Revelation 3:21
To him that overcomes 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) To him that overcometh ... .—He will share Christ’s throne as Christ shared His Father’s throne. Here are two thrones mentioned. My throne, saith Christ: this is the condition of glorified saints who sit with Christ in His throne. “But My Father’s (i.e., God’s) throne is the power of divine majesty.” Herein none may sit but God, and the God-man Jesus Christ. The promise of sharing the throne is the climax of an ascending series of glorious promises, which carry the thought from the Garden of Eden (Revelation 2:7) through the wilderness (Revelation 2:17), the temple (Revelation 3:12), to the throne. The promise bears marked resemblance to the language of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Ephesians 2:6). This crowning promise is made to the most unpleasing of the churches. But it is well that thus the despondency which often succeeds the sudden collapse of self-satisfied imaginations should be met by so bright a prospect. Though their religion has been proved an empty thing, there is a hope which may well drive away despair. “The highest place is within the reach of the lowest; the faintest spark of grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame of divine love.”

Revelation

VII. - THE VICTOR’S SOVEREIGNTY

Revelation 3:21.

The Church at Laodicea touched the lowest point of Christian character. It had no heresies, but that was not because it clung to the truth, but because it had not life enough to breed even them. It had no conspicuous vices, like some of the other communities. But it had what was more fatal than many vices - a low temperature of religious life and feeling, and a high notion of itself. Put these two things together - they generally go together - and you get the most fatal condition for a Church. It is the condition of a large part of the so-called ‘Christian world’ to-day, as that very name unconsciously confesses; for ‘world’ is the substantive, and ‘Christian’ only the adjective, and there is a great deal more ‘world’ than ‘Christian’ in many so-called ‘Churches.’

Such a Church needed, and received, the sharpest rebuke. A severe disease requires drastic treatment. But the same necessity which drew forth the sharp rebuke drew forth also the loftiest of the promises. If the condition of Laodicea was so bad, the struggle to overcome became proportionately greater, and, consequently, the reward the larger. The least worthy may rise to the highest position. It was not to the victors over persecution at Smyrna, or over heresies at Thyatira, nor even to the blameless Church of Philadelphia, but it was to the faithful in Laodicea, who had kept the fire of their own devotion well alight amidst the tepid Christianity round them, that this climax of all the seven promises is given.

In all the others Jesus Christ stands as the bestower of the gift. Here He stands, not only as the bestower, but as Himself participating in that which He bestows. The words beggar all exposition, and I have shrunk from taking them as my text. We seem to see in them, as if looking into some sun with dazzled eyes, radiant forms moving amidst the brightness, and in the midst of them one like unto the Son of man. But if my words only dilute and weaken this great promise, they may still help to keep it before your own minds for a few moments. So I ask you to look with me at the two great things that are bracketed together in our text; only I venture to reverse the order of consideration, and think of -

I. The Commander-in-Chiefs conquest and royal repose.

‘I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.’ It seems to me that, wonderful as are all the words of my text, perhaps the most wonderful of them all are those by which the two halves of the promise are held together - ‘Even as I also.’ The Captain of the host takes His place in the ranks, and, if I may so say, shoulders His musket like the poorest private. Christ sets Himself before us as pattern of the struggle, and as pledge of the victory and reward. Now let me say a word about each of the two halves of this great thought of our Lord’s identification of Himself with us in our fight, and identification of us with Him in His victory.

As to the former, I would desire to emphasize, with all the strength that I can, the point of view from which Jesus Christ Himself, in these final words from the heavens, directed to all the Churches, looks hack upon His earthly career, and bids us think of it as a true conflict. You remember how, in the sanctities of the upper room, and ere yet the supreme moment of the crucifixion had come, our Lord said, when within a day of the Cross and an hour of Gethsemane, ‘I have overcome the world.’ This is an echo of that never-to be-forgotten utterance that the aged Apostle had heard when leaning on his Master’s bosom in the seclusion and silence of that sacred upper chamber. Only here our Lord, looking back upon the victory, gathers it all up into one as a past thing, and says, ‘I overcame,’ in those old days long ago.

