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Book of Revelation

CHAPTER 2

TO THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS REV. 2:1-7

Rev. 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; [KJV] Write a letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor, a center of land and sea trade. The road by the harbor was white marble. A theater seated 20,000 people, and a great amphitheater seated over 100,000. The city was formed around the temple of Diana, the largest Greek temple ever built, and one of the most beautiful. Diana was the goddess of fertility, and was the most sacred idol of heathenism. Her temple was four times larger than the Parthenon at Athens. Around the temple were performed the most gross forms of immorality. Worship of Diana included the most degrading religious rites of sensuality and wild drunken orgies. Ephesus was one of the three most influential cities in the eastern part of the Roman empire. Paul was pastor in Ephesus for three years and warned the Ephesians that false teachers would come and try to draw people away from the faith (Acts 20:29-31).

Jesus presents Himself as “He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” indicating His power and authority over the churches and their leaders. Ephesus had become a large, proud church, and Jesus’ message would remind them that He alone is the head of the body of believers. Just as Jesus cared for each of these churches, He cares for yours and wants to be the Head!

Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: [2:3] And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. [KJV] Jesus said: I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have checked out the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You know they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

Jesus has 7 words of praise for the church of Ephesus.

  1. I know thy works.” He is speaking to BELIEVERS! Our faith makes us righteous (Rom.4:5; Eph.2:8-10; Tit.3:5). Jesus is telling this church to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph.5:18).He will not ask an unbeliever for good works (Tit.1:16).
  2. I know thy labor.” Labor carries the thought of weariness. This church was diligent in their good works to the point of weariness. Works can NEVER save us, but after we are saved, we WANT to do good and serve our risen Lord.
  3. “I know thy patience.” Patience is a ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal.5:22). We CANNOT produce this ‘fruit’ without Him!
  4. I know you cannot tolerate evil.” They distanced themselves from evil men (2 Cor.6:17; Isa.52:11).
  5. Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” They tested everyone who claimed to be an apostle; and if they were not, they asked them to leave (1 Jn.4:1-2; Acts 17:11).
  6. Thou hast borne, for my Name’s sake hast labored.” They believed in the virgin birth of Jesus, His deity, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and they preached it boldly, and many paid a price for their belief and obedience.
  7. Thou hast not fainted.” D.L. Moody once said “I grow weary in the work, but not of the work.” We all can get weary IN our labor and service for Christ; but when we become tired OF the work for our Lord, it is very sad and tragic! Christ keeps an account of the work His servants do for Him, and their service and labor shall not be in vain.

Rev. 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. [KJV] Jesus said: but I have one thing against you. You don't love me or each other as you did at first!

Now, Jesus states His condemnation against this church. “Thou hast left thy first love.” Paul had once praised the church at Ephesus for its love for God and others (Eph. 1:15), but many of the church founders had died, and many of the second-generation believers had lost their zeal for God. They were a busy church—the members did much to benefit themselves and the community—but what they were doing was for the wrong reason. Any and all work we do for God must be motivated by love for God or it will not last. The sin Christ charged this church with is having lost the fervent love it once had. Christ is greatly displeased with His people, when He sees them grow sluggish and cold toward Him. We must not speak of it with carelessness, nor try to excuse indifference and laziness. Indifference is a sin. We must repent, we must be grieved and ashamed for our sin. If we disgrace or slight the Presence of Christ’s glorious grace and Spirit, we must be willing to expect His displeasure.

Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. [KJV] Look how far you have fallen from your first love, Jesus tells them. Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. If you don't, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.

When believers lose sight of the seriousness of sin, they lose the thrill of forgiveness. When you first became a Christian, you may have had enthusiasm without knowledge. Do you now have knowledge without enthusiasm? Both are necessary if we are to keep our love for God intense and unstained. Do you love God with the same fervor as when you were a baby Christian? To “remove your lampstand from its place” means the church would cease to be an effective church. Churches are to give light to the surrounding communities. Remember, the “church” is PEOPLE (believers). We are to shine, illuminate the Light of Jesus, no matter who you are, or where you are! Jesus warned the church at Ephesus that their lights could go out. In fact, Jesus Himself would extinguish any light that did not fulfill its purpose, both then and now! The church had to repent of its sins, then, and now!

