Church of Laodicea

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

In closing the letters to the seven churches we come to the final church of Laodicea. This was a wealthy city, and thus, believed themselves to be in need of nothing. This attitude had gotten into the church, thus the need for the letter. In this letter we will see the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His power in working with spiritual fervor, or the lack of it, and His immediate position to those who say they have no need.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God;”

Jesus reveals Himself as “The Amen”, which means “So be it”. What ever Jesus has said, or is about to say will definitely come to pass. He is the God of truth. He is truth, fixed and sure.

Jesus is the One who has, possesses and owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).

Again Jesus is presenting a characteristic of Himself which the church needs. As Sovereign He owns and possesses all things.

He reveals Himself as the very source of all creation. “…The Beginning of the creation of God…” declares in fact that He is the Creator, not a created being (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). He is the source of the needs the Laodicean people did not realize they had. Paul was familiar with Laodicea. The epistle of Colossians was sent to Laodicea for them to hear and read concerning the deity of Jesus, and other matters.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”

In these verses we see what Jesus has to say to the congregation of Laodicea. It is not pleasant or good. He mentions no good works, no good doctrine, there is absolutely no commendation, but condemnation, with a call to “Repent” and “…Open the door…” as the only hope.

This is a church which only acted as a thermometer. It only registered the temperature around it. It was no more than a stagnant water or a dead body. Its environment was all it registered. A thermostat is used for raising or lowering the temperature. Every child of God should be like a thermostat.

When we look through Scripture we find that there are three spiritual temperatures;
1. The burning heart. This heart yearns for the Word of God and loves to hear the exposition of God’s Word. You find an example of this heart in Luke 24:32.
2. The cold heart. This heart is just not interested in spiritual things. It finds greater pleasure in the world than in God’s words. An example of this heart is found in Matthew 24:12.
3. The lukewarm heart. This is the heart who is comfortable and complacent. It is the worst condition of the three. This individual or church will not be committed to do anything much. May or may not be a regular worshipper. We find this example in our text (v. 15). You never know where this type of people or church stands on any issue or debate.

The John MacArthur Study Bible note on verse 16 states,

“Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (cf. Matt.7:21ff).”

Jesus says of this church, “You make me sick”. They are willing to sacrifice truth for peace.

If they would have been hot Jesus would have commended them. If they would have been cold, He would have rebuked them and heated them up. As they were lukewarm, they did not even realize they had a need. Everything was going their way. They had money, notoriety, rich jewels. They had everything other people in the city had – including the presence of the absence of Jesus. They did not even know Jesus was not there.

When things are going good, and we get comfortable, let us make certain Jesus is present no matter what the cost may be. If we are comfortable we must be careful not to grow complacent to the needs we may have as well as the needs of those around us. The greatest need the world around us has is that they see Jesus Christ in those who are His – for the church to be the Church – and not living as the world.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The church needed to be made aware of their comfortable complacency. Because of the material riches they had been blessed with they had drifted into lukewarmness and had become a negative testimony for Christ.

Lukewarmness happens when blessings are many and the worship of Jesus slacks off. Pride and self-satisfaction is the ruin of many individuals and churches.

The city was one of vast wealth and the church has been a recipient as well. They had “Need of nothing” and were blind to their real need. They were able to handle things themselves. Their blindness kept them from seeing their nakedness, and poverty. Spiritual blindness leads to spiritual bankruptcy.

These people were clothed in the richest of garments materially, yet without the righteous garment of Jesus, they had nothing of God. They were clothed in “Fig leaves” before the eyes of God.

Blindness is sometimes caused by poor diet – malnutrition. Warren Wiersbe said,

“Diet has bearing on the condition of one’s eyes, in a spiritual sense as well as a physical one.”

They had feasted heavily on material things and were fat and lazy. They had neglected the Word and worship of God in Christ and were blind as a bat without sonar, in Spirit. Poor, miserable, blind and naked.

They needed cleansing. They needed to stand for Jesus to show the world the difference one’s life has in Christ. This would lead to persecution, for the Scripture says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

They needed to be clothed in the white and righteous garments of Jesus. In Jesus they would have true riches; “Gold tried in the fire” or persecution and trials of faith in Him. God, raiment, and sight that is for eternity, rather than that which the moth and rust eat away, corupts and fails.

