Teaching the Seven Letters of Revelation, Part 7c: “I am standing at the door and knocking” (Rev. 3:20)

 Repentance and Renewal of Fellowship with Jesus

As noted above, the Laodicean church first needs Jesus to relieve their blindness to their sin. Then, they need to repent of their sin and seek his forgiveness and cleansing from sin. In Revelation 3:19-20, Jesus exhorts the church to repent and to renew their fellowship with him. He says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone might hear my voice and might open the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me” (3:19-20). Jesus here affirms that his harsh words for the Laodicean church should be understood as an expression of love. If, in turn, they love him, they should “be zealous and repent” (3:19). Jesus follows this up with a beautiful invitation to reconciliation and renewal of close fellowship with him. He wants to be reconciled to his people. He is like someone who is standing at the door, knocking, and calling out to the one in the house. The one who hears his voice and opens the door to him is the one who responds to his invitation to repent and who wants to renew fellowship with him. He speaks of fellowship with him in terms of sharing a meal together. The invitation is an immediate invitation that anticipates an immediate response. However, the idea of dining with Christ also anticipates the eschatological marriage supper of the Lamb (19:9). The dining imagery of Revelation 3:20 contains the offer of blessing, and stands in contrast to the threatening use of dining imagery in Revelation 3:16.

Jesus Promise: “I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne”

The Laodicea letter closes with the promise to the conquerors and the exhortation to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (3:21-22). In the promise to the conquerors, Jesus says, “The one who conquers, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (3:21). Notice that this promise is connected to the previous verse by means of the repetition of “with me” (3:20, 21). Those who enjoy fellowship with Christ (who dine with him) in the here and now will one day become rulers with him on his throne. Elsewhere, Revelation affirms that the saints will rule with Christ and sit on their own thrones (5:10; 20:4, 6; 22:5). In John’s theology, Christ conquers when he conquers Satan and the Beast through his death on the cross (12:10-11; 13:3; John 12:31). Because he obediently completes the work that the Father gave him to do, including his sacrificial death, the Father exalts and glorifies Jesus to reign with him upon his throne. Thus, the incarnate Son returns through the cross to share once again in the eternal glory that he shared with the Father before his incarnation (John 17:4-5). For the Son, the road to eternal glory leads through suffering. The same is true for Christians. Faithful Christians will have tribulation in this world, but can rest assured of victory since Jesus has “conquered the world” through the cross (John 16:33). They will conquer and sit down with Christ on his throne. What an appropriate ending for the seven letters! Those who faithfully serve Christ in this life will be exalted and rule with their Lord in the New Jerusalem.


These paragraphs are slightly edited portions of my book:

Paul Hoskins, The Book of Revelation: A Theological and Exegetical Commentary, pp. 116-18 (those pages provides further sources and footnotes that I have omitted above).