Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation
Surveying the Text:
Lesson 4: The Church on Earth ( Chptrs. 2-3)
Key #11 Read through the entire Book of Revelation at one sitting. It only takes about one hour. Don’t try to analyze every detail the first time, but try to understand the general flow of thought. Read it again, marking its main divisions. Seek to understand its message, not every sign and symbol: Neither Who? nor When?, but What is the basic concept? This should be your main consideration.
Read about Revelation in a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. Read the articles on the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. The articles will help you understand the culture in which the churches existed and enable you to compare them to today’s culture and churches
The 7 Churches
In Asia Minor ( Modern Day Turkey)
Intense persecution, martyrdom, and economic pressure from the outside
Demonic heresies from within
Revelation 2:1-29; 3:1-22
There is no doubt these churches did exist in John’s day, in what is now Turkey. There were, however, many other churches in Asia Minor. Apparently these seven were selected because of conditions that existed in each congregation and because of the need created by those conditions for a special word from God. The letters deal with lovelessness (2:1–7), persecution (2:8–11; see Poverty; Tested), compromise (2:12–17), corruption (2:18–29; see Hearts), lifelessness (3:1–6), faithfulness (3:7–13), and apathy (3:14–22).
SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA — the seven Christian congregations to which John addressed special messages in the Book of Revelation. From the Isle of Patmos John wrote seven messages to “the seven churches which are in Asia” (Rev. 1:4, 11). These seven messages, found in Revelation 2–3, were to Ephesus, the Loveless Church (2:1–7); Smyrna, the Persecuted Church (2:8–11); Pergamos, the Compromising Church (2:12–17); Thyatira, the Corrupt Church (2:18–29); Sardis, the Dead Church (3:1–6); Philadelphia, the Faithful Church (3:7–13); and Laodicea, the Lukewarm Church (3:14–22).
The Roman province of Asia included more churches than these seven. Why did John single them out?
One theory is that these seven cities may have been centers of seven postal districts. These seven churches all stand on the great circular road that formed a rough circle around the west central part of the Roman province of Asia. As such, these seven sites served as good centers of communication for the surrounding districts. Letters in the first century had to be handwritten, and a letter sent to one church would be passed on to be read by Christians in other congregations.
The letters to the seven churches called for the Christians to repent of sin and return to faithfulness and good works; encouraged them to stand firm for Christ against the temptations, trials, and persecutions of the Roman Empire; and promised specific rewards to the martyrs who faced death without denying Christ.
The seven churches were actual churches in the cities mentioned. They are representative of all churches of that time, as well as churches in subsequent generations. These letters were meant to be interpreted with immediate application giving discernment as where they stand spiritually before the Lord; and with ongoing personal application exhorting the individual to be an overcomer. The structure of the letters fall into a 7-fold pattern.
a character, description of Christ
a commendation with the exception of Sardis and Laodicea
a censure with exception of Smyrna and Philadelphia
a challenge repeated 7 times beginning with the fourth letter
a covenant promise
The format consists of an address,” To the angel (pastor) of the Church”, an attribute, “These things says He who is…”, approval of, “ I know your works,” an accusation, “Nevertheless I have this against you,” an advice, “ Repent, remember, overcome”, an assurance, “ To him who overcomes I will give”, an appeal, asking for what the Spirit says and a response., “let him hear what the Spirit says.”
Church at Ephesus
EPHESUS [EFF uh sus] — a large and important city on the west coast of Asia Minor where the apostle Paul founded a church. A number of factors contributed to the prominence that Ephesus enjoyed.
The first factor was economics. Situated at the mouth of the river Cayster, Ephesus was the most favorable seaport in the province of Asia and the most important trade center west of Tarsus. Today, because of silting from the river, the ruins of the city lie in a swamp 8 to 11 kilometers (5 to 7 miles) inland.
Another factor was size. Although Pergamum was the capital of the province of Asia in Roman times, Ephesus was the largest city in the province, having a population of perhaps 300,000 people.
A third factor was culture. Ephesus contained a theater that seated an estimated 25,000 people. A main thoroughfare, some 35 meters (105 feet) wide, ran from the theater to the harbor, at each end of which stood an impressive gate. The thoroughfare was flanked on each side by rows of columns 15 meters (50 feet) deep. Behind these columns were baths, gymnasiums, and impressive buildings.
The fourth, and perhaps most significant, reason for the prominence of Ephesus was religion. The Temple of Artemis (or Diana, according to her Roman name) at Ephesus ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As the twin sister of Apollo and the daughter of Zeus, Artemis was known variously as the moon goddess, the goddess of hunting, and the patroness of young girls. The temple at Ephesus housed the image of Artemis that was reputed to have come directly from Zeus (Acts 19:35).
The temple of Artemis in Paul’s day was supported by 127 columns, each of them 60 meters (197 feet) high. The Ephesians took great pride in this grand edifice. During the Roman period, they promoted the worship of Artemis by minting coins with the inscription, “Diana of Ephesus.”
The history of Christianity at Ephesus began about A.D. 50, perhaps as a result of the efforts of Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:18). Paul came to Ephesus in about A.D. 52, establishing a resident ministry for the better part of three years (Acts 20:31). During his Ephesian ministry, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:8).
The Book of Acts reports that “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10), while Paul taught during the hot midday hours in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Influence from his ministry undoubtedly resulted in the founding of churches in the Lycus River valley at Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae.
So influential, in fact, was Paul’s ministry at Ephesus that the silversmiths’ league, which fashioned souvenirs of the temple, feared that the preaching of the gospel would undermine the great temple of Artemis (Acts 19:27). As a result, one of the silversmiths, a man named Demetrius, stirred up a riot against Paul.
During his stay in Ephesus, Paul encountered both great opportunities and great dangers. He baptized believers who apparently came to know the gospel through disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1–5), and he countered the strong influence of magic in Ephesus (Acts 19:11–20).
After Paul departed from Ephesus, Timothy remained to combat false teaching (1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:3; Acts 20:29). Many traditions testify that the apostle John lived in Ephesus toward the end of the first century. In his vision from the island of Patmos off the coast of Asia Minor, John described the church of Ephesus as flourishing, although it was troubled with false teachers and had lost its first love (Rev. 2:1–7). In the sixth century a.d. the Roman emperor Justinian (a.d. 527–565) raised a magnificent church to John’s memory in this city.
Ephesus continued to play a prominent role in the history of the early church. A long line of bishops in the Eastern church lived there. In A.D. 431 the Council of Ephesus officially condemned the Nestorian heresy, which taught that there were two separate persons, one divine and one human, in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Church at Ephesus: Ephesus means permitted or desirable
Ephesus= permitted, desirable, but no relationship
Ephesus known as an unloving orthodox church in the foremost city of proconsular Asia, and according to tradition, the residence of John before and after his imprisonment on Patmos.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
Rev. 2:1 ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
The Lord Jesus clearly defines the seven stars that are in His right hand a being the seven angels to the churches. The Greek word for angels is messengers. These seven angels have an overseeing ministry used as messengers to these churches. He is in the midst; He is the head of the Christ. Look the Menorah
Rev. 2:2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
The first strength the Lord identifies in Ephesus is their dealing with false apostles. He commends them for standing against evil leaders. The seven stars in His right hand signify ministerial gifts. The hand symbolizes five-fold ministry. The difference between true and false ministry is that the true will always point to Jesus and the false will point to themselves.
The good characteristics of this church are:
exclusion from the world
hatred of hypocritical leaders
Rev. 2:3 “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
patience with the Saints
works long and hard.
In Ephesus the church government was in place and they were doctrinally pure.
Rev. 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Now we come to Revelation the 2nd Chapter, John is told to write to this church and tell them that they had “left their first love.” Leaving your first love has to do with not observing the one and only commandment:
(Mark 12:30-31 MKJV) and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second is like this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
With all the good things, the one thing that the Lord has against this church is not having relationship with Him thus losing His presence. They forgot to keep Jesus in their midst. They needed to redirect their focus towards loving Jesus. This will restore their understanding, sensitivity and their non-judgmental attitude.
This was God’s grievance toward the church in Ephesus. They had gotten so sucked into their religious labor that they had lost that love that they had once toward Jesus. The spiritual vitality springing from love for the Lord had degenerated into orthodox routine. He was admonishing them to fall in love with Him again. Love is the only thing that never fails. (1 Cor. 13) They were to be completely restored to their first love.
Practical Application: Many have left their first Love, the God of their Heart who they knew as a child. They once knew Him as All-Loving, All-Merciful, All-Present and All-Powerful and they sadly left Him because of religion, Mans preaching and all the lies they told you about Him. They told you His Word is a book and His temple is a building. You are His temple and His Word is ALIVE and it is IN YOU!
Rev. 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Any church that misses the truth about intimate relationship with Christ will not be His church for long.” I will come to you” is present tense and refers to a spiritual coming in blessing or in judgment. The removing of the lampstand denotes a church that continues to exist without being a light in the darkness.
Lampstands or candlesticks are the holders of God’s Light, the ones carrying the light of God to the world. This is the Church or the Bride. ( Some contend the entire Church is the Bride and others say The Bride is a remnant of the Church) Lamps. lamp stands, candlesticks speak of the witness and the fullness of Christ in us.
Repent means to change one’s attitude or mind. Doing the first works means returning to the first and only commandment. (Mark 12:30) Repentance is a turning away from sin, disobedience, or rebellion and a turning back to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 5:32). In a more general sense, repentance means a change of mind (Gen. 6:6–7) or a feeling of remorse or regret for past conduct (Matt. 27:3). True repentance is a “godly sorrow” for sin, an act of turning around and going in the opposite direction, doing things differently. This type of repentance leads to a fundamental change in a person’s relationship to God.