Laodicea was known for an eye ointment for helping sight problems. This ointment could not help them see Jesus, their true need, however. Jesus offers the ointment of the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.

Jesus’s words in verse 19 are directed to a small remnant within this church who are in Christ. They have sadly backsliden, yet Jesus warns them to repent. His chastening hand brings His children out of the lie of self-satisfaction into a satisfying fellowship with Himself.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

The saddest statement of these letters, and possibly in all of scripture is the proximity of Jesus in relation to this church.

1. He is near, but not in;
2. He is knocking at the door; the one’s inside unaware of His absence;
3. He is asking to come in.

This was more a social club than a church. If the One who instituted the Church is not in the church, then, it is not the Church. It does not matter how loud a group yells they are a church. What does matter is, where Jesus is in relation to them. Likewise, it matters not how loud the individual declares He is a christian, it does, however, matter the proximity of Jesus in relation to that individual.

For those who will open the door and let Him in there is great fellowship and feasting in His presence and glory.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The promise to the “Overcomer” is an eternal one. To sit with Jesus on His throne (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He has called us to be overcomers, placed in us His Spirit who seals us to that great day. Why do we want to persist in our own way, knowing that the riches of Jesus are ours through overcoming faith in Him?

Now is the time to hear. Hear the Spirit as He directs you to Jesus. Hear Him as He rebukes you of your sin and your backsliden condition.

Many individuals and churches are in the Laodicean condition. We need not stay there. If the Laodicean church did not repent they were judged. If the Church today does not repent of its comfortable complacency judgment will come on all who do not overcome.

In conclusion, this is the only church that had no commendation said of it. It was soundly rebuked for its lukewarmness. It was a “church” which made Jesus sick. Jesus was not even present in the church. He was outside, asking to come in, but they were not listening.

Let none of us who are in the Body of Christ get to the place where we do not even notice the absence of Jesus. What do we have if Jesus is not present in our gatherings as a local congregation? We have a social gathering, and some Christians who need repentance. What do we have if an individual does not have the presence of Jesus? A lost individual, or a backsliden Christian. Jesus is Lord. He establishes His Church. It is Jesus who decides who will sit with Him on His throne. He is THE SOVEREIGN KING.

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The Church That Allows Jezebel

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; 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. 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. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 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. 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. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 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. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 2:18-29 (KJV).

In these verses we will see that Jesus, as the holy and righteous Judge will not tolerate wickedness, corruption in His Church, but that He exposes and judges it, and sets apart those within the body who are not partakers of the vileness.

Jesus introduces Himself to the church of Thyatira as a judge. He is one who exposes unrighteousness in the forms of heresy, idolatry, and all abominable acts.

This church was a corrupt church. Toleration of “Jezebel” is their chief sin. Refusing to confront and judge her themselves Jesus would come and do so Himself.

False teachings still corrupt the church today. There is very little teaching of holiness or righteousness, but much about self-awareness and self-acceptance. There are also teachings of “Anti-nomianism” disguised as freedom in Christ, the priesthood of the believer, and the liberty of the Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” from the bondage of sin. We are not at liberty to sin, but at liberty to serve and follow Jesus Christ.

There may have been some who tolerated “Jezebel” in order to practice “Church Growth”. There is a “Jezebel spirit” in that area especially. BEWARE!!!

Verse 18 begins the longest letter, and it is addressed to the church of Thyatira.
This letter opens with a word of warning to the unrepentant church member. The way in which Jesus identifies Himself is the warning. “His eyes like unto a flame of fire and His feet are like fine brass” (1:14-15). His eyes are eyes which pierces through the hardest of hearts and determines the motive and sees the sin of every heart. The feet like fine brass. His feet are pure and He is worthy to judge all who fail to give Him place – His rightful place.

Thyatira was a small city approximately 40 miles East of Pergamum. It was know as a city which manufactured purple dye. It is mentioned in the book of Acts 16:14-15. Lydia, a purple merchant, was from Thyatira and very well could have been used by God to start this church.

The people of the church for reasons yet to be mentioned have to be reminded of the deity of Jesus Christ, therefore, in this letter alone does He identify Himself as the Son of God. What tragedy when the Church loses sight of His divinity.

This is a church that is the opposite of the church of Ephesus. It appears their love for Jesus was stronger, their works were not mere religion, but done out of true love for Jesus (v. 19).

