88 – Judgments Of The Tribulation – Seal Judgments

The Judgments of the Tribulation
The video discusses the seal and trumpet judgments of the tribulation.

Will the church go through the tribulation? Read on!

Tribulation Judgments.

Seal judgments.Trumpet judgments. Bowl judgments.

Each of these judgments will occur during the time of the tribulation. The Left Behind series of books, movies, and my series of blog posts on that subject, discuss a time in future history that will be as real, “as a heart attack.” The Left Behind movies show those who miss the rapture, and will be left on earth to face a time of tribulation that will be, as Matthew 24:14 describes:

“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” (New American Standard Bible)

This series of posts on the Judgments of the tribulation will explain the severity of each seal, trumpet and bowl judgment. The perpetrator of each judgment will be identified. Those who are left behind and experience the judgments will also be identified, as well as the reason for their remaining on earth to come under the judgments.

The End Times! Let’s have a discussion.

As it relates to the things that relate to eschatology, and the timing of those events, it has been my experience that some people believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and some don’t; there are others that don’t care or have no opinion, one way or the other. It is my opinion that a leader of a congregation should be able to answer honest questions that come from their church members that relate to the end times. A comment that I have heard many times about the tribulation is, “pre-trib, post-trib, pan-trib,” and it’ll all “pan out” in the end. Such an ill-contrived response to an honest question should never be given. There are many highly respected teachers of the end times who have written and spoken extensively on the events of the end times. There are a few seminaries who have highly regarded instructors who teach eschatology. Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute are two of those seminaries. Evangelical and pentecostal churches are more likely to effectively explain subjects that relate to the end times. Liberal mainline churches, such as those who are members of the National Council of Churches, are less likely to provide such accuracy of discussion.


Eschatology is the study of the teachings of the Bible concerning the end times. Events of the end times relate to the pre-rapture attacks on Israel, the rapture, the resurrection of the just and unjust, “Satan the Anti-Christ and the false prophet,” the Bema Judgment, the tribulation, the three witnesses, the 144,000 Jewish missionaries, the marriage in heaven, the Battle Of Armageddon, the millennium, the binding of Satan, the final judgment, the lake of fire and, “the new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem and the eternal state.” In one way or other, most of the books of the Bible deal with end-times subjects. More than twenty-five percent of all scriptures relate to prophecy. The following link has a greater discussion of eschatology. https://www.gotquestions.org/Eschatology.html

Left Behind

The Left Behind series of books and movies have been very effective in peaking the interest of people to the eventuality of the rapture of the church. However, many people have considered the subject to be a matter of science fiction. In the series of blog posts that I am now writing, which describes the rapture of the church, and the events that precede and follow that end time event of eschatology, I am using the Left Behind series as a key source of reference. A great deal of prophetic knowledge has been provided by Dr.Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, who co-authored the Left Behind series. The following link has a video discussion by those authors about the Series. It should be known that the key author was Tim LaHaye. http://leftbehind.com/ The following link provides a biography of the life of Tim LaHaye. https://www.biography.com/people/tim-lahaye-204548

The Late Great Planet Earth

In the early 1970s, I heard about a book that was very popular, and was thought by many to be a book of science fiction. The book was titled, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and was authored by Hal Lindsey, with the assistance of Carol Carlson. In time, many people began to understand that the book related to the end times study of scripture, and addressed many of the things that Tim LaHaye would later discuss in the Left Behind Series. The following link has more information on “Late Great Planet Earth.”

