John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…
I. IN RESPECT OF THEIR BIRTH AND EXTRACTION. Their lineage is direct and undisputed from Him who is the fountain-head of all honour and authority. They hold in their veins the blood royal of heaven. Though not by natural, yet by spiritual birth, which is better, they are the "sons of God"; though not by succession or inheritance, yet by adoption which is equally valid, and yet more distinguishing.
II. IN RESPECT OF THEIR RELATIONS AND ALLIES.
1. They are members of a family, partly on earth and partly in heaven, which is all legitimate and royal; which is unstained by any inferior, impure admixture.
2. Their allies, too, are royal like themselves. "Ye are come to Mount Sinai, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." "Truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ."
III. IN RESPECT OF THE DOMINION WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN CALLED TO EXERCISE. The empire of a Christian is his own heart — "the kingdom of God is within him." And "wisdom," says Solomon, the wisdom of self-government, "is better than weapons of war" — better, inasmuch as it supersedes the use of them; "and he that ruleth his spirit is better," bolder, more truly courageous and noble, "than he that taketh a city." Until ye thus become "kings," you must needs remain, not only subjects, but slaves. You are not your own masters; your "unruly lusts and passions" have the command of you.
IV. TO THE EXERCISE OF THIS KINGLY DOMINION, THERE ARE PRINCELY, KINGLY REVENUES ATTACHED. Believers are not left to their own resources in maintaining their high dignity. In themselves, and in their own right, they are as poor and dependent after their elevation as they were before it; their ability to rule is derived exclusively from Him who gave them the authority to do so, who "made them kings unto God!" They are not only the allies, but the stipendiaries, so to speak, of Christ; they have all their riches from Him, and in Him. He is not only the "Lord of their treasury," He is their treasury — their storehouse itself. In regard to temporal provision, they may indeed be poor — they often are so. But poor though they be, they always have enough — enough for their real, as distinguished from their imaginary wants. Besides, whatever they have, they have not by permission, or toleration merely, but by inheritance and of right. Then, as to their spiritual provision, if that is not — not only ample but abundant, they have themselves alone to blame for the deficiency. And voluntary poverty of this kind is not only unnecessary, it is injurious, it is sinful; it is dishonouring to Him who has made them what they are. The whole domain of Scripture is theirs — ever fresh and verdant — in which to expatiate and delight themselves: the "wells of salvation" are theirs — "the upper springs, and the nether springs," "from which to draw water with joy." Theirs are the treasures of grace — theirs is the hope of glory!
V. Yet, after all, it remains to be added, THE CHIEF PART OF THE DIGNITY TO WHICH BELIEVERS ARE ADMITTED IS YET TO COME; or at least yet to be known and Ben. In the present state, it is the least part of it which is visible. God's people below are kings in disguise. They are travelling, in the dress of pilgrims, to their dominions above. In conclusion, let me remark —
1. If the statements now given be true, there are few Christians who know what their privileges are; and fewer still, it is to be feared, who are careful to realise and enjoy them.
2. Let me say to those of you who are, or who believe yourselves to be, "kings unto God," "Be holy." To "keep one's own heart with all diligence" — to rule one's own unruly spirit, the temper, the appetites, the passions — to have that "little member" in subjection, which "worketh mightily, and which no man can tame," that is to be a king. (J. Burns, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;