------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapters 2 and 3-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
As you will notice, the outline of Chapters 2 and 3 is totally different from all the other chapters for the Book of Revelation. We’ve done this for the following reason, Revelation 2 and 3 is the message directly given by Jesus Christ to the churches which means that it is ongoing until the Rapture.
We have combined these two chapters because they pertain to the same subject. “the churches.” They fulfill the second part of Revelation 1:19 “the things which are”, which means the things concerning the churches from the days of the early church to the Rapture.
Even though it only takes up two chapters in the book of Revelation, the span of time concerning the churches has now lasted for nearly 2,000 years. The Lord is addressing Himself to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Turkey). The seven churches were located on a major Roman road. A letter carrier would leave the island of Patmos (where John was exiled) arriving first at Ephesus. He would then travel north to Smyrna and then to Pergamun (Pergamos), turn southeast to Thyatira and continue on to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, in the exact order in which the letters were dictated.
Why the Lord chose these particular churches, we do not know. However, I’m certain that He had a special reason for doing so. Most likely, they exemplified what the church should be from the beginning. We will not go into detail concerning each message. We do want to bring out the salient points that Christ kept emphasizing. The church would do well to examine these messages given by Christ to the seven churches. We should understand that every basic problem the church faces is found in these admonitions.
The Primary Message
Revelation 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;…”
Even though we’ve given only one particular passage concerning this statement (to the church at Ephesus), it is given verbatim to all seven churches. We should learn several things from this powerful command. First, if the Lord says anything once, it is significant, but if he says the same thing seven times, obviously, He is trying to get our attention. Secondly, Jesus is telling us that the Spirit of God is the Power Source for the churches. But most churches take the Holy Spirit for granted.
I asked a graduate of one of the major theological seminaries in America this question, “What did you learn about the Holy Sprit in your four years of seminary training?” For a few moments, he said nothing. He then answered, “I can’t remember The Holy Spirit even being mentioned in the four years I was at seminary.” Considering the commands of Christ, for a seminary or any other Biblical training institute to place so little emphasis on the Holy Spirit is tantamount to spiritual high treason.
Most churches today have become so political, mechanical, and materialistic that they function without the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the greatest danger is that any church or ministry can exist without the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Head of the body, the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). However, He does everything through and by the power of The Holy Spirit. Figuratively speaking, God the Father is in Heaven with God the Son seated by His right hand (Luke 22:69). But The Holy Spirt, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead, is at work in the church, at least where He is allowed.
Thirdly, even though there may be much religious activity, no worthwhile work will be carried out in the local churches unless it is done through the agency of The Holy Spirit. So much of our effort is done in the flesh, but the only thing that will last is that which is done in The Holy Spirt.
“I know thy works”
This particular statement, “I know thy works,” is made by Christ about every church. In other words, He was saying, “I am well aware of your efforts, your works, and your methods.” I believe The Lord is telling us that a church should be active, but it must make certain that its activity is guided by The Holy Spirit. If, in fact, it is guided by The Holy Spirit, it will carry out God’s priority. And what is God’s priority for the church? It is to shepherd the saints and win the lost (John 10).
To each church it was stated that we must be overcomers. And to each church a different promise was given to the overcomer. For instance, to the church at Ephesus, He said, “…To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7).
To the church at Smyrna, He said, “…He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:11).
There is a promise given to each church for those who would be overcomers. Even though it is not directly stated, the implication is that, if we do not overcome, the opposite will happen. The church at Smyrna was told that if they did not overcome, they would be hurt by the second death (eternal damnation).
The promises are great, but the implications of failure are disastrous. When one reads these admonitions to overcome, and then realizes the implications of not overcoming, there is an immediate cause for fear. However, we need not fear if we trust Christ. Amen.
Within ourselves, it is impossible to overcome. The more we realize that, the closer we are to victory. Christ has demanded the impossible of every Christian, and that is to overcome. I realize that many would say, “But I can overcome with Christ’s help.” That statement sounds commendable, but it is dangerous. It says, “I can supply a little power, and The Lord can supply the rest.” The fact is, we can supply nothing. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The secret to overcoming victory is none of us and all of Christ.
