Revelation 3:20
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Revelation

CHRIST AT THE DOOR

Revelation 3:20.

Many of us are familiar, I dare say, with the devoutly imaginative rendering of the first part of these wonderful words, which we owe to the genius of a living painter. In it we see the fast shut door, with rusted hinges, all overgrown with rank, poisonous weeds, which tell how long it has been closed. There stands, amid the night dews and the darkness, the patient Son of man, one hand laid on the door, the other bearing a light, which may perchance flash through some of its chinks. In His face are love repelled, and pity all but wasted; in the touch of His hand are gentleness and authority.

But the picture pauses, of course, at the beginning of my text, and its sequel is quite as wonderful as its first part. ‘I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me.’ What can surpass such words as these? I venture to take this great text, and ask you to look with me at the three things that lie in it; the suppliant for admission; the door opened; the entrance, and the feast.

I. Think, then, first of all, of that suppliant for admission.

I suppose that the briefest explanation of my text is sufficient. Who knocks? The exalted Christ. What is the door? This closed heart of man. What does He desire? Entrance. What are His knockings and His voice? All providences; all monitions of His Spirit in man’s spirit and conscience; the direct invitations of His written or spoken word; in brief, whatsoever sways our hearts to yield to Him and enthrone Him. This is the meaning, in the fewest possible words, of the great utterance of my text.

Here is a revelation of a universal truth, applying to every man and woman on the face of the earth; but more especially and manifestly to those of us who live within the sound of Christ’s gospel and of the written revelations of His grace. True, my text was originally spoken in reference to the unworthy members of a little church of early believers in Asia Minor, but it passes far beyond the limits of the lukewarm Laodiceans to whom it was addressed. And the ‘any man’ which follows is wide enough to warrant us in stretching out the representation as far as the bounds of humanity extend, and in believing that wherever there is a closed heart there is a knocking Christ, and that all men are lightened by that Light which came into the world.

Upon that I do not need to dwell, but I desire to enforce the individual bearing of the general truth upon our own consciences, and to come to each with this message: The saying is true about thee, and at the door of thy heart Jesus Christ stands, and there His gentle, mighty hand is laid, and on it the flashes of His light shine, and through the chinks of the unopened door of thy heart comes the beseeching voice, Open! Open unto Me.’ A strange reversal of the attitudes of the great and of the lowly, of the giver and of the receiver, of the Divine and of the human! Christ once said, Knock and it shall be opened unto you.’ But He has taken the suppliant’s place, and, standing by the side of each of us. He beseeches us that we let Him bless us, and enter in for our rest.

So, then, there is here a revelation, not only of a universal truth, but a most tender and pathetic disclosure of Christ’s yearning love to each of us. What do you call that emotion which more than anything else desires that a heart should open and let it enter? We call it love when we find it in one another. Surely it bears the same name when it is sublimed into all but infinitude, and yet it is as individualizing and specific as it is great and universal, as it is found in Jesus Christ. If it be true that He wants me, if it be true that in that great heart of His there are a thought and a wish about His relation to me, and mine to Him, then, then, each of us is grasped by a love that is like our human love, only perfected and purified from all its weaknesses.

Now we sometimes feel, I am afraid, as if all that talk about the love which Jesus Christ has to each of us was scarcely a prose fact. There is a woeful lack of belief among us in the things that we profess to believe most. You are all ready to admit, when I preach it, that it is true that Jesus Christ loves us. Have you ever tried to realize it, and lay it upon your hearts, that the sweetness and astoundingness of it may soak into you, and change your whole being? Oh! listen, not to my poor, rough notes, but to His infinitely sweet and tender melody of voice, when He says to you, as if your eyes needed to be opened to perceive it, ‘Behold! I stand at the door and knock.’

There is a revelation in the words, dear friends, of an infinite long-suffering and patience. The door has long been fastened; you and I have, like some lazy servant, thought that if we did not answer the knock, the Knocker would go away when He was weary. But we have miscalculated the elasticity and the unfailingness of that patient Christ’s lore. Rejected, He abides; spurned, He returns. There are men and women who all their lives long have known that Jesus Christ coveted their love, and yearned for a place in their hearts, and have steeled themselves against the knowledge, or frittered it away by worldliness, or darkened it by sensuality and sin. And they are once more brought into the presence of that rejected, patient, wooing Lord, who courts them for their souls, as if they were, which indeed they are, too precious to be lost, as long as there is a ghost of a chance that they may still listen to His voice. The patient Christ’s wonderfulness of long-suffering may well bow us all in thankfulness and in penitence. How often has He tapped or thundered at the door of your heart, dear friends, and how often have you neglected to open? Is it not of the Lord’s mercies that the rejected or neglected love is offered you once more? and the voice, so long deadened and deafened to your ears by the rush of passion, and the hurry of business, and the whispers of self, yet again appeals to you, as it does even through my poor translation of it.

