To the Church in Sardis
1 “To#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style. the angel of the church in Sardis write the following:#tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.
“This is the solemn pronouncement of#tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1. the one who holds#tn Grk “who has” (cf. 1:16). the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a reputation#tn Grk “a name.” that you are alive, but#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context. in reality#tn The prepositional phrase “in reality” is supplied in the translation to make explicit the idea that their being alive was only an illusion. you are dead. 2 Wake up then, and strengthen what remains that was about#tn The verb ἔμελλον (emellon) is in the imperfect tense. to die, because I have not found your deeds complete#tn The perfect passive participle has been translated as an intensive (resultative) perfect here. in the sight#tn Or “in the judgment.” BDAG 342 s.v. ἐνώπιον 3 states, “in the opinion/judgment of…As a rule…of θεός or κύριος; so after…πεπληρωμένος Rv 3:2.” of my God. 3 Therefore, remember what you received and heard,#tn The expression πῶς εἴληφας καὶ ἤκουσας (pw" eilhfa" kai hkousa") probably refers to the initial instruction in the Christian life they had received and been taught; this included doctrine and ethical teaching. and obey it,#tn Grk “keep it,” in the sense of obeying what they had initially been taught. and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will never#tn The negation here is with οὐ μή (ou mh, the strongest possible form of negation in Koine Greek). know at what hour I will come against#tn Or “come on.” you. 4 But you have a few individuals#tn Grk “a few names”; here ὄνομα (onoma) is used by figurative extension to mean “person” or “people”; according to L&N 9.19 there is “the possible implication of existence or relevance as individuals.” in Sardis who have not stained#tn Or “soiled” (so NAB, NRSV, NIV); NCV “have kept their clothes unstained”; CEV “have not dirtied your clothes with sin.” their clothes, and they will walk with me dressed#tn The word “dressed” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. in white, because they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers#tn Or “who overcomes.” will be dressed like them#tn Grk “thus.” in white clothing,#tn Or “white robes.” and I will never#tn The negation here is with οὐ μή (ou mh), the strongest possible form of negation in Koine Greek. erase#tn Or “will never wipe out.” his name from the book of life, but#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context. will declare#tn Grk “will confess.” his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
To the Church in Philadelphia
7 “To#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style. the angel of the church in Philadelphia write the following:#tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.
“This is the solemn pronouncement of#tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1. the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors#tn The word “door” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. Since the following verse does contain the word “door” (θύραν, quran), that word has been supplied as the direct object here. no one can shut, and shuts doors#tn See the note on the word “door” earlier in this verse. no one can open: 8 ‘I know your deeds. (Look! I have put#tn Grk “I have given.” in front of you an open door that no one can shut.)#tn Grk “to shut it,” but English would leave the direct object understood in this case. sn The entire statement is parenthetical, interrupting the construction found in other letters to the churches in 3:1 and 3:15, “I know your deeds, that…” where an enumeration of the deeds follows. I know#tn This translation is based on connecting the ὅτι (Joti) clause with the οἶδα (oida) at the beginning of the verse, giving the content of what is known (see also 3:1, 3:15 for parallels). Because of the intervening clause that is virtually parenthetical (see the note on the word “shut” earlier in this verse), the words “I know that” from the beginning of the verse had to be repeated to make this connection clear for the English reader. However, the ὅτι could be understood as introducing a causal subordinate clause instead and thus translated, “because you have.” that you have little strength,#tn Or “little power.” but#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context. you have obeyed#tn Grk “and having kept.” The participle ἐτήρησας (ethrhsas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. For the translation of τηρέω (threw) as “obey” see L&N 36.19. This is the same word that is used in 3:10 (there translated “kept”) where there is a play on words. my word and have not denied my name. 9 Listen!#tn Grk “behold” (L&N 91.13). I am going to make those people from the synagogue#sn See the note on synagogue in 2:9. of Satan – who say they are Jews yet#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “yet” to indicate the contrast between what these people claimed and what they were. are not, but are lying – Look, I will make#tn The verb here is ποιέω (poiew), but in this context it has virtually the same meaning as δίδωμι (didwmi) used at the beginning of the verse. Stylistic variation like this is typical of Johannine literature. them come and bow down#tn The verb here is προσκυνήσουσιν (proskunhsousin), normally used to refer to worship. at your feet and acknowledge#tn Or “and know,” “and recognize.” that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept#tn Or “obey.” For the translation of τηρέω (threw) as “obey” see L&N 36.19. In the Greek there is a wordplay: “because you have kept my word…I will keep you,” though the meaning of τηρέω is different each time. my admonition#tn The Greek term λόγον (logon) is understood here in the sense of admonition or encouragement. to endure steadfastly,#tn Or “to persevere.” Here ὑπομονῆς (Jupomonhs) has been translated as a genitive of reference/respect related to τὸν λόγον (ton logon). I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away#tn On the verb λάβῃ (labh) here BDAG 583 s.v. λαμβάνω 2 states, “to take away, remove…with or without the use of force τὰ ἀργύρια take away the silver coins (fr. the temple) Mt 27:6. τὰς ἀσθενείας diseases 8:17. τὸν στέφανον Rv 3:11.” your crown.#sn Your crown refers to a wreath consisting either of foliage or of precious metals formed to resemble foliage and worn as a symbol of honor, victory, or as a badge of high office – ‘wreath, crown’ (L&N 6.192). 12 The one who conquers#tn Or “who is victorious”; traditionally, “who overcomes.” I will make#tn Grk “I will make him,” but the pronoun (αὐτόν, auton, “him”) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated here. a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God),#sn This description of the city of my God is parenthetical, explaining further the previous phrase and interrupting the list of “new names” given here. and my new name as well. 13 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “To#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style. the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following:#tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.
