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Revelation 3:1-6 : The Letter to Sardis

3 “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. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of My God. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Angel

Angel is also considered a "messenger" - an actual person not an angel.

Historical Context

Now called Sart in Turkey.

Sardis was the capital under the Kingdom of Lydia & Persian rule.

Site of the Temple of Artemis & the largest synagogue.

Cemetery of One Thousand Hills.

Sardis was a wealthy trade center and the first city to mint coins.

Had strong Greek influences.

Sardis was considered to be invincible.

** Now called Sart, Turkey. 

** Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia (7th century BC) and also the capital of a major satrapy (province) under Persian rule within Asia Minor.  Then the Greeks and their allies invaded and burned Sardis (498 BC – called the Siege of Sardis) – However, Sardis remained under Persian rule. Then Alexander the Great invaded and the Persians rule ended (334 BC).  In 133 BC Sardis came under Roman rule.

** Site of the Temple of Artemis – the fourth largest temple in the world & the site of the largest synagogue in Asia Minor – Sardis gained its Jewish community in the 3rd century BC under Antiochus III (223 – 187 BC) who encouraged Jews to move there.  In approximately 50 BC, a roman proquaestor sent a decree where Sardis could be a place Jews could practice their religion which included the right to donate to the Temple in Jerusalem.  The synagogue at Sardis may also be called “A place of their own”.  This is confirmed by the findings of menorah representations during a archeological expedition. 

** The Jewish community was extremely prominent, integrated and accepted by the Sardis Gentile community.  There was a community of Jewish people that had achieved a high degree of recognition and status within their individual cities.  Sardis was no exception.  However, this synagogue was placed in the corner area of a Roman gymnasium/theater.  This might have been why they were so distant from God.  Having this synagogue made it even stranger that they distanced themselves from God.

** Sardis, which is within the compounds of the Kingdom of Lydia, was one of 12 cities destroyed in a 17 AD earthquake.  Sardis never went back to its former glory – although attempts were made.  By 1402 – Sardis was in ruins.

** This city was an acropolis that also functioned as a necropolis – a graveyard called the Cemetery of One Thousand Hills.  This cemetery you could see from 7 miles away.  It was filled with hundreds of burial mounds and tombstones – this city was extremely preoccupied with death.  Most were looted, therefore not much is left.

** Sardis was wealthy trading center that was famous for its harvesting and dying wool, textile and jewelry.  Sardis was the first city in the world to mint gold and silver coins (under king Alyattes – 635-585 BC).

** Had strong Greek influences which replaced the Lydian language and the architecture took on the Greek style and in doing so had all the amenities that the Greeks had elsewhere – gymnasium, buildings designed for politicians & theaters. Sardis was surrounded by paganism and idolatry. 

** Sardis was considered to be invincible because of its ideal physical location on top of a hill/mountain surrounded by steep cliffs.  However, they were attacked and conquered twice (probably because of their arrogance and lack of watchfulness).  They were overly confident in their defenses.  This plays into the people’s character.

Church Format

Jesus' description: “The words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars”.

Jesus' commendation: Some have not defiled themselves – they are dressed in white and are worthy.

Jesus' complaint: They have a reputation of being alive but they are dead and their deeds are unfinished.

Jesus' instruction: Be watchful, remember what they received, hold fast to it and REPENT.

Jesus' consequences: He will come like a thief at a time they will not know.

Jesus' reward: They will be dressed in white, never have their name blotted out from the Book of Life and their name will be acknowledged before the Father and His angels.

** Jesus is describing Himself as He did in Revelation 1:4.  He is emphasizing His character as the Master of every spiritual power and authority.  He is also repeating the number seven – reiterating completeness and fullness.  He is saying that He holds the fullness/completeness of the Spirit of God and of the church. 

** The Seven Spirits of God comes from Isaiah 11:2-3: The Spirit of the Lord; The Spirit of Wisdom; The Spirit of Understanding; The Spirit of Counsel; The Spirit of Might; The Spirit of Knowledge; The Spirit of then Fear of the Lord

** The seven stars are the angels (the messengers) of the seven churches. (As it says back in Revelation 1:20)  He is speaking not to just one person but to the whole church.  He is using this description for this church because they are lacking the Holy Spirit.  He is just reminding them.

