Revelation 2 - Outline of Revelation (MENU page)
We come to the second section of the book (ch 2-3): "The things which are." (cp 1:19)
This section consists of letters to each of the 7 churches (cp 1:11).
The number "seven" in scripture often indicates completion or fullness. Eg.
These 7 letters contain the whole story of the Church as seen from several viewpoints:
Applications of the 7 letters
[Some scholars hold to just one application. But all are true and profitable.]
  1. Contemporary: Addressed to the local churches of John's day.
  2. Composite: Addressed to individual local churches of every historical period according to their need. And providing a cross section of the character of the Church at any time in its history.
  3. Chronological: Providing a history of the Church (and its changing character) from start to close of the Church age. (cp 1:3 "..the words of this prophecy..." The entire book is prophetic.)
  4. Personal: Each letter closes with "He that hath an ear let him hear."
Outline of the Letters: (Major points common to each letter)
  1. the Church addressed.
  2. the Character of her Head (the Sender of the letter).
    Christ chooses to describe Himself according to the need of each church.
  3. the Commendation.
  4. the Condemnation (none given for Smyrna or Philadelphia).
  5. the Counsel (warning and/or reward).
Letter # 1 (v.1-7)
[Church Addressed]-
2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;
Ephesus- historic: We know more about Ephesus than any other of the 7 churches. See:
  • the Epistle to the Ephesians;
  • Acts 19 - where Paul establishes this church & preaches there for 2 years, believers burn their occult books, the silversmiths foment an uproar, the Gospel went out from Ephesus to the surrounding area;
  • Acts 20:17-38 - Paul's farewell and warning to the elders of Ephesus.
Ephesus- name means "desirable."
We are desired of the Lord Jesus: Rev 1:5; Eph 5:2
[Character of the Sender]-
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand,
"He that holds" (lit., "holds fast") - speaks of Christ's authority and of the way He treasures His own. (cp. wedding vows "to have and to hold..." Eph 5:25-30)
who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Christ is ever in the midst of the Church (cp 1:13).
The addition, here, of the word "walks" emphasizes His personal presence & involvement.
  • He cares for & trims the lamps, that we might shine in His beauty,
    as light in the world, without spot or wrinkle... holy & without blemish.
  • He reveals Himself through us (cp 1:10-12).
  • He inspects/examines, to see if we measure up to His desires for us.
candlestick- better translated "lampstands," ie., lamps fueled by oil.
The church can bear witness to the Truth only as empowered by the Holy Spirit, who is supplied to us by Christ. cp. Joh 16:7-11
[Commendation]-
2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience,
"I know with absolute clearness..."[Wuest] - Nothing is hidden from Him.
works- We are not saved by works... but to good works. Eph 2:8-10
labor- even to weariness: They were not afraid to spend & be spent.
They were not taking a free ride, but threw themselves into the work.
patience- endurance under trials (a fruit of the Spirit)
-- They were Dedicated to Service.
and how thou canst not bear them which are evil:
-- They were Dedicated to Righteousness / holiness.
and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not,
and hast found them liars:
-- They were Dedicated to Doctrinal purity.
They knew what they believed, and would not tolerate or endure false teachers / teaching.
2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience,
and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
-- They remained Dedicated through Testing (which included persecution).
While they could not bear evil or false teachers, they could bear toil and sacrifice.
They were - faithful over the long haul / the rough road.
-- bearing the cross to serve Christ.
-- weary in the work, but not of the work. cp. Gal 6:9
This church is the desire of every pastor! Who would fault such a church?
[Condemnation]-
2:4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] {this} against thee,
because
{namely this} thou hast left thy first love.
hast left- (often misquoted as "hast lost", as though by accident)
- The meaning is: 'you have forsaken, and continue to forsake...'
first- can mean 'chief, foremost.'
"Your love for Me, that earliest love, you abandoned." [trans. by Wuest]
-- They would not abandon the work, but in their abandon to the work, they had abandoned Him.
-- They labored for Christ's sake (v.2,3). But being busily focused on His work, they had ceased gazing upon Him.
