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Poole on Revelation 3:8: An Open Door

Verse 8:[1] (Rev. 3:1) I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12) an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.


[I know thy works] That is, thy labor in propagating the Gospel (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Menochius).



[I have given (that is, I have set: for δοῦναι, to have given,[2] and τίθεσθαι, to have set, mutually explain each other, as do נָתַן, to give, and שִׂים, to set [Drusius]) before thee (ἐνώπιόν σου, before thee, in the place of σοι, to thee,[3] as also in Revelation 2:14[4] [Grotius]: I set before thee [Piscator]: I set in thy sight [Beza]) an open door] That is, a door of preaching and of the conversion of the nations (Menochius), an occasion and opportunity of freely proclaiming the Gospel (Grotius, similarly Piscator, Gomar), as in 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3, in which places see what things are said. And this well agrees with what was said above, I opened, and who will shut? (Grotius), or, the extension of the Church (certain interpreters in Gomar), for, by thy preaching, many men will enter into the Church (Ribera, similarly Lapide), both Jews and Gentiles (Lapide), and neither the Devil nor his ministers shall prevail to impede their entrance: that is to say, Thou shalt be so far from losing of thine own that thou shalt gain to Christ many even from among the infidels (Ribera). Out of a comparison with what precedes, I understand by an open door a preservation in the Church and way of salvation, concerning which thing see John 10:28; 1 Peter 1:5, from which Satan and his ministers were desiring to exclude, urging to defection, partly by false doctrine and deceit, partly by force and persecution (Grotius). Others: He understands in this place, not so much liberty from external impediments, as internal liberty and παῤῥησίαν, freedom of utterance, given to the minister, by which he preaches with power and success, with God opening the ears and hearts of the people. That which is called a door of utterance, Colossians 4:3, is also said to be opened, even where there are many adversaries, 1 Corinthians 16:9. Hence it has happened that those that are furnished with lesser gifts often have greater success, etc. (Durham).


[No one is able to shut] That is, no one will be able to impede that liberty of preaching (Grotius).


I know thy works: it is very probable, that our Lord, by these ministers’ works, understands the works proper to them in their function, their labour in preaching and propagating the gospel, which Christ did not only know and observe, but also approve of, and promiseth them a liberty to go on, and success in their labours, under the notion of an open door: see 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3. And no man can shut it; so as it should not be in the power of adversaries to hinder his success.



[For, etc., ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν] For moderate (or, some [Beza, Piscator], a little [Piscator]) strength thou hast (Erasmus, etc.), that is, either, 1. vigor of soul, or fortitude (Piscator), for resisting so many adversaries (Pareus, similarly Ribera). Or, 2. external strength, human reinforcement from powerful friends (Gomar, similarly Ribera, Pareus). Or, 3. health and strength of body (certain interpreters in Lapide). Or, 4. strength both natural and supernatural (Tirinus), which are needful for the conversion of infidels, especially the Jews (Lapide, similarly Tirinus): that is to say, Many talents gave I not to thee, namely, of miracles (Cluverus, thus Lapide), of knowledge and eloquence (Lapide, similarly Tirinus, Cluverus, Durham): therefore, thou art afraid and distressed. But be thou of good courage; what is wanting on thy part, I shall supply on my part (Tirinus), and I will cause it to be that thou shalt overcome and convert them (Lapide). God often makes use of feeble, unlearned, inarticulate men for the greatest things (Lapide, similarly Durham). [Others: The sense is:] I did this because now thou hast a modest Church, which is here called δύναμις/strength, that is, an army, צָבָא, as in Matthew 22:29, 30,[5] following the example of Daniel, in whose book the Jewish people are called δύναμις τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the power of heaven, Daniel 8:10[6] (Grotius). Others: The sense is that thou dost acknowledge thyself to be capable of little, to have little strength; for not in those things, but in God, dost thou place thy hope (Aquinas and Haymo and Primasius and Bede in Lapide). But here He does not at all intend the weakness of grace, for this is especially commended in him, etc. (Durham).


For thou hast a little strength; both inward strength, and outward helps and advantages.


