Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 2:28-3:4, 5
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 2:28
Verse 28: Jesus also promises to give the one who overcomes “the morning star” which is very likely a beautiful description of His Second Coming. While still high in the earth’s atmosphere He will appear to be a bright star. The Book of Acts records that when He ascended into heaven angels promised the watching disciples that He “will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Ac 1:11). This means that when He returns He will gradually descend to earth from high in the sky (Ac 1:9), and as He does He will shine with light because He will still be radiating the same glory which John just beheld (Rev 1:12-16). His eyes will glow like a flame of fire (Rev 1:14), His feet like burnished bronze (Rev 1:15) and His face like the sun shining in its strength (Rev 1:16). So, early in His descent to earth, while still too high for those looking up to perceive His features, He will indeed look like a bright star, in fact like the morning star, glistening brighter than all the other stars as the dawn of a new day begins.

Revelation 2:29-3:1
Verse 29: As does each of the seven letters to the churches (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22) this one also includes a challenge to those willing to listen: “He who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Those who are humble will hear this correction and repent and thus escape the discipline He will administer when He visits the church, and if they continue to hear and obey they will inherit the blessings He has promised. Chapter 3, verse 1: As we noted earlier (Rev 1:4) the term “seven Spirits” means the Holy Spirit. It pictures Him as the seven-branched lampstand (Menorah) which stood outside the chamber housing the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. It symbolized God’s promise to give spiritual light to His people seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. And the Lord has already told John that the term “seven stars” means seven angels (Rev 1:20). An angel was assigned to each of the seven churches to assist that congregation to accurately perceive the truth of what He had spoken to them (see comments on Rev 2:1).

Revelation 3:1
Verse 1 (continued): By introducing Himself to the church in Sardis as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars…” Jesus affirms His own divinity. Who but the divine Son or Father Himself could claim to send the Holy Spirit to them or picture Himself as holding angels in His hand and assigning them to particular churches? Sardis must recognize who it is who addresses them. It is the Son of God Himself. He is the One who has sent the Holy Spirit to reveal their spiritual condition and then an angel to insure that His words are not corrupted. Verse 1 (continued): Sardis was located in the middle of the Hermus River valley, 50 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea and 30 miles south of Thyatira along the same east-west trade route. It was a wealthy city that had at one time in its history been the capital of a kingdom that ruled Asia Minor. It contained an extremely large gymnasium and a huge temple to the Greek goddess of fertility. So its culture was very sensual. It also had a large population of Jews which began in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar brought exiles there after conquering Judah, and archeology shows that Christianity flourished there as well (Ray Vander Laan, “Early Church” in the Faith Lessons Series, Small Group Discovery Guide, Zondervan, 2008, pp 49-54).

Revelation 3:1-3
Verse 1 (continued): To believers living in this environment the Lord says, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” In other words, He tells them “people in your town, other churches in the area, and certainly you yourselves think you are a strong healthy church, but the great majority of you are actually in terrible spiritual condition. In fact, the truth is the Holy Spirit has already left your gatherings.” Verses 2, 3: So the situation is urgent and they must act quickly. They must wake up and see the damage that’s been done: people are no longer watching for Jesus’ return, anticipating the day they will be rewarded or held accountable (Mt 24:42-44); they are no longer passionate about their faith; and the apostolic teaching that had been the foundation of this church is rapidly being forgotten, and, of course, not obeyed.

Revelation 2:2, 3
Verses 2, 3 (continued): Not only must they wake up and face the truth of their spiritual condition, but they must act quickly to restore what has died. As a church they are out of God’s will and must return to the plan He has for them, “…for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.” If they don’t repent the Lord will come and suddenly discipline them without further warning. Not one of them should think they can backslide into such a dire condition and then quickly straighten everything out just before He arrives. They have no way of knowing how much time is left so they need to act immediately. And, of course, Jesus will help them do this because as Isaiah said of Him, “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish…” (Isa 42:3).

Revelation 3:4
Verse 4: Jesus says that as He looks down the list of names of those who claim to be His followers in Sardis (v 5) there are only a few who are not behaving immorally. The phrase “soiled their garments” literally means to smear both the inner tunic and outer cloak with mud or filth. Jude uses a similar image when he speaks of the “flesh-spotted tunic” (literal, Jude 23). Most likely he used the phrase to describe people who committed sexual sins, and Jesus here appears to mean the same thing. Thankfully, however, there are at least “a few” in Sardis who are still leading pure lives.

Revelation 3:4, 5
Verse 4 (continued): To the church in Thyatira Jesus emphasized that He would share His authority with those who overcome (Rev 2:26, 27), but to the church in Sardis He emphasizes that He will share His righteousness. Those “who have not soiled their garments… will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” Overcomers will wear a white robe like His, meaning they too will be totally sinless and they will be “worthy” to walk with Him, meaning they will fellowship with Him at a level which is undiminished by sin just as Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden (Ge 3:8). Verse 5: In addition to being clothed in white garments, symbolizing their sinless purity, Jesus assures overcomers that their salvation is secure. He tells them they can be confident of this because He is the One who decides who is and is not given eternal life. He said this same thing to His disciples in John 5:22, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son…” and again in John 5:27-29, “…and He (the Father) gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth….” A believer’s faith in Him is not misplaced because He knows each one who belongs to Him and will not “wipe his name out of the scroll of life” (literal), meaning remove his name from God’s list of those who are saved. This list contains the names of every human who has or will receive the righteousness of faith from Adam and Eve to believers living in the final generation (Ex 32:32; Ps 69:28; Lk 10:20; Php 4:3; Heb 12:23; Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). 

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