And then, still further, in that thought of the suppliant waiting for admission there is the explanation for us all of a great many misunderstood facts in our experience. That sorrow that darkened your days and made your heart bleed, what was it but Christ’s hand on the door? Those blessings which pour into your life day by day ‘beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye yield yourselves living sacrifices.’ That unrest which dogs the steps of every man who has not found rest in Christ, what is it but the application of His hand to the obstinately closed door? The stings of conscience, the movements of the Spirit, the definite proclamation of His Word, even by such lips as mine, what are they all except His appeals to us? And this is the deepest meaning of joys and sorrows, of gifts and losses, of fulfilled and disappointed hopes. This is the meaning of the yearning of Christless hearts, of the stings of conscience which come to us all. ‘Behold! I stand at the door and knock.’ If we understood better that all life was guided by Christ, and that Christ’s guidance of life was guided by His desire that He should find a place in our hearts, we should less frequently wonder at sorrows, and should better understand our blessings. /^ The boy Samuel, lying sleeping before the light in the inner sanctuary, heard the voice of God, and thought it was only the grey-bearded priest that spoke. We often make the same mistake, and confound the utterances of Christ Himself with the speech of men. Recognize who it is that pleads with you; and do not fancy that when Christ speaks it is Eli that is calling; but say, ‘Speak, Lord! for Thy servant heareth.’ ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.’



II. And that leads me, secondly, to ask you to look at the door opened.



I need not enlarge upon what I have already suggested, the universality of the wide promise here - ‘If any man open the door’; but what I want rather to notice is that, according to this representation, ‘the door’ has no handle outside, and is so hinged that it opens from within, outwards. Which, being taken out of metaphor and put into fact, means this, you are the only being that can open the door for Christ to come in. The whole responsibility, brother, of accepting or rejecting God’s gracious Word, which comes to you all in good faith, lies with yourself.

I am not going to plunge into theological puzzles, but I appeal to consciousness. You know as well as I do - better a great deal, for it is yourself that is in question - that at each time when your heart and conscience have been brought in contact with the offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, if you had liked you could have opened the door, and welcomed His entrance. And you know that nobody and nothing kept it fast except only yourselves. ‘Ye will not come to Me,’ said Christ, ‘that ye might have life.’ Men^ indeed, do pile up such mountains of rubbish against the door that it cannot be opened, but it was they that put them there; and they are responsible if the hinges are so rusty that they will not move, or the doorway is so clogged that there is no room for it to open. Jesus Christ knocks, but Jesus Christ cannot break the door open. It lies in your hands to decide whether you will take or whether you will reject that which He brings.

The door is closed, and unless there be a definite act on your parts it will not be opened, and He will not enter. So we come to this, that to do nothing is to keep your Saviour outside; and that is the way in which most men that miss Him do miss Him.

I suppose there are very few of us who have ever been conscious of a definite act by which, if I might adhere to the metaphor, we have laid hold of the door on the Inside, and held it tight lest it should be opened. But, I fear me, there are many who have sat in the inner chamber, and heard the gracious hand on the outer panel, and have kept their hands folded and their feet still, and done nothing. Ah! brethren, to do nothing is to do the most dreadful of things, for it is to keep the shut door shut in the face of Christ. No passionate antagonism is needed, no vehement rejection, no intellectual denial of His truth and His promises. If you want to ruin yourselves, you have simply to do nothing! All the dismal consequences will necessarily follow.

‘Well,’ you say, ‘but you are talking metaphors; let us come to plain facts. What do you want me to do? ‘I want you to listen to the message of an infinitely loving Christ who died on the Cross to bear the sins of the whole world, including you and me; and who now lives, pleading with each of us from heaven that we will take by simple faith, and keep by holy obedience, the gift of eternal life which He offers, and He alone can give. The condition of His entrance is simple \ trust in Him, as the Saviour of my soul. That is opening the door, and if you will do that, then, just as when you open the shutters, in comes the sunshine; just as when you lift the sluice in flows the crystal stream into the slimy, empty lock, so - I was going to say by gravitation, rather by the diffusive impulse that belongs to light, which is Christ - He will enter in, wherever He is not shut out by unbelief and aversion of will.

III. And so that brings me to my last point, viz., the entrance and the feast.

My text is a metaphor, but the declaration that ‘if any man open the door’ Jesus Christ ‘will come in to him,’ is not a metaphor, but is the very heart and centre of the Gospel, ‘I will come in to him,’ dwell in him, be really incorporated in his being, or inspirited, if I may so say, in his spirit. Now you may think that that is far too recondite and lofty a thought to be easily grasped by ordinary people, but its very loftiness should recommend it to us. I, for my part, believe that there is no more prose fact in the whole world than the actual dwelling of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is in heaven, in the spirits of the people that love Him and trust Him. And this is one great part of the Gospel that I have to preach to you, that into our emptiness He will come with His fullness; that into our sinfulness He will come with His righteousness; that into our death He will come with His triumphant and immortal life; and He being in us and we in Him, we shall be full and pure and live for ever, and be blessed with the blessedness of Jesus. So remember that embedded in the midst of the wonderful metaphor of my text lies the fact, which is the very centre of the Gospel hope, the dwelling of Jesus Christ in the hearts even of poor sinful creatures like you and me.