The Seal Judgments

Christ is in charge of opening each of the seal judgments to be unleashed on, “those who dwell on the earth,” (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:14, 17:2, 17:8). As you read the verses of Revelation that discuss the judgments, pay close attention to whomever is opening each judgment. You will see “the Lamb” (Christ) opening each seal judgment, angels blowing trumpets which unleash the trumpet judgments, and angels pouring out the bowl judgments. Each judgment will affect”earth dwellers,” which are those who dwell on the earth. To question the reality of the rapture of believers, is to have a belief that each judgment will be unleashed by God on every born again man, woman, and child, to include infants, along with the earth dwellers. Earth dwellers are those who had defied God during their lifetime, and never accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. To question the reality of the rapture of the church, is to deny the teaching of 2 Corinthians 5:21, which states that born again believers have been made to be, “the righteousness of God,” and that even with that state of righteousness, believers will be condemned to suffer from the same judgment as that of the earth dwellers, who are not righteous and have not had their judgment satisfied by the death of Christ on the cross (Romans 8:1). So, the question of the reality of the rapture is a question that explains each person’s view of God’s love for His people.

Consider that which keeps believers in Christ saved from the things of the world, regardless of what those things may be. Believers are “overcomers!”

1 John 5:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

First Seal

Revelation 6:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV) The Seals Are Opened By The Lamb

First Seal: The Conqueror

1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

First Seal Judgment: The rider of the white horse had a bow and a crown. He went out conquering and to conquer. He is the Antichrist. (RYR)

The rider of the white horse is “the prince to come,”(Daniel 9:26) who will head up the revived Roman Empire and, ultimately, become the world ruler. He is Satan’s masterpiece and the counterfeit of all that Christ is, or claims to be. He is, therefore, cast in the role of conqueror, which seems to be the significance of a the white horse. (Walvoord Commentary)

Second Seal

Revelation 6:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Second Seal: Conflict on Earth

3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.”4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

Second Seal Judgment: Red horse. Indicates bloodshed (e.g.,”red horse; take peace from; sword.”)(RYR).

“He was given a great sword.” The sword was given to the Antichrist by God, who is in charge (Mine).

Third Seal

Revelation 6:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

Third Seal: Scarcity on Earth

5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”

Third Seal Judgment: Black horse. Famine. (RYR)

“A denarius.” A person will have to spend a day’s wages for a loaf of bread with no money left to buy anything else (Walvoord Commentary).

Four Seal

Revelation 6:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

Fourth Seal: Widespread Death on Earth

7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” 8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

Fourth Seal Judgment: Ashen horse; yellowish-green. Probably represents the inevitable result of disease that accompanies war and famine. “Death” claims the bodies, and “Hades” the souls and spirits of one-fourth of the world’s population. (RYR)

Hades is the abode of the dead. The horsemen have power over 1/4 part of the earth, to kill with the sword, hunger, and wild animals (Walvoord Commentary).

Fifth Seal

Revelation 6:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Fifth Seal: The Cry of the Martyrs

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Fifth seal judgment: 9. “The souls of those who had been slain.” The martyrs of the first months of the tribulation period. 10. The martyrs are alive and speaking with the Lord in His presence. 11. “Rest for a little while.” i.e., wait a little while. It is difficult for these martyrs to understand why God would allow their murderers to live; yet God asks these saints to trust Him. (RYR)

Consider the following bullets of information, as is seen by John from Heaven.

“those who dwell on the earth (vs 10).” They were persecutors for the Antichrist; they murdered those who came to Christ in the tribulation.” The murders will continue until the time of Christ’s return (second coming). Those who will be martyred during the tribulation will not receive their resurrection bodies until the end of the tribulation, according to Rev 20:4. In summary, there will be two classes of tribulation martyrs, as viewed by John from Heaven; those already slain, and those who are yet to be slain. The “dead in Christ” (those who had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior prior to the tribulation) will have been raptured/caught up prior to the time of the deaths of the tribulation martyrs/saints being put to death for their faith in Christ. (Walvoord Commentary)

Sixth Seal

Revelation 6:12-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbances

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Sixth Seal Judgment: 12. These cosmic disturbances are predicted elsewhere in Scripture (Isa 34:4; Joel 2:30-31; Matt 24:29). 16, When the Tribulation comes, men will act as if they believe the end of the world is at hand. (RYR)