-- They were faithful, honoring His Name with lips and deeds, but their hearts had drifted from the desire to know Him. Php 3:10
They worshipped, but like us, their hearts were no longer in harmony with the words they sang:
''My life, my love, I give to Thee,
Thou Lamb of God who died for me.
O may I ever faithful be,
My Savior and my God.'' [Hymn: ''I'll live for Him'']
Here is the seed of self-sufficency, which is seen in full bloom at Laodicea (Rev 3:17).
The cure for their error is the same for Ephesus as for Laodicea (3:18-20).
[Counsel]-
2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,
fallen- How serious this warning is!
We say a brother is fallen when he is overtaken with some grave sin.
remember- Do you remember when your love for Him was new? Wasn't there:
-- Joy in the Lord, for sins forgiven and a home in heaven.
-- Amazement at His Grace.
-- Hunger: for His Word, to know Him, to be like Him, to share Him.
(cp. Psa 51:12; Jer 2:2,3,5-8,13)
and repent, and do the first works;
This is directed at believers, not unbelievers.
repent= "Turn back" -from self-sufficiency and sophistication,
- from dedication to the work & neglect of Me.
The Church first went astray in loss of love for Christ:
  • Hearts, no longer enamored with His Person,
    lose interest in right doctrine that describes Him.
  • Hearts, no longer in sync with His heart,
    lose purpose & direction even in ministry.
Chronologically, Ephesus describes the Church from 35-100 AD.
The fervency of first generation Christians was fading by attrition. cp. 1Cor 15:6
The errors of subsequent eras are rooted in love for Christ abandoned:
- Pergamos: The Church married to another (the world system).
- Thyatira: The Church in adulterous relationship with world religions.
- Sardis: The Church with a "name that you live, but you are dead".
- Laodicea: The Church lukewarm toward Christ, taken by their own self-worth.
"the first works" are those which are rooted in "the love of Christ." 2Cor 5:14; 1The 1:3
The purpose of the church is to "show forth the praises {ie., virtues, excellencies}" of our Savior (1Pet 2:9). The "first works" of the 7 lampstands is the illumination of the Person who is in their midst (1:10-13). As we do so, He enables us to shine more brightly. But He does whatever is necessary, when a lamp becomes focused on itself, and no longer fulfills His purpose.
or else I will come unto thee quickly {ie., suddenly},
and will remove thy candlestick out of his place,
"The lamp does not burn apart from personal love for Jesus.
When love dies, the light goes out." [W.A.Criswell, Expository Sermons on Revelation]
remove thy candlestick- Ephesus is presently in ruins, the church missing.
The ruins tell the story of the once strong witness. In the harbor, 4 pillars once stood in honor of the 4 gospel writers. Every traveler soon knew their significance. Today, only one remains, mute testimony to a lamp snuffed out.
except thou repent.
The need to repent (turn back) is emphasized by Christ's doubled admonition.
Remember Jesus' repeated words to Simon Peter: "Do you love me? Feed my sheep!"
Ministry is not proof of love for Christ, but love for Christ is prerequisite for ministry. John 21:15-17; 1Cor 13:1
For the Ephesian church, Paul prayed, to Him "that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..." The essence of his prayer was not so much that they would have power for ministry, but rather that they would 'comprehend' {lay hold upon, be overtaken by, be in possession of} the love of Christ (Eph 3:14-21).
2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans,
which I also hate.
Nicolaitans- the word is compounded from two Greek words:
'nico', to conquer, to rule; and 'laos', the people, the laity.
There are two views concerning the identity of the Nicolaitans: (This writer favors B.)
  1. Those who professed to believe but lived licentiously... as followers of Nicolaus of Antioch who taught that sins of the body do not affect the spirit, but are required if we are to understand sin.
  2. Those who divided the Church into clergy & laity. This view fits the Greek roots (above) in that some desired to exalt themselves over God's people. Consider Paul's warning & the example of Diotrephes: Acts 20:28-30; 3Joh 1:9
        Having fallen away from close fellowship with the Savior, believers were no longer of one mind with each other, because few truly knew the mind of the Lord. Strong leaders took advantage of their confusion, although the church hated their domineering actions. This seed of clerical authority would grow into church hierarchy. What is "deeds" here, becomes a "doctrine" in 2:15.
