on Revelation 3 :1
The seven Spirits, of God - See the note on Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:16 (note), etc.
Thou hast a name that thou livest - Ye have the reputation of Christians, and consequently of being alive to God, through the quickening influence of the Divine Spirit; but ye are dead - ye have not the life of God in your souls, ye have not walked consistently and steadily before God, and his Spirit has been grieved with you, and he has withdrawn much of his light and power.
on Revelation 3 :1
The Epistle to the Church at Sardis
The contents of the epistle to the church at Sardis Revelation 3:1-6 are:
(1) The usual salutation to the angel of the church, Revelation 3:1.
(2) the usual reference to the attributes of the Saviour - those referred to here being that he had the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, Revelation 3:1.
(3) the assurance that he knew their works, Revelation 3:1.
(4) the statement of the uniqueness of the church, or what he saw in it - that it had a name to live and was dead, Revelation 3:1.
(5) a solemn direction to the members of the church, arising from their character and circumstances, to be watchful, and to strengthen the things which remained, but which were ready to die; to remember what they had received, and to hold fast what had been communicated to them, and to repent of all their sins, Revelation 3:2-3.
(6) a threat that if they did not do this, he would come suddenly upon them, at an hour which they could not anticipate, Revelation 3:3.
(7) a commendation of the church as far as it could be done, for there were still a few among them who had not defiled their garments, and a promise that they should walk before him in white, Revelation 3:4.
(8) a promise, as usual, to him that should be victorious. The promise here is, that he should walk before him in white; that his name should not be blotted out of the book of life; that he should be acknowledged before the Father, and before the angels, Revelation 3:5.
(9) the usual call on all persons to hear what the Spirit said to the churches.
Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the provinces of Asia Minor, and was situated at the foot of Mount Tmolus, in a fine plain watered by the river Pactolus, famous for its golden sands. It was the capital where the celebrated Croesus, proverbial for his wealth, reigned. It was taken by Cyrus (548 bc), when Croesus was king, and was at that time one of the most splendid and opulent cities of the East. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Romans, and under them sank rapidly in wealth and importance. In the time of Tiberius it was destroyed by an earthquake, but was rebuilt by order of the emperor. The inhabitants of Sardis bore an ill repute among the ancients for their voluptuous modes of life. Perhaps there may be an allusion to this fact in the words which are used in the address to the church there: "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments."
Successive earthquakes, and the ravages of the Saracens and the Turks, have reduced this once-celebrated city to a heap of ruins, though exhibiting still many remains of former splendor. The name of the village which now occupies the place of this ancient capital is Sart. It is a miserable village, comprising only a few wretched cottages, occupied by Turks and Greeks. There are ruins of the theater, the stadium, and of some ancient churches. The most remarkable of the ruins are two pillars supposed to have belonged to the temple of Cybele; and if so, they are among the most ancient in the world, the temple of Cybele having been built only three hundred years after that of Solomon. The Acropolis serves well to define the site of the city. Several travelers have recently visited the remains of Sardis, and its appearance will be indicated by a few extracts from their writings. Arundell, in his "Discoveries in Asia Minor," says: "If I were asked what impresses the mind most strongly in beholding Sardis, I should say its indescribable solitude, like the darkness of Egypt - darkness that could be felt. So the deep solitude of the spot, once the 'lady of kingdoms,' produces a corresponding feeling of desolate abandonment in the mind, which can never be forgotten."
John Hartley, in regard to these ruins, remarks: "The ruins are, with one exception, more entirely gone to decay than those of most of the ancient cities which we have visited. No Christians reside on the spot: two Greeks only work in a mill here, and a few wretched Turkish huts are scattered among the ruins. We saw the churches of John and the Virgin, the theater, and the building styled the Palace of Croesus; but the most striking object at Sardis is the temple of Cybele. I was filled with wonder and awe at beholding the two stupendous columns of this edifice, which are still remaining: they are silent but impressive witnesses of the power and splendor of antiquity."
on Revelation 3 :1
3:1 The seven spirits of God - The Holy Spirit, from whom alone all spiritual life and strength proceed. And the seven stars - which are subordinate to him. Thou hast a name that thou livest - A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance. But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty appearance vanishes before him.