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Revelation Chapter 2 – “The Things That Are” – God’s Plan For The Ages
Revelation Chapter 2
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Lesson Series – Revelation – God’s Plan For The Ages
The Churches Of Asia Minor (Present Day Turkey)
The great commission of Christ (Acts 1:8) before His ascension into heaven shows an order for His followers to spread the Gospel of His “death burial and resurrection” (Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). In this chapter of Revelation, and the next, there are included the names of churches that were not mentioned in the travels of the apostles as they, and other followers of Christ, established and strengthened congregations. Therefore, the early followers of Christ were complying with our Lords commission, as was also stated in Matthew 28:18-20. The following churches of Revelation 2 and 3 have no mention in prior books of the Bible: Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, and Philadelphia. Also, of importance, is that the church at Rome was not named as a recipient of “The Revelation” of Yeshua/Christ. One has to wonder why “such an important assembly,” as that of the church at Rome, was not privy to this “Revelation of Christ.” This matter of concern is due to the importance that has been placed on the church at Rome by the Roman Catholic Church. This statement is a matter of fact, and not of anything else.
Verses Of Note
Acts 1:8 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Risen Christ, Faith’s Reality
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures
Lesson – Revelation Chapter 2 – The Things That Are – God’s Plan For The Ages
Lesson Text – Things Present – Seven Churches – “The Things That Are”
Revelation 2 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Loveless Church
1 “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: 2 “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; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 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. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “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.”’
The Persecuted Church
8 “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: 9 “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. 10 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.
11 “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.”’
The Compromising Church
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “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. 14 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. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
17 “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.”’
The Corrupt Church
18 “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: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 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. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.23 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.
24 “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. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 ‘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; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
The following study notes come from the MacArthur Study Bible, and are provided by Biblgateway.com
1:8 The apostles’ mission of spreading the gospel was the major reason the Holy Spirit empowered them. This event dramatically altered world history, and the gospel message eventually reached all parts of the earth (Matt. 28:19, 20). receive power. The apostles had already experienced the Holy Spirit’s saving, guiding, teaching, and miracle-working power. Soon they would receive His indwelling presence and a new dimension of power for witness (see notes on 2:4; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Eph. 3:16, 20). witnesses. People who tell the truth about Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:26; 1 Pet. 3:15). The Gr. word means “one who dies for his faith” because that was commonly the price of witnessing. Judea. The region in which Jerusalem was located. Samaria. The region immediately to the N of Judea (see note on 8:5).
15:1, 2 preached…received…stand. This was not a new message. They had heard of the resurrection, believed in it, and had been saved by it.
15:2 unless you believed in vain. By this qualifying statement, Paul recognized and called to their attention that some may have had a shallow, non-saving faith (see Matt. 7:13, 14, 22–27; 13:24–30, 34–43, 47–50; 25:1–30). Some believed only as the demons believed (James 2:19), i.e., they were convinced the gospel was true, but had no love for God, Christ, and righteousness. True believers “hold fast” to the gospel (cf. John 8:31; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 9).
15:3, 4 according to the Scriptures. The OT spoke of the suffering and resurrection of Christ (see Luke 24:25–27; Acts 2:25–31; 26:22, 23). Jesus, Peter, and Paul quoted or referred to such OT passages regarding the work of Christ as Pss. 16:8–11; 22; Is. 53.
2:1—3:22 Although these 7 churches were actual, historical churches in Asia Minor, they represent the types of churches that perennially exist throughout the church age. What Christ says to these churches is relevant in all times.
2:1 angel. The elder or pastor from the church (see note on 1:20). Ephesus. It was an inland city 3 mi. from the sea, but the broad mouth of the Cayster River allowed access and provided the greatest harbor in Asia Minor. Four great trade roads went through Ephesus; therefore, it became known as the gateway to Asia. It was the center of the worship of Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman), whose temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul ministered there for 3 years (Acts 20:31), and later met with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20). Timothy, Tychicus, and the Apostle John all served this church. John was in Ephesus when he was arrested by Domitian and exiled 50 mi. SW to Patmos. seven stars. See note on 1:16.seven golden lampstands. See note on 1:12.
