The studies of Revelation, in the Bible Probe, correspond to the chapters John wrote in the Bible. Since all of Revelation is symbolic prophecy, it is highly recommended, for ease of understanding, that one starts this study at the beginning with chapter one.

Revelation

Chapter Two

The seven Letters to the Seven Churches



The history or background of each city will precede each letter. This will allow the present day reader to understand how God used this information, concerning their cities, to help the members of those churches, comprehend and unerringly grasp what was being told to them.

In the first chapter, we learned that the seven Churches represent all Christians everywhere. Why then, are these seven churches in Asia Minor being singled out? Why seven letters? If the seven churches represent all true Christians, why not just one letter to all the faithful?

In the first place, as we have already seen, seven signifies something complete and perfect; therefore, seven letters symbolically represent God's complete and perfect message of prophecy to His whole family.

John is forwarding this complete message of what is to happen, to a human congregation, that was not, by the way, confined to just seven locations. Nonetheless, the location of these seven churches has a direct bearing on how God speaks to them in His message to each.

Now God knew that the church, as a whole, needed His armor of truth. But, the New Testament had not been written yet, time for this was still required; therefore, God sent His armor of truth in the form of letters, which are to this day, available to be read by any individual in the world. This, even today, serves a twofold purpose.

Jehovah is very aware that his true family of Christians lives in a world that is imperfect; and that we are imperfect beings. Being imperfect, it is very difficult for any of us to see our own deficiencies. It is much easier for any of us to point to another’s faults and ignore our own. So, the letters, in their perfection, speak not only to the congregation as a whole, but to the individual as well.

While the overall message of the letters is one of encouragement, at the same time, they are pointing out weak spots in the congregation. Weaknesses the individual as well as the congregation as a group must be on guard against.

Jehovah is also aware that Satan is quite adept at making use of these weaknesses within us all.

Therefore, God has given us a shield against our own frailties.

That shield is faith with love. Nonetheless, if WE do not use that shield of faith, WE foolishly allow ourselves to stand unprotected against Satan's onslaught. Paul explains this very well in:

Ephesians 6:16  Besides all, having taken up the shield of the faith, by which you will be able to extinguish all the burning darts of the wicked one; (Diaglott)

Just the same Paul is also telling us that to be a full warrior of truth we should outfit ourselves with all the armor God has given his family:

Eph 6:13   Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (NIV)

Eph 6:14   Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (NIV)

Now Paul is not telling us this just to be poetic. For he has very plainly stated, in chapter 6 of Ephesians, who our real enemy is.

Eph 6:12    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

"Against spiritual wickedness in high places." This is why Paul is telling us to be prepared and equipped with knowledge, geared up, set:

Eph 6:15    and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (NIV)

Eph 6:17    And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (KJV)

Eph 6:23    Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

Before we start with the first letter let us, take note of something that was said above. "… With faith from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice in particular "… Faith from God…" Few people realize that God placed as much faith in Job’s righteousness, as Job had placed in his faith in God. This same faith from God, and His Son, is being exhibited towards His family, or the body of Christ. Which explains why, God has sent this perfect message of symbolic prophetic events, which would and, in fact, is occurring to his family today.

Now go back and look at the verses in Ephesians 6, again. Notice one piece of equipment is missing. A scabbard to hold the sword. Why is this left out? Simply because, the sword is never sheathed. It must be wielded continuously to smite back the forces of evil that keep assaulting each and every member of God's family. Anyone and absolutely everyone who turns to God, and accepts Christ as his or her savior, is guaranteed to attract the notice of Satan and come under his attack.  This is where the armor comes in, and one must always have the sword out, ready to smite the forces of Satan that keep coming at him or her, until the person yields to sin, or overcomes it once and for all at the arrival of the Kingdom.

Background on Ephesus

If there were any significance to the order in which these seven churches were written, it would probably rest with the fact that Ephesus was one of the top strongholds of Satan. The largest edifice in that city was the pagan temple to Artemis, considered one of man's seven ancient wonders of the world.

As a Satanic bastion, it was a place were crime reigned to such an extreme extent, that there existed an area around this pagan temple where it was illegal to arrest a criminal, for any crime whatsoever. Knowing this makes it easier to understand verses 2 and 3 of chapter two in Revelation.

The Greek Artemis was thought to be a huntress specializing in hunting stags. The Romans identified her with Diana. However, the Ephesians worshipped a varied form of this Greek Artemis as a goddess of fertility, along with Diana. That the idol of Artemis represents fertility is expressed by the statue having over two dozen breasts.

Diana, these pagans believed, fell from the heavens. Whether she fell out of bed, or tripped over a cloud, we have no idea. But all these supposed goddesses are in themselves, a varied form of the ultimate in fertility goddesses, Astarte. As part of this pagan religion, the high priestess of Astarte ritually slept with anyone who donated the most money to the temple during its yearly festival. In other words, prostitution was a ritual part of this pagan worship.

This annual festival called Artemision, during March and April in Ephesus (which was the origin of what is now celebrated as Easter), drew a sizable crowd of some seven hundred thousand people from all over Asia Minor. Since Ephesians believed Artemis was easily annoyed and constantly sending plagues and death, this very wealthy city, a crossroads to the then known world, became a center for charms, amulets, magic spells, etc. supposedly to ward off evil spirits. However, they didn't work too well, which Paul used to the Gospel's advantage not only in Ephesus, but other cities as well.

Acts 17:16    Now Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. (KJV)

Acts 19:11    God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, (NIV)

Amid all the rest of the madness of this city, Ephesus also housed a stadium seating some twenty five thousand people where, amongst other things, the followers of Christ were fed to wild beasts. It was a tough place to be a Christian, yet they perservered.

Now that we understand the city, in which this church of the one and only true God existed, let us begin our study of chapter two in Revelation.

Rev 2:1    "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand (NIV)

It should be evident from the first chapter that "… the angel…" is referring to any, and all individuals, in the congregation of the church, who are adhering strictly to the Word and commands of Christ as given to our lord from His Father. If you read Eph 6:9, you will see that God offers no favoritism to any of His children.

