The Revelation of Jesus Christ
(a Practical look)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (v. 1)
We often forget that the title of the Book teaches us that it is a revealing of Christ. We like to focus on the prophetic aspect of this great Book, but too often we shove Christ in the background as the Laodicean church did (Rev. 3:20), and focus on the incidental instead of the preeminent. Every Book; every verse; every thought in the Word of God centers around Christ, we simply do not have the spiritual discernment to see it: He is, indeed, the central figure of the Bible. This is His revealing of Himself to us, and has little to actually do with the individual, actually, although the church age can be more practically applied to us today as individuals that some of the other views offered unto us. As you read, dear reader, keep Christ in the forefront of your thoughts, and lift Him in praise for the wonder of wonders that He has revealed to His people. It is not about us, but about Christ. He saw fit to reveal Himself to us, His chosen people, and we would do well to heed it. These things “must shortly come to pass”, which implies that the church age is affected by the revelation as well as the rest of the Book.
He first saw fit to reveal it to John, (v.1) His beloved servant, and then onto us also, as the redeemed of God through Him. He signified it by His angel (v. 1) as a testimony to the truth and actuality of the matter, unto John, who bore record of the Word, and had the testimony of Christ (v. 2), as we also have. Revelation is the revealed mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not merely a revelation that he has given us. He wants us to know Him intimately, personally, and so He reveals Himself personally also.
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (v. 2)
Friends, we all have that same testimony if we belong to the Lord. Our testimony ought always be to Christ and the atoning blood of His sacrifice, made for all men everywhere. John was an eye-witness of those things so that we have it straight “from the horses mouth” and we can be assured that it is not merely hearsay. The testimony is not merely words, but lives also; when we have borne the testimony of Christ, we have carried it in our being and on our bodies as well. There is a lot more to bearing the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ than many of us think there is.
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (v.3)
The Lord has a special blessing for all who read and testify of the truth of revelation and keep the words of the prophesy that He has afforded us. Why is this? Because the time is at hand; it is time for Him to reveal Himself to us, and for us to be a testimony for Him. The end is near, my friends, and we ought to be about our Father’s business, which is reaching the lost for Christ. Soul winning is the very heart of God, and therefore there is laid up in store a blessing for those who go, and bear the name and testimony of Christ upon their lips, as well as their lives.
The address is to “the church”, or the churches of Asia. It is a revelation that God gave to the Son to show unto us, His servants (v. 1) and entrusted to John while exiled on the island of Patmos. John spent a lot of time alone with the Lord, and this Book will reveal what he had learned about Christ, that He cometh soon. Though it names some of them specifically, it is to the church of God in Christ Jesus. These seven churches then represent all churches, and the prOBlems they deal with are prOBlems that all churches have. We see from the narrative that not all churches are true, God-centered churches, but all are the “candlestick” of the Lord; churches are not all are headed in the right direction. It is to those that “bear record” of the Word of God, and the testimony of His Son (v.2) that receive the rewards mentioned.
Every church seems to need a shepherd, and often as goes the shepherd, so goes the church. Dr. Lee ROBison says often “Everything rises and falls on leadership”, and that is a profoundly true statement when speaking of a church. The Twenty-third Psalm makes it clear that the shepherd leads the sheep, and where He goes, they soon follow.
Theses churches are “local” churches, i.e. local to their own vicinity; they are not a universal nor invisible church of all believers everywhere, because all believers everywhere are already in the true church! The Body of Christ is wide spread, but not everyone who claims to be “of the body” can rightly say they are of “the church”. If all we did was ask the Lord to save us, then we could have an invisible universal church, but we must ask, believing. Truly the Bible says that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13), but isn’t that preceded by vs. 9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.? Are there not many who, perhaps, had fooled themselves into thinking they were saved? Of course there are! (Mt. 7:22). These examples in Matthew have even prophesied in Christ’s name; they have cast out devils, which seems to be a privilege of the elect of God, and done “many wonderful works”, but they did not have the heart for Christ. Though they shined as premier Christians among the brethren for their works, they were lost, and Christ had to tell them to depart from Him, attesting that He never knew them. They were not of the true church. They no doubt could have furnished witnesses to great deeds they did; no doubt they had a time that they verbally called upon the name of the Lord, but they had an evil heart of unbelief which no man could see. They were not a part of the church; the universal church could claim them, because it has no shepherd; it could claim them because it has no authority; it could claim them because they had met the qualifications of their “church”, but they were lost, they were not of the true church.