These two errors go together: When God's people look to a priest for piety (conferred blessing), they lose sight of their need for personal holiness as a kingdom of priests (Rev 1:5,6). We are more likely to return to our First Love, if we recognize our personal (A) accountability and (B) relationship to Him. He desires us to know Him as we are known by Him. Our relationship must not be second hand. Every member of His Body is to be in vital union with the Head (Eph 4:14-16).
2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
Personally: Are there other loves which separate you from your First Love?
To him that overcometh will I give
Who is he that overcomes? 1Joh 5:4-5
If we truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, wouldn't we seek to know Him? Php3:10
to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The tree of life is not a reward for exceptional servants.
Neither is it eternal life. For that is the possession of every true believer.
Rather, it is the Source of eternal life, the Lord Himself, whom to know is life eternal (Joh 17:3).
It is to feed upon Him, who is 'in the midst' of God's Church (Rev 2:1) and Kingdom (7:17).
to eat...- Have you, like Mary, chosen the one thing that is needful?
Luk 10:38-42; 1Joh 1:1-4; Rev 3:20; Psa 73:25,26; Joh 6:47-58; 7:37; Joh 14:21-23; 15:4,5
'Lord Jesus, we know that You are the vine and we are the branches, and that without You we can do nothing. Yet, so easily we allow even the desire for fruit to strangle our love for You. Lord, so work in our hearts that we may truly say: "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee..." For when this desire is fulfilled, it will be a tree of life. Amen.'

 
Letter # 2 (v.8-11)
[Church Addressed]
2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;
Smyrna -- the place is modern Izmir, Turkey.
This is one of two (out of the 7) churches that existed continually. (Philadelphia is the other.)
-- the name means "myrrh," symbolic of death: Mark 15:23; Joh 19:39,40
Myrrh is bitter to taste, and must be crushed to release its fragrance.
Smyrna is the suffering church, crushed... poor, persecuted, but rich.
[Character of the Sender]
These things saith
the first and the last,
(cp 1:11)
Christ reminds the suffering church of --
A. His Deity -
-- eternal, self-existent (Isa 44:6)
-- knowing the end from the beginning (Isa 44:7)
-- bringing history to a predetermined end. (Isa 44:8)
B. His Rank in humanity -
-- First (as Creator), Last (as rejected by His creations) Joh 1:1-5,11; Isa 53:3,11
-- First before His enemies, Php 2:9; Rev 1:7
-- First before His Bride, Rom 8:29; Col 1:18
He asks only that we follow where He has led: Mat 19:27-30
which was dead, and is alive;
Though He leads through death, we need not fear (Psa 23:4; 2Cor 4:14).
[Commendation] (There is no Condemnation given in this letter.)
2:9 I know thy works,
He is in the midst... scrutinizing, judging, strengthening, encouraging.
and tribulation, {trouble, distress, affliction including persecution}
He knows (is painfully aware of) the sufferings of His own.
Therefore, ''Fear not.'' v.10; Joh 16:2,3,33; Mat 10:28-33
and poverty, (but thou art rich)
He knows those who have consciously forsaken worldly wealth & opportunity to follow Him. He will not forget to reward them. Mat 5:11,12; 2Cor 6:10; Eph 3:16
and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and
are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.
He knows the blasphemy: The offence is not merely persecution of people.
They oppose God, not merely His followers.
Jews opposed Jesus, fearing loss of wealth & authority.
They cried out: "We have no king but Caesar." (Joh 19:15)
Later, Jews were persecuted because they would not accept Caesar as Lord. During this time, some Jews betrayed Christians in order to gain favor for themselves.
synagogue of Satan- Some who are of Israel physically, are not God's people.
Genetic children of Abraham do not necessarily share his faith. Rom 9:6,7; Joh 8:30-44
[Counsel]-
2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:
Php 1:28,29; 2Cor 12:9; Rom 8:35-39
behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried;
Persecution -- is instigated by Satan (cp. Job 1:9-11).
-- is allowed by God (cp. Job 1:12).