Rev. 2:6 “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Nicolaitans in Greek means “destruction of people or conquering the laity.” Nicolaitans are a sect mentioned in Rev. 2:6, 15. These are worldly, self-righteous Christians, who are forward towards others. This group tried to get others involved in their sins. They even try to convince others that they are not sinning. They destroy the people by getting them away from a Christ-centered relationship. They worship the image of this world and try to bring that image into the Church; instead of backsliding they justify their sin as religion. Scripture tells us these Nicolaitans were charged with holding the error Balaam. The prophet Balaam did not pay attention to God’s direction because he wasn’t really listening. Also, there was a big financial payoff if he did something other than what God had told him to do. Balaam was tempted by the “big money” and couldn’t hear God. Sometimes our desires get in the way of our ability to hear from God.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans was mentioned in the Apocalypse of John to the churches of Pergamos and Ephesus of the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2. It is a symbolic name of a party that represents the hierarchy of a ruling class over the rest of the people, developing a pecking order of fleshly leadership. The root of the word Nicolaitans comes from Greek nikao, to conquer or overcome, and laos, which means people and which the word laity comes from. The two words together especially means the destruction of the people and refers to the earliest form of what we call a priestly order or clergy which later on in church history divided people and allowed for leadership other than those led by the spirit of the risen Lord. A good translation of Nicolaitan would be “those who prevail over the people.”
The Nicolaitans cast a stumbling block in front of the church of God by upholding the liberty of eating things sacrificed to idols, as well as committing fornication. This group claimed some kind of superior status that permitted idolatry and immorality.
Rev. 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
The appeal here is to he who has an ear to let him hear what the Spirit is saying. Let that be our cry right now to hear what the Spirit of God is saying.
This is the first promise of 8 to the overcomer in Rev. 2 and 3. Overcome is a military word to combat forces of evil. All believers are overcomers, because Jesus overcame. Jesus Christ is the Overcomer (John 16:33; Rev. 3:21), the Pattern Son who endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). His inheritance is a community of redeemed people made one in Him (John 17). The overcomers are those who remain faithful and give proof to their faith. Believers are to overcome as Jesus overcame (Rev. 3:21; 21:7), boldly entering the holiest by the blood of the Lamb (Heb. 10:19-22; Rev. 12:11; 14:1-5). ). The person that endures to the end shall be saved (Matt. 24:13).
The word overcomer in the Greek is Nike meaning victory- just do it!!
John 16:33“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Rev. 12:11“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
There are 8 promises to overcomers, which we have already covered.
*Symbol-tree of life- eternal life(Gen. 3:22).
The tree of life is Jesus Christ, eternal life.
TREE OF LIFE IS JESUS (ETERNAL LIFE AND GRACE)
In the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life is the Word who became our Lord Jesus Christ
(Gen. 2:9; John 1:14). Therefore the Tree of Life is His matchless character and graciousness, His character and fruits of His nature. Revelation 22:2, 14
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Rev.22:2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Rev.2:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
FRUIT OF BOTH TREES–Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, (tree of knowledge of good and evil) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (tree of life)
Only the overcomers can eat of the tree of life.
(John 6:51 KJV) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
(John 6:53 KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
(John 6:54 KJV) Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
More comment on the church at Ephesus:
The name Ephesus means ‘desirable’. One of the most important events after the ‘born again’ experience is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (the Feast of Pentecost). It has always been the desire of God to be able to communicate directly with His people. In the Book of Acts the 19th Chapter, Paul came upon some disciples that had not heard of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore had not experienced Pentecost. After his discourse, Paul baptized them in water and then laid his hands upon them, “the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” In the book of Ephesians, we learn that they “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession”. Now we come to Revelation the 2nd Chapter, John is told to write to this church and tell them that they had “left their first love.”
In Exodus 20:19-21, we see the Old Testament type of this feast when the Spirit of God came down as fire upon Mount Sinai and to speak with all the people. When saw the fire and lightning and heard the thunder, the people withdrew themselves and said “they all said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex. 20:19). The Ten Commandments were more than they could bare and they knew that to hear from God directly would bring them into a responsibility that they didn’t want. Moses urged them to draw near to God and hear the rest of the Law, but “the people stood afar off” (Ex. 20:21).
Much like the children of Israel under Moses, the Church at Ephesus was the same way. To a certain degree they can handle the Ten Commandments, but don’t want any other demands put on them. They too, wanted one to stand in the gap and tell them all that God had to say. The real heart of this matter reveals to us that wants to avoid responsibility for he knows that if he hears God ‘directly’ speak to him, then he becomes responsibility. There are two principles at work here: 1. They wanted a priest to stand for them and 2. They would decide if they wanted to accept what he said or not.
Little did they realize that their refusal to “hear” would keep them from entering and possessing the land that God had given to them. This would be left to another generation that would spring up out of the midst of them. Since the people refused to hear the Word of God, and “faith comes by hearing,” (Rom. 10:17) the people wandered in the “wilderness” and were left without the faith necessary to enter the Promised Land. All the people had enough faith to come out of Egypt and be justified by the blood of the Lamb; but they didn’t have enough to inherit the Kingdom. Thus, the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years between Egypt (Passover) and Canaan (Tabernacles) because at Sinai (Pentecost) they refused to hear God for themselves. They wanted all the benefits but without personal responsibility. But out of the midst of this rebellious generation came the generation led by Joshua and Caleb and they entered into Canaan and possessed their inheritance.
When we look at the Church of Ephesus (33-64 AD) we see plainly see the parallel, and we can also understand that the body of Christ has been a “church in the wilderness” under Moses (Acts 7:38) that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and there has also been a church in the wilderness for almost 2000 years (40 Jubilees). Remember that a Jubilee is 50 years, symbolic of Pentecost! But praise God, there is a new generation of overcomers arising! We are on the verge of a release of a new generation going forth into Tabernacles and possessing their inheritance. This new generation not only hears ABOUT God through men, but they HEAR God for themselves. They have come FULLY into Pentecost and the Holy Spirit is leading them into all Truth! It is only through this spiritual progression that hearing becomes more than words believing, but hearing actually becomes faith, the substance of things hoped for! Hearing through the mouths of men can only bring us to a certain level, but hearing the voice of God will produces FAITH!
The majority in the Church of Ephesus were listening to men and not God! Their turning away from their FIRST LOVE, the voice of their beloved, caused them to come into a place where they only knew what they were told by men, thereby entering into man-made doctrines rather than Spirit-led principles of the Word of God. Men in the priestly role began ‘lord over’ the people, stand in the stead of Christ, and became lords unto THEMSELVES thereby giving rise to Nicolaitanism, which means “to be victorious over the laity (people)”.
The Ascension Gifts of the five-fold ministry (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher) were not given to stand in the ‘stead of Christ’ or to be ‘vicars’, rather they were given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13). So we see that from this scripture that leadership is not to be removed, rather the people are to also seek the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit for themselves.
There were a select group of people in the Church of Ephesus that God commended because they hated “the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate” (Rev. 2:6). The scripture does not say they hated the Nicolaitanes, but that they hated the DEEDS of them, as did God. The Apostle Paul as a leader in the Church never used his authority to usurp the position of Christ in the lives of people. See 1Corinthians 1:10-17 where Paul talked about division in the church.
Many point to the scripture that Paul says that others are to be followers of him in 1Cor. 1:11, but that is not exactly what he was saying. He said “EVEN AS” he was a follower of Christ. Anytime that Paul failed to be following Christ he was saying don’t follow me. We are to be followers of Christ and those who follow HIM, not those who are in error even though they may have started out correctly. The traditions and doctrines of men make the word of God of none effect and any leader that begins to usurp the authority of Christ will bring forth doctrines which cause the people to have to go through ‘them’ rather than directly to Christ. This type of ministry was that which the Nicolaitanes had and God hated it. Anytime the people stop listening to God, it opens the door for this type of influence over them.
The doctrines of the Nicolaitanes was throughout the church world but the Church of Ephesus recognized it as ungodly and hated it. They also had tried those who said they were Apostles and were not. But God was warning the Church at Ephesus that they had left their FIRST LOVE and only by returning could they squelch the influence of this ungodly doctrine from coming in. He was telling them that they had to seek and listen to God for themselves in order to be free of it.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev. 2:7
*Symbol-Paradise- Third heaven, Most Holy Place- (2 Cor. 12:2-4)
Those who are interdependent upon the Christ will draw upon the power that is resident within which will release an outflow of the Christ within. For it is He that overcomes, it is He that is the victor. He is the Captain of our Salvation (Heb. 2:10). In the eating of the tree of life (Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life) we find that we are filled with Him and we are transformed from within to without. In our seeking Him in the midst of the influences which are around us, we become filled with Him and experientially dwell in the paradise of God., Most Holy Place. No longer for flesh to divide, for it has been changed to another glory. Our outward man has been redeemed and now can bask as one in His presence.
Summary of the Ephesus Church:
Commendation- Rejects evil, preserves, has patience
Criticism- Love for Christ no longer fervent
Instruction- Do the works you first did
Promise- Eat of the tree of life
Church at Smyrna
SMYRNA [SMER nuh] (myrrh) — a city in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) where one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation was situated (Rev. 1:11; 2:8–11). Smyrna’s superb natural harbor made the city an important commercial center. In spite of keen competition from the neighboring cities of Ephesus and Pergamum, Smyrna called itself “the first city of Asia.”
As early as 195 b.c., Symrna foresaw the rising power of Rome and built a temple for pagan Roman worship. In 23 b.c., Smyrna was given the honor of building a temple to the Emperor Tiberius because of its years of faithfulness to Rome. Thus, the city became a center for the cult of emperor worship—a fanatical “religion” that later, under such emperors as Nero (ruled a.d. 54–68) and Domitian (ruled a.d. 81–96), brought on severe persecution for the early church. The apostle John encouraged the persecuted Christians of Smyrna to be “faithful unto death” and they would receive a “crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Smyrna, known today as Izmir, is the chief city of Anatolia and one of the strongest cities in modern Turkey. Excavations in the central part of Izmir have uncovered a Roman marketplace from the second century a.d.
