Verse 1.. 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;
We found in Revelation 1:20 that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches.
Verse 2.. I know thy works, and thy labor, 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: Verse 3.. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
These guys had it going on! Works, labor, patience. They hated evil. They had a spirit of discernment. False teachers were identified and found to be liars. For the Lord's name they labored. They have not fainted. What more could you ask for? What a dynamic ministry. But wait.
Verse 4.. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Apparently the Lord is more interested in our relationship with Him than our works. He is not near as concerned about our establishing a mighty ministry as He is about our fellowship with Himself. We become sidetracked with ministry and doing works. Jesus says I just want to walk with you and talk with you. Enjoy time with you.
Verse 5.. 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.
Remember the first works. Remember how your relationship with Him was the most important thing in your life. Remember, repent, and return.
Verse 6.. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Verse 7.. 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.
They did hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. This was a good thing. Nicolaitans comes from the combined Greek words nika (he conquers) and loan (people). So conquering or lording it over the common people. Hierarchy in the church. This is exactly the thing that the disciples were arguing over. Luke 9:46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
So we are to be childlike around one another. If one would desire to be great then become a servant.
Remember the conditions of the blessing back in Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. If we overcome. If we hear the words and keep the things which are written therein then Jesus will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
We've heard about this tree before. Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After Adam fell, this tree was no longer available to partake of. Genesis 2:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
We will one day be able to again enjoy the fruit from this tree of life. The Lord promises it here in verse 7. This fruit which really improves our quality of life. We really begin to have access to it when we repent and turn and trust in Jesus Christ. He truly does give us life and that abundantly.
Now these churches all exist concurrently. In other words one can receive this teaching today. The conditions in any one of these seven churches can be seen in the church today. There is also an historical prospective which is very interesting. The first church or Ephusus may be referring to the period of time during the ministry the apostles or the first century.
The church of Smyrna could be referring to the second and third century church which experienced tremendous persecution. It was estimated that six million Christians were martyred during this period of time. Look at the Lords encouraging words to this church.
Verse 8.. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; Verse 9.. 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. Verse 10.. 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. Verse 11.. 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.
Now this is an interesting statement. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. This would naturally imply that he who doesn't overcome would be hurt by the second death. Jesus is talking to believers here. What is the second death. Revelation 20:13 says And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. Verse 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Verse 15 whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And again in Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Is there a place in hell for believers who don't overcome? Why the warning if it wasn't so. It would probably be a special place though. A place where the torment would not be as bad. But a place where there is no fellowship with the Lord. That would be hell indeed!
Verse 12.. 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 stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Verse 15.. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Verse 16.. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Verse 17.. 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 white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. The white stone was a stone of acceptance. The black stone was a stone of rejection, black-balled. I will give them a white stone. I will receive him. I will accept him and give him a name, which no man knows except him who receives it.
Now we see the development of the state church under Constantine. We see a church trying to dwell in the world. A church trying to join with the worldly system. A church state system. An effort to legislate religious issues. We see idols coming into the church. Representations of Jesus and Mary and of the Apostles and Saints and Moses and so forth. The introduction of the arts and statues within the churches. External beauty and art. But we must worship internally. Jesus said in John 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. This church also holds to the doctrine of the Nicloaitans which was previously discussed.
Now we have a continuation and development of this church state institution.
Verse 18.. 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; Verse 19.. 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. Verse 20.. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thous 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. Verse 21.. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Verse 22.. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
So here is the first mention of a church having to go into the tribulation period. The implication is that repentance would have spared them the suffering of the great tribulation.
Verse 23.. 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. Verse 24.. 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. Verse 25.. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Verse 26.. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: Verse 27 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. Verse 28 And I will give him the morning star. Verse 29..He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.