All of the elements of a great catastrophic judgment of God are present, and that God is still in control and is undertaking a direct intervention into human affairs. Remember! The church-age “believers in Christ” are not present; they have been raptured out of the world before the tribulation began. God has inflicted His divine punishment upon a blasphemous world. (Walvoord Commentary)

Seventh Seal

Revelation 8:1 New King James Version (NKJV)

Seventh Seal: Prelude to the Seven Trumpets

1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Seventh Seal Judgment: 1. “the seventy seal.” This seal includes not only an earthquake, but the 7 trumpet judgments (8:1—9:21; 11:15ff.) and the 7 bowl judgments (16:1–21), with the bowl judgments flowing out of the seventh trumpet and coming in rapid succession just before Christ’s return (see note on 6:1). “silence in heaven.” The silence of awe and anticipation at the grim reality of the judgments God is about to unleash. (MAC)

Consider the wrath of God, in that it is from the Lamb of God that these judgments are designed for “those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:14, 17:2, 17:8). The church has been raptured and translated to Heaven before the outpouring of God’s wrath. The church was very prominent in Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, but is not mentioned again until 22:16, except as the wife of the Lamb at the close of the tribulation (Rev 19:7-8). Nowhere in scenes of earth that describe the end times (chap 6-19) is the church pictured as being involved in the earthly struggle. We will consider other scriptures that relate to the fact that believers will be delivered from God’s wrath. They will not be seen anywhere on earth, which points to the protection and removal of the church during these days of the wrath of God. We will continue to see that the Anti-Christ is a tool of God, and not someone who is in charge of the events of the tribulation. We will see that the wrath of the tribulation is “God’s wrath,” and not the wrath of the Anti-Christ. (Mine)

The Anti-Christ may be alive today. If so, he will most likely be charismatic in worldwide acceptance. He will most likely be a European from the old Roman Empire, and will be a homosexual. If he is alive today, he will be seen on international television broadcasts. But, in spite of his being viewed by the world, to include believers in Christ, after the rapture occurs believers in Christ will never see him again. (MIne)

Comments are provided by the notes of the MacArthur Study Bible (MAC), Ryrie Study Bible (RYR), and Walvoord Commentary on Revelation.


87 – Left Behind II – Tribulation Force

Left Behind II Tribulation Force

In Left Behind I, we saw a picture of our world that relates to the Jewish Prophet Ezekiel’s Chapter 38-39 prophecy of a multi-nation attack on Israel, written in the year 587 B.C. We saw Israel being prosperous, while most of the world was suffering from famine. We saw Israel being attacked by many opposing nations, with the attacking aircraft being shot out of the sky, without any Israeli ground to air missiles being fired, or without any Jewish fighter aircraft being launched to confront the attackers. Early morning dawn quickly turned to darkness. As the movie progressed, a young charismatic European leader emerged onto the scene, making a pitch for world peace and adequate food supplies.

Very abruptly, millions of people around the world became missing, with small children being the cornerstone of that “rapture,” or catching away that had been predicted by Bible scriptures. Many of those people thought that they were secure in life as “nominal” Christians (in name only), only to come to the reality that they did not have a real relationship with Christ.

There were people who had been left behind, having missed the rapture, who began to study prophetic scriptures. Many of those people thought that they had been secure in life as “nominal” Christians, only to come to the reality that they had not had a real relationship with Christ, that was sealed by saving faith.

Worldwide unrest escalated.

Being supported by a United Nations government-controlled worldwide press, pressure was being mounted for a one-world banking system, and an assault on religion. An alignment of nations, under the rule of the United Nations, confirmed a peace treaty which included Israel. That treaty was brokered by the “young charismatic European,” who had become the Secretary General of the United Nations, and would come to be known as the Anti-Christ.

Some of those who missed the rapture, and were “left behind,” learned that seven years of tribulation would follow the rapture. Worldwide chaos, famines, pestilences and cosmic disturbances were learned to occur during that time of tribulation.