The church of Ephesus had the works but not the love; but they hated false teaching and dealt with it. The church of Thyatira had the love, but tolerated false teaching and evil. Both of these are in the extreme on opposite ends. There needs to be both a love for Jesus and hatred for false teaching and evil, and confronting it. This church sounds much like many churches of the 21st century. “You can love the Lord, and other gods and things; we will love you, no matter what; and there will never be any judgment against you. Let’s love and tolerate one another.”  Sin and false teaching must be dealt with.

The condemnation against Thyatira is because of tolerance of evil, deceptive teaching led by a strong, domineering woman who is “Jezebel” in character. “Jezebel” is probably a symbolic character reminding the people of the domineering, deceptive practices of the queen of Israel in 1 Kings 16 and following, who led Israel into Baal worship while pretending to hold on to the worship of YaHWeH (vv. 20 – 23).

This woman may have had a large following because of her strong leadership abilities and her loose morals. She probably was seen by some as a peacemaker, a worker for unity, especially between Christians and the government, and employers who did not want Christians who stood up for their Savior. She was corrupting the Church. This was probably the beginning of Maryolotry. Putting the virgin Mary on equal, if not a greater scale with Jesus.

Jesus gave her time to repent, but she refused. All who yielded to her teachings and practices would be cast into judgment with her. The bed that had been a bed of pleasure, and peace would become a bed of pestilence. “Kill her children with death” is showing pestilence – disease, plague, drought – it would end in death.

By this judgment all the churches will know that Jesus knows the heart, mind, and motives of His people – and of the wicked as well. When these have sown seeds of corruption what is the harvest, except corruption – destruction.

“Jezebel” would be an unredeemed person who crept in by stealth and deceit. Her only purpose is to lead astray, corrupt, and destroy. God’s purpose would be to strengthen the believers.

To those who are pure – have kept themselves from this doctrine of “Jezebel” Jesus’s promise is to put no other burden upon them (vv. 24 – 25).

This is the third letter in which Jesus has mentioned the enemy (

satan). To Smyrna, He calls the false Jews, “The synagogue of Satan”. To Pergamos, He calls it the place “Where Satan’s seat is”, “Where Satan dwelleth”, and to the Church of Thyatira, “Those who have not known the depths of Satan” – probably referring to indulgence to sinful idol worshiping practices which “Jezebel” practiced along with her followers. “Give in to the world. Be silent about your faith. Do not lose your job because of Jesus, just go along with the crowd”. God forbid that we give up and give in to “The depths of Satan”.
Jesus says to those who are faithful, “Hold on to that which you have.” Keep the faith. Be patient, “Until I come”. This is a promise of deliverance to the faithful.

In verses 26 – 28 Jesus mentions the overcomer. The overcomer operates by faith and keeps His works unto the end. He has no other life. He knows no other position, than the one he has in Jesus Christ.

Notice the mention of the Millennial reign of Jesus. Yes, I believe the millennial reign of Christ to be literal. There are hundreds of Old Testament passages having to do with a Kingdom of Christ on earth where the lamb with lie down with the lion and wolf, and children play over the dens of serpents. The “Overcomers” will be given a position of authority in that day. Remember! We are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) and “All things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:22). This rule will be one of shepherding people who are on earth at that time. When do you see the “Morning star”? At the beginning of a new day. A new day begins in Jesus Christ. He is the Morning Star. The “Overcomer” is one who is a possession of Jesus, and Jesus is their possession.

Verse 29 gives us the call to hear. It is the first of the seven letters that has the invitation to hear on the very end of the letter.

It is on the end of the following three letters as well. Perhaps to let all know, who are reading and hearing these words, and find themselves in a similar predicament. Jesus will be the judge of all sin and sinners who do not repent of their sin. Woe be to the one who does not hear and heed the message to the church of Thyatira.

In conclusion, wickedness abounds in this world. This is not the time for the Christian to be tolerating evil practices and/or false teachings. When we give allegiance to the world and “Christ” we give no allegiance to Christ.

The world around us is looking for hope and deliverance from all the things which plague our world. The Christian through the Bible, has the answer. If we follow the world, who does the world have to follow? We are the light that shines in the darkness. Evil corrupts, but the light will overcome darkness [evil].

Be a source of hope to a dark world by building on the foundation principles of the Word of God and His righteousness in Jesus Christ. Let the world know there is right in the Light.