Rev. 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. [KJV] Jeus goes on: but there is this about you that is good: You hate the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans, just as I do.

The Nicolaitans were believers who compromised their faith in order to enjoy some of the sinful practices of Ephesian society. They wanted to introduce into the church a false freedom, licentiousness, immorality. When we want to take part in an activity, and we know it is wrong, we make excuses to justify our behavior, saying that it isn’t all that bad, or it won’t hurt our faith. Christ has strong words for those who look for excuses to sin.

Rev. 2:7 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. [KJV] Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

He that hath an ear, let him hear” means to pay attention! To overcome is to be victorious by believing in Christ (1 Jn.5:4-5), persevering, remaining faithful, and living as one who follows and obeys Christ. Such a life brings great rewards (Rev. 21:7). Eventually, all evil will be destroyed and believers will be brought into a restored paradise. In the new earth, everyone will eat from the tree of life and will live forever. The church at Ephesus represents the apostolic church.

To the Church in Smyrna - Revelation 2:8-11

Rev. 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; [KJV] John was to write a letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who died and is alive.

Smyrna is the Martyr Church. The city of Smyrna was about 25 miles north of Ephesus. It was one of the most beautiful cities in Asia back then. It had an excellent harbor on the Aegean Sea. It also had many temples to idols: Zeus, Diana, Aphradite, Apollo, and Asclepius, and besides this, the church had a constant struggle with two hostile forces: the Jewish population was strongly against Christianity, and the non-Jewish population was loyal to Rome and supported emperor worship. Persecution and suffering was never ending in these circumstances.

Jesus presents Himself to this church as “The first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” His experience with suffering and death identified Him with them, and the five million martyred during this era. Christ is our only hope in enduring suffering and persecution, and even death, if it were to come to that.

Rev. 2:9-10 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.[10] Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. [KJV] Jesus well knew about this church's suffering and poverty, but He told them: you are rich! I know the slander of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they really aren't because theirs is a synagogue of Satan. Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The Devil will throw some of you into prison and put you to the test. You will be persecuted for 'ten days.' Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life.

In this church also, Jesus praises 7 things.

  1. Thy tribulation” meaning their suffering and persecution for His sake.
  2. Thy poverty” meaning these were mostly poor people.
  3. But thou art rich” means they had enormous spiritual wealth! In today’s world, most people do not even consider spiritual wealth, only earthly riches (Mt.6:19-21).
  4. Blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but of the synagogue of Satan” these were Jews who were serving Satan’s purposes, not God’s.
  5. Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer”? Jesus did not say He would take the suffering away; but He never abandons His own in any circumstance. His Presence is always there to comfort and sustain us. History tells us that millions went to their deaths singing praises to God! What tremendous faith!
  6. The devil shall cast some of you into prison” Jesus says that Satan is responsible for the suffering in Smyrna (too, today). We may blame a person or incident on our problems, but these are just Satan’s tools. “Ye shall have tribulation ten days” means the persecution and suffering will be intense and severe, but will not last long. There were ten terrible persecution eras: Nero 64-68 A.D., Domitian 95-96, Trajan 104-117, Marcus Aurelius 161-180, Severus 200-211, Maximinus 235-237, Decius 250-253, Valerian 257-275, Aurelian 257-260, Diocletian 303-313, who was the worst of them all.
  7. Be thou faithful unto death” and they were! Jesus encouraged the believers that they need not fear the future if they remained faithful to Him. Any time you experience difficult times, it will do one of two things: turn you away from God — OR draw you closer to Him. Let them draw you toward greater faithfulness. Trust God and remember the heavenly reward He has promised: “I will give thee a crown of life.” YOU shall have the reward from Christ’s own Hand IF you stand by Him, as He so graciously stands by you!

Rev. 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. [KJV] Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be hurt by the second death.

ALL people, believers and unbelievers, will experience physical death unless Christ comes at the Rapture and takes believers Home. ALL people will be resurrected. Believers will be resurrected to eternal life with God, while unbelievers will be resurrected to be punished (because of their rejection of Christ Jesus) with a second death, eternal separation from God (2 Thes.1:8-9; Rev. 20:14; Rev. 21:8, 27; Rev. 22:15). The second death is MUCH worse than the first (physical) death, for it is eternal death. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death”. Our faith in Jesus “overcomes” the world (1 Jn.5:4-5). If we KNOW Christ can keep us from the second death and wrath to come, we may patiently endure, with His help, whatever we encounter in this world.