Nearly every epistle was written to a local church with real pastors and one which functioned independently of others. Local churches, spread all over the face of the earth form “the church” or “the Body of Christ”, and, in that sense, they are a universal church, but only in the sense of various local assemblies gathered for one cause in the name of one Savior and forming a mass body. As for an “invisible” church, who is it’s shepherd? Who and where is its authority? What kind of unity can it have as a “body”? these are just a few questions that one would have to face when promoting a universal, invisible church. There is laid up a special blessing to those that hear, and heed the prophesies in this Book; This is who the revelation is introduced to, the true church of the Living God (vs. 1-4).
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; (v. 4)
It is a revelation of Jesus Himself, and from the seven spirits that minister before His throne. We have the preliminary salutation from God the Father (v. 4, the Eternal One) “From Him which is (present tense), and which was (The Crucified One), and which is to come” (The glorified One) from the Son,
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” (v.5) and from the seven spirits before God’s throne (v.4). All of Heaven greets the saints. It is a revelation of Christ Himself, and that which he (John) is passing on as a true eye-witness of what must shortly come to pass.
The transition from the greeting to the glory of Christ begins in v. 5 where we discover Who Christ is, and get a peek at His glory which was climaxed at Calvary. We see also what all this has done for us in v. 6 and the praise we have for Him who died for us. Because His Father is the Eternal One, He also shall live forever, and pass that great privilege down unto us, His beloved children. We have been made priests and kings under Him and by His authority, and have great reason to praise His lovely name. For those that wonder at His glory, He is the Great One, the King of kings, and the Lord of Lords, made so by the Almighty God who endowed Him with great power and authority. Though He died and returned to Heaven, He is coming again for His beloved, and will come with great pomp and great power for us, the redeemed of the Lord. Doubters shall stand in awe of Him; they that crucified Him shall fall on their knees before Him, and worship Him; and some shall wail because of Him, because they will stubbornly refuse to worship Him and their evil hearts will not bend to Him, and every eye shall behold Him in His glory (vs. 5-7).
Now Jesus speaks Himself; He reminds us that He is the beginning of everything, and the end of everything, and that he is the Almighty, just as the Father is Almighty. He and the Father are one. This is known first as the deity of Christ, or that Christ is in fact God incarnate, and not merely the Son of God, though He is that too. He is more than a Son, He is a manifestation of God in the flesh, the First and the last, the Eternal one, and He now wishes to reveal Himself to us in that fashion. Jesus said it all right here in verse eight, He is everything, and all things, to us, and we need to trust Him by faith, and we will see Him as He is, the Lord of heaven and earth. One must believe this by faith, for “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Mt. 16:4)
Not only did Jesus claim to be Lord, but John also sees Him as the great One, the God of gods. Exiled to the island of Patmos for the testimony of Christ, John will also testify as to who Jesus is. It is very important for us to understand just who the Lord is, and to see Him as He is. Many men will paint pictures in our minds if what Christ looks like, and what He has done, and they will add their own touch to the description so that we, if we are not aware of the True One, will have a distorted picture of Jesus--a man made idea of who and what He is. John is to testify to us, and set the record straight so that there is no doubt as to who Jesus is, and so our allegiance to Him is not tainted by mans intervention or inventions. He was exiled because of the Word of God, and the testimony he had of Him, and now he is to testify to the brethren also. An eye-witness tells exactly what he has seen, and signifies it as absolute truth, and John, an eye-witness in the spirit, does exactly that, as he was a sworn witness in a courtroom and on the witness stand for Christ. Not only was he an eye-witness of these things, but he also
heard them with his own ears, which adds validity and strength to the entire narrative.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (v.9)
“A companion in tribulation’, as such, John had suffered in the flesh as we all do. He was not claiming any superiority over us, but was our equal, our “brother” in Christ.