Jesus, to this very day, is THE JUDGE of evil in the world and the Church; and He still will not tolerate evil within His Body, which is the Church.

Fight Against Them With the Sword of My Mouth

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 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. 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. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 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.” Revelation 2:12-17 (KJV)

In this we unveil Jesus Christ as One who hates compromise in His people, especially of doctrine and morality, and how He deals with it.

Pergamum was a city of compromise. There were many temples of worship there. From emperor worship, there was also Dionysus, Esculapius (the healing serpent god), and Zeus. These were worshipped as well as others. It was legal to worship anything you please as long as you bowed first to worship the Roman emperor. I you did not bow to the emperor, then, you most likely would die.

Writing of Esculapius, J. Vernon McGee wrote,

“Then the other outstanding temple was of the god Asklepios. Down from that great ancient world. It was the Mayo Clinic of that day. It was, first of all, a temple to Asklepios. If you are looking at the Greek god Asklepios, it is a man, but when you see the Anatolian or Oriental Asklepios, it is a serpent. There in Pergamum it was a serpent. I have pictures which I took of that great marble pillar which stands like an obelisk now but apparently was a pillar in the temple of Asklepios. The construction of the temple was unusual in that it was round. There they used every means of healing imaginable. They used both medicine and psychology – and about everything else.
Put yourself in this situation: you go down long tunnels, and above are holes that look like airholes for ventilation but are not. As you walk along these tunnels, sexy voices come down through the holes, saying to you, ‘You are going to get well. You are going to feel better. You are going to be healed.’ (Does that have a modern ring?) You go down to the hot baths where you are given a massage. There is a little theater there where they give plays of healing. If they haven’t healed you by now, as a last resort they put you in that temple at night and turn loose the nonpoisonous snakes which crawl over you. (That is known as the shock treatment in our day!) If they don’t heal you, they will drive you crazy, that’s for sure. They have a back door where they take out the dead. They don’t mention the ones they don’t heal; they speak only ot those who recover.” (From Thru The Bible pg. 908 by J. Vernon McGee).

Warren Wiersbe wrote of this also,

“The city aslso had a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on the staff.” (BE Commentary vol. 2, pg. 573).

In the church at Pergamus some Christians died because they refused to pay homage to the emperor. Some people came in dressed in “Sheeps clothing” saying it was the patriotic and dutiful thing to do. According to this teaching it was okay to bow to another god as long as you continued to worship “god the emperor”. “It is okay to compromise to save your life. After all, how can you be a witness for Jesus when you are dead?”

This is the religious atmosphere the church was in. How tempting it must have been for them to compromise their faith. We will see Jesus hates the sin of compromise.

Jesus once again addresses this letter to the messenger of the local congregation at Pergamos (v. 12).

Jesus is identified here as in verse sixteen of chapter one, as “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.”

The sword held a special place in Rome of which Pergamos was an active emperor worshipping city. The sword was a symbol of power and authority. Thus, by Jesus being identified this way says to the Christians in this city, “I am mightier than Rome”. Rome will fall. It did. He never will.

Once again we have Jesus’s “I know” statement in verse 13. He knows our works, our location, and our tribulations. He also knows our compromises.

Pergamos was a very pluralistic society, especially when it came to religion. Roman emperor worship being number one, the worship Esculapius, which was the serpent god of healing, Zeus, and Dionysus and others were all worshipped there.

The probable reference to “Satan’s seat” as “Satan’s throne” is to the worship of the Roman emperor. This city was probably one of the strongest advocates of emperor worship. All those other gods could be worshipped freely as long as they would bow and give allegiance to the emperor.

Jesus’s words of commendation are strong. Even though they lived in such a place they were holding fast to the name of Jesus. They were not denying the faith. Jesus then recognizes one martyr who was slain for his faithful testimony of Christ. There is not much said or known about Antipas. Tradition says he was broiled alive inside the carcass of a bull.

When there is such a multiplicity of religion with all bowing to the government, that is certainly the dwelling place of Satan.

There is a strong rebuke for them in verse fourteen. Jesus can use the “Sharp two edged sword” to comfort and encourage. Now He is wielding it in order to warn.
The rebuke is against those that were teaching and following “The doctrine of Balaam”. Balaam was a prophet for profit – a prophet of compromise. He betrayed his calling for a price. In Numbers 22-25 we find the narrative of Balaam.

