Revelation 3:19
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
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(19) I rebuke and chasten.—The first word is that used in the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), and signifies to bring conviction; it is not empty censure. The second word signifies to educate by means of correction. The pronoun is emphatic, “I,” and calls attention to the fidelity of Christ’s love in comparison with the weak partiality seen in human love. (Comp. Hebrews 12:6.)

Be zealous.—Or, be in a constant zealous state; and now, once for all, repent.

(2°) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.—It is difficult not to see an allusion in this image to Song of Solomon 5:2-6. Perhaps, also, the memory of the first night spent by St. John with his Master and Friend (John 1:39) may have been strong in his mind. Indeed, the life of Christ on earth teems with illustrations which may well have suggested the image (Luke 10:38; Luke 19:5-6; Luke 22:11-13; Luke 24:29-30).

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.As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten - Of course, only on the supposition that they deserve it. The meaning is, that it is a proof of love on his part, if his professed friends go astray, to recall them by admonitions and by trials. So a father calls back his children who are disobedient; and there is no higher proof of his love than when, with great pain to himself, he administers such chastisement as shall save his child. See the sentiment here expressed fully explained in the notes on Hebrews 12:6. The language is taken from Proverbs 3:12.

Be zealous therefore, and repent - Be earnest, strenuous, ardent in your purpose to exercise true repentance, and to turn from the error of your ways. Lose no time; spare no labor, that you may obtain such a state of mind that it shall not be necessary to bring upon you the severe discipline which always comes on those who continue lukewarm in religion. The truth taught here is, that when the professed followers of Christ have become lukewarm in his service, they should lose no time in returning to him, anti seeking his favor again. As sure as he has any true love for them, if this is not done he will bring upon them some heavy calamity, alike to rebuke them for their errors, and to recover them to himself.

19. (Job 5:17; Pr 3:11, 12; Heb 12:5, 6.) So in the case of Manasseh (2Ch 33:11-13).

As many—All. "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. And shalt thou be an exception? If excepted from suffering the scourge, thou art excepted from the number of the sons" [Augustine]. This is an encouragement to Laodicea not to despair, but to regard the rebuke as a token for good, if she profit by it.

I love—Greek, "philo," the love of gratuitous affection, independent of any grounds for esteem in the object loved. But in the case of Philadelphia (Re 3:9), "I have loved thee" (Greek, "egapesa") with the love of esteem, founded on the judgment. Compare the note in my English Gnomon of Bengel, Joh 21:15-17.

I rebuke—The "I" in the Greek stands first in the sentence emphatically. I in My dealings, so altogether unlike man's, in the case of all whom I love, rebuke. The Greek, "elencho," is the same verb as in Joh 16:8, "(the Holy Ghost) will convince (rebuke unto conviction) the world of sin."

chasten—"chastise." The Greek, "paideu," which in classical Greek means to instruct, in the New Testament means to instruct by chastisement (Heb 12:5, 6). David was rebuked unto conviction, when he cried, "I have sinned against the Lord"; the chastening followed when his child was taken from him (2Sa 12:13, 14). In the divine chastening, the sinner at one and the same time winces under the rod and learns righteousness.

be zealous—habitually. Present tense in the Greek, of a lifelong course of zeal. The opposite of "lukewarm." The Greek by alliteration marks this: Laodicea had not been "hot" (Greek, "zestos"), she is therefore urged to "be zealous" (Greek, "zeleue"): both are derived from the same verb, Greek, "zeo," "to boil."

repent—Greek aorist: of an act to be once for all done, and done at once.

I rebuke and chasten; elegcw kai paideuw the words may be translated, I convince and instruct, or deal with them as children; but it also signifies to chasten, and is so translated, 1 Corinthians 11:32 Hebrews 12:7; we translate it learn, 1 Timothy 1:20. By these words Christ lets this angel know, that although he had in this epistle dealt smartly with him, yet he had done it from a principle of love, as a father to a child, Hebrews 12:7.

Be zealous therefore, and repent; he adviseth him therefore to quit himself of his luke warmness, and to recover a warmth and zeal for God, repenting of his former coldness and negligence in his duty.