[And thou hast kept my word] That is, Thou hast held fast the faith (Menochius), and hast preached, and shown in practice the faith (Durham). And thou hast yet persisted in observing my precepts. See Revelation 3:3 (Menochius).


And hast kept my word; the doctrine of faith is by thee kept pure, as also my precepts for a holy life.



[And thou hast not denied, etc.] But thou hast confessed (Menochius). Thou hast not concealed that thou art a Christian (Grotius).


And hast not denied my name; and thou hast not been by any temptation prevailed upon to apostatize from the profession of the gospel.

[1] Greek: Οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα (ἰδού, δέδωκα ἐνώπιόν σου θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται κλεῖσαι αὐτήν), ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν, καὶ ἐτήρησάς μου τὸν λόγον, καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω τὸ ὄνομά μου. [2] Revelation 3:8a: “I know thy works: behold, I have set (δέδωκα) before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” [3] Ἐνώπιον/before can take either the Gentive (σου) or the Dative (σοι); the meaning is unaffected. [4] Revelation 2:14b: “…who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children (ἐνώπιον τῶν υἱῶν, taking the Genitive) of Israel…” [5] Matthew 22:29, 30: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power (τὴν δύναμιν) of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” [6] Daniel 8:10: “And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven (צְבָ֣א הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם; τῆς δυνάμεως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the power/host of heaven, in Theodotion); and it cast down some of the host (הַצָּבָא; τῆς δυνάμεως τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the power/host of heaven, in Theodotion) and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.”

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 12, 2020


Octavius Winslow's Evening Thoughts: '"Our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee."—Jeremiah 14:7


All spiritual declension in the true believer necessarily implies the actual possession of grace. We must not lose sight of this truth. In the lowest condition of the believer, Christ never denies His own work in the soul. "Thou hast a little strength" (Revelation 3:8) are His heart-melting words to the backsliding Church in Sardis. Oh, what a gracious, longsuffering Savior is ours! But let us briefly trace this melancholy state to some of its causes, so that we may be better able to point out its appropriate remedy.


The first cause is undoubtedly the unguarded state of the soul. A Christian living in the daily…


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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 12, 2020


Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed: 'The light that some men have, it is like lightning, which after a sudden flash leaveth them more in darkness. They can love the light as it shines, but hate it as it discovers and directs. A little holy light will enable to keep the word, and not betray religion, and deny Christ's name, as Christ speaketh of the church of Philadelphia, Revelation 3:8.'

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 12, 2020

Robert Hawker's Poor Man's Portion: '"I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."—Revelation 3:8


Blessed Jesus! thou hast indeed done all this, and more. Thou art thyself the door into thy fold here below, and to thy courts above; for thou hast said, by thee, "whosoever entereth in, shall go in, and find pasture:" and it is thou that hast opened a new and living way by thy blood. Thou art the only possible way of access to the Father. And because thou hast opened it, no man can shut it; for thou ever livest to keep the way, which thou hast once opened, still open, by thy all-prevailing intercession. Yes, thou heavenly Lord,…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 12, 2020

William Gurnall's Christian in Complete Armour: 'It is in God's power to preserve the liberty of his gospel and messengers, in spite of the devil and his instruments. Therefore, indeed, Paul sends them not to court to beg his liberty, but to heaven. God had Nero closer prisoner than he had Paul. "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it," Revelation 3:8. At Ephesus were many adversaries we heard, yet the door was kept open. Christ carries the keys of the church-door at his girdle: "He that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth," Revelation 3:7, "the key of the house of David," so Isaiah 22:22. The churc…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 12, 2020


William Tong (for Matthew Henry): 'The subject-matter of this epistle, where,


1. Christ puts them in mind of what he had done for them: I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, Revelation 3:8. I have set it open, and kept it open, though there be many adversaries. Learn here, (1.) Christ is to be acknowledged as the author of all the liberty and opportunity his churches enjoy. (2.) He takes notice and keeps account, how long he has preserved their spiritual liberties and privileges for them. (3.) Wicked men envy the people of God their door of liberty, and would be glad to shut it against them. (4.) If we do not provoke…


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