** Not much here – just that a few names have not defiled their garments.  He uses this term because they would recognize the meaning behind this even in the heathen worship – Sardis was devoted to the worship of the mother-goddess Cybele and no temple worshipper was allowed to approach the temple of the gods with soiled or unclean garments.  A white and clean robe was required to approach its so-called gods.  They needed to be cleaned to enter but didn’t consider any of their sins as being unclean.  This also works for the worship of Jesus.  The difference is, is that Jesus will provide/give/dress His people in white garments.  He is letting them know that only He could provide them with white clothes – only He finds them pure in this life.

** Their reputation means nothing if they are dead inside (they are not producing fruit).  Just because they have the RIGHT God – doesn’t mean they are on the right track.  God doesn’t care about your reputation and good appearances.  They aren’t losing the battle – they have already lost the battle – they are dead.  This was so bad that it wasn’t even a significant threat to satan and Jesus doesn’t even mention to stand strong against persecution.  This was a place that wasn’t worth satan attacking.   

** Jesus is saying that He is the form of completeness and that this church has unfinished incomplete deeds.  This goes back to why He used the description He did for this church and using the number seven.  This church did have works – but it didn’t measure up to what God wanted.  Just the presence of works doesn’t make it Godly or perfect.  Works have to show fullness of Godly intent and Godly purpose.  They have to restore the initial intent and purpose of what this church stands for. 

** The church at Sardis had become so much like the world around it that it could no longer confront its society.

** This church died because its members relied on their past successes.  This church only lived on the surface – they cared more about their reputation.

** Be watchful.  This would have been in connection with how these people are not even watchful with their own safety.  They are to examine, protect and strengthen what they have and hold on to it.  Recognize what they have.  They could easily relate to this statement both in a physical way (their home) and their spiritual way. 

** He is also saying that not all is lost because He says to strengthen what remains and is about to die.  Jesus provided time for them to fix their dire situation.  There was still an opportunity that was given.  

** They are to remember how they first received and heard the Word of God – and to hold fast to those things and repent.  Repent meaning that they must turn and restore the gospel and apostolic doctrine to authority over their lives.  1 Thessalonians 2:13 says “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

** He is again telling them to be watchful because if they do not do as He has instructed – He will come like a thief.  He didn’t mention “soon” so this could be an immediate judgment or it could be His second coming at the rapture of the church.  Either way it will be unannounced.

** Jesus had mentioned overcomers will be dressed in white and that they shall walk with Him.  This would also speak to them because white was also the color of triumph to the Romans, so white garments spoke of a believer’s ultimate triumph in Jesus.  To be dressed in white means that you are pure and therefore seen and can walk with God. Matthew 5:8 says ” Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  They will be dressed in white.

** Recognize that this is a reward it ultimately means that they will be accepted into the wedding feast.   Real righteousness is receiving God’s covering instead of trying to cover ourselves.  Just like Adam and Eve tried to cover their own sin in Genesis 3:7 but God provided them with a covering that came from a sacrifice.  Wearing white garments would have also been meaningful to people who lived in a city where woolen garments were manufactured.  Instead of wearing white though – they are wearing a beautiful burial garment. 

** The Book of Life is read after the 1,000 years are over, after the devil was thrown into the lake of fire and after the sea gave up their dead and death and Hades gave up the dead.  This is where each person was judged according to what they had done.  The unbelievers not found in this book will be cast away.  Remember the believers were already at the Judgment Seat – but not judged for sin because they’ve been forgiven – they are given their rewards.  These believers are already in the Book of Life.  When the Book of Life is opened in Revelation 20:15 it is for the non-believers who are judged on their works.

** Never having their name being blotted out of the Book of Life means that they were assured of their heavenly citizenship.  Blotting out was used in the Old Testament when death or a criminal conviction would remove them from the cities book (the register).  Christ is saying that because Christ defeated death – a believer’s name could not be blotted out.  John 10:27-30 says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.” 

** The focus here is about assurance – there is a Book of Life – it is real and will be read. 

** Notice in Revelation 20:12 that it says “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”  It says according to what they have done, their works.  This is not associated with a believer.  This does NOT mean that a believer’s name COULD be blotted out.

