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1: The seven spirits of God - The Holy Spirit, from whom
alone all spiritual life and strength proceed. And the seven
stars - which are subordinate to him. Thou hast a name that
thou livest - A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance.
But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty
appearance vanishes before him.
2: The things which remain - In thy soul; knowledge of the
truth, good desires, and convictions. Which were ready to die
- Wherever pride, indolence, or levity revives, all the fruits
of the Spirit are ready to die.
3: Remember how - Humbly, zealously, seriously. Thou
didst receive the grace of God once, and hear - His word. And
hold fast - The grace thou hast received. And repent - According
to the word thou hast heard.
4: Yet thou hast a few names - That is, persons. But
though few, they had not separated themselves from the rest;
otherwise, the angel of Sardis would not have had them. Yet
it was no virtue of his, that they were unspotted; whereas
it was his fault that they were but few. Who have not defiled
their garments - Either by spotting themselves, or by partaking
of other men's sins. They shall walk with me in white - in joy;
in perfect holiness; in glory. They are worthy - A few good among
many bad are doubly acceptable to God. O how much happier is
this worthiness than that mentioned, (Re 16:6).
5: He shall be clothed in white raiment - The colour of
victory, joy, and triumph. And I will not blot his name out
of the book of life - Like that of the angel of the church at
Sardis: but he shall live for ever. I will confess his name - As
one of my faithful servants and soldiers.
7: The holy one, the true one - Two great and glorious names
He that hath the key of David - A master of a family, or a prince,
has one or more keys, wherewith he can open and shut all the
doors of his house or palace. So had David a key, a token of
right and sovereignty, which was afterward adjudged to Eliakim,(Isa 22:22). Much more has Christ, the Son of David, the
key of the spiritual city of David, the New Jerusalem; the
supreme right, power, and authority, as in his own house.
He openeth this to all that overcome, and none shutteth: he
shutteth it against all the fearful, and none openeth. Likewise
when he openeth a door on earth for his works or his servants,
none can shut; and when he shutteth against whatever would hurt
or defile, none can open.
8: I have given before thee an opened door - To enter into
the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every
good work. Thou hast a little strength - But little outward human
strength; a little, poor, mean, despicable company. Yet thou
hast kept my word - Both in judgment and practice.
9: Behold, I - who have all power; and they must then
comply. I will make them come and bow down before thy feet - Pay
thee the lowest homage. And know - At length, that all depends
on my love, and that thou hast a place therein. O how often
does the judgment of the people turn quite round, when the
Lord looketh upon them! (Job 42:7), &c.
10: Because thou hast kept the word of my patience - The
word of Christ is indeed a word of patience. I also will keep
thee - O happy exemption from that spreading calamity! From the
hour of temptation - So that thou shalt not enter into temptation;
but it shall pass over thee. The hour denotes the short time of
its continuance; that is, at any one place. At every one it was
very sharp, though short; wherein the great tempter was not
idle, (Re 2:10).
Which hour shall come upon the whole earth - The whole Roman empire.
It went over the Christians, and over the Jews and heathens;
though in a very different manner. This was the time of the
persecution under the seemingly virtuous emperor Trajan. The
two preceding persecutions were under those monsters, Nero
and Domitian; but Trajan was so admired for his goodness, and
his persecution was of such a nature, that it was a temptation
indeed, and did throughly try them that dwelt upon the earth.
11: Thy crown - Which is ready for thee, if thou endure
to the end.
12: I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God - I
will fix him as beautiful, as useful, and as immovable as a
pillar in the church of God. And he shall go out no more - But
shall be holy and happy for ever. And I will write upon him
the name of my God - So that the nature and image of God shall
appear visibly upon him. And the name of the city of my God
- Giving him a title to dwell in the New Jerusalem. And my
new name - A share in that joy which I entered into, after
overcoming all my enemies.
14: To the angel of the church at Laodicea - For these
St. Paul had had a great concern, (Col 2:1).
These things saith the Amen - That is, the True One, the God of
truth. The beginning - The Author, Prince, and Ruler. Of the
creation of God - Of all creatures; the beginning, or Author, by
whom God made them all.
15: I know thy works - Thy disposition and behaviour,
though thou knowest it not thyself. That thou art neither
cold - An utter stranger to the things of God, having no care
or thought about them. Nor hot - As boiling water: so ought we
to be penetrated and heated by the fire of love. O that thou
wert - This wish of our Lord plainly implies that he does not
work on us irresistibly, as the fire does on the water which
it heats. Cold or hot - Even if thou wert cold, without any
thought or profession of religion, there would be more hope
of thy recovery.
16: So because thou art lukewarm - The effect of lukewarm
water is well known. I am about to spue thee out of my mouth
- I will utterly cast thee from me; that is, unless thou repent.
17: Because thou sayest - Therefore "I counsel thee," &c.
I am rich - In gifts and grace, as well as worldly goods. And
knowest not that thou art - In God's account, wretched and pitiable.
18: I counsel thee - who art poor, and blind, and naked.
To buy of me - Without money or price. Gold purified in the
fire - True, living faith, which is purified in the furnace of
affliction. And white raiment - True holiness. And eyesalve
- Spiritual illumination; the "unction of the Holy One," which
teacheth all things.
19: Whomsoever I love - Even thee, thou poor Laodicean!
O how much has his unwearied love to do! I rebuke - For what
is past. And chasten - That they may amend for the time to come.
20: I stand at the door, and knock - Even at this instant;
while he is speaking this word. If any man open - Willingly
receive me. I will sup with him - Refreshing him with my graces
and gifts, and delighting myself in what I have given. And he
with me - In life everlasting.
21: I will give him to sit with me on my throne - In
unspeakable happiness and glory. Elsewhere, heaven itself
is termed the throne of God: but this throne is in heaven.
22: He that hath an ear, let him hear, &c. - This stands
in the three former letters before the promise; in the four
latter, after it; clearly dividing the seven into two parts;
the first containing three, the last, four letters. The titles
given our Lord in the three former letters peculiarly respect
his power after his resurrection and ascension, particularly
over his church; those in the four latter, his divine glory,
and unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Again, this
word being placed before the promises in the three former
letters, excludes the false apostles at Ephesus, the false
Jews at Smyrna, and the partakers with the heathens at Pergamos,
from having any share therein. In the four latter, being placed
after them, it leaves the promises immediately joined with
Christ's address to the angel of the church, to show that the
fulfilling of these was near; whereas the others reach beyond
the end of the world. It should be observed, that the
overcoming, or victory, (to which alone these peculiar promises
are annexed,) is not the ordinary victory obtained by every
believer; but a special victory over great and peculiar
temptations, by those that are strong in faith.