There were ten points of commendation for the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-6). There was one point of condemnation (backsliding) “…because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:4) They were told to “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,…” (Revelation 2:5)
Repentance is demanded of five of these particular churches. The only church God calls fallen is one that will not repent. And if they will not do so, they were to be removed according to Revelation 2:9.
Relative to Smyrna, there were three things commended: works, tribulation, poverty (but rich in The Lord) (Revelation 2:9). To Smyrna’s credit, there were no condemnations.
There were three things commended of Pergamos: works, holding fast to Christ’s name, and not denying the faith (Revelation 2:13). However, there were four things condemned in Pergamos: holding the doctrine of Balaam, eating things sacrificed to idols, committing fornication, and holding the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. God said he hated the Nicolaitans. These individuals were followers of Nicholas of Antioch (Acts 6:5). This man is supposed to have given his name to a group in the early church who sought to work out compromise with paganism to enable Christians to take part without embarrassment of some of the social and religious activities of the close-knit society in which they found themselves. The Lord told this church to “Repent; or else…” (Revelation 2:16).
There were six things commended of Thyatira: works, charity, service, faith, patience, and increased works. There were four things that Thyatira was condemned of: permitting Jezebel to “teach”, permitting her “…to seduce my servants (Christians) to commit fornication,…”, permitting her to seduce Christians “…to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”, tolerating her in spite of impenitence (lack of repentance). Likewise, Thyatira was told “except they repent of their deeds, I will kill her children with death…” (Revelation 2:22-23).
The only commendable thing about Sardis was that Jesus said, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;…” (Revelation 3:4)
They were condemned on many counts “…a name that thou livest and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1) and “works not perfect before God.” (Revelation3:2)
Sardis was told to repent as well or else a sudden judgment would come up on the church “…I will come on thee as a thief…” (Revelation 3:3)
Philadelphia was commended for four things: works, strength, keeping His word, not denying His name (Revelation 3:8). There were no words of condemnation, neither were they told to repent.
Laodicea was condemned. They were told that they were lukewarm and nauseating, proud and self-satisfied, ignorant of their true state (Revelation 3:15-17). The Lord said that their state nauseated Him and He would vomit them up (Revelation 3:16). The Laodiceans said of themselves “…I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;…” (Revelation 3:17). Christ took a different view “...thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:…” (Revelation 3:17) Christ is no longer standing in this church as He is pictured in Chapter 1 “…in the midst of the seven candlesticks…” Here, He is outside the door knocking, trying to get in (Revelation 3:20). Once again, this church is told “…be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
To five of the seven churches of Asia, Jesus demands repentance or judgment will come. The first word He said unto the churches was “Unto the angel (pastor) of the church of Ephesus…” (Revelation 2:1) The last Word was “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:22). The admonition by Christ to the church pastors is to listen to what the Spirit says.
1 Unto the angel (the pastor) of the church of Ephesus write;
-The Ephesian church represents the apostolic time period, which closed around A.D.100.
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand,
-All pastors belong to The Lord, that is, if they are truly of The Lord.
who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
-Christ is head of the body, the church according to Colossians 1:18.
2 I know thy works,
-repeated to all seven churches. It implies divine knowledge.
and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil:
-which have departed from the true doctrine
and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
-presents the doctrinal soundness of the Ephesian believers
3 And hast borne,
-They set a course and did not deviate from that course.
and hast patience,
-continued to believe when things were not going well
and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
-They were diligent in their efforts and would not quit.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
-Something is wrong despite their zeal.
-not lost your first love, but rather left your first love. It refers to a departure from The Cross and is so serious that it will lead the church to ruin unless repentance is forthcoming.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,
-This means they fell from grace, which means they had stopped depending on Christ and The Cross according to Galatians 5:4.
and repent, and do the first works;
-Come back to The Cross.
or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
-Christ is the source of the light, but The Cross is the means. They are to come back to The Cross or else the light will be removed.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
-The word Nicolaitans means “laity conquerors.” They are preachers who exploit the people instead of spiritually developing them, which all false doctrine does. The Lord hates this, and so should we.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
-The Holy Spirit is saying that the church must come back to The Cross.
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 Christian can be an overcomer only by placing his faith exclusively in Christ and The Cross which gives The Holy Spirit latitude to work.
