Revelation. The 7 Churches. (ch. 2 & 3)

In the book of Revelation God the Father is unveiling His beloved Son to us, as He is known in the heavenly realms. In Rev. ch. 2 & 3, I see that Christ, the Head of the Body, is overseeing it`s building & maturity. The Apostle Paul warned that there would be errors & heresies –

`(Paul) For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves & for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; & from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Therefore be on the alert……..I commend you to God & to the word of His grace which is able to build you up & give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.` (Acts. 20: 27 – 32)

Perverse – Gk. Word `diastrepho,` meaning to distort, misinterpret & corrupt.

Here I see that certain people from amongst the believers are not looking to the Lord as the Head, but desire to `rise up` & `lord it over` others. They teach wrong doctrine, `perverse things.` How true is that down through the centuries & today.

Thus the Lord Jesus Christ directs John to write to the seven churches in Asia who I believe are representative of all the local churches, the believers who are the Body of Christ.

Seven – Heb. word `shaba,` to be complete.
The seven churches – the complete Body of Christ coming to maturity.

The Lord addresses each group particularly, giving words of commendation & encouragement or chastisement & warnings. Christ then counsels each group presenting Himself in clarity & truth. The response is but to repent & obey the Holy Spirit.

When I look at the church of Ephesus I see a severe error, that they have `left their first love.` These believers had slipped back into self effort. They knew what was right or wrong, but their hearts were not receiving the Spirit who enabled them to do the work.

They did the works of testing who were apostles & who were not & they had laboured with patience & perseverance. However this was a duty to them & not through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Their `first love` is the Lord, the Head of the Body & they had slipped into trying to do things themselves.

Christ`s answer to their error is to reveal Himself as the preeminent one who has all power and authority walking in their midst.

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who holds the 7 stars (angels), who walks in the midst of the 7 golden lampstands. (the Body of Christ)” (Rev. 2: 1)

Then Christ encourages & commends them for their patience, perseverance & testing of false apostles.

“I know your works, your labour, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And that you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them to be liars, and you have persevered and have patience, and have laboured for my name`s sake and have not become weary.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” (Rev. 2: 4 & 5)

These believers did however discern those who `lorded it over ` others and did not agree with their behaviour.

“But this you have, that you hate the deed of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Rev. 2: 6)
Nicolaitan – Gk. Nikolaos, `nikao,` to conquer, and `laos,` the people.
To conquer the people, or to lord it over them. ( 1 Peter 5: 3)

The Lord Jesus Christ then encourages the believers to listen to His Holy Spirit so they can be overcomes who will receive of His eternal life.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2: 7)

This is a controversial theory, but one I hold nonetheless.

Could the book of Revelation be less about the "End of the World" and more about an end of an age, and an encouragement to Christians facing persecution?
The Roman empire (especially under Nero) fit the role of the "AntiChrist" very well. It persecuted Christians and committed unbelievable atrocities against them. Even Pagan writers of the time were astonished at how they were treated.

As to the prophetic "Whore of Babylon" couldn't that have meant the City of Rome, as it existed back then? Rome back then was built upon Seven Hills, and ruled by an emperor bedecked in purple and red finery. The sexual perversions and lisence of ancient Rome are legendary, rivalling (or even surpassing) the sort of things that go on in Hollywood today.

Ancient Rome was more powerful and important than New York City, London or Tokyo combined, in terms of military and financial power. While modern Rome is certainly an important city, it is nowhere near the top in terms of all around power.

My question is... have the event prophesied in revelation already happened, in some form?
Hi TrueChristian1990,

Thank you for your comments. They would make a good discussion & I suggest that you may like to start a thread on that. These threads on Revelation are to do with the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is known in the heavenly realms. So for a detailed discussion on events & their timing etc you will need to go elsewhere.

Reading about the church at Smyrna, I see that these represent Christian martyrs down through the centuries.

`Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.” (Rev. 2: 9 & 10)

10 – Gk. Word `deka` - fig. for law, testing
Day – Gk. Word `hemera` - fig. meaning a period of time, judgement.

The `10 days` is symbolic (to me) of a period of testing time that the believers through the centuries will have to undergo until God brings judgement.

So it is that Christ unveiled Himself as not merely alive, but also immune from death`s power, and assures the same immunity to His people.