Collectively, the perfect children of God make up the perfect body of Christ, symbolized by the seven stars Christ holds in His right hand. As Christ sits on the right hand of his God, His Son's temple, or body of followers, sits at the right hand of Christ. All ordained to serve the one and only creator [Rev 1:6] and referred to by God as stars.

Isaiah made this comparison, of God's people being stars, clear when he spoke of our enemy Satan. Notice how stars and the congregation are associated in the verse below.

Isa 14:13   For you have said in your heart: 'I [Satan] will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; (NKJ)

[Congregation underlined and Italics added by the Bible Probe.]

The 2nd and 3rd verses of Revelation start out this letter with a greeting to this church in Ephesus, complimenting them for their "deeds, hard work, and perserverance."

Rev 2:2    I know your deeds, your hard work and your perserverence. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. (NIV)

The compliment extends to their hatred of wicked men. It also acknowledges their efforts in ferreting out of those that would claim to be apostles but were lying to advance their own gain. These men were known as Nicolaitans. Who these false apostles were, and what they were doing, will be explained shortly after the opening greeting of the verse two and three that follows.

Rev 2: 3    You have perservered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. (NIV)

Christ in verse three is acknowledging their untiring efforts of love for Him by the words "… endured hardships for my name…". Christ uses exactly this language, when he mentions the church of Pergamum’s love for Him, Indeed, if the church of Ephesus did not have a love for Christ, they would most certainly not have risked being fed to lions for His namesake. Particularly in this city of Ephesus were crimes and mayhem rampant.

This is being said here because there are those that believe the church of Ephesus had lost its love for Christ Himself, and this fragile reasoning includes many Bible commentators.

It is very easy, in reading something written in symbolic form, to convert that symbolism into a literal form. To take words like "Love" and apply our own meaning to it. It's our normal, natural thought process. We do this automatically without any conscious effort on our part. It does, in truth, require conscious effort NOT to do this. It takes a conscious effort to look for the symbolic meaning these visions of John are portraying. So let us make that conscious effort and understand what Christ is saying in the following verse. We can do this with the full weight of the Word behind us for God has told us:

Isaiah 1:18    "Come let us reason together…"

With this understanding we can now search for the reason, Christ is telling his brothers in Ephesus:

Rev 2:4     Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (NIV)

Let us first remember that Christ is deliberately sending this message to His church, those that make up His body of followers. Christians! Therefore, if they did not love Him, they would not be in this body to begin with. What then was this love the church of Ephesus had forsaken? Again, we can understand this better by understanding the city they lived in.

People that worshipped pagan gods did not do so out of love. They offered sacrifices to these worthless and useless idols to keep these imaginary gods from throwing lightning bolts at them, or to entice special favors for purely selfish reasons. Love between the members of these pagan religions was not stressed, encouraged or even expected. Indeed, these pagan gods themselves were, supposedly, at constant war with each other.

On the other hand, love is required of Christians. The children of God are all brothers of Christ, and Love is the motivation behind their works. Love is, in effect, a prime directive.

It is to this love that Christ is referring here, love between brothers, or we should say the lack of it. What then was the cause of this cooling of the love between one brother towards another? A cooling that was seriously effecting the very existence of this church.

They were, in this hotbed of Satan, plagued with Nicolaitans. Men that had joined the congregation to line their own pockets with coin. Men who in their attempt to cast out demons for their own profit misused the name of Christ along with the founder of the church in Ephesus, Paul. This deceit was so widespread that Christ mentions them in two of the letters to the churches, and this, as we shall see in verse 6, is one of them. In order to learn what these deceitful men posing as apostles were doing, we must digress from Revelation.

NICOLAITANS

Bible commentators and historians have great difficulty with this group called the Nicolaitans by Christ. In fact, historians have given up all hope of discovering who or what they were. The reason for this is the only place one can find any information concerning this group known as the Nicolaitans, is in the Bible itself. There are many speculations or theories as to what they were; even one claiming it was the Nicolas referred to in Acts 6: 1-6. But, there is no foundation either Biblically or historically to back up any of these speculations. The fact is they are just that ... supposition. Theoretical attempts to explain something without any verification. No one today knows who or what their practices where, EXCEPT the BIBLE. Like everything else, the Bible gives us all the details we need to know concerning them. To find those details let us look in the book of Acts.

The fact that this city, Ephesus, excelled in charms and magic potions to supposedly rid its residents of evil spirits, gave rise to this group who claimed they were apostles of God.

Acts 19:13-20    Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." (NIV)

These men, for a given price, would try to expel or cast out demons from people possessed by them, in the name of Christ and Paul. They congregated, or tried to fellowship, with the true apostles of the church of Ephesus in an attempt to give credence to their false claim of this ability. Remember we are talking about a city wide open to fakers. People whom for their own grandeur and profit worshipped Satan in various ways. People who were not averse to dishonoring God's name or power by making believe they were apostles.

This practice was deemed so contemptible that they even managed to incite the wrath of one such demon itself. The details of which are recounted in Acts 19.

Acts 19 relates one such episode concerning this:

14     Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

15     [One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (NIV)

In other words, this demon was saying, "where do you phonies come off claiming Christ as your authority." In fact, this outright chicanery even managed to infuriate this demon; so much that:

16     Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (NIV)

Although this event had a somewhat comical outcome, there was, behind it all, a far deeper purpose.

17.     When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

18.     Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

19.     A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

20.     In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (NIV)

Look at verse 20 above and study it closely. Spreading the word of the kingdom is the job that the stars of the church of Christ, are assigned with.

This helps us understand what Christ meant by "You have forsaken your first love."

[The Diaglott renders forsaken as "thou hast relaxed thy first love." The King James Version says, "Thou hast left thy first love". Christ is telling them that they have left, not lost their first love.]