As many as I love I rebuke and chasten,.... The persons the objects of Christ's love here intended are not angels, but the sons of men; and these not all of them, yet many of them, even all who are his own by his Father's gift and his own purchase; and who are called his church, and sometimes represented as such who love him and obey his commands: the instances of his love to them are many; as his suretyship engagements for them, his assumption of their nature, dying in their room and stead, paying their debts, procuring their peace and pardon, bringing in a righteousness for them, purchasing their persons, his intercession for them, preparations in heaven, supplies of grace, and frequent visits in a kind and familiar manner; and as for the nature of his love, it is free and sovereign, everlasting and immutable, and it is matchless and inconceivable, it is strong and affectionate, and as his Father loved him; and such are rebuked by Christ, not in a way of wrath, but in a tender manner, in order to bring them under a conviction of their sin and of their duty, and of their folly in trusting in, or loving any creature more than himself, and of all their wrong ways; and they are chastened by him, not in a vindictive, but in a fatherly way, which is instructive and teaching to them, and for their good. This seems to refer to some afflictions which Christ was about to bring upon this church, by some means or another, to awaken her out of her sloth and security, and which would be in love to her, and the end be to rouse her zeal and bring her to repentance. Some think this respects the Gog and Magog army, which will encompass the camp of the saints, and the beloved city; but that will not be till after the thousand years' reign, and besides will be no affliction to them; rather it designs the unchurching them, signified by spewing them out of his mouth, Revelation 3:16,

be zealous, therefore, and repent; zeal was what was wanting in this church; which is nothing else than hot, fervent, and ardent love, love in a flame; whereas she was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, Christ would have her be "zealous" for God; for his cause and interest, for his Gospel, ordinances, and the discipline of his house, and against everything that is evil; against all false worship, all errors in doctrine, all sin and iniquity; and to be zealous of good works, and in the worship of God, both private and public: and "repent"; in an evangelical way, of her lukewarnmess, remissness, and supineness; of her pride, arrogance, and vain boastings of herself; and of her self-sufficience, self-dependence, and self-confidence.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be {k} zealous therefore, and repent.

(k) Zeal is set against those who are neither hot nor cold.

Revelation 3:19. Ἐγώ emphatically prefixed. The Lord, who alone is the true witness (Revelation 3:14), and, at the same time, the one from whom the true gold can be obtained (Revelation 3:18), appears as witness against those whom he loves, since through his ἐλέγχειν and παιδεύειν he wishes to make them zealous unto repentance (ζηλ. κ. μεταν), and thus participant of his eternal blessings.

ὅσους ἐὰν φιλῶ. Concerning the ἐὰς after the relative in N. T. diction, cf. my note on 1 John 3:20. Grot. says incorrectly: “φιλῶ, not absolutely, but relatively; i.e., those whom I have not altogether determined, because of their long-continued sins, to cast away and harden.” Upon a similar misunderstanding rests the remark of Vitringa, that the kind address is directed only to the better part of the church. On the contrary, the entire church is still an object of the seeking love of the Lord.

ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω. The distinction between the two expressions does not lie in the ἐλέγχειν occurring by means of words, and the παιδεύειν by chastisements;[1614] but the ΠΑΙΔΕΎΕΙΝ designating discipline, i.e., education in general,[1615] may occur as well by ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ, as by perceptible chastisements, as ΜΑΣΤΙΓΟῦΝ.[1616] The ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ[1617] occurs when the wrong is so placed before the eyes of any one that he must acknowledge it. From Revelation 3:15 on, the Lord has exercised his ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ by completely disclosing the faults of the church; yet he expressly says that this, as well as his entire ΠΑΙΔΕΎΕΙΝ, proceeds from love. It is nowhere said that in this he has already employed, or will employ, what are the proper means of chastisement (blows). On the other hand, to the ΠΑΙΔΕΎΕΙΝ belongs the advice of Revelation 3:18. Yet this advice contains the express assurance, that, with the Lord, gold, etc., shall not be lacking. Hence not only the relentless ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ, but also the tendering of grace, is a ΠΑΙΔΕΎΕΙΝ, which testifies to the Lord’s love. But if the Lord thus manifests himself to the “lukewarm” church, it follows that this (ΟὐΝ) has to do what the command expressly says: ΖΉΛΕΝΕ ΟὟΝ ΚΑῚ ΜΕΤΑΝΌΗΣΟΝ. The words contain not a hysteron proteron,[1618] but require of the church which is convicted of lukewarmness, an ardent zeal, enkindled by the love manifested by the Lord, and, as the proof of this zeal, a true change of mind.[1619]

[1614] Blows, Luke 23; Luke 16:22. Aret., Grot.

[1615] Acts 22:3; Acts 7:22; Titus 2:12; 2 Timothy 2.

[1616] Cf. Hebrews 12:6 with Proverbs 3:12.

[1617] Cf. John 16:8; John 8:46; John 3:20; 1 Corinthians 14:24.

[1618] De Wette.

[1619] Cf. Grot., Beng., Hengstenb., Ebrard.

