REVELATION. CHAPTER 2. Verse 1. As we move into Chapter two, and then three, it is necessary to look into the history and circumstances of each city,. as a whole, so that we may better understand the circumstances of each church and the message that they are receiving. .
The Epistles tell us that there was much dissension between the formerly Jewish Christians and the formerly pagan Christians and that both were persecuted by both the pagans, who usually held the positions of authority, and also by the unconverted Jews.
This was the only relief in a life devoid of hope for purpose, fulfillment and joy. This was/is the empty space in anyone's soul that can only be filled by the Spirit of God, the Father, the Almighty.
The pagans resisted conversion because of their misunderstanding of the message of the apostles which led them to disdain the perceived aceticness of Christianity for the ''joy'' of their pagan religious party-times.
In what is to come, Christ lays bare the true state of each individual church and this state can be seen in the churches of history and in the state of the churches of today.
We gain this understanding from the fact that only seven churches were selected from the multitude that existed in John's time and by the fact that, at the close of each letter, there is a statement that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the churches.
As we encounter the number seven applied to these churches we tend to focus on the fact that seven is symbolic of perfection, yet we will find that these churches are far from perfect.
Seven is also a metaphor for completion and, in considering the flaws of these churches, we find that Yehovah has provided a ''complete'' list of the sins of His people.
(A) That Christ always describes himself by a characteristic suited to the circumstances of each particular church regardless of whether the message promises encouragement or terror.
(B)each epistle is directed to the angel or messenger of the church. These would likely be the pastors because they are the mouth of God for the congregation. Once again we see that revelation was written to be understood by all and to be declared publically.
(C)each epistle is concluded with a promise of eternal glory and happiness for victorious believers and a solemn call to every reader and hearer to seriously learn and apply the contents of these letters to their lives.
Christianity came to the city with Paul, Aquila and Priscilla, as per Acts 18:18-19 & 19:10. Timothy had charge of the church for a time according to 1 Timothy 1:3.
Is an indication that the faith formerly held by this church, and the evangelism and works that faith had generated, have been judged and approved by Christ.
Is a commendation for patiently bearing persecution for their faith and carrying on regardless. The word "fainted" means to grow weary and give up.
Eph1:15-16, shows that some 30 years before this time, this church was commended for the strength of its love for Christ and their fellow man.
This would mean that their righteous works had faltered and failed and so their love for Jesus and His Gospel and even each other, had dried up entirely, hence the "loveless" comment.
Similarly, this could also mean that this congregation had been distracted by the busyness of the activities of the world around them to the point that their ardent love for Jesus had cooled due to neglect.
In our lives, we need to consider if our own love for the Lord has lost its initial passion, if we too have been distracted by the busyness of the world
Is a call to remember who they were those 30 years ago and to return to that state of affairs quickly before Jesus removes their candlestick #, extinguishing their light unto the world.
The verbs "remember", "repent" and "do" are the "first things" involved in re-birth and entering into the work of the Great Commission, and in this sense this warning takes the form of commandments.
This denunciation began to unfold during the persecutions of the emperors Decius Gallus and Valerian and was completed to the letter by the Saracens and the Turks.
In our present day this could be taken as "deprive thee of Gospel light": Bibles that are unread, Lord's Days not kept, ministers not listened to, communions not observed, liberties abused rather than valued.
”And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:”
In this we see a direct challenge to the temple of Artemis, which was a refuge for criminals, because Jesus is saying that He is the only effective refuge from our sinfulness.
Just as the Bible repeatedly states that God the Heavenly Father and Jesus are One, here we are finding that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One. We have confirmation from the mouth of our Lord and Saviour that the Holy Trinity is a reality.
(Verses 8-11)Are a letter to the church at Smyrna. (Myrrh means sweet-smelling). "The Persecuted Church". It is a seaport city about 35 miles north of Ephesus and is called Izmir today.
This Greek goddess was also know as "Rhamnous" which is the spirit of divine retribution, especially to those who succumb to "hubris": the arrogance of the gods.
The Romans used the Latin name ''Invidia" for this goddess and that word implies "looking at with an evil eye" as in "to look against, to look at in a hostile manner".
We might want to give substantial reflection to what we are encountering in this because God the Father Almighty does nothing by chance - including choosing this particular church as an example to all, for every day, given what we now know.
Under the Emperor Diocletian, the church as a whole, endured the 10 days (prophetic years - v10) spoken of in Daniel, especially in light of Rev 2:10.
“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.”
This church is commended for being a persecuted church and this would make it a metaphor for the church of Jesus Christ in the times of 100-313AD.
There is also mention of those who call themselves "Jews but are not", rather, they are Jews who have rejected Christ, or possibly apostate Christians who were also referred to as Jews by the pagans.
Formerly pagan Christians were also erroneously called Jews. ''Christians who are not'' are something we have become very familiar with.
There were specifics given as to these tribulations and the time frame of 10 prophetic days (years) and that there would be great reward for all who stood-fast to Him.
but the rewards spoken of here and elsewhere in the Bible are earned by the quality of our service to the LORD God through works and the enduring of tribulation for the faith. These rewards are also spoken of in scripture as "crowns".
A letter to the "compromising church",the church at Pergamum (meaning elevation or to lift up the self over the divine), also known as Pergamos.
This priesthood was driven out of Babylon by the Medo-Persians and they took with them the Palladium Stone, the Dagon vestments, the title PontifexMaximus (the bridge between Heaven and Earth),
Esubeus, a heretical "church father" who later lived here, re-wrote parts of the Bible under the direction of the pope, to diminish Christ to equality with the pagan gods.
Metaphorically, this would place events like those described here of Pergamum, between 313-583AD in church history, a period of compromise and corruption.