Christ was telling them something was happening to the church, as a whole, to cause a drifting away from their original intent. What was their original intent? As "stars" they were to deliver the light and spread the word of the Gospel. But their lack of love for each other was hindering this because they were becoming obsessive about finding these false prophets that were trying to infiltrate their ranks. In doing this, they were actually creating hatred amongst themselves. Hatred mentioned and warned about by Christ to his apostles in:

Matt 24:10     At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, (NIV)

The Greek word for hate here is "Miseo." The definition of "MISEO" is:

Malicious unjustified feelings towards others, whether towards the innocent. OR, mutual animosity. It is exactly the same word used by Christ in reference to all this in verse 6 of this letter.

Well, now that we know this mutual animosity between brothers of this body of Christ in Ephesus was what Christ is talking about when he spoke of their lack of love, it also clearly explains what he meant by:

Rev 2:5    Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV)

There is nothing higher in our physical universe than stars. As members of the body of Christ, God looks upon us symbolically, as stars. Stars assigned to deliver the light of truth about the gospel. If we don’t do that, we have truly fallen, in God's eyes, from a great height indeed.

This symbolism of God's people, as stars falling, is repeated in later chapters of Revelation. The consequences of which are extremely frightful.

"If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Now knowing that the lampstands represent the Holy Spirit, having it removed leaves us as prodigal sons seperated, by our own actions, from the family of God. The threat of the possible loss of the Holy Spirit shows how serious this lack of love being displayed was taken by God.

At the same time, Christ is telling his church that hating the "Deeds" or practices of these men was correct:

Rev 2:6    'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (NAS)

Nonetheless, ferreting out the Nicolatians was something he would take care of, which is exactly what he did in Acts 19. This also fits precisely into what he was telling us when he said:

Luke 6:37    "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (NIV)

In short, Christ is saying here, love one another and do your job; I’ll take care of the rest.

Rev 2:7    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (NIV)

Notice here in this first letter that Christ is saying to listen to "…what the spirit says to the churches." plural. In other words, all the letters are for the ears of all the churches. The verse above is telling us that for the family members that hear and obey to their last breath "…him who overcomes" is the promise of eternal life. Christ is telling us that eternal life will come about because: "…I will give the right to eat from the tree of life," Which one can easily misread concerning the symbolism of this tree of life, "…which is in the paradise of God."

Let's start by trying to find the symbolic meaning behind the tree of life here by first finding out where this paradise of God is. Obviously, it is part of the kingdom of God. Was there ever a time when this paradise existed on earth? Most assuredly, there was; it was called the Garden of Eden. It was also what God intended all the earth to be. For after He had created Adam and Eve He clearly commanded them to make that so:

Gen 1:28    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (NIV)

Had Adam and Eve done this without sinning, this earth today would be that same paradise God created to begin with.

In that God-created paradise, the Garden of Eden, was a tree of life. A tree obviously designed to give an endless life to those living on the earth. But, what about the eternal spiritual life also promised, would the tree of life also take care of that? We have no way of knowing whether this is so or not but most likely it isn’t. Being born again in a spiritual condition and being spiritually baptized by Christ covers eternal spiritual life.

Mark 10:38-39

38. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39. And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: (KJV)

The point is, the symbolism of the tree of life makes the promise for eternal life certain in either condition, and both unquestionably in a paradise. This is what the gospel of the kingdom is all about.

 

LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA

BACKGROUND ON CITY OF SMYRNA

Less than forty miles to the north of Ephesus sits the city of Smyrna. During the time John lived, it was a beautiful large major seaport in Asia Minor. The city had its beginning as a Greek colony about 600 B.C. and was a thriving metropolis when Alyattes, a Lydian King, destroyed it; dispersing its citizens. Roughly 400 years later, the successors to the great Alexander’s Empire restored this ancient city by building a new sea port atop the site of the old. This allowed the citizens to proudly claim they lived in a magnificent city, ... that had died and now lived again.

Smyrna was always a loyal friend to Rome, and its citizens denounced the Christian Church of Smyrna to Roman officials and pursued a policy of persecution of Christians, which often included public execution by burning at the stake.

From a distance, the outline of the Smyrna resembled a crown due to its acropolis some four hundred feet atop mount Pagos. This crown-like image was often struck on its coins and public monuments.

This letter is one of high praise from God. Pointing up, that good works, by his family, is always observed. Notice how Christ chooses, in his opening comment to Smyrna, to draw a symbolic identification between himself as the ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven by showing an affinity between himself and his church in this city.

Rev 2:8-11    "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. (NIV)

(Underline added by Bible Probe)

"…Who died and came to life again." Here Christ is drawing a parallel between his own resurrection and the resurrection of the city that had been killed and rose again. Hence, Christ is opening this letter with a reminder that the resurrection awaits all.

However, this reference to his resurrection is directed strictly to the church of Smyrna because there was no similarity between the city itself and Christianity. The population of Smyrna was extremely antagonistic against the followers and teachings of Christ. Christians, at the demand of mobs, were often burned alive. This practice against Christians was constant, so much so, that around 156 A.D., history records that the Jews broke their Holy Sabbath to gather wood, so they could burn a Christian to death. Consequently, this church was very small in members. The extreme difficulty in getting the Jews of this city to even listen to the message of the gospel was fully understood by Christ, which is evident from his words:

Rev 2:9    I know your afflictions and your poverty-- yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (NIV)

Bible commentators usually equate this sentence "I know your afflictions and your poverty" with material wealth, stating this must have been a very poor church. How these commentators would know the capital gains of this church, or why Christ would be, in any way, concerned with their bank accounts, we haven't the foggiest idea.

This is what happens when we attempt to replace symbolic language with literal meanings. It is the reason most people find Revelation difficult to understand, for they have no way of deciding what is literal and what is symbolic. Yet, when one understands that all of Revelation is symbolic and allows the Bible to explain that symbolism, it all makes sense. This is said because the symbolic language understood within the context of this letter, as a whole, speaks something entirely different.