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, these things says the First & Last, who was dead, & came to life:..” (Rev. 2: 8)

Christ is not only the Commencer and Consummator of life as the First and Last, but also the conqueror of death. Where death reigns as the enemy`s power, all mankind are held in bondage. But Christ is the Originator of life as the First and the Overseer as the Last. He is also the Overcomer who was dead and is alive. So He presents Himself as the prevailing Victor that He may make His people victorious also.

The second death refers not to the physical death but to the spiritual `death` of the unrepentant who will be cast from God`s presence forever.

“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Rev. 2: 11)

The third church mentioned is Pergamos. This group had fallen into quite serious errors, & these have been something all believers have to overcome. The Lord Jesus Christ said to them -

` But I have a few things against you because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling-block before the children of Israel. To eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.` (Rev. 2: 14 & 15)

So some believers were holding the doctrine of Balaam & the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of Balaam, refers to Balaam who taught Balak to corrupt God`s people by tempting them to defile their separation from the world & abandon their pilgrim character.
Similarly certain people were teaching believers to behave like the world bringing them back into bondage. This is spiritual adultery.

Then there were people who `lorded it over` others developing a hierarchical system of control, which is not how the believers were to behave. This is still evident today.

Nikolaos – Gk. Words, `nikao` to conquer, & `laos` the people. To conquer the people.

Christ`s answer to these people is to reveal Himself as their judge, with the authority of His Word. He who has the sharp sword discerns between good and evil, right and wrong, false and true. The Word of God represented here can deliver or destroy, cleanse or condemn.

`And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:....` (Rev. 2: 12)

`Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.`(Rev. 2: 14 – 16)

Christ commends them for professing His name & not denying their faith in Him. However He points out to the believers that they are `dwelling` in the world, `where Satan`s throne is.`

` I know your works and where you dwell where Satan`s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.` (Rev. 2: 13)

World – Gk. Word `kosmos,` meaning the moral system, order of the world.

Those who listen to the Holy Spirit will overcome these false teachings & behaviour. They will inherit a title (white stone) and a suitable nature (new name) for heirship.

”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it”(Rev. 2: 17)

In the church ofThyatira we see represented those who have been greatly deceived by the schemes & false philosophies of the depths of Satan. Here `Jezebel` is the sensual idolatry that attempts to divert the believer from Christ`s divinity.

`Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sick-bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.` (Rev. 2: 20 – 22)

Christ`s answer is to highlight His deity to these believers. The word `Son, ` refers to His subsistence of being, His expression of character, His identity of will and His intimacy of fellowship with the Father. For Christ`s sonship is not derived but is eternal.

`And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, “These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, & His feet like fine brass; ` (Rev. 2: 18)

The eyes of flame denote His infinite knowledge, while the feet of brass describe His righteous justice.

` I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.`(Rev. 2: 19)

`And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.`(Rev. 2: 20 – 23)

To the overcomer who holds fast to who Christ is, then he will rule & reign with Christ over the world`s systems. He will be with Christ in glory when He appears as `the morning star.`

`But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira as many as do not have this doctrine, and have not known the depths of Satan, as they call them, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come.

And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end to him I will give power over the nations – “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter`s vessels shall be broken to pieces.”

As I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.`(Rev. 2: 24 - 29)

Many in the church ofSardis have prided themselves on their denomination rather than honouring the Lord Jesus Christ. They gain prestige from their allegiance to the organisation which has a standing in the world. They think that they are `alive,` but Christ says, they are `dead.` He exposes their trust in man-made denominations, a `name` they have made for themselves.

`I know your works, that you have a name,...` (Rev. 3: 1)

Name – Gk. Word `onoma,` authority. & `onomai,` renown, to derive advantage from.
Denomination – the act of naming. (The Concise English Dictionary)

`I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.` (Rev. 3: 1 – 3)

Christ comes to this group of believers telling them He is the one with the Spirit of God and the administrative power over the Body of Christ. The seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, demonstrates Christ`s manifold wisdom and majestic power.

