Historical Situation

The Seven Churches of Asia Minor
Part Two: Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea
(Rev. 3:1-22)



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. 3 `Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If, therefore, you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. 4 `But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 `He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 `He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 8 `I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 `Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 10 `Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 `I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take away your crown. 12 `He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 13 `He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

14 "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 `I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. 16 `So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 `Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 `Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous, therefore, and repent. 20 `Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 `He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 `He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' "


Chapter three continues to main thought of chapter 2, Jesus' addresses to the 7 churches of Asia Minor, the westernmost part of modern western Turkey. With the exception of 2 churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia), each church has a major flaw in its constitution. This kind of major flaw is always a danger spot for any church; however, during times of great stress and crisis, these flaws can actually wreck a church. The Great Tribulation was going to create such a crisis for these 7 churches. Were they going to be ready for such a crisis?

On the night of our pastor's death, one young man asked me what was going to happen to our church now that our pastor had passed away. I responded that the church was going to be OK. The reason? The quality lay leadership in our church was going to see us through this ordeal and through whatever other ordeal the Lord may see fit to come upon us. That leadership is quality and is spiritually in-tune with the Lord; as a result, it will be able to weather this and any other crisis the Lord allows to come our way.

You don't know when a crisis is going to come. Crises never telegraph their approach; they just come--like a church roof collapsing, like a church sanctuary almost burning down, like the death of a pastor. It is imperative that we always be ready (sounds like one of Jesus' warnings!). The way to be ready is to heal any sickness, deal with any flaw the church may be experiencing. Only then will the church be ready for the crises which WILL come.

Again, as you look at these churches and Jesus' messages to them, first see if any of them relate to you personally, and second see if any of them relate to our church specifically.

. . . * .
. None . +
. None # . .

*The idea that Jesus will come like a thief has behind it Jesus' words (Matt. 24:43) which say that Jesus will come like a thief in the night. This statement though had further significance for Sardis particularly. It was the capital where the celebrated Croesus, proverbial for his wealth, reigned. Sardis was taken by Cyrus (548 B.C.), when Croesus was king. Croesus, because of the city being surrounded on 3 sides by precipitous cliffs, was confident the Persians could not take the city. As a result, the soldiers fell asleep, giving the Persians the opening they needed to overrun the city.
+Writing the name of a person on another person means that the second person belongs to the first person. In this case, if God's name is written on our foreheads, then we belong to God.
#Laodicea in fact was so wealthy that whenever a massive earthquake partially leveled the city in 60 AD, it didn't need any help from the Roman treasury to rebuild.


Now that you have looked at these other 3 churches, do any of the messages Jesus addressed to them apply to you?

Do any of the messages Jesus addressed to the 3 churches apply specifically to our church?