Christ is saying that although you may be poor in numbers, or not large in membership, the church was winning converts from Judaism to Christianity, and those that were brought to the faith were excellent. You may be poor in numbers, Christ is telling them, "Yet you are rich." Rich in spirit! Rich in brotherhood! Rich in true Christians! Rich in the treasures of heaven!

Being poor in numbers probably bothered the members of this church; making them feel they were not doing enough. But they were being told it was not quantity but quality of the hearts of those new brothers that the ruler of the kingdom of heaven was interested in. And this was what the church of Smyrna, by their obedience, was supplying. How were they so successful in bringing in quality Christians to the body of Christ? This was accomplished by the church, collectively and individually, following the commands of Christ with faithfulness. In doing so, they set an example that gave strong faith to those that joined this church.

How can this be said with such confidence? It can be said because the whole letter is all praise. If obedience to the commands of Christ were not there, then the praise would not have been there either. Christ found nothing wrong with this church.

Christ is telling them he knows they live within a synagogue of Satan, amongst Jews who profess themselves Jews but fall far short of this. That these Jews under the control of Satan were the cause of the afflictions this church was suffering.

Christ goes on with encouragement telling this church that although He is aware these afflictions will get worse, He has faith in their faith, and reaffirms what they already know. Which means Christ is again telling us that He has faith in His true body of followers to do what was asked of them, and reaffirms that at the end of the road is the crown of life. Because of this, he councils them:

Rev 2:10    Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (NIV)

Two things stick out in the verse above that should be taken notice of by all Christians. One is, understanding what Christ means by "Ten days."

As was mentioned before in Chapter One, the Hebrews used numbers to accent, point up, or clarify a meaning to something said. The number ten, as used in this verse, has the symbolic meaning of an indefinite time span concerning the responsibility of man to God. In short, a Christian’s responsibility to adhere to the teachings of Christendom is for length of his life. The number ten represents however long that life on earth lasts. Christ was telling us persecution by Satan for His namesake, whether it is ten days, ten months, ten years, or a lifetime, was to be expected from our enemy, the prince of lies.

Christ knew that the members of this church would suffer many injustices over a long period. Killing Christians in this city went on for hundreds of years. He was telling them no matter what happened, "Even to the point of death" to use their shield of faith to obtain the crown of life, the sure promise of ultimate glory. This is the second point that should be noticed by true Christians in verse 2:10.

"Even to the point of death." We are being told here that the concept of "Once saved, always saved" is only true if we hold fast to that faith until our last breath.

Christ is also, by referring to the crown of life, saying that in his church located within this synagogue of Satan, His faithful Christians stuck out like glorious shining crowns.

2 Tim 4:8     Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)

The crown this city proudly struck on its coins is being likened to not only to the members of the church in Smyrna, but to "all them also that love his appearing. Again Christ is repeating to all Christians to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the whole family of God. He now tells us that those that follow the example of the church in Smyrna will also be exempt from the second death.

Rev 2:11    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (NIV)

Revelations will explain the second death as we get deeper into it. For now, a brief explanation is in order. When Christ returns He will reign over his kingdom for a thousand years. During that time, Satan will be locked up or out of the picture completely. This period will be devoted to the restoration of the world as God planned it to begin with and to a period of learning for all the resurrected. A hint at the details of how all this will work is given in the whole eleventh chapter of Isaiah but what has just been said is verified by verse 9:

Isa 11:9     They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (NIV)

"The root of Jesse" referred to in the following scripture is Christ.

10     In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. (NIV)

At the end of this time, Satan will be let loose again for a short period. Anyone at that time foolish enough to follow him will be destroyed with him at the end. This is the second death this verse is speaking of which Christians can be exempt from by following the word, now.

The letter to the church at Smyrna was a very short letter, only four verses long. But one that had tremendous meaning to its members. Everything, which needed to be said, was said to this true Christian group. The letter is a molehill of words, but a veritable mountain of praise.

Imagine the joy this letter must have brought to the congregation of this body of Christ in Smyrna. Here was their Lord, King, High Priest, telling them that their faith in Him justified His faith in them. What a marvelous thing to hear from God.

 

LETTER TO PERGAMUM

BACKGROUND ON CITY OF PERGAMUM

Traveling to this city on land was a five or six day journey north from Ephesus or about fifty miles north of Smyrna. To reach Pergamum by sail, a ship came in through the Aegean Sea, moved up the river Caicus about 15 miles until it reached the most magnificently beautiful city of Hellenistic Asia Minor. Its dark granite slopes displayed grandly planned public buildings resting on artificial terraces cut into the mountain. The city boasted a public library second only to the one in the old world's Alexandria. Parchment is the English word derived from the Latin word Pergamentum that translates into sheepskin writing material.

The city was known for the schooling of classical literature. It was also known for its college dedicated to Chaldean Magi, refugee astrologers from ancient Babylon. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a huge altar made of marble depicting gods fighting with giants, celebrating the God Zeus's, or Jupiter's, victory over the Gauls. Zeus or Jupiter was considered the top dog among all the gods and goddesses of the time. And speaking of goddesses, Aphrodite was well represented in Pergamum with a fancy temple dedicated to sex, love, and fornication as a religious practice.

Buried within all its carefully laid out and imposing structures sat the first official state temple to the cult worship of the emperors of Rome; for Pergamum was the seat of all Imperial Roman power in Asia Minor. The temple was built about 29 B.C. to house the worship of Caesar Augustus. Temples to the supposed divinity of the Roman emperors Trojan and Caracalla were erected later. Worshipping the emperor and Rome was part of a state religion demanded by the tyrannical might of Rome. The Romans did not care how many other gods you worshipped, but by law, you had to worship Caesar as a god.

It is believed that when Nero began his attack against Christianity, it was in Pergamum where the first follower of Christ was killed. It truly was the symbolic throne of Satan.

The letter to Pergamum begins:

Rev 2:12    "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

In this opening statement of this letter, Christ is allowing his followers to relate the difference between warlike pagan gods on their huge pagan altar, and the sword of truth that Christ has given his followers. In effect, Christ is saying,

"The pen, or word, is far stronger than the sword."