“This is the solemn pronouncement of#tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1. the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator#tn Or “the beginning of God’s creation”; or “the ruler of God’s creation.” From a linguistic standpoint all three meanings for ἀρχή (arch) are possible. The term is well attested in both LXX (Gen 40:13, 21; 41:13) and intertestamental Jewish literature (2 Macc 4:10, 50) as meaning “ruler, authority” (BDAG 138 s.v. 6). Some have connected this passage to Paul’s statements in Col 1:15, 18 which describe Christ as ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος (prwtotoko"; e.g., see R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 124) but the term ἀρχή has been understood as either “beginning” or “ruler” in that passage as well. The most compelling connection is to be found in the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:2-4) where the λόγος (logos) is said to be “in the beginning (ἀρχή) with God,” a temporal reference connected with creation, and then v. 3 states that “all things were made through him.” The connection with the original creation suggests the meaning “originator” for ἀρχή here. BDAG 138 s.v. 3 gives the meaning “the first cause” for the word in Rev 3:14, a term that is too philosophical for the general reader, so the translation “originator” was used instead. BDAG also notes, “but the mng. beginning = ‘first created’ is linguistically probable (s. above 1b and Job 40:19; also CBurney, Christ as the ᾿Αρχή of Creation: JTS 27, 1926, 160-77).” Such a meaning is unlikely here, however, since the connections described above are much more probable. of God’s creation: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.#sn Laodicea was near two other towns, each of which had a unique water source. To the north was Hierapolis which had a natural hot spring, often used for medicinal purposes. To the east was Colossae which had cold, pure waters. In contrast to these towns, Laodicea had no permanent supply of good water. Efforts to pipe water to the city from nearby springs were successful, but it would arrive lukewarm. The metaphor in the text is not meant to relate spiritual fervor to temperature. This would mean that Laodicea would be commended for being spiritually cold, but it is unlikely that Jesus would commend this. Instead, the metaphor condemns Laodicea for not providing spiritual healing (being hot) or spiritual refreshment (being cold) to those around them. It is a condemnation of their lack of works and lack of witness. I wish you were either cold or hot! 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going#tn Or “I intend.” to vomit#tn This is the literal meaning of the Greek verb ἐμέω (emew). It is usually translated with a much weaker term like “spit out” due to the unpleasant connotations of the English verb “vomit,” as noted by L&N 23.44. The situation confronting the Laodicean church is a dire one, however, and such a term is necessary if the modern reader is to understand the gravity of the situation. you out of my mouth! 17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth,#tn Grk “and have become rich.” The semantic domains of the two terms for wealth here, πλούσιος (plousios, adjective) and πλουτέω (ploutew, verb) overlap considerably, but are given slightly different English translations for stylistic reasons. and need nothing,” but#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context. do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful,#tn All the terms in this series are preceded by καί (kai) in the Greek text, but contemporary English generally uses connectives only between the last two items in such a series. poor, blind, and naked, 18 take my advice#tn Grk “I counsel you to buy.” and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me#tn Grk “rich, and.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation, repeating the words “Buy from me” to make the connection clear for the English reader. white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness#tn Grk “the shame of the nakedness of you,” which has been translated as an attributed genitive like καινότητι ζωῆς (kainothti zwh") in Rom 6:4 (ExSyn 89-90). will not be exposed, and buy eye salve#sn The city of Laodicea had a famous medical school and exported a powder (called a “Phrygian powder”) that was widely used as an eye salve. It was applied to the eyes in the form of a paste the consistency of dough (the Greek term for the salve here, κολλούριον, kollourion [Latin collyrium], is a diminutive form of the word for a long roll of bread). to put on your eyes so you can see! 19 All those#tn The Greek pronoun ὅσος (Josos) means “as many as” and can be translated “All those” or “Everyone.” I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! 20 Listen!#tn Grk “Behold.” I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home#tn Grk “come in to him.”sn The expression in Greek does not mean entrance into the person, as is popularly taken, but entrance into a room or building toward the person. See ExSyn 380-82. Some interpreters understand the door here to be the door to the Laodicean church, and thus a collective or corporate image rather than an individual one. and share a meal with him, and he with me. 21 I will grant the one#tn Grk “The one who conquers, to him I will grant.” who conquers#tn Or “who is victorious”; traditionally, “who overcomes.” permission#tn Grk “I will give [grant] to him.” to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered#tn Or “have been victorious”; traditionally, “have overcome.” and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”