** Although this is a message to the entire body of Christ – remember that a relationship with Jesus begins with a single person making a personal decision to accept or deny Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Ultimately – the decision is a personal one.  Once that personal choice is made – they become part of the body of Christ – to serve.  So Jesus is providing this message on a personal level and also a church level.  Each member has the ability to accept Jesus’ instruction to be watchful, remember what they received, hold fast to it and repent. 

** Those who chose not to follow or obey these instructions (and I may be adding my thoughts here) were probably not solid Christians who have fully accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.  I say this because these might have been people who came to the church when the church was already dying and they didn’t receive the true message.  This would now be for the angel (messenger) to go to those people and give them the true Word – an opportunity for them to undo where they went wrong. 

** Those who will never be blotted out were believers from the beginning. Only God knows everyone’s heart – we don’t and who we may believe is following and doing God’s work may not be doing it for the right reasons.  This is why we don’t follow people.  We work within the body of Christ following ONLY Christ. 

** What is also difficult to understand is that although we are not predestined to be saved – God is omnipotent and already knows who’s name will be in the Book of Life – because He is able to see all that happens all at once.  This is why we will probably be surprised at who we will and will not see in heaven – we only follow – never judge for this reason. 

** It is also why “WE” don’t convert/transform people to know Jesus – conversion/transformation is about the heart and we can only plant a seed and Jesus transforms their heart.  Just as we do not do works to get into heaven so we cannot brag is the same reason we do not convert/transform others – so we can’t boast about their salvation.

** Lastly, our name will be acknowledged before the Father and His angels.  Matthew 10:32 says “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

Prophetic Association

Sardis means remnant / escaping / that which remains.

Dates between 1517 – 1700 AD.

Called the Denominational Age (Post-Reformation / Counter-Reformation).

Began with the Reformation Era.

Ended with The Thirty Years’ War & Counter-Reformation (1618 to 1700 AD).

Similar to the Pharisees.

** Sardis means remnant / escaping / that which remains explains their character within this city perfectly.

** Scholars place the dates for this church between 1517 and 1700 AD within the Church Age.

** The Reformation Era marks the beginning of Protestantism and the widespread expansion of the Bible into people’s hands and hearts through printing and increased literacy.

** In 1517, a priest named Martin Luther nailed Ninety-five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  This ultimately led to the split in the church and the birth of Protestantism.  Soon the Reformation stalled and spiritual lethargy took hold.  The church needed revival but it chose to live off its reputation instead.  Some of the denominations prompted by the Reformation grew apostate or merged with the government and were just as devoid of the Holy Spirit as was the medieval church.  The plus side is that The Reformation helped the church emerge from the Dark Ages intact, some denominations are now only a shell of what they once were. 

** The Thirty Years’ War (1517 – 1650 AD) was the last major European conflict started by religious divisions and one of the most devastating in European history resulting in a death toll of approximately 8 million.  Wars initiated because of the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 which decreed that the ruler would chose whether the territory be Catholic or Lutheran.  Every time a new ruler came to power – there was dissent because they would change the religious interest.  This resulted in many wars. Bohemian Revolt (1618 – 1620); Denmark’s Engagement (1625 – 1629); Sweden’s Engagement (1630 – 1634); France’s Engagement (1635 – 1648)

** The Thirty Years’ War is recognized as the “official” end of the Protestant Reformation – which by the end of it, Calvinism, Lutheranism and Catholicism was all accepted and considered a legitimate belief system.  These wars didn’t resolve any religious conflicts going forward. 

** The Counter-Reformation (1650 – 1700 AD) was mostly about the Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation – The Catholics were still upset that anyone could read the Bible and “claim” to know the “truth”.  They believed that to be someone’s personal opinion and interpretation, not truth.  Although this is prophetic in the sense that this is what happened but people still are individuals and have the right to read the Bible themselves and decide for themselves without a threatening source hanging over them – a source, Catholicism, that ultimately made their own opinions and interpretations at their free-will as well.  This was for control – our ability to read the Bible is on us if we choose not to read, understand and believe what the Bible says. 