Brethren, the orthodox Christian is tempted to think of Jesus Christ in such a fashion as to reduce His conflict on earth to a mere sham fight. Let no supposed theological necessities induce you to weaken down in your thoughts of Him what He Himself has told us - that He, too, struggled, and that He, too, overcame. That temptation in the wilderness, where the necessities of the flesh and the desires of the spirit were utilized by the Tempter as weapons with which His unmoved obedience and submission were assailed, was repeated over and over again all through His earthly life. We believe - at least I believe - that Jesus Christ was in nature sinless, and that temptation found nothing in Him on which it could lay hold, no fuel or combustible material to which it could set light. But, notwithstanding, inasmuch as He became partaker of flesh and blood, and entered into the limitations of humanity, His sinlessness did not involve His incapacity for being tempted, nor did it involve that His righteousness was not assailed, nor His submission often tried. We believe - or at least I believe - that He ‘did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ But I also reverently listen to Him unveiling, so far as may need to be unveiled, the depths of His own nature and experience, and I rejoice to think that He fought the good fight, and Himself was a soldier in the army of which He is the General. He is the Captain, the Leader, of the long procession of heroes of the faith; and He is the ‘perfecter’ of it, inasmuch as His own faith was complete and unbroken.

But I may remind you, too, that from this great word of condescending self-revelation and identification, we may well learn what a victorious life really is. ‘I overcame’; but from the world’s point of view He was utterly beaten. He did not gather in many who would listen to Him or care for His words. He was misunderstood, rejected; lived a life of poverty; died when a young man, a violent death; was hunted by all the Church dignitaries of His generation as a blasphemer, spit upon by soldiers, and execrated after His death. And that is victory, is it? Well, then, we shall have to revise our estimates of what is a conquering career. If He, the pauper-martyr, if He, the misunderstood enthusiast, if He conquered, then some of our notions of a victorious life are very far astray.

Nor need I say a word, I suppose, about the completeness, as well as the reality, of that victory of His. From heaven He claims in this great word just what He claimed on earth, over and over again, when He fronted His enemies with, Which of you convinceth Me of sin? ‘and when He declared in the sanctities of His confidence with His friends, ‘I do always the things that please Him.’ The rest of us partially overcome, and partially are defeated. He alone bears His shield out of the conflict undinted and unstained. To do the will of God, to dwell in continual communion with the Father, never to be hindered by anything that the world can present or my sins can suggest, whether of delightsome or dreadful, from doing the will of the Father in heaven from the heart - that is victory, and all else is defeat. And that is what the Captain of our salvation, and only He, did.

Turn for a moment now to the other side of our Lord’s gracious identification of Himself with us. ‘Even as I also am set down with My Father in His throne.’ That points back, as the Greek original shows even more distinctly, to the historical fact of the Ascension. It recalls the great words by which, with full consciousness of what He was doing, Jesus Christ sealed His own death-warrant in the presence of the Sanhedrim when He said: ‘Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power.’ It carries us still further back to the psalm which our Lord Himself quoted, and thereby stopped the mouths of Scribes and Pharisees: ‘The Lord said unto My Lord, sit Thou at My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’ He laid His hand upon that great promise, and claimed that it was to be fulfilled in His case. And here, stooping from amidst the blaze of the central royalty of the Universe, He confirms all that He had said before, and declares that He shares the Throne of God.

Now, of course, the words are intensely figurative and have to be translated as best we can, even though it may seem to weaken and dilute them, into less concrete and sensible forms than the figurative representation. But I think we shall not be mistaken if we assert that, whatever lies in this great statement far beyond our conception in the present, there lie in it three things - repose, royalty, communion of the most intimate kind with the Father.

There is repose. You remember how the first martyr saw the opened heavens and the ascended Christ, in that very hall, probably, in which Christ had said, ‘Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power.’ But Stephen, as he declared, with rapt face smitten by the light into the likeness of an angel’s, saw Him standing at the right hand. We have to combine these two images, incongruous as they are in prose, literally, before we reach the conception of the essential characteristic of that royal rest of Christ’s. For it is a repose that is full of activity. ‘My Father worketh hitherto,’ said He on earth, ‘and I work.’ And that is true with regard to His unseen and heavenly life. The verses which are appended to the close of Mark’s gospel draw a picture for us - ‘They went everywhere preaching the Word ‘: He sat at ‘the right hand of God.’ The two halves do not fuse together. The Commander is in repose; the soldiers are bearing the brunt of the fight. Yes! but then there comes the word which links the two halves together. ‘They went everywhere preaching, the Lord also working with them.’