-- is limited by God (ten days).
-- is turned by God to good (a crown of life) (cp. Job 13:15; 23:10; Heb 12:11).
and ye shall have tribulation ten days:
Contemporary view: Not long after John wrote these words,
the region of the seven churches experienced ten years of persecution under the emperor Trajan. However, looking back on history, we can also see ten distinct periods of persecution under Rome.
Chronologic period: 64-313 AD.
The Roman persecutions were carried out under ten edicts of ten succeeding emperors (dates shown are years of reign): Nero (54-68 AD), Domitian (81-96), Trajan (98-117), Marcus Aurelius (161-180), Severus (222-235), Maximinius (235-238), Decius (249-251), Valerian (253-260), Aurelian (270-295), Diocletian (284-305) (the last was the worst of all).
This was the period of Lion vs. Christian at the Coliseum (the blood stains are still visible).
The test: "Bow to Caesar as Lord or die."
Their answer: "Jesus Christ is Lord and none other."
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
This statement is attributed to the early Christian apologist, Tertullian, in his "Apologeticus" (written in 197 AD), in which he argues for tolerance toward Christians and against the laws under which Christians were being persecuted. More than a motto, this was a statement of fact.
be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
''faithful unto death''- refers to the degree, rather than the duration, of faithfulness.
Not- "If you still believe at the time of your death."
But- "Be ready to die for Me, if I ask you to do so." Php 2:8; Rev 12:11
a crown of life- not a reward for special servants, but eternal life,
the possession of every true believer (those who love Him more than life). Jam 1:12
2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
Am I listening?
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Who is he that overcomes... that remains faithful unto death? 1Joh 5:4,5
the second death- see Rev 20:6,14,15
'O Lord, the disciples rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for your sake.
Make us faithful to make your savor known, even through our crushing. Amen.' 2Cor 2:14-16

 
Letter # 3 (v.12-17)
[Church Addressed]-
2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write;
Pergamos -- The name is from Gk 'pergos,' tower; and Gk 'gamos,' marriage, union.
This is the church elevated, and in compromise with the world system.
-- The place was a center of false religion, and a center of world knowledge. It boasted the world's greatest library of 200,000 volumes. Parchment was invented here (and named for the city) after Egypt refused to sell them papyrus (due to jealousy over their library).
Note: Paul asked Timothy to "bring the books and... parchments" (2Tim 4:13). God's word is essential to counter false religion & worldly wisdom.
[Character of the Sender]-
These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; (cp 1:16)
The two edged sword= the Word of God= Truth= Christ (cp. Joh 14:6).
The solution for the compromised church is to cut off error.
We want unity, but God's Word:
  • divides: the soulish (fleshly) from the Spiritual,
  • discerns: the thoughts and motives of hearts; the inner workings of every creature.
    Heb 4:12,13; Mat 10:34; Luk 12:51
[Commendation]-
2:13 I know thy works,
and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]:
He takes our circumstances into consideration,
but we are to be in the world, not of the world. Joh 17:14-17
Satan's throne-
Pergamos was the first city in Asia to build a temple for emperor worship (to Caesar Augustus, who reigned at the time of Jesus' birth). Pergamos was a center of pagan worship with a multitude of temples.
and thou holdest fast my name,
My Name: Jesus Christ the Lord (eg Php 2:11) versus various false gods of Pergamos:
Jesus -the great physician
 
 
vs.
 
 
Aesculapius- god of healing
(represented by a serpent
twined around a staff)
Christ -God's anointed Savior.vs.Zeus- the savior god
the Lord -vs.the Emperors - who claimed to be Lord & God
and hast not denied my faith,
even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr,
who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
They had been faithful unto death (perhaps during the "10 days" of v.10).
Martyr (Gk. martus) originally meant "a witness," later came to refer to those who died because of faithfulness to their witness.
Antipas (lit., "against all").
According to church tradition, Antipas was ordained as bishop of Pergamum by John. During the persecution under Domitian, Antipas was commanded to swear that Ceasar was God, instead he proclaimed that Jesus Christ alone is God. The Roman official said, "Antipas, don't you know that the whole world is against you?" The reply: "Then Antipas is against the whole world."
