1) And to the assembly in Sardis write (Sardis means “red ones” and it was a great city 500 years before (alive), but it was conquered by Cyrus and in 17 A.D. it was destroyed by an earthquake. Caesar Tiberius rebuilt it, but it never attained to its former glory (dead). It was very pagan and the Goddess Cybil was the main deity): He who has the seven Spirits (fullness of the Ruach Ha Kodesh-Isa 11.2) of God, and the seven stars, says this: I know your deeds, that you have a name (a reputation) that you are alive, and you are dead (this is a play on words on the city’s history. They had a faith of “profession” without works, which is useless-Zeph 1.12; Jam 2.14-26).
2) Wake up (keep alert) and strengthen the things that remain (remember what you received and heard and keep them, go back to the Torah) which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of my God (there was a problem with their keeping of the Torah).
3) Remember therefore what you have received and heard (in regards to true Torah teaching) and keep it (the doctrines contained in the Torah), and repent (teshuvah, turn). If therefore you will not wake up (spiritually on the alert), I will come like a thief (1 Thes 5.1-5), and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you (sudden because they were not alert).
4) But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments (in comparison to the “lifeless” professors), and they will walk with me in white for they are worthy (there has been a wedding and they have received the righteousness of the groom by faith-Jer 23.5-6; Jer 33.15-16; Isa 4.2; Zech 3.1-10; Dan 12.2-3).
5) He who overcomes (by remaining faithful to the Torah. The Torah-based faith of Israel is the only valid faith given by God and the Scriptures warn of a deception that would come upon many. This counterfeit faith would be based on Torah-lessness (lawlessness, anomianism) and lead to the false messiah (2 Thes 2.3). Millions today have been deceived into a Torah-less faith, yet believe they are part of the “Royal priesthood” because they believe certain things about the Messiah. Yet, the prophet Hosea said that people would be destroyed for a lack of the knowledge (the Torah) in Hos 4.6. Even Matthew warns that there will be those who claim to follow Yeshua but follow a faith not based on the Torah, and they will not enter into the Kingdom-Matt 7.21-24) shall thus be clothed in white garments (a garment called the “kittel.” This relates to several things. First, a priest had his genealogy examined. If it was “perfect” he was given a white robe. If there were some things that were faulty, they were given a black robe. Secondly, these are Rosh Ha Shannah terms. These white garments are mentioned many times in Revelation-6.9-11; 7.9; 7.13-14; 12.17; 14.12; 22.14); and I will not erase his name out of the book of life (everyone who is born is in the book of life. If they die unsaved their name is taken out of it-Psa 69.12; . The Lamb’s book of life-Rev 21.27-contains the names of all who have been born again, therefore, it is impossible to be blotted out of that book) , and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6) He who has an ear (to perceive doctrinal truth), let him hear (be instructed by it, obey) what the Spirit says to the assemblies.
7) And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly in Philadelphia (means “brotherly love” and this city was also destroyed in 17 A.D. It was a center for wine and Bacchus worship. Drunkenness was a problem) write: He who is holy (separated to God), who is true, who has the key of David (access, total authority to the “house” or the Kingdom-Isa 22.15-25), who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens (this is a statement refuting the Babylonian Mysteries that were prevalent in Asia Minor where these assemblies in Revelation were. These mysteries said that the god Janus was the one who opened and closed the door to “heaven”-p. 210, The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop), says this:
8) I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door (of opportunity, because Yeshua, not the false gods, is the only one who can do this) which no man can shut, because you have a little power (spiritual muscle) and have kept my word (the Torah) and have not denied my name (acting on the Torah is linked to the authority in his name).
9) Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan (the false teachers) who say they are Jews and are not (nowhere are unbelieving Jews called non-Jews, so these were Gentiles pretending to be Jews for an advantage) but lie, behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet and to know that I have loved you.
10) Because you have kept the word of my perseverance (another reference to the Torah-Rev 14.12), I also will keep you from the hour of testing (the Chevlai shell Mashiach, or Birth-pains of the Messiah, the Tribulation period), that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.
