The church in Sardis:

Reveals who Jesus is:

1   And unto the angel of the church in Sardis [a luxurious city in Asia Minor, the capital of Lydia (Strong. 2001. # 4554)] write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1).

The city of Sardis which is modern Sart. It was located approximately thirty miles south-east of Thyatira and fifty miles east of Smyrna. Situated on a high and narrow strip, the fortress was militarily unbeatable. The city could be reached only from the south along this narrow and elevated strip that ended at the cliff where the fortress was built. Steep cliffs protected the city so that it could not be scaled. Because of its strong defenses, Sardis became the capital of Lydia, but its location prohibited expansion and forced it to remain small. It was completely dependent on the fertile valley below for all the necessities of life, which had to be carried up to the city. (Kistemaker. 2001. Pg. 120).

The church in Sardis endured no opposition from the Jews. The gospel that the local Christians proclaimed and applied was too weak to be offensive to the Jews. The few Christians posed no threat to the pagan religions. It was this attitude of having very little spiritual passion that protected the church in Sardis from persecution. Its insignificant lifestyle produced religious peace with the world but it resulted in spiritual death in the sight of the LORD God.  (Kistemaker. 2001. Pg. 122).

Jesus identified Himself as having the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 3:1). Jesus revealed that he has the seven spirits, and full authority over them. He commissions the Holy Spirit to make both believers and unbelievers know him and to fan the flames of renewal in churches that are waning. The Spirit is the mediator to bring new life into the dying church of Sardis in the hope to motivate idle members to action. Jesus holds the seven stars in His right hand and they are His messengers to the seven churches. The seven spirits are appointed to proclaim the Word of God within the seven churches. “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:1-4).

Jesus proclaims He has the seven stars. (Revelation 3:1). “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:20).

Jesus acknowledges their works:

 I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1). Jesus proclaims He knows their words. The church in Sardis has a reputation that they are alive but they are dead. The church in Sardis had become a nonentity because it failed to contribute to spreading of the gospel. The church in Sardis was seen as an active alive church on the outside. Jesus looked deep inside the church and found they were dead. They were not spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today we can see this condition in our churches. They are bringing in great amounts of money and they are great in entertaining the congregation, however, they are not spreading the gospel. That is why they would experience spiritual deadness.

Jesus Rebuke and admonished the church of Sardis

2 “Be watchful [metaph. give strict attention to, be cautious, active to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one (Strong. 2001. # 1127)], and strengthen [make firm (Strong. 2001. # 4741)] the things which remain [the rest of the things that remain (Strong. 2001. # 3062)], that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect [To fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment (Strong. 2001. # 4137)] before God.” (Revelation 3:2).

Jesus warns the church in Sardis to give strict attention to those things that remain and are about to die. The church in Sardis was warned to be firm those things that remain. The church in Sardis was warned to be cautious, actively to take heed to the things which are ready to die. Jesus stated that at this point their works were not found to be perfect. The works of the church in Sardis did not fulfil the foundation of the Will of God. Those things that function in the church in Sardis should be strengthened. The works of faith and love that is practiced by only a few devoted members have the potential of dying out.

3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3).

Jesus reminded the church in Sardis to remember how they had received, heard, held fast, and repented. The people had first heard and believed the message of the gospel and put their faith to work. Jesus gave the command to keep on remembering what their parents in the church had done, when they received the message of salvation, heard it, and obediently followed its instructions and went forth to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church in Sardis should remember the teachings of the gospel so they shall be known, followed, and obeyed and to repent of their idleness and inactivity.

Jesus continued to warn the church in Sardis if they shall not watch, Jesus will come on them as a thief, and they shall not know what hour He will come upon them. The warning is honestly straightforward saying if they neglect to heed the warning they will experience the coming judgment of the Lord. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is inevitable and unexpected. Jesus will come as a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 recalls; “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” Then again in 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

The Promise Jesus made to those who overcomes:

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled [Those who have not kept themselves pure from the defilements of sin, who have soiled themselves by fornication and adultery (Strong. 2001. # 3435)] their garments; and they shall walk with me in white [Of white garments as the sign of innocence and purity of the soul (Strong. 2001. # 3022)]: for they are worthy [of one who has merited anything worthy (Strong. 2001. # 514)]. (Revelation 3:4).

Jesus declares the church in Sardis that a few people in Sardis had not defiled soiled their clothes. This could mean there were a few who kept themselves pure from sin.  That these few kept themselves pure from outside influences and that they did not become accustomed to the religious practices of that others side of the people in the church in Sardis. There is hope for the slumbering church in Sardis, where a a few members are still faithful to the Lord in the church in Sardis. The Lord knows His faithful followers individually by name and cherishes their love for Him. 2 Timothy 2:19 illustrates the church in Sardis; “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The small number of faithful servants had not soiled their garments, which means that they had not been influenced by the secular culture of their day. Their spiritual conduct and their moral lifestyle remained faithful to the Lord. The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (Psalm 94:11). They were not dishonored by the sins of adultery and idolatry; they had not undermined the message of the gospel; and they had refrained from compromise. These faithful followers as few as they were are still in the sight of Jesus who declared them worthy, not because of their own accomplishments but because of His. (Revelation 3:4).

5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5).

The one who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments. (Revelation 3:5).The white garments denotes purity and are the righteous acts of the saints. Those clothed with white robes are the great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and people, and tongues, that stood before the throne, and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9).The ones coming out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelations 7: 14).

I will never erase his name from the book of life. Their names will not be blotted out of the book of life. (Revelation 3:5). The Book of Life is a register of names kept in heaven. It is a list of those who will survive the appearance of wrath of the LORD God. “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:16–17). According to the book of Revelation 21:27, only those whose names are in the Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem. The promise made to those who overcome that they will not be blotted out of the Book of Life assures them of their final victory. “The Lamb’s book of life” specifies that the record belongs to Christ, who purchased the redemption of all those found recorded in the book (Revelation 21:27).

“I will confess his name before the Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5). Jesus has referred to the promise of confessing before the Father during His early ministry. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32). Then again in Philippians 2:11 “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Mark tells us; “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:” (Luke 12:8). Jesus confesses the names of all those who confess his name on earth before His Father in Heaven and his angels.

6 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:6). The church in Sardis is no different than the other six churches in receiving the warning of if they have ears that is the faculty of perceiving with the mind, the faculty of understanding and knowing (Strong. 2001. #3775)].This message also expresses the capability of a person or church to perceiving with the mind, gaining understanding and knowing what the Spirit is expressing. This messages goes beyond the capability of a person to hear and requires the individual or church to be willing to listen to and obediently do as the words of the Spirit of the Church of Sardis. (Revelation 3:6).


 Kistemaker, Simon J. and Hendriksen, William. (2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation, vol. 20, New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  1953–2001), 120–135.

Strong, James. (2001).The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:

Holstein, Joanne “The church in Sardis:.” Becker Bible Studies Library June 2015.<,>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015, June) “The church in Sardis:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from,.

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015) “The church in Sardis:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (June),, (accessed).

Joanne Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is a graduate of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling with Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on historical development of Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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