He was placed inside a hollow brass bull, and roasted to death in 92 AD.
In 313 AD, "those days" of persecution ended when
Constantine made Christianity the state religion. During a time of battle, he had seen a vision of a cross and heard the words: "In this sign conquer."
During his reign, the church was divided by the Arian controversy:
"Is Christ God, or a created being?" -
     Arius of Alexandria taught that Jesus was a son of God and was like God, but was not God himself. Thus, there was a time when Jesus did not exist, and since he was not eternally coexistent with the Faither, the Son of God cannot completely know the Father or His will. (This erroneous doctrine is essentially what the Jehovah's Witnesses follow today.)
     Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, argued that Jesus was absolutely divine, that in Him the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and that the Persons of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal. He led those who held fast "my name" (eg. Emmanuel, "God with us"), and who had not denied "my faith" (God became a man, dwelt among us, provided Himself as the Lamb, the propitiation for sin...). The error of Arius was especially popular, because the prevalent pagan philosophy was accommodated by bringing Christ down to the level of man, or the pagan deities.
     In 325 AD, Constantine convened the Council of Nicea to debate the issue. Through the arguments of Athanasius, the council declared the teaching of Arius to be heresy. However, for the remainder of his life, Athanasius frequently stood alone in the battle for truth. He lived through the reigns of several emperors, who alternately respected or exiled him, depending on their view of the issue. His life was summarized by the latin expression "Athanasius contra mundum" or "Athanasius against the world" which arose due to his steadfast opposition to the Arian heresy.
[Condemnation]-
2:14 But I have a few things against thee,
because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac
to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel,
to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Constantine elevated church leaders to positions of power.
Once strangers & pilgrims in the world, now the church dwelled "where Satan's throne is." Compromise followed, just as it had when Israel became friends with the world.
Balaam, the mercenary prophet, could not curse Israel,
so he instructed Balak how to beguile Israel (through union with pagan women) to defile their separation unto God. cp. Num 22:5,6; 23:8; 25:1-8; 31:15,16; Jam 4:4
2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,
which thing I hate.
hold- (cp. 2:6) That, which was hated in Ephesus, is adhered to here. Yet, Christ hates it.
doctrine- (cp. 2:6) That, which was despised as evil "deeds" in Ephesus, is here accepted and taught as truth.
Nicolaitans- (There a two views as to the meaning. See also the note at 2:6, above.)
  1. The followers of Nicolaus of Antioch (one of the 7 original deacons, cp. Acts 6:3-5),
    who compromised God's Word with Greek philosophy, teaching that spirit is inherently good, and flesh is inherently evil. Therefore, indulgence in physical lusts cannot defile the spirit.
    This teaching promoted lax morals under the guise of Christian liberty.
    [This is morally equivalent to Balaam's error. But ''the doctrine of the Nicolaitans'' appears to contain additional error. So, View B, below, is to be preferred.]
    [Counter: God's Word reveals no goodness in man, but says we are dead in sins. God's Word divides between death & life, and provides the Way by which we may choose life. The way of the flesh is incompatible with holiness. 1Cor 6:9-11]
  2. "Rulers over the people" (see note at 2:6, above)- The division between clergy & laity.
    The first century church leaders were overseers (elders/bishops) of an equal brotherhood. By the 4th century, the bishops of Rome, Antioch, & Alexandria were called archbishops. There was a hierarchy of bishops over bishops. The priestly caste became elevated to great power.
         When Constantine presided over the Council of Nicea, he was hailed as "Pontifex Maximus." The Roman Catholic pope bears this title today. This title previously belonged to the Roman emperors as "high priests" over heathen worship.
    With the title came the heathen & their practises (cp v.14, idols, fornication).
    [Counter: The Church has only one High Priest (Heb 4:14). He is the Chief Shepherd, under whom elders and bishops are to serve humbly, not as lords over God's flock (1Pet 5:1-4).]
[Counsel]
2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
repent- Turn from the unfruitful works of darkness. Turn from these errors.
or else...- We must either judge ourselves, or be judged (1Cor 11:31).
