Ephesus: "The Loveless Church"
"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."'
Smyrna: "The Persecuted Church"
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'
Pergamos: "The Compromising Church"
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. "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 to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."'
"Thyatira: "The Corrupt Church"
"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,' "These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels', as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' (NKJV)
Bible Study Outline: Outline on the Book of Revelation Chapter 2
Messages to the 7 Churches in Asia Minor
This Bible Outline will discuss 4 of these 7 Churches from 3 Biblical points of view: Historic Period (how each church possibly represented a certain period in the Church age) Spiritual (as the “spirit’ or behavior of the people can be found in people in the modern church) and as Actual Churches in Biblical Time. Each one of the letters written to the seven churches contained the phrase: "I know thy works." Each one of them contains either an indictment. Most of them contained a threat, and all of them contained a “promise”: "To him that overcometh." All of the church letters ended with the phrase: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Notice how Jesus addressed himself to each church. The Lord addresses each church in the way that is designed to get their undivided attention and to bring them face to face with their social and spiritual state. Each letter was sent based on geographic proximity.
As a result, Ephesus was the first to receive John’s Apocalyptic letter because it was closer geographically to the Isle of Patmos than the other 6, and the Ephesian church was the church that John had a direct connection to.
The Message to the Church of Ephesus “Backslidden Church” (Verse 1-7)
The name “Ephesus” means to “relax” or to” let go”. The church at the time of writing of this letter had become backslidden. The Apostle Paul had warned them in Acts 20:29-30 as soon as he would depart from them, “grievous wolves” (false preachers and teachers) would infiltrate the congregation and members (false teachers, ministers and leaders) within the flock would split the church based on doctrinal issues and form a church group within the ranks and draw weak members away from the church.
A. Greetings from Jesus: “He who holds the 7 stars (Pastors) in His right hand and walks in the middle of the 7 golden candlesticks. (Church at large) (vs. 1)
Note: Jesus is the One who preserves, guides, uphold the ministers of the 7 churches and all ministers who are genuine and stay true to their calling and faith in Jesus Christ. He is the supreme Bishop and Head, not only of those churches, but of all the churches congregations of his people throughout the world.
B. Jesus’ Commendations to Ephesus: “I know your works” (vs. 2-3)
He commends them for their patience, and for their opposition to those who are evil.
He also commends them for their zeal (enthusiasm) and fidelity in doing background checks on the character of some men who claimed to be apostles, but who were, found to be impostors and false teachers. (see verse 6)
JESUS SAID: “But this you have, that you hate the deeds (false teachings and sowing seeds of discord) of the Nicolaitanes who also I hate.
He commended them for their perseverance in bearing up under trial, and not fainting in his cause, and for their opposition to the Nicolaitanes, whom, he says, he hates, (Revelation) 2:2-3,. See the historic note on them. (vs. 6)
Historic Note: The Ephesian church fought against these Nicolaitanes The name Nicolaitanes is taken from 2 words: “ Nikko” which meant: to overthrow or conquer and “Laos” which meant: “the people or Laity”) These church leaders rose up from within the ranks were a faction in the church that tried and eventually did establish a “priestly order" among the leadership of the church’s infrastructure.
This new priestly order was based on the Old Testament order of the Priest, Levites, and the Common people. They wanted to and did form a “separation” between the Clergy from the Laity by having a “Holy Order of Men” (clergy) to rule over the congregants, (this is that thing that God hates) which was not the plan Jesus set in the New Testament. They stop calling the ministers “pastors” and started calling them "Bishops", "Clergy", "Archbishops", "Cardinals" and "Popes". The “type” of character found in the Ephesus Church lasted historically about 100 years from 70A.D. to 170 A.D., however aside from the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant churches are beginning to rename their ministry titles as well.
C. Jesus’ Indictment against Ephesus: “You left your first love” (vs. 4)
This church failed to maintain the fervent strong love and affection for the Lord as well as for the “sacred things” (sound and correct doctrinal truths) they had when they were first brought to the knowledge of a Holy God and Jesus Christ as Savior. They abandoned truths like justification by faith in Jesus Christ.
D. Jesus’ Challenge (Threat and warning) “4 Things” (vs. 5)
Remember: where you fell from. Remember the state of God’s grace you once stood in. The songwriter put I this way: Tell me how did you feel when you came out of the wilderness, leaning on the Lord!
Remember the state of grace in which you once stood. Remember the happiness, love, and joy you felt when Christ forgave you of all your sins.
Think about the zeal you had for God's glory and concern you showed for the salvation of mankind; your willingness, the spirit of obedient, your cheerful practice of self-denial, your fervency in private prayer.
Remember how you detached yourself from the ways of the world, by being heavenly-mindedness.
2. Repent: Humble yourself before the throne of Almighty God in repentance of your backslidden state.
3. Resume: Do the “first” works. Go back and continue in your “former” zeal and diligence. Watch, fast, pray, reprove sin. Carefully obey all the ordinances of God and walk them out as pleasing in his sight, and don’t rest not till you have recovered all your lost ground, and got back the evidence of your acceptance with your Savior and Lord.
4. Judgment: If you fail to do so, I will come quickly and remove your candlestick. This meant that God would remove his very presence, remove the pastor, take away His Word and vision for that church creating a famine for “sacred things”, which in essence meant that that church congregation is no more
E. Jesus’ Promise If you Overcome…. (verse. 7)
“He that hath an ear” HEAR! Let every intelligent person, and every Christian man, LISTEN CAREFULLY to what the Holy Spirit, says to the churches
To him that overcomes] To those who continues steadfast in the faith, and remain uncorrupt or repents and return from the corruption in his life; the one who faithfully confesses Jesus, and neither embraces false doctrines nor is led away by the error of the wicked; will I give to eat of the tree of life.
The Message to The Church of Smyrna “Persecuted” (verses 8-11)
The name “Smyrna” meant myrrh, or bitterness. The Smyrna church experienced the “chastisement” of what happened in the Ephesians church era when the church (spiritually)” left its first love”. God used this church’s persecution experience to cause His church to return to Him in true repentance.
A. Greetings From Jesus: “The First and the Last, Who was dead, and came to life”: (vs.8)
Meaning: From He who is eternal; from whom all things come, and to whom all things must return. Which was dead, (Jesus has died) for the redemption of the world; and is alive to die no more forever. He is now his glorified humanity being enthroned at the Father's right hand.(sitting as our Great High Priest) (vs. 8)
B. Jesus’ Commendation : “I Know your works”:
I know all you have done and all the suffering and persecution you have been through. You have been stripped of your possessions for defending your faith in Christ. (But you are rich) That is, rich in faith and you are heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
I am aware of the blasphemy those who say that they are Jews. There were persons there who professed Judaism, and had a synagogue in the place, and professed to worship the true God; but they had no genuine religion, and they served the Devil rather than God. They applied a sacred name to an unholy thing: and this is one meaning of the word blasphemy in this book. (vs.9) The other meaning to the word blasphemy is to give the devil credit to anything that only God can do.
C. Jesus’ Challenge: “Fear none of those things” (vs.10)
Don’t fear suffering: Some of you will be thrown into prison by Satan, to be tried, and shall have tribulation 10 days: the 10 days meant either 10 years or 10 persecution periods.
Be faithful unto death: (Reward) You will receive a “Crown of Life”
That is, be firm.(steadfast) Hold fast in the faith,(unmovable) confess Christ to the last, (always abounding in the work of the Lord) and at all hazards,(endure all afflictions) and thou shalt have a crown of life-thou shalt be crowned with life, have an eternal happy existence, though thou suffer a temporal death. Job 3:17: “the wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest.”
History Note:The Church experienced 10 Great Persecution Periods that lasted during this Church Era a total of 142 years. The first persecution came by Nero the Roman Emperor in 64 A.D. The last persecution period was under Diocletian and led to the war between Constantine in 312 A. D. . 7 of the 10 Great Persecution periods happened during the “Smyrna Church era, and Diocletian, the last Emperor to persecute this church actually attacked the Church of Smyrna 10 different times. The Smyrna Church Period lasted from 170 A.D. to 312 A.D. .
D. Jesus’ Promise: If you Overcome… (verse 11)
He that has an ear: If you hear to endure to the end, as an “Overcomer”, you will not be hurt of the second death. That is you will live forever in the presence of the Lord and unlike your tormentors, not be thrown in hell and experience eternal separation from the presence of almighty God and Jesus Christ.
The Message to the Church of Pergamos:“ The Compromising Church”(verse 12-17)
The word Pergamos meant: “Marriage” This actual church was guilty of forming an alliance (Marriage) of Christianity with the Paganism. Pergamos is spoken in this letter as “Satan’s seat.”
Between Attalus III Priest-King of the Chaldean Hierarchy who had fled to Pergamos from the Persians conquerors and through Satan made Pergamos his capital and through Constantine Emperor of Rome, they forged an alliance, and cause a unification of church and state, opening the floodgates for all kinds of worldly people to come in and become a integral part of the church. For Constantine, it was more of a political move than a religious one. This union caused 2 false doctrines: The Doctrine of Balaam and the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.
A. Greeting From Jesus: “He who has the sharp two-edged sword” (vs. 12)
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, cuts every way; it convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; pierces between the joints and the marrow, divides between the soul and spirit, dissects the whole mind, and exhibits a regular anatomy of the soul. It not only reproves and exposes sin, but it slays the ungodly, pointing out and determining the punishment they shall endure. Jesus has the sword with the two edges, because he is the Savior of sinners, and the Judge of quick and dead.
B. Jesus’ Commendation: I know your works! (vs.13)
I know every temptation you face, where you live and how you act. I even know where Satan’s seat of Influence among the congregation is. I know those who profess my name, (profess to be followers of Christ and are truly His) and haven’t denied the faith. I know of the martyrdom of Antipas (my faithful martyr) and how Satan has carried out his wrath against the church in Pergamos.
C. Jesus’ Indictment: Toleration of 2 False Doctrines (vs. 14-15)
The Doctrine of Balaam:
a. The eating of things sacrificed to idols .by attending heathen feast that were forbidden.
b. Toleration of the committing of fornication among the church members.
The Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which was basically the same heathen practices with some variations but just as idolatrous.
D. Jesus’ Challenge: Repent or else….I’ll come quickly and… (vs. 16)
I will fight against them: The Nicolaitanes and the church for tolerating their false teaching and practices.
I’ll fight with the sword of MY mouth: That is, Jesus would give the order, and they would be cut as if by a sword. Precisely in what way it would be done he does not say; but it might be by persecution, or by heavy judgments. To see the force of this, we are to remember the power which Christ has to punish the wicked by a word of his mouth. By a word in the last day he will turn all the wicked into hell.(Gehenna)- the Lake Of Fire)
A. Jesus’ Promise: “If you Overcome” (vs.17)
If you listen to the Holy Spirit and take heed to what He says to you…
I will give you “hidden manna”: The true spiritual food; the food that nourishes the soul. The idea is, that the souls of those who "overcame," or who gained the victory in their conflict with sin, and in the persecutions and trials of the world, would be permitted to partake of that spiritual food which is laid up for the people of God, and by which they will be nourished forever.
I will give you a white stone: It is supposed that by the white stone is meant pardon or acquittal, and on that stone a new name that no one will know but the one who receives the stone. According to Matthew Henry Commentary, this white stone is absolution from the guilt of sin, eluding to the ancient custom of giving a white stone to those acquitted on trial and a black stone to those condemned. The “new name” is the name of “adoption”: adopted persons took the name of the family into which they were adopted. Whatever the name is, it will let the person know that they are in the family of God and nobody can change that. None can read the evidence of a man's adoption but himself; he cannot always read it, but if he persevere, he shall have both the evidence of being a member of God’s family and the inheritance of being both an heir and joint heir with Jesus Christ.
History Note: During this time in history, the church because of “politics and perks” entered into a union with the state (Rome) in religious matters and was guilty of “Spiritual Fornication” or what’s called “Balaamism”.
Constantine, Emperor of Rome promised to give the Bishops of the Church numerous “imposing’ buildings called “Basilicas to convert into churches and if the Bishops accepted his offer, the state would finance the furnishing and decorating of these converted church buildings. The state also bought the “clergy” vestments (robes and accessories) and provided the lofty thrones that the Bishops would sit upon in worship in the aspe of the Bascillica, with a marble star that was adorned with gems and gold on the lower level in front of him.
After all these inducement were in place, the worship services took on a more sensuous form and many “pagan rituals” became intertwined within the actual church worship. Great Pagan festivals were also adopted to appease the pagan members of the church and to attract more pagans to the church. Doctrinal speaking, the church then changed its position from a “Pre-Millennial” view of the second coming of Jesus Christ to a “Post-Millennial" view, and based it on their new financial position and their union with the state.
They reasoned that since the Church had become rich and had enormous political power, the union between Constantine , Emperor of Rome (the State) and the Bishops in rule in the Church hierarchy could come up with a successful strategy that will usher in the Millennium without the return of Jesus Christ. This is why, even to this day some people believe that the world will get better and man has the ability to usher in a New World Order, devoid of Jesus and believe that man, acting as his “own god” can make this world a better place.
To justify a scriptural justification to their false position, they contend that the Church has replaced Israel and is the “New Israel.” They also contend that God has cast Israel off forever and all prophecies in the Bible that pertain to Israel future glory are now for the Church and not Israel. The “Pergamos” Church Period lasted 294 years from 312 A.D. to 606 A.D. at the point when Pope Boniface III was crowned “Universal Bishop".
The message to The Church of Thyatira “The Corrupt Church” (Verses 18-29)
Thyatira - in Lydia, south of Pergamos. Lydia, the purple seller of this city, converted at Philippi, a Macedonian city (with which Thyatira, as being a Macedonian colony, had naturally much contact), was probably the instrument of first carrying the Gospel to her native town. John follows the geographical order; for Thyatira lay a little to the left of the road from Pergamos to Sardis. In Thyatira, the smallest of these seven cities, the church had allowed a false prophetess to instruct her, leading members into practices of immorality and idolatry. For this reason the Christ who addresses her is described as one coming to execute judgment. To the overcomers of this city Christ promises privileges similar to those he himself exercises.
A. Greeting from Jesus: “The Son of God: Eyes like a flame of fire”... Feet like fine Brass” (vs. 18)
Meaning: The glance of his eye all is light, and nothing can be concealed from his view. Nothing would be better suited to inspire awe then, as nothing should be now, than such a reference to the Son of God as being able to penetrate the secret recesses of the heart. And his feet are like fine brass is indicative of HIS majesty and glory as he walked in the midst of the churches.
B. Jesus’ Commendation: “I know your works”! (vs.19)
He knew all they had done, good and bad. Jesus addressed these following things:
Your charity (love) Your love to God, and love towards man.
Your Service ("ministry") Included is all the service which the church had rendered in the cause of religion; all which was the proper fruit of love, or which would be a carrying out of the principles of love to God and man.
Your faith: That is, your trust in Christ for salvation, and in how your works demonstrated that faith in the ministry service you performed.
Your patience: You showed patience and endurance of the sorrows of life of all God brought upon them in any way, to test the reality of their religion.
Your works: That is, the virtue of all the works you have done as a church. Your works had been more numerous and praiseworthy even than they had formerly been.
Your last work: (more than the first work): Compared to their first works, they had been acting more and more in accordance with the nature and claims of the Christian profession. They got better and more mature in the faith.
C. Jesus’ Indictment: “You have become corrupted” (vs. 20)
1. You allowed “that woman Jezebel” “who called herself” a prophetess top teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things offered to idols.
This Jezebel in spirit, whether it was her actual name of not epitomized the Jezebel, the wife of a weak wicked king Ahab in her character and behavior and being a woman of power and vast influence set herself up as teacher in the church, teaching false doctrines and was tolerated by the church to the point that many were taught doctrinally and seduced by her to practice fornication, (spiritual and literal) and to attend heathen festivals and eat food that was known to be offered to idols.
2. I gave her a chance to repent but she wouldn’t do it. (vs. 21)
D. Jesus’ Challenge: “Repent” or….. (vs. 22-23)
I will cast her and those who commit adultery with her into a ”bed of great tribulation”.
A “bed” of pain. Those who are seduced by her doctrines into this sin; either they who commit it with her literally, or who are led into the same kind of life. Great suffering will be anything from disease in our body or tortures of the soul. Sooner or later, sorrow always comes upon the licentious; and God has evinced by some of his severest judgments, in forms of frightful disease, his displeasure at the violation of the laws of purity. There is no sin that produces a mere withering and desolating effect upon the soul than fornication.
2. I will kill her children: all the churches will know I am HE which search the reins and hearts; I will give unto you according to your works.
The sins of the parents will have a deadly and adverse effect on the future of their children. Literally speaking, the children shall be visited with calamity for the sins of parents, and with what often occurs in fact, that they do thus suffer.
For it is not an uncommon thing that whole families are made desolate (destroyed) on account of the sin and folly of the parent. The design of this judgment will be so apparent that it will convince all that Jesus knows what is in the hearts of people, even the secret acts of wickedness that are concealed from human view.
Jesus then gives a reminder that He is the ONE who knows what’s in the hearts and minds of everybody and HE will give in judgment everything we deserve from Him according to our works. We will reap what we sow and what we sow will affect some or all of what our children reap, down to the 3rd and 4th generation.
3. A Promise to the Steadfast: (The Rest of Thyatira) (vs.24)
Who have not embraced THIS DOCTRINE: and does not know the “depths of Satan”:
" I will put no more burden upon you".
That is, Jesus would bring upon them no other and no weightier burden, than must arise from his purpose to inflict appropriate vengeance on the guilty themselves.
The trouble which would grow out of that would be a sufficient expression of his displeasure. This is, in fact, often now all that is necessary as a punishment on a church for harboring the advocates of error and of sin. The church has trouble enough ultimately in getting rid of them; and the injury which such persons do to its piety, peace, and reputation, and the disorders of which they are the cause, constitute a sufficient punishment for having tolerated them in its bosom. Often the most severe punishment that God can bring upon people is to "lay upon them no other burden" than to leave them to the inevitable consequences of their own folly, or to the trouble and vexation incident to the effort to free themselves from what they had for a long time tolerated or practiced.
E. Jesus’ Promise: “If you Overcome” by hearing what the Holy Spirit says to the Church” and Keep MY word to the End…(vs. 26)
I will give you power over the nations. Every witness of Christ has power to confute and confound all the false doctrines and maxims of the nations of the world, for Christianity shall at last rule over all; the kingdom of Christ will come, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ. They would partake of the final triumph anal glory of the Savior, and be associated with him. It doesn’t say they would have exclusive power over the nations, or that they would hold offices of trust under him during a personal reign on the earth; but the meaning is, that they would be associated with him in his future glory.
Jesus shall rule over them with a “rod of iron” That is, Jesus will rule with power that is firm and invincible. It denotes a government of strength, or one that cannot be successfully opposed; one in which the subjects are effectually subdued. There would be no power to oppose His rule; the enemies of his government would be destroyed.
Jesus will give them “The Morning Star” He shall have the brightest and most glorious empire, next to that of Christ himself. And it is certain that the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great was the brightest emblem of the latter day glory which has ever yet been exhibited to the world. It is well known that sun, moon, and stars are emblems, in prophetic language, of empires, kingdoms, and states. And as the morning star is that which immediately precedes the rising of the sun. It probably here intends an empire which should usher in the universal sway of the kingdom of Christ.
He that have an ear…Let him hear what the Spirit says to the church!
History Note: The church of Thyatira represents the "Papal church." The "Papal" church introduced "images" and "pictures" into the churches and caused the people of that time to bow down to these graven images, and act that is "forbidden" in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 4) There is no question that whether this "Jezebel" was a real person, it is obvious that she was represents a "Religious System". The only religious system that fits her character and religious practices is the "Papal Church".
This church made the claim that it's teachings is superior to the Word Of God and since the church is always represented in the female venacular, the church became a False Prophetess. When you research and study the formation of this church system from its inception in 606 A.D. to the time of the Reformation in A.D. 1520, they introduced what is called "The sacrifice of the Mass" and other Pagan rites taken from the "Pergamos" Church Period, all of which has a "sway of "Jezebelism." The time period between 606 and 1520 A.D. was a time of "Jezebelistic Persecution", which was vividly illustrated in the times of the "Crusades", and the rise of what was called "The Inquisition."
It was the "Inquisition" of this church that set up the need for the "Reformation Period" that followed in the Sardis Church Period, spearheaded by Martin Luther around 1500 A.D. when in 1517 A.D., Luther wrote and nailed his 95 "Thesis" in protest of the "Papal Church, its politics and religious practices.
Dr. William Edward Boddie