“In the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”--by faith he has entered the kingdom, by love he exercises patience in the work. John is with us in the faith and love of Christ--he is “one of us.” He was in Patmos for the preaching of the Gospel, or, because of the preaching of the Gospel. He was put out of sight because he not only foretold the Word of God, but the testimony of Christ was upon him, and in him. Here is where we trult begin our narrative:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (v. 10)
“The Lord’s day” that great day of His final victory over sin and Satan, and yet, that day that our Lord was resurrected, His moment of glory. This has become to be known as “The Lord’s Day” to the saints of God, replacing the Old Testament Sabbath Day. The resurrection speaks of life everlasting and it is the exemplar and outstanding fact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John calls it the Lord’s Day, can we do less? Many have invented all sorts of theories of what this means, but, let us not lose the focus of the Book, and go off “chasing rabbits”.
John was “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s day, how was he “In the Spirit“? In a trance like or dream like condition, as if in Heaven itself, in the throne room of God; he heard, as it were, a great voice “As of a trumpet”; the loud, booming voice of God, one that, no doubt, resounded through heaven. It was an audible voice: A voice that one could understand, and it said:
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. (v. 11)
These are, and were, seven literal churches; the Alpha (The Beginning) and the Omega (The end) or the First and that last, which is God the Father. It is He Who speaks here. God has a message for the seven churches, and commences to tell John:
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; (v.12) The message is interrupted by John himself, as he tells what he saw in Heaven: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:” (Vs. 13-17)
We have here a description of the Savior glorified, we see in v. 17 that John fell down before Him; any other time this happened, if it was not the Father, (or Christ, Him being one in the same) they were told not to bow, for we consider bowing a form of worship. The Father did not rebuke Him (as the being in Rev. 19:10 did; read that verse) but touched him in a comforting way, so as to remove all fear from him. We may, at a later time, come back to this description of Christ in His glory.
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (v. 18)
This is/was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who lives, died, and is alive forevermore. God the Father never died, so it cannot be Him in John’s narrative. To Jesus was given the keys of hell and death in the Gospel--those who oppose have a hellish future, while those who accept Him and His sacrifice, have a happy home in Heaven; both live forever, but the one to eternal damnation, and the other to eternal life and glory in Christ.
Now, The Lord continues with the message to the churches, and John’s narrative: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (vs. 19, 20)
Most of the time, the Bible translates itself. The very best of translations come when this happens, regardless of man’s ideas or preferences. This is an introduction, of sorts, to the churches of God. Remember, it is He which walks among the churches (golden candlesticks, v.12) holding in His right hand the stars of the seven churches, being the angels of those churches, v. 20); thus it is Christ Himself that speaks.
These meaages to the churches can be read in four different ways:
1. As messages to local churches at the time that John wrote;
2. As a history of the church from beginning to end;
3. As messages to the church during the “church age”;
4. As personal messages to each believer in the church.
The same kinds of errors can be found throughout the Bible, whether considered “church age” or not.
These are four views concerning the church, as to which one best suits our purpose is yet to be seen. The personal application, therefore, must not be overlooked; the “church” as we know it, is made up of individual believers and the devotion and commitment of each member will most often govern the direction and the design of the local church. Whether you view it as allegorical; historical; futuristic; or dispensational, the practical application still remains. For this reason we will focus mostly on the personal applications, and mention the others more briefly later on, Lord willing.
The Book of Revelation appears to be heretofore unrevealed to “the Church”, which implies that that is was/is yet futuristic. Definitely, from the fourth chapter of Revelation, we have events that take place in heaven, and earth is no longer seen as “present”. If one begins here (chapter four), then the churches are futuristic at the time of John’s writings, for this is a part of the revelation of Jesus Christ to us; If one considers the voice in chapter four (“Come up hither…”), verse one as the rapture of the church, as so many do, then the “Revelation” (or new revealing) would not consider the seven churches of Asia as local churches, already well established and instructed in righteousness. For now, we should direct our attention to these seven earthly churches, and the personal application of each. The study of the seven churches may be beneficial to our cause:
Let’s look at the most practical applications of the seven churches, and what they can mean to us today:
Rev 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Rev 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The word “Ephesus” means “desirable”, according to Hitchcock’s definitions. Even so, we get a commendation from the Lord for those who faithfully serve Him, but be sure that you do not lose your “first love”. This church seems to be heading in the right direction, but for a few prOBlems: Doesn’t that describe our lives at least somewhat?
