LESSON 10 (Revelation 3: 14-22): The Church of the Laodicea’s
- The address, vs. 14: a. To the church of the Laodicea’s (Laodicea, R.V.). Laodicea
Was an important city in Phrygia, southeast of Philadelphia, on the river Lycos, noted for its industry and commerce prosperous? The letter to the Colossians was also intended for the church in Laodicea (Col. 2:1). The church had been in danger of being led astray by ascetic, Judaizing philosophers (Col.2:8, 16ff.). At the time the addresses this letter to her, however, its outstanding sin was spiritual self-complacency accompanied, perhaps by worldliness. b. The self designation of the Lord is in accord with the serious message of rebuke and judgment of the letter; (1) The Amen: the personal certainty and ground of truth; hence (2) The faithful and true (genuine) witness. Cf. 1:5. (3) The beginning of the creation of God: the reference is not to Christ as the “first-born of every creature: (Col. 1:15), but to His being the principle of all creation, according to His divinity, (archee, beginning, also means: living principle).
- The condition of the church, vss. 15-17: a. For “I know thy works” see notes on
preceding letters. b. Figuratively the condition of the church is described as “neither cold nor hot”. We must not apply each of these terms to particular spiritual states (“hot” is ardent love, “cold” is hostility, etc.) for then the Lord could not say: “would thou wert…cold:. But the expression as a whole as designating a condition similar to a lukewarm drink of water; hence: nauseating to the Lord. This in harmony with: “I will spue they out of my mouth”, vs. 16, i.e. utterly reject thee. c. Concretely this is described in vs. 17; the church is self-complacent, rich in self, not in Christ: (1) She conceives of herself as being “rich, and enriched, and having need of nothing”, i.e. she thinks that she is full of spiritual goods; she is perfectly satisfied with her knowledge, holiness, etc. (2) And, therefore, she does not know that in reality she is very miserable; yet, such she was: wretched and miserable (an object of pity) because s he was: poor (in the riches of grace) and blind (ignorant of true riches and her own misery), and naked (without condition and progress in righteousness, the true righteousness in Christ).
- The counsel she receives; vs. 18: a. “I counsel thee to buy of me”. (1) There is a
note of irony in this: the church is rich, let her buy then. (2) In reality she could only receive by grace. The essence of this act of “buying” from Christ is the act of faith. b. What the church is counseled to buy: (1) Gold refined by fire: spiritual riches of grace in Christ, completely pure. (2) White rainment: the imputed righteouseness of God in Christ, appropriated by faith; covering the shame of our guilt: “that thou mayest be clothed, and the shame of thy nakedness does not appear”. (5) Eyesalve: a mixture of drugs applied to the eyes. Spiritually: the enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit, spiritual knowledge through the Word of God, “eyes to see”.
- Exhortation, vs. 19: The Lord is motivated by love: “As many as I love” is still
addressed to the whole church, but with a view to the true children of God in the church. Them He “rebukes” ( convicts of sin ) and “chastens”, educates, corrects as children (paideuein in Greek ). b. And therefore, they must hear and respond to His Word: (1) They must be zealous, ardent in spiritual activity. (2) And repent, as the first and fundamental manifestation of this zeal.
- Promise, vss 20,21: A promise for the present to him that hears His voice and
opens the door: (1) The Lord stands at the door: not of the heart of the individual as is the common explanation (no man can open the door of his heart to the Lord ), but as is evident from the whole context, at the door of the church of Laodicea. He stands there with His merchandise
( gold, etc. ) and knocks. (2) The church as such He will spue out of His mouth, vs. 16. (3) But some are true children of God in that church. They will hear and open. (4) And with them the Lord continues His church. Sup with them: communion. b. A promise for the future to him that overcometh: in the midst of temptations endures unto the end: a. The promise is: to sit with Christ on the throne: (1) Christ sits in His Father’s throne: exalted at the right hand of God; royal power and victory. (2) In this Mediator’s glory, royal power, victory, judgment, the faithful shall share. B. The full realization of this promise will come in the kingdom of glory.
- 23: He that hath an ear, etc.
