“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Revelation Chapter 2
Seven Churches: Part 1
The Era of Waning Love
Revelation 2:1 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;”
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write - Ephesus means first or desirable. This is a good description of the Church in its first state, as they had received the doctrines of Christ in its purity. They also enjoyed the gifts of the Holy Spirit that had been poured out on the day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-4. It may well be called the Age of Apostolic Purity, an attribute highly desirable in God's sight.
John is instructed to write to the angel of this Church. We have already seen that the angel of the Church is none other than a messenger or leader/minister of that Church. (Revelation 1:16, 20) As these Churches each cover a period of time, (see Revelation 1:4, 11) it would then follow that it would be a message to all the ministers/leaders of Christ during the period covered by this Church. They inturn, would naturally pass it on to the entire Church.
We can also find certain aspects of these messages to the Churches that apply to us personally. Thus far we can see that these letters apply to a literal Church in the literal location, also to God's Church as a whole through a certain time period, and lastly it has a personal application as well. We will be mainly looking at the symbolic and personal.
Saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand - The one that is giving this message to John is the one that holds the seven stars in his right hand. We have found this to be Jesus himself. (Revelation 1:13, 16)
In Daniel 12:3 faithful teachers of the gospel are represented as stars, that shine forever and ever; and in Jude 13 false teachers are called “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” These spiritual stars shine as long as they remain in the right hand of Christ. When they stray from Him they become wandering stars, and eventually disappear in the darkness.” The Seven Epistles of Christ, by Taylor G Bunch pg 99. Thus Christ has the leaders of His Church in His hand of strength, so long as they remain faithful to him. The right hand is the hand of power and authority. (Psalms 20:6, 18:35)
Christ draws the focus from the leaders to himself, the one that is in control of the leaders. This was done for a good reason as they had started to focus on the leaders more than Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:10-12; 3:4-7) We to need to be careful not to take our focus off Christ and place it onto a mere man.
Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks - We know from Revelation 1:20 that the candlesticks are the Churches. Christ has such a great love for his Church that he gave himself for it and purchased it with his blood. (Ephesians 5:25, Acts 20:28) He it is that is seen to be amongst the Church, imparting blessings and light with his presence. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalms 121:4) What an encouragement this would be to those of that era.
Revelation 2:2-3 “I know your works, and your labour, and your patience, and how you canst not bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars: 3 And have borne, and have patience, and for my name's sake have laboured, and have not fainted.”
I know thy works - This Jesus says to each of the seven Churches, showing that he has complete knowledge of the deeds of his people whether good or bad. For all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:13) Nothing is secret or hidden to the eyes of God.
Thy labour, and thy patience - The early Christian Church was a working Church, they did not just profess to have the truth but proclaimed it. For Paul states that the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven, (Colossians 1:23) as they went everywhere preaching the word, and turning the world upside down. (Acts 8:4, 17:6) Remembering that this was started by just 120 persons (Acts 1:15) and went to the then known world.
But they were also patient in their labours. This means they had persevering endurance in spreading the gospel. What about us?
Thou canst not bear them which are evil - The Church in the days of the apostles would not countenance rebellion and open sin in the Church, you were either in or out in those days. We are never to encourage evil but to abhor it and not set it before our eyes. (Romans 12:9, Psalms 101:3)
Tried them which say they are apostles, and are not...found them liars - Obviously there were those who were claiming to be part of the Church, even professing to be amongst the teachers of the Church that were only deceivers. The early Church was still strong in truth, not tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine and thus was able to try or test their claims, and search out their true characters and found them to be liars, thus removing them.
They had been warned and counselled by the apostles about this very thing, (Acts 20:29-31, 2 Peter 2:1) and to test them. (1 John 4:1) But what to test them against? To the law and to the testimony of the prophets that have gone before them. (Isaiah 8:20) Also Psalms 119:104 and Acts 17:11.
3. Hast borne, hast patience, for my names sake hast laboured, not fainted - The early Church endured without weariness, nor fainting, in the spreading of the gospel whilst under persecution from the Jews and Domitian.
Revelation 2:4-5 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.”
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee - Even though the Church was a truth Church, one that tested the claims of people against God's word, worked tirelessly in spreading the truth, and could not bear to have evil amongst them, God still had something against them.