Revelation 3:19. The prophet now relents a little; the church has still a chance of righting herself. Such a reproof as he has given in Christ’s name, and the discipline it involves (παιδεύω, wider than ἐλ.) are really evidence of affection, not of antipathy or rejection. This is the method of God at least (ἐγώ, emphatic; “whatever others do”), with whom censure does not mean hostility. φιλῶ, the substitution of this synonym (contrast Hebrews 12:6) for the LXX ἀγαπᾷ is remarkable in view of the latter term’s usage in the Apocalypse; the other variation ἐλέγχω καὶ παιδεύω (ἐλ. [907], παιδ. [908] [909], LXX) is probably ornate rather than a duplicate. The love of Christ for his people is mentioned in the Apocalypse only here (with a reminiscence if not a quotation of O.T.), in Revelation 1:5, and in Revelation 3:9 (incidentally). In the latter passage, the divine love sustains and safeguards those who are loyal; here it inflicts painful wounds upon the unworthy, to regain their loyalty. ζήλευε (pres.) = a habit, μετανόησον (aor.) = a definite change once for all. The connexion (οὖν) seems to be: let the foregoing rebuke open your eyes at once to the need of repentance, and also to the fact that it is really love on my part which prompts me thus to expose and to chastise you; such a sense of my loving concern, as well as of your own plight, should kindle an eager heat of indignation (2 Corinthians 8:11, ἀλλα ζῆλον) gathering into a flame of repentance that will burn up indifference and inconsistency (cf. Weinel, 188 f.). The urgent need of immediate repentance rests not only on the special character of the temptation to which the local Christians were succumbing (“It is a great grace to find out that we are lukewarm, but we are lost if we do not act with vigour. It is like going to sleep in the snow, almost a pleasant, tingling feeling at the first, and then—lost forever,” Faber), but on the fact that this warning was their last chance.

[907] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[908] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[909] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

19. As many as I love, I rebuke] The pronoun “I” stands emphatically at the beginning of the sentence—as it were, “My way with those I love (the word is a strong one, expressing affection, not simply charity), is to shew them their faults,” not to “prophesy smooth things,” and encourage the self-complacent temper that was destroying the Laodiceans. In every other case, the Lord has noted both the good and the evil in the Church, and generally the good first: here He does nothing but find fault, but He adds in effect, “Do not suppose from this that I do not love you.” The word “rebuke” is more often rendered “reprove:” see e.g. John 16:8; Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:13 : its meaning here is exactly what we express by “working conviction of sin.”

be zealous therefore, and repent] Shake off thy languid “lukewarm” temper: then thou wilt be able to start on a new life of righteousness.

Revelation 3:19. Φιλῶ) In the case of the Philadelphian Church, He (Revelation 3:9) ἠγάπησε (esteemed it): in the case of the Laodicean, He φιλεῖ (loves it). The former, with His judgment: the latter, with gratuitous affection [favour]. Comp. John 21:15, note. In each passage[56] ἀγαπᾷν implies something more than φιλεῖν. In the passage quoted from John, the spiritual tie of relationship is of more value than the judgment of Peter. Here, in the Apocalypse, it is a more blessed thing to flourish [be esteemed] in the judgment of the Lord, than to be chastised through mere gratuitous affection.—ζήλωσον) Both ζεστὸς, Revelation 3:15-16, and ζῆλος, are derived from ζέω.

[56] See footnote, John 21:15.

Verse 19. - As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. As many as. Not one whom God loves escapes chastening; if he be not chastened, he is not a son (Hebrews 12:8), for "all have sinned, and come short." "I love" is φιλῶ, I love dearly; not merely ἀγαπῶ. I rebuke (ἐλέγχω), to reprove, so as to convict of sin and turn to repentance; the work of the Holy Ghost, who should "convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). This verse is a solace and encouragement for the Laodi-ceans. They were required to make the sacrifices demanded of them, not so much that they might be punished for their transgressions, but to prove themselves of the number of God's elect. The stern reproof administered was a pruning, which was an evidence of God's loving care for them; the final sentence, "Cut it down," had not yet gone forth. But though thus intended for encouragement rather than condemnation, yet it could not but contain implied reproach, however tender. No one can be exhorted to change his path and to seek that which is holy without being reminded that he is unholy and has wandered from the right way. Those in Laodicea who took this message to heart must needs think of their unchastened life - the life full of prosperity and self-satisfied security, into which so little zeal had been infused, in which so little need for repentance bad been felt. The Church, indeed, needed some of that chastening, that persecution, and hardship, which should arouse her from the perilous slumber of ease into which she had fallen, and call forth some zeal and self-sacrifice, the frequent and natural result of opposition. Revelation 3:19As many as Ilove

In the Greek order I stands first as emphatic.

Rebuke (ἐλέγχω)

See on John 3:20. Rev., reprove.

Chasten (παιδεύω)

See on Luke 23:16.

Be zealous (ζήλευε)

The verb is akin to ζεστός hot in Revelation 3:16, on which see note.


See on Matthew 3:2; see on Matthew 20:29.

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