** The snowball effect for us when we read the Bible ourselves:  When we hear the Word, we receive life, light and truth; we learn God’s commandments, judgments and promises; we get to know His heart, mind and will; and we find comfort, peace and strength.

** These church members were similar to the Pharisees:  Outwardly they appeared spiritual but they were actually spiritually dead.

Personal Application

We should not worry about outward appearances.

Questions to Ask Ourselves

Are we attending church, volunteering and giving for the right reasons?

Are we living on past success?  Living on our reputation rather then moving forward?

Is there a weakness that needs to be strengthened? 

What do we do when you feel you are just going through the motions?

** This church should remind us that the idea is not to have a meeting, but to create and maintain a relationship – it isn’t about putting on a show.

If we are more concerned with outward appearances and if we do not return to worshiping, believing and living the way we once did, when we first came to Jesus, we will not recognize the prophetic signs of His coming and false prophets.  The Rapture may catch us asleep – like this church.

** Reputation is how you are perceived whereas character is how you are really living.  Use our past as a guidepost not as a cane.  You can’t grow that way.  Appreciate where you have been but move forward.

** First do you see something that is wrong – you can’t fix anything if you don’t see it as wrong.  Once you do – strengthen what is weak (in the Greek it means “stabilize that which is frail”).

** When you are studying during a trying time, do you feel you are just going through the motions.  GO BACK TO BASICS!!

Revelation 3:7-13 : The Letter to Philadelphia

7 “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. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My name. 9 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.

Angel

Angel is also considered a "messenger" - an actual person not an angel.

Historical Context

Now called Alasehir in western Turkey.

Philadelphia began during the Pergamene period (189 to 133 BC).

Philadelphia was the youngest & smallest of the seven churches.

It’s function was to spread Greek culture.

Philadelphia’s successful economy came from their vineyards.

Heavy betrayal and rejection.

** Philadelphia was established in 189 BC by king Eumenes II of Pergamon.  Eumenes II would later be his successor.  In 133 BC when king Attalus III died, the whole land of Philadelphia was transferred to the Romans, therefore it became part of the Roman Republic.  During this time Philadelphia prospered but was often hit hard by earthquakes – the strongest one being in 17 AD.

** After the last big earthquake in 17 AD, there weren’t enough resources to rebuild to its original size so then became even smaller. However, during the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1922) part of the city was burned down.

** Philadelphia was intended to spread the Greek language, the Greek way of life and the Greek civilization throughout the regions beyond them.  Which also meant spreading their worship of their Olympian gods.

** Philadelphia was known for their beautiful buildings as well as their flourishing economy.  The abundant amount of wine being produced led the citizens into worshiping Dionysius – the god of wine. 

** The Christians here were rejected, not only by the authorities, but also by the locals and the local Jews.  During the time of this writing, the local synagogue, which was still used by the Christians, were closed.  They used the synagogues because the Jews were exempted from worshiping the emperor – so the Christians felt fairly safe while they stuck with the Jews.  However, with the betrayal, they were exposed to the emperor and lost the synagogue.

Church Format

Jesus' description: “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.

Jesus' commendation: He recognizes they have little strength but have kept His Word, have not denied His name and kept His command to endure patiently.

Jesus' complaint: No complaint.  He does mention His complaint with the Jews, that some claim to be Jews but are not – they are liars.

Jesus' instruction: Hold on to what they have.

Jesus' consequences: Those liars will fall down at the feet of the overcomers and acknowledge that He loved you.

Jesus' reward: He will keep them from the hour of trial, overcoming so that no one can take their crown, He will make a pillar in the Temple of God – never to leave it, He will write on them the name of God and the name of the city of God and He will write on them His new name.

** Unlike the other descriptions Jesus used for Himself, this one is not a direct quote from Revelation 1.

** The word true can mean either true/false or true/not fake - true here in the Greek is “alethinos” which means “not fake” – meaning He is real.

** The key of David is only mentioned twice in the Bible.  First in Isaiah and then in Revelation:

** In the Old Testament there was a priest named Eliakim who held the office of keyholder in King David’s palace.  His office gave him full authority to act on behalf of the king.  If he unlocked a palace door, it remained unlocked.  If he locked a palace door, it remained locked.  Jesus is the ultimate keyholder. 