To the Church in Pergamum - Revelation 2:12-17

Rev. 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; [KJV] Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the One who has a sharp two-edged sword.

The city of Pergamum was built on a hill 1,000 feet above the surrounding countryside, creating a natural fortress. It was a city of Greek culture and education, with a 200,000-volume library, but also the center of four cults, and it, like Ephesus, worshiped idols. The city’s chief god was Asclepius, whose symbol was a serpent, and who was considered the god of healing. People came from all over to seek healing from this god.

Jesus presents Himself as “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” This city was known for its ‘religion’ (false religion). Only God’s Word has the answer to man’s needs, and the sin that plagues him. The sword symbolizes God’s Word (Isa.11:4; Heb 4:12). It represents God’s ultimate authority and judgment, and it also represent God’s future separation of believers from unbelievers. Unbelievers will NEVER experience the eternal rewards of living in God’s Kingdom.

Rev. 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. [KJV] Jesus knew that they lived in the city where that great throne of Satan was located, and yet they had remained loyal to Him. They refused to deny Him even when Antipas, Jesus' faithful witness, was martyred by Satan's followers.

Pergamum was called the city “where Satan’s seat is.” It was the center for four idolatrous cults (Zeus, Dionysius, Asclepius, and Athene). It was surrounded by worship of Satan and the Roman emperor as god, but the church at Pergamum refused to renounce their faith, even when Satan’s worshipers martyred one of their members. The church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, not by apostacy, or by compromising so as to avoid suffering for Christ.

Christ commends Pergamum for their steadfastness for 3 reasons:

  • (1) He knew they were in a difficult place.
  • (2) They refused to deny Christ.
  • (3) “Hast not denied my faith” the majority continued to believe and teach the true doctrine.

Rev. 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. [KJV] Yet Jesus had a few complaints against them. They tolerate some among you who are like Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to worship idols by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.

We all cannot agree on all things in the Bible; but we MUST NOT tolerate heresy and moral impurity. Your town might not participate in idol feasts, but it probably has pornography, adultery, fornication, sexual sin, cheating, gossiping, and lying. If we don’t stand up against it, we are condoning it!

Jesus now condemns this church for two things:

  1. Some were following the ‘doctrine of Balaam’ which was teaching Israel moral corruption, intermarriage to Moabite women which led to idolatry and fornication.
  2. Professing Christians, who were seeking to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness

Rev. 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. [KJV] You have some Nicolaitans among you people who follow the same teaching and commit the same sins.

The church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:6) is praised for hating the “deeds” of the Nicolaitanes, and the church of Pergamos is blamed for having within their church some who went along with these “doctrines” (2 Pet.2:15-16,19).

Rev. 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. [KJV] Repent, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Christ rebuked the church for tolerating those who, like Balaam, lead people away from God. He warns that repentance is needed. “The sword of my mouth” is God's judgment against rebellious nations (Rev. 19:15, 21), all who sin against God. “You’d better change!” Jesus says! His words of judgment are as sharp as swords. . . . http://www.judgmentcoming.org/j_c_hell_would_god_send_me_to.htm . . . http://www.judgmentcoming.org/j_c_judgment_great_white_throne.htm

Rev. 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. [KJV] Listen to Me, Jesus says! Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Hidden manna” symbolizes spiritual nourishment (Jesus, Jn.6:51) that the faithful believers will receive. Jesus can satisfy our deepest hunger. As Israel traveled toward the promised land, God provided manna from heaven for their physical nourishment (Ex. 16:13-18)..

The “white stone” will have a “new name written.” In those times, there was a custom in Asia, to give to intimate friends a stone or piece of ivory with words or symbols on it. It was a private, secret possession to those who received it. White is the symbol for purity. The new name — will it be OUR new name? Or will it be the a Name for Christ? It is highly possible that the new Name belongs to Him! And in that case, it will be different for each of us — for Jesus means something different to each of us. Pergamos was the church with bad surroundings.