When God, by the sword of His Word, does exploratory surgery and finds a cancer, we must allow Him to cut it out. Or else, He will need to cut us off.
fight...sword of my mouth- It is the Word of God that judges error. Joh 12:48
These words find final fulfilment at Christ's coming to judge the world at Armageddon. Despite His warning, some who consider themselves part of the Church, will persist in holding these errors. Christ will slay them when He returns with His saints (holy ones). Rev 19:15
2:17 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 hidden manna,
and will give him a white stone, and
in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].
he that overcomes- is the one who truly believes in Christ.
Such will take to heart His Word and His Sword of judgment. 1Joh 5:4,5; Heb 4:12
manna- Speaks of Christ who came down from Heaven to give us Life. cp. Ex 16:15,35; Joh 6:48-51
Some in Pergamos thought they had found life by coming up in the world. They were not satisfied with the manna from heaven. cp. Num 11:4-6
hidden- The Gospel is hid from the sin blinded, and from the "wise & prudent." 2Cor 4:3,4; Mat 11:25-27
But for the believer, Christ, the Bread of Life, is presently hidden in the presence of God. He is the guarantee and memorial of New Covenant provision (Ex 16:33,34; Heb 6:18-20).
to eat hidden manna- Rev 3:20
stone- The GK word is translated "voice" (meaning 'vote') in Acts 26:10.
white- The courts would give a defendant a white stone to declare acquital
or a black stone to declare guilt. Though the whole world stands united with one voice, If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31-34
new name- We cannot interpret what "no man knows," except to say that
this is a sign of union to Him (as the bride receives her husband's name).
Antipas received one of Christ's titles: "Faithful Witness" cp. 1:5 & 2:13.
Also, see 3:12 with 19:12 "I will write upon him my new name."
Here is the true "elevation and marriage" which the true Bride of Christ desires.

Letter # 4 (v.18-29)
[Church Addressed]
2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write;
The fourth is the middle of the 7 letters, and also the longest.
Perhaps this represents what the world recognizes as 'the Church.'
Thyatira -- the name is from two Gk. words:
'ateiros,' unwearied, continual (plus) Gk 'thuos,' sacrifice.
This speaks of the multiplicity of religious rites & ceremonies, and also of a form of godliness which does not acknowledge the power, sufficiency, and finished work of Christ's blood to cleanse from all unrighteousness. This is characteristic of all cults and of the Roman Catholic Church (R.C.C.) whose mass offers "a continual sacrifice" for the living and the dead. [Ref. "The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church," par.1323, 1382 ,1405, 1407]
Thyatira -- the place- The home of Lydia, the seller of purple (Acts 16:14).
The city's main industry was production of purple cloth, which due to its costliness was usually reserved for royalty & priests.
[Character of the Sender]
These things saith the Son of God,
Son of God- occurs only here in Rev. (cf. Son of man, 1:13). This is important.
He presents Himself according to the moral/spiritual condition of each church.
who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass;
Possessing the attributes of God, He is able to deal with Thyatira's wickedness.
[Commendation]
2:19 I know thy works,
and charity {Gk 'agape,' true and costly love},
and service {Gk 'diakonia,' ministry},
and faith
and thy patience,
{endurance, steadfastness}
All of the above are evidences of salvation. 1Thes 1:2-4
and thy works; and the last [to be] more than the first.
They had an increasing zeal. However, the emphasis was on works.
[Condemnation]
2:20 Notwithstanding {ie, inspite of the preceding commendation}
I have a few things {lit., this} against thee,
because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess,
to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication,
and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
that woman Jezebel: Who is she?
  1. Local: At the time of writing, perhaps there was an influential woman in the community
    who had been heavily involved in the occult pagan worship. She became enamored with Christianity, professed faith, proclaimed herself a prophetess, and claimed a superior understanding of deep spiritual things. But actually, she corrupted Christian doctrine with pagan philosophy & practise (eg., idols, fornication).
    [This is speculation, for we have no record of such a woman.]
  2. Symbolic: In scripture, a woman often signifies a religious system. Examples:
  3. Historic: The wife of wicked king Ahab (ruled the 10 northern tribes).
    Together Ahab & Jezebel mixed pagan worship with the worship of Jehovah.