In Left Behind II, we will see a tribulation force of some of those who had been left behind from the rapture. We will see their response to the reality of the emerging Anti-Christ, and to his one-world government, to include that of religion and banking.

The oppression of the Anti-Christ against Jews, and to gentiles who will come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, will escalate.

The following verses relate to the situation that will face Jews, and gentiles who accept Christ after the rapture takes place.

Matthew 24:6-12 The Passion Translation (TPT)

6 “You will hear of wars nearby and revolutions on every side, with more rumors of wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for the breaking apart of the world’s systems is destined to happen. But it won’t yet be the end; it will still be unfolding.

7 “Nations will go to war against each other and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be terrible earthquakes—seismic events of epic proportion, horrible epidemics and famines in place after place. 8 This is how the first contractions and birth pains of the new age will begin!”

9 “You can expect to be persecuted, even killed; for you will be hated by all the nations because of your love for me. 10 Then many will stop following me and fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many lying prophets will arise, deceiving multitudes and leading them away from the path of truth. 12 There will be such an increase of sin and lawlessness that those whose hearts once burned with passion for God and others will grow cold.

Consider nominal Christians, which are those who will be left behind to face the tribulation after the rapture takes place.

John 17:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

In John 17:3, “to know” is to have an intimate relationship with Christ.

Matthew 7:21-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Consider the words of Christ,” I never knew you.” He was saying, I have never had an intimate relationship with you.

Nominal, “in name only,” such a ticket to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

Revelation 20:11-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Judgment at the Throne of God

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The “great white throne judgment” is a place where the only people who will be assembled there will be those who have not been born again. Many of those will be those which were left behind from the rapture.

John 3:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Unfortunately, there are many families today who will have “a ticket to the lake of fire, on the family plan.” We are told in scripture, “teach your children,” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

86 – Prophecies Of Ezekiel – Chapter 1

Israel: Key to Understanding Bible Prophecy
See bio below.

Comments related to this series of posts on the Book of Ezekiel. Comments come from the Ryrie Study Bible.

Ezekiel was a Jewish priest who had been carried off to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar with other Jews from Jerusalem in the year 597 B.C. Ezekiel’s ministry to the exiles in Babylon was at the same time as that of Jeremiah to the Jews of Palestine, and of the early years of the ministry of Daniel.

The prophet Daniel had already been taken captive to Babylon in 605 B.C.

The posts that will be published in this study of Ezekiel will be prophetic, as opposed to being chapter by chapter, and verse by verse. A teaching video will also be included in each chapter study. The selected video may actually cover more scripture than that which is shown in the text breakdown which precedes the video.

Chapters 1-24: Prophesied judgments on the kingdom of Judah.

Chapters 25- 32: Prophesied judgments on the gentile nations.

Chapters 33- 48: Prophesied blessings on Israel.

Ezekiel #1: Age and Experience
See bio below.

Life Essentials Videos
Published on Mar 8, 2016

When we are selecting those who are to lead and shepherd the church at the highest levels of leadership, we should consider chronological age.
Ezekiel. 1:1-3; p. 1074

Bio. Dr. Ron Rhodes
Ron Rhodes http://ronrhodes.org/meet-ron.html
Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary (1986). Major: Systematic Theology. Graduated with High Honors.
Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary (1983). Major: Systematic Theology. Graduated with Honors. Elected to Dean’s List.
B.A., Houston Baptist University (1979). Recipient of the Greek Excellence Award. Chief nominee for the Riverside Scholarship.

Bio. Dr. Gene A. Getz

79 – Millions Of People Missing! Where Are They?

