Notes & Commentary:
To the Angel of the church of Sardis. He begins with a severe reprehension, thou hast the name of being alive, and
thou art dead, which we may understand of the greatest part of them, and of being dead by the worst of deaths, which is
that of sin. (Witham) --- In the style of the sacred writers, to live, is to be in the state of grace, and to bring forth
good works; as, to be dead, is to live in sin, and in the neglect of Christian duties. (Calmet) --- Here we see that the opinion
of men is no advantage to us, when our internal dispositions are not correspondent to our external appearance. For what we
are in thy sight, O Lord, so much we are, and no more, says St. Augustine. --- The bishop is charged with this fault, that
he did not watch and take care of his flock. He is admonished to repent, and to strengthen those that were not dead,
but ready to die. (Witham) --- God does not seek to surprise us and lay snares for us. But when he tells us that
he will come like a thief, it is only to admonish us not to slumber. Had he wished to take us unawares, he never would have
admonished us beforehand. (Calmet) --- But thou hast a few names, &c. That is, a few persons not yet defiled, neither
as to their consciences, souls, nor bodies. --- They shall walk with me in white apparel, &c. It is a new way of
expressing the happiness of heaven. (Witham) --- White is the color of joy, festivity, and triumph. The Angels always appeared
clothed in white. (Calmet)
Ver. 7-13. To
the Angel of the church of Philadelphia. There were several towns of this name; here is understood that which was near
Sardis, in Lydia. Here is no more than an admonition to persevere, to hold that which thou hast. Christ takes the title of
the Holy One, and True One, who hath the key of David; i.e. being the son of David, and the promised Messias,
hath supreme power in the Church: who opens the gate of salvation, and no one shuts it against his elect. (Witham) ---
By the key in this place may be understood either the key of the Church, or of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ has both,
he opens and shuts the heavens by his infinite power. But in the Church on earth he has entrusted this key (his power) to
his apostles and ministers; whatever is bound or loosened by them is ratified by him in the kingdom of his glory. (Calmet)
--- I have set before thee a door open, by giving thee graces to save thee, which no one shall be able to
hinder, because thou hast of thyself little power or strength, and hast kept my word, and not denied
the faith. (Witham) --- I have sent you to preach, and have given my blessing to your labours. You shall, notwithstanding
all your adversaries, eventually succeed. St. Paul makes use of the same manner of expression, 1 Corinthians xvi., I see a
great door is open to me, and at the same time many adversaries; and again, 2 Corinthians ii. and Colossians iv., On account
of your little strength, your want of talents, eloquence, supernatural gifts, &c. I have not exposed you to great trials.
Thus does the Almighty always proportion the trials he sends, and the temptations he permits in his servants, to the graces
and strength he has given them. --- Those who were neither Jews nor Christians, shall come and abjure at your feet their former
errors, and shall evidently perceive that you are strengthened by me. (Calmet) --- Christ also promises that he will make
the false abandoned Jews subject to the bishop and his Church, and to own them to be the beloved and chosen people. God promises
to preserve them in the hour or time of temptation and persecutions, which should happen to all the inhabitants
of the earth. (Witham) --- He here advertises him of the persecution which was about to take place, and by which he
would try the fidelity of his servants. In ver. 12., he relates the triumph and everlasting beatitude of the martyrs. ---
He that overcomes, I will make him a pillar, &c. so as to stand firm against his enemies, and to be secure
of his endless happiness. --- I will write upon him the name of my God, a subscribed citizen of the celestial Jerusalem,
with the new name of Jesus, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind. He alludes to the custom of writing names upon pillars,
palaces, &c. --- From the words my God, the Socinians pretend that Christ is not the true God, as we may find in
the disputes which Servetus had with Calvin. Calvin answered the Socinians, as all Catholics do, that Christ was both God
and man: this and divers things were spoken of Christ as he was man, but that many things in the Scriptures could not
apply to him, unless he was also truly God. And by such places is clearly confuted the blasphemy and error of the Arians and
Socinians. The argument concludes in the principles of the Catholics, who allow the authority of the Church in expounding
the sense of the Scriptures; but the Calvinists, and all other pretended reformers, having shaken off that authority, and
having allowed that the holy Scriptures are to be interpreted according to every man's private judgment or spirit, this set
Calvin and Servetus, every Calvinist and Socinians, upon the same level. (Witham)
The seventh and last letter is to the Angel of the Church of Laodicia. Christ here takes the title of the Amen,
as if he said, I am the Truth. --- The beginning of the creation, or of the creatures of God, to which is added
in the first chapter, the beginning and the end. --- Thou art neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm. A dreadful
reprehension, whatever exposition we follow. According to the common interpretation, by the cold are meant those who
are guilty of great sins; by the hot, such as are zealous and fervent in piety and the service of God; by the lukewarm