The Church at Smyrna: Smyrna means “bitterness” or “the suffering”
Smyrna= Myrrh an ingredient of the anointing oil
The name Smyrna means “myrrh”. This was anointing oil and spices which were used for the preparation of the dead for burial. It was in the crushing of this substance that the sweet fragrance was released. This was the Church of the Martyrs. The Roman Empire came with a vengeance, killed them, and sought to totally annihilate them. Through their martyrdom and persecution, vast numbers of men were astonished at their courage which was bathed with boldness and humility and were converted to Christ.
The Roman Empire wanted to rule the people and did not want the people to have any form of independence or look to someone else for leadership. And that included God! There was a structure of leadership in the Church that the Emperors hated because they did not establish it. They saw the structure of leadership as a threat to their authority and their ability to decree what was right and what was wrong, for they had their gods that they listened to.
It was in the killing and persecution of the Christians that they thought to establish themselves as the ruling force in the midst of the people. The Old Testament equation of this is that of the Korah rebellion. But what is important here is that Korah did believe in God and believed also that all people could hear from God for themselves but he failed to recognize and give honor to those that God had set in the body for all who were still spiritually immature (those who had not come into the fullness of the stature of Christ). Although Korah could hear from God, he himself was spiritually immature and was in need of leadership, but refused it and sought to lead a rebellion against the God established order of Moses and Aaron. In his rebellion, he was placing himself into the role of a priest, to which God did not call him. Although he did hear from God, there came a time when he ceased to hear HIM and became a god unto himself and began to follow his OWN voice. He was truly destroyed for a lack of knowledge (understanding).
Smyrna was a poor, (yet spiritually rich) persecuted church located in a beautiful city of wealth and commercial greatness, with a large Jewish population.
POVERTY. (Rev. 2:9) ptocheia (pto-khi-ah); Strong’s #4432: From a root meaning “to cower.” The word indicates a state of abject poverty, destitution, indigence. In the New Testament it describes the voluntary poverty that Christ experienced on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9) He became so that we could become rich ;the condition of saints in Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:2); and the extreme want of the church of Smyrna.
Rev. 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
Jesus Christ is so wonderful. Before He ever puts any kind of requirement or mandate upon these churches, before He ever speaks the problem area in their lives, He always gives them a revelation of who He is.
This church has much that makes them alive. They may be in error, but heir heart is right. This church if obviously showing life because they are coming under attack for it.
Rev.2:9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Opposition from the Jews made life particularly difficult for Christians there. The hostile unbelieving Jews had become a synagogue for Satan.
The synagogue of satan is another word for the spirit of antichrist. It is a lying spirit sent forth from satan to infiltrate the Church and give birth to the harlot.
Jesus tells them that He likes their:
poverty for Him ( although they are spiritually rich) and
persecution by (synagogue of satan)
Rev.2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil ( slanderer) is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.( relatively a short time) Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Again we see Jesus warning the Church about the tribulation that is coming. He wants them to stay faithful until the end and receive His life into them. Tribulation is a pathway to life. However, you must let it kill you, but you must completely die to self to receive life.
*Symbol-Crown of life- Eternal life (James 1:12)
The giving of the crown of life refers to those who remain steadfast under testing. They will receive the crown of life, which refers not only to life hereafter, but to life here and now, enjoyed more abundantly and in greater fullness.
THE CROWN OF LIFE
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
From the dawn of time the crown has been the symbol of RULE, whether by secular monarch or by sacred priest. There are two different words in the Greek New Testament which are translated “crown” in English. One of them is stephanos, which denotes a “wreath,” or “chaplet.” The other is diadema, meaning a “diadem.” The most common term rendered “crown” is stephanos. This crown is usually a laurel wreath woven of fragrant branches. It was granted to winners in the Olympic Games and also as a token of public honor for distinguished service — especially military leaders who had been victorious over their enemies on the battlefield. It was also given at marriage feasts, especially in royal families, to celebrate the joy of the bridegroom in having “won” the maiden as his bride. This crown always denotes the VICTOR’S CROWN — the crown of an OVERCOMER — one who has fought and WON! This is the crown that is promised to the overcomers out of the church in Smyrna — the ones who are faithful unto death!
Rev.2:11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
To Smyrna, the persecuted church, the crucified and risen Christ declared, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death”
Again we hear the admonition to hear what the Spirit is saying. The promise to the overcomer is not hurt by the second death, but has an eternal, secure life.
The second death is the eternal separation from God for those who reject the life of Christ. It is also called the lake of fire and brimstone.
Now we are come forth in His life. No longer bound to the death which was passed from the first Adam who was a living soul but bound in the life that is passed from the LAST Adam, Jesus the life giving Spirit, no longer to mind the things of the flesh, but ever mindful of the things of the Spirit. Because of our identification with Christ, we have been made conformable to His death (Phil. 3:10), now we have been made alive in His LIFE. The man of sin has been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives within. The overcomer is one who is conformed to the heart of the Father with the very heartbeat of His nature. He takes no thoughts to His own pleasures nor seeks His own. He will await the time of his revealing and place in the kingdom and it is brought forth in the time and the way of the Father. Although he knows who he is, he will not overstep the boundaries of the plan of God.
Summary of the Smyrna Church:
Commendation- Gracefully bears suffering
Instruction- Be faithful until death
Promise- The crown of life
God tells the Church at Smyrna that He knows “the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” These were those who set their hearts to destroy Jesus, the anointed one sent from heaven, and they killed Him! They said they were Jews for they said to Jesus, “Abraham is our father.” Then Jesus told them, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham (John 8:39&40). They were threatened by His power and authority and they wanted to maintain their status quo and according to Matt. 21:38 they wanted to “seize His inheritance”.
Just because their lineage of descent was from Abraham, their works disqualified them as Jews for it was their works that declared who they were. In Romans 2:28-29 Paul said, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. The Lord has plainly stated that those not circumcised in their hearts of the ‘synagogue of Satan’.
Church at Pergamos- Pergamos means height or elevated
Pergamos= Height/Elevated, a place for all to see
The name Pergamos means ‘fortified, a tower’ which represents power.
PERGAMOS [PURR guh mos] — the chief city of Mysia, near the Caicus River in northwest Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the site of one of the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 1:11; 2:12–17; Pergamum, NRSV, NIV, REB, NASB). The city, situated opposite the island of Lesbos, was about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the Aegean Sea.
In its early history Pergamos became a city-state, then a powerful nation after Attalus I (241–197 b.c.) defeated the Gauls (Galatians). It stood as a symbol of Greek superiority over the barbarians. Great buildings were erected and a library containing over 200,000 items was established. The Egyptians, concerned with this library, which rivaled their own at Alexandria, refused to ship papyrus to Pergamos. As a result, a new form of writing material, Pergamena charta, or parchment, was developed.
In the days of Roman dominance throughout Asia Minor, Pergamos became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. In a gesture of friendship, Mark Antony gave Pergamos’ library to Cleopatra; its volumes were moved to Alexandria.
Not only was Pergamos a government center with three imperial temples, but it was also the site of the temple of Asklepios (the Greco–Roman god of medicine and healing), and the medical center where the physician Galen worked (about a.d. 160). Here also was a temple to Athena and a temple to Zeus with an altar showing Zeus defeating snake-like giants. In the Book of Revelation, John spoke of Pergamos as the place “where Satan’s throne is” (Rev. 2:13). This could be a reference to the cult of Emperor
Rev.2:12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:
Notice in each Revelation message to the seven churches, the first statement begins with a revelation of who Jesus is.
A clear understanding of the sharp sword is found in Heb. 4:12
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
It is the act of proclaiming the Word of God that is sharp and powerful. Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. We proclaim what he says.
The two-edged sword is two-edged truth meaning we speak the same message. There is unity in the Word where we agree and speak with the same voice.
(Mat 18:16 MKJV) But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Rev.2:13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Not denying His name is about the only thing good this church has done.
Satan’s throne may refer to a 200-foot-high altar to Zeus or to the fact that Pergamos was the center of emperor worship. He makes a point that satan has a seat of authority here. It seems as that wherever there is an absence of the Lord, there is a presence of satan.
In addition, the city was the center of the worship of Aesclepius, the god of healing, whose symbol was a serpent, which to Christians symbolizes Satan. Antipas was evidently the first Christian in Asia to be martyred for his faith.
*Symbol- satan’s seat- satan’s throne of power (Rev. 13:1-2)
Rev. 2:14 “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
The doctrine of Balaam and was a teaching that seduced the people of God into idolatry and immorality.
Balaam was a magician or soothsayer (Josh. 13:22) who was summoned by the Moabite king Balak to curse the Israelites before they entered Canaan (Num. 22:5–24:25; Deut. 23:4–5). The New Testament mentions Balaam in three passages. Peter speaks of false teachers who “have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam” (2 Pet. 2:15). Jude speaks of backsliders who “have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit” (Jude 11). Balaam’s error was greed or covetousness; he was well paid to bring a curse upon the people of Israel.
The nature of Balaam’s curse is made clear by John in the Book of Revelation. It refers to some members of the church in Pergamos who held “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel” (Rev. 2:14).
Before leaving Balak, Balaam apparently told the Moabite leader that Israel could be defeated if its people were seduced to worship Baal, “to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:14). Indeed, this was exactly what happened: “The people [of Israel] began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifice of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel” (Num. 25:1–3).
In condemning “the way of Balaam,” the New Testament condemns the greed of all who are well paid to tempt God’s people to compromise their moral standards.
The good news is when Balaam saw Israel in their tents he could not curse what God had blessed. The cross has removed the curse. If God has blessed, who can reverse His blessing?