The narrative begins with a commendation of Christ, a proper narration indeed (Rev. 2:2-6). Their deeds are specifically known by the “All Seeing Eye“, and recorded in heaven and earth as a testimony for them; they have “tried the spirits“ and found them to be false prophets. Christ, Whose eyes pierce as fire, and search the deep things of God, sees all, knows all, and commends as well as condemn those who earn such. Perhaps their greatest asset was that they hated what God hated (Nicolaitan’s). The “deeds’ of the Nicolaitans (v.6) is mentioned here, while later we see the “doctrine” mentioned. It is always wise to hate what God hates, and to love what He loves. They managed, however, to lose their first love, that of serving Christ first. How easy it is for us to become caught up in the process, and forget the people of God. To many, the work overtakes them, and like a vast machine they become “mechanical” in their service, performing duties, but forgetting to love (v. 4).
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
A warning, as are many throughout scripture, “He that hath an ear, let him hear”. A man has ears, but does not always heed (hear) the Word of God; instead, he turns a deaf ear unto the Word, and defies the God of the Word. But there is…
A promise of great mercy to those who overcome. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end, we must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, till we gain the victory, as all persevering Christians shall do; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. That which is here promised to the victors is that they shall eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. They shall have that perfection of holiness, and that confirmation therein, which Adam would have had if he had gone well through the course of his trial: he would then have eaten of the tree of life which was in the midst of paradise, and this would have been the sacrament of confirmation to him in his holy and happy state; so all who persevere in their Christian trial and warfare shall derive from Christ, as the tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly, Rev_22:1, Rev_22:2. Twelve verses contain the phrase “tree of life” with at least four speak of this tree being in Eden, the paradise of God; four in proverbs which refer to different blessing, and a few in Revelation where we see the final two mention as a fruit for those who dwell in the heavenly kingdom, and for healing of the nations.
The order for the first few verses of chapter two are:
V. 1 Salutations; (Christ, the center of the Revelation)
Vs. 2, 3 Commendation;
V.4 the complaint; (“Somewhat against thee”)
V.5 The warning; (“Remember”)
V. 6 The Praise;
V. 7 The promise (The tree of life).
Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
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.
Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Smyrna means “Myrrh”, a city of ancient times. It was also brought to Christ as a gift from the wise men, depicting that it was an expensive balm (Mt. 2:11) and was to be sold as an offering (John 19:39). This portrayed Christ as a priest according to Nicodemus, a highly respecter leader in Israel. It was first mentioned in Gen. 37:25, and was used in Exodus as an Holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:23) and is mentioned throughout the Bible for different uses. The key factor is its worth. This church has the praise of the Almighty.
Our Lord makes sure that He identifies Himself as getting it “straight from the horses mouth”. He reminds us that it is from the First and the Last that these words flow, and that their works are known and seen by Him. The “first and the last” remind us that there is no other, never has been, nor ever will be; one God, and only one. Though they are poor, they are rich because of the riches in Christ Jesus, but there are some fakes among them too. Isn’t that much like today’s Christian, as well as today‘s church? We are so sincere in certain areas that we would swear by no other, but in other areas we are lacking. The Lord knows us through and through--He knows our fears, our joys; our trials and our victories, and the hidden secrets of our hearts. Satan will seek to destroy us, from within as well as without the church In spite of this, He admonishes us to “Fear not” the trials and tribulations that have yet to beset us. If we will be faithful unto death, we have reserved for us a martyr’s crown, and the praise of man and God will be ours. Death will prove us faithful. This “crown of life” then, is for those that have ventured their lives for the faith, and stood until the end; they have overcome the world, and shall not taste of the second death.
Rev 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Rev 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Again, Hitchcock gives the meaning as a high place; or loftiness. He renders it “height” or “elevation”. Pergamos was perhaps the wickedest of all the seven churches, in that Satan’s seat was there. A city called Pergamos was built as a treasure city for royalty, it was well fortified for that reason. They also held the doctrines that destroyed man, and apparently were haughty, as Satan was when he was cast out of heaven.
The Lord begins with a strong statement if identity (v. 12), leaving no doubt that this prophetic prediction is from Him, and that man is merely the instrument for fulfilling God’s will. He which has the “two edged sword” will cut both ways, forward and backward, and His judgment is swift and sure. The swords swath is mighty, and sure, and strikes only those that the Lord aims it at. He wants us to know that our evil ways are not hidden from His searching eye (v.13) and that Satan dwells in the midst of His people, ready to devour whom he can. Pergamos was thought to be the most wicked of the seven churches, in that satan’s seat was there, and several doctrines that opposed the doctrine of the Lord. Some hold fast His name, but they are servants of Satan on the inside; theses have a show of will worship, but not to the natural eye. They have not denied the faith, but have compromised with the devils crowd. They too have their martyrs, (Antipas) most likely burned at the stake and tortured by the malefactors of the church.
