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Revelation 
Chapter Two

 
Commentary by Tom Brown

2"To the angel a of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:

To the angel a of the church. Since the leaders are in Christ hand, Jesus gives instruction to the leaders in order to change the church. Jesus does not instruct members to tell the pastors what to do.

walks among the seven golden lampstands.  Like an inspector going through a building to see the condition of the facility, Jesus walks among the churches to inspect it.

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. 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.

have tested those who claim to be apostles. The great strength of this church was its fidelity to good doctrine.

3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

 

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

You have forsaken your first love. It’s possible to have sound doctrine but no passion in serving the Lord.

 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.

do the things you did at first. This is how we get back our passion; it’s not a matter of trying to “feel” the same again, but a matter of “doing” what we once did.

6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 

Nicolaitans. Apparently a fictitious group. The key to understanding who the Nicolaitans are is the word itself. Nico means “to conquer” and laitans means “laity” (common people). It means to “conquer the laity”. The Nicolaitans believed in a special priesthood of the clergy. They demanded the laity to seek them as mediators of God.  

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.

 

He who has an ear. Jesus used this phrase often in his earthly ministry.

8 "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.

who died and came to life again. Since many people in the church at Smyrna had lost their lives, Jesus reminds them of the resurrection. They too will come to life again.

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.

who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Paul says a Jew is not one outwardly but inwardly (Rom 2:28). He should know since he was a Jew. A true Jew then is one who accepts the promised Messiah. Jesus dealt much with the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. This is not an anti-Semitic comment, since Jesus himself, including all the apostles, were Jews.

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.

ten days. Not literal, but meaning a complete time period.

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.

 

12 "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

double-edged sword. Two sides to God’s Word: first side is to defend us and the other side is to cut and convict us.

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.

 

where Satan has his throne. John most likely saw the throne of Satan being at Rome, so this could be a reference to the church at Rome.

Yet you remain true to my name. Many churches could learn a lesson from this church, and that is to remain steadfast in doctrine, instead of trying to accommodate the world.

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.

idols. As Israel failed much in idolatry, seems the Church fails also in idolatry.

sexual immorality. A very serious problem in the church today: both among Catholics and Protestants.

15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

teaching of the Nicolaitans. Another failure of the church. See 2:6.

16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 

I will…fight against them with the sword of my mouth. The Word of God clearly teaches against idolatry and a special priesthood of the clergy.

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.

 

hidden manna. A veil seemed to keep many in this church from truly eating of the Word of God.

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.

 

19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

you are now doing more than you did at first. Just the opposite of the church at Ephesus. They actually were more zealous about the Lord as they continued to grow in Christ. This is the way it should be.

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.

You tolerate that woman Jezebel. Jezebel was the strong willed queen that ruled King Ahab. Likely there was an illegitimate group of un-ordained people teaching false doctrine. 

sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Same two problems of the church in Pergamum. Seems that sexual immorality and idolatry is the most prevalent problems in the church.

21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

given her time to repent. God is always merciful and does not judge quickly.

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.

unless they repent of her ways. Even after the threat of punishment the Lord still offers mercy.

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.

I will strike her children dead. The recipients of the false teachers are also accountable for allowing themselves to be deceived.

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):

so-called deep secrets. A reference to the Gnostics who denied the incarnation and taught a number of false ideas.

25 Only hold on to what you have until I come.

 

 

26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

 

I will give authority over the nations. The intent of the letters to the churches is to inspire the Christians to be lights in a dark world so they can win it to Christ.

27 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' b

just as I have received authority from my Father.

 

28 I will also give him the morning star.

morning star. A likely reference to revelation knowledge (see 2 Pet 1:19). Just as the Gnostics claimed special “deep secrets” God counters this cult by revealing to the true believers the “real” deep secrets. Revelation knowledge (inspired truth from the Spirit) gives the believer faith to rule.

29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

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