In Revelation 3:20 (KJV) Jesus says:

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

The Greek verb translated "stand" (esteka) is in the perfect active indicative tense, thus referring to a past action with continuing results. It could be translated as "having stood." On the other hand, the verb for "knock" (krouo) is in the present active indicative, indicating a present action. Is Jesus here presented as having already stood at the door? How then can he be knocking in the present?

I realize this text was originally addressed to the church of Laodicea, even though it is now used in personal evangelism. The church was being given its final opportunity to repent of its failures. But why do these verbs not seem to agree with each other? Was it a way of indicating that the opportunity to be restored was almost finished?

I stand

Perfect tense[edit] The perfect tense (Greek παρακείμενος (parakeímenos) "lying nearby"), much as the English perfect tense, often describes a recent event of which the present result is important:

I knock

The present tense[edit] The present tense (Greek ἐνεστώς (enestṓs) "standing within") can be imperfective or perfective, and be translate "I do (now)", "I do (regularly)", "I am doing (now)":

I stand

The Perfect Tense Action that has been completed in the past yet has results occurring in the present are expressed by the perfect tense.

I knock

The Present Tense The present tense can either be continuous/ongoing or undefined. The continuous present is usually translated as "I am loosing" while the undefined is best translated as "I loosen." When the present is used with the indicative mood it denotes present time.

  • I removed a prescriptive statement indicating that a biblical character currently is doing something in the reader. Feel free to describe the text, but do not prescribe it upon readers. This site is focused on its original context, not its application to modern religious practitioners. – Dan Jul 26 '17 at 21:49

The intent behind the perfect tense for 'standing' is to show that Christ has been standing at the door for some time, not to show that he has stopped standing. If he is still knocking, he must be still standing. This is similar to a parent saying to a child, "I have been telling you to clean your room!" The parent hasn't stopped telling this to the child.

The standing at the door is a literary device employed by John, which I call the Three Door Segue.

  • Church in Philadelphia -- The Door is Always Open (Rev 3:8).
  • Church in Laodicea -- The Door is Closed (Rev 3:20).
  • If Laodicea opens the door they will sit on their thrones as Jesus sits on his throne next to God (Rev 3:21).
  • Lets look behind the door (Rev 4:1) where God is on his throne (Rev 4:2-3) with the 24 Elders (Rev 4:4) as representatives to all believers.

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