Though they have, like any church has, the good and the evil, they hold to a certain doctrine which God hates, i. e. the doctrine of Balaam (v.14). Balaam taught Israel a “loophole” in the law, and thereby sought to get around the direct will of the Lord. Israel began to eat that which was forbidden, directly opposing the Lord and His law; they ignored the clear commands of God, and made provision for the flesh. These are they which represent each individual Christian when we rebel against the Word of God. We often cause our brothers to stumble at the Word by confusing him with the lies of Satan, which we already have believed to be true ourselves. They also learned to love that which God hates, thereby calling good evil, and evil, good.
The word “Nicolaitans” (v. 15) is hard to trace. There are a few suppositions as to its meaning, but they are merely conjecture, dreamed up in the mind of man. Dr. Schofield has it as meaning the leadership ruling over the laity, as a sort of tyranny or dictatorship, but, again the meaning is OBscure. Whatever this doctrine is, the point is that God hates it, and we should hate what He hates. When something is abomination to God, in the Old testament, it is still an abomination in the New testament--He does not change what He hates when He changes dispensations, it is an abomination throughout the Bible. It is best not to suppose a certain class of people or tenets from this one word, but to focus on doing right, and making sure that we love that which God loves, and hate that which He hates.
We are admonished to repent, else pay the price (2:16). Repentance acquires the forgiveness of God, He Loves a contrite heart. Repentance can earn us a place with our Lord; For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isa. 57:15).
These things are written for “He that hath an ear”, or he that will hear it, and is willing to heed it. It is the Spirit that gives us this ability and privilege, to hear the Word of the Lord (v. 17). There is a promise for the “happy hearers” of the Lord’s counsel that they would eat of hidden manna, and given a white stone and special decree from God Himself, and a changed name that is secret too, and between us and the Lord. A “new name” is a new beginning, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The meaning of the “white stone” is somewhat OBscure, but prOBably speaks of a good testimony--as solid as a rock, and as pure as the driven snow. This is in line with the rewards that God gives to the faithful, and it is in line with scriptural blessings.
Rev 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
Rev 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
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.
Rev 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Rev 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Rev 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The name Thyatira becomes interesting in the sense of personal applications. It means “a perfume:“ and/or a “sacrifice of labor.” It is rather ironic that the Thyatirans had such a worthy name and fell so far short of the Lord’s expectations. Again we have an authoritive introduction of the One who sees all and knows all, and is all (v.18). The piercing eyes of Christ can see through the walls of resistance that we put up, and the brass feet speak of a redeeming power; (Satan under His feet, yet for us, as fellow laborer’s of the devil, there is redemption in submission.) This is merely Bible typology, and can fall under the heading of mans speculation of course. The sweet-smelling name of Thyatira is also a sweet name for the children of God, as in the Book of love, (Song of Solomon); though the sweetness may not be expressed in exactly the same way, it speaks of intimacy and a holy love relationship. Our entire life is, or should be, a “labor of love” for the Lord which, no doubt, makes it a sweet smelling perfume to Hid nostrils.
The Lord begins His dialogue with praise, and affirms that their work is good, and their work is growing. He Recognizes mans labors, and rewards accordingly (v.19). No matter how much good we do, we cannot attain to the expectations of the Lord, we all come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Here, in Thyatira, the Lord rebukes that ant-Christ spirit which is allowed. They were condoning the false teachings of jezebel, and were causing the young Christians to turn from God to idols (2:20, 21). The Lord has been patient with us in this matter, and given us due warning, and “space to repent” but we all seem to put something before the Lord in our lives. To what do I refer? To trusting in our own efforts to deliver us from the fowler--many will sleep with a gun under their pillow, trusting in it, instead of in the Lord. Oh, we claim to trust the Lord, but will not abandon the gun either; we look to the government for our sustenance instead of to the Lord; don’t we know that He wants our trust, and yet we give it away to others. Is this not putting something before the Lord? Is this not an idol? We trust our money more than our God, and a myriad of other things all the while giving “lip service” to the Lord. I believe that in Thyatira, their prOBlem was pushing God into the background of their lives, and doing wickedly as a result of it.
