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Poole on Revelation 3:17: Humbling the Proud

Verse 17:[1] Because thou sayest, (Hos. 12:8; 1 Cor. 4:8) I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…

[Because (that is to say, This is the reason why I will be averse to thee [Durham]: He explains what was said concerning his lukewarmness [Ribera]: Others: the ὅτι here is superfluous [Beza, Piscator], and serves only for mimesis[2] [Piscator]) thou sayest (not so much with thy mouth, as by the confidence and shameless audacity of thy heart, as in Jeremiah 2:23 [Durham]) that I am rich (with wealth, either, 1. earthly [Arethas in Ribera, similarly Cluverus], for this commonwealth was most wealthy [Cluverus]; or, 2. natural, of ability and judgment, etc. [some interpreters in Ribera]; or, 3. spiritual [Ribera, Gagnæus, Menochius], in virtues, merits, grace [Tirinus], righteousness [Durham], good works [Gagnæus, Durham]) and enriched (that is, from day to day I am advancing in virtue [Durham]) and am in need of nothing] Either, of virtue, or of another, by whose counsel, or work, I would be helped (Ribera). There is a progression. It is much to be rich; but more, while he be rich, to be yet enriched; but the greatest to be in need of nothing at all. They appear such to themselves who perceive in themselves any sort of faith, and profess Christianity; and, since they have these things, they think that they lack nothing for salvation. See James 2:25. A figure of such were the Israelites of the ten tribes, who also were saying that they were rich, Hosea 12:8 (Grotius).

Because thou sayest, I am rich: it was said before, that one reason why the condition of a formalist is worse than that of an atheist, or more openly profane person, is, because the former is ordinarily proud and self-conceited, and hath something to stop the mouth of his natural conscience with, which the other wanteth. This is made good in the instance of this lukewarm angel; he said he was rich in a spiritual sense, in his state as a Christian, in spiritual gifts and endowments. And increased with goods; and every day increasing and growing richer. And have need of nothing; and needed nothing to make him happy and blessed.

[Thou art wretched, etc., ὁ ταλαίπωρος καὶ ὁ ἐλεεινὸς, etc.] Wretched (or, to be wept over [Camerarius], pressed down with affliction, of which sort is hypocrisy and pride before God [Pareus], שָׁדוּד, Judges 5:27:[3] him, who thought himself blessed, He shows to be so wretched that it ought to arouse the pity of all, and that in the highest degree, which the article set before indicates [Grotius]: This word denotes weaknesses and diseases of the body, but here it is applied to the soul [Durham]) and miserable (that is, unworthy of divine pity [Pareus]; that is to say, not only wretched in thyself, or on account of thine impotence, but also miserable as far as help to be expected from others [Durham]) and poor (that is, lacking necessary things [Grotius], destitute of righteousness and true holiness before God [Pareus, similarly Piscator, Durham, Menochius]) and blind (that is, not seeing how wretched thou art [Grotius], neither knowing thy disease, nor the remedy [Durham]: He used τυφλὸν/blind κατ᾽ αὔξησιν, for amplification, for one with sore eyes, as it will appear below [Grotius]: Completely blinded by affection for temporal things, and therefore despising heavenly things [Ribera]) and naked (Montanus, etc.), that is, lacking the wedding garment, which is Christ (Pareus); lacking righteousness, which is the clothing of Christians, Revelation 19:8 (Grotius). Without any covering by which thou mightest veil thy wretchedness and nakedness before the righteousness of God (Durham).

And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; in the mean time he was as miserable as one could be. These words used, are several words signifying persons under various bodily afflictions, and applied to signify this angel’s forlorn spiritual state, which, in the general, was wretched and miserable, and such as had need of mercy, wanting the true righteousness, wherein any could appear before God not naked, and wanting all true riches; and to complete his misery, he was spiritually blind, and knew not the sad circumstances he was under.

[1] Greek: ὅτι λέγεις ὅτι Πλούσιός εἰμι, καὶ πεπλούτηκα, καὶ οὐδενὸς χρείαν ἔχω, καὶ οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ταλαίπωρος καὶ ἐλεεινὸς καὶ πτωχὸς καὶ τυφλὸς καὶ γυμνός· [2] That is, a speech marker. [3] Judges 5:27: “At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead (שָׁדוּד, violently destroyed/prostrated).”

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