** Isaiah 22:20-23 says: "In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father.”  Jesus is giving Eliakim authority.  This also goes to “What He opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.”  (Eliakim is to replace Shebna who was demoted by God.  (God opened one door and shut another) He was called the “steward” (most likely the treasurer) and was over the royal household.  After the demotion from God he was then referred to as “the scribe” who is of lesser authority. These examples are in II Kings 18:18-37; 19:2 & Isaiah 36:3-22; 37:2.)

** Jesus is giving an explanation that the readers would understand.  The key of David, being given to Eliakim, who had a high position of control and authority, is being used to explain the importance of the “holder” of the key of David.  Jesus, who represents the key (which is authority and control) over the royal household – heaven. 

** Jesus would come through the line of David – doors were opened and closed throughout history to make this prophecy come to be.  Nothing would stop this prophecy and the spreading of His Word. 

** He is the key and the door.  We must enter through Jesus.  Nothing here can take away your salvation – no door can be open or shut unless Jesus does it.  John 10:9 says “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

** Remember in the time of Noah, God Himself shut the door of the ark.  Like in Genesis 7:16 says “The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.”.  When the door was shut, the opportunity for salvation from the flood was over.  All the gnashing of teeth, crying, yelling and banging on the door would not get that door open.  Similar to what happens in Revelation (the time for salvation ends at some point.)

** For Philadelphia, Jesus is letting those who are being faithful and enduring the persecution know that Jesus opens doors that gives entry into heaven and that gives opportunities for spreading His Word – so they should hold fast to that hope.  Acts 14:27 says “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

** The church of Philadelphia was strategically located so that people who lived there could reach out to many cities.  This was meant for worldly ideas – but God had very different ideas.

** The word “strength” comes from the Greek word “dunamis” which means “power”. He says this because we do not have power unless we have God – and God was using our weakness to show His strength or power.  This was a church that was headed for revival – “I am weak therefore I need God’s strength.”  This is usually said when revivals begin.  But what is the formula for revival?  Acts 2:42 says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  That is what revival is.

** Jesus saying that He recognizes they have little strength is not a criticism – He does not commend them that they are strong – no man is strong outside of Jesus.  Being strong doesn’t win us points – it wasn’t our wisdom, our skills or our intelligence that could get us to follow God faithfully.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 4:7 says “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  That treasure being Jesus – we can easily be broken by this world – only Jesus gives us the strength to withstand the world which is in us. 

** Not denying His name is very important because like Luke 12:8-9 says “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”

** This church has relied on Jesus – knowing they can only overcome through Christ.  Therefore, the power is from Him, the victory is for Him and the glory is to Him.

** Jesus has no complaint with the church itself.  He does, however, complain about the Jews. 

** Just being a Jew by blood or by ethnic background does not mean you are a real believer of Christ. Your family, bloodline, or culture does not give anyone salvation.  God does not have grandchildren!  You are a child of God – meaning you made the choice to accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  Romans 9:6 says “It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”  Romans 2:28-29 says “A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

** Just like the church of Smyrna, Jews, specifically Jews in name only, made life hard for believers.  These are who Jesus is calling liars.  He is saying they are serving satan – not God – that they are worshipping in a synagogue of satan.  These Jews might have felt that the synagogue was exclusively for them and not the Gentiles.

** Although there is no complaint, He recognizes that they are being persecuted so He tells them to endure patiently and hold on to what they have.

** Jesus is letting the true, or real, believers know that these false Jews will acknowledge them and their valid belief and faith in Jesus.  This is most likely referring to the ultimate victory of good over evil.  The day when all false teachers will have to bow to Jesus and confess that He is Lord.  Everyone acknowledging Jesus is ultimately acknowledging that everyone was right.  Philippians 2:9-11 saying “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

** Remember that Jesus will have His day to show all that He is true/real because He was mocked by unbelievers as well. Matthew 27:41 saying “In the same way, the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him,”

** When Jesus said “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” means that it doesn’t matter what others think of you – because one day they will recognize and acknowledge Him, the truth.  He is on your side – both Jesus and us have gotten mocked for our beliefs – we are not alone in this fact.