The judgment is proclaimed; God is angry at His children (vs. 22, 23). The judgment is only for those who are caught up in the doctrine of Jezebel, and it is to prove to God’s people that He is the Supreme One; He which searches the heart and reins (v.23). Those of you who allow women to teach or preach, beware! God is still in command! In every one of us there is a fleshy strain and a holy strain, and we are in a constant warfare against the flesh; the side that wins the battle is the side that we give more abundant labor to, or that which we feed the most. As in the body, so in the church, there is a constant warfare between right and wrong. Those who do right receive a righteous man’s reward, and those who do wrong, condemnation. Verses 24-29 are speaking to that remnant which chooses to do right, and serve the Lord. The Thyatira church merely has to keep doing what the Lord commends them for doing already, much like others, they are to “hold fast” until Christ comes (v.25). Thos that do remain faithful will have dominion over nations and peoples,, as to whom this refers, there is much speculation, but it seems to me that it refers to the millennial reign of Christ, when we reign with Him. Verse 27 makes it clear that we will reign as Christ did, and will, as given Him from the Father. Then, at last, he shall receive the Morning Star, which is Jesus in His fullness and glory. He shall receive an extra blessing from the Lord for the faithful service to his Master (v.28). Let those that hear be blessed.
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
“Sardis” means “Prince of Joy”, and that is exactly what we mean to the Lord. We are made princes by His grace, and receive great joy in Him. The Lord, each time He addresses a church, establishes His authority; here he reminds them that he is the One that has the seven spirits, and the seven stars; he is the Supreme One who upholds all things (v.1). Thus being so, it is no surprise that he knows us through and through, as He declares unto the church of Sardis, “I know thy works…” They were alive, yet dead. They had a reputation for being lively in the Lord’s work, but were as rotted sepulchers, full of dead mans bones. The lord warned them to strengthen that which is left of their faith, for it too is ready to die (v.2), for they were lacking a few things yet in their walk with the Lord. Please note that every church has prOBlems; there is no perfect church. This being so, it is clear that the churches of revelation represent individuals, and actual local churches, and not certain stages or ages of progression. They all have warnings; they have commendations; they have promises, the same as we do from the Lord. It is important to understand this so that we do not misplace the scriptures and redirect them to areas where they best suit our doctrines, and serve our personal beliefs.
Verse three admonishes us to repent, lest we reap the wrath of God, and are chastised by His mighty hand. Unexpected, and sudden judgment will prevail upon those who continue in their sin, and yet there is always a remnant (v.4) In every church there is always a remnant, just as there is an evil remnant also. Verse five gives a promise for those that overcome. We are “overcomers” in Christ, but there is also a duty on our part to do right, and to overcome temptation and the world’s influences upon us. In so doing, we receive the promise.
Notice again the admonition to be hearers of the Word: they that have an ear… those that will hear, it is not every one that will accept the Word of God, and he knows that better than anyone else, but those that do, He will give His special blessings to (v. 6).
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, aptly named. The Lord again, as usual, establishes his authority in the opening verse, but He has no direct words of reproof for this church. When we have exercised brotherly love, we have well nigh reached our height, and found that true plateau for the Christian life. The Lord’s great power and authority are again seen in verse 6 and 7; His foreknowledge and omniscience is seen in v. 8, as well as the infirmity of man. The Lord commends the people for their faithfulness in not denying his name. The Christian life can be a struggle unless we allow the Lord to have first place in our lives, and guide us into all truth; it is only by His grace that endure at all, and thanks be to God, we do.
Even a church like the Philadelphian church has its “synagogue of Satan” (v. 9), or the faction that serve self rather than the Lord. Perhaps a clique, or a group that seeks preeminence, and position rather than humbly submitting to the Lord. I am not sure of the meaning here, but to me this seems logical and feasible. Those, however, that have “kept the word” of Christ’s patience (v.10), will be kept from that hour of temptation that will tempt and try all the world, and they that are in it. When judgment comes, the faithful are delivered. The Lord will come unexpectedly to some, and His coming will be swift and sure (v.11), and we are admonished to remain faithful, and thereby be ready for His coming.
