3:1 “To 7 the angel of the church in Sardis write the following: 8
“This is the solemn pronouncement of 9 the one who holds 10 the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a reputation 11 that you are alive, but 12 in reality 13 you are dead.
1 tn Although the first possessive pronoun σου (sou) is connected to τὰ ἔργα (ta erga) and the second σου is connected to ὑπομονήν (Jupomonhn), semantically κόπον (kopon) is also to be understood as belonging to the Ephesian church. The translation reflects this.
2 tn The translation “tolerate” seems to capture the sense of βαστάσαι (bastasai) here. BDAG 171 s.v. βαστάζω 2.b.β says, “bear, endure…κακούς Rv 2:2.…bear patiently, put up with: weaknesses of the weak Ro 15:1; cf. IPol 1:2; evil Rv 2:3.”
3 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the participle was broken off from the previous sentence and translated as an indicative verb beginning a new sentence here in the translation.
4 tn Grk “and faith.” Here and before the following term καί (kai) has not been translated because English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the next to last and last terms in a list.
5 tn Or “perseverance.”
6 tn The phrase “In fact” is supplied in the translation to bring out the ascensive quality of the clause. It would also be possible to supply here an understood repetition of the phrase “I know” from the beginning of the verse (so NRSV). Grk “and your last deeds [that are] greater than the first.”
7 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style.
8 tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.
9 tn Grk “These things says [the One]…” See the note on the phrase “this is the solemn pronouncement of” in 2:1.
sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1.
10 tn Grk “who has” (cf. 1:16).
11 tn Grk “a name.”
12 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
13 tn The prepositional phrase “in reality” is supplied in the translation to make explicit the idea that their being alive was only an illusion.
14 tn Grk “I have given.”
15 tn Grk “to shut it,” but English would leave the direct object understood in this case.
sn The entire statement is parenthetical, interrupting the construction found in other letters to the churches in 3:1 and 3:15, “I know your deeds, that…” where an enumeration of the deeds follows.
16 tn This translation is based on connecting the ὅτι (Joti) clause with the οἶδα (oida) at the beginning of the verse, giving the content of what is known (see also 3:1, 3:15 for parallels). Because of the intervening clause that is virtually parenthetical (see the note on the word “shut” earlier in this verse), the words “I know that” from the beginning of the verse had to be repeated to make this connection clear for the English reader. However, the ὅτι could be understood as introducing a causal subordinate clause instead and thus translated, “because you have.”
17 tn Or “little power.”
18 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
19 tn Grk “and having kept.” The participle ἐτήρησας (ethrhsas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. For the translation of τηρέω (threw) as “obey” see L&N 36.19. This is the same word that is used in 3:10 (there translated “kept”) where there is a play on words.
20 sn Laodicea was near two other towns, each of which had a unique water source. To the north was Hierapolis which had a natural hot spring, often used for medicinal purposes. To the east was Colossae which had cold, pure waters. In contrast to these towns, Laodicea had no permanent supply of good water. Efforts to pipe water to the city from nearby springs were successful, but it would arrive lukewarm. The metaphor in the text is not meant to relate spiritual fervor to temperature. This would mean that Laodicea would be commended for being spiritually cold, but it is unlikely that Jesus would commend this. Instead, the metaphor condemns Laodicea for not providing spiritual healing (being hot) or spiritual refreshment (being cold) to those around them. It is a condemnation of their lack of works and lack of witness.