Chapter 3 follows a similar pattern as chapter 2 as it covers the remaining 3 of the 7 assemblies to whom Jesus was communicating.
Verse 1 communicates a common theme of the New Testament—being “alive” or “dead.” This would seem to be speaking of being spiritually alive or dead in this physical life. The assembly of Sardis seemed to be upholding an external image of being spiritually alive but internally, they were dead. Jesus tells them in v2-3 to wake up or else they would be caught off guard because they had fallen asleep spiritually. Yet again, we see these verses communicating that something world changing was going to happen soon that would seemingly have an immense impact on both the physical and spiritual realms.
In verse 9, Jesus repeats the phrase “synagogue of Satan,” again directly referencing the Jewish people of that day who claimed to be following God yet are called liars. The rest of this verse as well as verse 10-11 again communicate that these events are going to take place soon—“before your feet,” “I will keep you from the hour of testing,” “I am coming quickly.”
The warning to Laodicea is one of the more well known. Jesus, of coarse, calls them lukewarm. In verse 18, we see a couple of interesting concepts. Jesus tells them to purchase from him gold refined by fire. In other words, pureness that has had all impurity burned away. As stated in previous posts, this seems to be another reiteration of fire used as a purifying agent, not necessarily an agent of torment for God’s benefit. In the same verse, he comments about balm for the eyes so they would “see.” This was speaking of the spirit. They had become comfortably lukewarm in their religion, being spiritually impure and considered blind. We see, in verse 19, that Jesus gives these warnings out of love so that their judgment, their passing through the fire, would not be harsh. As with Israel throughout the Old Testament, warnings were given of impending destruction.
This is rather a short and mainly direct chapter. I didn’t hit every single verse as much of this chapter is, hopefully, easily understandable. So far we still see Jesus communicating directly to “the assemblies.” At no point is there a future transition to assume that the message wasn’t directed to the assemblies of Asia Minor and the other assemblies of that time. I believe Jesus communicated in this way to ensure the message was received in the appropriate context by those who were living out the signs Jesus spoke of directly as applicable to their age.
Again, I give my disclaimer. Please research these things for yourself and don’t take my word for it. I only hope to point to a less confusing view of the Bible. I’m not claiming to be 100% right on anything, but simply wish for a better overall understanding of the story unfolded through the Bible for both myself and others.