To the Church in Thyatira - Revelation 2:18-29

Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; [KJV] Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are bright like flames of fire, whose feet are like fine polished bronze.

Thyatira was a working man’s town, with many trades and crafts: cloth making, dyeing, tannery, weavers, robe making and pottery. Lydia was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). The city was located inland, in a long valley. The Lord presents Himself to this church as the God of judgment. Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be filled with love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet his eyes, which are “as a flame of fire”, should see them committing or allowing what is evil, He will certainly rebuke, correct, and/or punish them.

Rev. 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. [KJV] I know all the things you do; your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I see constant improvement in all these things.

Our Lord praises this church for their good works, love, service, faith and patience; and that they were growing in these things. All Christians should earnestly desire that their last works may be better than their first.

Rev. 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things 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. [KJV] But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet to lead my servants astray. She is encouraging them to worship idols, eat food offered to idols, and commit sexual sin.

Now, Jesus condemns the church. A woman in the church in Thyatira was teaching that immorality was not really all that bad. Her name may have been Jezebel, or John may have used the name Jezebel to symbolize the kind of evil she was promoting. Seduce means to lead astray. Jezebel was a pagan queen of Israel, and was considered the most evil woman who ever lived (1 K. 19:1-2; 21:1-15; 2 K. 9:7-10, 30-37). This church compromised with wicked seducers. We, as Christians should not condone such behavior, but keep ourselves pure and undefiled. It was not wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols, but if it caused your brother to stumble, don’t do it (1 Cor. 8:9-10).

Rev. 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. [KJV] I gave her plenty of time to repent, but she would not turn away from her immorality.

Space” is time. The Lord has patiently dealt with false religion for centuries. One day His patience will end.

Rev. 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. [KJV] Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her will have great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Anyone who goes along with Jezebel (then or now) will receive the same condemnation she will receive — the eternal agony of Hell. It is quite dangerous to despise the Truth of God, and just as dangerous to receive the falsehoods and deceptions of Satan. Be warned: beware of Satan! http://www.judgmentcoming.org/j_c_hell_is_real.htm

Rev. 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. [KJV] I will kill her children. And all the churches will know that I am the One who searches out the thoughts and motives of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

Children” are those brought up under these conditions. “Death” is the second death (Hell). All the churches are the churches of all ages. Christ knows our very innermost thoughts and desires, and He shall “Give to everyone according to their works.” Believers will receive rewards OR loss of rewards for their works (Jn.3;15-16; 1 Cor.3:11-15). Unbelievers, not being saved by Jesus, will be judged for everything they have ever done (Jn.3;18, 36; Rev.20:11-12)

Rev. 2:24 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 ye have already hold fast till I come. [KJV] But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching ('deeper truths,' as they call them depths of Satan, really). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.

The “depths of Satan” was false teaching by heretics, or insights ‘guaranteed’ to promote deeper spiritual life. We should hold tightly to our Christian faith and view with caution any so-called ‘new teaching’ that turns us from the Bible, or our basic confession of faith. We should hold tightly to our faith in Christ Jesus.

Rev. 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [KJV] To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, I will give power over all the nations.

The works of Christ are completely opposite of Jezebel’s works! We “overcome” by our faith, NOT our works.

Rev. 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. [KJV] He will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.

Christ is referring to His 'millenial' reign in which believers will share. The “rod of iron” is mentioned in Ps.2:9, here and Rev.12:5 and 19:15. Christ will be in total control, have total authority of all! http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_millennial_kingdom.htm

Rev. 2:28 And I will give him the morning star. [KJV] They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

Christ is called the morning star in Rev. 2:28, Rev. 22:16, and 2 Peter 1:19. A morning star appears just before dawn, when the night is coldest and darkest. When the world is at its bleakest point, Christ will burst onto the scene, exposing evil with His light of truth and bringing His promised reward.

Rev. 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. [KJV] Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Children of Satan (Jezebel) will NOT hear — but God’s TRUE children will hear, and listen when God speaks!

There is great promise of an ample reward to the believer who perseveres and is victorious; also vast knowledge and wisdom and power. Christ brings light into the soul, the light of grace and glory. Let us overcome, by our faith, and His power, and keep the works of Christ to the end.

Book of Revelation

Ch.1. . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5. . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.`17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Special Comments

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