But it comes into view here only as the basis of the subsequent promises, and on these I can only touch very briefly, ‘I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me.’ Well, that speaks to us in lovely, sympathetic language of a close, familiar, happy communication between Christ and my poor self, which shall make all life as a feast in company with Him. We remember who is the mouthpiece of Jesus Christ here. It is the disciple who knew most of what quietness of blessedness and serenity of adoring communion there were in leaning on Christ’s breast at supper, casting back his head on that loving bosom; looking into those deep sad eyes, and asking questions which were sure of answer. And John, as he wrote down the words ‘I will sup with him, and he with Me,’ perhaps remembered that upper room where, amidst all the bitter herbs, there was such strange joy and tranquility. But whether he did or no, may we not take the picture as suggesting to us the possibilities of loving fellowship, of quiet repose, of absolute satisfaction of all desires and needs, which will be ours if we open the door of our hearts by faith and let Jesus Christ come in?

But, note, when He does come He comes as guest. ‘I will sup with him.’ ‘He shall have the honour of providing that of which I partake.’ Just as upon earth He said to the Samaritan woman, ‘Give Me to drink,’ or sat at the table, at the modest village feast in Bethany, in honour of the miracle of a man raised from the dead, and smiled approval of Martha serving, as of Lazarus sitting at table, and of Mary anointing Him, so the humble viands, the poor man’s fare that our resources enable us to lay upon His table, are never so small or poor for Him to delight in. This King feasts in the neatherd’s cottage, and He will even condescend to turn the cakes. ‘I will sup with Him.’ We cannot bring anything so coarse, so poor, so unworthy, if a drop or two of love has been sprinkled over it, but that it will be well-pleasing in His sight, and He Himself will partake thereof. ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner.’

But more than that, where He is welcomed as guest. He assumes the place of host. ‘I will sup with him, and he with Me.’ You remember how, after the Resurrection, when the two disciples, moved to hospitality, implored the unknown Stranger to come in and partake of their humble fare, He yielded to their importunity, and when they were in the guest chamber, took His place at the head of the table, and blessed the bread and gave it to them. You remember how, in the beginning of His miracles, He manifested forth His glory in this, that, invited as a common guest to the rustic wedding, He provided the failing wine. And so, wherever a poor man opens his heart and says, ‘Come in,’ and I will give Thee my ‘best,’ Jesus Christ comes in, and gives the man His best, that the man may render it back to Him. He owes nothing to any man. He accepts the poorest from each, and He gives the richest to each. He is Guest and Host, and what He accepts from us is what He has first given to us.

The promise of my text is fulfilled immediately when the door of the heart is opened, but it shadows and prophesies a nobler fulfilment in the heavens. Here and now Christ and we may sit together, but the feast will be like the Passover, eaten with loins girt and staves in hand, and the Red Sea and wilderness waiting to be trodden. But there comes a more perfect form of the communion, which finds its parallel in that wonderful scene when the weary fishers, all of whose success had depended on their obedience to the Master’s direction, discerned at last, through the grey of the morning, who it was that stood upon the shore, and, struggling to His side, saw there a fire of coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread, to which they were bidden to add their modest contribution in the fish that they had caught; and the meal being thus prepared partly by His hand and partly by theirs, ennobled and filled by Him, His voice says, ‘Come and dine.’ So, brethren, Christ at the last will bring His servants to His table in His kingdom, and there their works shall follow them; and He and they shall sit together for ever, and for ever ‘rejoice in the fatness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple.’

I beseech you, listen not to my poor voice, but to His that speaks through it, and when He knocks do you open, and Christ Himself shall come in. ‘If any man love Me he will keep My commandments, and My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our abode with him.’ Revelation 3:20-21. Behold, I stand — Or, I have stood, as εστηκα literally signifies, namely, for a long time and I still stand, even at this instant; at the door — Of men’s hearts; and knock — Waiting for admittance: if any man hear my voice — With a due regard, namely, the voice of my providence, word, and Spirit; and open the door — Willingly receive me, or welcome me with the affection due to such a friend and Saviour; I will come in to him — And dwell in his heart by faith, (Ephesians 3:17,) how mean soever his circumstances in life may be, and how faulty soever his character may have been formerly; and will sup with him — Refreshing him with the gifts and graces of my Spirit, and delighting myself in what I have given; and he with me — As I will sup with him here, he shall sup with me in life everlasting hereafter. For to him that overcometh — The various temptations with which he is assaulted, and patiently bears the trials which he is called to pass through; will I grant to sit down with me on my throne — In unspeakable happiness and glory in the heavenly and eternal world; even as I also overcame — The enemies which violently assaulted me in the days of my flesh; and am set down with my Father in his throne — For all things that the Father hath are mine.3:14-22 Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, The Amen; one steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion; while others would conclude it could afford no real satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; Because thou sayest. What a difference between their thoughts of themselves, and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves. Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags that would defile them. They were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the garments of holiness and sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply interesting to all men.Behold, I stand at the door, and knock - Intimating that, though they had erred, the way of repentance and hope was not closed against them. He was still willing to be gracious, though their conduct had been such as to be loathsome, Revelation 3:16. To see the real force of this language, we must remember how disgusting and offensive their conduct had been to him. And yet he was willing, notwithstanding this, to receive them to his favor; nay more, he stood and pled with them that he might be received with the hospitality that would be shown to a friend or stranger. The language here is so plain that it scarcely needs explanation. It is taken from an act when we approach a dwelling, and, by a well-understood sign - knocking - announce our presence, and ask for admission. The act of knocking implies two things:

(a) that we desire admittance; and,

(b) that we recognize the right of him who dwells in the house to open the door to us or not, as he shall please.

We would not obtrude upon him; we would not force his door; and if, after we are sure that we are heard, we are not admitted, we turn quietly away. Both of these things are implied here by the language used by the Saviour when he approaches man as represented under the image of knocking at the door: that he desires to be admitted to our friendship; and that he recognizes our freedom in the matter. He does not obtrude himself upon us, nor does he employ force to find admission to the heart. If admitted, he comes and dwells with us; if rejected, he turns quietly away - perhaps to return and knock again, perhaps never to come back. The language used here, also, may be understood as applicable to all persons, and to all the methods by which the Saviour seeks to come into the heart of a sinner. It would properly refer to anything which would announce his presence: his word; his Spirit; the solemn events of his providence; the invitations of his gospel. In these and in other methods he comes to man; and the manner in which these invitations ought to be estimated would be seen by supposing that he came to us personally and solicited our friendship, and proposed to be our Redeemer. It may be added here, that this expression proves that the attempt at reconciliation begins with the Saviour. It is not that the sinner goes out to meet him, or to seek for him; it is that the Saviour presents himself at the door of the heart, as if he were desirous to enjoy the friendship of man. This is in accordance with the uniform language of the New Testament, that "God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son"; that "Christ came to seek and to save the lost"; that the Saviour says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," etc. Salvation, in the Scriptures, is never represented as originated by man.

If any man hear my voice - Perhaps referring to a custom then prevailing, that he who knocked spake, in order to let it be known who it was. This might be demanded in the night Luke 11:5, or when there was apprehension of danger, and it may have been the custom when John wrote. The language here, in accordance with the uniform usage in the Scriptures (compare Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17), is universal, and proves that the invitations of the gospel are made, and are to be made, not to a part only, but fully and freely to all people; for, although this originally had reference to the members of the church in Laodicea, yet the language chosen seems to have been of design so universal (ἐάν τις ean tis) as to be applicable to every human being; and anyone, of any age and in any land, would be authorized to apply this to himself, and, under the protection of this invitation, to come to the Saviour, and to plead this promise as one that fairly included himself. It may be observed further, that this also recognizes the freedom of man. It is submitted to him whether he will hear the voice of the Redeemer or not; and whether he will open the door and admit him or not. He speaks loud enough, and distinctly enough, to be heard, but he does not force the door if it is not voluntarily opened.

And open the door - As one would when a stranger or friend stood and knocked. The meaning here is simply, if anyone will admit me; that is, receive me as a friend. The act of receiving him is as voluntary on our part as it is when we rise and open the door to one who knocks. It may be added:

(1) that this is an easy thing. Nothing is more easy than to open the door when one knocks; and so everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented as an easy thing, if the heart is willing, to secure the salvation of the soul.

(2) this is a reasonable thing.

We invite him who knocks at the door to come in. We always assume, unless there is reason to suspect the contrary, that he applies for peaceful and friendly purposes. We deem it the height of rudeness to let one stand and knock long; or to let him go away with no friendly invitation to enter our dwelling. Yet how different does the sinner treat the Saviour! How long does he suffer him to knock at the door of his heart, with no invitation to enter - no act of common civility such as that with which he would greet even a stranger! And with how much coolness and indifference does he see him turn away - perhaps to come back no more, and with no desire that he ever should return!

I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me - This is an image denoting intimacy and friendship. Supper, with the ancients, was the principal social meal; and the idea here is, that between the Saviour and those who would receive him there would be the intimacy which subsists between those who sit down to a friendly meal together. In all countries and times, to eat together, to break bread together, has been the symbol of friendship, and this the Saviour promises here. The truths, then, which are taught in this verse, are:

(1) that the invitation of the gospel is made to all - "if any man hear my voice";

(2) that the movement toward reconciliation and friendship is originated by the Saviour - "behold, I stand at the door and knock";

(3) that there is a recognition of our own free agency in religion - "if any man will hear my voice, and open the door";

(4) the ease of the terms of salvation, represented by "hearing his voice," and "opening the door"; and,

continued...

