Calvary Chapel Bible Ministry School
(Author: Pastor Bryan Parish)
Edited & Revised by:
(Pastor Ronnie Mitchell)
I. Class Objectives
The goal of this class will be to accomplish a verse by verse study of the book of Revelation. At the end of the semester, each student should have a good grasp of the meaning and message of the entire book, as well as some of the varying positions and interpretations of the specific passages.
A. Homework/Grade Per Quarter
10% Assigned Reading
35% Short Paper
B. The Short Paper
Each quarter select a topic that you would like to write a 2 or 3 page paper on. Some possible discussion points (if appropriate depending on the topic):
1) Research and background.
2) Quotes/interpretations by at least three teachers/writers concerning the subject.
3) The strengths and weaknesses of the various positions.
4) Theological impact.
5) Your conclusions.
Suggested topics this quarter:
1) Thoroughly discuss and prove the authorship of the book.
2) Thoroughly analyze different approaches to interpreting the book and present your case for the one that you hold.
3) Thoroughly analyze the different Millennial views and present your case for the one that you hold.
4) Thoroughly analyze the different Rapture views and present your case for the one that you hold to. Remember: This must be completed by week 9. The topic should be covered early in the quarter.
C. Class Schedule
|Week 2||Ch. 1:1-1:8|
|Week 3||Ch. 1:9 – Intro: Ch. 2-3|
|Week 4||Ch. 2:1-11|
|Week 5||Ch. 2:12-3:6|
|Week 6||Ch. 3:7-22|
|Week 7||Ch. 4:1-5:14|
|Week 8||Intro: 6-6:17|
1. Five times in this book the author identifies himself as John (1:1; 1:4; 1:9; 21:2; 22:8).
a) The author never calls himself an apostle, but it is evident that he is the same person who wrote the Gospel of John.
(1) The primary dispute of the Apostolic authorship of this book is traced back to Dionysius.
(2) Dionysius was a student of Origen, the father of allegorical interpretation.
John probably wrote this book around 96 A. D. at the end of the reign of Emperor Domitian. The apostle was banished to the Island of Patmos where he wrote this book. The early Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus & Clement, say he was banished there during the reign of Domitian. Tradition teaches that he was forced to labor in the mines at Patmos.
The book clearly points out to whom this revelation was addressed in chapters 2 and 3. The Seven Churches in Asia Minor were the recipients of this book, but the whole Church throughout the ages has benefited from this book. The cities mentioned are a part of modern Turkey.
D. Key Verse
The key verse is 1:19 since it supplies the reader with a way to outline the entire book.
1. The things which you have seen – The vision of Christ (Rev.1).
2. The things which are – The state of the Churches (Rev.2-3).
3. The things which will be hereafter – The end-times events (Rev.4-22).
E. Theme / Contents / Structure
The theme of this book is revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The word revelation means the unveiling of something previously hidden. The same word is used when a cover is removed off a new statue it is unveiled at that time. The theme is seen in a prophetic style as it relates to the end-times events. The way this theme, the contents and the structure are seen in the book is as follows:
1. The Lord Of Glory.
Chapter 1: Christ is seen as the Lord of Glory. The descriptive phrase used here actually describes the garb of a High Priest, and emphasizes his Deity. Christ is seen as the High Priest in the midst of His Churches cleansing His people (as seen in chapters 2-3).
2. The Lord Of The Churches.
Chapters 2-3: Christ is pictured as the Lord of the Churches. Here he rebukes His people and calls them to a walk of purity.
3. The Lord Of Heaven.
Chapters 4-5: Christ is pictured as the Lord God. He is seated on a throne receiving worship and praise from his followers. He is the Lamb who alone was worthy to take the scroll from the Father and redeem the earth.
4. The Lord Over The Nations.
Chapters 6-19: Here Christ is seen as the Lord over all the Nations. He is the one judging and pouring out the wrath of God as the seven-sealed book is unwrapped.
5. The Seven Seals Judgments.
(1) Seal #1: A False Christ (Rev. 6:1-2)
(2) Seal #2: War (Rev. 6:3-4)
(3) Seal #3: Famine (Rev. 6:5-6)
(4) Seal #4: Death (Rev. 6:7-8)
(5) Seal #5: Persecution of the Saints (Rev. 6:9-11)
(6) Seal #6: Cosmic Disturbances (Rev.6:12-17); (Rev.7-The
144,000 Jews sealed & the persecuted in heaven)
(7) Seal #7: Contains the Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:1-6)
6. The Seven Trumpet Judgments.
(1) Trumpet #1: Vegetation Ruined 8:7
(2) Trumpet #2: Seas Ruined 8:8-9
(3) Trumpet #3: Waters Ruined 8:10-11
(4) Trumpet #4: Heavens Ruined 8:12-13
(5) Trumpet #5: Hellish Torment from the Bottomless Pit 9:1-12
(6) Trumpet #6: Four Demonic Angels Released 9:13-21
The Angel and the Little Book Rev 10
The Two Witnesses Rev 11:1-14
(7) Trumpet #7: The Proclamation of the Kingdom 11:15-19.
Note: The seventh trumpet begins with a proclamation of the coming kingdom (11:5-8) and ends with the seven bowl judgments (Rev 16:17-21). In between these events, a lengthy interval appears at chapter 12:1 and concludes at 15:8.
7. The Interval.
(1) Rev. 12: The Woman, the Child and the Dragon. The nation Israel (the woman) gives birth to the Messiah (the child) and the dragon (the devil) tries to destroy the child. Satan is cast out of heaven and then comes to persecute the woman (Israel) during the tribulation period. God protects Israel for 3 1/2 years as she flees into the wilderness.
(2) Rev. 13: The Two Beasts. A beast rises from the sea (the Anti-Christ) and another from the land (the false-prophet). Those who follow him receive a mark on their right hand or forehead.
(3) Rev. 14: The tribulation period is seen from the vantage point of the Messiah's victory. This chapter describes the entire seven year period in broad terms and emphasizes the victory the Lord will bring about over His enemies. In this chapter one can see the victory of the 144,000 (1-5), the judgment on the last world religious system (Babylon), the Anti-Christ, the false-prophet and their followers (6-20).
(4) Rev. 15: This chapter is seen as a prelude to the seven bowl judgments. The seven last angels with their bowls of wrath come out of the temple in heaven and prepare to pour out the wrath of God. These bowls are the completion of the wrath of God (15:1).
8. The Seven Bowl Judgments.
(1) Bowl #1: Malignant Sores 16:1-2
(2) Bowl #2: Sea Turns to Blood 16:3
(3) Bowl #3: Waters Turn to Blood 16:4-7
(4) Bowl #4: Men are Scorched with Fire 16:8-9
(5) Bowl #5: Painful Darkness 16:10-11
(6) Bowl #6: Euphrates Dried up 16:12-16
(7) Bowl #7: The Great Earthquake 16:17-21
9. The Interval.
(1) Rev 17-18: The Description and Judgment of Mystery Babylon. Mystery Babylon is the last political/religious system ruled by the Anti-Christ. The destruction of this empire by the Lord is recorded in 18:1-24.
(2) Rev 19: This chapter describes the Second Coming of Christ. The Lord is pictured riding on a white horse coming out of heaven (with his army) to conquer the world. Of course He wins! He defeats the beast and his armies and casts them into the lake of fire.
10. The Lord In The Millennium.
Chapter 20: Satan is bound for 1,000 years and then released for a short time near the end of the Millennium. He deceives those who were not completely loyal to the Lord during the Millennium and leads them in one last attempt to defeat the Lord. The Lord is victorious! The Lord then judges all those who rejected him at The Great White Throne and casts them into the lake of fire (20:11-15). The different views on the Millennium are as follows:
11. The Lord Of The Eternal State.
Chapters 21-22: The Description of the Eternal State. Heaven is described in these chapters as a giant city descending from the sky. Some say it actually touches the earth while others say it hovers over the planet. Either way, there is a new heaven and new earth for the redeemed to enjoy for eternity.
F. Additional Information
1. This book is special because:
(1) It pictures Jesus Christ in all his glory!
(2) It proclaims the glorious return of Christ to the earth! For every one verse describing the First Coming there are approximately eight referring to the Second Coming.
(3) It prophesies future events with unique symbolism! (1:1 'signified'). Key words: "Like" and "as."
(4) It puts heavy emphasis on the role and ministry of angels!
(5) It places great emphasis upon the church and its response to Christ!
(6) It promises great blessing to believers!
(7) It portrays worship as the main activity of heaven!
(8) It predicts God’s victory!
(9) It presents truth inspired by the Holy Spirit and is a part of Scripture!
2. This book is interesting because:
(1) It has an interesting relationship with the Book of Genesis. There are contrasts between Genesis and Revelation that deal with:
(a) Beginnings and endings.
(b) Failure and redemption.
(c) Cursings and blessings.
(2) The number ‘seven’ is seen many times in the book and emphasizes the perfect completion of God and His plan.