There is a promise, as usual, to those who remain faithful, that they shall be as pillars in the temple, straight and tall in the presence of the Lord. He will also receive a new name, a special name, given him by the Lord Himself; it is a “pet name” of sorts, and very personal and precious (v. 12). The Lord closes His letter to this church in the most usual way, “to them that have an ear”, or to them that will receive it. These must all be received by faith, as we live and die in faith, and our breath becomes a breath of faith from deep within our souls.
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Laodicea means “Justice of the people”, which was a hint of what the Lord has in mind for this people and this church--justice. Supposed by some, to be the most evil of the seven, it is still numbered among the seven golden candlesticks, and remains a church of God. The Lord has no good commendations to the Laodiciean church, but is outspoken in His displeasure with them. He opens confirming that He is the “Amen” the one and only true God, and that His Word is faithful and true (v.14). The first reproof against them is that they were lukewarm, neither zealous for, nor against the Lord, but just drifting along in His grace. The Lord will vomit them out of his mouth as if they were putrid and very distasteful in his eyes, (vs.15, 16).
Often the works, and many carnal Christians deem themselves right in their eyes. The riches of this world are worth little, and yet some will go to lengths to OBtain them. It is amazing what some “Christians” will justify in their own sight for personal gain. I have gotten so that I would rather do business with an unbeliever than a Christian man, at least you know what to expect from the unbeliever! (v. 17)these five conditions depict he state of the natural man, wretched miserable, poor, blind, and naked before a Holy God. Their real poverty and depravity is revealed. Though man is wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, Christ has a cure; We are welcome to buy of Him the great riches He has in store for us (v. 18). Though His salvation is free, there is a price for His blessings, that being service and sacrifice. The true servant of Christ will have no prOBlem with the payment, he will gladly give of himself to the service and praise of God, and he knows how to repent (verse 19.). The chastisement of the Lord is proof that he is indeed a child of the Most High God, and will bring swift repentance when he finds himself in error. Repentance is the one thing that the believer has in common with the unbeliever.
There are times when I literally kick the Lord out of my thoughts; there are times when I fail to invite Him into my projects, and I “wing it” without Him. The church today finds themselves in much the same predicament, Jesus seems to be outside, knocking on the door to get in (3:20). We all, as a church, and as a saint have times that we “forget” our God and go on in our power ; He, of course, is not glorified in this. We like to use this verse as soul winners to the lost, admonishing them to open the door of their hearts and receive the Blessed Savior, but the message is of a higher plain for us. When we allow the Lord to be our constant companion, we qualify ourselves as “overcomers” and become recipients of the following promise; we form a partnership with Christ, and will sit with Him in heavenly places. Oh that we might long to walk in fellowship with Him, and drink of the living waters of His grace.
This far into the study of Revelation, I have met myself; I have been revealed, and sat in the churches, and been found wanting. I have left my first love, and embraced the doctrine of the *Nicolaitans; I have sat in the synagogue of Satan, and flirted with lady Jezebel; I have repented in one, and fallen in another, and yet the Lord has remained faithful in securing me. The pattern has been:
Blessed be the name of the Lord. This pattern is seen throughout these chapters on the church.
*Nicolaitans, according to Oliver B. Greene, were those that ruled over the laity, as pastors or other appointed positions in the church. The Roman Catholic church may have it’s priestly foundations here, in the doctrines, and deeds of the Nicolaitans. This should be taken as one man’s opinion, however, and not “written in stone”.
The seven churches in revelation 2 and 3 represent BOTH the history of the church, (Past, present, and future) and the individual believer in the church. Note that the letters were addressed to churches, but also to a congregation of men and women within the church. These were not the only churches in existence at the time (Greene) but the Lord singled them out for teaching His people of the errors that a church and a believer can fall into.
The seven churches and their judgments and blessing, etc., pertain to the individual as well as the church itself. This is evident as we read through the text, what practicality could there be in it if this were not so? If it isn’t for us today, then we must cast it aside; if it is not for each of us, is of little value to us.
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Psa. 119:89
God’s Word is settled in heaven--this means to most of us that it is good for all generations. It is man that divides the scriptures into categories, and makes it apply to another people besides us. Man says “That refers to Israel, during the millennium” but excuses the fact that it pertains to us in this age also. Heaven is eternal; God is eternal; therefore God’s Word is eternal, and applies to us today. Every jot; every tittle applies to today’s man, otherwise the Word of God is changeable, and we know that it is not any more than God is changeable. The dispensationalist is wrong in his “rightly dividing” the Word, he divides it wrongfully.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