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1 Και τώ αγέλω της
έν Σάρδεσιν εκκλησίας γράψον" Τάδε λέγει ο έχων τα επτά πνεύμαία τ8 Θεέ, και τες έπλα αςέρας: Οδά
τα έργα, ότι όνομα έχεις, ότι
ζης, και νεκρός εί. 2 Γίνε γρηγορών, και
τήριξαν τα λοιπά, α μέλλει αποθανείς: έγας εύρηκά σε τα ές α σεπληρωμένα
ενώπιον τέ Θεέ μ8. 3 Μνημόνευε έν, σως
ελληφας και, ήκισας, και τηρεί, και μελανό
εαν εν μη γρηίοςήσης, ήξω έπι σε ως κλέπτης, και και μη γνως, ποίαν
ώραν ήξω επι σε. 4 'Αλλ' έχεις ολίγα ονόμαία εν Σάρδεσιν.
εκ έμόλυναν τα μάτια αυτών, και τσεριπαθήσεσι μετ'
εμέ εν λευκοίς· ότι 5 αξιοί είσιν. Ο νικών,
έτος περιβαλείται έν έμαθίοις λευκούς:
CHAP. iii. VER. 1-6. 1 And to the angel of 1 And unto the angel
the Church in Sardis of the Church in Sarwrite: Thus saith he dis, write, These things who hath the seven
saith he that hath the Spirits of God, and seven Spirits of God, the seven
stars. , I and the seven stars; know thy works, that I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou hast a name, that
thou livest, and thou thou livest, and art 2 art dead. Be watch- 2 dead. Be watchful and
ful, and strengthen strengthen the things the things remaining, which remain, that are which are about tu
ready to die: for I die; for I have not have not found thy found thy works per- works perfect before
fect before my God. 3 God. Remember there3 Remember therefore fore how thou hast re
how thou hast received ceived and heard, and and heard, and hold
hold fast, and repent. fast, and repent. For If therefore thou shalt if thou shalt not be not watch, I will come watchful, I will come on thee as a thief, upon thee, as a thief; and thou shalt not and thou shalt not know what hour I will know at what hour I
4 come upon thee. Thou shall come upon thee.
hast a few names even 4 But thou hast a few in Sardis, which have
names in Sardis, which not defiled their garhave not defiled their ments; and they shall garments; and they walk with me in white: shall walk with me in for they are worthy. white, for they are 5 He that overcometh, worthy. He that over- the
Ver. 1. Sardis.] Sardis, situated on the Pactolus, the ancient seat of Cræsus, and of the Lydian kings, was proverbially the seat of Riches. This city had suffered grievously by an earthquake some time before the date of this vision ; but, by the bounty of Tiberius Cæsar, had been restored to splendour*. Sardis possessed, from its natural situation, extraordinary means of acquiring riches. But riches are corruptive, and are apt to 'lead to that supineness in religion, and profligacy in morals, which in this epistle are so severely rebuked.
Sardis is now no more than a village. An ancient Christian church supplies the Turks, who inhabit it, with a mosque.
The few Christians (if such they may be called) who still continue there, are represented to have neither Church nor minister.
Ib. The seven Spirits of God.] See note, ch. i. 4.
Ib. That thou livest, and thou art dead.] In the same figurative language, our Lord commanded his * Strabo ii. p. 931,
disciples to “ let the dead bury their dead *.” The word verços, a dead body, is used in its metaphorical sense ; dead,” as Saint Paul expresses it, “in tres
passes and sins; alienated from the life of Godt.” The same metaphor occurs frequently in Scripture. A person living in the defilements of the world, in whom the spiritual life in Christ hath little or no vigour, is said to be “ dead while he liveth ;" as, on the contrary, of him who meets death in the discharge of his Christian duty, it is pronounced, that “ he liveth, though he die [."
