Revelation 3:1 “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, but you are dead…
…you have a name…The Greek word is ονομα/onoma. Strong’s Concordance defines onoma as: the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e. for one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds etc.
The church at Sardis thought they were a big deal. They had a lofty impression of their local body. Believers in Sardis had a self-proclaimed reputation of tremendous character. Just ask them. The name of Sardis was full of pride.
“This is the church at Sardis! We are hot stuff and welcome to our exclusive Country Club!”
…that you are alive…The church at Sardis was ζαο/zao in the Greek. The syntax of the verse indicates they viewed themselves in a continual state of greatness. They perceived themselves to have an abundant zeal for Christian living and lifestyle. The local body in Sardis thought they were the model church, refreshing with vitality. Humility was not a strong suit.
Zao is defined as: to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead); to have true life and worthy of the name; active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God; living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul. Metaphorically: to be in full vigor; to be fresh, strong, and efficient. (Strong’s Concordance)
There is how a church or a believer views themselves, then there is how Jesus assesses the situation.
…but you are dead. Jesus said those in Sardis wereνεκροσ/nekros. Here is the word defined by Strongs’: One that has breathed his last, lifeless; deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell; destitute of life, without life, inanimate. Metaphorically: spiritually dead; destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins; inactive as respects doing right; destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative.
The church at Sardis viewed itself in a continual state of life and living. Jesus viewed the local believers in a continual state of physical and spiritual death. Jesus saw them as a group who had been turned over to their sins. The two views stood in complete, polar opposites.
The practical application for us as believers is to get over our inflated opinions of self. What Jesus thinks of us is more important than how we see ourselves.
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