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Revelation 3:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Behold, I stand at the door and knock - There are many sayings of this kind among the ancient rabbins; thus in Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 25, 1: "God said to the Israelites, My children, open to me one door of repentance, even so wide as the eye of a needle, and I will open to you doors through which calves and horned cattle may pass."

In Sohar Levit, fol. 8, col. 32, it is said: "If a man conceal his sin, and do not open it before the holy King, although he ask mercy, yet the door of repentance shall not be opened to him. But if he open it before the holy blessed God, God spares him, and mercy prevails over wrath; and when he laments, although all the doors were shut, yet they shall be opened to him, and his prayer shall be heard."

Christ stands - waits long, at the door of the sinner's heart; he knocks - uses judgments, mercies, reproofs, exhortations, etc., to induce sinners to repent and turn to him; he lifts up his voice - calls loudly by his word, ministers, and Spirit.

If any man hear - If the sinner will seriously consider his state, and attend to the voice of his Lord.

And open the door - This must be his own act, receiving power for this purpose from his offended Lord, who will not break open the door; he will make no forcible entry.

I will come in to him - I will manifest myself to him, heal all his backslidings, pardon all his iniquities, and love him freely.

Will sup with him - Hold communion with him, feed him with the bread of life.

And he with me - I will bring him at last to dwell with me in everlasting glory.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock - Intimating that, though they had erred, the way of repentance and hope was not closed against them. He was still willing to be gracious, though their conduct had been such as to be loathsome, Revelation 3:16. To see the real force of this language, we must remember how disgusting and offensive their conduct had been to him. And yet he was willing, notwithstanding this, to receive them to his favor; nay more, he stood and pled with them that he might be received with the hospitality that would be shown to a friend or stranger. The language here is so plain that it scarcely needs explanation. It is taken from an act when we approach a dwelling, and, by a well-understood sign - knocking - announce our presence, and ask for admission. The act of knocking implies two things:

(a)that we desire admittance; and,

(b)that we recognize the right of him who dwells in the house to open the door to us or not, as he shall please.

We would not obtrude upon him; we would not force his door; and if, after we are sure that we are heard, we are not admitted, we turn quietly away. Both of these things are implied here by the language used by the Saviour when he approaches man as represented under the image of knocking at the door: that he desires to be admitted to our friendship; and that he recognizes our freedom in the matter. He does not obtrude himself upon us, nor does he employ force to find admission to the heart. If admitted, he comes and dwells with us; if rejected, he turns quietly away - perhaps to return and knock again, perhaps never to come back. The language used here, also, may be understood as applicable to all persons, and to all the methods by which the Saviour seeks to come into the heart of a sinner. It would properly refer to anything which would announce his presence: his word; his Spirit; the solemn events of his providence; the invitations of his gospel. In these and in other methods he comes to man; and the manner in which these invitations ought to be estimated would be seen by supposing that he came to us personally and solicited our friendship, and proposed to be our Redeemer. It may be added here, that this expression proves that the attempt at reconciliation begins with the Saviour. It is not that the sinner goes out to meet him, or to seek for him; it is that the Saviour presents himself at the door of the heart, as if he were desirous to enjoy the friendship of man. This is in accordance with the uniform language of the New Testament, that “God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son”; that “Christ came to seek and to save the lost”; that the Saviour says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” etc. Salvation, in the Scriptures, is never represented as originated by man.

If any man hear my voice - Perhaps referring to a custom then prevailing, that he who knocked spake, in order to let it be known who it was. This might be demanded in the night Luke 11:5, or when there was apprehension of danger, and it may have been the custom when John wrote. The language here, in accordance with the uniform usage in the Scriptures (compare Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17), is universal, and proves that the invitations of the gospel are made, and are to be made, not to a part only, but fully and freely to all people; for, although this originally had reference to the members of the church in Laodicea, yet the language chosen seems to have been of design so universal ( ἐάν τις ean tis) as to be applicable to every human being; and anyone, of any age and in any land, would be authorized to apply this to himself, and, under the protection of this invitation, to come to the Saviour, and to plead this promise as one that fairly included himself. It may be observed further, that this also recognizes the freedom of man. It is submitted to him whether he will hear the voice of the Redeemer or not; and whether he will open the door and admit him or not. He speaks loud enough, and distinctly enough, to be heard, but he does not force the door if it is not voluntarily opened.

And open the door - As one would when a stranger or friend stood and knocked. The meaning here is simply, if anyone will admit me; that is, receive me as a friend. The act of receiving him is as voluntary on our part as it is when we rise and open the door to one who knocks. It may be added:

(1)that this is an easy thing. Nothing is more easy than to open the door when one knocks; and so everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented as an easy thing, if the heart is willing, to secure the salvation of the soul.

(2)this is a reasonable thing.

We invite him who knocks at the door to come in. We always assume, unless there is reason to suspect the contrary, that he applies for peaceful and friendly purposes. We deem it the height of rudeness to let one stand and knock long; or to let him go away with no friendly invitation to enter our dwelling. Yet how different does the sinner treat the Saviour! How long does he suffer him to knock at the door of his heart, with no invitation to enter - no act of common civility such as that with which he would greet even a stranger! And with how much coolness and indifference does he see him turn away - perhaps to come back no more, and with no desire that he ever should return!