Balaam was asked by Balak, who was the king of Moab and he greatly feared Israel, to curse this nation of many people. He must have known of Balaam’s tendency. However, God would not let him do it. Remember God’s promise to Abraham, “Whosoever curseth you shall be cursed”.

The “Doctrine of Balaam” is a doctrine of compromise. Just blend in to your environment. Go ahead and bow to the Roman emperor, save your life, and still worship Jesus. After all, is the worship of Jesus worth your life, your possessions, your reputation?

THE WAY OF BALAAM = Ministry for pay.
THE ERROR OF BALAAM = To think God would do the opposite of what He promised.
THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM = Counseling others on how to curse God’s people.

Jesus  knows that to compromise thus, is to kill the witness, to stop the work of the gospel. Compromise is Satan’s greatest threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Balaam could not curse Israel, but he found them capable of compromise. Numbers 31:16 says, “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague (Numbers 25) among the congregation of the LORD”.

It seems Balaam played “Peacemaker” and Israel compromised the Word of God. Peace at any price is not the right way. It is the way of disobedience and death. The “Stumbling block” was intermarriage with the Midianites and Moabites. The “Stumbling block” for Pergamos was the same teaching; just go along, marry the lost, worship the emperor, even if it is not sincere, do it for the sake of preserving your life.
If you would note Numbers 25 you will see the devastation that came upon Israel because of their treachery of faith. Twenty four thousand Israelites died because of the sin of compromising the Law of God.

Those who have God’s law and keep it will always be at enmity with those who do not (John 14:21). If there is no friction, there is no motion.

Once again we learn of a teaching which was growing and leaching in the early church (v. 15). The teaching of the Nicolaitans fits with the “Doctrine of Balaam”. They fit like a hand in a glove. Jesus says, in verse 6 and 15, this is that “Which I hate”. “Conquer the people” teaches the people to compromise their place as priests. The man appointed priests will pray for them. When they sin come to the priests, confess to them, and they will pray for your forgiveness. You go on and live, do not worry about your sin. Just confess on confession day.

This is the thing Jesus hates. A compromising church who leaves all the work of the ministry in the pastor’s hands. We the people of Jesus Christ are the priests of God. We are individually and daily responsible for confessing our own sins to God, not to a man, unless that man/woman is someone we have offended or sinned against, and it would be proper to do so. We are all responsible for obedience to the Word of God.

If Jesus hates these doctrines we should as well. This was a problem in this church. It was hated by the church of Ephesus, for which Jesus commended them. It is something every church and Christian individual must deal with, and if we come to any conclusion other than that of Jesus, we oppose Him, and choose our own way.

Jesus calls for this church’s repentance (v. 16). Remember repentance is a change of mind, change of direction, a 180 degree turn.

Jesus wants His Church to view compromise and all sin as He does. To repent is to cme to full agreement with Him concerning compromise and all that He has declared to be sin.

Repentance and faith are the ingredients of salvation. Repentance is also the need of Pergamos’ church and of the Church today. If there is no repentance, He says, “I will come quickly”. This has nothing to do with His second coming. If the church refuses His word as the means of detecting evil, false doctrines, and compromise; His own Word will be used to “Fight against them”. The Word of Christ not only convicts and comforts it also condemns when He is not obeyed. “The sword of My mouth” can only have reference to the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…”. Ephesians 6:17, “And take… the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God”.

Our Lord seems to make a distinction between a remnant of faithful, and those who are the compromisers. His words, “Will fight against them” indicates that if this problem of compromise is not dealt with in a quick and decisive manner, then those, the “Them(s)” will be cut by the cutting edges of the “Two edged sword”. He will take this sword of His Word and cut away all that is unseemly, sinful and compromising, and He will come surely and quickly and do it. A-MEN.

The final verse of this letter is once again addressed to the individual.

We have to remember every one who has their names on the roll of the local church is not an “Overcomer”. The “Overcomer”, Jesus promises they will eat of the “Hidden manna”. There was a bowl of manna hidden within the “Ark of the Covenant”. This manna is revealed in the person of Jesus who is the true manna from Heaven (John 6:31-33). The “Hidden manna” can only be eaten by those for whom the “Holy Ark” is opened through the shed blood, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only way into the presence of God (which the Ark of the Covenant represents) is through the blood of Jesus.

