Revelation 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 3:1, NIV: "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead."

Revelation 3:1, ESV: "“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."

Revelation 3:1, KJV: "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis 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, NASB: "'To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and yet you are dead."

Revelation 3:1, NLT: "'Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: 'I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive--but you are dead."

Revelation 3:1, CSB: ""Write to the angel of the church in Sardis: Thus says the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead."

What does Revelation 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The fifth of seven letters from Jesus is addressed to the church in Sardis. Sardis was located about 30 miles southeast of Thyatira and 50 miles east of Smyrna. The city commanded a prominent military position atop a 1,500-foot high hill and was accessible only by a steep path on its southern side. This limited access made it easy for only a few men to defend the city. However, Antiochus the Great, a Syrian king, conquered Sardis by sending a soldier through a crack in the city's northern wall. The soldier successfully sneaked into Sardis and opened its gates to Antiochus and His army. In AD 17 an earthquake completely destroyed Sardis. Later, the Romans built a new town below the hill and left the original Sardis deserted.

Jesus identifies himself to the church in Sardis as having the seven spirits of God, likely a reference to His wisdom, and also having the seven stars, a reference to the messengers or pastors of the seven churches. As the all-wise Head of the Church, Jesus knew the church in Sardis had a reputation that didn't match reality. Its reputation alleged it was alive, but really it was spiritually dead.

Since reputation is a good thing, this statement technically is considered a praise from Jesus. However, it's clearly a hollow one. Sardis narrowly avoids joining Laodicea in receiving only words of criticism from Christ.