Heb 4:12    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (KJV)

Heb 4:12 above is so powerful that any further discussion on the subject would merely be redundant. Nonetheless, let us be sure that is what is meant. Remember the last line of the above scripture "and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." This has a direct bearing on this letter.

There are other scriptures relating the symbolism of a sword coming from the mouth of the Lord. Such as:

Rev 19:15    And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (KJV)

2 Thes 2:8    And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (NIV)

We can see that from the scriptures above the double-edged sword is a symbolic representation of the truth of God's word. It also represents Christ’s ability to cut to the heart of any matter, with quick powerful discerning of thoughts and intents of the heart.

At this point in the letter to Pergamum, Christ gives credits where credit is due and deserved.

Rev 2:13    I know where you live-- where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-- where Satan lives.

"I know where you live-- where Satan has his throne." Where Satan lives!

Now we know this is all symbolic language. Christ is not telling us Satan had a palace on Main Street somewhere complete with a throne where the post office delivered his mail. What he is telling us is he knows this city had an abundance of Satan's followers. A city where a huge majority of people allowed themselves to be deceived by Satan’s lies, paganism, and idolatry. Just as in Ephesus, people allowed themselves to be deceived by magic, sorcery, astrology, mystical spells, and lifeless idols of foolishness. Satan uses anything and everything to draw people away from the truth of God.

Yet, Christ tells his faithful, "You remain true to my name." You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas," Here Christ is affirming his recognition of their faith even in the face of death and using Antipas as an example of confirming his knowledge of what was in their heart. Very little is known about Antipas other than he died because of his belief and faith in the Lord. There are only two men with this name in the Bible. One is the son of Herod; the other is this man Christ so clearly mentions in this letter. Some say Antipas died because he would not worship Caesar. Some say he was the first Bishop of Pergamum. Some think he was the first Christian to die when Nero began his persecution. The truth is, today there is no way to verify any of these ideas. What we do know, is that Christ acknowledges the sacrifice of Antipas's life because he was a "faithful witness." Since there is no information, other than his name, concerning Antipas, we can safely conclude from this that nothing or no one great or common goes unnoticed by God.

We also know that because Antipas was faithful to the last breath of his life on earth, he has received the promises Jehovah holds out to all Christians. However, the mentioning of Antipas, in this letter, has a bearing on the following scriptures, and Antipas's sacrifice is being used as a yardstick for true Christians to follow.

With their accomplishments recognized, the letter goes on in the spirit of correction.

(It might be easier to understand the following verses by repeating that Rome did not care how many gods you worshipped; but you were put to death if you did not also worship Caesar.)

Rev 2:14    Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. (NIV)

Again, we can relate, just as the church in Pergamum did, the huge altar to pagan gods that existed in that city along with the sexual immorality taught by that false religion. God uses the word prostitution frequently in the Bible in relation to worship of idols. This is verified from the statement: "You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin "

To understand what the Lord is saying here, it is necessary to be familiar with the story of Balaam. You can read this story in the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th   chapters of Numbers. For the sake of time and space, we will condense… IN OUR OWN WORDS… this story. However, we would suggest you read this event from the Bible. It does a much better job than we can.

Balaam was not an Israelite, but he believed Jehovah was the supreme God. Balak was the leader of one of the enemies of Israel. Balak wanted to hire Balaam to curse Israel so Balak's army could overcome the Israelites. Now Balaam wanted the reward Balak offered, but knew he could not curse Israel if God was blessing them. Still, he wanted the money Balak held out.

Jehovah, for His own purpose, allowed Balaam to go to Balak with the express demand to do only what the Lord commanded which was to bless rather than curse Israel. Balaam, riding on the back of a donkey, went to Balak, trying in his mind to accomplish both ends, doing what God demanded and still get the reward Balak offered. This attempt at deception [the double-edged sword cuts to the heart of the matter] angered God, and he sent an angel to straighten Balaam out. The donkey Balaam is riding sees the angel in its path and three times tries to avoid this messenger of God. Once turning away into a field, once brushing Balaam's foot against a wall and finally lying down. Each time, since Balaam couldn't see the angel, Balaam beat the donkey with his staff. At this point, the Holy Spirit spoke to Balaam through the mouth of the donkey, who said in effect, "what are you beating me for, can't you see the angel in front of us." At this point Balaam does see the angel with a drawn sword in his hand blocking his path; and he hears:

Num 22:33     "The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her." (NIV)

Balaam falls on his face and decides he better do what Jehovah wants him to. So, instead of cursing Israel, as Balak wants, three times he blesses them.

Nonetheless, Balaam is still trying to collect the reward Balak offered so he teaches Balak how to get the Israelites to sin through fornication and idolatry. He was successful in his teachings, for his teachings brought about the death of 24,000 Israelites.

The point of this happening is that you cannot appease both God and man. It is not possible to deceive Jehovah. When man's laws or religion conflict with God's, you cannot try to sit on the fence in an attempt to make everybody happy. You, like Humpty-Dumpty, end up having a great fall. And just as certainly, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put you together again.

So, Christ is telling the church at Pergamum there are those among them that are attempting to be Christians while at the same time trying to keep Rome happy. Christ is telling them, point blank, this is not acceptable, and Christians cannot serve two masters.

Luke 16:13    No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV)

Strong’s Greek dictionary defines Mammon as wealth and avarice.

3126 mamonas (mam-o-nas') or mammonas (mam-mo-nas'); of Aramaic origin (confidence, i.e. wealth, personified); mammonas, i.e. avarice (deified): KJV-- mammon.

Christ is also telling them:

Rev 2:15    Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. (NIV)

The gospel of Christ is not here so we can make a living from it. It is not here for personal earthly wealth. That the ones pursuing this course of using the Word of truth from Christ would hold dire consequences, is evident from the next verse.

Rev 2:16    Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (NIV)

This was more than just soon. It was happening at that moment because it had begun with the warning in the form of the double-edged sword of truth. It would conclude with the quick and powerful cutting out of those doing this by discerning the intent of the thoughts of the heart.