In knowing and believing Yehovah, there is NO possibility of denying or compromising one's faith. A knowing person just wouldn't have the nerve.
Jesus makes positive mention of a martyr named An'tipas (the name means anti-pontiff and we need to think about that) who died either at the imperial cult temple or the temple of Zeus.
Jesus condemns the church as a whole for its acceptance of the teachings of Balaam and the corruption prevalent in the church because of it.
In 2 Peter 2:15-16 and Jude 11, this points to false teachers who do their deeds for fame and fortune, a sin readily observed in this day.
COMPROMISE can only lead to spiritual fornication.COMPROMISE is an unpardonable sin because its foundation is unbelief regarding Yehovah.
We have had a look at the massive pollution of Christianity, at the hands of Constantine and the CC, when pagan traditions were adopted/blended in to the reality of Jesus Christ and His ministry.
This seems to be especially so in the CC timings of the Sabbath(Isa 56:6-7), the Nativity and the Crucifixion.Deu 12:1-4 is an unmistakeable prohibition of such practices.
We need to carefully study the full context of this event to understand the power of its condemnation of adopting pagan practices into the worship Yehovah Almighty.
We need to carefully consider how totally unacceptable this is to Him. We are not looking at a trivial sin, this is a major offense to Our Heavenly Father.
I don't think I would care for Jesus to be hating what I was up to, yet, just as in that time, people today don't seem to be considering the consequences.
as it is spoken of here refers to the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for all of a believers needs, just as manna was sufficient for the needs of the Hebrews in the desert.
Such a stone was often used as an invitation to a special feast: in this instance the end times wedding banquet with Christ (Rev 19:7-9/Matt 22:11-13).
The "engraving of a name" refers to the Hebrew custom of engraving the names of the tribes of Israel upon the stones worn on the shoulders and breast of the high priest (Exo 28:10-11).
The "name that no man knoweth..." refers to the nature and value of that "new name" (child of God) which the Lord bestows upon all who love Him (Gen 32:28; 1 Jn 3:1)
are the message to the "corrupt church", the church at Thyatira, meaning: "the sweet savour of labour; sacrifice and contrition" which is a Satanic teaching that works alone bring salvation.
This concept is spoken to directly in v19"and the last to be more than the first" because the church had come to supplant salvation by faith alone with salvation by works - as is found in many liberal imitation churches today.
The city was noted for its many trade guilds and for its wool cloth and dyeing industries, in particular the royal colours of purple and crimson
It was also known for the "burnished bronze" metal (a special alloy of copper and an unusual silvery zinc that was only ever produced in this city) often used to describe the luminous quality of Christ.
Their former faith was judged and found to be sound but that no longer matters because a serious fault has been found. Salvation possibly lost.
The ''last becoming more than the first'' is once again pointing out the tendency to focus more on works and the busyness of the world than on the faith which alone saves us.That saving faith then produces works.
In this instance the condemnation is for tolerating the false teachings of this false ''prophet''. Yeshuadoes not seem to be happy about such things.
Hopefully, within any given ''church'', there will be at least a single voice of protest and that voice is ignored at the false teacher's peril.
This, again, is an appropriate place to consider the prohibition of Deu 12:4. Yehovah is highly specific as to how, and where, He is worshipped.
The "depths of Satan", meaning the deep things of Satan spoken of in this verse, is found in the occult practices and initiation rites of secret societies even into this day.
Like many present day false teachers offering up "the deep things of Christianity", they are actually offering up the deep things of Satan using Christian words and thoughts (wolf in sheep's clothing?).
These deep things of Satan are the depths of occultism in practice. Jesus promises those who reject such things that there will be no additional burdens (tribulations) placed upon them, which is an indication of the Rapture.
To the members of the church who do persevere in the face of temptation and persecution, and who judge all according to their works and act accordingly,
speaks of how Jesus will be dealing with# the apostate - the violence and anger involved in cleaning house with such a tool as a rod of iron(Ps 2:8-9).
They lacked the understanding of the Gospel required to be strong and stand fast and so they compromised to stop the congregational infighting and the persecution from without.
We continue to see this in this day when people who know that false teaching is occurring yet they refuse to stand up and be counted for Christ - just to avoid the controversy.
We can never lose sight of the FACT that God pre-existed Mary. Her role, while magnificent, was only as the mother of the human incarnation of the Son of God, our Emanuel, Jesus Christ.
He pre-existed with God the Father, Mary was never totally and completely Jesus' mother. The Catholic title is errant. Their worship of her is an abomination.(Exo 20:1-5)
It is a wondrous state of affairs, and a greater mercy, that Jesus Christ communicates His warnings, directions, and encouragements to all who call themselves Christian, whether pastor or congregant.
Jesus' own characteristics, which we are to emulate, and His parables, teachings and commandments of the Gospels and Revelation, which we are to learn from and adapt to, answer exactly every question a seeker will encounter.
Jesus immediately takes kind and loving notice of the graces, services and sufferings for His sake and how diligently His followers oppose what is evil and perform what is good.
Graciously, Jesus dwells among those who are truly His and those who are diligently seeking Him; and He supports, furnishes and directs those who are His ministers;
With tender compassion Jesus reminds us of the deviations and irregularities in our beliefs and faith and He unfailingly calls each of us to repentance and reformation.
The multitude of promises Jesus has made to all who would but listen, encourages all to faithfully wrestle against every known sin in themselves and in others.
If only we remain faithful to Christ, infinite is the glory, acceptance, pleasure, excellence in endeavour, and power over evil opposers, that will be our reward.
For those who refuse to heed the warnings of Jesus, awful are the threats He has made and tremendous are His judgements upon imposters, hypocritical professors and obstinate sinners!