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;
-refers to the martyr church, with the time span being approximately A.D. 100 to about A.D. 300
These things saith the first and the last,
-Christ is the beginning of things, referring to The Creator, and the end of all things, referring to His total and complete control.
which was dead, and is alive;
-refers to The Cross and the Resurrection
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)
-Smyrna was poverty-stricken outwardly, but The Lord proclaimed them spiritually rich. The church at Laodicea claimed to be rich, but the Lord said they were poor.
and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not,
-From this verse, we learn that God does not consider Jews who reject Christ as truly Jewish.
but are the synagogue of Satan.
-The worship of Christ-rejecting Jews is concluded by The Lord as satanic.
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:
-is believed to represent the 10 major persecutions Rome hurled at the church in that day, spanning about 200 years
be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
-Many paid with their lives.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
-The Spirit is saying that, at times, there may be suffering.
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
-refers to the lake of fire in Revelation 21:8
12 And to the angel (the pastor) of the church in Pergamos write;
-referred to as the state church which laid the groundwork for the catholic system. Its timespan was approximately A.D. 300 to A.D. 500.
These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
-a symbol for the Word of God
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest,
even where Satan's seat is:
-Satan had become part of this church.
and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith,
-Despite the terrible condition of this church, some were holding fast to Christ and were continuing to look to The Cross.
even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
-This persecution came from within the church.
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.
-This church was committing spiritual adultery, meaning they had shifted their faith from The Cross to other things, with money being the underlying cause, which refers to the state church.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
-At Ephesus, it was the deeds of the Nicolaitans, and now it’s the doctrine. This refers to unscriptural church government which greatly exploited the people.
16 Repent; (which means come back to The Cross) or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
-This will bring to bear the Word of God, the part that speaks of judgment.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
-The Spirit is saying that all church government must, without fail, be Scriptural.
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.
-This refers to the fact that believers shall receive a new name in harmony with the perfect renewal of our being.
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write;
-Called the papal church, signifying the beginning of catholicism. It began about A.D. 500 and continues unto this hour.
These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
-presents Christ in the role of judgment, as He must be concerning the church going into idol worship
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience,
-Some in this church, as wrong as it was, continued to love The Lord, and The Lord knew who they were.
and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
-Works are mentioned twice, with the last being in a negative sense, meaning they were depending upon this instead of Christ and The Cross.
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.
-The Lord is speaking here of spiritual fornication and adultery, which means they had forsaken Christ and The Cross for other things according to Romans 7:1-4.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
-The church did not heed the message, and in fact, continues in their salvation by works unto this day, which is false.
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.
-The bed refers to false teachers who taught salvation by works, which was spiritual adultery. Again, there was a warning to repent.
23 And I will kill her children with death;
-speaks of spiritual death
and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts:
-a continuous, ongoing searching
and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
-One can look at the works of an individual and ascertain exactly where their faith is. Here’s the key, the true works proclaim the Fruit of The Spirit.
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine,
-have not succumbed to the teaching of Jezebel
and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak;
-The teaching of Jezebel was spiritual adultery which was a departure from The Cross and is labeled here as the “depths of satan.”
I will put upon you none other burden.
-meaning their total burden was the opposing of the Jezebel teaching, which was a tremendous responsibility within itself
25 But that which ye have already hold fast
-Hold to The Cross and don’t allow your faith to be moved to other things.
till I come.
-the Rapture of the Church
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end,
-It is His works and not our works. Pure and simple, it is what Jesus did at The Cross on our behalf.
to him will I give power over the nations:
-speaks of the coming Kingdom Age
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers:
-refers to the fact that the saints of God, in the coming Kingdom Age under Christ, will rule the nations, not allowing evil to prevail or even to take root
even as I received of my Father.
-In the day of His Coming, we shall share in His power and glory of victory.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
-The morning star is the brightest planet, which is Venus, which is most beautiful and leads on the morning, the harbinger of the day. This says the coming Kingdom Age will be glorious beyond compare.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
-The Spirit is saying that to leave Christ and The Cross is to commit spiritual adultery, which will result in spiritual death.
1 And unto the angel (the pastor) of the church in Sardis write;
-The Sardis church is referred to as the reformation church, which began about A.D. 1500 and continues unto this hour.
These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God,
-represents The Holy Spirit in all of His fullness and capacity
and the seven stars;
-refers to the pastors of these seven churches
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
-Our Lord begins with words of censure, i.e., dead spiritually.