This brings us to the last verse of this letter:

Rev 2:17     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (NIV)

Again, with the first two sentences of this verse, this message is stated as being for the whole body or congregation of Christ; for in truth, it is only the true followers of Christ that are able to hear and understand.

"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna."

Christ refers to it as hidden manna because only his body or congregation would be able to find it. Manna was the food God supplied to the Israelites as they wandered through the desert for forty years. This was a food easily gathered and quite visible to the eye. [There is still a plant in Israel called a manna plant. The fruit of which resembles cotton balls and is also eatable.] But here Christ is calling it hidden manna because it is not obtainable from any earthly substance. It is the spiritual food spoken of in:

John 6:31     Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. (KJV)

John 6:32     Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. (KJV)

John 6:33     For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (KJV)

John 6:34     Then said they unto him, Lord, ever more give us this bread. (KJV)

John 6:35     And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (KJV)

Finally, in verse 2:17 of Revelation Christ makes this promise. "I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."

In the days of John, stones were used in both their customs and court system. Black stones meant the court found you guilty. A white stone was used when you were acquitted. In local custom, if you were invited to someone's home for dinner and you found a white stone at your plate with your name written on it, it meant you were considered a special guest.

The Greek word for name used above is "ONOMA;" it has many applications. All of them fit the phrase from the scripture we are examining. What they boil down to is that Christ was saying to those that overcome that he would give a new name bearing his dignity along with his authority. A name that would have special meaning to the one it was given. Christ is saying ... overcome, and I will give you the bread of life. I will also give you a white stone of acquittal along with a name that will bear my dignity as well as my authority. I will invite you to be with me, before my father, as one of my special honored guests.

So ends the letter to the church that lived in the throne of Satan. How frustrating it must have been for Satan, this ruler of darkness to have those that were true Christians, appearing as stars, constantly shining in his eyes.

 

LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF THYATIRA

BACKGROUND

Thyatira sits about forty miles inland off the coast of Asia Minor roughly half way between south of Smyrna and north of Pergamum. Although it was an important city as far as trade was concerned, it was never considered of political importance. Nor was it major in any way except industry. Noted for its manufacture of purple or scarlet dye it had many crafts, tanning, weaving, pottery, and brass works etc. Yet, with all the crafts represented in the city, its people worshipped more gods and goddesses than they had industry. The only difference was the overall beliefs were closer to the ancient Babylonian cults, which helps explain the use of the word Jezebel in the letter.

There is no record of any apostles visiting or starting this church. It probably came into existence because of Paul's work in Ephesus as the word of Christ was strongly spread throughout Asia Minor at the time, mainly because of the miracles abundantly displayed by the Holy Spirit. This is said because there is a reference to a Lydia in Acts who was a seller of dyes from Thyatira. How the congregation came into being is not important. The fact is that no matter where His church is, be it a major metropolis or a tiny cow town, it does not escape his scrutiny. The letter God addresses to them begins, like the others, with an introduction of who was speaking to them; which is plainly Christ.

Rev 2:18    "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. (NIV)

Bronze and dye make heavy use of flame or fire in refining, which is the obvious connection to the "Feet like burnished bronze."

The church in Thyatira may not have been in a major city of importance to the world but it was not being ignored or exempt from the all-seeing, all-knowing, piercing eyes or purity of Christ. Eyes that can see into the hearts and thoughts of all, Christian and pagan alike. Also, as we shall see, EYES ABLAZE WITH INDIGNATION.

Rev 2:19    I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perserverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. (NIV)

Like the other letters, what the congregation in Thyatira was doing was brought out first and praised. "And that you are now doing more than you did at first" obviously is to their credit. Then, in the next verse, like the other churches needing correction, what was wrong was being very pointedly spotlighted.

Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. (NIV)

" ... You tolerate that woman Jezebel..."

Most commentators on the Bible see this as a woman in the congregation who was teaching something to mislead some of the other members. Again, this comes about when one tries to see literal meaning in symbolic messages. This is not at all probable. It could have been possible for a woman in the congregation to have been using sexual favors to lead members astray, but then the use of the word "tolerate" would not have been used. Tolerate means to put up with, allow, and endure. Had illicit sexual behavior been the case then a far stronger word would have been applied. Had that been the case she would not have been just misleading the servants but actually engaging in sexual immorality.

Nor, had this been an individual woman, would she have been allowed to teach anything. Christ in his ministry said, "suffer not a woman to teach." (1 Tim 2:12) Which means the man, as the head of the household, is obligated to see to it his family is instructed in the word of God. Therefore Christ is saying, don't make your wife do the job that squarely sits on your shoulders. It would put the wife in the position of being forced to usurp his position in the family. For if the husband creates a dysfunctional family by not performing his job, as a teacher of the word of God, then the wife, as a Christian, must do the job.

[By the way, this is not a discussion on women's rights. Women did hold positions of respect in the Old and New Testament, such as Deborah in the book of Judges. The scripture in Timothy above refers only to teaching the Word to others. God has set up this order, and the order of all things. If you are not happy with this arrangement, you will have to take that up with the creator.]

If then, this is not an individual woman: who is this Jezebel that is being referred to in this verse in Rev.?

Biblically, Jezebel was a woman so evil that God had her thrown from a palace balcony into the street to be eaten by dogs. When the dogs were finished devouring her, there was nothing left but her skull and the palms of her hands. The symbolism of this was that even dogs did not want what she had to offer.

She was the wife of King Ahab, probably the weakest and most worthless King Israel ever had. She used her own sexual attraction to him not only to introduce the worship of Baal to the Israelites, but she systematically endeavored to destroy the worship of Jehovah in all Israel by attempting to murder all of God's prophets. She threatened to kill Elijah and probably would have succeeded had God not intervened. Understanding this and understanding that the people in Thyatira worshipped ancient Babylonian cults; now read: " ... You tolerate that woman Jezebel ..."