LESSON XI (Revelation 4) : Vision of the Heavenly Realm
- General significance of this chapter: Chapter 4 is basic for all that follows in the
book of Revelation. Just as chapter 1:9-20 is basic for the first part of the book, so chapter 4 is basic for the revelation of the “ things that must be hereafter”. And this includes also chapter 5, which pictures the Lamb as worthy to open the book with its seven seals. b. Here in chapter 4 we have the vision of the throne of God, an ideal representation of the new order that is to come at the parousia, the realization of which is the efficient cause of all that is revealed in the rest of the book.
- 1,2z: introductory: a. “After this I looked”, i.e. after the vision in chs. 1-3;
indicating that here we have the beginning of a new vision. b. “and, behold a door was open in heaven”: heaven is here presented as the dwellingplace of God; a door is opened to give John entrance (“in the spirit” of course ). c. A voice, “the first”, i.e. the as in ch. 1:10, bade him: “Come up hither”; this for the purpose that John might be shown “the things which shall be hereafter”. The sum of all things and their basis is really shown John in the vision that now follows. d. “ And immediately I was in the spirit” (cf. 1:10 ). This does not mean that for a time John was “ out of the spirit”, for then he could neither have seen the open door nor heard the voice, but that “ in the spirit” he is transported to heaven, and prepared to see the heavenly vision.
- 2b, 3, 5, 6a: The throne in heaven: a. “A throne was set in heaven: : symbol
of sovereignty and judgment. b. “and one sat on the throne”. The one that sits on the throne is God Triune. His form is not described, for God is not describable, but His glory is compared to (1) A sardius, a precious stone of a bright red hue: fire, holiness, wrath. (2) And a jasper: not certain what stone is meant; probably a stone like a diamond, white: righteousness, victory, glory. c. “Round about the throne (above it ) a rainbow” (1) sign of God’s all embracing covenant, as it also comprehends “the creature”. (2) With the color of an emerald, soft green, the color of budding nature, spring, hope. d. Out of the throne proceed lightnings, and thundering, and voices, vs. 5: to be taken together as symbols of God’s power in judgment. cf. Ps. 29 & 97: 2-5. c. Before the throne there were “seven lamps of fire burning, which are the seven Spirits of God”… cf. 1:4. Here they are especially the Spirit as He is in Christ, the seven eyes of the Lamb (cf. ch. 5: 6), illuminating, searching, judging, convicting of sin, righteousness, judgment. cf. John 16:8-11. f. And also before the throne “ a sea of glass, like unto crystal”. (1) There are many arbitrary interpretations of this: baptism, Scripture, repentance, the basis of the throne of grace and righteousness, etc. (2) The simple meaning is evident: it is a means to reflect the glory of God on the throne; all the works of God as they reflect His glory. Thus it will be in the new kingdom.
- 4; the elders: a. Elders must be understood (1) Not as officebearers, but as
the “ eldest”. (2) As representatives of the Church. (3) Their number must be explained as twice 12, so that they represent the Church of the old and new dispensations ( twelve patriarchs, twelve apostles ). b. They reign ( sit on thrones ), in subjection to God ( their thrones are round about the central throne ), in the glory of perfection ( white garments ), and as those that have overcome ( golden crowns of victory, stefanous ).
- 6b, 7, 8a: the four living creatures: a. They are “in the midst of the throne and
round about the throne”, i.e. each in the center of one of four sides of the throne. b. Together they represent “ the creature” as it is now in bondage, but shall be delivered, indicated by the number 4. ( the lion: king, the ox: strengeth; “face as a man” : animal intelligence: eagle: freedom of movement ) . c. They have six wings: free and complete movement, development, readiness to serve. (Isa. 6 ). d. Full of eyes: the spirit, the life and consciousness of the creatures. cf. 5:6.
- Their praise: The four creatures (1) Constantly ( day and night ) shout the thrice
holy ( all things are consecrated to God ), to the “Lord God omnipotent”, the Sovereign Who does all His good pleasure, which was and is and is to come. Cf. 1:4. ( 1 ) And they ascribe glory and honor and thanksgiving to the eternally living One. b. And the Church ( the elders )
( 1 ) Catch the adoration of the creatures. ( 2 ) And express it: ( a ) by humble worship. ( b )
And by praising Him as the One that is worthy to receive all glory and honor and power. ( c ) Because all things always were and were created on account of His will and good pleasure.
