The Book of Revelation Part 7: Sardis and the Spiritually Dead Pastor

Artemis
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’-Revelation 3:1-6
Commentary
Verse 1: Sardis, once the capital of Lydia (located in modern Turkey), was a city of considerable importance. It was noted for its commercial activities and for the manufacture of carpets and woolen goods. The temple of Artemis at Sardis was one of the largest in the world, and she is connected to Diana, as we saw in the section on Ephesus.

"He who has the seven spirits" is the sovereign Lord of the seven spirits who stand before the throne of God. Some interpreters take these words to mean that Christ possesses the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. My personal take is that these are seven spirit beings, likely cherubim, who are throne guardians in the heavenly realm. Christ "has" them; that is, He rules over them. They are at His command.

He who has the seven stars is also Christ, who exercises a special care for the ministers of His church, symbolized as stars. Christ, the searcher of hearts, knows the true state of this particular presbyter's soul. He appears to be a faithful servant of God and a true shepherd of souls on the outside, but in reality he is spiritually dead. His life is a fraud.

Ruins of Sardis
Verses 2-5: Christ now exhorts the presbyter of Sardis to arouse himself to a realization of his sad plight. He must repent and stir up his zeal to save the few members of his flock who remain faithful. The pastor is responsible to God for their salvation. He is like a watchman set upon a watchtower:

"But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand."-Ezekiel 33:6

These words of the prophet Ezekiel are also a warning that no one can make an unworthy pastor an excuse for his sins. He still has the teachings of Christ which are always efficacious whether taught by a worthy or an unworthy pastor. Unfortunately, the church of Sardis is in very sad condition, yet it numbers a few faithful souls who shall be saved. They shall be clothed with the white garments of eternal life and their names will be found in the Book of Life.

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