Christ’s repose indicates, not merely the cessation from, but much rather the completion of. His work on earth, which culminated on the Cross; which work on earth is the basis of the still mightier work which He is doing’ in the heavens. So the Apostle Paul sets up a great ladder, so to speak, which our faith climbs by successive stages, when he says, ‘He that died - yea, rather that is risen again - who is even at the right hand of God- who also maketh intercession for us.’ His repose is full of beneficent activity for all that love Him.

Again, there is set forth royalty, participation in Divine dominion. The highly metaphorical language of our text, and of parallel verses elsewhere, presents this truth in two forms. Sometimes we read of ‘sitting at the right hand of God’; sometimes, as here, we read of ‘sitting on the throne.’ The ‘right hand of God’ is everywhere. It is not a local designation. ‘The right hand of the Lord’ is the instrument of His omnipotence, and to speak of Christ as sitting on the right hand of God is simply to cast into symbolical words the great thought that He wields the forces of Divinity. When we read of Him as enthroned on the Throne of God, we have, in like manner, to translate the figure into this overwhelming and yet most certain truth, that the Man Christ Jesus is exalted to supreme, universal dominion, and that all the forces of omnipotent Divinity rest in the hands that still bear, for faith, the prints of the nails.

But again that session of Christ with the Father suggests the thought, about which it becomes us not to speak, of a communion with the Father - deep, intimate, unbroken, beyond all that we can conceive or speak. We listen to Him when He says, ‘Glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.’ We bow before the thought that what He asked in that prayer was the lifting of one of ourselves, the humanity of Jesus, into this inseparable unity with the very glory of God. And then we catch the wondrous words: ‘Even as I also.’

II. That brings me to the second of the thoughts here, which may be more briefly disposed of after the preceding exposition, and that is, the private soldier’s share in the Captain’s victory and rest. ‘I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also.’

Now with regard to the former of these, our share in Christ’s triumph and conquest, I only wish to say one thing, and it is this. I thankfully recognize that to many who do not share with me in what I believe to be the teaching of Scripture, viz., the belief that Christ was more than example, their partial belief, as I think it, in Him as the realized ideal, the living Pattern of how men ought to live, has given strength for far nobler and purer life than could otherwise have been reached. But, brethren, it seems to me that we want a great deal more than a pattern, a great deal closer and more intimate union with the Conqueror than the mere setting forth of the possibility of a perfect life as realized in Him, ere we can share in His victory. What does it matter to me, after all, except for stimulus and for rebuke, that Jesus Christ should have lived the life? Nothing. But when we can link the words in the upper room, ‘I have overcome,’ and the words from heaven, ‘Even as I also overcame,’ with the same Apostle’s words in his epistle, ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,’ then we share in the Captain’s victory in an altogether different manner from that which they do who can see in Him only a pattern that stimulates and inspires. For if we put our trust in that Saviour, then the very life which was in Christ Jesus, and which conquered the world in Him, will pass into us; and the law of the spirit of life in Christ will make us more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

And then the victory being secured, because Christ lives in us and makes us victorious, our participation in His throne is secure likewise.

There shall be repose, the cessation of effort, the end of toil. There shall be no more aching heads, strained muscles, exhausted brains, weary hearts, dragging feet. There will be no more need for resistance. The helmet will be antiquated, the laurel crown will take its place. The heavy armour, that rusted the garment over which it was braced, will be laid aside, and the trailing robes, that will contract no stain from the golden pavements, will be the attire of the redeemed. We have all had work enough, and weariness enough, and battles enough, and beatings enough, to make us thankful for the thought that we shall sit on the throne.