Then “the doctrine of Balaam” was brought to the attention of the people for it is the ‘opinions’ or ‘wanton desires’ of man, rather than the ‘Word’ of the Lord. Balaam was a man who heard the word of the Lord and when he disagreed with what he heard, he would look for ways to get around it. He would take the word and make try to make it fit into his scheme of things. The king of Moab had hired Balaam to curse the nation of Israel but Balaam knew that he could not do that. But because of his love of money, he was willing to do anything to get it, so when he sought the Lord again, the Lord told him to go with them (Num. 22:20). When he did so, he stepped out of the favor of God and by undermining the nation of Israel, God became His adversary. So Balaam counseled the king to get the children of Israel to intermarry with the Moabites. It was through these intermarriages that the people would be exposed to the idolatry of Baal-peor (Numbers 25 and 31:16).
He knew that if the children of Israel were to become involved in idolatry that the wrath of God would come upon them and that is just what happened.
As Balaam was proceeding down the road, The Angel of God told Balaam, “Behold, I went out to withstand thee because thy way is perverse before Me. Balaam immediately perceived him as an adversary, as being against him. Balaam did not like the Word God gave him on the first time, so he decided to try again (Num. 23:13). When the second try did not bring the results that he wanted, he tried a third time! In their desire to convert the nations, the Church at Pergamos began to let the pagan community come in and it wasn’t long before NUMBERS and DOLLAR SIGNS became the motivation of the day. The word of God became polluted with pagan beliefs and rituals.
In simple terms the Doctrine of Balaam is the (wrong spirit about another, wrong motivation, jealousy, competition etc. ):
Rev. 2:15 “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
We have discussed the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. It was an early Christian heretical sect made up of followers of Nicolas, who was possibly the deacon of Acts 6:5. The group is mentioned explicitly only in Rev. 2:6, 14–15, where it is equated with a group holding “the doctrine of Balaam,” who taught Israel “to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”
Most likely, they were a group of anti-law practitioners who supported a freedom that became self-indulgence. It may have been the same heresy condemned in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11. Some early church leaders believed the Nicolaitans later became a Gnostic sect.
The Nicolaitan doctrine had invaded this Church and so the One who has the sharp sword with which to administer justice (Rev. 2:12) warns them to repent or else He will come and administer that justice upon them (2:16). This Church is commended for holding fast to His Name and for not denying His faith (Rev. 2:13).
God describes the Nicolaitan doctrine saying, “which thing I hate” (Rev. 2:15). It is one of the few things in the Bible that God says he hates. And when we see how this doctrine was used to murder literally millions of people in the following centuries, we will understand completely why God hates it. God warns this Church specifically to repent of this doctrine, “or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). The mandate of the Nicolaitan doctrine was to have a priest without accountability and whose dictates were infallible. This promoted an unquenchable thirst for power and wielded dictatorially upon the people. These men supposedly were the only one’s who had the authority to open or close heaven’s doors and they had the authority to dictate one’s access to God.
The majority of these men never sought the counsel of the Lord but rather pursued the dictates of their own hearts. Their abilities to motivate the people and build the religious structure VERIFIED their elect calling. The church sought unity at any cost. Those who tried to go another way or withstood the structure were branded heretics and were killed in the name of defending of the faith!
Now He comes and reprimands this Church and reminds them that He is the one holding the sword—not the Church. The Sword of His mouth is about to execute justice if they don’t repent of their abusive authority over the people. And He is holding the head of that Church directly responsible.
In simple terms the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes is the (clergy-laity spirit, same as Phariseical spirit, putting yourself above the people)…
Rev. 2:16 ‘Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Repentance is God’s will and pleasure (Luke 15:7–10; 2 Pet. 3:9), as well as His command (Mark 6:12; Acts 17:30). It is a gift of His sovereign love (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25).
REPENTANCE — a turning away from sin, disobedience, or rebellion and a turning back to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 5:32). In a more general sense, repentance means a change of mind (Gen. 6:6–7) or a feeling of remorse or regret for past conduct (Matt. 27:3). True repentance is a “godly sorrow” for sin, an act of turning around and going in the opposite direction. This type of repentance leads to a fundamental change in a person’s relationship to God.
In the Old Testament the classic case of repentance is that of King David, after Nathan the prophet accused him of killing Uriah the Hittite and committing adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. David’s prayer of repentance for this sin is found in Psalm 51.
In the New Testament the keynote of John the Baptist’s preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). To the multitudes he declared, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8). When Jesus began His ministry, He took up John’s preaching of the message of repentance, expanding the message to include the good news of salvation: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15).
In Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God is seen the truth that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by repentance, one turns away from sin; by faith, one turns toward God in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a twofold turning, or conversion, is necessary for entrance into the kingdom (Matt. 18:3). “Unless you repent,” said Jesus, “you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). This is the negative, or judgmental, side of Jesus’ message. The positive, or merciful, side is seen in these words: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one who repents” (Luke 15:10).
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, His disciples continued His message of repentance and faith (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:21; 26:20). Repentance is a turning from wickedness and dead works (Acts 8:22; Heb. 6:1) toward God and His glory (Acts 20:21; Rev. 16:9), eternal life (Acts 11:18), and a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25).
Repentance is associated with prayer (1 Kin. 8:47), belief (Mark 1:15), baptism (Acts 2:38), and conversion (Acts 3:19) and is accompanied by humility (Matt. 11:21). Repentance is God’s will and pleasure (Luke 15:7–10; 2 Pet. 3:9), as well as His command (Mark 6:12; Acts 17:30). It is a gift of His sovereign love (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25), without which we cannot be saved (Luke 13:3).
The Lord will purge the church with His word of judgment. The judgment has to do with a removal of the candlestick of His authority from its place.
The sword ( two-edged) means that it should be heeded because it both speaks and shows the revelation Christ. Symbolically/Spiritually those who bring the revelation (two-edged truth) will both live and speak the same message.
Rev.2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
Promise to the overcomer: Hidden manna- Jewish apocryphal mythology maintained that the pot of manna in the ark (see Ex. 16:4, 31-34) was hidden by Jeremiah, or taken by an angel to heaven, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., where it would remain until the Messiah should come (2 Maccabees 2:4-8). Jesus is “the true bread from heaven” (see Ps. 78:24; 105:40; John 6:31-35, 48-58). Also see Num. 11:7-9.
Symbol- Hidden manna- Word of God by the Spirit (John 6:35)
White stone: Although the white stone is unexplained in Scripture, history tells us juries voted for acquittal by casting a white stone in an urn. Special stones were also used as tokens for various purposes, such as rewards for victors in games.
*Symbol- White stone- Priestly revelation (Ex. 28:15-28)
*Symbol- New name- Priestly revelation, new nature, insight (Ex. 28:21-29)
New name refers to the imputed character of Christ (see Rev. 22:4; Is. 62:2).Paul admonished, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Believers have been gifted with the mind of the Holy Spirit, who makes “intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8:27). Paul declared that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The overcomers who stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion have “His Father’s name” (the same kind of relationship that Jesus had with the Father) in their forehead. (Rev. 14:1-5; 22:4; compare 1 Cor. 1:10)
OUR NEW NAME
“To Him who overcomes… I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” (Rev.2:17c)
The Word tells us that “We are in the light as He is in the light” and “be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48) and ” to perfect holiness”. JESUS reached into the heart of the Father and brought forth a white stone which decreed us to be innocent through His sacrifice. Upon this stone was a new name (nature) which cannot be known by any man (carnality).
In Hebrew a white stone was given to a man who had been forgiven great sins. In Hebrew Court the white stone was given on the right hand for not guilty, the black stone for guilty. The former accused then wore the white stone and stood on the right (symbolic of acquittal, court satisfied by the Blood of Jesus Covenant) as a sign that he had been forgiven.
In the Middle Ages alchemists were fond of speaking of the ‘lapis lazuli,’ or white stone (actually a rich azure or sky-blue).Alchemists sought by science and discipline to build themselves into perfected stones – actually to become the white stone by which they could possess total knowledge and wisdom.
On the island of Patmos, whether or not John was aware of alchemy, the Holy Spirit certainly was, and the Lord promised, [Rev. 2:17]. But the Holy Spirit may also be saying something like this: ‘To him who overcomes will I give a perfected soul; no one has to study alchemy to achieve it.’ Every Believer is in the process of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, (soulish realm) which will finally be accomplished in ‘the twinkling of an eye’ (1 Cor. 15:52) – as a gift and not by alchemic science or its modern counterpart,
To him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new name.(Rev 3:12)
In the Hebrew a person’s name was his nature, so they were very careful in naming a baby. Example, my husband David’s name means beloved, lover of all. My son’s name is Sean, a derivative of John which means God is gracious.
Therefore, our new name that is written in heaven is His nature. Our new name is Jesus, Hebrew Yeshua. In the Old Testament, Hebrew names such as Joshua, Jehoshua, and Jeshua are simply linguistic variations of Jesus, meaning “God’s salvation” or “God is my help,” my salvation, my healer, my protector, my deliver, my refuge etc. His name/ His nature is written on our foreheads: His nature is embedded in our hearts and minds.
And I looked, and lo, the Lamb stood on Mount Zion. And with Him were a hundred and forty-four thousands, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Rev 14:1)
And they will see His face, and His name will be in their foreheads.(Rev 22:4)
What name do you have written on your forward, Jesus!
All have overcome to a certain degree in Christ for it is a finished work, however there is an experiential outworking in our lives which is to take place. So precious and pure is this work, that it cannot be bought or sold. The overcomer has been judged to be righteous and pure and holy and his name has been inscribed upon the stone which decrees life and freedom. It is the final adjudication that declares NOT GUILTY, NEVER BEEN GUILTY. No longer known by the old man that he was, rather he has a new name (a new nature), a manifested son of God! He has been transformed, transfigured and changed into His image. He has feasted at the Master’s table and partaken of the life which has seemed to be hidden for so long, but now is no longer a mystery, but now is a transformed life which has come forth out of the cocoon of our lives, the CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
Summary of the Pergamos Church:
Commendation- Keeps the faith of Christ
Criticism- Tolerates immorality, idolatry, and heresies
Promise- Hidden manna and a stone with a new name
Church at Thyatira- Thyatira means incense or odor of affliction. It also means Thyatira means “castle of the goddess”.