1. Main Interpretive Approaches. The book of Revelation has been interpreted in different ways over the course of Church history, and even continues to be a source of debate for expositors. The four ways in which this book has been interpreted are:
a) The Preterist Approach:
Everything in the book of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. This view rejects any futuristic aspect to the book at all. The contents relate to the events of John's day and refer to either Nero or Domitian. Revelation pictures in symbolic form the conflicts the Church had with Judaism and paganism, with the final chapters (20-22) describing the triumph of the Church. The first one to espouse this view was the Jesuit Alcasar (1613) and Grotius (a theologian of the Netherlands). This system is similar to the allegorical method, but views the material primarily as symbolic history rather than prophetic. The purpose of the book was to bring encouragement to the persecuted Church and was written in symbolic language that the Christians in that period could understand.
b) The Historical Approach:
The fulfillment of the book is going on presently in the history of the Church. Ryrie describes this view as: "a symbolic presentation of the total of Church history culminating in the Second Advent." Jochaim, a Catholic Scholar was the first proponent of this view. The view was popular during the Reformation period due to the fact it identified the Pope and the papacy as the Beasts of Rev 13. Other Adherents: Luther, Wycliffe, Joseph Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bengel and Barnes. This system is adopted by most Postmillennialists. (This view is also favored by many Amillennialists.)
c) The Allegorical (Non-Literal; Spiritual; Idealist) Approach:
This system originated in the Alexandrian School of Theology represented by Clement of Alexandria and Origen. The book of Revelation is seen as one great allegory that goes beyond the natural symbolism found in the book. This system interprets the two beasts as Imperial and Provincial Rome and that the point of the book is to encourage the believers. The book has largely been fulfilled and contains only practical lessons for the Church today. The theologians of this group tried to move away from Chilianism (a term used to describe those who held to a literal 1,000 year reign on the earth). This group ultimately influenced Jerome and Augustine (4th Century). Augustine saw the book as an allegory of Christianity versus evil, as in the City of God versus the city of Satan. Those classified as Amillennialists adopt this view today. The real weakness of this viewpoint is that it is left up to the imagination of the interpreter to define what the symbols in the book mean. For example, one interpreter sees in one of the symbols a picture of Luther and the Reformation, while another saw it as a picture of the printing press.
d) The Futurist (Prophetic) Approach:
All the contents of the book are seen as primarily prophetic. This system is adopted by all Premillennialists. Three major views exist within the way the book is to be interpreted within this system. These are:
(1) Everything In The Book Is Prophetic. This system divides the book as follows:
(a) Chapter 1: The Glorified Christ
(b) Chapters 2-3: A Prophetic view of all of Church History
(i) Ephesus: The apostolic era.
(ii) Smyrna: The persecuted Church in the 2nd & 3rd centuries.
(iii) Pergamos: The Compromising Church from when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire to the middle ages (312- to the middle ages 500-1500).
(iv) Thyatira: The middle ages to the Reformation where the Church was corrupted by pagan philosophy and ritualistic religion.
(v) Sardis: This Church pictures the Protestant Reformation when the Church had a name but it was dead. Some came out of this and came to life, while many continued in their outward show of religion.
(vi) Philadelphia: The missionary Church of the last few hundred years and the one which will experience the rapture.
(vii) Laodicea: The corrupt Church which will exist in the last days.
(c) Chapters 4-5: A Picture of Heaven and the Rapture (Pre-Trib View)
(d) Chapters 6-19: The Tribulation Period
(e) Chapter 20: The Millennium
(f) Chapters 21-22: The Eternal State
(2) Most Of The Book Is Prophetic. This system divides the books as follows:
(a) Chapter 1: The Glorified Christ
(b) Chapters 2-3: Exhortation to the Churches in John's Day.
(c) Chapters 4-5: A Picture of Heaven
(d) Chapters 6-19: The Tribulation Period
(e) Chapter 20: The Millennium
(f) Chapters 21-22: The Eternal State
(3) Most of the book is prophetic but the timing of the rapture is debated. This system divides the book as follows:
(a) Chapter 1: The Glorified Christ
(b) Chapters 2-3: Exhortation to the Churches in John's Day.
(c) Chapters 4-5: A Picture of Heaven
(d) Chapters 6-19: The Tribulation Period
(e) Mid-Trib: The Rapture somewhere in between Rev. 11 & 12 or between the fifth and sixth seal, between the wrath of Antichrist and the wrath of God. Note: Dan 7:25,9:27,12:7,11 & Rev 11:2,3,12:4,6,11,13:5 which all mention a 3 1/2 years.
(f) Post-Trib: The Lord raptures the believers and then comes to the earth to judge the world (Rev 19 & 1 Thess 4:13-18).
(g) Chapter 20: The Millennium
(h) Chapters 21-22: The Eternal State
B. The Different Viewpoints On The Rapture:
1. Posttribulational View - The Lord will return for the Church after the seven year tribulation.
|Church Age||7 Year Tribulation||Millennium and Eternity|
2. Midtribulational View - The Lord will rapture the believers in the middle of the tribulation period at the 3 ½ year point.
|Church Age||7 Year Tribulation||Millennium and Eternity|
3. Pretribulational View - The Lord will rapture the Church before the seven year tribulation period begins.
|Church Age||7 Year Tribulation||Millennium and Eternity|
C. Why Did Jesus Give The Vision To John?
1. Differing Views.
a) Historicist: The vision of Christ is given and Jesus commands John to write of things that would soon begin and would carry on throughout the entire church age.
b) Preterist: The vision of Christ is given and Jesus commands John to write of things that would soon find fulfillment in the fall of Jerusalem.
c) Spiritual: The symbolic vision depicts the glorious character and sovereignty of Christ, depicting His involvement and concern for the affairs of man (especially His suffering servants).
d) Futurist: The vision of Christ is given and Jesus commands John to write of events that would be fulfilled at the end of the present age (just prior to the Second Coming).
D. Interpretive Considerations / Other Preparations
When studying the writings of others in this area remember, not all scholars who adopt a certain view will strictly adhere to that view. There has been a mixing and matching of views by some scholars in this area of study.
1. Old Testament Relationship.
(1) We will not be able to interpret this book properly until it is seen from its Old Testament 'roots'.
(2) Of the 404 verses in the book of Revelation, 278 allude to the Old Testament Scriptures.
2. Other Preparations For Studying.
(1) Never attempt to study this book of the Bible (or any other) without starting with prayer.
(2) Try to come to this book without preconceived notions or bias.
E. The Rapture.
1. The following are summaries of the different viewpoints on the rapture:
a) Posttribulational View: The Lord will return for the Church after the seven-year tribulation.
b) Midtribulational View: The Lord will rapture the believers in the middle of the tribulation period at the 3 1/2 year point.
c) Pretribulational View: The Lord will rapture the Church before the seven-year tribulation period begins.
III. The Millennium.
A. Three Different Views On The Millennium:
1. The Postmillennial View:
a) Christ returns after the Millennium.
(1) The millennium occurs when the world is converted though the preaching of the gospel and is not (most likely) a literal 1,000 years. The world supposedly gets better and better through the preaching of the gospel. The promises in the OT are spiritualized to fit the conditions of the Church age.
|(<--THE CHURCH AGE-->)(<---THE MILLENIUM--->)||(<--THE ETERNAL STATE-->)|
|GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENTGENERAL RESURRECTION|
2. Amillennial View:
a) The millennium began when Christ ascended into heaven.
(1) This view teaches that there WILL NOT BE A LITERAL, future millennium. Christ is presently reigning in heaven and through the believers. The Church is the Israel of God and is fulfilling the OT prophecies in a spiritual sense. The Eternal State is inaugurated at the return of Christ without any intervening millennium.
|(<---THE MILLENIUM--->)||(<--THE ETERNAL STATE-->)|
|GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENTGENERAL RESURRECTION|
3. Premillennial View:
a) Christ will return before the millennium and set up a literal 1,000 year reign upon the earth.
(1) This 1,000 year time period is a literal fulfillment of the prophecies given in the Old Testament to Israel. The Messiah will rule the entire earth with a rod of iron. He will rule from Jerusalem while sitting on the throne of David.
|Righteous Raised(Pre-Tribulation View)||Great White Throne Judgment|
B. The Characteristics Of The Millennium.
(1) Peace - Isaiah 2:1-4
(2) Righteousness - Isaiah 11:1-10
(3) Blessing - Isaiah 61:1-10
(4) Obedience - Jeremiah 31:31-34
(5) The Fullness of the Holy Spirit - Joel 2:28-29
C. The Conditions During the Millennium.
In, Things To Come Dwight Pentecost lists the following as the conditions in the millennium:
(1) Peace (Is 2:4, 9:4-7).
(2) Joy (Jer 30:18-19, Zech 8:3).
(3) Holiness (Jer 31:23, Ezek 36:24-31).