20. stand—waiting in wonderful condescension and long-suffering.

knock—(So 5:2). This is a further manifestation of His loving desire for the sinner's salvation. He who is Himself "the Door," and who bids us "knock" that it may be "opened unto" us, is first Himself to knock at the door of our hearts. If He did not knock first, we should never come to knock at His door. Compare So 5:4-6, which is plainly alluded to here; the Spirit thus in Revelation sealing the canonicity of that mystical book. The spiritual state of the bride there, between waking and sleeping, slow to open the door to her divine lover, answers to that of the lukewarm Laodicea here. "Love in regard to men emptied (humbled) God; for He does not remain in His place and call to Himself the servant whom He loved, but He comes down Himself to seek him, and He who is all-rich arrives at the lodging of the pauper, and with His own voice intimates His yearning love, and seeks a similar return, and withdraws not when disowned, and is not impatient at insult, and when persecuted still waits at the doors" [Nicolaus Cabasilas in Trench].

my voice—He appeals to the sinner not only with His hand (His providences) knocking, but with His voice (His word read or heard; or rather, His Spirit inwardly applying to man's spirit the lessons to be drawn from His providence and His word). If we refuse to answer to His knocking at our door now, He will refuse to hear our knocking at His door hereafter. In respect to His second coming also, He is even now at the door, and we know not how soon He may knock: therefore we should always be ready to open to Him immediately.

if any man hear—for man is not compelled by irresistible force: Christ knocks, but does not break open the door, though the violent take heaven by the force of prayer (Mt 11:12): whosoever does hear, does so not of himself, but by the drawings of God's grace (Joh 6:44): repentance is Christ's gift (Ac 5:31). He draws, not drags. The Sun of righteousness, like the natural sun, the moment that the door is opened, pours in His light, which could not previously find an entrance. Compare Hilary on Psalm 118:19.

I will come in to him—as I did to Zaccheus.

sup with him, and he with me—Delightful reciprocity! Compare "dwelleth in me, and I in Him," Joh 6:56. Whereas, ordinarily, the admitted guest sups with the admitter, here the divine guest becomes Himself the host, for He is the bread of life, and the Giver of the marriage feast. Here again He alludes to the imagery of So 4:16, where the Bride invites Him to eat pleasant fruits, even as He had first prepared a feast for her, "His fruit was sweet to my taste." Compare the same interchange, Joh 21:9-13, the feast being made up of the viands that Jesus brought, and those which the disciples brought. The consummation of this blessed intercommunion shall be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, of which the Lord's Supper is the earnest and foretaste.

There is a double interpretation of this text, each of them claiming under very valuable interpreters; some making it a declaration of Christ’s readiness to come in to souls, and to give them a spiritual fellowship and communion with himself; others interpreting it of Christ’s readiness to come to the last judgment, and to take his saints into an eternal joyful fellowship and communion with himself: hence there is a different interpretation of every sentence in the text.

I stand at the door; either, in my gospel dispensations, I stand at the door of sinners’ hearts; or, I am ready to come to judge the world.

And knock, by the inward monitions and impressions of my Spirit, or my ministers more externally; or, I am about to knock, that is, I am ready to have the last trump sounded.

If any man hear my voice, and open the door; that is, if any man will hearken to the counsels and exhortations of my ministers, and to the monitions of my Spirit, and not resist my Holy Spirit; or, if any man hath heard my voice, and opened his heart to me.

I will come in to him; I will come in by my Spirit, and all the saving influences of my grace; or, I will come to him as a Judge to acquit him.

And will sup with him, and he with me; and I will have a communion with him in this life, he shall eat my flesh, and drink my blood; or, I will have an eternal fellowship and communion with him in my glory. The phrase seems rather to favour the first sense; the so frequent mention before of Christ’s coming to judgment, and the reward of another life, as arguments to persuade the angels of the churches to their duty, favours the latter sense. Behold, I stand at the door and knock,.... The phrase of standing at the door may be expressive of the near approach, or sudden coming of Christ to judgment, see James 5:9; and his knocking may signify the notice that will be given of it, by some of the immediate forerunners and signs of his coming; which yet will be observed but by a few, such a general sleepiness will have seized all professors of religion; and particularly may intend the midnight cry, which will, in its issue, rouse them all:

if any man hear my voice; in the appearances of things and providences in the world:

and open the door; or show a readiness for the coming of Christ, look and wait for it, and be like such that will receive him with a welcome:

I will come unto him, and sup with him, and he with me; to and among these will Christ appear when he comes in person; and these being like wise virgins, ready, having his grace in their hearts, and his righteousness upon them, he will take them at once into the marriage chamber, and shut the door upon the rest; when they shall enjoy a thousand years communion with him in person here on earth; when the Lamb on the throne will feed them with the fruit of the tree of life, and lead them to fountains of living water, and his tabernacle shall be among them.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: {14} 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.