2:2 who say they are apostles. The Ephesian church exercised spiritual discernment. It knew how to evaluate men who claimed spiritual leadership by their doctrine and behavior (cf. 1 Thess. 5:20, 21).
2:3 not become weary. For over 40 years, since its founding, this church had remained faithful to the Word and the Lord. Through difficulty and persecution, the members had endured, always driven by the right motive, i.e., for Christ’s name and reputation.
2:4 left your first love. To be a Christian is to love the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23; 1 Cor. 16:22). But the Ephesians’ passion and fervor for Christ had become cold, mechanical orthodoxy. Their doctrinal and moral purity, their undiminished zeal for the truth, and their disciplined service were no substitute for the love for Christ they had forsaken.
2:5 remove your lampstand. God’s judgment would bring an end to the Ephesian church.
2:6 the deeds of the Nicolaitans. A problem in Pergamos also (vv. 12–15), this heresy was similar to the teaching of Balaam (vv. 14, 15). Nicolas means “one who conquers the people.” Irenaeus writes that Nicolas, who was made a deacon in Acts 6, was a false believer who later became apostate; but because of his credentials he was able to lead the church astray. And, like Balaam, he led the people into immorality and wickedness. The Nicolaitans, followers of Nicolas, were involved in immorality and assaulted the church with sensual temptations. Clement of Alexander says, “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.” Their teaching perverted grace and replaced liberty with license.
2:7 him who overcomes. According to John’s own definition, to be an overcomer is to be a Christian (see note on 1 John 5:4; cf. vv. 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). tree of life. True believers enjoy the promise of heaven (see notes on 22:2; Gen. 2:9).
2:8 angel. See note on v. 1. Smyrna. Smyrna means “myrrh,” the substance used for perfume and often for anointing a dead body for aromatic purposes. Called the crown of Asia, this ancient city (modern Izmir, Turkey) was the most beautiful in Asia Minor and a center of science and medicine. Always on the winner’s side in the Roman wars, Smyrna’s intense loyalty to Rome resulted in a strong emperor-worship cult. Fifty years after John’s death, Polycarp, the pastor of the church in Smyrna, was burned alive at the age of 86 for refusing to worship Caesar. A large Jewish community in the city also proved hostile to the early church. the First and the Last. See note on 1:17.
2:9 who say they are Jews. Although they were Jews physically, they were not true Jews but spiritual pagans (cf. Rom. 2:28). They allied with other pagans in putting Christians to death as they attempted to stamp out the Christian faith. synagogue of Satan. With the rejection of its Messiah, Judaism becomes as much a tool of Satan as emperor worship.
2:10 devil. The Gr. name for God’s archenemy means “accuser.” For discussion of Satan, see notes on Eph. 6:10–17. tribulation ten days. Their imprisonment will be brief. crown of life. It is the crown which is life, or the reward which is life, not an actual crown to adorn the head. “Crown” here does not refer to the kind royalty wear, but to the wreath awarded winning athletes.
2:11 who overcomes. This identifies every Christian (see note on v. 7). the second death. The first death is only physical; the second is spiritual and eternal (cf. 20:14).
2:12 angel. See note on 1:20. Pergamos. Pergamos lit. means “citadel” and is the word from which we get parchment—a writing material developed from animal skin, which apparently was first developed in that area. Pergamos (modern Bergama) was built on a 1,000-foot hill in a broad, fertile plain about 20 mi. inland from the Aegean Sea. It had served as the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor for over 250 years. It was an important religious center for the pagan cults of Athena, Asklepios, Dionysius (or Bacchus, the god of drunkenness), and Zeus. It was the first city in Asia to build a temple to Caesar (29 B.C.) and became the capital of the cult of Caesar worship. two-edged sword. See note on 1:16.
