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even in Sardis, which have not 5 He that overcometh, the defiled their garments; and they same shall be clothed in white shall walk with me in white; raiment; and I will not blot out for they are worthy.
his name out of the book of life,
heathen were said to call on the name raiment was white as the light; Matt. of their gods. We read in Acts i. 15: xvii. 2. The angels are supposed to " And in those days Peter stood up in be clothed in white; Matt. xxviii. 3 ; the midst of the disciples, and said, Acts i. 10. Thus the redeemed are (the number of the names together said, in the verse before us, to walk were about a hundred and twenty.”) with Christ in white, i. e., all pure. Here names again are put for per- The same sense is expressed in the
The word names, it is possi- following verse. — See Dr. Campbell's ble, may have been used, in the verse note on John xvii. 11. before us, in reference to the roll of 5. Overcometh. This is another the church, in the following sense : instance of the phraseology of John. “ Thou hast a few names enrolled, Compare 1 John v. 4, 5, with Rev. ii. even in Sardis, which have not defiled 7, 11, 17, 26 ; iii. 5, 12, 21; xxi. 7. their garments.” 1 Even in Sardis. White raiment. See the remarks
Here the city is referred to as a under the preceding verse. White very wicked place; it seems to have raiment was supposed by the Jews to been somewhat remarkable that even be worn in the presence of God; and a few were found there. From all heralds from the invisible world are that is said of Sardis in the Apoca- clothed in white raiment in the delypse, we should conclude that of the scriptions of the sacred writers. The seven Apocalyptic churches, this had four-and-twenty elders, that sat round fallen fürthest from Christ. They about the throne, were clothed in had the reputation of living, but were white raiment, and had crowns of dead, with the exception of the few gold upon their heads; Rev. iv. 4. names referred to; and these were White raiment was a mark of purity, certainly worthy of the greater praise distinction, and honor. It was a sign for showing such an example of stead of acceptance with God. Hence men fastness in the midst of a general de- were exhorted to obtain it; Rev. iii. cline. Walk with me in white.. 18. The wedding garment, menGarments are used to represent the tioned Matt. xxii. 11, 12, was a long conduct and character of men. Sin white robe; and garments of that is sometimes expressed under the kind, in many cases, especially at the idea of nakedness; Rev. iii. 17; and weddings of the rich, were prepared sometimes under that of mean cloth- and presented to the guests. See ing; Job viii. 22; Rev. xvi. 15. But Whittemore's Illus. of Par., 289—291. righteousness and purity are spoken Out of the book of life. - Here it is of as clean, pure, beautiful garments. presumed that his name was in the Men called on to leave their sins and book of life, - the promise is, that it turn to righteousness, are exhorted to shall be retained there. The greater put on their beautiful garments ; Isa. part of the names attached to the lii. 1. So the saints are said to walk church in Sardis were to be blotted in white, the emblem of purity. “Let out; but a few had the promise that thy garments be always white;" Eccl. their names should not be affected by ix. 8. “ Though your sins be as scar- this expurgating process. The names let, they shall be white as snow;" Isa. of God's servants are supposed meti. 18. The Ancient of Days had on aphorically to be enrolled in a book. garments white as snow; Dan. vii. It was the custom of earthly kings to 9. When Jesus was transfigured, his keep rolls of those they had under
but I will confess his name be- him hear what the Spirit saith fore my Father, and before his unto the churches. angels.
7 And to the angel of the 6 He that hath an ear, let church in Philadelphia write:
their command. In cities, also, these this way they should be confessed rolls were kept ; and those who had before the Father, and before his the honor of being admitted to free angels.
Christ himself had predom and citizenship were enrolled in viously expressed the same thing in the public register. If at any time similar words. “ Whosoever, therethey did that which was treasonable, fore, shall confess me before men, then their names might be erased, him will I confess also before my and they were no longer confessed Father which is in heaven. But before the world, and before the sove. whosoever shall deny me before men, reign, to be members of the city. him will I also deny before my From these customs, which were Father which is in heaven;" Matt. very ancient, came the scriptural x. 32, 33. As if he had said, “If phrase, book of life. God's chosen you be faithful, I will own you, as people and church are represented my disciples, before my Father and under the figure of a city. He is his angels, - I will acknowledge you represented as keeping a roll of his in the most public manner ; but if friends, from which the names of the you fall into sin, or indifference, if unfaithful would be erased. Moses' you, in this manner, deny me, then I prayer was founded on this metaphor. shall disown you. Your name shall * And Moses returned unto the Lord, be erased from the roll of my fol. and said, Oh, this people have sinned lowers ; I shall not confess you, but a great sin, and have made them deny you, as you have denied me.” gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt, Such seems to be the import of the forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, verse. While men will not be ChrisI pray thee, out of thy book which tians, they certainly ought not to be thou hast written;" Exod. xxxii. 31, acknowledged as such. 32; comp. Rom. ix. 3. The phrase 6. He that hath an ear. - See the “ book of life” is peculiarly expres- remarks on Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 29. sive. It signifies the roll of the living, – the roll of those who had EPISTLE been raised to the enjoyment of spiritual life; and, as the greater part of 7. Philadelphia. — The ancient city the church in Sardis had only a name bearing this name was east of Sardis to live, (i. e., their names were still about 28 miles. It was in that kept on the roll,) while they were section of Asia Minor called Lydia, really dead, their names were to be and was named from Attalus Philaerased from the book of life; while delphus, king of Pergamos, by whom the names of those few who still en. it was founded. It siood on a branch joyed their spiritual life should be of Mount Tmolus, by the river Cogretained there. The phrase “book of amus. Strabo relates, that in his life” may be found Phil. iv. 3 ; Rev. time, which was not far from the date iii. 5; xiii. 8; _xx. 12, 15; xxi. 27; of the Apocalypse, this city had sufxxii. 19. But I will confess his fered much by frequent earthquakes.