Thou hast left thy first love - A person's first love is generally very strong, devoted, and unselfish. But the early Church had left this, as their zeal began to wane and their devotion, thus selfishness became more prominent, for where iniquity doth abound the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12) Their first love was beginning to wax cold which was leading them to cherish worldliness, which John gave counsel against to the early Church, (1 John 2:15-17) also Paul. (Romans 12:1-2)
If we were asked when our greatest love for Christ was, what would be our answer? If it were not the present moment there would be a problem, for our greatest love should not be last year or month, not even yesterday, but right now, this present day.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen - They were counselled to remember from where they had fallen, the unselfish love and devotion that they use to manifest toward their Saviour. Carefully recall the former relationship with God and think upon it. This we to must do if our first love for God starts to wane or go cold.
And repent - Once the true position is given and the error pointed out, there needs to be a call to repentance. Repentance is the foundational work when coming to Christ (Hebrews 6:1) and it is the goodness of God that leads us to this very act. (Romans 2:4) True repentance is a turning away from sin, as those who confess and forsake their sin will find mercy, (Proverbs 28:13) but those that refuse to repent will perish. (Luke 13:3)
And do the first works - The early Christians were told to go back and do the first works they had previously shown in their lives. This was the first love that they had, the self-sacrificing love and devotion. Love is shown by the deeds we perform, this is why love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10) For love is full hearted obedience, and if we love Christ it will be shown by the keeping of His Commandments. (John 14:15)
Or else I will come quickly, and remove thy candlestick - If they did not repent and come back to their first love, God was going to come quickly and remove their candlestick.
God's Church, which are His people, are to be as shinning lights, (Matthew 5:14, 16) shinning the light of truth (Psalms 119:105, 130) to the world of darkness. We can not do this by ourselves as all our righteousness is as filthy rags, (Isaiah 64:6) we can only shine out the truth through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is also represented as the 7 lamps of fire. (Revelation 4:5) If the early Church was to not repent and return to its first love, God would remove from her the light of truth and the Holy Spirit. Thus it shows that a Church can be devoid of the Holy Spirit, for the candle of the wicked shall be put out. (Proverbs 24:20) Our love for Christ must be supreme. (Matthew 10:37-38)
Revelation 2:6 “But this you have, that you hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
Hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes - Notice how they did not hate the Nicolaitanes but the deeds performed by them, so to it was with God. God hates the sin but loves the sinner.
The preaching of grace without law, was the sin of the Nicolaitanes and it lead to a sensuality amongst those who accepted it, which was an abomination in God's sight. Thus although the first love was lacking, the doctrinal purity of the Church remained steadfast, which God commended. It is not often we read that God hates anything, but this doctrine of grace without law is one thing he does. We will look at this more closely under the Church of Pergamos.
Revelation 2:7 “He that has 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.”
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith - That is, to heed the counsel given. The hearing here is the hearing in faith, for if faith is not mixed with the word that we hear it will not profit us. (Hebrews 4:2) This faith will lead us to follow the counsel as faith and works go hand in hand. (James 2:17, 20)
In verse 1 we saw that it is Christ giving the message to the Church. Here it is the Spirit giving the message. This is not a contradiction as the Spirit was sent to testify of Christ, (John 15:26) thus the Spirit is Christ's representative on earth. He it is that will lead and guide us into all truth, John 16:13. We can only be lead if we heed Their call, for Christ the good Shepherd and the Spirit call to our hearts to follow. (John 10:27, Revelation 22:17) If you hear His voice, harden not your heart, (Hebrews 4:7) for through continual refusal to hear and obey will lead to the unpardonable sin.
Unto the churches - This indicates that all seven Churches were to profit by each of the seven letters. Thus in a symbolic sense, all of God's Church can benefit from heeding each of the messages.
To him that overcometh - This is seen as the call to all the Churches, that only the overcomer will inherit the reward of the righteous. There is no other class mentioned, only those who accept the help offered and overcome, cost what it may, and those who are lost. An interesting point on the original language here is that the form of the verb implies that the person “continues in overcoming” or “keeps on winning.” Thus it is not a one off victory over Satan, but a continual walking by faith constantly overcoming in all things by the power of the indwelling Christ. (Jude 24, Philippians 4:13, 1 John 5:4; 4:4)
Eat of the tree of life - The tree of life was in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) and immortality was the result of eating its fruit. (Genesis 3:22) But this was lost through the sin of man. Thus the first promise of the first letter of Christ is of the restoration of the first thing lost through sin; access to the tree of life and its life giving fruit. (Revelation 22:1-2, 14) The overcomer will return to his long-lost Eden home and again have a right to its glories untold.