Thyatira= “odor of affliction”, a place of tribulation which becomes a sweet smelling savor to the Lord
Rev. 2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
THYATIRA was a city of the province of Lydia in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) situated on the road from Pergamos to Sardis. The city was on the southern bank of the Lycus River, a branch of the Hermus River.
Although never a large city, Thyatira was a thriving manufacturing and commercial center during New Testament times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of many trade guilds and unions here. Membership in these trade guilds, necessary for financial and social success, often involved pagan customs and practices such as superstitious worship, union feasts using food sacrificed to pagan gods, and loose sexual morality.
The Book of Revelation refers to a certain woman known as “Jezebel” who taught and beguiled the Christians at Thyatira to conform to the paganism and sexual immorality of their surroundings (Rev. 1:11; 2:18–29). In the church in Thyatira, one of the “seven churches which are in Asia” (Rev. 1:4), Jezebel’s followers seem to have been a minority because the majority of Christians in this church are commended.
The apostle Paul’s first convert in Europe was “a certain woman named Lydia . . . a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira” (Acts 16:14). The modern name of Thyatira is Akhisar, which means “white castle.”
‘Rev. 2:18b These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:
The title Son of God expresses the relationship and fellowship, plus an equality and identity of nature between the Father and the Son.
The revelation of Jesus here is eyes like fire and feet like brass. The very same description of His eyes are found later in Revelation:
Revelation 19:12-14 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
The description of His feet like brass is found in Revelation 1:
Rev. 1:15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters
The church must submit to the eyes and feet of Jesus, eyes meaning His omniscience/knowledge, insight and foresight, and feet meaning His walk and conduct.
The Son of God comes to this Church with eyes like unto a flame of fire (discerning and purging) and his feet are like fine brass (refined judgment).
Rev. 2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
He approves of many of their Christ-like attributes and offers them the option of having the last to be more than the first.
In some Scriptures works are referring to strain under self-effort and carry a negative connotation. But in this verse God is acknowledging some good thing about this church, their works and loving service. A love relationship with Christ causes works to follow the saints. Works flow out of faith, love, and hope.
James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Rev. 2:20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
JEZEBEL [JEZ uh bel] (there is no prince) — the name of two women in the Bible:
The wife of Ahab, king of Israel, and mother of Ahaziah, Jehoram, and Athaliah (1 Kin. 16:31). Jezebel was a tyrant who corrupted her husband, as well as the nation, by promoting pagan worship.
She was reared in Sidon, a commercial city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, known for its idolatry and vice. When she married Ahab and moved to Jezreel, a city that served the Lord, she decided to turn it into a city that worshiped Baal, a Phoenician god.
The wicked, idolatrous queen soon became the power behind the throne. Obedient to her wishes, Ahab erected a sanctuary for Baal and supported hundreds of pagan prophets (1 Kin. 18:19).
When the prophets of the Lord opposed Jezebel, she had them “massacred” (1 Kin. 18:4, 13). After Elijah defeated her prophets on Mount Carmel, she swore revenge. She was such a fearsome figure that the great prophet was afraid and “ran for his life” (1 Kin. 19:3).
After her husband Ahab was killed in battle, Jezebel reigned for 10 years through her sons Ahaziah and Joram (or Jehoram). These sons were killed by Jehu, who also disposed of Jezebel by having her thrown from the palace window. In fulfillment of the prediction of the prophet Elijah, Jezebel was trampled by the horses and eaten by the dogs (1 Kin. 21:19). Only Jezebel’s skull, feet, and the palms of her hands were left to bury when the dogs were finished (2 Kin. 9:30–37).
One truth that emerges from Jezebel’s life is that God balances the scales of justice. Wickedness may prevail for a season, but His righteousness will eventually triumph over the forces of evil.
A prophetess of Thyatira who enticed the Christians in that church “to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20). John probably called this woman “Jezebel” because of her similarity to Ahab’s idolatrous and wicked queen.
Since the message to this Church includes a reference to “that woman, Jezebel” (Rev. 2:20), many believe that the name Thyatira comes from the Greek words, thea, “a female deity, goddess,” and tyrannos, “a tyrant or ruler.” In this way they conclude that Thyatira means “ruled by a woman.” This speaks of the unrenewed mind (psuche: feminine soul) ruling over the spirit of the man. Ahab was the king of Israel which represents the man in authority in the temple, ‘know ye not that ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost’? Jezebel is the seducing woman (soulish realm) that seeks to rule the temple and usurps authority through her wanton desires. Jezebel seduced Ahab and through this unholy alliance, children were caused to pass through the fires and be sacrificed to idols and seduced the servants of God to commit fornication. To be interact to that which they were not joined to.
Jezebel’s hometown was Tyre and she was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians (1 Kings 16:31). Ethbaal was a type of antichrist or one who was “in the place of” Christ. Ethbaal governed as the highest representative of Baal and when Ahab married Jezebel, Ethbaal’s laws began to govern Israel in the place of the laws of God. In marrying Jezebel, the king of Israel joined himself with her god, Baal thereby placing Israel under the power of the kingdom of Baal on earth. He caused the children to go into the fire of sacrifice and would eat meats sacrificed to idols. Ethbaal—through his daughter Jezebel–was the real power behind Israel’s monarchy and Ahab was a mere king by reason of formality. Ethbaal was a king of kings to all who worshipped Baal and Jezebel persecuted the true prophets of God and the remnant seed during the days of Elijah (1 Kings 18:13).
The Church of Thyatira is condemned for allowing “that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20). Jezebel called herself ‘a prophetess’. The Lord did not give her that title and we have many in the church today that have called themselves prophets and they are not. They prophesy out of the soulish realm (Jezebel, the woman) rather than the spirit. Today, the unrenewed mind (soul) is the Jezebel and this person can be either MALE or FEMALE. There are women in ministry today who are called and ordained of God for in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female. And it is the Spirit that we need to be hearing from and not the carnal thoughts and interpretations of men.
In simple terms the Doctrine of Jezebel is the (independent & covenant breaking spirit), basically what divorce is.
Rev. 2:21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
Rev. 2:22 “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
*Symbol- Bed of adultery- spiritual fornication, lusts (James 4:4)
Rev. 2:23 “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Sickbed: Punishment for sin may be experienced in the physical body, even resulting in premature death. Her children are her followers. The depth of Satan is a biting sarcastic castigation of this heretical teaching (Rom. 6:1-23).
In the above verses 22 and 23 I don’t believe that means God is going to come on the scene and literally kill babies or put someone in a sick bed. Many times our own actions inflict pain upon ourselves. When we sin willfully and fail to repent, we forsake our own mercy and we reap what we sow.
(Gal 6:7 MKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap.
God never afflicted any man with disease or anything of the curse. Satan has always been the thief, killer and destroyer. In the Old Testament, when a man stepped out from the protection of the Law, Satan attacked. Man was punished for his mistake through Satan’s physical harassment, but God was often able to use it for good to teach and correct him. By doing so, God received the credit for the harassment in error.
God’s wrath is the personal manifestation of His holy, moral character in judgment against sin. Wrath is neither an impersonal process nor irrational and fitful like anger. It is in no way vindictive or malicious. It is holy indignation—God’s anger directed against sin.
God’s wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son.
The Bible declares that all people are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3) and that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Since Christians have been “justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). The magnitude of God’s love is manifested in the Cross, where God’s only Son experienced wrath on our behalf.
“The day of the Lord’s wrath” (Zeph. 1:18) is identical with “the great day of the Lord” (Zeph. 1:14). These terms refer to “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16), Jesus Christ, that will fall on the ungodly at His Second Coming.
In revealing this to the church, He wants to see if we will recognize heart issues or defer the problem to others .The true mark of a saint is seen in the way they look inwardly to resolve conflict. They overcome their own issues and not try to fix everyone else.
In Rev.2:23 hearts, kardia (kar-dee-ah); Strong’s #2588: From a root word meaning “to quiver” or “to palpitate” (compare “cardiac” and “pericardium”). The physical organ of the body, the center of physical life, the seat of one’s personal life (both physical and spiritual), the center of one’s personality, the seat of one’s entire mental and moral activity, containing both rational and emotional elements. It is the seat of feelings, desires, joy, pain, and love. It is also the center for thought, understanding, and will. The human heart is the dwelling place of the Lord and the Holy Spirit. In v. 23, the omniscient Lord sees into the innermost being where all decisions concerning Him are made.
Rev. 2:24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.
Rev. 2:25 “But hold fast what you have till I come.
Jesus is saying do not buy into the lies and you will be all right; otherwise, be prepared for tribulation.
Rev. 2:26 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
Promise to the overcomer: The overcomer will share in Christ’s triumph over all evil and evil doers. We rule and reign with Him. He is saying hold fast to Him and do not let anything rob you of your inheritance.
The overcomer is fully submitted to His authority and within that submission, He releases His authority. He entrusts with power over the nations for we have learned to let His nature rule and reign within us never misusing that power or walking outside the dictates of His will. They are able to separate the precious from the vile and only cleave to that which is precious. No longer are the emotions and self will intimidating or manipulating, rather are they given over to the Christ within and replaced with His attributes that are pleasing to the Father. And it is in the receiving the morning star that we are given THE MESSAGE of the NEW DAY and we become the light bearers of God. Our vessels have been broken and the light of Him has been released in the midst of us. It is the same breaking that He received of His Father, the self-will. His rule over us is that of iron (a Shepherd) and how gently and with great strength He truly carries us always preparing the way before us, always leading, and always guiding.