(4) Glory (Is 24:23, 60:1-9).
(5) Comfort (Zeph 3:18-20, Zech 9:11-12).
(6) Justice (Is 9:7, Jer 23:5).
(7) Full Knowledge (Is 11:1-2, 9, 41:19-20, 54:13, Hab 2:14).
(8) Instruction (Is 2:2-3, Mic 4:2).
(9) The Removal of the Curse (Is 11:6-9, 35:9, 65:25).
(10) Sickness Removed (Is 33:24, Jer 30:17).
(11) Healing of the Deformed (Is 29:17-19, Jer 31:8, Amos 9:15).
(12) Protection (Is 41:8-14, Ezek 34:27)
(13) Freedom from Oppression (Is 14:3-6, Zech 9:11-12)
(14) No Immaturity (Is 65:20).
(15) Reproduction by the Living People (Jer 30:20, 31:29, Ezek 47:22, Zech 10:8).
(16) Labor (Is 62:8-9, 65:21-23, Jer 31:5, Ezek 48:18-19).
(17) Economic Prosperity (Is 4:1, Ezek 34:26, Joel 2:21-27).
(18) Increase of Light (Is 4:5, 30:26, Zech 2:5).
(19) Unified Language (Zeph 3:9).
(20) Unified Worship Is (45:23, Zech 13:2).
(21) The Manifest Presence of God Ezek (37:27-28, Zech 2:2, 10-13).
(22) The Fullness of the Spirit (Is 32:13-15, 61:1, Ezek 36:26-27, Joel 2:28-29).
(23) (The Perpetuity of the Millennial State Joel 3:20, Is 51:6-8, Dan 9:24).
Week 2: Chapter 1:1-8
“The Things Which You Have Seen”
IV. The Great Revelation, 1:1-3
A. Disclosed Person.
1. ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ…' (v.1a)
a) Apokalupsis means a "revelation or unveiling".
(1) The first word of the book is the unveiling: The Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain and gives us the privilege of seeing the glorified Christ in heaven and the fulfillment of His sovereign purposes in the world.
(2) In other words, Revelation is an open book in which God reveals His plans and purposes to His church.
(a) Daniel was instructed to “shut up the words, and seal the book” (Dan.12:4) when he finished writing; but John was given opposite instructions: “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:10). Why?
(b) Since Calvary, the Resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, God has ushered in the “last days” (Heb. 1:1–2) and is fulfilling His hidden purposes in this world. “The time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3; 22:10).
(3) We will see Jesus in a way the Bible has not unveiled Him up to this point. For example: The title Lamb is used most often of Christ (28 times).
(4) The Gospels are about Jesus Christ, but present Him in His first coming in humiliation; the book of Revelation presents Him in His second coming in exaltation. Every vision and description of Him in Revelation is one of majesty, power, and glory.
(5) Notice: It is a revelation (no‘s’) about Christ (not the Antichrist)!
B. A Divine Presentation.
1. '...which God gave Him (Jesus)...” (v.1b).
a) The Son’s inheritance from the Father.
(1) This could be speaking of God giving all of the things mentioned in this book to Jesus as an inheritance for His faithful service.
The Father promised to exalt His Son for His faithful, service. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11, NKJV)
In His prayer in John 17, Jesus said to the Father "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.” (John 17:8; 12:49)
C. Declared Plan
1. '…to show His servants…' (v.1c).
a) Bond-servants literally means “slaves” (Matt. 22:8; Mark 13:34).
(1) The doulos was a special type of slave:
This was a type of slave who served out of love and devotion to his master "But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever." (Exodus 21:5-6, NKJV)
b) Unbelievers find this book beyond their understanding.
(1) This book was not intended for them.
People who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Lord cannot expect to understand this book. “A natural man,” explains Paul, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).
To His disciples, Jesus said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. …Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matt. 13:11, 13).
c) God wants us to understand this message.
(1) As we come to the book of Revelation, the one thing that we need to resolve is the fact that God wants us to actually understand the message given. We see this here.
(2) Here we see that the Father 'gives' this message to Jesus to give to His servants. This is seen in verse 1.
Jesus said to His disciples "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15, NKJV)
D. A Determined Plan.
1. ‘Things which must take place…’ (v.1d).
a) We see that these things have to come to pass.
(1) This must happen because of the promise of God as far back as Enoch (Jude: 14-15). The Word of God cannot be broken!
(2) Other promises of return and earthly reign: (Gen 49:10; Ps. 2:6-9; Is. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:4-9; Mal. 4:1-4).
Believers are not to try to set the “times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).
Believers are to “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).
2. Must shortly take place…’ (v.1e).
a) Different interpretations of this verse.
(1) The Futurists see this as speaking of being quickly executed once beginning takes place.
(2) The Greek word 'tachai' is used here, which occurs 7 times in the book (2:5, 2:16, 3:11, 11:14, 22:7,12,20), and conveys the idea described above.
(3) We get our word 'tachometer' from this word.
(4) The Historical View takes the word 'shortly' to mean that these things would take place shortly after the time of John, but extending through the entire history of the church.
(5) The problem is that the Greek word 'tachai' (translated 'quickly') is used in chapter 22 three times (ex: 22:7) yet it is not taken place yet (a delay of over 1900 years).
(6) The word communicates the idea that when these events start to take place, they will not be drawn out over a long period of time, but will rapidly take place once they begin. Just like how a tachometer measures RPM’s or how rapid the engine is running.
This should motivate Christians to live holy, obedient lives. Peter writes Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, " (2 Peter 3:10-15, NASB95)
E. A Delivered Plan.
1. ‘…signified…’ (v.1f)
a) The root word used (Gr: semaino) means 'to sign'.
(1) The word means to sign or to use a symbol (there are 100’s of symbols in the book). The word literally means “a revelation through symbols.”
(2) This truth is seen in the following two ways:
(a) The fact the word “like” is used 22 times
(poiomos - poiomos), which reflects a likeness in an external appearance.
(b) The word “as” is used 65 times.
(ois- hois) which indicates a similarity in action or quality.
2. ‘...by His angel to His servant John…’ (v.1g).
a) Angels were involved in giving the book of Revelation.
(1) Much like the angel Gabriel in (Dan. 9) we see that an angel will play a part in the delivery of this message.
John writes "And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. “ (Revelation 22:8-10, NASB95)
(2) It is helpful to remember that God used angels to deliver the Law to Moses as well (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2).
b) The human agent is John (v.1h).
(1) John had loyally testified to the first coming of Christ:
He wrote saying that "He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. “ (John 19:35, NASB95)
He also said that "This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. “ (John 21:24, NASB95)
Speaking of Jesus in his first epistle, he says that "the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—” (1 John 1:2, NASB95)
And John makes the proclamation that "We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14, NASB95)
(2) John faithfully, under the Spirit’s inspiration, testified to all that he saw concerning His second coming.
F. The Nature Of The Message.
1. ‘who bore witness to the word of God…’ (v.2a).
(1) The message is to be delivered by someone who had first hand knowledge of what was being conveyed (see Jn19:35; 21:24; 1Jn1:1-3; 4:14).
(2) “The word of God” does not mean the person of Jesus Christ as in (19:13; John 1:1) but refers to God’s revelation.
(3) The book of Revelation is viewed by John as God's word…not his own message.
(4) | And “the testimony of Jesus Christ” is the completion of this clause, which in slightly altered form appears repeatedly throughout the book (1:9; 6:9; 12:17; 20:4). The question is whether the genitive in the phrase testimony of Jesus Christ is subjective or objective. Subjectively, the testimony belongs to Jesus who is the messenger of the word of God (see John 3:31–34). Objectively, the phrase points to God’s faithful servants, including John, who proclaim the word and preach about Jesus. In this particular text, however, the choice is the subjective genitive because the context demands it. |
2 Peter1:20 - God’s intended meaning…not ours!
2. 'Testimony of Jesus Christ… all things that he saw…’ (v.2b).
(1) The word of God expressed in the book of Revelation is the testimony about the coming glory of Jesus Christ given to His church (22:16) and recorded by His faithful witness, John.
(2) The word 'saw' emphasizes the fact that much of the prophecy is given through visions.
(3) There are approximately 44 separate visions in the book. This being the first (see 1:11, 19; Jn.3:11; Acts 4:20). We are to be witnesses to all that God shows us!
G. The Blessing Of The Message.
1. '…blessed is he who reads...hears...and keeps those things which are written in it…' (v.3a).
a) God blesses those who read this prophecy to the church.
(1) Cultural context: The verb read means “to read out loud.” Revelation was first read aloud in a 1st century church service (1Tim.4:13).
(2) Since nobody had copies of things, only one person read as the congregation listened. So by reading this book you will be blessed.
(3) Other blessings (Joshua 1:8; Ps.1:1ff).
!!!! b) God blesses those who listen and obey this prophecy.
(1) Remember that God’s people were going through intense persecution and they needed encouragement. As they heard this message it would bring them strength and hope (Rom.15:4).