Time period for Ephesus was 31 A.D. to 100 A.D.
The Period of Suffering and Martyrdom
Revelation 2:8 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;”
Smyrna - “This is synonymous with myrrh, which was an aromatic substance used sometimes as a healing ointment but especially for embalming the dead, John 19:39. One of the chief ingredients of myrrh was made by crushing and bleeding a plant of the same name. It is very bitter to the taste but has a fragrant odour, and the more the plant is crushed and bruised the greater the fragrance. The name Smyrna, therefore, indicates suffering and persecution which prove a blessing. Smyrna would be crushed by cruel persecutions, but as a result of her sufferings would be anointed for a death and burial that would end in a resurrection and renewal of life. Although the afflictions would be bitter to the victim, they would result in releasing to the world the perfume of heaven.” Seven Epistles of Christ, Taylor G Bunch, pgs 130, 131.
First and last - See comments on Revelation 1:11, 17.
Was dead and is alive - If we notice carefully, you will see that this is a description already used in chapter 1. Christ introduces Himself to each one of the Churches with a description already seen in the introduction to the book of Revelation.
“To the Smyrna Church, about to pass through the fiery ordeal of persecution, He reveals Himself as one who was dead, but is now alive. If they should be called to seal their testimony with their blood, they were to remember that the eyes of One were upon them who had shared the same fate, but had triumphed over death, and was able to bring them up from a martyr's grave.” Daniel and the Revelation, Uriah Smith, pgs 351, 352.
He holds the keys to unlock them from that martyrs death. (Revelation 1:18) Death has no more sting and the grave has no more victory to those that are victorious in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) This would be of great comfort to those during this time.
Revelation 2:9 “I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
Knows works, tribulation, and poverty - As with all the Churches, Christ knows every work performed.
The Church was to be crushed by persecution from the pagan Roman Caesars as the gospel spread throughout the then known world, but it was not to be permanently killed. Millions of Christians sacrificed their lives for the truth, whether by wild beast or set alight as human torches, death came to them in various ways. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Here is listed the Roman Emperors that persecuted Christians;
|Trajan 98-117 A.D.||Alexander Severus 222-235 A.D.|
|Hadrian 117-138 A.D.||Maximus 235-238 A.D.|
|Antoninus Pius 138-161 A.D.||Decius Trajan 249-251 A.D.|
|Marcus Aurelius 161-180 A.D.||Gallus 251-253 A.D.|
|Commodus 180-192 A.D.||Valerian 253-260 A.D.|
|Septimus Severus 193-211 A.D.||Aurelian 270-275 A.D.|
We will come to Diocletian in verse 10.
During this time of great persecution against the Christian Church, those that would not forsake their faith were threatened with the loss of citizenship rights and confiscation of property also.
(but thou art rich) - Even though they were in a state of poverty, they were rich in faith, James 2:5, that is spiritually rich. They were having nothing but possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:10) See also Proverbs 10:22; 13:7.
Blasphemy...say they are Jews, and are not...synagogue of Satan - In the New Testament context a Christian is regarded as a Jew, in a spiritual sense, and heir according to the promise. (Romans 2:28-29, Galatians 3:7; 26-29) If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed. See also Romans 9:6-7 and 2 Peter 2:9-10. See also Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks.
Here we have people taking the name of Christ upon themselves by calling themselves Christians, or a spiritual Jew, when the reality was they possessed nothing of the requisite character. They claim to be a Christian, but they do not manifest the deeds of Christ, thus giving others the occasion to ridicule by saying that this is a specimen of Christianity. (Romans 2:23-24) God regards it as blasphemy.
Those that are hypocritical God regards as a part of the synagogue/Church of Satan. (1 John 3:7-10) Could the Lord say that of you and I?
Revelation 2:10 “Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.”