« The use of this metaphor has been so common with the Jews, that, as “ Maimonides informs usg, they proverbially say,
Impii etiam viventes, vocantur mortui, The wicked " are dead, even while they are alive; for he, saith “ Philo ll, who lives a life of sin, Tedvyue TOV Euderpove, “is dead as to a life of happiness: his soul is dead, “and even buried in his lusts and passions. And “ because the whole Gentile world lay more especially “ under these unhappy circumstances, whence the "apostle styles them sinners of the Gentiles , it
was proverbially said by the Jewish doctors, Populi “terrarum, i. e. Ethnici, non vivunt, the heathens “ do not live **.” An attention to this use of the words death, die, dead, &c. in this figurative language of Scripture, will tend to illustrate many passages otherwise obscure. Such are Matt. xxii. 32. iv. 6. Luke i. 79. Rom. vi. 2. viii. 6. 2 Cor. 1. 9, 10. iii. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 6. So likewise in the sequel of this prophetical book, where it is reasonable to expect that such words will be used in this their acknowledged metaphorical sense, as in this expression of our Lord to the Church of Sardis, which serves as a clue to the rest. For the whole is his prophecy or revelation, given to him, and delivered by him * We find also that the early writers of the church, who succeeded the apostles, applied these words in the same figurative meaning. In this acceptation Ignatius uses the word death t. In the persecution of the Christians under M. Aurelius, some had denied the faith; these are styled vença, dead; but being afterwards enabled to profess their belief in Jesus, even in the face of torture and of death, they are then said to be restored to life. The passage is expressive, and may be seen at length in Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. v. c. i. Tertullian has frequently used the words death and die in this figurative sense : Mortuus es qui non es Christianus 5. Apostoli de mortuis vivos faciebant, hæretici de vivis mortuos faciunt .
* Matt. viii. 22.
+ Eph. ii. 1, 5. iv. 18. I John xi. 26. Matt. iv. 16. Rom. viii. 6. Eph. v. 14. 1 Tim. v. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 6. i John iii. 14. Jude 12. § More Nevoch. lib. 1. || Leg. Alleg. c. 1. . Gal. ii. 15.
Whitby on 1 Pet. iv. 6.
Ver. 2. Be watchful.] We are exhorted to the same watchfulness, connected with the metaphor explained in the last verse, in
of Scripture. “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,” &c. |
Ver. 3. Remember.] The fault of Sardis was not heresy, or corruption of doctrine: it was negligence and supineness: she knew the will of her Lord, but
• Ch. i. 1.
+ Epist. ad Trall. sect. 6. I De Carne Christi, sect. 2.
§ De Præsc. Hæret. sect. 30. See also Cyprian's Epistles 10 & 37, where the same metaphor is used. # Eph. v. 14. Matt. xxv. 13.
did it not. She is therefore called upon to remember the doctrines she had received, and to bring them into practice. “ And what I say unto you, I say “ unto all,” says our Lord, “watch.”
Ib. A thief.] The coming of Christ, to take vengeance on his enemies, is represented to be like the approach of a thief in the night, when men, lulled in security, awake suddenly to see their own ruin*. This consideration more especially affects the careless and negligent, such as the Sardians are represented to be. The words of Saint Paul may be applied as the best possible comment on this text: “ But “ of the times and seasons, Brethren, ye have no need " that I write to
you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a “ thief in the night; for when they shall say peace “ and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon
them, as travail upon a woman with child, and
they shall not escape: but ye, Brethren, are not in “ darkness, that that day should overtake you as a " thief; ye are all the children of the light, and the “ children of the day; we are not of the night, nor “ of darkness : therefore let us not sleep as do others, “ but let us watch and be sober 13"
Ver. 4. Names.] We observe the same expression used in the same sense to signify Christian persons, Acts i. 15. and again, Rev. xi. 13. They are those who have their names enrolled in the book of their Lord, who claim a citizenship in his new Jerusalem [ We learn here, as from other passages of Scripture, that pure members of an impure church
• Joel ii. 9. Matt. xxiv. 43. Luke xii. 39, 40. t i Thess. v. 1-7. I See the note below, ver. 5. book of life.