This phrase now takes on the symbolic meaning intended from the beginning. Some one, or group, was trying to alter or introduce doctrines that would have corrupted the Christian faith of this church. Christians are symbolically linked or identified with Spiritual Israel.

History can attest to the fact that this has happened over the centuries since Christ walked amongst us a human being. Easter and Christmas are two such doctrines that Satan has insidiously injected into Christianity. Pagan rites and idols have been introduced over the centuries to deliberately mislead people trying to be Christians. The prime example one can point to is the cross. The cross is an idol. If you cannot see this then we refer you to:

Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me. (NIV)

Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (NIV)

[Note: that doesn't leave anything; including a cross.]

The second scripture above is part of the first commandment. Let us look at the whole commandment.

Exodus 20:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (NIV)

Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me. (NIV)

[He doesn't even want to see them, let alone have them worshipped, which is evident from the next verse.]

Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.(NIV)

[In order to get around this command you would have to find something outside our universe.]

Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, (NIV)

[There are two things to be noted from the above verse. Note 1; God is using the word jealous because idols lead His people away from Him. He is the only God there is, and for our benefit demands that we acknowledge this. Personally, I find this an extremely reasonable demand. Which leads us to the second thing to be noted: To accept idols of any kind makes you an enemy of God.]

Exodus 20:6    but showing love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (NIV)

It might also be pointed out here that all this is in the first of the ten laws written by Jehovah's own hand.

Now regardless of how one rationalizes Christian responsibilities in respect to the laws given to Moses, does anyone think Jehovah has changed his mind concerning other gods? If so, read:

Acts 21:25    But as touching the Gentiles that have believed, we wrote, giving judgment that they should keep themselves from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication. (ASV)

1 Cor 6:12 All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. (ASV)

Paul is saying with the scripture above, [which is part of a discourse on sexual immorality] even though it might be legal to do something, he will not allow himself to be associated with anything that has the least little power to mislead or offend the creator. The Law of Moses condemned the adulterous to death. The fact that Christians are under the new covenant does not mean adultery is O.K.

Bowing down or eating sacrifices to idols is in no way a moot point. It cannot be declared that this ancient pagan rite no longer exists. That it is therefore not something to be wary of. Millions of people perform this offense to the creator daily, now, today, here in our time. Every single time a parishioner enters a Catholic church, they move to the center isle and bow to the cross hanging over the altar.

Notice in Exodus 20: 5 "you shall not bow down to them .. OR .. worship them.

Every time most Christian churches hold a mass, the wine and the bread are OFFERED TO THE CROSS, OVER THE ALTAR, FIRST. The parishioners now eat the wafer of bread and drink the wine. In doing so, they are eating food offered to idols. Does this act honor the creator? Not only does it do dishonor to the creator, IT IS IN DIRECT DEFIANCE OF HIS FIRST and SECOND COMMANDMENTS. The first commandment that Jehovah considered so important that He wrote it in stone, on the side of a mountain, with His own hand. There is no possible way in which Jehovah is going to overlook or condone these actions.

The excuse that these idols are only representations or symbols of faith is laughable.

WHAT DOES ONE THINK AN IDOL IS?

Webster defines an idol as a representation or symbol of an object of worship. A form or likeness of something! A false conception: Fallacy.

Paul, who was probably the world’s foremost authority at the time on the subject of the law, asks on this subject, this question:

1 Cor 10:22    Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (KJV)

Why are we discussing this subject? Because Christ, for the SECOND time, to his church, is telling us idolatry is in no way condoned. Also because it has a direct bearing on the verse being studied.

Sexual immorality, prostitution both female and male along with homosexual acts, was part of the rites and religion performed and believed in by the pagans following Baal. But the Greek word used for fornication in Rev 2: 20 "Porneia" is another one of those words with a double meaning. 1."Illicit sexual intercourse," 2. Metaphorically, "the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith," Again the word that most fits the situation is applied by God in the Bible.

Interestingly, the 16th chapter of Ezekiel equates the whole nation of Israel at the time with a harlot. A very stupid prostitute who chases after other gods without sense enough to even collect a fee for her services. God speaking to Ezekiel says:

Ezk 16:2    Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, (KJV)

Ezk 16:30    "How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign LORD, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute! (NIV)

The analogy of illicit sexual activity and the worship of idols as being the same in Jehovah's eyes are quite clear. Especially when one realizes that Spiritual Israel is considered the bride of Christ.

The symbolism of a wanton wife who would rather go to bed with someone other than her husband is continued the letter to this church in Revelation.

Rev 2:21   I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. (NIV)

Christ, as the symbolic husband of Israel, in Ezekiel, has been long patient for His symbolic wife to get smart and change her ways. As her husband, He has given her everything she has. Protection, cloths, fine silk, jewels, gold etc. {no doubt a reference to Israel in her glory under Solomon} She has taken all this and made or accepted idols to fornicate with, hunting through other nations for more idols and false gods. But now His patience has run out, and continuing the same symbolic language, relates her upcoming punishment:

Rev 2:22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. (NIV)

A prostitute has as her main tool her bed, and so God is using the analogy of making her suffer on her own bed. He is saying that He will punish those that commit adultery with her. But notice he says, "Unless they repent of her ways." In other words God is saying he holds her more responsible than they.

Ezk 16:51    Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. (NIV)

Notice above that God is equating all of Samaria as if it were a single woman in the same manner that he refers to Jezebel in the letter to Thyatira. The reference to "Your sisters" is to other pagan nations or cities.

Ezk 16:52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous. (NIV)

Israel, in its outrageous form of sinning, had made pagan nations appear righteous compared to her. Jehovah had made a covenant with the nation of Israel. They would be his people and he would be their God. But his people became as a harlot worshipping other gods. The vilest of these gods in Jehovah's eyes was Baal. What was viler about the worship of Baal as opposed to the worship of any other dumb idol? God reveals this to Israel through Ezekiel:

Ezk 16:20-21     "And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?