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - The people were encouraged to not fear the persecution as long as they did not let go of God, did not lower the standard to save their lives. We are not to fear those that kill the body but can not kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28) Also that we will be hated for Christ's name, but if we endure unto the end we will be saved. (Matthew 10:22) See also Isaiah 41:10 and Matthew 10:30-31.
Prison, that ye may be tried - The persecution of the Church was one way of making it pure, of testing who was serious and who was not. It will be noticed that during this period there is no rebuke, only encouragement under tribulation. Thus there was yet, no major doctrinal problems amongst the true believers. Persecution is a sure means of purifying the Church and encouraging piety amongst its members.
We are to count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations, because the trying of our faith works patience, and when patience has done its perfect work we will be perfect and entire wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4) As gold is passed through the fire to take away all the dross, so to is our faith to pass through fiery trials to refine and purge away all the dross out of our lives. (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12-14, Zechariah 13:9)
Tribulation ten days - Being a symbolic prophecy the days here will equal ten years. This tribulation is seen during the reign of Diocletian from the year A.D. 303-313. Under both Diocletian and Galerius his successor the desire was to remove Christianity from the empire and thus preserve the Roman way of life, which they believed was under threat by the monumental growth of the Christian religion. Diocletian's first decree in A.D. 303 was to ban Christianity throughout the empire, plus to burn the Christian's religious books including the Bible. This unleashed an unmitigated and relentless persecution of Christians in the entire empire.
Faithful unto death, and...give thee a crown of life - They were encouraged to maintain their faith even unto death, unto martyrdom. For if they were faithful and endured unto death, though they be tried, they would be given a crown of life. (James 1:12) This is given to them at Christ's appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8, 1 Peter 5:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) Let us comfort one another with these words.
Revelation 2:11 “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death - Even though they would suffer the first death, the second death, which is eternal death, (Revelation 20:14-15) would have no power over them, for Jesus will raise them up from the dead when He comes the second time. (Revelation 20:6) This is promised to the overcomer. See also Matthew 5:10-12.
The time period of Smyrna was 100 A.D. to 313 A.D.
The Epoch of State Religion
Revelation 2:12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which has the sharp sword with two edges;”
Pergamos - The name Pergamos means height or elevation. This is a fitting name as the city was built upon a thousand foot high hill, thus placing it in a position to be easily defended. The only way it was ever captured was by stratagem. A very good description of the Church during the Pergamos period.
Gibbon, speaking of Constantine, says “From the first moment of his accession declaring himself the protector of the church...the first emperor who publicly professed and established the Christian religion...rendered Christianity the reigning religion of the Roman empire” The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Vol 2 Chap 16, pg 138. Constantine rose to full power, about 320 A.D. but previous to this had granted Christianity complete freedom to practice within the empire. Christianity became very popular, with Constantine himself professing to be converted to Christianity in 323 A.D. and also marching his army through a river to baptize them. Christianity undoubtedly became high and lifted up, or simply put, exalted.
Sharp sword with two edges - We know from Revelation 1:16 that this is none other than the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Thus Christ is coming to this Church with the word of God.
Even though Christianity was being exalted, the Church was having doctrinal problems, showing that popularity can breed corruption. Satan had tried to stamp out the Church through persecution, but only found that it purified and enlarged the Church. Thus he changed his strategy.
Revelation 2:13 “I know your works, and where you dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and you holdest fast my name, and have not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”
I know thy works - See notes on verse 2.
Where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is - “When Cyrus captured the city of Babylon, the ancient seat of Satan's counterfeit system of religion, the supreme pontiff of the Chaldean mysteries and his retinue of priests fled from the city and ultimately made their residence in Pergamos. Here they re-established their Babylonian worship and made the kings of Pergamum the chief pontiffs of their religion. When Attalus III, the last of their priest-kings, died in 133 B.C., he bequeathed both his royal and priestly offices to the Romans. A century later, (Julius and Augustus), Caesar became both emperor of Rome and Pontifex Maximus of the religion of the empire. He was given divine honours, which he handed down to his successors, (later rejected by the Christian emperor Gratian 380 A.D.). These were later assumed by the popes, (firstly by Pope Damasus, thus its transferral to the Church of Rome), the supreme pontiffs of ecclesiastical Rome. Thus Pergamos became the connecting link between the two Babylons, the ancient and the modern. The papal system is patterned after that of Babylon and Rome. This is another reason for the statement of Jesus that Pergamos was the place where Satan dwelleth.” The Seven Epistles of Christ, Taylor G Bunch, pgs 149, 150. Bracketed words are added information. See also notes on seat, power, and great authority in Revelation 13:2.
Holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith - Even amidst the changes that were taking place in the Church, with its sudden and drastic change from intense persecution to popularity and privilege, some did not compromise, some maintained the truth in its purity and continued to hold aloft the name of Jesus.
Antipas - “It is supposed that Antipas was not an individual, but a class of men who opposed the power of the bishops, or popes, in that day, being a combination of two words, 'Anti,' opposed, and 'Papas,' father, or pope; and many of them suffered martyrdom at that time in Constantinople and Rome, where the bishops and popes began to exercise the power which soon after brought into subjection the kings of the earth, and trampled on the rights of the Church of Christ. And for myself, I see no reason to reject this explanation of the word 'Antipas' in this text, as the history of those times are [is] perfectly silent respecting such an individual as is here named.” William Miller, Evidence From Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, pp. 135, 136.
Revelation 2:14 “But I have a few things against you, because you have 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.”
A few things against thee - Once again, after giving praise to the good points in this Church, Christ now sets forth the rebuke.
There them - The apostate Church that was developing in Rome is not the Church that is under question here. For the period here that we are looking at, is when we see a great divide underway in Christendom, as some were compromising under the new freedom and others refused to do so and were forced to separate. However, this statement that they had some “within” the Church that held to the doctrine of Balaam, reveals that not all who rejected the apostasy were correct either.
Hold the doctrine of Balaam - To understand what the doctrine of Balaam is here, we need to go back to the Old Testament to see what he did to the children of Israel.
Taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel - Balaam was once a prophet of God but went astray loving the wages of unrighteousness. (2 Peter 2:15) Balak wished for Balaam to come and curse the children of Israel, who were his opponents at that time. (Numbers 22:6) But every time Balaam went to curse them only a blessing came out, (Numbers 24:10) for what God hath blessed no man can reverse. (Numbers 23:20)
But Balaam knew how to have God's blessing taken away from Israel and thus changed his strategy. In Numbers 25:1-9, 31:15-16 we find the answer. Balaam counselled Balak to send beautiful women into the camp of Israel to seduce them into celebrating an idolatrous feast. It worked, for they first committed fornication, then they went to the feast, then they ate and drank, then they bowed to their gods. The end of Balaam's counsel was the death of 24,000 people. So we see the process of compromise, little bit by little bit.
Thus it was with those within the Church. Little by little they began to compromise with error. Satan had changed his strategy from persecution to exalting Christianity to the state religion. Such errors as Sunday worship, burning of candles and wax tapers, purgatory, and the giving of the title of “Mother of God” and “Queen of Heaven” to Mary came into the Church. Ultimately paganism walked into the Church and was exalted through the Papacy as Christianity.
Balaam had led the children of Israel to compromise thus bringing their downfall, so to with the Church during this time. There were those within that were compromising and thus bringing their downfall.
Revelation 2:15 “So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”
Nicolaitanes - As far as we can find out from history, those that were called Nicolaitanes were those that made the law of God of none effect through grace. Jude 4 gives us a glimpse of this group that turned the grace of God into lasciviousness or sexual freedom, thus they were believing that the law doesn't matter for God's grace covers us. But the verse calls them ungodly men.
Them that hold - Under the Church of Ephesus the deeds of the Nicolaitanes was not tolerated. But here we see that, in the Church during this time, there were those who held to these false teachings.
NOTE: The doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans within the Church itself reveal that their was a certain number of people that, while desiring to be true to the word also desired to be united or loyal to the Church as a whole body. Thus they sought to promote tolerance of the apostasy that was leading the Church astray. This is where the issue of Balaam becomes very clear to us, in that he encouraged the Israelites to join with the Moabites in the “harmless” feast which eventually led to their ruin, thus in the papal apostasy some promoted tolerance of the new ideas coming into the Church. It is important to learn what should be tolerated and what should not, as the wrong type of tolerance will lead to ruin.