    They served Baal & Ashtaroth (male & female deities which were linked).
    1Kin 16:31-33; 18:19; Judg 2:13
    The roots of Baal/Ashtaroth worship were in Babylon:
    Nimrod (Noah's great-grandson) built Babel (lit., "gate of God," but came to mean "confusion.") Gen 10:9,10; 11:4
    Nimrod wanted: Governing power (a city), Self-exaltation (a name).
    Nimrod needed: A rallying point (a tower- to the heavenlies).
    This was false religion centered in man. They forgot/forsook God. Rom 1:21-25
    Religious rites included: Astrology (seeking guidance from heavenly bodies), sexual perversion (worship of human bodies), and human sacrifice.
    Nimrod led this religion with Semiramis (his mother & wife) until his death.
    Then, she declared him a god (Sun god) and herself the mother of god (Moon goddess). They were depicted artisticly as mother with son on her lap. She was called the Queen of Heaven. Around the world they were worshipped by various names:
    PlaceSheHe
    Babylon:IshtarTammuz
    Egypt:Isi (Ishtar)Osiris
    Greece:AstarteAdonis
    Rome:CybeleApollo
    Canaan:Ashtaroth Baal
    Note: Our word "syphillus" is derived from "Cybele".
fornication- Pagan ritual was characterized by sexual perversion.
But for God's people, pagan worship was also spiritual adultery. God pled with Israel: "Call me no more Baal {owner, he who has you for the moment} but call me Ishi {my husband}." Hos 2:16; 2Cor 11:2
Chronological: 500-1500 AD.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the corrupt church, which had shared power with pagan kings, claimed that power as its own. The compromises seen at Pergamus were increasingly accepted. In the 7th century, the pagans were invited to join the church (in an effort to speed their conversion). To make them feel at home, the R.C.Church incorporated pagan superstitions, festivals and idols.
Jezebel's teaching: [The unbiblical teaching of the R.C.C. about Mary.]
  • The statue of the Queen of Heaven with her son was redesignated Mary & Jesus.
  • Mary was exalted. The risen Lord Jesus Christ was regarded as subject to her.
  • Mary was sinless (the unbiblical doctrine of her immaculate conception).
  • Mary was without death, caught up into heaven.
  • Mary was declared sovereign. [Quoted from a R.C. priest: "Mary's sovereignty: Mary is Queen of Heaven and earth. As the most perfect Queen conceivable, she must reign in full splendor because she is wholly in heaven body and soul."]
  • Mary is the mediator between man and her son.
Jesus emphasized (v.18) that He is the Son of God!
     Mary was His earthly mother, but note that additional children were born to her: Mat 12:46-50; Mark 6:3; Luk 8:19-21; 11:27,28
     Note also that after Jesus' baptism, Mary's role was greatly diminished. Prior to that time, he was subject to His earthly parents, though He told them that He had come to do His Father's work (Luk 2:48-51). Early in His ministry, Jesus made it clear that He was no longer taking direction from His mother (Joh 2:3,4). Rather, it was He, who would intercede and provide for her (Joh 19:26-30; also Luk 1:46,47).
Jezebel's seduction: [Recall Nimrod's desire for power, a city, a name...]
  • At time of writing, Clement of Alexander claimed to be successor to Peter, the supposed rock on which Christ would build His church. (This error is based on a misunderstanding of Mat 16:18.)
  • By the 7th century, the Bishop of Rome was recognized as Christ's vice-regent and the visible head of the Church.
  • More recently, the Pope was declared infallible relating to Church matters.
Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God, the Head of the Church. He is the great Rock, the foundation upon which the Church stands. Peter is one of many building stones. See Mat 16:16-19; 1Cor 3:11; Col 1:16-18; 1Pet 2:4-9; (also see the Notes at Mat 16:15-19)
2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
space- GK= chronos, time.
For 1000 years, the R.C.C. was unhindered in her errors and neglect of God's Word. During the Reformation, a remnant rediscovered the Bible as their sole authority. But the R.C.C. refused correction, violently opposed the reformers, and clung to her power.