(2) However, they were not only to hear the Word, but they were also to keep it—to guard it as a treasure and practice what it said (John 5:39; 6:63). The blessing would come, not just by hearing, but even more so by doing (2Tim.3:15-17).
James says that we are to be "Doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25, NKJV)
Jesus Himself spoke about who his true family is. Luke says “His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it." (Luke 8:19-21)
On another occasion a woman cried out saying "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:27-28, NKJV)
Jesus said "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13:17, NKJV)
(3) The promise of Jesus Christ’s coming should be a motivation for obedience and consecration (Rev. 1:3, 7; 2:5, 25; 3:3, 11; 22:7, 12, 20; see also 1 John 3:1–3).
(4) We should never study prophecy merely to satisfy our curiosity. We should react as Daniel and John did as they received God’s revelations of the future: both fell down as dead men (Dan. 10:7–10; Rev. 1:17).
(5) Other passages relating to obedience: (Matt. 19:17; John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Tim. 6:14; 1 John 2:3-5; 3:22, 24; 5:2, 3; Rev. 12:17; 14:12); a saying or words (John 8:51, 52, 55; 14:23, 24; 15:20; 17:6; Rev. 3:8, 10); the law (Acts 15:5, 24; James 2:10); tradition (Mark 7:9); the Sabbath (John 9:16).
(6) 2 Peter 3:11 also explains how we keep this book.
c) There are seven blessings or beatitudes in Revelation: the blessing
(1) of obedience (Rev.1:3).
(2) of eternal life (Rev.14:13).
(3) of watchfulness, purity, living a pure life (Rev.16:15).
(4) of being called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev.19:9).
(5) of the resurrection, living eternally with Christ (Rev.20:6).
(6) of obedience, of heeding the sayings of Revelation (Rev.22:7).
(7) of obedience, of keeping all of God’s commandments (Rev.22:14).
(8) Note: the book of Revelation begins with a promised blessing (Rev. 1:3) and closes with a promised blessing (Rev. 22:7).
2. '…the time is near…' (v.3c).
a) The return of Christ is imminent.
(1) “Time” kairos refers to 'seasons, epochs or eras.’ “Near” is used to speak of His imminency not immediacy.
(2) Paul thought that he might be alive when the Lord returns (1Thess.4:15-18; 1Cor.15:51-58)
(3) We are to watch expectantly for His return (Luke 12:35-40)
(4) 2 Pt 3:9 reveals the reason why God has delayed!
(5) From God’s perspective, the time IS near (2 Pt 3:8).
Peter reminded his readers “The end of all things is near,” (1 Pet. 4:7), while in 1 John 2:18 the apostle John added, “Children, it is the last hour.”
James encouraged struggling believers with the reality that Christ’s return was imminent: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. … You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. … Behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:7–9).
Paul, writing to the Romans said “The night is almost gone and the day is near” (Rom. 13:12).
The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers to “[encourage] one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25).
V. The Announcement to the Churches (1:4-8).
A. The Author & Recipients.
1. ‘John, to the seven churches...’ (v.4a).
a) John addresses his recipients by name.
(1) Notice that he puts his name at the beginning of the letter not at the end. This is the where senders put their names on their letters.
(2) This personalizes the letter, and tells us that he either knew these people personally, or was well known within the church so that they would know of him.
(3) These churches are named for us later and we will spend time with them as we go on in this study. All 7 churches were located in the western half of Asia Minor.
b) The number seven – it has a religious meaning.
Seven Has To Do With God’s Covenant And Dealings With Israel.
(1) The Sabbath, circumcision, and worship are all hinged around the seventh day… Jericho was compassed about seven times… Naaman was instructed to dip in the Jordan River seven times… Nebuchadnezzar was insane for seven years… Joseph had seven years of plenty and seven years of famine… Seven beatitudes in the New Testament… Seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer… Seven parables in Matthew 13 & seven loaves fed the multitude… Jesus spoke seven times from the cross, and in the Book of Revelation the number seven cannot be ignored or considered accidental.
Seven Is The Number Of Completeness.
(1) Seven days make a complete week, there are seven notes on the piano & the eighth note begins the next seven, therefore the number eight is the number of new beginnings.
Pastor Chuck Smith________________________
It is interesting that the number that is associated with Jesus is the number eight. The new beginning. “If any man is in Christ, he’s a new creature: the old things are passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In the Hebrew and in the Greek, each letter has a numeric equivalent. And their counting is with their alphabet. Alpha, beta, gamma, delta is the one, two, three, four. Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth is one, two, three, four in the Hebrew. And so they use the alphabet for their numerics. Thus, every letter has a numeric value. Alpha is one, beta is two, and so each letter has its numeric equivalent.
Thus, you can total the numerics of a name. For instance, the name Jesus, the letters total 888. As we mentioned, the name Jesus is the new beginning, and the number eight is related to Jesus. The interesting thing is that every name for Jesus, the Cristos, Curios, and all, they are always divisible by eight when you add the numeric values of the letters of these names.
Just as a matter of interest and don’t know what to make out of this but every name for Satan, if you total the numeric value, it’s always divisible by thirteen. You ever wonder why thirteen was known as the unlucky number? It is the number for Satan in the scriptures. And always the names of Satan, Lucifer are always, when you total the numeric values, are divisible by thirteen.
Seven Is The Key Number Of This Book.
(1) Throughout the Book of Revelation, the number seven will play an important part. Seven churches, seven golden vials, the seven trumpet judgments, all the way through the seven seals, the number seven is a very dominant number.
B. The Announcement.
1. ‘Grace and peace to you…’ (v.4c).
a) A standard greeting in the New Testament.
(1) The word grace is charis, the Greek form of greeting, and peace is shalom, the Hebrew form of greeting. Peace flows from grace, and grace is the source of all our blessings today.
(2) The Book of Revelation reveals the grace of God and also peace and we need to be reminded that (in Christ) we are recipients of God’s grace and we have peace with Him.
2. ‘...Him who is...who was...and who is to come...’ (v.4d).
(1) Some see this as a reference to Jesus (based on His self-description seen in 1:8). The problem with this is that Jesus is addressed in verse 5.
(2) Because of this, the Father being referred to here is the best option & He is being described here in anthropomorphic terms.
(3) Some see this as a reference to the eternality of God, addressing His transcendent presence not being confined by time or space or hindered by the conflicts of history.
(4) The reference may refer to the concept in Is. 57:15.
3. ‘…the seven Spirits…’ (v.4e).
a) Who are the seven spirits?
(1) | John MacArthur’s ViewThe seven Spirits who are before His throne refers to the Holy Spirit. Obviously, there is only one Holy Spirit; the number seven depicts Him in His fullness (cf. 5:6; Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:1–10). The Holy Spirit in all His glory and fullness sends grace and peace to believers; He is the spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29) and produces peace in believers’ lives (Gal. 5:22). Here He is seen in the glory of His place in the Father’s presence in heaven. |
View #1: The Holy Spirit. Isaiah 11:2-3 on the surface appears to mention seven things about the Holy Spirit.
(a) It seems weird (unorthodox) to refer to the Holy Spirit as the 7 Spirits (which is obviously plural).
(b) The reference in Isaiah is the only support given. Plus there are not 7 characteristics but six in Isaiah (three couplets of two each). Nowhere else in the Bible is the Holy Spirit referred to in the plural form as the Holy “Spirits.”
(2) View #2 The Seven Angels: See 3:1 and 1:20 (The 7 stars are the 7 angels). See 4:5, 5:6.
(a) Note: As you read chapter 2 & 3 the letters are addressed to the angel of the church.
(b) Notice that the seven angels are an important part of the book as seen in the fact they blow the 7 Trumpets, are messengers to the 7 churches and pour out bowls of wrath.
(c) Notice that 8:2 uses the definite article “the”.
(d) The word spirit is used of demons, the human spirit (Mk 8:12) and occasionally holy angels (Heb.1:7, 14).
(3) When weighing the evidence, the ‘seven angels' option seems the strongest.
C. The Threefold Title Of Jesus.
1. ‘…the faithful witness…’ (v.5a).
(1) A faithful witness is one who always speaks and represents the truth. Jesus is the only one ever who was able to reveal God as seen in John 14. You and I may try but we fall short don’t we.
Jesus said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn14:9).
Jesus declared to Pilate “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
He also said “for I always do those things that please Him” (Jn.8:29).
(2) See Isaiah 40:18 and 46:5.
2. ‘…the firstborn of the dead…’ (v.5b).
a) First in preeminence.
(1) This does not mean that He was chronologically the first one to be raised from the dead. Why?
(a) There were O.T. resurrections (1 Kings 17:17–23; 2 Kings 4:32–36; 13:20–21).
(b) During His earthly ministry He raised people from the dead (Matt. 9:23–25; Luke 7:11–15; John 11:30–44).