Rev. 2:27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father;
*Symbol: Power over nations (Ps. 2:9)
The rod is a symbol of His Word and stands for the word of correction given in love. The rod is used many paces in Scripture. Jesus is the Rod, the Word of God.
Psalm 2:9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
(Isa 11:1 KJV) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
(Psa 23:4 KJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Rev. 2:28 “and I will give him the morning star.
*Symbol: Morning star/Day star- Morning light (2 Pet. 1:19)
Jesus promises this church at Thyatira the gift of the morning star, the gift of Himself. Christ is the Morning Star, the Day Star. This is a symbol of Christ’s arising.
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
(2Pe 1:19) We also have a more sure Word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Daystar arises in your hearts,
We have received His Light His resurrection life.
Romans8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
(Rev 22:16 KJV) I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
(2Pe 1:19 KJV) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Rev. 2:29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Unlike the previous three churches, there is no promise at the end of this letter. Instead a command is given again to hear in the Spirit. When we hear in the Spirit, we receive revelation. Man shall not live by brad alone but by every word that proceeds out to the mouth of God.( Matt. 4:4)
Summary of the Thyatira Church:
Commendation- love, service, faith, and patience is greater than first
Criticism- tolerates cult of idolatry and immorality
Instruction- judgment coming; keep the faith
Promise- rule over nations and receive morning star
Revelation Chapter 3
Church at Sardis
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
SARDIS [SARR dis] — the capital city of Lydia in the province of Asia, in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The church at Sardis was one of the seven churches mentioned by John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3:1–6).
Sardis was situated on the east bank of the Pactolus River about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Smyrna; it occupied a rocky spur of Mount Tmolus and a valley at the foot of this mountain. In ancient times Sardis was well fortified and easily defended. It became the capital of the ancient Lydian empire, then passed successively to the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans during their respective dominance of the ancient world.
During its days as a Roman city, Sardis became an important Christian center. However, the church at Sardis was evidently affected by the complacency of the city and its reliance on past glory: “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). Sardis was like “whitewashed tombs which . . . appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27). Its thriving, healthy appearance masked an inner decay.
The most impressive building of ancient Sardis must have been its magnificent Temple of Artemis, built in the fourth century B.C. The temple was 100 meters (327 feet) long and 50 meters (163 feet) wide and had 78 Ionic columns, each 17.7 meters (58 feet) high. Some of these columns remain standing until this day.
Sardis was in the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lydia, and of King Croesus (560-546 b.c.) who issued the first gold coins; here it represents a decadent city of luxury, apathy, and licentious religiosity.
Church at Sardis- Sardis means red ones or remnant
Sardis= Red ones or remnant those with some life in them
Rev. 3:1 ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
The Lord reveals Himself to this church, the seven spirit of God and the seven stars. The 7-fold Spirit of God is our empowerment to walk in the Spirit The 7 stars were the 7 messengers of the seven churches. The message to this church is that everything needed to empower new life has been made available not only to the 7-fold Spirit of God, but from the kind of ministry it takes to produce this.
There are two interpretations to the 2nd statement by Jesus. Some say this is a dead church that thinks it is alive and others say this church is dead to the world and alive to Christ. I believe the key is “ you have a name that you are alive.” This church has a reputation for being alive, yet they’re dead. They have the potential to be alive, yet dead. Perhaps, they’re trying to produce perfection by the works of the law rather than through the energies of the resurrected Christ.
Sardis means “precious stone (i.e., the sardius stone), remnant.” It is interesting to note at this point that the name of the tribe of Judah is inscribed upon this stone in the Breastplate of the Old Testament High Priest. This church was known to be a lively, jumping, moving church and probably in revival, but the Lord said that she was DEAD!
We are alive in Christ. We live and move and have our being in Him. Resurrection life energizes every area of our life and every area of our spirit, soul and body.
Rev. 3:2 “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect ( complete or mature) before God.
Jesus encourages this church to be watchful and strengthen that which remains. Complete is walking out God’s plan or bringing it into maturity. Completion comes through obedience. Maturity comes from
Rev.3:3 “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
The first thing Christ demands is repentance. I will come . . . as a thief refers to an unexpected historical judgment, not the Second Coming.
Symbolically/spiritually–As this process as believers mature, they give birth to the nature of that indwelling that they themselves have begun to comprehend (see), that ‘every eye’ would see him.
As this happens, he is a thief, stealing the sin nature, stealing the darkness and replacing it with light. He is gathering us into one pace, a place of real love. We are caught up into those heavenly (elevated) places in consciousness.
The ‘man of sin’ in the temple of God who showed himself as god, is eternally removed. The Christ within rises up and says ‘depart from me, i never knew you,’ for…i never was you, impostor. “One is taken, the other left.” Heb 9:28 refers to all people who are ‘looking’ for him…and that from within shall the same resurrection life displayed in the resurrected Son, manifest via their Sonship. We all groan to see the nucleus of the seed bear fruit. We wllingly cooperate with each area of our lives, but if resistant we still change, even if “I will come to you as a thief,” Rev. 3:3. Our transfiguration was predetermined…the Rom. 9 vessel ‘fitted to destruction’ is the ‘old man,’ and the vessel of honor is the spirit-man cultivated in Christ, who shall appear more and more
Rev. 3:4 “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
The only commendation of this church is recognition of the few who are faithful. Garments are symbols of covering whether evil or righteous, defiled or beautiful. White is the symbol for purity, righteousness and holiness. Notice the ones who continually walk with Jesus; they will walk with Him in white.
*Symbol- defiled garments- garments defiled by the flesh. (Jude 23)
And within her sanctuary there were a few names which have not defiled their garments. They were the remnant, the church within the church, the hidden ones who had not bowed their knee to Baal. They definitely were not rejoiced over by the status quo and more than likely they were scoffed at, ridiculed and probably called ‘holier than thou’ to quote a term of recent times. They were in the minority, a silent voice that few would adhere to. Oftentimes they were branded as heretics, ostracized or cast out. They were promised the garments of righteousness, holiness, and purity; to be clothed with their heavenly tabernacle. The Church at Sardius is told to be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. For I have not found thy works perfect before God . They were being warned to strengthen what little they had left and to remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.
It is quite apparent that they too had embraced the doctrine of the Nicolaitans and probably embraced some paganism as well. They had embraced laws, and rituals and traditions which were making the Word of God of none effect. Bondage was rampant and the gospel of GRACE was seldom mentioned. They had their pomp and pageantries with all the hoopla they could muster. The outside of the cup was beautiful, but the inside was filthy and their white sepultures were full of dead men’s bones. They were warned that if they continued the way they were, that His coming to them would be unexpected and they would not be able to be clothed with that which was heavenly. Not only that, but He would come and go as a thief; in other words, they would not even know that He had been there. So they were told to repent and watch!
Rev. 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
*Symbol- white garments/raiment- priestly attire- (Ex. 28:39-41)
Promise to the overcomer: White garments are the robes of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and thus of victorious joy. I will not blot out his name assures the certainty of the Lord’s promise. Book of Life is God’s eternal record of the redeemed (see 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; Ex. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3).
The symbolic interpretation is the name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is our changed name and nature empowered with the life of the Lamb. It is a listing of the spirits of just mean who are made to be fulfilled. In other words it is a book of our destiny.
*Symbol- Book of Life- register of Heaven- (Heb. 12:23)
(Heb 12:23) to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Overcomers will be clothed in white and accepted and walk in a faith-filled righteousness based in Christ. It is up to us to maintain, guard, and watch the garment, keeping it unwrinkled and unspotted.
These overcomers are promised that their garments would be that of righteousness. This clothing is that which has been long awaited for and it is more than an outer garment, it is a state of BEING! They have been made partakers of His holiness, His very own nature, completely one with Him. Their name remains within the pages of the Book of Life, the book of the Life of God and His Lamb and His overcomers, the book of the firstfruits company which would in turn release life to a lost and dying creation. The name (nature) to be confessed and testified before the Father in the midst of His holy messengers! All because they embrace the gospel of GRACE and allowed it to have its perfect work within them through the ministry of the POWER of an ENDLESS LIFE which was forever after the order of Melchizedek, our Lord Jesus the Christ.
Rev. 3:6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Summary of the Church at Sardis:
Commendation- Some have kept the faith
Criticism- A dead church
Instruction- Repent; strengthen that which remains
Promise- Faithful, honored and clothed in white
Church at Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA [fill ah DELL fih uh] (brotherly love) — a city of the province of Lydia in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the site of one of the seven churches of Asia to which John wrote in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:11).
Philadelphia was situated on the Cogamus River, a tributary of the Hermus (modern Gediz) and was about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Sardis. It was founded by Attalus II (Philadelphus), who reigned as king of Pergamos from 159 b.c. until 138 b.c. Philadelphia was a center of the wine industry. Its chief deity was Dionysus, in Greek mythology the god of wine (the Roman Bacchus).
In the Book of Revelation, John describes the church in Philadelphia as the faithful church and the church that stood at the gateway of a great opportunity (Rev. 3:7–13). Christ said to this church, “See, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it” (v. 8). The “open door” means primarily access to God, but it also refers to opportunity for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Still a city of considerable size, Philadelphia is known today as Alashehir.
Church at Philadelphia- means brotherly love
Philadelphia= His loved ones
The name Philadelphia means ‘brotherly love’. In the Greek language there were three types of love: eros, phileo, and agape. The love in the name of Philadelphia comes from phileo.
Eros is the most selfish and immature form of love. It is best defined as NEED and self-gratification. It is demanding and dependent upon others and unable to meet the needs of others.
Phileo is the kind of love a child learns in relating to their siblings. They have respect for one another’s property and rights. This love respects the laws of God and of man and causes one to become ‘his brother’s keeper’.