2:13 where Satan’s throne is. The headquarters of satanic opposition and a Gentile base for false religions. On the acropolis in Pergamos was a huge, throne-shaped altar to Zeus. In addition, Asklepios, the god of healing, was the god most associated with Pergamos. His snake-like form is still the medical symbol today. The famous medical school connected to his temple mingled medicine with superstition. One prescription called for the worshiper to sleep on the temple floor, allowing snakes to crawl over his body and infuse him with their healing power. Antipas. Probably the pastor of the church. faithful martyr. Tradition says Antipas was burned to death inside a brass bull. “Martyr,” a transliteration of the Gr. word, means witness. Because so many of the witnesses faithful to Christ were put to death, the word “martyr” developed its current definition.
2:14 doctrine of Balaam. Balaam tried unsuccessfully to prostitute his prophetic gift and curse Israel for money offered him by Balak, king of Moab. So he devised a plot to have Moabite women seduce Israelite men into intermarriage. The result was the blasphemous union of Israel with fornication and idolatrous feasts (for the story of Balaam, see Num. 22–25). things sacrificed to idols. See Acts 15:19–29.
2:15 Thus you also. The teaching of the Nicolaitans led to the same behavior as Balaam’s schemes. doctrine of the Nicolaitans. See note on v. 6.
2:16 sword of My mouth. See note on 1:16.
2:17 overcomes. See note on v. 7. hidden manna. Just as Israel received manna, God promises to give the true believer the spiritual bread the unbelieving world cannot see: Jesus Christ (cf. John 6:51). white stone. When an athlete won in the games, he was often given, as part of his prize, a white stone which was an admission pass to the winner’s celebration afterwards. This may picture the moment when the overcomer will receive his ticket to the eternal victory celebration in heaven. new name. A personal message from Christ to the ones He loves, which serves as their admission pass into eternal glory. It is so personal that only the person who receives it will know what it is.
2:18 angel. See note on 1:20. Thyatira. Located halfway between Pergamos and Sardis, this city had been under Roman rule for nearly 3 centuries (ca. 190 B.C.). Since the city was situated in a long valley that swept 40 mi. to Pergamos, it had no natural defenses and had a long history of being destroyed and rebuilt. Originally populated by soldiers of Alexander the Great, it was little more than a military outpost to guard Pergamos. Lydia came from this city on business and was converted under Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:14, 15). eyes like a flame of fire. See note on 1:14. feet like fine brass. Cf. 19:15; see note on 1:15.
2:20 Jezebel. Probably a pseudonym for a woman who influenced the church in the way Jezebel influenced the OT Jews into idolatry and immorality (cf. 1 Kin. 21:25, 26). sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. Cf. Acts 15:19–29; see note on v. 14.
2:22 sickbed. Lit. “bed.” Having given this woman time to repent, God was to judge her upon a bed. Since she used a luxurious bed to commit her immorality, and the reclining couch at the idol feast to eat things offered to false gods, He was to give her a bed in hell where she would lie forever.
2:23 her children. The church was about 40 years old as John wrote, and her teaching had produced a second generation, advocating the same debauchery. who searches the minds and hearts. God has perfect, intimate knowledge of every human heart; no evil can be hidden from Him (Ps. 7:9; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12). according to your works. Always the basis for future judgment (20:12, 13; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6). Works do not save (Eph. 2:8, 9), but they do evidence salvation (James 2:14–26).
2:24 the depths of Satan. This unbelievable libertinism and license was the fruit of pre-gnostic teaching that one was free to engage and explore the sphere of Satan and participate in evil with the body without harming the spirit (see Introduction to 1 John: Background and Setting).
2:26 overcomes. See note on v. 7.
2:27 rule them with a rod of iron. Lit. “shepherd them with an iron rod.” During the millennial kingdom, Christ will enforce His will and protect His sheep with His iron scepter from any who would seek to harm them (cf. Ps. 2:9).
2:28 the morning star. John later reveals Christ to be “the Bright and Morning Star.” Although the morning star has already dawned in our hearts (2 Pet. 1:19), someday we will have Him in His fullness.
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The scripture text was taken from Biblegateway.com
The translation of the text is from The New King James Version.
Unless otherwise noted, scripture notes were taken from The MacArthur Study Bible notes that are contained in Biblegateway.com
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