Revelation 3

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Editor's Note

We began our study on the book of Revelation on Saturday. If you missed it, you can go back and read the preview and first chapter here!

Read Revelation 3

To the Church in Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hearwhat the Spirit says to the churches.

To the Church in Philadelphia

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open doorthat no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them 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; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Go Deeper

This chapter is a continuation of the messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor. These final messages are given to the churches in Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.  Jesus, through John, addresses each of these congregations and gives them both encouragement and warnings that can give us both hope and guidance as well.

Sardis was a wealthy city and was well known in the ancient world for its economic success. History tells us, though, that because of this economic success, the people were overconfident. They felt invincible and stopped being watchful of their city which led to them being easily conquered not once, but twice! The first verse of this chapter concludes with “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” The city of Sardis appeared alive and good, but it was overwhelmed and oppressed. Jesus knew that their hearts were the same way. We can learn from the mistakes of the church in Sardis to be watchful of our hearts. Revelation 3:3 says “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

Philadelphia was a prosperous city because of its location. It was conveniently located on the highway that led from Europe to the East and served as a gateway between the two continents. Jesus says of the church in Philadelphia “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” They may not have had the mightiest army or the wealthiest economy, but this church was faithful to Jesus and obedient to his word. We can learn from the faithfulness of the church in Philadelphia that, as it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9b, we can “boast all the more gladly of (our) weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon (us).”

Laodicea was another important and wealthy city. It was fairly modernized with banking establishments, a medical school, and a successful textile industry. What it did not have, however, was an adequate water supply. So when Jesus addresses their church and says “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (3:16) they immediately would have understood what he was talking about. The aqueducts in Laodicea brought hot water from Hierapolis and cold water from the streams in Colossae, but all the water was known to be tepid by the time it arrived in the city. In a spiritual sense, Jesus is addressing this church’s indifference and ability to compromise. We can learn from the tepidness of the church in Laodicea that God desires passion and dependence over apathy and self-reliance.

This chapter closes with a great invitation. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (v. 20). This is a great reminder and encouragement that Jesus desires fellowship with each and every one of us. Regardless of if we are careless like the church in Sardis, steadfast like the church in Philadelphia, or indifferent like the church in Laodicea our invitation is the same: Listen for His voice and open the door.


  1. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” How well do you do at being watchful of your heart?
  2. What characteristics did the church in Philadelphia have that displayed its faithfulness?
  3. Would you characterize your faith as hot, cold, or lukewarm? Why? 

Did You Know?

Revelation 3:5 gives believers an amazing promise: “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” 

The Bible tells us a lot about the importance of us confessing the name of Jesus, but here we are promised that when we get to heaven he will not be ashamed to say our name before the Father! Commentator David Guzik says, “It is important for us to accept Jesus. But it is far more important to know if Jesus accepts us.”

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5 thoughts on “Revelation 3”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    Reading and pondering chapter 3, my initial response was how deeply we are loved by our Savior. Recorded on the pages of this final book of scripture are commendations, rebukes and the actions we must take to live victoriously as his church. Ephesians 3:16-19 describes the totality of his love, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” This is how we effectively and consistently push back against compromise, immorality, superficial deeds, and lukewarm-ness. May we never forsake our first love, the One who sacrificed his life for us.

  2. Lukewarm.
    Not anything I had ever really thought about applying to churches. I love that I am learning so much through the BRP. Lukewarm church= selfish, fruitless congregation. What happens to us when we focus on our material pleasures and comforts over Christ? He tells us we become wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
    BUT GOD has given us grace, yet again. I advise you, then, to buy gold from me, pure gold, in order to be rich. Buy also white clothing to dress yourself and cover up your shameful nakedness. Buy also some ointment to put on your eyes, so that you may see. 19 I rebuke and punish all whom I love. Be in earnest, then, and turn from your sins. Revelation 3:18-19 GNB.
    He stands at the door and knocks. Is this because He isn’t welcome in His own church? This was talking to the belivers not just unbelievers as we want to use as an illustration. We have just become lukewarm. God wants us HOT, on fire for Him, to share His Son, the gospel. The question I have for myself and you, is am I/we willing to give up whatever He asks? Would I/we give up my comfort? Would I/we give up my finances? Would I/we give up my life?

    God thank You for loving me so much as to take the scales off my eyes, and the chains from my feet. God I desire to be obedient with whatever You want of me. I am thankful for my blessed, happy life but I want You to be the center. I desire to be more and more on fire for You. I know Your Word says 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (Rom 5:3-4). So through the sufferings and trials I have been going through, I believe I am having more endurance and that is improving my character so that Your people that You place in my path I can be bold and on fire to speak Your gospel to them. Boldness with knowledge of Your Word, God that is what I am asking more of to be Your hands and feet in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen.

  3. V20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

    When reading this verse I can’t help but think of the Paul McCartney song, Let ‘Em In. The song’s chorus is a reminder of what we need to do as Jesus is standing at our door knocking:

    Open the door and let him in!!

  4. Erik Davidson

    My marching orders from Revelation 3:20:

    1) Hear His voice
    2) Open the door
    3) Let Him in
    4) Eat with Him

    Yes, sir! Will do!

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