But if it is a rest like His, and if it is to be the rest of royalty, there will be plenty of work in it; work of the kind that fits us and is blessed. I know not what new elevation, or what sort of dominion will be granted to those who, instead of the faithfulness of the steward, are called upon to exercise the activity of the Lord over ten cities. I know not, and I care not; it is enough to know that we shall sit on His throne.

But do not let us forget the last of the thoughts: ‘They shall sit with Me.’ Ah! there you touch the centre - ‘To depart and to be with Christ, which is far better’; ‘Absent from the body; present with the Lord.’ We know not how. The lips are locked that might, perhaps, have spoken; only this we know, that, not as a drop of water is absorbed into the ocean and loses its individuality, shall we be united to Christ. There will always be the two, or there would be no blessedness in the two being one; but as close as is compatible with the sense of being myself, and of His being Himself, will be our fellowship with Him. ‘He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.’

Brethren, this generation would be a great deal the better for thinking more often of the promises and threatenings of Scripture with regard to the future. I believe that no small portion of the lukewarmness of the modern Laodicea is owing to the comparative neglect into which, in these days, the Christian teachings on that subject have fallen. I have tried in these sermons on these seven promises to bring them at least before your thoughts and hearts. And I beseech you that you would, more than you have done, ‘have respect unto the recompense of reward,’ and let that future blessedness enter as a subsidiary motive into your Christian life.

We may gather all these promises together, and even then we have to say, ‘the half hath not been told us.’ ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be.’ Symbols and negations, and these alone, teach us the little that we know about that future; and when we try to expand and concatenate these, I suppose that our conceptions correspond to the reality about as closely as would the dreams of a chrysalis as to what it would be when it was a butterfly. But certainty and clearness are not necessarily united. ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him.’ Take ‘even as I also’ for the key that unlocks all the mysteries of that glorious future. ‘It is enough for the servant that he be as his Master.’ 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.To him that overcometh - See the notes on Revelation 2:7.

Will I grant to sit with me in my throne - That is, they will share his honors and his triumphs. See the notes on Revelation 2:26-27; compare the notes on Romans 8:17.

Even as I also overcame - As I gained a victory over the world, and over the power of the tempter. As the reward of this, he is exalted to the throne of the universe Philippians 2:6-11, and in these honors, achieved by their great and glorious Head, all the redeemed will share.

And am set down with my Father in his throne - Compare the notes on Philippians 2:6-11. That is, he has dominion over the universe. All things are put under his feet, and in the strictest unison and with perfect harmony he is united with the Father in administering the affairs of all worlds. The dominion of the Father is that of the Son - that of the Son is that of the Father; for they are one. See the notes on John 5:19; compare the Ephesians 1:20-22 notes; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 notes.

21. sit with me in my throne—(Re 2:26, 27; 20:6; Mt 19:28; 20:23; Joh 17:22, 24; 2Ti 2:12). The same whom Christ had just before threatened to spue out of His mouth, is now offered a seat with Him on His throne! "The highest place is within reach of the lowest; the faintest spark of grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame of love" [Trench].

