New International Version
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
New Living Translation
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: "I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive--but you are dead.
English Standard Version
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Berean Study Bible
To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of the One who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation for being alive, yet you are dead.
Berean Literal Bible
And to the messenger of the church in Sardis write: These things says the One having the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds, that you have the characterization that you are alive, and yet you are dead.
New American Standard Bible
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
King James Bible
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Write to the angel of the church in Sardis: "The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.
International Standard Version
"To the messenger of the church in Sardis, write: 'The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: 'I know what you've been doing. You are known for being alive, but you are dead.
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write the following: "This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: 'I know your deeds, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but in reality you are dead.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“And to The Messenger who is in the assembly of Sardis write: Thus says he who has The Seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works and the name that you have, and that you are alive and are dying.”
GOD'S WORD® Translation
"To the messenger of the church in Sardis, write: The one who has God's seven spirits and the seven stars says: I know what you have done. You are known for being alive, but you are dead.
New American Standard 1977
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Parallel CommentariesMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary
3:1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on, that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all the angels, at the great day.
Verses 1-6. - The epistle to the Church at Sardis. This Church is one of the two which receives unmixed reproof. Smyrna and Philadelphia receive no blame; Sardis and Laodicea receive no praise. Sardis lies almost due south of Thyatira, on the road to Philadelphia, between the river Hermus and Mount Tmolus. It had been in turn Lydian, Persian, Greek, and Roman, and, like its last Lydian king, Croesus, had been celebrated for its wealth. The auriferous stream Pactolus, in summer almost dry, flowed through its marketplace; but its chief source of wealth was its trade. In A.D. "twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night... The calamity fell most heavily on the people of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. The emperor [Tiberius] promised ten million sesterces (£85,000), and remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer" (Tac., 'Ann.,' 2:47). A little later Sardis was one of the cities of Asia which claimed the honour of erecting a temple in honour of Tiberius, but the preference was given to Smyrna ('Ann.,' 4:55, 56). Of the inscriptions which have been,discovered at Sardis, nearly all are of the Roman period. Cybele, or Cybebe, was the chief divinity of Sardis; but no reference to this nor to any of the special features of the city can be traced in the epistle. In the second century, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, held a very prominent place among Asiatic Christians, both in personal influence and in literary work. Among his numerous writings was one on the Apocalypse of St. John. The prosporous and luxurious capital of Lydia is now represented by a few huts and a collection of ruins buried deep in rubbish. It still retains its ancient name in the form Sart. The Church in Sardis has no Nicolaitans, no Balaam, no Jezebel. But there is worse evil than the presence of what is morally and doctrinally corrupt. The numbness of spiritual torpor and death is more hopeless than unwise toleration. The Church in Sardis, scarcely out of its infancy, has already the signs of an effete and moribund faith; and it is possible that this deadness was a result of the absence of internal enemies. Verse 1. - He that hath the seven Spirits of God (see notes on Revelation 1:4, 16, 20; but observe that this designation of Christ does not occur in the opening vision). In Revelation 5:6 the Lamb is seen "having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God." The seven Spirits being the Holy Spirit in his sevenfold activity, it is manifest (as Trench observes) that this passage is of importance in reference to the doctrine of the double procession. The Son hath the Spirit, not as One who receives it from the Father, but as One who can impart it to men. As man he received it; as God he gives it. And a Church sunk in spiritual deadness specially needs such a gift. Hence the repetition about having the seven stars, which appears also in the address to the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1). Note, however, that here we have ἔχων for κράτῶν, which would not have been appropriate to express the Son's possession of the Spirit. It is he who holds in his hand the angels of the Church that also has the Spirit wherewith to quicken them. Those that are alive owe their life and growth to him. Those that are dying or dead may be restored to life by him. Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. This, again, is thoroughly in the style of the Fourth Gospel. St. John frequently states some gracious fact, and in immediate sequence gives the very opposite of what might have been expected to result from it. "Thou hast a reputation for life, and (instead of being full of vigour and growth) thou art a corpse." This has been called "the tragic tone" in St. John (comp. John 1:5, 10, 11; John 3:11, 19, 32; John 5:39, 40; John 6:36, 43, etc.). In all these cases the contrast is introduced by a simple καί, which may be rendered "and yet;" but the simple "and" is more forcible. Beware of the unworthy literalism which suggests that the Bishop of Sardis bore a name which implied life, e.g. Zosimus, or Vitalis. As already stated (notes on Revelation 1:20), it is improbable that "the angel" means the bishop. And in any case "name" is here used in the common sense of character or reputation. Comp. Herod., 7:138, where the historian says that Xerxes' expedition had the name (οὔνομα εῖχε) of being directed against Athens, but was really a menace to the whole of Greece. We have very similar uses of ὄνομα in Mark 9:41 and 1 Peter 4:16. The Church in Sardis had a name for Christianity, but there was no Christianity in it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write,.... Of the city of Sardis See Gill on Revelation 1:11 when, and by whom this church was founded, and who was the present angel or pastor of it, is not now to be certainly known; however, here was a church in the "second" century, of which Melito was then pastor; and he is thought by some to be the angel here intended; this man wrote upon the book of the Revelation, and an apology for the Christians, sent to the Emperor Antoninus Verus, in whose time he lived (c); and in the "third" century a church remained in this place; and also in the "fourth", as appears from the council of Nice, which makes mention of it; and likewise in the "fifth", as is evident from the acts of the synod at Chalcedon, in which age it was the metropolitan church of the Lydians; and in the "sixth" century there was a bishop of this church in the fifth synod at Constantinople; and in the "seventh" century, Marinus bishop of Sardis assisted at the sixth synod in the same place; and in the "eighth" century, Euthymius bishop of it was present in the Nicene synod; and even in the "ninth" century mention is made of an archbishop of Sardis (d): but now there are but very few Christians to be found here, and who have not a place to worship in, nor any to minister to them (e). This church represents the state of the church from the time of the Reformation by Luther and others, until a more glorious state of the church appears, or until the spiritual reign of Christ in the Philadelphian period; under the Sardian church state we now are: (this was published in 1747, Ed.) that this church is an emblem of the reformed churches from Popery, is evident not only from its following the Thyatirian state, which expresses the darkness of Popery, and the depths of Satan in it; but from its being clear of Balaam, and those that held his doctrine; and from the Nicolaitans and their tenets, and from Jezebel, and those that committed adultery with her; things which the two former churches are charged with; but from these the present church reformed. This city of Sardis was once a very flourishing and opulent city; it was the metropolis of Lydia, and the royal seat of the rich King Croesus, though now a very poor and mean village; and may denote the magnificence and splendour of this church state, at least in name and figure, it has appeared in, in the world; though now in a very low and mean condition, and may be worse before the spiritual reign of Christ begins in the next period: there may be some allusion in the name of this church to the precious stone "sarda", which, Pliny says (f), was found about Sardis, and had its name from hence; the same with the Sardian stone in Revelation 4:2. This stone, naturalists say (g), drives away fear, gives boldness, cheerfulness, and sharpness of wit, and frees from witchcrafts and sorceries; which may be expressive of the boldness and courage of the first reformers; of the cheerfulness, joy, and pleasure, which appeared in their countenances, and which they spread in others by preaching the doctrines of the Gospel; and of those excellent gifts and talents both of nature, learning, and grace, by which they were fitted for their service; and of their being a means of delivering men from the witchcrafts of Jezebel, and the sorceries of the whore of Rome: and perhaps some allusion may be in this name, as is thought by Cocceius, to the Hebrew word "sarid", which signifies a "remnant", since in this church state there was a remnant according to the election of grace, a few names, whose garments were undefiled; or to the word "sered", which signifies a carpenter's rule or line; since the first reformers were endeavouring to bring every doctrine and practice to the rule and line of God's word:
