Seven Churches of Asia – Sardis

sardisTITLE: Asian Churches – Sardis


PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will look at the church in Sardis.

OBJECTIVE: Each should be familiar with the description of the church at Sardis.

AIM: To teach the lessons of the church at Sardis.


1. Read: Revelation 3:1-6

2. About the Text:

1) Sardis is the fifth church to which chapters two and three of the book of Revelation are addressed.

2) The apostle John is the penman of these things, but Jesus is the author and spokesman.

3) The text takes the familiar form of the epistles.

a. Description of Jesus

b. What Jesus knew about the church.

c. Jesus’ commands to the church.

d. What good was in the church, if any.

e. What they needed to do to overcome.

3. History of the City

1) The city of Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire founded out of the Hittite empire sometime in the 12th century B.C.

2) Coins were invented in this city in 660 B.C.

3) The city of Sardis was famous for three things:

a. Military might.

b. Its place on a trade route.

c. It’s command of the plains of Hermus which were very fertile.

4) Sardis was located on an outcropping with a 1500 feet sheer drop around the cities edges.

5) Only a small land bridge connected the outcropping with the rest of the country.

6) The city was captured several times most notably by the Persians in the 6th century B.C.

7) The city was known for its dyed wools and carpets and fabulous wealth.

8) King Croesus was said to carry $600,000,000 out of the city when Cyrus deposed him.

9) Croesus was conquered because he assumed that he was in an impregnable place.

10) But the Persians learned of a way to scale the cliffs.

11) When they arrived at the top, they found no one watching.

12) The city fell into obscurity when Constantinople become the dominate city of the region.

13) Today, there are only ruins.

4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.


I.   The Works of Sardis – a reputation of life, but a people that are dead.

1. Jesus describes himself as He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

1) Seven – perfect and complete – Jesus was sinless (Hebrews 4:15).

2) Seven spirits of God – Jesus perfectly represents God’s Spirit (John 1:1, 14).

2. Sardis had a reputation of life, but was dead.

1) It is good to have a good reputation.

2) Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches….”

3) But reputation isn’t everything. John 7:24 “Judge not according to appearance….”

4) Sardis was spiritually dead. They appeared one way, but the were another.

5) What killed Sardis spiritually? Sin.

6) Sin is what killed the prodigal son described by his father as “dead” (Luke 15:24).

7) Consider 1 Timothy 5:6 “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”

8) The Christian cannot afford to “live” upon a good name only; he must continue to practice Christianity daily or he will die spiritually.

II.  The Command To the Church at Sardis – Watch!

1. They needed to wake up and start watching.

1) Just as the city had been conquered in times past for a failure to watch, so also now the church was failing to watch.

2) 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.”

3) 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

4) 1 Thess.5:6 “so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.”

2. Strengthen what remains.

1) There were some at the church who were still alive, but were about to die.

2) They needed to be strengthened; they needed to be edified.

3) It is ultimately Christ who strengthens (Philippians 4:13).

4) We must do our part in working with weaker brethren.

5) Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

6) James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

3. Remember what you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.

1) Like all of the churches, the church at Sardis has received and heard the gospel.

2) 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”

3) 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.”

4) They needed to remember what they had already heard, hold fast to it, and repent.

4. If they fail to watch, Jesus will come upon them as a thief.

1) Matthew 24:43 “But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”

2) 1 Thess.5:2 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”

3) Revelation 16;15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

4) This won’t be because they didn’t know to watch, but because they ignored the command to watch.

III. The Hope of the church at Sardis

1. They have a few names that have not defiled their garments.

1) White garments are righteousness. Revelation 19:8 “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

2) These are the clothes that Jesus expects us to wear in His kingdom – Matt.22:11-13.

3) To defile such garments is to stop living a life of righteousness.

4) It is to turn to a life of wickedness.

5) At least some at Sardis were not living wickedly.

2. These shall walk with Jesus in white; they are worthy.

1) White symbolizes purity and holiness.

2) Hebrews 12:14 — “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”

3) 1 John 3:3 — “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

4) 2 Peter 1:4 — “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

3. He that overcomes shall be clothed in white.

1) White is also the color of triumph.

2) Revelation 19:11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

3) Revelation 19:14 “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”

4. He that overcomes will not have his name blotted out of the book of life, but confessed before God.

1) Philippians 4:3 “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”

2) Revelation 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

3) Jesus confesses those that confess him. Matthew 10:32, 33.


1. We have seen in Revelation 3:1-6 . . .

1) The works of the church at Sardis – a reputation of life, but dead.

2) The command to the church at Sardis – watch!

3) The hope of the church at Sardis – stay clean and overcome!

2. Invitation