Revelation 2:16 “Repent; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Repent or I will come unto thee quickly - What is the Church to repent of? It is to repent of tolerating the teachings and practices of the Balamites and the Nicolaitanes. The Church is not to tolerate sin and apostasy in her midst, but how often has she allowed this to happen. Of this we must repent and reform.
Fight against them - Christ will come and fight against those that hold to these teachings and practices, and against those that are compromising.
With the sword of my mouth - All those, of Israel, that had joined themselves to Baal-peor were literally slain with the sword. (Numbers 25:5) So to it is with those of Spiritual Israel that persist in compromising with the world, which is spiritual adultery. (James 4:4) The spiritual sword, that is the word of God, will be unsheathed against them and they will be severed from among God's people.
Revelation 2:17 “He that has 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 knows saving he that receiveth it.”
To him that overcometh - Again it is only to those that continue in overcoming these things that receive the reward.
Eat of the hidden manna - Literal manna was provided to the children of Israel to feed and maintain their life. (Exodus 16:15, 35) A golden pot with an omer of manna in it was laid up inside the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary, (Exodus 16:33, Hebrews 9:4) thus being hidden from the eye. Jesus Christ is the true manna or bread of life that came down from heaven. (John 6:48-63) If we are overcomers we will be a partaker of Jesus Christ, the hidden manner, and to be a partaker of Christ means to be a partaker of eternal life. (1 John 5:11-12) The fact that it will be given to the overcomer is a sign that this manna represents the sustaining of God in the new heavens and new earth. It is God's promise to provide for us that which eye has never seen for us to enjoy throughout eternity.
Give him a white stone...a new name written - White stones were given to gladiators who were victorious in athletic contests in Greece and Rome. The name of the victor was inscribed in the white stone, and it entitled him to special privileges. Thus it is with the overcomer. Name denotes character and white is a symbol of purity and victory. The new name describes the victory he has had over sin and the purity of character that he has attained to. It also entitles him to the special privilege of entering into the gates of Heaven, and being heirs with Christ and kings and priests before his throne. (Romans 8:16-17, Revelation 3:21, 22:5)
The Pergamos period was from 313 to 538 A.D.
The Church That Tolerates Jezebel
Revelation 2:18 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;”
Thyatira - Sweet savour of labour or sacrifice of contrition.
The citizens of Thyatira were mostly poor and humble labourers, being made contrite by sacrifices and their lives were made fragrant by the blessing of labour. They produced instruments of brass, bronze, and other metals, also the production of and dyeing of cloth in red but especially in purple, as we find that Lydia was a seller of purple from Thyatira. (Acts 16:12-14)
This period deals with the supremacy of the Papal Church from 538-1798 A.D., and it is significant to note that the chief colours worn by the popes and cardinals, of this Church, is none other than scarlet and purple.
Those that were obedient to the truth through this time were called upon to constantly sacrifice and were generally poor in the eyes of the world. Thyatira is a fitting description of the Church during this time.
Son of God - This is the only depiction of Christ in Revelation where he is called the Son of God. This is noteworthy as during this period the great apostate had usurped the position and title of the Son of God for himself, and had seated himself in the temple of God as though he were God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
Eyes like unto a flame of fire - This is a reference to the vision of Christ in Revelation 1:13-15. Thus confirming that this is indeed the one who was in the midst of the seven candlesticks, was still there watching over his Church during this long and dangerous period.
Revelation 2:19 “I know your works, and charity, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.”
Works, charity, service, faith, patience - Even though this was to be one of the hardest periods for the Church, Christ, the ever watchful guardian of his people, found much to commend and encourage. Even amidst the trouble and hardship of this era, God's people found strength and were able to stand true.
Last to be more than the first - This is the only Church that improves as it goes along. It seems that as the papacy grew in power and strength, audacity and pride so the strength of the people of God improved and as the end of this period dawned the world was ready for great new light.
Revelation 2:20 “Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you 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.”
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee - Bad circumstances do not justify the presence of sin, or the tolerance of those who are evil in our midst. Even though these people were passing through a terrible time in regards to the state of the Church, they were not excused for allowing apostasy to go unchecked.
Woman - Represents a Church in prophecy. (Jeremiah 6:2, Isaiah 51:16, 2 Corinthians 11:2) Obviously a pure woman is a pure Church and an impure woman an impure Church.