even as I also—Two thrones are here mentioned: (1) His Father's, upon which He now sits, and has sat since His ascension, after His victory over death, sin, the world; upon this none can sit save God, and the God-man Christ Jesus, for it is the incommunicable prerogative of God alone; (2) the throne which shall be peculiarly His as the once humbled and then glorified Son of man, to be set up over the whole earth (heretofore usurped by Satan) at His coming again; in this the victorious saints shall share (1Co 6:2). The transfigured elect Church shall with Christ judge and reign over the nations in the flesh, and Israel the foremost of them; ministering blessings to them as angels were the Lord's mediators of blessing and administrators of His government in setting up His throne in Israel at Sinai. This privilege of our high calling belongs exclusively to the present time while Satan reigns, when alone there is scope for conflict and for victory (2Ti 2:11, 12). When Satan shall be bound (Re 20:4), there shall be no longer scope for it, for all on earth shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest. This, the grandest and crowning promise, is placed at the end of all the seven addresses, to gather all in one. It also forms the link to the next part of the book, where the Lamb is introduced seated on His Father's throne (Re 4:2, 3; 5:5, 6). The Eastern throne is broad, admitting others besides him who, as chief, occupies the center. Trench notices; The order of the promises in the seven epistles corresponds to that of the unfolding of the kingdom of God its first beginnings on earth to its consummation in heaven. To the faithful at Ephesus: (1) The tree of life in the Paradise of God is promised (Re 2:7), answering to Ge 2:9. (2) Sin entered the world and death by sin; but to the faithful at Smyrna it is promised, they shall not be hurt by the second death (Re 2:11). (3) The promise of the hidden manna (Re 2:17) to Pergamos brings us to the Mosaic period, the Church in the wilderness. (4) That to Thyatira, namely, triumph over the nations (Re 2:26, 27), forms the consummation of the kingdom in prophetic type, the period of David and Solomon characterized by this power of the nations. Here there is a division, the seven falling into two groups, four and three, as often, for example, the Lord's Prayer, three and four. The scenery of the last three passes from earth to heaven, the Church contemplated as triumphant, with its steps from glory to glory. (5) Christ promises to the believer of Sardis not to blot his name out of the book of life but to confess him before His Father and the angels at the judgment-day, and clothe him with a glorified body of dazzling whiteness (Re 3:4, 5). (6) To the faithful at Philadelphia Christ promises they shall be citizens of the new Jerusalem, fixed as immovable pillars there, where city and temple are one (Re 3:12); here not only individual salvation is promised to the believer, as in the case of Sardis, but also privileges in the blessed communion of the Church triumphant. (7) Lastly, to the faithful of Laodicea is given the crowning promise, not only the two former blessings, but a seat with Christ on His throne, even as He has sat with His Father on His Father's throne (Re 3:21).

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne; I will give him great honour, dignity, and power; he shall judge the world in the day of judgment, 1 Corinthians 6:3, the twelve, tribes of Israel, Matthew 19:28; he shall be made partaker of my glory, John 17:22,24.

Even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne; but they must come to my throne as I came to it. I overcame the world, sin, death, the devil, and then ascended, and sat down with my Father in his throne: so they that will sit down with me in my throne of glory, must fight the same fight, and overcome, and then be crowned, sitting with me in my throne. To him that overcometh,.... The lukewarmness, and self-confidence, and security of this state:

will I grant to sit with me in my throne; at the close of this church state, which will be the last of this kind, consisting of imperfect saints, Christ will descend from heaven with the souls of all the righteous, and raise their bodies and unite them to them; which, with the living saints, will make one general assembly and church of the firstborn, all perfect soul and body; among these he will place his tabernacle, and fix his throne; and they being all made kings as well as priests to him, shall now reign on earth with him, and that for the space of a thousand years: and this is the blessing promised the overcomers in the Laodicean state, that when Christ shall set up his kingdom among men, and reign gloriously before his ancients, they shall sit on the same throne with him, or share with him in his kingdom and glory; see Revelation 5:10,

even as I also overcame; sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell:

and am set down with my Father in his throne; in heaven, at his right hand; which is expressive of equality to him, distinction from him, communion with him, and of the honour and glory he is possessed of; but it is not on this throne that the saints will sit, only Christ sits on the same throne with the Father in heaven; it is on Christ's throne on earth, or in his personal reign there, that the saints shall sit down with him; and which honour they shall all have, all that are more than conquerors through him, and are made kings by him. And when this reign is over, then will follow the second resurrection, or the resurrection of the wicked, when will come on the judgment of the people, as Laodicea signifies; and when these, with the devils, will form themselves into the Gog and Magog army, and attack the beloved city, the church of glorified saints on earth, under Christ their King, which will issue in the everlasting destruction of the former; and thus these seven churches bring us to the end of all things.

{15} 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.