(2) But, He also is the first to arise from the dead and never to die again. Jesus gives an illustration of this (John 12:23-24).
(3) This statement refers to Jesus as the preeminent and superior One, just as is seen by the first born son of the Old Testament.
b) Dealing with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
(1) Those that want to deny the deity of Jesus use this passage to say that He was created. They argue that the word firstborn means first created.
(2) As we read in the Watchtower book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Jesus was “a very special person because he was created by God before all things.”
(3) They will argue that the “firstborn” of Pharaoh refers to the first one to be born to Pharaoh, so Jesus is the first one “born” or created by Jehovah
(a) Colossians (1:15) calls Christ “the firstborn over all creation” (i.e. not the firstborn over Jehovah).
(b) If we draw a direct parallel between the 1st born to Pharaoh & the first born of all creation, then we must conclude that creation “parented” Jesus.
(c) This is the reverse of what happened, we are told in the very next verse that Christ “parented” creation—that is, He created all things in the universe (Col.1:16).
(4) It is important to understand & interpret words according to the intending meaning of the author. Example “Wall Street” does not mean a literal paved street named “Wall Street”. With that in mind let us understand the proper interpretation.
(a) The word first-born stresses the preeminence of Christ and not the fact He had a beginning in time or that He was the first one raised from the dead.
(b) Col 1:15 & 1:18 make this point clear when they use the Greek term “prototokos.” This Greek word was chosen of Him because it stresses the idea of having the preeminence (superiority) over all things. If Paul or John wanted to refer to Jesus as the first one created in time or first one raised in time, they would have chosen another Greek word which was more suitable which would have communicated this very point. The word they chose clearly does not refer to first in time as seen in (Romans 8:29 and Heb.1:5-7).
(c) The book of Genesis (48:13-20) reveals that first-born meant to receive the blessing and a double portion of the inheritance, and was a position which could be forfeited by sin. Thus it is a title of honor and respect, which is applied to Jesus. Jesus is the most important one or the supreme one who has been raised from the dead. It is blaspheme and an extreme insult to call Jesus a created angel, as the Jehovah Witnesses do from this verse and the one in Colossians.
c) Ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses…
(1) In view of the fact that David was the last born son of Jesse, what do you think the scripture means when it calls him firstborn (Ps.89:27)? (David was the preeminent son).
(2) In view of the fact that Ephraim was born to Joseph after Manasseh, what do you think the scripture means when it calls him the firstborn (Jer.31:9).
(3) Why didn’t the apostle Paul use the term “firstcreated” (protoktisis) in Colossians 1:15 if he intended to communicate that Christ was the first one created by Jehovah?
3. ‘…the ruler of the kings of the earth…’ (v.5c cfProv.21:1).
(1) This speaks of Jesus future role as ruler and fulfills of Is. 9:6-7.
(2) He is Lord, having a name “above every name (Phil.2:9-11).
(3) A point to ponder: God is so powerful and wise that He can allow ungodliness and the Devil to exist, yet still work out His plan.
D. The Doxology
1. '…to Him who loved(s) us and washed us from our sin by His blood… made us kings and priests (v.5d-6a).
a) The Textual Differences.
(1) In this portion of verse 5 there are various options to the rendering due to textual differences based on the manuscripts used in the translations.
(2) You will either see the present or past tense of 'love' followed by either 'washed' (Aorist tense-pointed action, encapsulated action) or 'loosed'.
(3) The Bottom Line: Either translation communicates Biblical truth. Jesus did love us at the cross, but continues to love us into eternity. Jesus did loose us from our slavery to sin and washed us from the filth of our actions as slaves to sin.
b) His plan of redemption involves these things:
(1) Love(ed)...or...(s) us (Jn.3:16; Eph.5:25; 1Jn.4:9-10): As a Savior, He loved us on the cross and cleansed us and freed us from sin. As an exalted King and High Priest He is the one loving us now in that He appoints us as priests! (1Jn. 4:9; 1Jn. 4:16).
(2) Released us from our sins (Eph.5:26; Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16; 1Cor.6:11): to loose as in set free of chains (Rom. 6) ...or...Cleansed from sin: (To bathe) (1Jn. 1:7; Heb. 12:14)
(3) Made a Kingdom of Priests: 1 Peter 2:9; Rev 5:10
E. The Second Coming of Jesus.
1. 'Behold He is coming with clouds…’ (v.7a).
a) Clouds, three views.
(2) Believers: (Heb.12:1 - Pretribbers stretching the point!)
(3) CLOUDS: No “like” or “as” is used in this verse.
(4) Clouds in Scripture frequently symbolize God’s presence.
(a) During the wilderness wandering (Ex. 13:21–22; 16:10; Num. 10:34)
(b) The giving of the Law (Ex. 19:16; 20:21; 24:15–18).
(c) The Tent of Meeting (the tabernacle, Ex. 33:9; 34:5).
(5) Jesus ascended into heaven on a cloud (Acts 1:9); believers will ascend with clouds at the Rapture (1Thess.4:17); & Jesus will return with clouds (Matt.24:30; Dan.7:13).
(6) See also Matt 24:30, 26:64, Mk 13:26, 14:62, Luke 21:27.
2. ‘… every eye will see Him...’ (v.7b).
a) Christ’s glory.
(1) His glory was veiled during His incarnation (Luke 9:28-36).
(2) At His second coming, His glory will be obvious to the entire human race.
(3) He will return in glory.
(4) He will return visibly.
(5) The word watching in Phil 3:20 (eagerly waiting) was used to describe a soldier who stood on the walls looking for the enemy from a watchtower. The idea is that he was straining the muscles of the neck looking for the enemy.
3. '...even they that pierced Him' (v.7c).
(1) Not referring to the Roman soldiers involved in Christ’s crucifixion but will be seen by the unbelieving Jews living in Jerusalem as well as the Gentile nations.
(2) See (Zech. 12:10-14)
(3) Peter affirms that the Jewish people were responsible for His execution (Acts 2:22-23; 3:14-15).
(4) John describes how Jesus will be received.
4. '...all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him..." (v.7d).
a) Jesus will be received by all nations.
(1) This is a reference to where both the Jews and the Gentile Tribes of the Earth repent when they see the Lord whom they pierced. (See Zech 12:10-14 and Matt 24:30; Rev.7:9-10, 14.)
(2) Jesus will be received by people who realize the magnitude of the evil that they had done to Him because He was who He said He was (God, Messiah, Savior, etc.)… See Matt. 24:30
(3) However, we see that some will not repent (Rev.9:21).
F. The Deity Of The Coming King.
Interpretive Note: There are scholars (Robert Thomas, John MacArthur) who see this verse as an emphatic declaration by God the Father that further verifies the certain fulfillment of what has just been said. But based on the fact that Christ is the central figure in this section, the evidence leans toward Christ as the speaker.
1. '...Alpha and Omega, who is, who was & is to come...' (v.8a).
(1) Alpha first letter of Greek alphabet, Omega last letter.
(2) I had a beginning in Christ (2Cor.5:17) and an end (Rev.22:5). Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith (Heb.12:2). He started the work & He will complete it (Phil.1:6).
(3) Christ’s claim to be the Alpha and the Omega is an affirmation that He is the all-powerful One of eternity past and eternity future (Jehovah God).
(4) Christ’s identity is clearly taught and He is revealed as Jehovah God in human form (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14; 8:58; 17:5 [cf. Exodus 3:14]; Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:11; Colossians 2:9; and Revelation 1:8, 17–18; etc.).
b) Refuting the Jehovah Witnesses.
(1) Jehovah declares in (Isaiah 44:6) that He alone is the first and the last and the only God, which eliminates any confusion as to their being two “firsts and lasts.”
(2) Jehovah declares His existence as the “only” God and Savior (Isaiah 41:4, 6; 43:10–13; 44:6; 45:5; 48:11-12; 21:6-7, 22:12-13, 16 etc.). Since Jehovah is the only God, then how can the Logos be “a god,” a lesser god than Jehovah, as the JW’s declare in (John 1:1)?
(3) Christ could not be our Savior and Redeemer if He were not Jehovah, for Jehovah is the only Savior of men’s souls (Isaiah 43:11).
(4) Revelation 1:17–18 and 2:8 reveal Jesus as the first and the last, who became dead and lives forever. Remember, you can’t kill God for God is spirit (John 4:24), but God did die in human form (Acts 20:28). Now, since Jehovah is the only first and last either He and Christ are “One,” or to claim otherwise Jehovah’s Witnesses must deny the authority of Scripture
2. '...the Almighty...' (v.8b).
(1) This can be better translated ‘the All-Ruler.’
(2) This term is seen 10 times in the New Testament (9 times in Revelation).
(3) The first time this term is seen is in Sam. 1:3-The judges have failed, but where there is failure with man, there is victory with God because He is Almighty.
VI. The Great Glorified Christ 1:9-20
A. John’s Circumstances.
1. ‘…brother and companion in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patience of Christ (v.9a).
a) Companion in tribulation.