(14) This must be taken after the manner of an allegory; Joh 14:23.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 3:20. If the epistle to the church at Laodicea be regarded as having a design differing in no essential point from that of the other epistles, neither can Revelation 3:20 be regarded the epilogue,[1620] which rather comprises only Revelation 3:21-22, nor can the eschatological sense in Revelation 3:20, which is properly made prominent by Ebrard, be denied, as is usually done. The ἸΔΟΎ ἝΣΤΗΚΑ ἘΠῚ ΤῊΝ ΘΎΡΑΝ ΚΑῚ ΚΡΟΎΩ, Κ.Τ.Λ., is essentially nothing else than the ἘΡΧΟΜΑΙ ΤΑΧΎ, or ἭΞΩ with its paracletic applications.[1621] The door before which the Lord stands, and asks entrance by his knock (ΚΡΟΎΩ) and call (cf. ἈΚ. Τ. ΦΩΝῆς ΜΟΥ), is ordinarily understood as the door of the heart,[1622] and, accordingly, the ΚΡΟΎΕΙΝ, as the preaching of the gospel,[1623] the movements occasioned by the Holy Spirit,[1624] while special providential dispensations, are also added.[1625] The ἘΙΣΕΛΕΎΣΟΜΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ., is not then understood in its full personal sense,[1626] and the ΔΕΙΠΝΉΣΩ limited either entirely to the blessed communion of believers with the Lord in this life,[1627] or, as is entirely out of place, to the communion in the present and the future life.[1628] The latter reference Beng. obtains by understanding the ΔΕΙΠΝ. ΜΕΤʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ of the earthly, and the Κ. ΑὐΤ. ΜΕΤ ἘΜΟῦ of the heavenly life. In their peculiar nature the ΚΡΟΎΕΙΝ and the ΦΩΝΉ of the Lord, whereby he asks entrance, are not distinct from the ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ and ΠΑΙΔΕΎΕΙΝ, Revelation 3:19, just as it is from the same love that he does both the former and the latter. His coming is near; he stands already before the door. And he wishes the church at Laodicea also to be prepared to receive him, in order that he may not come in judgment,[1629] but to enter therein, and hold with it the feast of blessed communion.[1630] The sense, especially of the formula ΔΕΙΠΝ. ΜΕΤʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ Κ. ΑὐΤῸς ΜΕΤʼ ἘΜΟῪ, expressing the complete communion of the one with the other, is that of John 17:24; Colossians 3:4.[1631]

An immediate connection with Song of Solomon 5:2[1632] is not discernible; although it is incorrectly asserted[1633] that in the N. T. in general, and in the Apoc. especially, no trace whatever of the Song of Solomon can be detected. Ebrard, appropriately: “The figure (of the wedding), or this idea together with the general doctrine of the relation of Christ to his Church as bridegroom, depends upon the Song of Solomon.” But in our passage the idea, in general, of Christ as bridegroom is not definitely expressed.[1634] [See Note XLI., p. 184.]

[1620] Vitr.

[1621] Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16, Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:11. Cf. also Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:22 sq.

[1622] N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., Stern, Aret., Grot., Calov., Vitr., Ew., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[1623] Aret, etc.

[1624] De Wette.

[1625] Hengstenb.

[1626] Grot.: “Jesus Christ, where he sends his Spirit.”

[1627] N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., Grot., Hengstenb., etc.

[1628] Vitr., Calov., Stern, etc.

[1629] Cf. Revelation 3:3; Revelation 2:5.

[1630] Cf. ch. 19; Matthew 25:1 sqq.

[1631] Cf., on both passages, in the preceding verses, the corresponding description of the earthly fellowship of faith with the Lord.

[1632] Hengstenb.; several ancient expositors.

[1633] Ew., De Wette.

[1634] Especially against Eichh., Heinr.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLI. Revelation 3:20. ἰδοὺ ἔστηκα, κ.τ.λ.

Alford, on the contrary: “The reference to Song of Solomon 5:2 is too plain to be for a moment doubted; and, if so, the interpretation must be grounded in that conjugal relation between Christ and the Church,

Christ and the soul,—of which that mysterious book is expressive. This being granted, we may well say that the vivid depiction of Christ standing at the door is introduced to bring home to the lukewarm and careless church the truth of his constant presence, which she was so deeply forgetting. His knocking was taking place, partly by the utterance of these very rebukes, partly by every interference in justice and mercy.” Trench: “The very language which Christ uses here, the κρούειν ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν, the summons ἀνοίγειν recurs. Nor is the relation between the one passage and the other merely superficial and verbal. The spiritual condition of the bride there is, in fact, precisely similar to that of the Laodicean angel here. Between sleeping and waking, she has been so slow to open the door, that, when at length she does so, the Bridegroom has withdrawn. This exactly corresponds to the lukewarmness of the angel here. Another proof of the connection between them is, that, although there has been no mention of any thing but a knocking here, Christ goes on to say, ‘If any man hear my voice.’ What can this be but an allusion to the words in the canticle, which have just gone before: ‘It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh’?”