11) I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have in order that no one take your crown (rewards for Torah obedience, remember, leading up to Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Ha Din we have the understanding that we will be judged, with rewards).
12) He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God (Wisdom builds her house (temple) and cuts out seven pillars in Prov 9.1, and so this means that the believer will be a support for the interests of the Lord and his Kahal. This alludes to the two pillars that Solomon built) and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of my God (the letter “shin” in Hebrew stands for the name of God. The priests form a “shin” with their hands when they bless the people and “place” his name upon them), and the name of the city of my God (the “shin” is placed on the topography of Jerusalem even today), the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name (the believers make up the new Jerusalem-Rev 21.2; Isa 61.10; 62.12; Rev 13.6. The “new” name mentioned is associated with the establishment of the new Jerusalem-Isa 62.1-12.
13) He who has an ear (to perceive doctrinal truth), let him hear (be instructed by it, obey) what the spirit says to the assemblies.
14) And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly in Laodicea (means “peoples rights” and was very wealthy, a vacation spot. It was a medical center and was known for a healing eye salve. It was a major banking center and devoted to pleasure. They arrogantly believed itself to be the “right with God” but were not) write: The Amen (means “so be it” and relates to the creation by his word, the originator and beginning, the creator), the faithful (“emunah”=a word related to “amen”) and true (“emet”=another word related to “amen”) Witness (Greek “martus” or martyr), the Beginning of the creation of God (meaning “chief” or first in rank and power, having precedence) says this:
15) I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot (they were complacent-Zeph 1.12); I would that you were cold or hot (the opposite of “hot” is being apathetic, not cold).
16) So because you are lukewarm (water that is hot can be used, and water that is cold can be used. But lukewarm water is useless) and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (vomit, or death).
17) Because you say, “I am rich (spiritually) and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (in contrast to Smyrna which was spiritually rich).
18) I advise you to buy from me (by faith) gold (spiritual riches) refined by fire (pure) that you may become rich (born again spiritually), and white garments (righteousness from God, wedding garments and have a part in the resurrection of the just) that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness (this relates back to the Garden of Eden and the first sin. Before that they were clothed in the kivod, or radiance, of God similar to the white garments just mentioned) may not be revealed, and eye salve (symbolic for the Torah-Psa 19.8) to anoint your eyes that you may see (spiritually).
19) Those whom I love, I reprove (convict) and discipline (train), be zealous (break the apathy, become “hot” and properly motivated) therefore and repent (turn).
20) Behold, I stand at the door (of the Laodicean congregation) and knock (alludes to his sudden coming-James 5.9); if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to (the building, the congregation), and will dine with him (this alludes to a meal consecrated to God, or what is called a “Lord’s Supper.” The table was seen as an altar and the food you eat teaches you about the concepts concerning the Kingdom of God. It is seen as “fellowship” or “communion” with God but it is not to be understood in the way it is done today. See “The Lord’s Supper” this site for detailed information) and he with me (this verse is often used by churchmen in an evangelistic message, but the context here is that these people knew who the Lord was, but it is talking to those who have fallen away into a faith not based on the Torah).
21) He who overcomes (the lukewarmness by returning and remaining faithful to the Torah-based faith that God gave to Israel) I will grant to him to sit down (rest from a system of works righteousness) with me on my throne (the door in v 20 leads to the throne), as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne (illustrating the fact that Yeshua and the Father are one, but distinct from him, worthy of the honor and glory the Father receives. This can only be said about someone who is God, or this is blasphemy by John).
22) He who has an ear (to perceive doctrinal truth) let him hear (be instructed by it and obey) what the spirit says to the assemblies. This is the last time the “assembly” is mentioned till 22.16).
In the messages to these seven assemblies, we should be able to see ourselves and turn back to God where we need to and to see what we are doing right. They also have an eschatological aspect to them because we need to prepare for his coming, especially in these last days.