(1) John appeals to people whom he was tied to spiritually (converted) and experientially (persecuted). This was included as an encouragement to those persecuted under the rule of Domitian (Rev.2:9-10).
(2) Jesus is our companion in tribulation (Phil.3:10). When we met Christ, we gained a companion to be with us in our suffering. He endured more intense persecution & suffering than we ever will.
(3) The deepest moments of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ are at times of intense suffering; suffering drives believers to Him (See Heb.4:15; 2:17; 2Cor.12:10).
b) Reasons for tribulation & affliction.
(1) It Is Consequent Because Of The Fall (Gen.3:16-19).
(2) Man is born for it (Job 5:6-7; 14:1).
(3) To humble us and test our obedience (Deut.8:2, 16).
(4) Saints (Christians) are appointed to it (1Thess.3:3-4).
(5) To bear fruit (John 15:2, 8, 16), we are appointed to this.
(6) The Testing Of Your Faith (1Pet.1:3-9; 4:12-19).
(7) To comfort those who are afflicted (2Cor.1:4-6).
(8) Christ would be manifested in us (2Cor.4:11, 17; Phil.1:20).
(9) To keep from exalting ourselves (2Cor.12:7).
(10) To discipline us (Heb.12:5-11).
(11) For the salvation of those who hear the gospel (Phil.2:17; Col. 1:24; 2Tim.1:8-12; 2:3-12).
c) Benefits of tribulation & affliction.
(1) You will benefit only when you first understand that God regulates the measure of afflictions (Gen.15:13-14; 2Cor.10:13), and that you are not the only one who has ever gone through this (1Pet.5:9; Jn16:33; Acts 14:22).
(2) N.T. - To Produce the Right Attitude In Us (James 1:2-8). Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material more than the spiritual, then we will not be able to “count it all joy.” If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better.
Job had the right attitude and outlook, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, (not if, but when) I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 NKJV)
(3) O.T. - To Produce In Us Forgiveness (Gen.42:21 cf. 45:5, 7, 8). Consider the words of Jesus in (Luke 23:34). Can we who have been forgiven every debt by God tell Him we plan to hold a grudge against our brother?
2. ‘…Patmos for the Word of God… the testimony of Jesus Christ …’ (v9b).
a) The island to which John the Apostle was banished.
(1) A 10 by 6 mile rocky and barren island which was surrounded by water all around.
(2) John did not allow persecution to keep him from His call (Mt. 28:19-20).
(3) In our darkest hours God is always there. God will meet us if we will only cast ourselves upon Him and call for Him.
(4) Others whom God met in their dark exile:
(a) Jacob saw God at Bethel (Genesis 35:6f)
(b) Moses saw God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1f)
(c) Elijah heard the still small voice (1 Kings 19:3f)
(d) Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 1:3f)
(e) Daniel saw the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9f).
(5) Note Two Things:
(a) John was alone: It was when John was alone that he received this Revelation of Jesus Christ. How is your devotional life? Do you spend time alone with God so that He can reveal Himself to you (1Samuel 3:21; Luke 10:38-42)?
(b) John turned to see: John and Moses have something in common, they both “turned to see” (Rev.1:12; Ex.3:1-4). After Moses turned, then God revealed Himself in a special way.
(6) God wants to give us fresh revelation of Himself (John 21:1; Joel 2:28-29). However, it is up to us to turn and see. The shepherds turned to see the Christ who had been born (Luke 2:17).
B. John Receives The Vision.
1. ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…’ (v.10a).
a) Two views.
(1) View #1: ‘Spirit filled on Sunday’. This view relies upon the assumption that this refers to Sunday that the Bible never states.
(2) View #2: ‘Transported to the Day of the Lord’. The word “the” is not there, it literally means “in realm of Spirit.” The word was means to become or change of position took place:
(a) As proof of this see (Rev 4:1-2) where John goes to heaven and especially in Rev 21:10 where there is clearly a change of location.
(b) The term “The Day” is equivalent to the O.T. phrase “the Day of the Lord,” and refers to the day the Lord returns.
(c) An example of this same type of thing is seen in Ezekiel (2:2, 3:12-14) and Paul (Acts 22:17-18).
2. ‘…write in a book and send it…’ (v.11).
(1) John is to preserve and share this very important message.
C. 10 Characteristics of Christ (v.12-16).
The Description in verses 12-16 pictures Christ as the High Priest who has come to cleanse His Church. Each characteristic will be used by Jesus in the introduction to each of the seven Churches.
1. Seven Golden Lampstands (1:10-13a).
(1) The Golden Lampstand was used in the Temple and Tabernacle for worship and consisted of a seven-branched lampstand. It was designed with a single stand with three lamps on each side and one in the center.
(2) This pictures Jesus as the High Priest as the one who is in the middle of the Churches to bring cleansing.
(3) One of the responsibilities of the High Priest was to trim the wicks, keep the oil supplied in order to keep the Lampstand burning.
(4) Here Jesus is in the midst of the Churches to bring purity and cleansing in order to keep their lights burning, or else He will remove their lampstands. The Church is designed to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to the world and these Churches were in danger of misrepresenting the Lord. Thus He has come as the High Priest to either trim the wicks and supply the oil so that the light can burn brightly and properly, or to snuff out the light and bring an end to the misrepresentation (2:5).
2. The Son of Man (1:13b).
(1) The title simply emphasizes His humanity and the fact He is the Messiah.
(2) Why human? (Heb. 2:17; 4:15)
(3) This title is also used in (Rev 14:14) and (Daniel 7:13-14).
3. White garment down to His feet and golden band (1:13c).
a) Four Views.
(1) Christ as King
(2) Christ as Priest
(3) Christ as King and Priest
(4) Christ as King and High Priest:
b) Support: The High Priest’s garment (Ex 28:2-4 & 39:29):
(1) The ephod was woven of scarlet and blue and purple with a gold thread through it, yet this one is entirely of gold.
(2) The garment went down to the feet which proves that it was either a Kingly robe or that of the High Priest.
(3) The High Priest alone wore this garment and was designed for beauty and glory (Ex 28:2), but Jesus’ garment was designed to reflect His deity and glory as the Lord of the Church.
4. His head and His hair White like Wool and Snow (1:14a)
a) Two Views: purity or eternity:
(1) The ‘purity’ view is supported by Is 1:18. But normally the robes are white to represent this idea not the head and the hair.
(2) The ‘eternity’ view is supported by Dan 7:9 The Ancient of Days (the Father) has these same characteristics where they seem to express God's eternality.
(3) Other Scriptures confirm this (Is. 9:6 and Rev. 3:14).
(4) Some view both, which is an acceptable position to hold yet there is not a specific Scripture to support the idea.
5. His eyes like a flame of fire (1:14b).
(1) The meaning becomes clear when one looks at Rev 2:18 & 2:23
(2) Christ ‘searches the minds and the hearts’ (2:23) - He knows everything that happens and everything that each Church (and individual of a Church) does in open and in secret.
(3) This is important because one day every person will give an account to the One to whom everything is naked and open before His eyes (see Rom 11:22).
6. His feet like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace (1:15a).
(1) The phrase ‘refined in a furnace’ emphasizes the idea that they are red-hot as having just come out of the fire.
(2) The focus is on judgment as seen in the fact His feet in Rev 19 and Is 63.
(3) Some make the comparison of the Brass Altar (representing judgment) in Ex 38:30
(4) Note: His eyes show that He knows and sees all to Judge and His feet show the severity of the judgment.
7. Voice as the sound of many waters (1:15b).
(1) Scriptural references to this phrase:
(2) Ezek 43:2- The voice of the Lord is heard by Ezekiel in the New Temple was as the "sound of many waters."
(3) Ps 29:3-9 The voice of the Lord is greater than many waters, splits rocks and cedars of Lebanon and causes earthquakes!
(4) Note: This phrase is only associated to Jehovah in Scripture.
(5) It seems to emphasize His greatness, power and authority to be the High Priest and Judge.
(6) No wonder John was shocked when He heard the voice as mentioned in 1:12.
8. His right hand had seven stars (1:16a).
(1) 1:20 The seven stars are seven angels, also mentioned in 2:1, 3:1.
(2) The right hand pictures the authority of God or His sovereignty (Jewish Idiom).
(3) The Lord has sovereign control over everything. Sovereign control in the Churches.
9. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (1:16b).
(1) The word for sword does not refer to the small (machaira) sword used for hand-to-hand combat. The sword spoken of here is a large (rhomphaia) sword.
(2) This rhomphaia sword was used to chop off the head of the leader of the opposing army. It marked the end of the battle and the fact that victory had been accomplished.
(3) Rev 19:15 Jesus will strike the Nations with this sword.
10. His countenance was like sun shining in it’s strength (1:16c).
(1) Probably a reference not only to His face, but to the entire radiance of Christ's being.
(2) Looking at Christ was like looking into the sun in its full strength.