(15) The conclusion, consisting of a promise, as in Re 2:26 and of an exhortation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 3:21-22. Cf. Revelation 2:26-27. The νικᾶν embraces the temptations and perils lying in the peculiar circumstances of the Church,[1635] but is not limited thereto, so that it can correspond to the Lord’s conflict and victory in suffering.[1636]

The promised reward ΔΏΣΩ ΑὐΤῷ ΚΑΘΊΣΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ., i.e., participation in Christ’s royal dominion,[1637] is here, just as at the close of all the epistles, to be expected as the victory over the world, sin, and death,[1638] only in eternity, and not in this life, since the ἘΚΆΘΙΣΑ, Κ.Τ.Λ., has occurred to the Lord through his ascension.[1639] Entirely wrong is Calov.’s distinction between the throne of God the Father, whereon Christ sits, and the throne of Christ, whereon the believer is to sit with him, The throne of God and of the Lamb is one;[1640] the glory of the victor is communion with the Father and the Son.[1641] The promise to the victor is here made so strong, not because the struggle which the Laodiceans had to maintain against their own lukewarmness is regarded the most severe,[1642] but because it is natural and suitable, that, in the last of the seven epistles, such a promise should be expressed as would combine all the others, and designates the highest and most proper goal of all Christian hope, and the entire Apocalyptic prophecy.

[1635] Revelation 3:16 sq.

[1636] Cf. Revelation 5:5.

[1637] Cf. Revelation 1:9, Revelation 22:5; 2 Timothy 2:12.

[1638] Vitr.

[1639] Cf. Hebrews 12:2; Php 2:9.

[1640] Revelation 22:1.

[1641] Cf. John 17:22; John 17:24.

[1642] Ebrard.Revelation 3:21. δώσω κ.τ.λ., To share Christ’s royal power and judicial dignity it a reward proffered in the gospels, but Jesus there (cf. Mark 10:40) disclaimed this prerogative. God’s throne is Christ’s, as in Revelation 22:1. νικῶν = the moral purity and sensitiveness (cf. Revelation 3:18 and on Revelation 2:7) which succeeds in responding to the divine appeal. The schema of God, Christ, and the individual Christian (cf. on Revelation 2:27) is characteristically Johannine (f. John 15:9 f., John 17:19 f., John 20:21), though here as in Revelation 3:20 (contrast John 14:23) the eschatological emphasis makes the parallel one of diction rather than of thought.

The scope and warmth of the promises to Laodicea seem rather out of place in view of the church’s poor religion, but here as elsewhere the prophet is writing as much for the churches in general as for the particular community. He speaks ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις. This consideration, together with the close sequence of thought in Revelation 3:19-21 forbids any attempt to delete Revelation 3:20-21 as a later editorial addition (Wellhausen) or to regard Revelation 3:20 (Revelation 3:21) as an epilogue to the seven letters (Vitringa, Alford, Ramsay) rather than as an integral part of the Laodicean epistle. Such a detachment would be a gratuitous breach of symmetry. But, while these closing sentences are not a sort of climax which gathers up the menaces of 2–3., Revelation 3:21 (with its throne-reference) anticipates the following visions (Revelation 3:4-5.). To the prophet the real value and significance of Christ’s life were focussed in his sacrificial death and in the rights and privileges which he secured thereby for those on whose behalf he had suffered and triumphed. This idea, already suggested in Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 1:17-18, forms the central theme of the next oracle.

The ἐκκλησίαι now pass out of sight till the visions are over. During the latter it is the ἅγιοι who are usually in evidence, until the collective term πόλις is employed in the final vision (cf. Revelation 3:12). John knows nothing of any catholic ἐκκλησία. To him the ἐκκλησίαι are so many local communities who share a common faith and expect a common destiny; they are, as Kattenbusch observes, colonies of heaven, and heaven is their mother-country. Partly owing to O.T. associations, partly perhaps on account of the feeling that an ἐκκλησία (in the popular Greek sense of the term) implied a city, John eschews this term. He also ignores the authority of any officials; the religious situation depends upon the prophets, who are in direct touch with God and through whom the Spirit of God controls and guides the saints. Their words are God’s words; they can speak and write with an authority which enables them to say, Thus saith the Spirit. Only, while in the contemporary literature of Christianity the prophetic outlook embraces either the need of organisation in order to meet the case of churches which are scattered over a wide area and exposed to the vagaries of unauthorised leaders (Pastoral Epistles and Ignatius), or contention among the office-bearers themselves (a sure sign of the end, Asc. Isa. iii. 20f.), John’s apocalypse stands severely apart from either interest.