This is the counterpart of In 1312 it resisted the Turkish armies the blotting out. The unfaithful more successfully than the other cities should have their names blotted out. of maritime Asia ; but at length sunk On the contrary, the faithful should under the common calamity. It is have their names retained ; and in I now a mean, but considerable town,
These things saith he that is and shutteth, and no holy, he that is true, he that openeth : hath the key of David, he that 8 I know thy works; behold, openeth, and no man shutteth ; I have set before thee an open
called Ala-Shehr; and contains from antiquity. The gods and goddesses a thousand to fifteen hundred Greeks of the heathen had their key-bearers. and Christians, who have a bishop But it is peculiarly an appropriate and several inferior ecclesiastics. metaphor when applied to the Lord | He that is holy. — The reference Jesus. He accused those who prehere is unquestionably to the Son of vented men from entering the kingGod. He was the Holy One, whom dom of heaven, of taking away "the the Father anointed, and set apart, key of knowledge;", Luke xi. 52. for the great work of human redemp- He had the key of knowledge, and tion. See Acts iii. 14; iv. 27, 30. hence he said to the people, " Knock,
He that is true.- This refers to the and it shall be opened unto you ;" same personage. The phraseology is Matt. vii. 7. Isaiah prophesied of peculiarly that of the apostle John. him, “That he should bring out the See 1 Epis. v. 20:“And we know prisoners from the prison, and them that the Son of God is come, and that sit in darkness out of the prison hath given us an understanding, that house ;" xlii. 7. And again, the we may know him that is true; and same prophet says, speaking in the we are in him that is true, even in name of Jesus, "He hath sent me to his Son Jesus Christ.” This is al- bind up the broken-hearted, to promost the precise language employed claim liberty to the captives, and the in the Apocalypse. Jesus called opening of the prison to them that are himself the way, the truth, and the bound;" lxi. 1. Such being one of life;" John xiv. 6; and one of the principal offices for which the ReJohn's favorite expressions in regard deemer came into the world, how apto him was, "He that is true.” See propriate is the metaphor of the key. also Rev. xix. 11. | Hath the key of The Saviour, then, probably intended David.. There seems to be a refer- that, like the individual mentioned in ence here to Isaiah xxii. 22. " And Isa. xxii. 22, he had a key which conthe key of the house of David will I ferred on him the power to shut, and lay upon his shoulder : so he shall no man could open, — to open, and open, and none shall shut; and he no man could shut. The lock was shall shut, and none shall open.” supposed to be one which no other The key was a mark of office, either key would fit, and which could not be sacred or civil. It is certainly an opened by any other means. Such agent of power. With the key to a was the power of the key mentioned dungeon, men may open it, and dis- in the passage referred to; and Jesus charge all the inmates. With the intended to say that he had the same key of a coffer, or casket, they may power. have access to all the treasures there- 8. I know thy works.