Jezebel - To find out or understand what is being said here, we need to understand who and what Jezebel was. Listed below are the comments of who Jezebel was.
She was a whore and witch. (2 Kings 9:22)
A prophetess of Baal, the realm of an impure religion. (Revelation 2:20)
Teaches fornication. (Revelation 2:20)
Married to Ahab king of Israel, or Church and state united. As a result he was led into Baal worship. (1 Kings 16:31)
Jezebel (Church) dominated Ahab (state), she controlled the state through Ahab. (1 Kings 21:25)
One result of the apostasy was a drought for three and a half years. (1 Kings 16:32-17:1; 18:18, James 5:17)
Persecuted God's faithful. (1 Kings 18:3-4; 19:1-2)
She has children. (Revelation 2:23)
Ultimate end was total annihilation. (2 Kings 9:36-37)
If we take these marks and apply them to the time frame we are dealing with, 538-1798, you will see they correctly fit the Roman Catholic Church, that is spiritual Babylon. (see verse 13) We find the Papal woman, or spiritual Babylon, in chapter 17 as well. Let us now apply them.
The Papacy is a whore, for she has not laid her trust, reliance and support upon Christ the husband but upon the state, (spiritual adultery). (Ephesians 5:23-25, Revelation 17:1-2) She is also the habitation of devils. (Revelation 18:2)
Papacy calls itself the sole teacher of truth. Claims infallibility.
She teachers others her fornication. (Revelation 17:2, 18:3)
She is a Church and state united. (Revelation 17:2)
She controls the state. (Revelation 17:3) The beast/state is supporting the woman that is riding it. The one who is being supported and is riding is the one in control.
One of the results of the papal rule was three and a half prophetic years, or 1260 years, of spiritual drought of the word of God.
None will deny that she is a persecuting power. (Revelation 17:6, Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:7)
The Papacy designates herself as the mother of Christendom, thus the other Churches that are drunk with her fornication are her daughters. (Revelation 17:5)
Her ultimate end will be total annihilation. (Revelation 18:6-9, 19, 21)
Sufferest - It seems that even amidst those who were not giving in to the apostasy, there were some who allowed tolerance to go to far and they allowed papal teachers to speak to them.
Revelation 2:21 “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.”
Gave her space to repent of her fornication - Jezebel was given ample opportunity to repent as Elijah on Mt. Carmel gave all the chance to choose sides.
God's great mercy, even with the apostate Church, was to call her to repentance. How was this done? “...through messages of rebuke and warning delivered by men in and out of the church who sensed the need of revival and reformation. Among these reformers were cardinals, priests, monks, and other church officials. Popes were charged by church leaders with being the predicted antichrist in the temple of God...” The Seven Epistles of Christ by Taylor G Bunch, pg 168.
She was given a chance to leave off her marriage to the state and walk with them no more, and to be married to Christ.
She repented not - Jezebel never repented, and so it was with the apostate Church. Thus the opportunities passed and she was left to her own devices.
Revelation 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.”
Cast her into a bed - When looking throughout scripture, this small phrase appears to refer to affliction, illness and death.
Job 33:19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain.
2 Kings 1:4, 16-17 Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed...therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken.
Isaiah 28:20 For the bed is shorter than that [a man] can stretch himself [on it]: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying (original Greek, cast or thrown down) on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
This is a depiction of the trouble that will come to the Apostate Church as a result of her defiance of God. Eventually the time will come when God will not be even open for repentance, when he will not hear their prayers.
Them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation - This includes the state and other religious organizations that also have jumped into bed with her, and committed fornication with her, corrupting the faith given to the Church of God.
Except they repent of their deeds - Unless they repent this great tribulation will come upon them because of their evil deeds. This also shows the longsuffering and mercy of God, in that, He is asking them to repent and give up the adulteress relations.
Revelation 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.”
I will kill her children with death - Jezebel and her children were to utterly perish. (2 Kings 9:7-9; 10-37; 10:1-28) So to it is with spiritual Jezebel's children. Papal Rome calls herself “mother,” and continually speaks of Catholics as her “children.” The Protestant Churches are sometimes spoken of as wayward children who will someday return home, and when they do a hearty welcome awaits them from the “mother Church of Christendom.” Thus all the religious systems or Churches that separated from the Papacy but still cling to her doctrines and practices and who commit spiritual fornication with the kings and nations by uniting with them when opportunity presents itself, are her children.