It is not sure what the “White stone” represents. It is possible it was one of the twelve stones worn by the Levitical priests on their robes. It is also possible it represents a symbol of security.

Your name written in God’s stone is certainly more sure than written on a local church’s membership roll. The question could be asked, “Is your name written on the Rock, or is it written on a roll?” God’s Ten Commandments were written in stone. They abide forever. Maybe, that is true of the ones who receive a “New name written in stone”. Jesus the One, THE CUTTING EDGES.

In conclusion,
Pergamos had one thing going for it. It had some who had been faithful to Christ, even in the face of death. They dared not to compromise.

Fear has a way of causing compromise, and when a smooth talking, charismatic personality comes along saying, “A compromise is alright. You do not have to give up your beliefs. Just go along. It will keep you alive.” That when coupled with the fear makes it all sound pretty good.

However, Jesus says He hates it. Compromise destroys our fellowshp with God and Jesus. It ruins our witness, and it robs us of our peace with God.

There is great blessing for the “Overcomer”. He gets to “Partake of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) of Jesus and live eternally. They also have a “New name” written in stone. One thing is for sure THE CUTTING EDGES of that two edged sword (the Sword of His mouth) will do what is necessary to make His people holy.

The One Who is Alive Forevermore

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 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. 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. 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.” Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

Facing sorrows through trials of our faith we find assurance, in this letter to the church in Smyrna, of the eternalness of Jesus, and His promise of eternal riches to those who are overcomers. The “Crown of Life” is promised to those who are “Faithful unto death”.

The church at Smyrna was a suffering church. They had nothing of the world’s goods or praise. They did have the praise of Jesus. That means more than anything.

Polycarp was the bishop of the church and he was put to death for his faith. In John Walvoord’s “THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” he writes, speaking of Polycarp,

“When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”.

Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today, known as Izmir, unlike Ephesus which is in ruins. When Christians are willing to stand no matter what, it has redeeming qualities for all of society. There is also a Christian church in the city. How? By overcoming.

The church of Smyrna needed to hear from the One who is the “First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive”. Smyrna is located approximately 35 – 50 miles north of Ephesus. Like Ephesus, it too is a port city. The two cities probably struggled over which was the chief city of the region.

The word ‘Smyrna’ means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead. It was also used in Tabernacle worship, and as a perfume. The significance of this is the way in which Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Smyrna. “I Am the eternal One [the First and the Last], which became dead [myrrh was used for His burial], and I Am alive forevermore”.

These are certainly encouraging words. Our Savior who was humiliated and put to open shame upon the cross, and put to death is encouraging the church to stay on course, because they too will live eternally. They too, may die; you may someday get to die for your faith in Jesus, but that is not the end. You have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His “I know” of verse 9 is somewhat different from His “I know” for the church of Ephesus.

The church is suffering fiery persecution. “Poor” means they were poor in this world’s material things. This partially due to them, as followers of Jesus, having no rights to worship. Their lands and houses could be taken freely, because they had no legal protection, no constitutional protections as we have.

Their persecution came by means of the unregenerate people of Smyrna. Both the Gentiles and Jews persecuted the Christians.

“…Jews, and are not” implies a racial identity without a Christ’s identity. In Pauls letter to the Romans he wrote,

“…He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29).

If these “Jews” had been anywhere near obedience to their faith they would have remembered God’s law which says,

“…the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Therefore, Jesus says that they “…Are the synagogue of satan” – lost, no relation with God, condemned, and needing salvation.

They are known by those who persecute them as being “Poor”. They are known by Jesus as being “Rich”. How are you known by people? More importantly, how are you known by Jesus? It is much better to be poor to the world and rich with Christ, than to be rich to the world and poor with Jesus.

Jesus is so very gracious. He speaks quite often in the gospels, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid”. Here in verse 10 He speaks the words again. “Fear none of those things…”.
“If they come and take away your houses or land, do not be afraid. If they come to take you away for torture, pain and death, do not fear. If they come to take your family, do not be afraid. If they come to ridicule you, do not fear. If they bring false charges against you, do not fear. If they come to take your life, do not be afraid. It is not over. Your life is still in My hands”, Jesus says. My paraphrase.

Tribulation and suffering should not be strange for the follower of Jesus. He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).

