1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The letter to the church at Sardis follows next, in Revelation 3:1- 6. Here, John alluded to the seven manifestations of the Spirit and seven stars in Jesus’ hand to remind the church at Sardis that Jesus had all power and authority. John drew attention to the authority of Jesus because his evaluation of this church was so severe.
Consider Revelation 3:1-3:
You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God… If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief.
The city of Sardis had a reputation as a strong fortress, but on two occasions it had been captured by surprise. And Jesus warned that he would do something similar to the church in Sardis if they failed to repent. He would come as a thief, attacking them by surprise. But for those who remained faithful to him, Christ promised purity, vindication, and reward.
Jesus’ letter to the church in Philadelphia appears in Revelation 3:7-13. In this letter, John introduced Jesus as the one who holds the keys of David, meaning that Jesus can open the doors of David’s kingdom to admit those he wishes, and lock the doors to keep others out. Jesus’ words to this church were positive, but they also included an implicit warning.
In Revelation 3:8, he gave them this assurance:
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.
Christ had set before this church an open door, giving them an unobstructed opportunity to grow and develop spiritually. If they would take advantage of this open door, Christ would make their enemies bow down at their feet, and the Philadelphian believers would inherit the New Jerusalem. And God’s name would be written on them, meaning that they would be his forever. But by implication, if they didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, they wouldn’t receive these blessings.
Next, we find Jesus’ letter to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. In this letter, John described Jesus as the one whose words are the ultimate Amen, that is, Jesus is the ultimate trustworthy authority. John also described Jesus as the faithful and true witness, and the ruler of God’s creation. This description was designed to make the Laodicean believers pay attention, because their evaluation would be very negative.
Consider what Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Laodicea was a wealthy city located between the cities of Colossae and Hierapolis. Both Colossae and Hierapolis were well known for having special water supplies. Colossae had cool waters from mountain springs; Hierapolis had hot springs. Both of these waters were thought to have healing powers. But the water in Laodicea was lukewarm, without any healing powers. Jesus drew from these physical realities to make a spiritual point: the Laodicean church was wealthy, but their wealth had taken away their spiritual strength. This church needed to repent, or Jesus would reject them.