or tepid, they who are slothful, negligent, indolent, as to what regards Christian perfection, the practice of virtue, and
an exact observance of what regards the service of God. On this account they are many times guilty in the sight of God of
great sins, they forfeit the favour and grace of God, fancying themselves good enough and safe, because they live as others
commonly do, and are not guilty of many scandalous and shameful crimes, to which they see others addicted. --- I would
thou wert either cold or hot. This is not an absolute wish, because the condition of the cold is certainly worse
in itself; but it is to be taken with regard to the different consequences, which oftentimes attend these two states,
and to signify to us that the lukewarm may be farther from a true conversion, inasmuch as they are less sensible of the dangers
to which they remain exposed, than such as commit greater sins. Their careless indevotion becomes habitual to them, they live
and die with a heart divided betwixt God and the world; whereas greater and more shameful sinners are not without an abhorrence
of such vices which they commit; a fear of punishment, of hell and damnation, strikes them by the mercies of God offered even
to sinners, and makes them enter into themselves like the prodigal son; they detest their past lives, and by the assistance
of God's graces become both fervent and constant in the duties of a Christian life. (Witham) --- Tepidity in a Christian life,
and in the service of God, is oftentimes more dangerous than absolute wickedness. The open sinner is easily made sensible
of his danger; he experiences the stings and reproaches of conscience, whilst the tepid Christian lives without remorse, fear,
or apprehension, and listens not to those who wish to shew him the danger of his situation. I dare venture to affirm, says
St. Augustine, that to fall into some public and manifest sin would be of advantage to the proud, that so those who by their
self-complacency had so often fallen before, may now become displeased with themselves and humble. (Calmet) --- To the lukewarm
it is said, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth; i.e. if thou continue in that state, I will permit thee to
run on and be lost in thy sins. Thou blindly sayest within thyself, I am rich, &c. A false conscience generally
attends a lukewarm soul and those who serve God by halves; they flatter themselves that all goes well enough with them, when
they see they are not so vicious, as many others: but here the spirit of God, who penetrates the secret folds and windings
of slothful souls, admonisheth them of their dangerous mistakes, that they are wretched, poor, blind, and naked,
when God, by his grace, does not inhabit their souls, though they may have millions of gold and silver in this world. I
counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, the love of God purified by trials and troubles in this life, to recover
thy lost innocence, to be clothed with the habit of grace, to anoint thy eyes with eye-salve, by a serious reflection
on what regards thy eternal salvation. --- I chastise those whom I love. He concludes all the former admonitions by
telling them: first, that to be under trials and troubles, is a mark of God's favour and his paternal care; secondly, to hearken
to the voice of God, when he knocks at the door of their heart; and thirdly, he promises them the reward of eternal happiness---he
that overcomes, shall sit with me on my throne: though this does not imply an equality of happiness, not even to all
the saints, much less with God himself, but only that the elect shall be in the throne as it were of heaven, and partakers
of heavenly happiness according to their past good works. --- I should not here mention the wild and ridiculous fancies of
one Mr. Brightman, when he pretends to expound to all men these letters to the seven bishops of Asia[Asia Minor], were it
not to shew how the obscure predictions of St. John's revelation have been turned and abused by the loose interpretations
of some of the late reformers, as may be seen more at large, when we mention their arbitrary fancies about the whore of Babylon
and the popish antichrist. I shall here with Dr. Hammond, give the reader a taste of such licentious expositions of the divine
oracles. The Calvinist, Mr. Brightman, pretended he had his expositions by divine inspirations, and so gave his commentary
the title of Revelation of the Revelation. I shall quote his words out of Dr. Hammond. "Mr. Brightman assures his readers,
that by the churches of Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicia, were meant Germany, France, and Britain. He says
a most heavy trial was now suddenly to invade the Christian world....that the three said churches were most favourably admonished
of this tempest by the epistles written to them by name, nomination....that he found and understood this to be so by
divine inspiration, from the inscriptions of these letters, and so should be guilty of a sin against the Divine Majesty, if
he concealed them." Not to tire the reader with his fancies about Ephesus and Pergamus, which may be seen in
Dr. Hammond, Rev. ii. 13., "on those words, in those days was Antipas, &c. Mr. Brightman has this wanton fancy
on the name Antipas, that it doth denote that the martyrs of his time (which was after Luther) should be antipapæ, or antipopes;"
i.e. adversaries to the popes and popery. Dr. Hammond (p. 928) gives us Mr. Brightman's conceit on the name Thyatira,
which must be taken for the same as Thygatheira, signifying a young daughter, and so denotes the growth of piety in
the Church from the year 1300, from Wycliffe's time to 1520, that is, till it came to perfection in Luther's days.
