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Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation Study 5

Study 5     Rev 3.1-13          Churches I Know       


This was a city that had been in existence for some considerable time, Cyrus of Persia had earlier captured it, and then later by Antiochus the Great, but it had been a very prosperous city, now in decline.

The church was likely to been established during Paul’s third visit to Asia, when people gathered to hear him, there is no record of him visiting the city.  Many in Asia turned away from the teaching initially given; they introduced new doctrines, which were serious deviation from the truth. This was in common with the challenges referred to in previous churches where we saw the false teaching that was condemned.

The challenge hits hard to this church, they have a name, they were living on the history of their belief rather than in the experience of Christ focussed worship and teaching.

  • A nominally living church but in reality it was dead, in that it was not carrying out the true functions expected from the Lord.
  • There is a ‘wake up’ call,
    • They were as if asleep and ignoring what was happening
    • They were given a warning about their indifference
    • They were being called to make some response to the situation that was inherent in the church.
    • The church was ineffective
  • Their work was ‘unfinished’, an unfinished article is of no use to anyone, a dress without a neck, a car without all its wheels… they could be seen as a laughing stock, or scorned or even worse a hindrance to the gospel work.

There was a major call to repent and return to the faith of their salvation.

  • They had been given the truth, now return to it
  • Rid themselves of the false teaching and hold on to the true
  • But it all had to begin with repentance, a recognition that they had departed from the Lord and needed to act in penitence to return to him.

There was finally a promise to the faithful, who had not strayed from the truth, it relates to the future when the Lord has returned and they will be with all the faithful, dressed in the robes of righteousness, there is the absolute promise that their names are in the Book of Life, and cannot be removed. For their faithfulness, they will be acknowledged before the Almighty God, as resolute followers of Jesus, they will also be recognised as such by the angelic powers in heaven. A plea to them, to listen and then to act on the words of the Spirit.


A city quite close to Sardis, and was in an earthquake zone, it appears that one severely damaged the city in 17 AD, the Roman Emperor, Tiberius granted it exemption from taxes to allow it to be rebuilt.  This was a church formed, at the same time as others, when Paul was in Ephesus. It is one of the churches that received no critical comment. It reflects the true evangelical move of the time, yet existed alongside other churches that had been led into some areas of apostasy.

The introduction to their message comes from the one described as Holy and True, the key holder, who knew their deeds. They are reminded of the eternal and powerful nature of the one who was speaking to them. He was in total control and no one could overrule his decision. They were recognised as being evangelical witnesses, pushing through an open door with the truth of the gospel, a door that could not be closed because they were continually using it. They were also reminded that God controls the door and sometimes he does close it. A work has concluded its ministry and the work needs to be done elsewhere. Yet they were not a strong group in numbers, but were faithful to the Lord, true to the doctrine and not open to false teaching. They were to be held up as an example to those who had followed false teaching, the synagogue of Satan, as previously been mentioned, the pagan Roman religions and cults. It is also a reference to attempts to introduce OT ritual into the NT Church. They would be seen as true followers and the apostate ones would fall in recognition to their truth, just as they would have to bow at the feet of the Lord Jesus. They were promised the protection from the tribulation that would come to the world, to those who had refused to accept Jesus, and would be taken at the Rapture.

In God’s timescale, he is coming soon. So they were exhorted to continue in their faith, their reward would be the crown. The victorious church would be the pillar, or permanent structure on which the new Temple in the New Jerusalem would be based and founded on. They will bear his name, and the city name, his new name that comes as being King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Faithful works will bring the crown of his reward. They were told to listen and hear and be encouraged.











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