21.     You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. (NIV)

Newborn infants were cast into pits of fire as a sacrifice to Baal. Infants that were born as potential inheritors of the covenant between Jehovah and Israel were slaughtered before they had a chance to reveal their hearts' desires as to God. Now understanding this, it becomes very clear why Jehovah considers food offered to idols as so detestable:

Ezk 16:58    You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the LORD. (NIV)

Well, what is the summation of all that has just been said, and what has it to do with Revelation 2:20? Let us look at this verse again from a different version, The James Moffatt version, perhaps that will help us understand.

Still I have this against you: you are tolerating that Jezebel of a woman who styles herself a prophetess and seduces my servants by teaching them to give way to sexual vice and to eat food which has been sacrificed to idols. (James Moffatt)

We have discussed whether this Jezebel was a single woman or a representation or symbolic form of Baal. Again, we have to look not at the literal but the symbolic meaning of this. From the discussion, we can easily see that Baal was a sexually oriented pagan religion, which offered food to idols and sacrificed live children to its pits of fire. These are major offenses against God particularly in view of the first two commandments given to Moses. This was the reason that so much time was spent on this discussion, for it all revolves around God's view of His people committing spiritual adultery with other gods, not physical adultery between male and female. We know this not only from Ezekiel and other prophets, but Christ Himself not only stopped the stoning of an adulterous woman but forgave her as well. Now look carefully at the next verse:

Rev 2:21    And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. (KJV)

The Greek word used for 'space' above represents a short period of time because this is a letter to one of the churches of His body, and this spiritual adultery would not be tolerated by God or His son for a lengthy period or age. That it was tolerated at all represents God's mercy and understanding of the weaknesses or imperfection of his followers. Yet, the warning is explicit to those that would continue the practice. It also makes it clear this is not an individual but a group.

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)

That retribution for the promoters of paganism is scheduled, is clear in the Word, particularly later in chapter 18 of Revelation. "And them that commit adultery with her…" is a reference to those of the church or body of Christ that fall into this trap she has set, "except they repent of their deeds." What has been said so far is even clearer in the next verse:

Rev 2:23    I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (NIV)

"I will strike her children dead." Again, Christ {with blazing eyes} is referring us back to the first commandment:

Exodus 20:5    You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, (NIV)

Now look at the last 11 words of Rev 2:23. (…And I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

Ezk 16:59    "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. (NIV)

History reveals that this is exactly what happened to Israel. Since earthly Israel would not honor their part in the covenant, God cast them to the nations of the earth to do with as they pleased. The earthly Israel received what they deserved for breaking the old covenant but the body of Christ is under a new covenant, which one can also break. If there is any doubt left in your mind that Jezebel mentioned above is symbolic of paganism or false religion, read the next verse very carefully, particularly the reference to "Satan’s so-called deep secrets…"

Rev 2:24    Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): (NIV)

The King James Version uses the words "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine," which clearly identifies the word Jezebel with a doctrine and not a person.

Rev 2:25    Only hold on to what you have until I come. (NIV)

The two scriptures above are making it evident that not all the Christians in Thyatira were being duped into false faith. To the true Christians, the ones who are adhering to the teachings of Christ and the ones not accepting Porniea "the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith." The contempt God is using of Satan's lies, as being "so-called deep secrets" is obvious. A lie is a lie and there is nothing mysterious about it. To these true Christians, Christ is saying I give you nothing new to worry about; hang onto what you know is true until I return. To those, who do this?

Rev 2:26    To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations-- (NIV)

Whose authority? What authority? HIS Authority! AUTHORITY, GIVEN TO HIM DIRECTLY FROM HIS FATHER JEHOVAH. How do we know this? We know it because this is stated without any doubt in the next verse of Revelation.

Rev 2:27 He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'-- just as I have received authority from my Father. (NIV)

Christ isn't telling us we will become kings or presidents issuing new orders or laws, or mandates. However, he is telling us Christians already have this authority to "dash to pieces" Satan's lies and so called "deep secrets." How? By simply teaching the Word of truth we were given, with the double-edged sword of God's Word, the Bible. Simple isn't it? Christ is telling us to do just what we have already been equipped, by the Holy Spirit, to do. Nothing new! Just do what we already have been given the authority and power to do. And if we do that something else will be added:

Rev 2:28    I will also give him the morning star. (NIV)

Some Commentators equate this with what they call the rapture. Or they claim it means Christians will receive some special portion of something bright and glorious from Christ. All of which makes this sentence seem very hazy as to what Christ is talking about. They do this because again they are making literal observations about a symbolic statement. There is nothing cloudy, hazy or mysterious about this statement.

For morning the Greek word proinos (pro-ee-nos'); is used. Meaning pertaining to the dawn, i.e. matutinal: morning. For star the Greek word (as-tare'); which means a star (as strewn over the sky), literally or figuratively:

One has to keep in mind that Christ is talking to all his followers clear down to this present generation. However, he knew that the beginning of the time of the end was at least two thousand years down the line from the time that John penned these letters. Christ knew the Christians reading the letter delivered by John at that time would all have passed away from their earthly life. He knew the final days would not begin until the time of the gentiles had been completed. Christ, with this statement, is simply telling Christians of all times that when this time of the end began, they would be right there at his side to see it. He has promised His faithful their crowns of victory, their stones of acquittal, their new names of His authority, and He is telling them they will be with Him at the very beginning of that final time. Also to add to these things, they will also be there so early, that they would be like Venus, the morning star we see in the heavens; even before the rays of the sun sweep across the portion of the earth, we live on. (Venus is often visible after all the other morning stars can no longer be distinguished.) So, too, will their presence be distinguishable also. In short, hang on to your faith and follow the commands of Christ until the end of your days, and you will not miss one little thing.

Rev 2:29    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (NIV)

Again the affirmation that these letters are to all the congregation of Christians on the earth.

The letters to the seven churches are continued in Chapter three of Revelation. However, it should be obvious at this point, that understanding the symbolism the Bible itself explains, makes this truly a revelation. The letters praise, console, and encourage, but they also make it clear, what we as Christians, are warned to look out for and avoid at all cost; including our earthly lives.



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