Page 932. note a, "Sardis, according to Mr. Brightman," says Dr. Hammond, "is the first reformed church in the
antitype, to wit, that of Germany, which began at Wittenburg, by Luther, in the year 1517. And the proof is, that Sardis is
more to the south than Thyatira, and so must have more of truth in it; or, because there is no mention made of Balaam
and Jezabel, which he resolved must signify the doctrines of Christian Rome, the absence of which must signify a breaking
off from the Romish communion; or, that she (the German Church) had a name to be living, but was dead, by the doctrine
of consubstantiation among the Lutherans, even after the reformation. This," says Dr. Hammond, "were a strange way
of interpreting dreams, which no oneirocritic would allow, but a much stranger of explaining prophecies." Page 933, "Philadelphia,
says Mr. Brightman, must needs be the Helvetian, Swedish, Genevan, French, Dutch, and Scotch reformed Churches. No reason
again for it, but that the city of Philadelphia was yet farther south than Sardis, and so must needs signify
more increase of reformation; 2. that the name of Jezabel was not in it; 3. that the word Philadelphia,
signifying brotherly love, cannot be applied to any but this pattern of all piety (to which Mr. Brightman had
so much kindness) the Church of Helvetia and Geneva. And the reformed Church of England must be that of Laodicia,....because episcopacy was here retained, and so a mixture of cold with that
of heat, and consequently is the lukewarm Church that is found fault with." O the profound interpretations and
bright inventions of Mr. Brightman! (Witham)
 Ver. 2. Et ceteræ quæ moritura erant, ta loipa a mellei
apothanein, meaning persons, not things.
 Ver. 8. Virtutem, dunamin, strength.
 Ver. 14. Hæc dicit Amen; tade legei o Amen. Ille
qui est Amen.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Directions what to write to Sardis, Philadelphia, and
1 And to the Angel of the church of Sardis write: These things, saith
he who hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast the name of being alive, and thou
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready
to die. For I find not thy works full before my God.
3 Have in mind, therefore, in what manner thou hast received and heard;
and observe, and do penance. If then thou shalt not watch, *I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what
hour I will come to thee.
4 But thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments:
and they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.
5 He that shall overcome, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and
I will not blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
7 And to the Angel of the church of Philadelphia write: These things,
saith the Holy One and the True One, *who hath the key of David: he that openeth, and no man shutteth: shutteth, and no man
8 I know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee an open door, which
no man can shut: because thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will give of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews,
and are not, but do lie: Behold, I will make them to come and adore before thy feet: And they shall know, that I have loved
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee
from the hour of the temptation, which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man
take thy crown.
12 He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of
my God, and he shall go out no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the
new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
14 And to the Angel of the church of Laodicia, write: *These things saith
the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God.
15 I know thy works: that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou
wert cold or hot:
16 But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin
to vomit thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and I have need
of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest
be made rich, and mayest be clothed in white garments, and the shame of thy nakedness may not appear: and anoint thy eyes
with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.
19 *Those whom I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous, therefore,
and do penance.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man shall hear my voice,
and open to me the gate, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me on my throne:
as I also have overcome, and have sat with my Father on his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
3: 1 Thessalonians v. 2.; 2 Peter iii. 10.; Apocalypse xvi. 15.
7: Isaias xxii. 22.; Job xii. 14.
14: John xiv. 6.
19: Proverbs iii. 12.; Hebrews xii. 6.