Friday, January 11, 2013

Revelation 3: Jesus is Returning Soon

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It has come to my attention via the comments of previous posts that many things that come up in Revelation are generally thought to be figurative, while I have been taking them literally. I'm not totally sure what to think about that as I don't know how I am supposed to evaluate which is which, but I've got it in mind. Perhaps I will try to consider both possibilities, I don't know. We'll see how it goes.

To the Church in Sardis (v. 1-6)

The letter to this church focuses on the seven stars and the seven spirits of God.

The seven stars and the seven spirits? I thought the seven spirits were the seven stars.

You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

I usually try to do summaries rather than quoting verses, but I have this here because of the literal/figurative thing. It seems to me that the first sentence here proves we are talking figuratively, because I don't know what it could literally mean when he says the person he's writing to is dead. He must be talking about a spiritual death, I just don't see any other way to read it.

In that case, the message here seems to be that they have fallen away from the faith, and they are being told to shape up.

According to Guzik (who quotes a couple of other people in addition to giving his own thoughts), the church is dead is a reference to the fact that the church was no longer a threat to evil. They are at peace, but it was a peace of the dead. I'm not sure how much I like the idea that the church being at peace is a bad thing, although I guess I can understand their perspective that not pushing others endangers them.

Remember the things you have been taught and repent. If you don't repent, I will come like a thief in the night, you will not know what hour I will come against you.

I think this (and the previous verse which says "what remains and is about to die") is talking about the impending apocalypse. I suppose it could be interpreted to mean the death of an individual, although that doesn't seem right to me. Also, I've heard Christians many times use the "thief in the night" verse when talking about the apocalypse.

There are still a few among you who haven't soiled their garments, they are worthy and walk with me. The one who conquers with also be clothed in white and his name will never be blotted out of the book of life.

So there are a few people remaining who are still right with God, they are walking with Jesus. The one who conquers will also get this honor. I really don't understand the "one who conquers" thing, I'm guessing they are talking about some impending battle that we will read about later, I suppose we should just keep that in mind and move along.

To the Church in Philadelphia (v. 7-13)

This one focuses on Jesus "who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens."

Not sure what that means, it doesn't match up with the vision from before

You have kept my word and not denied my name, I will open a door for you that no one may close. Because you have kept patient endurance, I will keep you from the trial that is coming on the whole world.

He seems to like this church quite a bit. He is going to shield them from the apocalypse. I'm curious how the Christian commentaries are going to get out of this. Is this particular church still around? If so you'd think everyone would want to join them.

Jews lie, they are actually a synagogue of Satan.

Yeah, that's not cool.

According the Guzik's commentary, this is not an indictment of Jews at all, but this particular people who are not Jewish but are claiming to be Jews. Reading the verse again "those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie", I think the only reasonable conclusion is that my first read on this was crap. This is clearly an indictment of people who are evil, and are pretending to be Jewish but are not actually Jewish.

I guess the danger lies in the determination of who is really Jewish, and who is just claiming to be Jewish but is actually evil. Does this perhaps open the door for people to attack Jews under the claim that they are not real Jews but instead agents of Satan? If someone tried that it would certainly seem to be a stretch. I'm not completely sure how I feel here, any thoughts?

I am coming soon, so hold fast to what you have so that no one may take your crown. To the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple and write the name of God on him.

There doesn't seem to be anything Jesus doesn't like about this church. This is about the worst thing he says to them, and it is just a warning to not slip up. Also, we have this conqueror again, and the mention of the name of God. This lends credence to this discussion in the comments of the white stone from last time.

For quickly, he used the same argument from before about how it is not coming soon, but once it comes it will happen fast. Again, I would just say read the text and see if this sounds reasonable to you, it just doesn't ring true for me.

To the Church in Laodicea (v. 14-22)

You are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, so I will spit you out of my mouth.

This reminds me of a sermon from when I was a child, the preacher said he would rather have people leave the church than stay in it and be on the fence. He would rather have people leave the church than stay in the church and be apathetic. He wanted everyone to be "on fire for God".

Guzik tries to paint the lukewarm message as saying that compromise is bad. That just seems like a really shitty message to put forward. He also says they have been cooled down by their "apathy and self-reliance". Apathy I'm with him on, it can be bad, but since when is self-reliance bad? The only way I can see self-reliance being a negative, is from the perspective of someone who wants you dependent upon them so they can control you.

You are rich, but you are actually poor in spirit.

What did we learn today?


Revelation 3:2,3 The end is near, although you can't be sure exactly when

"strengthen what remains and is about to die...I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you."

Revelation 3:10-11 Jesus is returning soon

"...I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon...."


  1. About those false Jews, as I read your summary I was wondering if they were using the term "Jew" like we use the term "Christian" today. In other words, back in the early days, if you were a Gentile and decided to follow the teachings of Jesus and claim Him as your Savior, you called yourself a "Jew" because, spiritually speaking, you were under the promise of salvation allegedly given to Abraham. If that is the case, then these false Jews really just represent the "bad apples" in the church. This is just like how you likely know some people who claim to be Christian, and yet carry on leading fairly immoral lives in one aspect or another.

    1. Oh, that is quite interesting. So perhaps this is equivalent to a baptist saying that a methodist isn't really a christian (those 2 denominations were chosen completely at random). So I guess a follow up question would be "when did the term 'christian' become a label people would use?"


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