NOTE on Revelation 1:9 to Revelation 3:22. We have no data to show whether the seven letters or addresses ever existed in separate form, or whether they were written before or after the rest of the visions. All evidence for such hypotheses consists of quasi-reasons or precarious hypotheses based on some a priori theory of the book’s composition. The great probability is that they never had any rôle of their own apart from this book, but were written for their present position. As the Roman emperors addressed letters to the Asiatic cities or corporations (the inscriptions mention at least six to Ephesus, seven to Pergamos, three to Smyrna, etc.), so Jesus, the true Lord of the Asiatic churches, is represented as sending communications to them (cf. Deissmann’s Licht vom Osten, pp. 274 f.). The dicit or λέγει with which the Imperial messages open corresponds to the more biblical τάδε λέγει of Revelation 2:1, etc. Each of the apocalyptic communications follows a fairly general scheme, although in the latter four the appeal for attention follows (instead of preceding) the mystic promise, while the imperative repent occurs only in the first, third, fifth, and seventh, the other churches receiving praise rather than censure. This artificial or symmetrical arrangement, which may be traced in or read into other details, is as characteristic of the whole apocalypse as is the style which—when the difference of topic is taken into account—cannot be said to exhibit peculiarities of diction, syntax, or vocabulary sufficient to justify the relegation of the seven letters to a separate source. Even if written by another hand or originally composed as a separate piece, they must have been worked over so thoroughly by the final editor and fitted so aptly into the general scheme of the whole Apocalypse (cf. e.g. Revelation 2:7 = Revelation 22:2; Revelation 22:14; Revelation 22:19; Revelation 2:11 = Revelation 20:6; Revelation 2:17 = Revelation 19:12; Revelation 2:26 = Revelation 20:4; Revelation 2:28 = Revelation 22:16; Revelation 3:5 = Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:13; Revelation 3:5 = Revelation 13:8, Revelation 20:15; Revelation 3:12 = Revelation 21:10, Revelation 22:14; Revelation 3:21 = Revelation 4:4; Revelation 3:20 = Revelation 19:9; etc.), that it is no longer possible to disentangle them (or their nucleus). The special traits in the conception of Christ are mainly due to the fact that the writer is dealing here almost exclusively with the inner relation of Jesus to the churches. They are seldom, if ever, more realistic or closer to the messianic categories of the age than is elsewhere the case throughout the apocalypse; and if the marjoram of Judaism or (as we might more correctly say) of human nature is not wholly transmuted into the honey of Christian charity—which is scarcely surprising under the circumstances—yet the moral and mental stature of the writer appears when he is set beside so powerful a counsellor in some respects as the later Ignatius. Here John is at his full height. He combines moral discipline and moral enthusiasm in his injunctions. He sees the central things and urges them upon the churches, with a singular power of tenderness and sarcasm, insight and foresight, vehemence and reproach, undaunted faithfulness in rebuke and a generous readiness to mark what he thinks are the merits as well as the failings and perils of the communities. The needs of the latter appear to have been twofold. One, of which they were fully conscious, was outward. The other, to which they were not entirely alive, was inward. The former is met by an assurance that the stress of persecution in the present and in the immediate future was under God’s control, unavoidable and yet endurable. The latter is met by the answer of discipline and careful correction; the demand for purity and loyalty in view of secret errors and vices is reiterated with a keen sagacity. In every case, the motives of fear, shame, noblesse oblige, and the like, are crowned by an appeal to spiritual ambition and longing, the closing note of each epistle thus striking the keynote of what follows throughout the whole Apocalypse. In form, as well as in content, the seven letters are the most definitely Christian part of the book.