This was in contained. If a man be invested said to all the churches. The meanwith a key, therefore, it is a sign that ing is, “I know what thou doest, and great confidence is reposed in him, the motives by which thou art govand great power is conferred upon erned.” Or, as it is said in another him. He can open, and none can place, “I the Lord search the heart, I shut, — he can shut, and none can try the reins, even to give every man open. The key, therefore, has been according to his ways, and according used metaphorically, as a sign of to the fruit of his doings ;" Jer. xvii. confidence and power, from long | 10. And so again, Rev. ii. 23, “I door, and no man can shut it; 9 Behold, I will make them for thou hast a little strength, of the synagogue of Satan, and hast kept my word, and which say they are Jews, and hast not denied my name. are not, but do lie; behold, I am he which searcheth the reins and have the power to throw any insur. hearts; and I will give unto every mountable obstacles in their way? one of you according to your works." || A little strength. — Notwithstand. | An open door. — In the preceding ing all this church had suffered, it verse it was said, that Jesus had the had not been effectually crushed. It key of David ; that he opened, and no had some strength left. It had shown man could shut; that he shut, and no decisive signs of spiritual life, even man could open. After having as- in its worst condition, for it had been serted the possession of this power, faithful,
,-more so, perhaps, than eithhe then said, “I have set before thee er of the other seven churches. |Hast an open door, and no man can shut kept my word. — This is the proof of it." The meaning of this is, we what we have said. They had held think, “I will make thy way plain fast the gospel; they had not rebefore thee; I will remove every ob- nounced the word of Christ. | Hast stacle ; I, who alone can do this, will not denied my name. - This is a furdo it in thy behalf.” To open a door ther proof of their steadfastness. in the metaphorical sense, is to give From all that is said, we are clearly a man liberty to pursue his proper of the opinion, that this church had vocation without hindrance; to give shown a firmer devotion to Christ free course to him in his pursuits. than any other of the seven. When God took away the obstacles 9. Synagogue of Satan. - We have which had prevented the preaching once before been called on to notice of the gospel to the Gentiles, it is this phrase. See the notes on ii. 9. A said, “he had opened the door of synagogue of Satan signifies a wickfaith” to them; Acts xiv. 27. So ed synagogue, a synagogue of adver. when Paul met with much success at saries, the synagogue being put for Ephesus, and was induced thereby to the worshippers therein. TWhich prolong his stay there, he said," I say they are Jenos. There were cerwill tarry at Ephesus until Pente- tain persons at Philadelphia who cost; for a great door and effectual is claimed to be pious Jews, and were opened unto me, and there are many outwardly very devout. But they adversaries;" 1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9. He had were not truly the children of Abraopportunity to preach the gospel ; and ham. They were Jews outwardly, notwithstanding the many adversa- or by descent; but were not Jews in ries, he met with much success. See, the dignified and noble sense of the also, 2 Cor. ii. 12. When Paul prayed expression. John had learned this that a “door of utterance” might be distinction from his master. During opened to him, Col. iv. 3, he meant the ministry of Christ certain Jews that he desired great liberty to preach boasted to him that they were Abrathe gospel.
When, therefore, the ham's seed; but Jesus said in reply, Son of God promised to the Philadel- “ If ye were Abraham's children, ye phian church that he would set before would do the works of Abraham ;-) them an open door, and no man could John viii. 39. He did not mean to shut it, did it not mean, that he would deny that they were the posterity of give them full liberty in their proper Abraham; but they were not his Christian duties; that they should children in character. « Ye are of have free course and be glorified; your father the devil, and the lusts and that their enemies should not of your father ye will do: he was a
will make them to come and will keep thee from the hour of worship before thy feet, and to temptation, which shall come know that I have loved thee. upon all the world, to try them
10 Because thou hast kept that dwell upon the earth. the word of my patience, I also 11 Behold, I come quickly :
murderer from the beginning, and impatient. Paul said to the Thessaabode not in the truth; because there lonians, that he gloried in them, “ for is no truth in him. When he speak- their patience and faith in all their eth a lie, he speaketh of his own: for persecutions and tribulations ;” ? he is a liar, and the father of it;" Epis. i. 4. And again, “ The Lord Idem, 44. Possibly John had these direct your hearts into the love of facts in his mind when he wrote the God, and into the patient waiting for passage in the Apocalypse which we Christ;" Idem, iii. 5. See also Jas. are considering, - .“ Which say they v. 7, 8. | Hour of temptation. are Jews, and are not, but do lie. This was to be the reward of their I Worship before thy feet. - I will patience; and it was certainly a very make them do thee homage. They natural one. They were to be preare now thine oppressors; they per- served from the hour, or season, of secute thee; they cause thee to be temptation. Their severest trials, cast into prison; thus proving, by perhaps, had not then fallen upon their works, that they are not possessed them. But Jesus promised them of true religion, but are in fact the help to bear them safely through. synagogue of Satan. They shall The troubles to which he referred be humbled ; and shall come and were doubtless those that were to atbow before thee. | Know that I have tend his coming. | All the world. loved thee. — They shall see so many The troubles were to come on all the proofs of the protection of Heaven world, to try them that dwelt on the extended out in thy behalf, that when earth. The word here (oikoumene) I come in my glory, and they are signified the inhabited world, — the cast down, they shall see that I have Roman empire; to try them that loved thee.
dwelt in the earth, or land to which 10. The word of my patience. - We the judgment was confined. This think the meaning here is, the word was not a judgment in the immortal in which I have enjoined the duty of state ; but here on the earth. It was patience, illustrated by my example. a judgment simultaneous with the It was necessary for Christ and his coming of Christ; and it was said it apostles to enjoin the duty of patience would try them that dwelt upon the on their fainting followers. Jesus said earth.” to them, in his memorable discourse 11. Behold, I come quickly. – This concerning the destruction of Jeru- shows that the troubles mentioned in salem, “ And ye shall be hated of all the preceding verse were the troubles men for my name's sake. But there attending the coming of the Lord shall not a hair of your head perish. Jesus. The invariable language In your patience possess ye your which our Lord used concerning his souls. And when ye shall see Jeru- coming showed that it was near when salem compassed with armies, then he was on the earth. It was still know that the desolation thereof is nearer when the Apocalypse was nigh;" Luke xxi. 17-20. The per- written. Again and again, we are secution would be so ardent, and the told in that book, it was to transpire hope of escape from it at the coming of quickly See i. 1, 3, and the notes Christ would be so strong, that Jesus on those passages. See also xxii. 6, feared his disciples would become \ 7, 10, 12, 20. How unwise do those