Revelation Chapter 2

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Revelation Chapter 2 

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;

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:

2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

2:4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

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.

2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

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.

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;

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.

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.

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.

2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

 

 

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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.

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.

2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

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].

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;

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.

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.

2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

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.

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.

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.

 

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2:25 But that which ye have [already] hold fast till I come.

2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

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.

2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

T he seven churches represent both the church during different periods of time and also the church in different stages of development. The wisdom and power of God is displayed in the book of Revelation. One aspect of God’s wisdom and power is revealed in His ability to make the whole book of Revelation relevant and applicable to every generation that has lived on earth from the days of John up to our present generation. And not only to our’s but to any future generation, if our’s is not the last generation that will experience the second coming of Jesus. We cannot explain just how God does this. However, we can choose to believe it. I have chosen to believe that the whole book of Revelation is applicable to my generation today. It is from this perspective that I understand and present the book of Revelation. Yet, at the same time, paradoxically, I also believe that what Uriah Smith believed and wrote in His book Daniel and Revelation was present truth for those living in his day over a hundred years ago. The key I see in putting the past and the future together with the present is the concept that history repeats. Not only does history repeat itself, but it repeats for the same reasons. For example Cain killed his brother Abel. Why? What was the reason that Cain killed Abel? We might not be sure had we not been told the answer by God. We find the answer in 1 John 3:12, "Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous." This history is repeated over and over again and also enlarges, with more people killing more people as time goes on. This history is going to repeat again in this world and probably enlarge even more

 

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in the future just before Jesus comes. This illustrates how history which has been foretold in prophecy is true. And this same prophecy may be fulfilled again in the future.

1. Ephesus

E phesus is understood to mean "desirable or permitted." All Strong’s Concordance (#2181) tells us is that the word is of foreign derivation. Jesus desires every believer in Him and permits them to take His name and become like Him in character. That is how every new believer starts out—being "of" or "for" Jesus! Jesus describes Himself as holding the ministers of all the churches in His hand, and walking in the midst of the churches (the seven golden candlesticks). This picture of Jesus walking among the candlesticks puts Him in the Holy Place in the Sanctuary in heaven. We know this because of the illustration of the heavenly Sanctuary given us in the Tabernacle in the wilderness built by Moses. The earthly tabernacle was built after the pattern shown him in the mount. It is understood that the pattern shown Moses was that of the heavenly Sanctuary. Moses, working according to that pattern, put the candlesticks in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary or Tabernacles in the wilderness. Jesus says that He knows their work, their labor, and their patience for and of Him. Jesus speaks of them as trying or testing those who are false believers. Jesus commends them that they too hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans even as He Himself does.

Who are the Nicolaitans that are hated by the "desirable and permitted" believers in Jesus ("first-love" believers)? Verse 15 (of Revelation chapter 2) tells us that they have a doctrine that Jesus hates. This is the only two times this word "Nicolaitans" appears in the Bible. God, through the Spirit of Prophecy writings, gives us the answer.

"Is it [our sin] the sin of the Nicolaitans, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness?" (RH June 7, 1887) {7BC 957.5}

 

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"The doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by "believing" we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned." (ST Jan. 2, 1912). {7BC 957.6}

God does not commend pluralism! God makes a clear distinction between right and wrong; between light and darkness.

"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5

God tested mankind in the Garden of Eden to validate their freedom of choice and give opportunity to exercise their will power. In order to provide opportunity to develop character, He commanded them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There is neither explanation or reason for the existence of sin. From the beginning, Satan has mixed good and evil. The mixing of error with truth (evil with good) is prohibited by God. This prohibition is a condition of life. Mixing truth and error is a fundamental part of Satan’s program and platform. In Daniel and Revelation we see this principle of mixing good and evil in the doctrine of the Nicolaitans and in the elevation of the "daily" (overt paganism) developing an amalgamated Christianity consisting of part Christian and part pagan, which is what God calls "the abomination that makes desolate." God hates both of these mixtures of good and evil. Modern popular doctrinal mixtures of good and evil are familiar to us in such statements as "We are saved by faith alone" and "It is easier to be saved than to be lost." These statements in and of themselves are not statements of error. Those who make such statements may have pure motives and the best intentions. It is the context of presenting part of the truth as the whole truth that makes it deceptive. Viewed as it really is—a mixture of truth and error—presenting a half truth as a whole truth is error. Whatever the variation of mixture it is, we see two hallmarks: a) Magnifying the love and grace of God, and

 

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b) Diminishing the condition of obedience and the justice of God. The true everlasting gospel has grace and justice, both prominent and in harmony. Psalms 85:10 "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed [each other]."

The "desirable and permitted" church which is also the "first-love" church is also reproved by Jesus. "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." (v. 5) First love is related to first works. We should continue the first-love and first-works our whole lives. The only way this can happen is to fall in love with Jesus anew every day. This can only happen as we come into His presence daily, and by faith gaze at Him, submitting wholly to Him.

"He who receives into his heart the words of Christ knows what it means to eat the leaves of the of the tree of life." [John 6.33-63 quoted.] {7BC957.7}

The promise is to the overcomer. Overcoming is the fruit and object of the everlasting gospel.

"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (Jesus is our Pattern in overcoming).

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

"Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James 1:12.

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Revelation 12:11

"I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." 1 John 2:14

 

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"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith." 1 John 5:4

The promise to the "desirable and permitted" church is to be able to eat from the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God.

In history, the church of the apostles lasted from the time of Christ until the time of the death of the last apostle, John, about 100 AD.

2. Smyrna

S myrna means "perfumed with myrrh." Myrrh has the connotation of embalming a body for burial. Jesus describes Himself in these terms—the first and last, which was dead and is alive. The first thing that must be faced after having experienced the flush of first love of and for Jesus is the continual surrender of the soul to the death of self.

"The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight— the greatest battle that was ever fought by man— is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up." {MB 141.2}

The first love and first works experience stirs up the hatred of Satan against Christ. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12 It has been truly stated that if we have nothing we are willing to die for, we have nothing to live for! This persecuted church is the only one of the seven churches that receives no rebuke from the Savior!

The promise to the overcomers is that they will not be hurt with the second death.

In history the persecuted church period was from about 100 AD

 

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to 313 AD (Edict of Milan or toleration) in the days of Constantine. It was during this period that the "abomination that makes desolate" was beginning to be developed. Persecution ended with the introduction of pluralism and compromise with the world into the Christian church.

3. Pergamos

P ergamos means "fortified." The overcoming of the world, the flesh, and the Devil by God’s grace fortifies the individual and the overcoming church. Jesus describes Himself as having the sharp sword with two edges. The two edges of the word of God is illustrated in the gospel song lines "Show me my sins, and show me my Savior, and the let the Book live to me." This is the essence of the everlasting gospel. It is by seeing Jesus and letting the word of God live in us that we fulfill the hope of glory. With Jesus living in us we are fortified.

What is the doctrine of Balaam? Ecumenism is the doctrine of Balaam. It is partying with the enemies of God, eating what they eat, and joining with them in their pleasures because this is presented as the way to gain influence with the world and the other churches! (Numbers 31:16) Balaam joined Israel to the heathen nation of Midian (which today would mean worldliness or paganism). This doctrine is congruent and compatible with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which we saw in the letter to the first church and is repeated here. Both of these doctrines teach believing, but not doing the truth. They teach that an assent to truth is acceptable in place of living it. (See Desire of Ages 309) Purity of heart and life is a necessity for God’s people (Matthew 5:8).

The promise to the overcomer is to be able to eat of the hidden manna and be given a new name that nobody knows except the individual. Jesus was represented by the manna in the wilderness which the Israelites ate during their 40 years of wandering. The new name is the new character-likeness to Jesus that comes from feeding on the word of God and beholding Jesus. This is the everlasting gospel.

 

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In history, the church of "the fortified" lasted from the days of Constantine—313 AD when he professed to be a Christian—until the full development of this compromise culminating in the establishment of the Papacy. The development of the Papacy was marked by full political power in 538 AD with the destruction of the three Arian nations.

4. Thyatira

T hyatira means to "crush completely, to shatter." This fourth church is the apex of the chiastic structure of the seven churches. [A chiasm is a form of Hebrew literature where first and seventh are related; second and sixth; third and fifth—with the fourth in the center as the most important.] From some aspects this is the most important corporate message and experience from our Lord. Jesus describes Himself as being the Son of God with eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass. He says that He knows their works, love, faith, and patience but also knows that they are becoming ecumenical, which He hates! A feeling and sense of self-satisfaction, self-worth, self-complacency is our greatest danger! To compromise righteousness and to accept falsehood and deception forfeits God’s presence and protection.

"How few realize the power of an unconsecrated woman. I was carried back to the time of Ahab. God would have been with Ahab if he had walked in the counsel of heaven. But Ahab did not do this. He married a woman given to idolatry. Jezebel had more power over the king than God had. She led him into idolatry, and with him the people (MS 29, 1911). {2BC 1033.8}

"The influence of Jezebel over Ahab was greater than the influence of the Spirit of God, however powerful and convincing the evidence from heaven." (MS 19, 1906) {2BC 1033.9}

Union with the churches (ecumenism) that disregards the commandments of God has crushed and shattered God’s people throughout all time. This is still our biggest temptation! It seems so correct to unite with those who do not believe the truth for this time in order to gain influence with them! We are slow to learn

 

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that light and darkness cannot mix!

Many millions of God’s people who were faithful were "crushed", "shattered", martyred for their faith during this period of Papal hierarchy. But in reality, their faithfulness to God and His law "shattered" those nation’s power and brought in the Reformation, the Morning Star—representing Jesus.

God’s promise to the overcomers—those who hold fast and keeps the works of Jesus until the end—the very works of Jesus reproduced in the lives of the overcomers is what constitutes the power they will have over the nations. This power over the nations is obtained by being true to God without compromise. This faithfulness to God will, at the end of the great controversy, completely crush and shatter the rebellious nations with the rod of the love of God—His law! Jesus will give Himself (the Morning Star) to His faithful believers. Jesus in them was the secret of their faithfulness. This is the everlasting gospel in demonstration!

The crushed and shattered church in history lasted from 538 AD until 1798 AD when the Pope of Rome was taken prisoner and died in prison, inflicting the "deadly wound" to the Papacy.