All the churches shall know - So the doom of all the offenders would be known, or manifested, to all the Churches. But when will they know? At the time when the second death is inflicted upon this great whore and her children. This will be at the end of time when people from all ages will be able to see the judgment meted out on those who refused to repent of their abominations and chose the way of death.
I am He that searcheth the reins and hearts - God would have us know by the judgment on the whore Jezebel that He has an all seeing eye like flames of fire, that searches the reins and hearts of men. Nothing is disclosed to Him, we cannot hide anything from Him. He sees what we think we hide and he knows what we think we have covered. (1 Samuel 16:7, Psalms 7:9, Hebrews 4:13)
Give unto every one...according to your works - Christ will reward every one according to the works that have been, both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalms 62:12) This reward He brings with. (Matthew 16:27, Revelation 22:12)
Revelation 2:24-25 “But unto you I say, and 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. 25 But that which you have already hold fast till I come.”
As many as have not this doctrine - This is a reference to those that have not been overcome by the pressure of the apostasy, the teachings of Jezebel.
Not known the depths of Satan - The Catholics boast of having adopted and Christianised paganism in order to defeat Satan with his own religion. Thus paganism with its “mysteries” and “the deep things of Satan” became the religion of the church during the Thyatiran period. The Seven Epistles of Christ by Taylor G Bunch, pg 172.
So those that were not taking part in the apostasy of the Papacy were not being a partaker of the depths of Satan. Thus the Bible shows us that Catholicism contains the depths and teachings of Satan.
I will put upon you none other burden - The heavy burden of the papal apostasy was a great weight to deal with, no one was a friend, nowhere was safe, and each day could be the last. During this time their faithfulness in upholding the truth they already had, under these conditions was required by heaven. With more light comes more responsibility. (Luke 12:47-48)
25. But that which ye have already - No other burden, or duty, was to be required of God's people during this evil period than to hold fast to what they already possessed.
Hold fast till I come - Again this idea of holding to what they have both in experience and knowledge of the truth, (1 Thessalonians 5:21) looking forward to the time when Jesus would return to take them home. Glorious promise of redemption. (Hebrews 3:6; 10:23)
Revelation 2:26 “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:”
Keepeth my works - Note the contrast between the works of Jezebel mentioned previously and the works of Christ, that is the works of obedience contrasted with the works of disobedience.
For the works of God are to believe on Christ Whom He hath sent. (John 6:29) And he that believeth on Christ, the works that Christ does shall he do also. Our whole duty is to fear God and keep His Commandments. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) These are the works that He can approve of.
Unto the end - Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” This experience is unto the end of our mortal life, not just a momentary one.
To him will I give power over the nations - To them that have kept Christ's word unto the end, these will have the power over nations. The tables will turn, and the saints who have been persecuted and trodden under foot, will inherit this earth and reign with Christ throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. (Revelation 22:4-5; 3:21)
Revelation 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.”
Shall rule them with a rod of iron - This is a reference to the shepherd's crook. On its other end was a length of iron which was used as a weapon of defence or attack against any preying upon the flock. It was an instrument of destruction. It denotes that the overcomers will share in the final administration of justice against those who so cruelly oppressed them, because of their loyalty to Christ. This is confirmed by the remainder of the verse: “as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.
Even as I received of My Father - The promise to the overcomer was also given to Christ. (Psalms 2:7-9)
Revelation 2:28 “And I will give him the morning star.”
Morning star - Ultimately Jesus Christ is the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16; cf. 2 Peter 1:19) Also the morning star is the sign and promise of greater light. As the morning star reveals that the fullness of sunlight is about to break upon the dark night sky, telling us that the darkness of night is almost over, so the beginning of the great reformation was as a bright star that developed into a fully fledged sun. This morning star was the English Reformer John Wycliffe. Although many stars had always shone during the darkest period of history the shining of the morning star was the beginning of the great Reformation from which there was to be no return.
Wycliffe stood up against the Papal apostasy and laid the foundation for greater light to be brought in.
Revelation 2:29 “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
See comments on Revelation 2:7.
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