Revelation 3

What is Now continued…

In the previous chapter, we were shown the First Four Letters that John was told to write to the Seven Churches that existed at the time of the writing of the Revelation. In Chapter 3, we are shown the messages to the remaining Three Churches that were not addressed in Chapter 2. These Letters follow the same pattern found in the messages to the First Four Churches with each letter containing instructions for the local churches followed by instructions for anyone today who has ears to hear.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Rev. 3:14-17

“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev. 3:21-22

In this Letter, the local church is rebuked for their self-sufficiency, which made them blind to their need for repentance. It ends with a special message to those who are victorious who are told that they will sit down with the Lord on His throne. As in the previous Letters, the word victorious refers to the those who maintain their testimony to the point of death just as the Lord was victorious at the cross and ascended to the Father’s Throne. The eternal perspective that is displayed in the word victorious can also be seen in the letter to the Church in Philadelphia where we read that those who endure patiently will be kept from the Hour of Trial.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.[1] Rev. 3:10

The promise to those who endure patiently that they will be kept from the Hour of Trial refers to being kept to eternal life, and is not a promise that the church will escape the events of this period. This interpretation corresponds with the following verse where the Lord, similarly, prayed for His disciples that they would be protected from the evil one.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John. 17:15

In these verses, the phrase protect them from comes from the same word in the original (eteresas: SEC 5083)* as the phrase keep you from, which is used in the promise to the church in Philadelphia. In both cases, to be kept or protected refers to the eternal salvation of the person, and is not a promise of divine protection from persecution including martyrdom. This can be seen in the historical account of the Apostles, who Jesus prayed for to be protected, but who were killed for their faith. Accordingly, to be kept or protected does not mean that a person will not suffer martyrdom for their faith, but that their salvation will be guarded to eternal life. [2]

The need to interpret the above phrases in the context of a person’s eternal destination can be seen in another passage of Scripture where Jesus told His disciples that some of them would be put to death, but not a hair of their head would perish.

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke. 21:16-19

In these verses, the disciples are told that not one hair of their head would perish; while at the same time, they are warned that some of them would be put to death. These Scriptures make it clear that when the Lord speaks of being keptprotected, or not perishing, the context is a person’s eternal life and is not a promise that an individual will be kept from persecution that leads to death in this world. From this, we can conclude that during the Hour of Trial, the Inhabitants of the Earth will be tested, and the faith of those who endure patiently will be kept. (We will read more about the Hour of Trial in a later chapter.)

What Will Take Place Later

The Letters to the Seven Churches completes the description of what is now and is followed by the third section of the Revelation concerning what will take place later.

Footnotes:
[1] In the Revelation, the term Inhabitants of the Earth always refers to the unrepentant among mankind. (See: Rev. 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:8, 13:12, 13:14, 17:2, 17:8) Some Bible translations use the phrase those who live on the earth to describe this same group of people.

[2] To be kept or protected refers to a persons position in Christ, which will be protected during the Hour of Trial when the Inhabitants of the Earth will be tested. This conclusion corresponds with how the word from, which is used in the promise to the Church in Philadelphia, can also be translated as through, which would make the passage read:

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you through the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”

The use of the above translation is corroborated by the authors of the NIV Study Bible who use the phrase keep you from the hour of trial, in their translation of this verse, but who also include the following footnote: *3:10 “Keep you from”. The Greek for this phrase can mean either “keep you from undergoing” or “keep you through” the hour of trial. (Zondervan NIV Fully Revised 2002; pg. 1970 footnote)


*The numbers in parenthesis are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Revelation Chapter 2
Revelation Chapter 4

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