** He will keep them from the hour of trial: Rapture.  This is the Great Tribulation – not tribulations.  Meaning that it is the removal – not protection through it.  Matthew 24:21-22 says “For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.”  It is a removal.

**  “From” here in the Greek is “ek” which means “out of”.  Usually God promises to be with us or get us through but here He says He will keep us “out of” the hour of trial.  The Greek word “dia” could have been used which means “through” but it wasn’t.  Jesus is saying to keep us out of the Great Tribulation– not preserve me through this tribulation.

** The use of the definite article “the” in English from “he” in Greek attached to the word for rebellion indicates a specific event.  Most likely – this fall away or rebellion is because of the rapture.  We aren’t supposed to see the beginning “birthing pains” because God wouldn’t allow His children to suffer.

** Why Not Mid or Post Tribulation?  It is Pre-Tribulation because as it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 says “For you are fully aware that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and security,” destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” This also expresses that there must be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture because there is not peace of security in the first 3.5 years.  Also, The departure of the church is stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 which says “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away (apostasy) (or rebellion which can be translated to “the falling away” “the apostasy” or “the departure”) comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,”. 

** Also mentions “thief in the night” 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” which it wouldn’t be a thief in the night if we were to see the abomination of desolation standing in the Temple.

** Pre-Tribulation Rapture must maintain: Doctrine of imminency; Promise of deliverance from wrath & Necessity for an interval between the rapture and the millenium.

** The promise of deliverance from wrath: 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” & 5:9 says “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

** Also Matthew 6:13 says “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  God does not do the tempting but God may allow the circumstances in which the temptation is brought on.  This is to help us grow.  In terms of the Rapture - again this is a removal not a protection against.  Like Matthew says it is to "deliver" us from the evil one.  

** He never puts a path in front of us that we can’t get out of – 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  God would not provide salvation through Jesus Christ only to make us stumble to get to Him.

** The necessity of an interval between the rapture and the millennium:  There must be children born during this time that were not raptured – we must have them so there is a need for the last rebellion at the end of the Millennial (only unglorified bodies can reproduce).  There are no marriages in heaven for glorified bodies –  As Matthew 22:30 says “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” & Mark 12:25 says “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” 

** Also written in Revelation 3:10 is "The hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth."

**The term "inhabitants of the earth is brought up 11 times in 9 verses.  Each using this term in judgmental context.  Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10 (twice); 13:8, 12, 14 (twice); 17:2, 8 & in Isaiah 24 -27 which talks about the “Lord’s Devastation of the Earth” & “Praise to the Lord”.  These inhabitants of the earth are unsaved people who, during the Tribulation, stubbornly and steadfastly reject God.  They are earthbound – fully worldly.

** 1st Crown: The Imperishable Crown – 1 Peter 1:4 says “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,”

** 2nd Crown: The Crown of Rejoicing – Luke 15:7 says “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” & Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

** 3rd Crown: The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:8 says “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

** 4th Crown: The Crown of Glory – Romans 8:18 says “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

** 5th Crown: The Crown of Life – John 6:35 says “Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” & 1 John 2:25 says “And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life.”

** James 1:12 says “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

** The pillar is used for the overcomer or for the one who obtains victory which is “Nikon” in the Greek.  This person will stand firm in the Temple of God.  Unlike their city of Philadelphia that is so prone to earthquakes and is constantly crumbling – the overcomer will be a pillar in the Temple of God never to fall.   Also, magistrates were honored in Philadelphia by having a pillar placed in a temple in their name.  God is promising one that will be forever. 

** Earthquakes periodically would hit Philadelphia and when they did, people would run out of the city.  God is using this to explain that his pillars would not crumble and that His people would no longer have to leave it – His and their home. 

** The writings description He used here would also be understood by everyone because on the sides of the four marble pagan pillars that survived the earthquake, inscriptions were found.  These inscriptions were the name of the God and the name of the city.  He is comparing the overcomers to pillars in the Temple of God which would have His personal inscriptions written on them.

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Revelation 3:14-22 : The Letter to Laodicea

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