Consider the news reports from all around the world.
Airplanes crashing – flight crews missing! Cars and trucks colliding – drivers missing! Hospitals report, “No babies anywhere!”
School teachers frantically looking for young children! Clothing seen in restaurants and businesses where people had been seated!
Chaos everywhere! Network news anchors and theologians attribute the situation to global warming and alien abductions!
Congress convenes, and grasps for an explanation as to why, “a scattering of them” is missing.
Many pastors can’t be found – many others are being interviewed by CNN!


The answer is found in “The Rapture Of The Church.”

Rapture: Latin, Rapio. Greek, Harpazo. English, Catch up, Snatch away.


1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.

76 – This Will Happen! It’s As Serious As A Heart Attack! Don’t Be Left Behind To Endure It!

Matthew 24:5-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

70 – Revelation 2 – The Things Which Are – Data

How is Jesus preparing a place for us in heaven?

Your First Hour in Glory, What Will Heaven Be Like?

God’s love for Israel

Restoration of Judah and Israel’

Ezekiel 16:60 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Covenant Remembered

60 “Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

16:60 I will remember My covenant. God is gracious and He always finds a covenant basis on which He can exercise His grace. The Lord will remember the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen. 12:1ff.) made with Israel in her youth. Restoration will be by grace, not merit. an everlasting covenant. This is the New Covenant, which is unconditional, saving, and everlasting (cf. 37:26; Is. 59:21; 61:8; Jer. 31:31–34; Heb. 8:6–13). The basis of God’s grace will not be the Mosaic Covenant, which the Jews could never fulfill, even with the best intentions (cf. Ex. 24:1ff.). When God establishes His eternal covenant, Israel will know that God is the Lord because of His grace. (Note: MacArthur Study Bible)

Introduction To Post

There are some people who may be confused about the meaning of the following verse, because of inclusion of the words, “to whom who overcomes.” Some may believe that their salvation is not secure in Christ. Some may believe that more than faith in Christ is necessary to keep them secure in Christ, which makes their understanding of salvation as being based on “something that they have to do.” So, they are constantly trying to determine what it is that they must do to keep them secure in Christ. The truth of scripture is that faith in Christ keeps us “secure in Christ,” at all times, and under all circumstances. We can never fall out of the eternal and saving grasp of Christ. The parachute of saving faith is nothing that we can make for ourselves; Christ makes it for us. It is nothing that will ever fail to open; Christ opens it for us. It is nothing that will ever wear out; Christ makes it new, and keeps it new. We would never know how to make the spiritual parachute of saving faith, or that we would need such an umbrella; only Christ makes it, offers it to us, and maintains it in eternal perfection.

It is very helpful to use scripture to explain scripture, as is shown in the “scripture that follows the scripture,” of concern.

Revelation 2:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

7 …”To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

The following scripture shows that whomever has been born again, is an overcomer, and will find their eternal place of residence in the Paradise of God, which is the Presence of God. See the MacArthur Study Bible note.

1 John 5:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

MacArthur Study Bible note.

5:4 overcomes. John clearly defines who these overcomers are: they are all who believe that Jesus is God’s Son, and all that means. The overcomers are believers—all of them (cf. 2:13). The word for “overcomer” comes from a Gr. word meaning “to conquer,” “to have victory,” “to have superiority” or “conquering power.” The word reflects a genuine superiority that leads to overwhelming success. The victory is demonstrable; it involves overthrowing an enemy so that the victory is seen by all. Jesus also used this word to describe Himself (John 16:33). Because of believers’ union with Christ, they too partake in His victory (Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14). The word “overcomes” in the original language conveys the idea that the believer has continual victory over the world.

Revelation Chapter 2-3 – Data

Text – Revelation Chapter 2-3 – God’s Plan For The Ages 70

Revelation 2-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Chapter 2

Message to Ephesus

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet this you do 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 grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

Message to Smyrna

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for 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 will not be hurt by the second death.’

Message to Pergamum

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war 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, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

Message to Thyatira

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:

19 ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24 But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. 25 Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. 26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority 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.’

Commentary. Notes provided by MacArthur Study Bible.

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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