He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. Rev. 3:5
In this letter to the church of Sardis, the author recognizes the Christian community as “having the reputation of being alive,” then gravely adds, “but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). As recent converts from Judaism, the church community would know the symbolism in the author’s warning–live the word of God so that your name can be written in the Book of Life (the allegorical book in Jewish and Christian teachings where God records the names and lives of the righteous) or continue to sin and be recorded in the Book of the Dead. The author rebukes them for losing their spiritual passion and living on past glories. He tells the community to build on what is left of their faith or suffer His judgment.
For those who are victorious over their spiritual lethargy, the Son of Man will clothe them in a white robe, symbolic of their triumph over a spiritual death, and assure that their names be forever found in the Book of Life. Having been admonished that their church is “dead” to the passion of their faith, the community must reawaken their spiritual integrity in order to receive the promised gifts: white vestments, representing religious purity, faith and life; and eternal inclusion in the Book of Life.
The Sardis angel’s face is one of absolute beauty and conveys a resolute strength within. White drapery glass (with subtle color changes from yellow to green to blue in the folds of the robe), swathes the angel figure. A breastplate, visible at the figure?s upper right torso, is predominantly white with a collar embellished in yellow ripple glass and chunk jewels. The tunic beneath the armor is trimmed by yellow ripple glass. The Sardis angel carries the Book of Life, depicted in mottled glass suggesting leopard fur.
The theologian Emanuel Swedenborg says Sardis represents those who live “only the external sign of charity and faith.” In the letter to Sardis the community is challenged to continue to learn the truth with the realization that what they learn is only confirmed within them if they act lovingly from the truth they understand. They are promised that “to those that overcome shall be clothed in white.” “In the Word, ‘white’ is predicated of goods because it draws its origins from the light of the sun.”