Trials and testings come into every believer’s life. Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is because of sin left unconfessed and an unrepentant heart, or paying the consequences of sin forgiven. Sometimes it is to keep us from something for our own benefit and His glory.

“Tribulation ten days” is probably a reference to a short period of time. All the troubles we encounter as Christians are of only short duration compared to eternity. Many Christians suffer bad health for years, not because of sin, but for their good, and the glory of Jesus. It is only a short time compared to the glory and splendor of God’s eternal home.

The “Ten days” have also been compared to a period of time from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD.. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD.. This would have represented the ten days as being periods of persecution under these leaders.

How faithful would you be to public worship and faith in Jesus Christ if our government suddenly declared worshiping God in Jesus to be illegal? Would you be in Bible study and worship next Sunday? The worship of the church of Smyrna was illegal, yet they worshiped and lived their faith. They suffered. Jesus words were, “Be faithful unto death”. “Don’t be afraid, be faithful”. Even if it means your life, be faithful. Jesus was. He gave His life as not only as an act of love for you and me, but also an act of faithfulness to the Father. The reward? He will give a “Crown of life”; “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). This crown is often equated with being the “Martyrs crown”, but probably received by all who are faithful in life without fear for their lives.

Finally, Jesus says to the church of Smyrna, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (v. 11). Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will hear His voice.

The Spirit gives understanding. He is our ears to the words of the Lord Jesus. The message is now to the individual – “Hear”.

“The second death” is total and eternal separation from God. The word ‘death’, in essence means separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from life. Spiritual death is the condition all people are born into, separated from God. The “Second death” being different only in that it is eternal separation from God. There is an eternal place where the eternal wrath of God is suffered.

All who overcome are “Born of God”. “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). All who are “Born of God” [born again] overcome. The “second death” has no hurt to the born again (Revelation 20:6). The second death is reserved for those not found in the book of life (20:14), ‘the fearful and unbelieving…the abominable, …shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (21:8).

The only way to miss the “Second death” is to be born twice. The second time through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone once said, “If you were born once, you will die twice. If you were born twice, you will die once.”

Troubles, inevitably will come, at least while we live on earth. Some people will ridicule our faith and faithful practices. Sickness comes occasionally or regularly for some. Nevertheless, we are called on to be faithful.

If we keep in mind the humiliation of Jesus and His suffering, even though He was sinless, and the glory that is His after His resurrection, we can overcome every trouble and trial of suffering that comes our way. No material possession can keep us from the “Second death” only Jesus can. After all He is THE RESURRECTED ONE.

To the Church at Ephesus

“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; 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: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 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.” Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV).

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not like the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is the Caretaker of the Light and the One who holds the “Messengers” in His hand.

This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.

In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people, and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.

He commends them, and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course it is the One who is speaking. The One who is THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT.

We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!

Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.
In this first verse Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identfies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.

The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There was no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames buring the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

We now enter the “I know” portion of the letter. He is the “All-Knowing” One.
The people of Ephesus Church were a busy people. They were working and laboring to the point of exhaustion. For this devotion Jesus commends them. These were also a people who were sound in doctrine, they hatted evil, and they were a discerning people. They could tell the true from the false. The reason they were able to discern so well is, that , they had learned the truth so well.

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles, and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.

By all appearances Ephesus was a good church. They were seving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work, but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.

“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the allurements of the city and their ways of worship.

The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship,and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).
He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.

He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.

One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial and resurrection.

The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exist, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

Jesus commends them in verse six for their hating the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans”. There is some dispute over who these were. Some take the name to mean “Conquerors of the people” meaning this group was the beginning of the separation of “Clergy” and “Laity”. The placing of a “Priesthood” lording over the people. Others relate the name to a man whose name was Nicolaus who taught that once you were saved you could live in sin and return for forgiveness anytime. NOTE – I wrote “Live in sin” which is continual action. This belief is called “Antinomiansiam”. I personally see no conflict between these two understandings. The separation of the “Priesthood” from the people lends leniency to immoral living and takes away personal responsibility, for one’s self and others. Though God has set an order for His local church, there is no one person of more importance than another. The pastor is to be the leader, but is no more important than the janitor. Each have their God given duty, and each duty is important in God’s church. Jesus is Superior to all. The very fact that there is no description of these “Nicolaitans”, other than these views, seem to add credibility to this.

In the final verse of this important letter we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.

The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.

To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.

Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.