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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Revelation

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

2.1–3.22 : The messages to the seven churches,

each containing an address, a descriptive phrase referring to the risen Christ, a commendation or condemnation of the church addressed, an admonition, and a concluding promise and exhortation to the faithful. For the locations of the seven churches, see Map on p. 424 NT.

3.1–6 : The fifth message

is sent to Sardis, a prosperous city ca. 85 km (55 mi) northeast of Ephesus that had been the capital of the kingdom of Lydia.

1 :

Seven spirits, see 1.4n. Seven stars, 1.20 . You have a name, its Christianity was only nominal.

3 :

Received, the gospel. Like a thief, just when unexpected ( 16.15; Mt 24.42–44; 1 Thess 5.2 ).

4–5 :

Soiled … white, not impurity/purity, but surrender/conquest (see 2.17n. ). White robes are a frequent image; see 3.18; 4.4; 6.11; 7.9; 19.14; cf. Zech 3.3–5.

5 :

Book of life, the register of God containing the names of the redeemed ( 13.8; 17.8; 20.12,15; Ex 32.32; Ps 69.28; Dan 12.1; Mal 3.16; Lk 10.20 ).

3.7–13 : The sixth message

is sent to Philadelphia, a small town 50 km (80 mi) southeast of Sardis.

7 :

Key of David, a symbol of authority (Isa 22.22 ).

8 :

An open door, of opportunity (1 Cor 16.9; 2 Cor 2.12 ).

9 :

Synagogue of Satan, see 2.9n. On conflict between Christians and Jews in Philadelphia see Ignatius, Philad. 6.1 . Bow down before your feet, Isa 43.4; 60.14 .

10 :

Despite its weakness (v. 8 ), the Philadelphian church will be safeguarded during the eschatological tribulation.

11 :

I am coming soon, 22.7,12,20 .

12 :

A pillar, steadfast and permanent (Gal 2.9 ). New Jerusalem, 21.2 . The name of my God, marking the one inscribed as God's possession and as specially dedicated to God. The name of the city of my God, signifying citizenship in the new Jerusalem; see 21.2,10 .

3.14–22 : The seventh message

is sent to Laodicea, a wealthy city near Colossae (Col 2.1; 4.13–16 ), 155 km (95 mi) east of Ephesus.

14 :

The Amen is Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1.20 ). The faithful and true witness, 1.5 . The list of titles may derive from a Greek translation of Isa 65.16 . The origin of God's creation, Christ is the principle and source of all creation (Jn 1.3; Col 1.15,18 ).

15–16 :

Their lukewarm Christianity is nauseating like the tepid water for which the city was known.

17 :

Complacent and self‐satisfied, they are spiritually poverty‐stricken (Hos 12.8 ).

18 :

Buy from me gold refined by fire, an idiom for removing sin from one's life (Job 13.10; Prov 27.21 ). A commercial transaction is here used as a metaphor for grasping salvation. Eyes, Laodicea was noted for its manufacture of a medication for ophthalmic disorders.

19 :

God's chastening has beneficent motives (Prov 3.12; Heb 12.5–11 ).

20 :

An invitation to participate in the messianic banquet in the coming age (cf. Mt 26.29 ).

21 :

A place with me, a promise of reigning with Christ in glory ( 22.5; Lk 22.30 ).

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