The scene now changes. Christ in authority over his churches, and the churches with their angels, pass away; a fresh and ampler tableau of the vision opens (cf. on Revelation 1:19), ushering in the future (Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 22:5), which—as disclosed by God through Christ (Revelation 1:1)—is prefaced by a solemn exhibition of God’s supremacy and Christ’s indispensable position in revelation. In Apoc. Bar. xxiv. 2 the seer is told that on the day of judgment he and his companions are to see “the long-suffering of the Most High which has been throughout all generations, who has been long-suffering towards all those born that sin and are righteous.” He then seeks an answer to the question, “But what will happen to our enemies I know not, and when Thou wilt visit Thy works (i.e., for judgment)”? This is precisely the course of thought (first inner mercies and then outward judgments) in Revelation 2-3, 4 f.; although in the former John sees in this life already God’s great patience towards his people, The prophet is now admitted to the heavenly conclave where (by an adaptation of the rabbinic notion) God reveals, or at least prepares, his purposes before executing them. Chapter 4 and chapter 5 are counterparts; in the former God the Creator, with his praise from heavenly beings, is the central figure: in the latter the interest is focussed upon Christ the redeemer, with his praise from the human and natural creation as well. Chapter 5 further leads over into the first series of events (the seven seals, 6–8) which herald the dénouement. Henceforth Jesus is represented as the Lamb, acting but never speaking, until in the epilogue (Revelation 22:6-21) the author reverts to the Christological standpoint of 1–3. Neither this nor any other feature, however, is sufficient to prove that 4–5 represent a Jewish source edited by a Christian; the whole piece is Christian and homogeneous (Sabatier, Schön, Bousset, Pfleiderer, Wellhausen). Chapter 4 is a preliminary description of the heavenly court: God’s ruddy throne with a green nimbus being surrounded by a senate of πρεσβύτεροι and mysterious ζῷα. Seven torches burn before the throne, beside a crystal ocean, while from it issue flashes and peals accompanied by a ceaseless liturgy of adoration from the πρεσβύτεροι and the ζῷα, who worship with a rhythmic emotion of awe.21. To him that overcometh] The construction is as in Revelation 2:26, Revelation 3:12, “He that overcometh, I will give him.” For the sense, compare the former of these passages; but the promise of sharing Christ’s inheritance (Romans 8:17) is even more fully expressed here.

as I also overcame] See St John’s Gospel, John 16:33.

with my Father in his throne] See Revelation 5:6, Revelation 7:17. In the Jewish Cabbala (of which the oldest parts are ascribed to a date little later than St John, and perhaps embody still older traditions, though it received its present form quite late in the middle ages) we hear of Metatron, apparently a Greek word Hebraised for “Next to the Throne,” or perhaps “in the midst of the Throne,” a sort of mediator between God and the world, who is identified with the four Living Creatures of Ezekiel’s vision. The Cabbala as it now exists has more affinity with Gnostic mythology than with scriptural or Catholic Christianity: but it is deserving of notice, as the outcome of tendencies in Jewish thought that might have developed, or found their satisfaction, in the Gospel. St John’s Lamb “in the midst of the Throne” is perhaps just as far comparable with the Cabbalistic Metatron, as his doctrine of the personal “Word of God” is with Philo’s. It is hardly wise to ask whether “My Throne” and “His Throne” are quite identical; for the doctrine that the faithful stand to Christ in the same relation as He to the Father, see St John’s Gospel, c. John 17:21-23, and 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3.Verse 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. The climax of the promises made to the seven Churches (cf. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; Revelation 3:5, 12). There are two points to be noticed in this promise:

(1) the position promised to the conqueror, "in my throne;"

(2) the two thrones mentioned.

(1) Note the expression, "in my throne" (not ἐπὶ, but ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ), which occurs nowhere else. The mother of St. James and St. John had requested for them a place on the right hand and the left of our Lord - the highest dignity which she could conceive. The twelve apostles are promised to sit on twelve thrones, to judge the tribes of Israel. But Christ offers a yet higher honour, viz. to sit in his throne; placing us in the closest relationship with himself, and exalting us to his own glory.

(2) The throne promised is not that which Christ now occupies with his Father, but his own. Christ is now sitting on his Father's throne, mediating for his Church on earth, and waiting till his enemies be made his footstool (Psalm 110:1). To that throne there is no admission for humanity, though Christ shares it in virtue of his Godhead. But when his enemies have been made his footstool, and death, the last enemy, is destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26), and the necessity for his mediation exists no longer, since the Church militant will have become the Church triumphant, rhea will be erected Christ's own throne, which glorified man may share in common with him who was man, and who has so exalted humanity as to render such a condition and such a position possible. He that overcometh

See on Revelation 2:7.

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