these things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God; the fulness and perfection of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, as in Revelation 1:4, which Christ, as Mediator, has without measure, and are at his dispose, and which he, having received for men, gives unto them; and at the time of the Reformation bestowed them on many eminent servants of his in a very plenteous manner; for which reason he assumes this character in writing to this church:
and the seven stars; the ministers of the Gospel; see Gill on Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:1; these were filled by Christ at this time with evangelical light and knowledge; and were sent, and held forth by him as lights in the world; and were instruments in his hand for great good; and were wonderfully held, kept, and preserved by him, notwithstanding the greatness of their work, their weakness in themselves, and the power, rage, and fury of the antichristian party; Luther is a remarkable instance of this: Christ's making use of the same title here as in the epistle to the church at Ephesus, which represents the apostolic church, may show that this church state bore some degree of likeness to that, and that it was a sort of renewing of it:
I know thy works; good works chiefly; the nature and imperfection of them; and also bad works: that
thou hast a name that thou livest: the reformed churches have had a name for spiritual living, by faith on Christ's righteousness only for justification, that article being the great article of the Reformation: there was in them an appearance of liveliness, by their zeal for Gospel doctrine and worship, and a form of living according to godliness; they were esteemed, were celebrated, and famous for these things, especially for living by faith on Christ's righteousness:
and art dead; or "but art dead"; for, the most part, or greater part of the members of these churches, are dead in trespasses and sins; and as for the rest, they are very dead and lifeless in their frames, in the exercise of grace, and in the discharge of duties; and under great spiritual declensions and decays, just as it were ready to die; and but few really alive in a spiritual sense, and especially lively, or in the lively exercise of grace, and fervent discharge of duty; yea, dead as to those things in which they had a name to live: and this seems to be our case now, who, it is to be hoped, are at, or towards the close of this period,
(c) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 13. 26. & l. 5. c. 24. (d) Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. 3. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3. c. 7. p. 418. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 254. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 9. c. 3. p. 3.((e) Smith. Notitia, p. 138. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 7. Albert. Magn. de Reb. Metall. l. 2. c. 17. (g) Ruaeus de Gemmis, l. 2. c. 6. Albert. Magn. de Rebus Metall. l. 2. c. 17. Schroder. Pharmacopoeia, l. 3. c. 5. p. 18.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Re 3:1-22. The Epistles to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
1. Sardis—the ancient capital of Lydia, the kingdom of wealthy Croesus, on the river Pactolus. The address to this Church is full of rebuke. It does not seem to have been in vain; for Melito, bishop of Sardis in the second century, was eminent for piety and learning. He visited Palestine to assure himself and his flock as to the Old Testament canon and wrote an epistle on the subject [Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, 4.26]; he also wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26; Jerome, On Illustrious Men, 24].
he that hath the seven Spirits of God—that is, He who hath all the fulness of the Spirit (Re 1:4; 4:5; 5:6, with which compare Zec 3:9; 4:10, proving His Godhead). This attribute implies His infinite power by the Spirit to convict of sin and of a hollow profession.
and the seven stars—(Re 1:16, 20). His having the seven stars, or presiding ministers, flows, as a consequence, from His having the seven Spirits, or the fulness of the Holy Spirit. The human ministry is the fruit of Christ's sending down the gifts of the Spirit. Stars imply brilliancy and glory; the fulness of the Spirit, and the fulness of brilliant light in Him, form a designed contrast to the formality which He reproves.
name … livest … dead—(1Ti 5:6; 2Ti 3:5; Tit 1:16; compare Eph 2:1, 5; 5:14). "A name," that is, a reputation. Sardis was famed among the churches for spiritual vitality; yet the Heart-searcher, who seeth not as man seeth, pronounces her dead; how great searchings of heart should her case create among even the best of us! Laodicea deceived herself as to her true state (Re 3:17), but it is not written that she had a high name among the other churches, as Sardis had.
Revelation 3:1 Additional Commentaries
Message to the Church in Sardis
1"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.…
1 Timothy 5:6
But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."
In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
Treasury of Scripture
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things said he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.
unto. See on ch.
he that. See on ch.
I know. See on ch.
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