The reference, by Bengel, of the δειπνήσω to the communion both in this life and the life to come, may have found, in the distinction between μετʼ αὐτοῦ and μετʼ ἐμοῦ, more than is intended; nevertheless, we can see, in this passage, only the blessed communion with God begun here on earth, and consummated in heaven,—not two communions, but one, at two different stages. Gebhardt (p. 127) finds the thought of the Lord’s Supper suggested. Luthardt’s brief notes refer to Luke 12:36; interpreting the knocking as the impending return of the Lord, the opening of the door, by suggesting the familiar hymn of Paul Gerhardt,—

“Oh, how shall I receive thee?”—

and the supping, by the Lord’s Supper in the kingdom of God (Matthew 26:29; Luke 22:29-30).

In connection with the ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ τῆς φωνῆς, Trench’s remarks are important as to the incompatibility of this passage with any doctrine of irresistible grace; as well as his warning against the Pelagian error, “as though men could open the door of their heart when they would, as though repentance was not itself a gift of the exalted Saviour (Acts 5:31). They can only open when Christ knocks, and they would have no desire at all to open unless he knocked.… This is a drawing, not a dragging; a knocking at the door, not a breaking open the heart.” So Gerhard (L. T., ii. 275): “When God, by his word, knocks at the door of our heart, especially by the proclamation of his law, the grace of the Holy Spirit is at the same time present, who wishes to work conversion in our heart; and therefore, in his knocking, he not only stands without, but also works within.”Revelation 3:20. The language recalls Song of Solomon 5:2 (φωνὴ ἀδελφιδοῦ μου κρούει ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν· ἄνοιξον μοι, for contemporary evidence of the allegorical use of Canticles see Gunkel’s note on 4 Esdras. 5:20 f. and Bacher’s Agada d. Tannaiten, i. 109, 285 f. 425, etc.) interpreted in the eschatological sense (γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν ἐπὶ θύραις Mark 13:29 = Matthew 24:33) of the logion in Luke 12:35-38 upon the servants watching for their Lord, ἵνα ἐλθόντος καὶ κρούσαντος εὐθέως ἀνοίξωσιν αὐτῷ (whereupon, as here, he grants them intimate fellowship with himself and takes the lead in the matter). To eat with a person meant, for an Oriental, close confidence and affection. Hence future bliss (cf. En. lxii. 14) was regularly conceived to be a feast (cf. Dalman i. § 1, [910]. 4 a and Volz 331), or, as in Luke 22:29-30 and here (cf. Revelation 3:21), feasting and authority. This tells against the otherwise attractive hypothesis that the words merely refer to a present repentance on the part of the church or of some individuals in it (so e.g. de Wette, Alf., Weiss, Simcox, Scott), as if Christ sought to be no longer an outsider but a welcome inmate of the heart (cf. Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies, § 95). The context (cf. 18 and 21), a comparison of Revelation 16:15 (which may even have originally lain close to Revelation 3:20), and the words of Jam 5:9 (ἰδοὺ ὁ κριτὴς πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν ἕστηκεν) corroborate the eschatological interpretation (so e.g. Düsterdieck, Pfleid., Bousset, Forbes, Baljon, Swete, Holtzmann), which makes this the last call of Christ to the church when he arrives on the last day, though here Christ stands at the door not as a judge but as a friend. Hence no reference is made to the fate of those who will not attend to him. In Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16, ἔρχομαι σοι need not perhaps be eschatological, since the coming is conditional and special, but ἔρχομαι by itself (Revelation 3:11) and ἥξω (Revelation 2:25) must be, while Revelation 3:3 probably is also, in view of the context and the thief-simile. The imminent threat of Revelation 3:16 is thus balanced by the urgency of Revelation 3:20. For the eschatological ἰδού cf. Revelation 1:7, Revelation 16:15, Revelation 21:3, Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12. φωνῆς, implying that the voice is well-known. To pay attention to it, in spite of self-engrossment and distraction, is one proof of the moral alertness (ζήλευε) which means repentance. For the metaphorical contrast (reflecting the eternal paradox of grace) between the enthroned Christ of 21 and the appealing Christ of 20, cf. the remarkable passage in Sap. 9:4; 9:6 f., 10 f., where wisdom shares God’s throne and descends to toil among men; also Seneca’s Epp. lxi. (quemadmodum radii solis contingunt quidem terram, sed ibi sunt unde mittuntur; sic animus magnus et sacer conüersatur quidem nobiscum, sed haeret origini suae [Revelation 5:6]: illinc pendet, illuc spectat ac nititur, nostris tanquam melior interest). By self-restraint, moderation, and patience, with regard to possessions, a man will be some day a worthy partner of the divine feast, says Epictetus (Enchir. xv.): “but if you touch none of the dishes set before you and actually scorn them, τότε οὐ μόνον ἔσει συμπότης θεῶν ἀλλὰ καὶ συνάρχων.