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “ These things says He who has the 7 (fold) Spirits of God & the 7 stars:..” (Rev. 3: 1)

The Lord knows that external establishment may give high sounding renown, but when life and virtue are lacking then they need the power of the Spirit of God. Holy love, fervent zeal, spiritual discernment and willing obedience results from gifts bestowed by the Sovereign Lord who is ever in sole command.

Names may be deleted from registers and disowned by earthly hierarchy but if they are in the book of life they will be confessed before the Father`s throne.

`You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.` He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.` (Rev. 3: 4 - 6)

The church of Philadelphia is a very blessed group of believers. They are not partial or sectarian, but have a love for all the brethren, the Body of Christ. This is shown by their name which reveals their character.

Philadelphia - `Philos,` fond, & `adelphos.` brother. Meaning love of the brethren.

They have a desire to see the Body of Christ come to full maturity.

`...speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Christ.` (Eph. 4: 15)

These believers are given the true riches in Christ, a full understanding of Him, His character & His purposes. This is symbolised by the `key of David.`

`These things says He who is holy & true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens & no one can shuts, & shuts & no one opens.` (Rev. 3: 7)

Here we read of Christ`s holiness and honour with His active administration. He is qualified to fill the royal office and hold the regal key of David, which is authority over Israel and its National treasures. Yet above this, Christ is King of a greater realm, the regency of truth. He also holds a greater key to eternal riches, for in Him are all the riches of wisdom and knowledge - the true riches of wisdom & knowledge of Himself.

` whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge.` (Col. 2: 3)

An `open door`means access to this true wisdom & knowledge of Christ. Believers who hold fast to Christ, who persevere in their witness of Him, are brought to the fullness of the knowledge of Christ, to maturity in Him. Many others who have been deceived will repent and come to learn of these truths of Christ, His character and His purposes.

`I know your works. See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will, make them come and worship before your feet and know that I have loved you.` (Rev. 3: 8 & 9)

This group of believers are given the most wonderful promise of being kept from the tribulation that will come upon the earth to those following the world`s ways. These believers will be caught away to the 3rd heaven where they will rule and reign with Christ. They are then given authority in each of God`s realms to serve as king priests unto God.

`Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.`

`Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.`(Rev. 3: 10 – 13)

The final group of believers, the church of Laodicea, I believe, represent those who have a `friendship with the world.` They are content with their worldly wealth believing that they can partner with the world to bring peace and justice.

Laodicea - `Laos` - people, & `dike` - justice, meaning – the people`s justice.

`....friendship with the world is enmity with God.` (James 4: 4)
Friendship – from the Gk word, `philia` friendship & `philos` friend, associate, partner

This group believe that by partnering with the world system that they can transform & change the world, bringing peace, hope & justice through man`s efforts. This is spiritual adultery, joining with the world & not relying on the Lord. They have had their spiritual vision dimmed, become weak in obedient submission and then finally, listless.

`I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” And do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked..` (Rev. 3: 15 – 17)

Christ reveals Himself to be the Amen of God. This is an amazing declaration. For so fully did Christ do the will of God, fulfil the Word of God and discharge the work of God, that He is now honoured with this coveted title, `The Amen.` He truly is the most `faithful and true witness.` And as `the Beginning of the creation of God,` He is the originator of the source of life and matter. He is our resource not the world.

`And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, these things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.` (Rev. 3: 14)

This group should have been a `witness` to the world of the power of God to change people. They should have been `faithful` to show that it is by His Holy Spirit that people are changed, & not by man`s efforts. They should have been `true` to God`s word declaring that He will judge the world instead of saying that He is transforming it for the better.

The Lord `the faithful & true witness` then addresses their watered down witness or `lukewarmness.` He tells them quite strongly, that unless they repent he will `vomit` then out of His mouth. He then counsels them to know Him as their source –

`I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye-salve, that you may see.`(Rev. 3: 18)

GoldFaith in Christ & not in man. (1 Peter 1: 7)
White Garments Christ`s righteousness not man`s efforts. (Titus 3: 5 & 6)
Anoint your eyes Insight by the Holy Spirit into Christ`s purposes, & not man`s purposes. (John 16: 13)

How gracious is the Lord who counsels these believers to repent, and to look and listen to Him. He is the one who will nourish them and He will bring them to His throne where they will rule and reign with Him.

`As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.` (Rev. 3: 19 - 22)