I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me - This is an image denoting intimacy and friendship. Supper, with the ancients, was the principal social meal; and the idea here is, that between the Saviour and those who would receive him there would be the intimacy which subsists between those who sit down to a friendly meal together. In all countries and times, to eat together, to break bread together, has been the symbol of friendship, and this the Saviour promises here. The truths, then, which are taught in this verse, are:

(1)that the invitation of the gospel is made to all - “if any man hear my voice”;

(2)that the movement toward reconciliation and friendship is originated by the Saviour - “behold, I stand at the door and knock”;

(3)that there is a recognition of our own free agency in religion - “if any man will hear my voice, and open the door”;

(4)the ease of the terms of salvation, represented by “hearing his voice,” and “opening the door”; and,

(5)the blessedness of thus admitting him, arising from his friendship - “I will sup with him, and he with me.” What friend can man have who would confer so many benefits on him as the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is there that he should so gladly welcome to his bosom?

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, "The Amen;" one steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion; while others would conclude it could afford no real satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; "Because thou sayest." What a difference between their thoughts of themselves, and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves. Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags that would defile them. They were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness for justification, and the garments of holiness and sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply interesting to all men.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 262

It should be written upon the conscience as with a pen of iron upon a rock, that he who disregards mercy, compassion, and righteousness, he who neglects the poor, who ignores the needs of suffering humanity, who is not kind and courteous, is so conducting himself that God cannot co-operate with him in the development of character. The culture of the mind and heart is more easily accomplished when we feel such tender sympathy for others that we bestow our benefits and privileges to relieve their necessities. Getting and holding all that we can for ourselves tends to poverty of soul. But all the attributes of Christ await the reception of those who will do the very work that God has appointed them to do, working in Christ's lines. 6T 262.1

Our Redeemer sends His messengers to bear a testimony to His people. He says: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. But many refuse to receive Him. The Holy Spirit waits to soften and subdue hearts; but they are not willing to open the door and let the Saviour in, for fear that He will require something of them. And so Jesus of Nazareth passes by. He longs to bestow on them the rich blessings of His grace, but they refuse to accept them. What a terrible thing it is to exclude Christ from His own temple! What a loss to the church! 6T 262.2

*****

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 489-90

In sending out the seventy, Jesus bade them, as He had bidden the twelve, not to urge their presence where they were unwelcome. “Into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not,” He said, “go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” They were not to do this from motives of resentment or through wounded dignity, but to show how grievous a thing it is to refuse the Lord's message or His messengers. To reject the Lord's servants is to reject Christ Himself. DA 489.1

“I say unto you,” Jesus added, “that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.” Then His mind reverted to the Galilean towns where so much of His ministry had been spent. In deeply sorrowful accents He exclaimed, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” DA 489.2

To those busy towns about the Sea of Galilee, heaven's richest blessings had been freely offered. Day after day the Prince of life had gone in and out among them. The glory of God, which prophets and kings had longed to see, had shone upon the multitudes that thronged the Saviour's steps. Yet they had refused the heavenly Gift. DA 489.3

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 99

There is no time or place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a petition to God. There is nothing that can prevent us from lifting up our hearts in the spirit of earnest prayer. In the crowds of the street, in the midst of a business engagement, we may send up a petition to God and plead for divine guidance, as did Nehemiah when he made his request before King Artaxerxes. A closet of communion may be found wherever we are. We should have the door of the heart open continually and our invitation going up that Jesus may come and abide as a heavenly guest in the soul. SC 99.1

Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven. SC 99.2

We need to have more distinct views of Jesus and a fuller comprehension of the value of eternal realities. The beauty of holiness is to fill the hearts of God's children; and that this may be accomplished, we should seek for divine disclosures of heavenly things. SC 99.3

Let the soul be drawn out and upward, that God may grant us a breath of the heavenly atmosphere. We may keep so near to God that in every unexpected trial our thoughts will turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sun. SC 99.4

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Ellen G. White
The Adventist Home, 350

A Burdened Wife Counseled to Keep Cheerful—You now have a double responsibility because your husband has turned his face away from Jesus.... AH 350.1

I know it must be a great grief for you to stand alone, as far as the doing of the word is concerned. But how knowest thou, O wife, but that your consistent life of faith and obedience may win back your husband to the truth? Let the dear children be brought to Jesus. In simple language speak the words of truth to them. Sing to them pleasant, attractive songs which reveal the love of Christ. Bring your children to Jesus, for He loves little children. AH 350.2

Keep cheerful. Do not forget that you have a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which Christ has appointed. You are never alone. If you will listen to the voice that now speaks to you, if you will respond without delay to the knocking at the door of your heart, “Come in, Lord Jesus, that I may sup with Thee, and Thee with me,” the heavenly Guest will enter. When this element, which is all divine, abides with you, there is peace and rest.3 AH 350.3

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