LESSON XII (Revelation 5 ): The Sealed Book
- The challenge; vss, 1-3: The book, vs. 1: a. On the rights hand of him that sat
on the throne. The right hand is symbol of authority and power. God alone has power and authority over the contents of the book, and to dispense with it as He pleases. b. The book: ( 1 )
Completely covered with writing. The book is to be conceived as a book-roll on a staff. Usually only the inside of such a book was covered with writing. In this case the writing is on the outside too. Indicating completeness. Nothing can be added or subtracted. (2 ) Sealed with seven seals: the seals are fastened to the end of the roll, so that only a part can be opened at the same time. Symbolizes: security; mystery. The number seven indicates that the contents have to do with the complete and perfected kingdom of God. ( six plus one ). c. Meaning of the book: ( 1 ) Symbol of God’s decree with respect to the things that must shortly come to pass.
( 2 ) Whoever receives the book thereby receives power to execute the counsel and to perfect the kingdom, not merely to reveal the contents. This is evident from the effect of it being opened. ( ch. 6 ff. ). The contents are not read, but they come to pass when the seals are opened. 2. The challenge by the angel; vs. 2: a. A strong angel: strong because his “ great voice” penetrates the whole universe. b. Sends forth the challenge: “ Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof?” ( 1 ) “ Worthy” signifies right and power. ( 2 ) To open the book is to have authority to realize God’s decree in the realization of the kingdom, to bring salvation, to destroy the powers of darkness, sin and death. c. Silence, vs. 3: No one in all the universe
( heaven, earth, hell, angel, man, demon ) responds to the challenge. By this silence the whole world acknowledges that it is unworthy and unable.
Note: All the world must acknowledge that God alone is able to save and perfect His kingdom. This is the signification of this challenge and its silent answer.
- The Lamb is worthy to open the book; 4-7: 1. John weeps violently because it
now appears that the book must remain closed, vs. 4. 2. However, one of the twenty-four elders, representing the Church, comforts him, by assuring him that the Lamb is worthy to open the book. Christ is here called: a. The lion of the tribe of Judah. The reference is to Gen. 49:9. It pictures Christ in His royal power to overcome and subdue His enemies. b. The root of David:
from the viewpoint of revelation and the kingdom and covenant of God, Chist is the root of David, not David the root of Christ, though according to the flesh Christ is the sprout from the root. c. He hath overcome to open the book: ( 1 ) By His death and resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God, Christ hath overcome. ( 2 ) And thus has the right and the power to open the book and fulfill God’s counsel concerning the kingdom. vs. 5. 3. The Lamb takes the book; vss. 6, 7: a. the Lamb: ( 1 ) Stands in the midst of the throne, the four living creatures, the elders. ( 2 ) Stands as though it has been slain, i.e. He lives and is glorified, but the marks of His having been through violent death are upon Him. Reference to His sacrifice that made Him worthy to open the book. ( 3 ) Has seven horns. The horn is symbol of royal power and strength. (cf. Ps 89:17 ). Seven is the number of completeness in the kingdom of God. ( 4 ) And has seven eyes: The Spirits of God. Cf. ch. 1:4; ch. 3:1; ch. 4:5. b. He eats the book: ( 1 )
He takes it. This indicates the consciousness on the part of the Lamb of His own worthiness and calling. He answers the challenge by the angle. ( 2 ) And is ready to loose the seals thereof.
Note: What John here beholds in a vision was liberally realized when Christ was exalted at the right hand of God and received all power to complete His kingdom.
- Praise and adoration; 8-14: 1. By the elders and the living creatures, vss. 8-10:
- All fall down in worship before the Lamb. They ( the elders ) have golden harps
( to accompany their “ new song”) and vials with incense: the prayers of the saints, offered through Christ to God. c. Sing a new song: “worthy is the Lamb”. His worthiness is based on: (1 ) His atoning death. ( 2 ) By which he purchased them out of the whole world unto God.
( 3 ) And made them a kingdom and priests ( see on 1: 6 ). ( 4 ) And they reign in Christ, with Him on earth. 2. By the angels; vss. 11, 12: a. An innumerable company of them, surrounding the throne, creatures, elders. B. Ascribing sevenfold (complete ) praise to the Lord. 3. By all creating, fourfold praise ( blessing and honor and glory and dominion ) to God and to the Lord. 4. And all this heavenly praise is fittingly closed y the final response of the living creatures, and by the worship of the elders.