca. eighty miles east of Ephesus, a wealthy industrial and commercial center, with a renowned medical school. It exported fine woolen garments and was famous for its eye salves. It was so wealthy that it was proudly rebuilt without outside aid after the devastating earthquake of A.D. 60/61. The Amen: this is a divine title (cf Hebrew text of Isaiah 65:16) applied to Christ; cf 2 Cor 1:20. Source of God's creation: literally, ＂the beginning of God's creation,＂ a concept found also in John 1:3; Col 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:2; cf Proverb 8:22-31; Wisdom 9:1-2.
11 [15-16] Halfhearted commitment to the faith is nauseating to Christ; cf Romans 12:11.
12  Spit: literally, ＂vomit.＂ The image is that of a beverage that should be either hot or cold. Perhaps there is an allusion to the
13  Economic prosperity occasioned spiritual bankruptcy.
14  Gold . . . fire: God's grace. White garments: symbol of an upright life; the city was noted for its violet/purple cloth. Ointment . . . eyes: to remove spiritual blindness; one of the city's exports was eye ointment (see the note on Rev 3:14).
15  Christ invites all to the messianic banquet in heaven; cf Isaiah 25:6; Luke 14:15; 22:30.