Agape is the unconditional love and is a love that will lay down its life for the brethren. It is a love that is unselfish, unconditional, and fatherly. It is a giving love that prefers the welfare of another before ones self. A love that will sacrifice it own wants for the needs of others.
This is the only church of the 7 churches that Jesus speaks to that He has nothing against. The primary reason is that they have learned the greatest commandment.
(Mat 22:37 KJV) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Rev. 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:
Jesus addresses Himself to this church as “ the One who is Holy and the One who is true.” Our holiness is and emanation of the One who resides in us. Jesus calls them “ the one who has the key of David. The key of David is the authority of a king.
*Symbol- Key of David- kingdom authority and power. (Matt. 16:19, Is. 22:21-22)
Compare “the key of David” with the “keys of death and of Hades” and the “keys of the kingdom”:
21 I will clothe him with your robe And strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem And to the house of Judah.22 The key of the house of David ,I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers.25 ‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’ ”
(Rev 1:18 KJV) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
(Mat 16:19 KJV) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Jesus is the King, Key and Door. The revelation of the Christ contains the keys to the kingdom. We build the church on a revelation of Him. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it.
Jesus is the Key of the kingdom and He is the door that we must enter through.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.2 “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.5 “Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.8 “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Rev. 3:8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
The letter makes reference to “an open door” (Rev. 3:8) which is set before the people by the authority of Christ Jesus Himself. Two interpretations of this “open door” are possible. First, it may be the door to the eternal kingdom. Not only can Jesus open the door to that opportunity, He is the Door (John 10:7, 9).
Second, it may be the “door” of witness, service, and evangelistic opportunity. Philadelphia was described as the “gateway to the East.” King Attalus II, the founder of the city, planned that it should be a center from which Greek culture might be propagated. This detail may explain the imagery here. Paul used the term in this way in 1 Corinthians 16:9 and 2 Corinthians 2:12.
Revelation 3:8 says the church had “little strength.” When we are weak, we must depend on the Lord. The temptation will be to deny, to distort, or dilute God’s Word to accommodate our weakness or vulnerability. But Jesus said they had shown biblical fidelity and had “kept My word, and not denied My name.”
Rev. 3:9 “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
The synagogue of satan is the shadow side or opposite of those indwelt as temples of God; these are people in whom the devil lives and reigns. Who’s living in your house? You are either the synagogue of satan or the temple of the Lord. The synagogue of satan is a lying spirit to infiltrate the world and even the church. The spirit of antichrist will promote the doctrines of men; they are those who worship the world while claiming to be Christians.
Rev. 3:10 “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
Revelation 3:10 promises that Christ will keep believers “from the hour of trial,” a promise whose specific reference has been debated by sincere Christian scholars and theologians. Regarding the timing of the rapture of the church, does this promise mean that believers will escape from the “trials” of the tribulation period, or that they will endure through the midst of them? Or, does “hour of trial” refer to that which was to come upon the Philadelphian church only?
The Greek phrase “keep from” (tereo ek) is used elsewhere only in John 17:15, where Christ prayed to the Father that He would “keep” believers from satan.
Does He mean to preserve them from attack by the Evil One, or preserve them through such attack? What about the rest of verse 10? Does the promise apply to the entire seven-year period (Daniel’s Seventieth Week) or to the last three and one-half years (the “Great Tribulation”), when the “hour of temptation” comes to the “whole world”?
These are statements that can be interpreted several ways.
I believe that these early churches were facing some of the most impending tribulation. He was saying to them,” If you will preserve yourselves in what I have taught you, it will keep you through the hour of temptation and testing.”
Rev. 3:11 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
God’s only warning or directive to the Philadelphian congregation was “… hold fast what you have that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). God has gifted us with different skills, abilities, and gifts (1 Pet. 4:10, 11). Like the men in the parable of the talents, we need to use what we have, or else it will be taken away from us and given to another. Use the opportunities (“open doors”) you have for God. He will commend and award you for it.
If you don’t hold fast then you won’t finish anything.
Rev. 3:12 “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
*Symbol-Pillar in the Temple- stability, permanent position (Gal. 2:19)
Promise to the overcomer: (1)A pillar in the temple of God, going out no more. Pillar is unexplained in Scripture, but a pillar in a building is a solid foundation.(2)A name written, the name of the city of God, New Jerusalem. The new nature is our new nature. He said Himself, “ Behold I make all things new!” New Jerusalem is for overcomers.
Philadelphia represents those who are destined to overcome through love.
They were promised that He would keep them from falling in the midst of the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the entire world to try them that dwell upon the earth. Quickly He would come and cut short the work in righteousness and all they had to do was hold fast to that which they had.
As pillars, they would be declared a people of strength and uprightness resting upon the foundation of the Holy habitation upholding the covering (roof). Another way to put it is that the covering (roof) would rest upon them. They would stand securely and firmly in their place, no more to go out or be moved in any way. And upon these overcomers is written the name of God. His very nature is inscribed upon them and also the name (nature) of His city. Oh, to be identified with Him, receiving His name and all that goes with it. The ring has been put upon our finger and we are truly married to Him. No greater honor could ever be bestowed by the Creator to His creation. How glorious He is! Great is His clothing of humility!
Men and women everywhere, wrestling with life, have heard the promise to “him that overcometh,”… and the very sound of the words has brought them inspiration. It is the Savior Christ who speaks. The gospel story is all told. The work of incarnation and redemption is all done. Jesus has gone back to the Father, and now is speaking down to men and women on the earth, who are engaged in the special struggle for which He has prepared the conditions, and to which it has been the purpose of His life and death to summon them.
Jesus is talking to the men and women … who should be fighters against sin, against their own sin, who should struggle to be pure and brave and true and spiritual and unselfish, because they loved Christ, because He had lived and died for them, because they belonged to Him.
This is the peculiar struggle to the victory in which Christ, out of heaven, gives His promise.… “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out.”. When, truly obedient, we have been made like Him whom we obey, then, only then, we have overcome in the struggle of life. And then we must be pillars in His temple. There can be no end of the universe where God is, to which that growing temple does not reach, the temple of a creation to be wrought at last into a perfect utterance of God by a perfect obedience to God.
We will discuss New Jerusalem thoroughly in later lessons.
Rev. 3:13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Summary of the church at Philadelphia:
Commendation- Perseveres in the faith
Instruction- Keep the faith
Promise- A place in God’s presence, a new name, and the New Jerusalem
The Church at Philadelphia had before them an open door, and no man can shut it. There was no stopping where they could go or what they could do through the door that the Lord had opened. And they were given the key of David made them the porters and the keepers of the house and of the city. In Isaiah 22:15-25, the key of David was taken from Shebna, the Scribe and given to Eliakim (which means “whom God sets up”) to be the keeper of the house. In the days of Hezekiah, Shebna was the representative of ” the synagogue of Satan”. Although he may have been a ‘Jew’, his heart was not circumcised and therefore was not a ‘true Jew’. He was an imposter with the heart of a deceiver. It is interesting to note that this Church was reflective of the Hezekiah Church in the Old Testament and that the name Hezekiah means “strength.” Yet God describes this Church as having a little strength and yet in their weakness, He (the Lord) was made strong within the midst of them and they kept His word, and denied not His name. God loved these people and promised them that He would make them (the liars) to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. He would cause those of the synagogue of Satan to experience the fear of the Lord and cause them to bow their knee before them that they sought to destroy.
Church at Laodicea
LAODICEA [LAY ah duh SEE uh] — a city in the Lycus Valley of the province of Phrygia where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was situated (Rev. 3:14). About 65 kilometers (40 miles) east of Ephesus and about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of Colossae, Laodicea was built on the banks of the river Lycus, a tributary of the Maeander River.
The words of the risen Christ to Laodicea in Revelation 3:14–22 contain allusions to the economic prosperity and social prominence of the city. Founded by the Seleucids and named for Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II (261–247 b.c.), Laodicea became extremely wealthy during the Roman period. For example, in 62 b.c. Flaccus seized the annual contribution of the Jews of Laodicea for Jerusalem amounting to 20 pounds of gold. Moreover, when the city was destroyed by an earthquake in a.d. 60 (along with Colossae and Hierapolis), it alone refused aid from Rome for rebuilding (compare the self-sufficient attitude of the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17). Laodicea was known for its black wool industry; it manufactured garments from the raven-black wool produced by the sheep of the surrounding area.
The apostle Paul does not seem to have visited Laodicea at the time he wrote Colossians 2:1. Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesimus, and Mark seem to have been the early messengers of the gospel there (Col. 1:7; 4:7–15). A letter addressed to the Laodiceans by Paul (Col. 4:16) has apparently been lost; some consider it to be a copy of the Ephesian letter. A church council was supposedly held at Laodicea (a.d. 344–363), but all that has come down to us are statements from other councils.
The site of Laodicea is now a deserted heap of ruins that the Turks call Eski Hisar, or “old castle.”
According to the comments about the church at Laodicea in the Book of Revelation, this congregation consisted of lukewarm Christians (Rev. 3:14–22). The living Lord demands enthusiasm and total commitment from those who worship Him.
The Church at Laodicea- means the justice of the people, meaning to deal with a suit at law, a judicial hearing, judicial decision or sentence. It also infers a condemnation or the execution of a sentence or punishment.
Laodicea= Justice of the people, self- righteous, self-guided individuals
The name Laodicea means either “power OF the laity” (people) or “power OVER the laity” (captivity). It also means to be governed by the laity. It reflects a democratic rule of church government which is rebellious to the order of God’s house. God’s divine government is a theocracy where Jesus Christ is King, God rules, and NO ONE HAS A VOTE! Therefore it absolutely assures us of righteousness ruling and prevailing thereby bringing us into the perfect law of liberty (James 2:12). Through this structure, mistakes are never made and everything stays in order.
Rev. 3:14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
The revelation of Jesus as the Amen, the so be it, the final word, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God, the beginning of a brand new species. He is the firstborn of many brethren, the fist fruit.