2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery
with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
into great tribulation- This church is not caught away in the Rapture,
but enters into the Tribulation.
except they repent- The God of Grace waits for individuals to turn
from a corrupt religious system, to the Son of God, who 'by Himself' has finished the work of salvation for all who trust in Him alone to save them from their sin (Heb 1:1-3).
into a bed- Those who refuse to repent are identified with the Great Harlot
(a one world religion uniting apostate christianity and pagan occultic religions.)
them that commit adultery with her- are identified (Rev 17:1,2):
- kings of the earth (using religion to enhance their power), and
- inhabitants of earth (at home in the world, intoxicated with, and insensitive to, their error).
The counterfeit church enjoys power over the nations, is arrayed in purple & scarlet (royal/priestly garments, as made in Thyatira), and has her base in the city of 7 hills (Rome). cp. Rev 17:1-4,9
2:23 And I will kill her children with death;
and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts:
and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
kill with death- Speaks of the Second Death.
As Nimrod caused children to pass through the fire into human sacrifice, the lake of fire is the destination of children (by conversion or birth) into this false religious system. Rev 2:11; 20:13-15
He who searches the mind & hearts-
Christ knows those who have repented (cp. v.18; 2Joh 1:8,9).
[Counsel]
2:24 But unto you {plural} I say, and {even} unto the rest in Thyatira,
as many as have not this doctrine,
and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak;
I will put upon you none other burden.
the rest {ie., the remnant}- Even in Thyatira, there is a remnant of true believers,
just as in day of the historic Jezebel, when 7000 had not bowed to Baal. 1Kin 19:18
The Lord directs His counsel to this remnant, because they will heed His Word.
as many as have not 'this doctrine'- ie., the false teachings which are the doctrines of demons.
Their self-proclaimed depth of understanding was a deception. 1Tim 4:1
The word for 'depth' {GK=bathos} is used of the depth of soil or water (eg., Mat 13:5; Luk 5:4), and also of the depths of God's wisdom and counsel (Rom 11:33; 1Cor 2:10). In Thyatira, God's Word was being set aside in favor of 'deeper' teachings, which arose from the depths of Satan's deceptive counsels.
no other burden- This phrase is reminiscent of the letter to early gentile believers,
which burdened them only with abstaining from fornication and from things sacrificed to idols. (cp. v.20; Acts 15:28,29)
2:25 But that which ye have [already]
(ie., the truth of God's Word, in contrast to the deep things of Satan, Eph 3:8; 1Cor 2:10)
hold fast till I come.
Today, the city of Thyatira lies in ruins, as a picture of the judgment which will fall, upon the church with these characteristics, during the great Tribulation, just prior to Christ's return (v.22,23).
But, for the believing remnant, the return of Christ is their blessed hope, which encourages them to remain faithful as they watch and wait for Him (Titus 2:11-14; Heb 4:14).
2:26 And he {the one} that overcometh,
Who is he that overcomes?
He that believes Jesus is the Son of God. 1Joh 5:4,5
and {ie., even the one that} keepeth my works unto the end,
Such a believer will be faithful to serve Him according to Truth.
to him will I give power {authority} over the nations:
This is what Nimrod and the counterfeit church sought.
2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter
shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Here, our Lord Jesus Christ quotes a promise which He received from God the Father in Psa 2. This psalm describes man's futile attempt to make himself a name and to free himself from God's rule over him. Man's attempts at self-elevation are doomed to failure, for God has given the kingdom to His Son, and to those who belong to Him.
2:28 And I will give him {ie., to the overcomer} the morning star.
The counterfeit church is headed by Satan, himself a counterfeit.
At the height of his glory, he will bring the nations to their darkest hour. Isa 14:12
For a believer, to be given the morning star is to be given Christ, who is the true light of the world.
Joh 1:9; 2Pet 1:19; Rev 22:16; 1Joh 5:20,21
2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
'O Lord, Error is present with us... error that would seduce even the elect, if You were to allow it.
Look deep within our hearts and stamp out that which is evil, lest it take root.
Sanctify us through Your Truth, Your Word is Truth. Amen.'


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