2 Be watchful,
-This church is exhorted to look into its real condition.
and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die:
-They need to come back to The Cross, or they will lose their way completely.
for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
-Their works were based on a dead faith, which always produces bad works.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.
-Go back to The Cross.
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.
-Judgment will come, but Sardis will not see or hear due to spiritual deafness and spiritual blindness.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;
-The Lord always has a few.
and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
-We are made worthy only by our faith in Christ and The Cross.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment;
-the righteousness of Christ gained only by faith in Christ and The Cross
and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,
-proving that names can be blotted out
but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
-The key to this great confession is faith in Christ and His great Sacrifice.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
-The Spirit is saying that righteousness cannot be obtained without faith in the spotless sacrifice, which is Christ and The Cross.
7 And to the angel (the pastor) of the church in Philadelphia write;
-is referred to as the missionary church and had its beginning about the year 1800 and continues unto this hour
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;
-refers to the fact that Christ has total authority
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:
-This open door refers to the way believing made for the Gospel to be sent to the entirety of the world.
for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
-Little strength is not an indication of spiritual infirmity but of few in number. However, these few, speaking of those who truly know The Lord, have touched the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;
-proclaims the fact that God doesn’t recognize the spiritual claims of national Israel
behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
-This refers to the coming Kingdom age when Christ will rule personally over the entirety of the earth with Israel restored. Israel will then bow at the feet of Christ, Whom the Gentiles accepted.
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.
-The church will be raptured out before the Great Tribulation.
11 Behold, I come quickly:
-again, refers to the Rapture
hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
-The devil will use religious men to try to move us away from our faith in Christ and The Cross.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,
-The overcomer is the one who trusts explicitly in Christ and what He did for us at The Cross.
and he shall go no more out:
-refers to constant position in the presence of God
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.
-At The Cross, Christ identified with our sin by suffering its penalty. Now Jesus identifies with our most excellent blessing as He is the source of all.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
-The Spirit is saying we must be ready for the Rapture, which can only be done by faith constantly exhibited by faith in Christ and His finished Work.
14 And unto the angel (the pastor) of the church of the Laodiceans write;
-This is the apostate church. We don’t know when it began, but we do know it has begun. It is the last church addressed by Christ, so that means the Rapture will take place very shortly.
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness,
-by contrast to this church, which is not faithful and true
the beginning of the creation of God;
-Jesus is The Creator of all things.
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:
-characterizes that which is prevalent at this present time
I would thou wert cold or hot.
-half measures will not do
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,
-If a person is lukewarm toward something, it means he hasn’t rejected it, but at the same time, he has by no means, accepted it. In the mind of God, a tepid response is equal to a negative response.
I will spue thee out of my mouth.
-There is no prospect of repentance here on the part of this church or restoration. In fact, there is divine rejection.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;
-They equated the increase in material goods with spiritual blessings, which they were not.
and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
-The tragedy lay in the fact that, while this church gloated over material wealth, she was unconscious of her spiritual poverty, again, indicative of the modern church.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;
-What they needed to buy could not be purchased with money but only with the precious blood of Christ, which price has already been paid, but the modern church is not interested.
and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;
-refers to righteousness which is exclusively of Christ and gained only by faith in Christ and The Cross. This tells us that the Laodicean church is extremely self-righteous, not having the righteousness of Christ. They are naked to the judgment of God.
and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
-The modern church is also spiritually blind.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
-implies a remnant
be zealous therefore, and repent.
-The modern church desperately needs to repent for its rebellion against God’s divine order, which is Christ and The Cross and instead of following cunningly devised fables according to 2 Peter 1:16.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
-presents Christ outside the church
if any man hear my voice,
-So much religious racket is going on that it’s difficult to hear His voice.
and open the door,
-Christ is the true door, which means the church has erected another door.
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
-Having been rejected by the church, our Lord now appeals to individuals, and He is still doing so presently.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
-The overcomer will gain the prize of the throne, which can only be done by one ever making The Cross the object of his faith.
even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
-This presents Christ as our substitute going before us and doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
-In plain language, The Holy Spirit is saying “Come back to Christ and The Cross.”
Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT
The Book of Revelation
Chapters 2 & 3