Rev. 3:15“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
There are several ways to interpret this Scripture.
( Tabernacle progressions) Being hot can be seen as being on fire for God, communing daily with Him in the Most Holy Place. Being cold is the realm of the Outer Court.
(Cold and hot water) Cold springs ( water) are refreshing, hot mineral springs are medicinal
There is no middle ground with God; you are either with Him or against Him, all else is sinking ground.
Rev. 3:16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Lukewarm is nauseating. Lukewarm Christians make Him sick. The separating of hot and cold has begun. The plan of Revelation is for everyone to make a decision, no more fence riding.
Rev. 3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
We judge many times according to outward appearance. God looks into the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Rev. 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
*Symbol- gold tried by fire- faith in God; divine nature (2 Pet. 1:7)
*Symbol-eye salve- anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27)
Gold, white garments, eye salve: Laodicea was noted for being a banking center, for the production of glossy black wool used in clothing and carpets, and for producing a salve for the curing of eye disorders. The church desperately needed the grace that regenerates, the garments of Christ’s righteousness, and Spirit-illumined eyes of the heart.
God wants perfection( maturity) ,”gold tried by fire”, completion and His spiritual nature to be in His children.
Rev. 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
The carnal church is the church who loves the things of men more than the things of God. They are led by pride and position more than Spirit and Truth. The word to this carnal church or any carnal Christian, REPENT!
Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock is addressed to a complacent church. Individuals may still open the door and enjoy intimate fellowship with the Lord. That He waits for the door to be opened shows the paradox of grace and personal responsibility
There is person who will hear His voice and will open the door. That door leads to communion with Him in the Most Holy Place, the Secret Place of the Most High.
Are we ready to let Him in and let Him strengthen us?
Rev. 3:21 “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
*Symbol- the throne- sovereignty of God (Ps. 45:6)
This is a kingdom promise. The kingdom is for overcomers. This is a fulfillment of Christ’s prayer in John 17 to be with Him now, one in Him.
The overcomer shares the throne with His God to rule and reign in righteousness, grace, and truth. His life has truly become their life and His ways have become their ways. They can be entrusted with God’s authority and power for they are in ‘common’ ‘union’ with Him. They are ONE BREAD and bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. They have partaken of His Blood and His Life is in THEIR Blood! They are incorruptible and have put on immortality through the power of the SON and have been changed INTO HIS IMAGE and entered into HIS GLORY.
Jesus Christ can give every believer the power to overcome Satan, sin, and the world. No Christian should live a defeated life—depressed, discouraged, falling into sin, and on the defensive. Rather, strengthened by the Word of God, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and reinforced by submission to a local church, the believer should be victorious and a shining testimony of Jesus. Because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin, we are overcomers.
I will grant to you to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21). Just as there are saints who are stones in the wall of the city, or pillars in the temple of God, so there are those who become a throne people. These are the ruling sons of God, and it is from the throne of God and of the Lamb that the living stream proceeds! The greatest manifestation of life the world has ever seen shall yet come forth in the earth through a people who become the throne of God in the earth! The glory of God fills the city, and the whole earth is full of His glory, and His glory is above the heavens — yet God sits upon His throne — there is a unique concentration of divine life, power, and dominion from those who make up the throne of God!
Rev. 3:22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”
If you have ears to hear what Christ is saying to the churches, then you will understand that there is a revelation of Christ that the Church desperately needs to hear.
This phrase is spoken 7 times in Revelation 2 & 3.
Summary of the Church at Laodicea:
Instruction- Be zealous and repent
Promise- Share Christ’s throne
The Church at Laodicea had intermingled herself with the ways of Babylon and had increased tremendously in riches and raiment. She owed her riches to the world and to the world gave she her allegiance. She was in a state of complacency with God and no longer felt a need for Him. She thought herself to be in need for nothing or no one and had become blinded to the God of her salvation. She was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. So total was her blindness that she didn’t even know the state that she was in. God counseled her to purchase what she was in need of. The PRICE was simply repentance. Through repentance, she would be clothed upon with a nature and faith that was that was tried in the fire. Her riches would be beyond all that the world could give her and her nakedness would be covered, never to be seen again. Her eyes would be anointed once again and she would be able to see, and she would be able to discern good from evil. She would have the eyes of the Spirit. He was standing at the door knocking and all she has to do is hear and let Him in. The Master would enter IN TO HIM and would SUP with him (communion).
Sad it is to say that the Church of today truly as a whole reflects this Laodicea Church. Her faith is in her riches and goods and has not come through the hearing of God’s Word, therefore it is an unrefined faith that will not stand in the testing of the refiner’s fire. Only those clothed in righteousness will stand in the refiner’s fire which means they who have not given themselves to oppression for gain.
Summary of the 7 Churches:
Ephesus- loveless church
Smyrna- persecuted church
Pergamos- compromising church
Thyratira- corrupt church
Sardis- dead church that thinks its alive
Philadelphia- faithful church
Laodicea- lukewarm church
Ephesus (2:1–7) was an unloving and orthodox church. The spiritual vitality that springs from love for the Lord had turned into just a religious exercise. This spiritual condition of just going through the outward motions can be found in churches, individual Christian lives, and marriage. Smyrna (2:8–11) was a poor, persecuted church located in a beautiful city of wealth and commercial greatness. However, even under these conditions, they were spiritually rich. Pergamos (2:12–17) was a church that diluted the Word of God and allowed false doctrines that seduced people into immorality and idolatry. Jesus told this church to repent quickly. Pergamos can also represent the Christian who has taken his or her eyes off Jesus and has gotten into sexual sins. Thyatira (2:18–29) was a church of loose morals and sexual sins. This church was also involved in the “depths of Satan,” which were false teachings. Sardis (3:1–6) was a spiritually dead church, whom Jesus urged to wake up and strengthen what truth they had left. Philadelphia (3:7–13) was a church that was faithful and in revival. Finally, Laodicea (3:14–22) was a church that was spiritually lukewarm and had deserted the truth of the Bible in many areas.
DISPENSATIONAL INTERPRETATION: STAGES OF CHURCH HISTORY
Dispensationalists see a prophetic application in the letters that suggest that they outline seven stages of church history, with the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea representing the final end-time churches. Philadelphia is pictured as the end-time church characterized by revival, and Laodicea as the apostate “church” just before the Rapture.
It is very likely that the “last days” church will be comprised of people who represent all seven types of churches.
Another view is that the last days churches will be divided into two kinds of churches: the church of Laodicea and the church of Philadelphia, the apostate church and the church of love.
List of Churches in Rev. 2&3
Related ministry Jehovah Name Accommodation Criticism
Ephesus Apostles Tsidkenu (Jer 33:16) THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Wisdom to judge Needed- Self-sacrifice
Smyrna Prophets Shamah (Eze 48:35) God’s Presence Willingness to die for others
Needed- Head authority
Pergamos Evangelists Rophe (Exo 15:26) Healer Ability to conquer in the spirit world
Thyatira Pastors Jireh (Gen 22:14) Provider Desire to serve
Sardis Teachers Makkadesh (Lev 22:32) Sanctifier Desire of completion in saints Needed- Dreams & Visions
Laodicea (apostate church) False Ministers
Shalom (Jdg 6:24) Peace (deceptive cries peace but really bondage) False Abundance –Prosperity perverted Be zealous and repent
Philadelphia Equippers/ equipping saints for ministry
Nissi (Exo 17:15) The Lord Is My Banner
Banner over us is Love Perseveres in the faith Keep the faith Nothing needed- A place in God’s presence, a new name, and the New Jerusalem
Review: Interpretive Approaches to the Book of Revelation
Many devoted Christians are surprised to discover that other equally dedicated believers view the prophecies of the Book of Revelation differently from them. The book tolerates a wide spectrum of approaches, but the common denominator of all is the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ, who culminates history with His final coming and reigns with and through His church forever.
The most popularized and widely discussed approach is called the Dispensationalist interpretation. This proposes that the Rapture of the church is referred to in v. 1, at which time the redeemed in Christ are translated into heaven at His coming “in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). Rev. 6-18 are perceived as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21) or the wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9) from which believers are kept (Rev. 3:10). This approach sees national Israel as God’s people on Earth at this time (the church having been raptured), restored to Jerusalem, protected by divine seal (7:1-8), worshiping in a rebuilt temple (11:1-3), and suffering at the hand of the Antichrist.
Not as widely published but at least equally widely believed is the Moderate Futurist view. This proposes the Book of Revelation as summarizing the conclusion of the church’s age long procession through tribulation and triumph, warfare, and victory, and consummating in the climactic return of Jesus Christ for His church. The tribulation is generally viewed as age long, but increasing in intensity, so that the church is understood as present through much of Earth’s turmoil until just prior to the outpouring of the “bowls full of the wrath of God” (15:7). This occurs during ch. 16 and culminates in the collapse of the present world order (chs. 17; 18).
Among other views are these: 1) The Historic position sees Revelation as a symbolic prophecy of the whole of church history, with the events of the book a picture of the events and movements that have shaped the conflict and progress of the Christian church. 2) The Preterist views Revelation as a message of hope and comfort to first century believers only, offering them an expectation of their deliverance from Roman persecution and oppression. 3) The Idealist formulates no particular historical focus or effort at interpreting specifics of the book, rather seeing it as a broad, poetic portrayal of the conflict between the kingdom of God and the powers of Satan.
Conclusion to Chptrs. 2 & 3:
What is God saying to us through these Churches. What is it that He is doing in this hour. He is telling us that we have been CALLED OUT and CHOSEN with a HOLY CALLING and to make ready, for the day that has burned within our hearts is upon us. We are about to come before Him once again for the THIRD time in this THIRD day. We are about to enter into the fullness of His Spirit which will be released experientially within the Church as we enter the Feast of Tabernacles. LET HIM WHO HATH AN EAR HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES!