Revelation Chapter Two

Introduction: In this commentary on the Revelation Chapter Two I will continue to identify my comments by using the name Author before the comments so that you can tell where the text leaves off and my comments start.

It is also important that we settle an interesting symbol before we enter into our study. The symbol of seven is a very important idea. In the book Acts of the Apostles God says the following statement on page 585:

“The names of the seven churches are symbolic of the church in different periods of the Christian Era. The number 7 indicates completeness, and is symbolic of the fact that the messages extend to the end of time, while the symbols used reveal the condition of the church at different periods in the history of the word. “

It is important for us to remember that the number 7 indicates completeness and that the messages to the seven churches extend to the end of time and that the different messages are to address the conditions of God’s church during those time periods. Thus these messages are to be a complete message for God’s church through time.

Another issue that is important to note is that God is speaking to the 7 churches of Asia and using them to describe the history of the church from the time of the ascension of Jesus until His second coming. But we must remember that although a church is a collection of peoples that collection of peoples is made up of individuals. God says that each one of us is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in us. I Corinthians 6:19 So when we discuss the churches we must always remember that this counsel is for us as individuals as well. The 7 churches can be discussing the different phases of our individual growth as a part of the larger church.

Another important thing to remember is that in Revelation 1:12-20 we see Jesus walking among the 7 candlesticks. In this we must remember that it is the job of the High Priest to care for the candlesticks to be sure their light shines forth on a “continual” basis. Leviticus 24:1-4. The job of the High Priest is to be sure that the candlesticks are cared for and that they do their job to give their light to the world. Matthew 5:14-16; Acts 2:1-4

With the above thoughts in mind let us proceed to explore some of the ideas that God has put into this book, for God has promised that “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7

1Unto 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;

Author: God wants us to focus now upon the church of Ephesus. Ephesus means pure or desirable and covers the time period of 31AD when Jesus returned to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) until 100 AD when the book of Revelation was finished and the last of the original disciples died. This period of time the church experienced its first love and went out vigorously to accomplish the plans of He who hold the seven stars in His hand and who walks among the seven golden candlesticks including the one for Ephesus and His name is Jesus.

 2I 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:

Author: Jesus acknowledges that Ephesus had done a good work and that they have some pretty high standards. They do well enough to recognize that there are false apostles among the believers and that the people in Ephesus have recognized these false apostles and has found them to be telling lies to the people and thus they have rejected this bearers of evil tiding.

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

Author: God commends Ephesus for its works and that it has done good things for Jesus.

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

Author: Yet God has some problems with Ephesus in that she has left her first love – Jesus of Nazareth. Implied in this statement is that since she has left her first love she is establishing a relationship with another who is not Christ and thus she is on the verge of spiritual adultery – developing a relationship with someone other than her husband Jesus of Nazareth.

 5Remember 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.

Author: Jesus is informing Ephesus that if she does not repent from her fall from grace (Galatians 5:4) that He will remove her candlestick from the complete package of seven candlesticks. But if Ephesus is willing to repent and reform He will leave her in her position and she will shine forth the light that Jesus has placed in her.

The verb “remove” in this text is interesting because remove conveys the idea that an object must be moved somewhere other than where it has been, or it is to be taken away to someplace other than where it has been for good or for evil. See Deuteronomy 19:14 This idea of being removed can communicate that the reason for the removal is because of sin. See II Kings 23:27; Lamentations 1:8; Ezekiel 36:17.  We must remember that nothing that defiles or worketh an abomination can enter into the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:23-27. So if a candlestick is removed because of lack of repentance the Bible would indicate that it will not enter into the New Jerusalem. But as in all cases when Jesus confronts us with an error if we will repent then God will restore us and keep us in the position that He has designed for us.

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

Author: Again Jesus is commending Ephesus that they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which God hates also. Historically there is little to let us know specifically what the deeds of the Nicolaitans were. There is some historical information from the church fathers that the Nicolaitans practiced lawlessness and licentiousness but the Bible itself does not speak definitively about the Nicolaitans under that name. But the principle of the deeds of the Nicolaitans has been commented to by God’s prophet Ellen G. White in the following quotations:

“(Jude 4). The Sin of the Nicolaitans.--Is it [our sin] the sin of the Nicolaitans, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (RH June 7, 1887)? {7BC 957.5}

     (Rom. 3:31.) Doctrine of the Nicolaitans.--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}”

 7He 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.

Author: God wants us to be overcomers just like He overcame the world. Jesus overcame the world through the power of faith in His Father’s care and He offers us this gift by faith in Him. He also wants us to overcome the world like He did by doing good to those who do not like us. Romans 12:21; by knowing the Father, I John 2:13; by the faith of Jesus, I John 5:1-5, and overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:11

 8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Author: Jesus now points us to the church of Smyrna. Smyrna means sweet smelling, a sign that God approves of their sacrifice because it is fragrant with faith in the merits of the intercession of Jesus. Historically this church covers the time period of 100AD to 313AD. This period of time covers the time when the church is going through extreme persecution by the pagan Roman Empire. As long as they are persecuted they are able to remain relatively pure in doctrine for the threat of death keeps the hypocrites at bay.

Jesus identifies Himself as the first and the last, and in later texts the Alpha and the Omega, and He who was dead and is now alive. These statements are to give those going through the Smyrna experience the hope that He who is watching over them has been through the experience before them and knows how to take care of issues.

 9I 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.

Author: God testifies that the works, tribulation, and poverty have made this church rich in the graces of Jesus. They have accepted their lot in life and are under the control of Jesus.

Jesus also speaks to the issue that there are those who are trying to claim to be Christians, or spiritual Jews, but they are really not Christians but belong to the church of Satan. A true spiritual Jew is one who accepts Jesus as His Saviour. Galatians 3:26-29; Romans 9:3-8. As a result of accepting Jesus as their Saviour they will have also accepted the New Covenant blessings of the righteousness of Jesus by faith and have been accounted as righteous. Galatians 3:5-9. This also conveys the idea that they have had a new heart circumcised by faith in the merits of Jesus. Romans 2:28-29. These spiritual Jews, Christians by faith in the promises of God, will produce the fruit that identifies them as followers of Messiah. Matthew 3:7-11. These people will be doers rather than hearers only. Matthew 7:15-26.

 10Fear 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.

Author: This text indicates that there would be a period of intense tribulation of about ten years, a day for a year, and that many would be killed during this period of time. This may be referring to a period of time between 303 AD and 313 AD under the persecutions of the emperor Diocletian. But Jesus promises them, and us as well, that if we will be faithful unto death He will give us a crown of life.

 11He 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.

Author: Jesus promises that if we will hear with a converted ear, Matthew 13:10-17, and listen to what the Spirit is saying unto the churches, and then obey what the Spirit is saying, that although one may day the physical death of persecution but they will be raised to eternal life and will not suffer the second death in the lake of fire as described in Revelation 20:6-14

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

Author: Jesus, the One who speaks truth, the sharp sword with two edges (Revelation 1:16; Ephesians 6:1) continues to watch over His people and His churches. He speaks to them through the Word of God and intends to remove anything from them that would harm their walk with Him. Thus as the Priest who watches over the candlesticks He is ever ready to make intercession for them on a daily basis.

Pergamos means elevated or lifted up. This is an alert to the tendency of people to get lifted up over the blessings of God and to sometimes turn away from God because of our misperceptions of His precious gifts.

The time period of Pergamos is 313 AD to 538 AD. This would be the period of time in history from the establishment of Constantine the Roman emperor who wanted a compromise between Christianity and the pagan religions, especially that of Mithraism. Constantine also was the first emperor to establish Sunday as the official day of worship in the Roman Empire – the official day of the sun as a method of bringing the two religions into a mingled state. (This mingling process can also be called syncretism or theosophy).  538 AD is the time when the daily has been removed and the abomination of desolation has been fully set up and now the church has the power to establish and authorize a Sunday law for itself. 538 AD is when the Papacy is now fully free, and fully powerful enough, to become the leading political force in Europe to establish religious and political law and to be able to command that heretics be punished by the state for disobeying her laws.

 13I 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.

Author: Tradition/history indicates that the Babylonian priesthood fled to Pergamos after they lost control over Babylon. Thus Pergamos became the center of Babylonian worship controlled by Satan. At this same time God had His people where Satan’s seat was. God knew what kinds of difficulties His people would encounter by being this close to the center of official idolatrous works. God also knew that if His people stood up for truth then they would suffer persecution and even martyrdom as His faithful servant Antipas was.

Again, history does not tell us much about God’s faithful servant Antipas. What we do know about Him scripturally is that he must have had some connection with Pergamos. He must have lived close enough to Pergamos to be identified with it. In addition we know that he must have stood for truth in such a way as he was martyred. Not only that but he must have had the opportunity presented to him to deny his faith and he must have refused it and thus Jesus could commend him before all as a His faithful martyr. One last thought and that his name, Antipas, would indicate that he was preaching truth in such a manner that the church fathers, the people preparing for the Papacy, must have been offended by his teachings and his decision to remain faithful to the truth unto his death. Antipas can also mean that he was teaching something in place of what the fathers were teaching. We must remember that Jesus, through His servant Paul, had proclaimed in Acts 20:28-30 that one of the great deceptions of the church would come from among the church leaders who would teach things that would draw away disciples after them. This is very likely what happened to Antipas – that he taught to remain faithful to the Bible and to whatever the Bible has blessed. The lesson for us is that if we stay faithful to Jesus, and His Word, we to may end up being martyrs. Revelation 6:9-10; 17:6

 14But 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.

Author: God is alerting his church that one of the concerns that He has for them is that they have people amongst them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam had accepted an invitation by king Balak to come and to curse Israel lest they consume his country. Numbers 22. God held His hand over Balaam and would not let him curse Israel for they were in harmony with God. After Balaam had been delivered from the sin of attempting to curse Israel he went back to Balak and taught him how to undermine the Israelites and to lead them into sin by going to religious celebrations with the women of Moab and thus leading them into sin against God. Numbers 22-25; Psalms 106:28-48. Balaam paid for his sins for he was killed by Israel for inducing the very thing that Balak feared. Numbers 31:1-8. Thus the name of Balaam is used all through Scripture as testimony against those who undermine God’s people for hire. Deuteronomy 23:1-6; Joshua 13:22; Nehemiah 13:2; II Peter 2:15; Jude 11.

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

Author: See comments on verse 6.

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

Author: God alerts the people of Pergamos that they need to repent and come back to Him or He would tend to their candlestick by the use of the Word of God – the Sword of His mouth.

 17He 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.

Author: God wants us all to hear that we need to overcome sin by His power and grace. He wants to give us of the hidden manna – a revelation of Himself. John 6:30-69. Jesus is the manna, the Word of God that we partake of in our closets, but reveal to the world through the light of the candlestick in our hearts and minds.

Jesus also wants us to give us a white stone with a new name written upon it. This stone is a pebble that tradition indicates was a voting stone. One could fill a container and when one put their hand in the container to select a stone if they selected the white stone, instead of a black stone, they would have a positive vote. The name of a person could also be placed on the stone as a testimony of who the stone belonged to. But if the white stone was selected with a new name written on it this would be a testimony that the repentance was full and complete and that God had both chosen us and had given us a new name as He did for Jacob in Genesis 32:24-31.

A slightly different perspective on this stone would be that of our being a stone quarried from the pits of life and made into living stones with our new name and we would be true stones resting on the great corner stone which is Christ. I Peter 2:1-9. This would indicate that God has chosen you to be a stone in the temple of God in which our Great High Priest Christ ministers in side of.

 18And 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;

Author: Jesus moves on to the next church of the seven churches of Asia. This church is named Thyatira which means sacrifice of contrition. The historical period of time that this church symbolizes would be between 538 AD to 1517 AD. This would be the time period between the time when the Papacy is established and active in 538 AD to the time when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany in 1517 AD.

Christ wants us to know that He is watching us with eyes of the fires of judgment and will walk with us with feet purified in the furnace of death. Jesus will take care of everything that needs to be done if we will allow it to happen to us. We must always remember that Jesus purchased freedom from Satan so that we would be free to choose Him or to reject Him as our Great High Priest.

 19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Author: God knew that the church of Thyatira was a hard working church full of energy to think and to do.

 20Notwithstanding 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.

Author: God here introduces another old Bible story to help us to get focused. During the period of time between 538 AD and 1517 AD, the church developed many interesting doctrines that are not based on the Bible. When the Papacy united with the state and began to persecute heretics then that state of being is considered adultery in the Bible. A woman, also a church, that is married to a man and she goes out to enter into intimate relationships with another is considered to be practicing adultery a violation of the 10th commandment. Exodus 20:17 and Romans 13:9. When a church and a state conduct adultery it is described in the Bible in Revelation 17:1-8

The use of the name Jezebel is not to imply that this story is in the time of the literal Jezebel. Jezebel died long before the book of Revelation was written, but God is using Jezebel as a type of evil that He wants to warn Thyatira about. God describes the behavior of Jezebel, the Queen of Israel in I Kings 16:31-II Kings 9:37. Jehu, the soon to be king of Israel, proclaimed that Jezebel practiced witchcraft (II Kings 9:22) and she influenced King Ahab to do many evil things in Israel. Like with Solomon’s wives in I Kings 11 she brought in much evil into Israel and was a mortal enemy to all things of God including killing the prophets of God and trying her best to kill Elijah. I Kings 19:1-2.

Jezebel is used by God as a type of evil that must be guarded against to protect God’s people so that they will not go down the path that Israel took and was eventually removed from the land of Canaan. In addition to all of the other things that Jezebel did, she passed on her evil ways to her daughter Athaliah. Athaliah also destroyed many of God’s people in Judah and ruled for several years there before she was slain. II Chronicles 22:1-23:21; II Kings 11:1-20

Another interesting parallel story to Jezebel and Athaliah is that of Herodius and Salome and the role they played in the death of God’s prophet - John the Baptist. Matthew 14:1-12. This chain of characters is carried on into Revelation 17 where we see the mother harlot Babylon and her daughters on display.

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

Author: God says that He gave the Jezebel, who is trying to influence God’s people to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols (Psalms 106:28-41), time to repent, 538 AD to 1517 AD, and she would not repent. All of the efforts of God, and His servants, had so far proven to be ineffective in bringing about a change for Jezebel, the Jezebel system of worship that occurred in the time of the church of Thyatira.

 22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Author: God uses the metaphor of a bed to describe both the sexual activities of Jezebel and the peoples united with her, and it is also a metaphor of tribulation. Ezekiel 32:25. Those that commit adultery with her will be cast into great tribulation in their relationship with God unless they repent of their evil and come to the Lord of the Candlesticks.

 23And 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.

Author: God here says that all of the children that come of the adulterous relationships of Jezebel with the kings of the world, will be considered to be bastards and they will be worthy of death unless they repent. God promises to have the ability to read the hearts of men, and will judge each person according the works they display. See Matthew 7:11-29

 24But 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.

Author: God is warning the people of Thyatira to avoid the doctrine of Jezebel in all of its different manifestation. If they choose to listen to Jezebel they will know the depths of Satan and all of the suffering and misery that will go with Satan as he experiences the issues of the judgment in Revelation 20. But those that refuse to listen to Jezebel will have no other burden to bear.

 25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Author: Jesus is encouraging His people to hold on to the faith once delivered unto the saint until His soon coming. Do not get distracted by the things of the world.

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

Author: If we choose to stay with Jesus, and allow Him to cleanse us and to fight for us, He will allow us to sit with Him on His throne (Revelation 3:21) and we will use His rod eternal rod. V. 27.

 27And 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.

Author: Jesus is telling us that the power He manifested through His rod which He had empowered Moses with so we will rule over nations like when Jesus delivered Israel through the ministry of Moses.

 28And I will give him the morning star.

Author: Jesus is the morning star and He will bless us. Revelation 22:16. In addition to this statement, Jesus was also revealed in the life of John Wycliffe who is considered the morning start of the Reformation. The Great Controversy page 80.

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

Author: He that is spiritual among you listen to what the Holy Spirit is revealing unto His churches and the people that make up the churches.