[910] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.20. I stand at the door, and knock] The Lord expresses His affection, from which He has intimated that the Laodiceans are not excluded, by this figure of intense and condescending tenderness. It is intended to remind the readers of Song of Solomon 5:2 : but the figure of the lover’s midnight visit is too delicate to bear being represented, as here, with a mixture of the thing signified with the image, especially since the visit is not to the Church, personified as a single female, but to any individual, and of either sex; so it is toned down into a visit from a familiar friend.

hear My voice] It is implied that anyone is sure to hear His knock, and be roused to ask who is there: but only those who love Him will know His voice (as Rhoda did St Peter’s, Acts 12:14) when He says “It is I.”

will sup] The blessing promised is a secret one to the individual. There can thus hardly be a reference to the Holy Eucharist, which is shared publicly by the whole Church.

with him, and he with Me] The sense is, “I will take all he has to give Me, as though I had need of it, and benefited by it (cf. Matthew 25:37-40): but at the same time, it will really be I that give the feast, and he that receives it.” There can hardly be a better illustration than a quaint and touching legend, given in a little book called Patranas, or Spanish Stories, with the title “Where one can dine, two can dine.”Revelation 3:20. Ἰδοὺ—, behold—) The observation respecting retrograde order depends almost entirely upon this very increase of close approach, respecting which see Erkl. Off.Verse 20. - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; behold, I have stood (ἕστηκα) at the door, and am knocking (κρούω). "These gracious words declare the long-suffering of Christ, as he waits for the conversion of sinners (1 Peter 3:20); and not alone the long-suffering which waits, but the love which seeks to bring that conversion about, which 'knocks.' He at whose door we ought to stand, for he is the Door (John 10:7), who, as such, has bidden us to knock (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9), is content that the whole relation between him and us should be reversed, and instead of our standing at his door, condescends himself to stand at ours" (Trench). The view, that stand at the door signifies "to come quickly" (Dusterdieck), as in Revelation 2:5, 16; Revelation 3:3, 11, is scarcely in accordance with the context, since the whole passage has changed from rebuke and menace to patient beseeching and loving exhortation. These words recall the frequent use by our Lord of this figure of knocking, and especially Luke 12:35, 36, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." 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 (see the parallel passage in Song of Solomon 5.). Christ knocks and speaks. A distinction has been drawn in the work of conversion, corresponding to these two actions. The knocking is likened to the more outward calls of sickness, trouble, etc., by which he makes his presence known; while the voice, which interprets the knock and informs us of the Personality of him who knocks, is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to us, and explaining the meaning of our trials. Man's free will is here well and plainly set forth. Though the opening, to be effective, needs the help and presence of Christ, yet he does not forcibly effect an entrance; it is still within the power of man to disregard the knock, to refuse to hear the voice, to keep the door fast shut. To take food with any one is an outward sign of brotherly love and reconciliation. Christ will sup with those who do not drive him away, and they will sup with him. The whole figure is an image of the perfect nature of the sinner's reconciliation with God, and of the wonderful goodness and condescension of Christ. But we may well see an allusion to the Holy Communion, by which we are reconciled to God through Christ, and by which we may even now have a foretaste of the final supper of the Lamb, which shall eventually last for ever. I stand at the door and knock

Compare Sol 5:2, Κρούω I knock was regarded as a less classical word than κόπτω. Κρούω is to knock with the knuckles, to rap; κόπτω, with a heavy blow; ψοφεῖν of the knocking of some one within the door, warning one without to withdraw when the door is opened. Compare James 5:9. "He at whose door we ought to stand (for He is the Door, who, as such, has bidden us to knock), is content that the whole relation between Him and us should be reversed, and, instead of our standing at His door, condescends Himself to stand at ours" (Trench). The Greeks had a word θυραυλεῖν for a lover waiting at the door of his beloved. Trench cites a passage from Nicolaus Cabasilas, a Greek divine of the fourteenth century: "Love for men emptied God (Philippians 2:7). For He doth not abide in His place and summon to Himself the servant whom He loved; but goes Himself and seeks him; and He who is rich comes to the dwelling of the poor, and discloses His love, and seeks an equal return; nor does He withdraw from him who repels Him, nor is He disgusted at his insolence; but, pursuing him, remains sitting at his doors, and that He may show him the one who loves him, He does all things, and sorrowing, bears and dies."

My voice

Christ not only knocks but speaks. "The voice very often will interpret and make intelligible the purpose of the knock" (Trench).

Hear - open the door

No irresistible grace.

Will sup (δειπνήσω)

See on Luke 14:12. For the image, compare Sol 5:2-6; Sol 4:16; Sol 2:3. Christ is the Bread of Life, and invites to the great feast. See Matthew 8:11; Matthew 25:1 sqq. The consummation will be at the marriage-supper of the Lamb (Mark 14:25; Revelation 19:7-9).

He with me

It is characteristic of John to note the sayings of Christ which express the reciprocal relations of Himself and His followers. See John 6:56; John 10:38; John 14:20; John 15:4, John 15:5; John 17:21, John 17:26. Compare John 14:23.

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