(3) This pictures His glory, deity, majesty, honor and is the Shekinah glory seen in the OT. (See Heb.1:3, Col 1:15).
D. John's Response To The Lord.
1. ‘…I fell at His feet as dead…’ (v.17a)
(1) Isaiah 6- The Prophet's responds by seeing his own sinfulness, crying out for cleansing and wanting the righteousness only God can provide.
(2) See also Ezek 1:28 & Matt 17:6- At the transfiguration the disciples fell on their faces.
(3) Read also Luke 5:8 where Peter wants the Lord to depart from him due to his sinfulness.
(4) Other passages where people fell on their faces: Abraham (Gen 17:3), Manoah (Judges 13:20), Ezekiel (3:23, 43:3, 44:4), Daniel (Dan 8:17, 10:8-9, 15-17).
E. The Response Of The Lord.
1. ‘…He laid His hands right on me…’ (v.17b).
(1) The Lord was not coming to judge and bring His wrath upon John but had a plan and purpose for the apostle.
(2) John does not need to fear since his sin has been completely paid for by the death of the Lamb.
(3) Remember that the High Priest would be struck down in the Holy of Holies if he came in without an offering covering his sin.
2. ‘Do not be afraid…’ (v.17c).
(1) Jesus speaks words of comfort to ease John’s fear.
(2) Jesus spoke these words many times to the Apostles in His earthly ministry.
3. ‘…the First and the Last…’ (v.17d).
(1) The reason he does not need to be afraid is due to the person he is receiving the assurance from.
(2) Jesus once again is taking the name of God upon Himself as revealed in (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6).
4. ‘…the Living One…’ (v.18a).
(1) The Greek literally reads "I am the living one" and is the present tense meaning "lives continually."
(2) Many commentators want to connect this phrase to the next two stressing the resurrection, but it may have a greater meaning:
(3) ‘The Living One’ is a reference (if you are Jewish) to the true God. God is the living God.
(4) Jesus is claiming to be the One true God here.
(5) This is connected with the other claim of deity of being the first and the last in verse 17.
(6) The reference is to the eternality of God
5. '...I…was dead...and…am...alive forevermore’ (v.18b).
(1) It is important to note the following about this verse:
(2) The phrase ‘was dead’ literally means "became dead" stressing the idea a "change of condition" came about.
(3) This is seen in the fact the Greek is (ginomai) used for the verb: The word "was" is not in the Greek.
(4) The second verb (‘alive forever more’) stresses a continual state of existence.
(5) The contrast is between point of time action (became) and a continual state (I am alive).
(6) The Scriptures say that in the body of His flesh he experienced death (Col 1:22, Heb 10:10, 1 Peter 2:24).
(7) The statement (forevermore) is literally until the "age of the ages." This is a term used of the Father (Rev 4:9-10, 10:6).
(8) This phrase can be translated ‘I became dead, and I have always been alive and I am continuously alive forever and ever.’
(9) This is important because God cannot die. When Jesus is speaking of his death, it was His human body that died.
6. The Keys of Hades and Death (v.18c).
(1) This statement communicates the idea that He is not only the one who is continuously alive, but He also has control over death and Hades.
(2) Hades is the term for the intermediate state and not the eternal Lake of Fire (Gehenna).
(3) ‘The keys’ show us that he has sovereign control over death and Hades. Jesus took whatever authority over death the devil had according to Heb 2:14-15.
(4) I strongly believe this is exactly what Jesus had in mind in Matt 16:18
(5) See also Is 38:10, Jonah 2:6, Job 17:16: The gates of hell is a reference to death and not the demonic world controlled by Satan. When Jesus said the “gates of hell will not prevail (destroy) against the Church, He was talking about death not being able to destroy the Church since believers are raised from the dead. Jesus is the one who has authority over death since He conquered it!
A. Divine Directive Repeated
1. The Threefold Outline:
(1) things you see - The Lord of Glory in chapter 1.
(2) the things which are - The state of the Churches in John's day as seen in chapters 2-3.
(3) the things which will be hereafter - The Tribulation and future events of Rev 4-22.
(4) after this - is Greek word is (meta tauta), where it is used in twice in 4:1.
B. The Mystery Revealed.
(1) The word ‘mystery’ is an antonym of the word ‘revelation’ or ‘apocalypse’.
(2) The seven are angels not pastors.
(3) If he wanted to write to the pastor he would have used (poimain)
(4) The seven lampstands are the seven churches.
An Introduction to Chapters 2 & 3
A. Jesus Desiring To Be In The Midst Of The Church.
Remember, the key to this letter is in verse 4, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” A lot of times people make the mistake of saying they lost their first love, but it’s a little stronger than that. I know what it is to lose things, wallet, keys, etc. but I always seem to find them eventually. But to leave is something different, much stronger, it is something that you actually do, it is a process an act of the will.
Know it seems as though the Lord addresses six issues to every church with some exceptions. The Lord:
1. Addresses the particular city.
2. Uses a particular title about Himself.
3. Gives the commendations to each church.
4. Gives the correction.
5. Gives the exhortation on how to correct.
6. Gives the promise if they correct.
B. Who is being spoken to?
1. Chapters two through three contain seven letters to seven Churches that were in Asia Minor.
2. There were more than seven Churches in Asia Minor, but the Lord chose these seven for a specific purpose.
3. These verses are prophetic in that they reveal the different types of believers and the different problems that all Christians struggle with.
4. These verses are prophetic in that they describe all of the different types of churches that will exist throughout human history.
C. Who Is Being Spoken To Through The Letters?
1. The Actual Congregation Addressed (2:1).
2. Other Church Congregations (Note the plural “churches” in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.)
(1) ‘…let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…”
(2) ‘…churches…’ is plural, thus this message was for all other churches.
3. All Christians (2:7).
(1) ‘He who has an ear…’
(2) But the Lord was also speaking to individuals, and this is where you and I come in.
(3) Churches are made up of individuals, and it is individuals who determine the spiritual life of the assembly. So, while reading these messages, we must apply them personally as we examine our own hearts.
Week 4: Chapter 2:1-11
The Message to Ephesus
VII. Ephesus: Orthodox…But Without Love 2:1-7
A. Describing The City.
1. ‘…in Ephesus…’ (v.1).
a) Historical Background.
(1) Population, 500,000.
(2) It was a cultural center with a large library.
(3) It was an immoral city
b) It was a religious city.
(1) Although this was a religious center, it was a pagan religion.
(2) It was the location of the Temple of Diana (a multi-breasted goddess), one of the 7 wonders of the world.
c) Church Background.
(1) This church had a great beginning, a great foundation.
(2) Paul started this church (Acts 19-20). When Paul visited Ephesus he found only 12 believers in the city and they were misinformed about the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
(3) Paul taught for 2 years there.
(4) The Lord worked special miracles by Paul in Ephesus.
(5) Paul wrote an epistle to this church.
(6) Ephesus was into Oriental Magic and Superstition. One of the evidences of their changed lives is they burned in a bonfire all their magical literature.
(7) Paul even warned them that false teachers would come from within the church (Acts 20:28-31).
(8) John was a pastor and died there and Timothy became pastor there.
B. Describing The Christ.
1. The seven stars in His right hand… the seven golden lampstands (v.1).
(1) These phrases are taken from John’s vision in (1:13, 16).
(2) The seven stars represent the angles.
(3) The right hand. He has sovereign control.
(4) Walking in the midst (1:13). The Lord wants to be in the center, the focus of all that we do as a church and individually. When people say they don’t go to church because it is filled with hypocrites, are they saying they are better than the Lord? The Lord is in the midst of His churches!
C. Describing The Church: Christ’s commendation.
1. ‘…I know your works…’ (v.2-3).
a) All things are open before the Lord (Heb. 4:13).
(1) Don’t judge a church by its cover. Today, it seems as though the first thing that people judge a church by is “the way the building looks”. Great buildings might have dead congregations, and modest buildings may be thriving for the Lord.
(2) The church we think is “rich” may turn out to be poor in God’s sight (Rev. 3:17), while the “poor” church is actually rich (Rev. 2:9).
(3) Only Jesus Christ can accurately inspect a church because He sees, not only the externals (Rev.2:23), but the internals which are far more important (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord gives an “X-ray” of each church and its condition.
b) Jesus lists the many THINGS that the church had done as Christians.
(1) ‘…labor…’- To labor to the point of exhaustion. They were busy doing the works of the Lord (Matt.25:35-36; 5:16; Heb.13:16). But let’s not allow distractions to come in like Martha did (Luke 10:38ff).
(2) ‘…patience…’- To bear up under a load. Not just having patience with people, but it is having patience during trying circumstances, accepting hardship, suffering and loss.
(3) ‘…cannot bear those who are evil…’- They desired pure doctrine. They were not like those in (1Cor.5)! They loved enough to confront evil. We need to hate sin, if we have our first love we will hate the things the Lord hates.
(4) They ‘…tested…’ the false prophets and false apostles. Remember, Paul had warned them in (Acts 20:28-31), Jesus warned of “false prophets” (Matt.7:15), John warned of “many deceivers” (2Jn.7-11; 1Jn.4:1-6). One of the weakness’ of the church today is that we have begun tolerating evil. Today we are pressured to accept unscriptural practices by people forcing us to acknowledge and to recognize their rights to be evil and actually trying to silence us from saying anything against the evil
(5) ‘…persevered…’- More than just passively took punishment but pressed forward in the midst of difficulties. They kept going when the going was tough (Rom.5:3-5; James 1).
(6) ‘…labored for My name’s sake…’ Motivation: They did it for the Lord. This is a good thing!
(7) ‘…have not become weary…’ (Gal.6:9).
D. Christ’s concern.
1. ‘Nevertheless… ‘I have this against you ‘(v.4a).
a) A strong word of contrast.
(1) Here is the danger of every Church where there is a strong mind to serve.
(2) How would you respond if the Lord was behind the pulpit and the Lord says, “I have this against you?” (2:14; 2:20).
2. ‘…you have left your first love’ (v.4b).
a) There are four views of ‘…left your first love.’
(1) View #1: Love among the believers or love for one anther (1Jn.2:9-10; 3:14-18, 23; 4:7-53; John 13:35).
(2) View #2: Love for the Second Coming - The context of Revelation and the 2nd coming and 2 Tim 4:8. Are you like John in (Rev.22:20 come quickly Lord), or like Lots wife who had a love for this world (Luke 17:32; Gen.19:26; Luke 9:62).
(3) View #3: Love for the nonbelievers or evangelism. Practically speaking, you do see a church die when it stops reaching out to the lost.
(4) View #4: Love for God Himself - First and foremost commandment (Eph 6:24 in sincerity; Matt 22:37).
b) A love that grows cold!
(1) At one time the Ephesians had love (Eph.1:15; 3:17-19; 6:23), but forty years later their love had grown cold.
(2) Israel’s love for God cooled. Through Jeremiah, God rebuked His people for forsaking Him (Jer.2:2-13; Ezek.16:8-15).
(3) This will also characterize the end times (Matthew 24:12).
(4) They lost the “cutting edge” (2 Kings 6:1-7). The servant lost the ax-head (cutting edge)!
(a) The ax-head didn’t just fly off, but it gradually began to become loose by using it.
(b) When we serve the Lord the ax-head (cutting edge) begins to come loose, but we keep on cutting away.
(c) Then one day the ax-head (cutting edge) falls off.
c) Many things characterize Christians:
(1) A reverential fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet. 1:17), a desire to imitate Him (Eph. 5:1; 1 John 2:6), holiness (Matt. 5:48; 2 Cor. 7:1; Titus 2:11–12; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:15–16; 2:24; 2 Pet. 3:11), and obedience (John 10:27; 14:21; 15:14; Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Heb. 5:9; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 3:24).
(2) But the supreme characteristic of a Christian is love for his Lord and God.
When challenged to name the single greatest commandment of the law, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matt. 22:37–38).
(3) He challenged His disciples to make their love for Him the highest priority of their lives (Matt.10:37-38; John 14:21, 23)
(4) True children of God, Jesus declared, will love Him (John 8:42; 1 Pet. 1:8) and be known by Him (1 Cor. 8:3).
(5) To discern Peter’s spiritual condition, Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15–17).
(6) Paul defined Christians as those controlled by “the love of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:14).
(7) Those who love Jesus Christ are blessed (Eph. 6:24); those who do not are cursed (1 Cor. 16:22).
(8) While love for the Lord Jesus Christ will always be present in true Christians, it can fluctuate in its intensity. Christians will not always love Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to fail to do so is sin. There is no better illustration in Scripture of the seriousness of allowing love for Christ to wane than this letter to the church at Ephesus.
(9) Important observation: Serving and even doctrinal purity is no replacement for love! Problem: We are ‘works oriented’ due to the fall of Adam (ex: figs leaves).
(10) Your works will never replace love (1 Cor 13:1-3)
E. The Council: remember – repent – repeat (do).
1. ‘Remember…from where you have fallen…’ (v.5a).
(1) Forgetfulness is frequently the initial cause of spiritual decline.
(a) Paul reminded Timothy to “kindle afresh the gift of God” (2Tim1:6).
(b) Peter reminded the Hebrew Christians about their growth in Christian virtue (2Pet.1:12).
(c) Jude reminded his readers how God delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage (Ex. 12:51; Deut. 4:34; 8:1-20) only to have them respond in unbelief.
(d) Jesus said that we are to “do this in remembrance of Me”
(e) We must examine ourselves daily (2Cor.13:5).
(2) Jesus asks them to think back to how they felt and acted at the time of their conversion and cultivate a desire to regain that close communion once again.
(3) As they look at where they were and where they are…they should ask themselves these questions:
(a) Is there something that has taken the place of supreme love for God?
(b) What can they do in their daily life to express supreme love and devotion to Christ?
2. ‘…repent…’ (v.5b).
What Is Repentance And How Does It Relate To Salvation?
The meaning of the word repentance has been twisted in recent years to the point that its biblical meaning is now obscured in the minds of many. The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture. What does the Bible teach about the relationship between salvation and repentance?
a) Repentance and the Gospel Presentation.
(1) Telling people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives is only half the truth. God hates sin and will punish unrepentant sinners with eternal torment. No gospel presentation is complete if it avoids or conceals those facts. Any message that fails to define and confront the severity of personal sin is a deficient gospel. And any “salvation” that does not alter a lifestyle of sin and transform the heart of the sinner is not the salvation that God’s Word speaks of.
(2) Neglecting to call sinners to repentance is not preaching the gospel. The truth of the gospel is that the only ones who are eligible for salvation are those who realize they are sinners and are willing to repent. Our Lord can save sinners. But to those who are unwilling to admit their sin, he has nothing to say –except to pronounce judgment.
b) Repentance Is Essential To Salvation.
(1) One cannot truly believe unless he repents, and one cannot truly repent unless he believes. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin (but they are not synonymous terms). Acts 11:18 and 2 Peter 3:9 are two of the many verses that teach that repentance is necessary for salvation. Perhaps 2 Timothy 2:25 best sums up the relationship between repentance and saving faith when it speaks of "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (Acts 20:21).
c) Repentance Is An Actual Turning From Sin.
(1) The Greek word for repentance is ‘metanoia’ meaning a change of mind which influences a change of direction. “The Amplified New Testament” reads Matthew 3:1-2 this way: “Repent – that is, think differently; change your mind, regretting your sin and changing you conduct.”
(2) Repentance is a turning from sin, and it always results in changed behavior:
(a) Look how the Ninevites allowed their change of mind influence their change of direction (Matt.12:41; Jonah 3:1-10; see also Luke 3:8; 1Thess.1:9)
(b) The Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32).
(c) While sorrow from sin is not equivalent to repentance, it is certainly an element of scriptural repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).
(3) We must remember that God receives sinners. But, the flip side of that is that he refuses the righteous (Mark 2:17). That is, those who think they are good enough.
(4) Judas’ Wrong Repentance (Matthew 27:1-5).
d) Repentance is not just for the unsaved (1 John 1:9).
(1) David Confessed Before God (Psalm 51:1-4, 7-9)
(2) David Took responsibility for his own sin (Ezekiel 18:20).
(3) David displayed real sorrow (Psalm 51:17).
(4) When we return to the Lord & obey Him with all our heart, He has compassion on us, restoring us (Deut.3:1-3).
3. ‘…do the first works…’ (v.5c).
a) Two views:
(1) View #1: speaks of timing. NASB translates this: ‘…do the deeds you did at first...’
(2) View #2: speaks of priority. This view sees the verse saying ‘…Love like you did when you first got saved.’ The adj. modifying ‘works’ speaks of priorities and not timing.
(a) This suggests restoring the original fellowship that was broken by our sin and neglect.
(b) For the believer, this means prayer, Bible reading and meditation, obedient service, and worship.
F. The Warning.
1. Or else I will come and remove the lampstand…’ (v.5d).
(1) Some see this as loss of salvation.
(2) Others see this as loss of influence in the community as the light of the world.
(3) They were to continue their service not simply because it was right but because they loved Christ. He warned them that if they did not respond, the light of their witness in Ephesus would be extinguished: I will . . . remove your lampstand from its place.
G. Denial Of The Corruption.
1. You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans (v.6a).
a) What the Ephesians hated…Pergamos was embracing.
(1) The Lord commends the Ephesians a second time for hating corrupt doctrine.
(2) The church of Pergamos (Rev.2:15).
b) What was ‘Nicolaitism’?
(1) View 1: False Doctrine. Some say it was a heretical sect that encouraged (‘no law’ Rm. 6:1). This movement was said to have been started by Nicolas (one of the seven of Jerusalem in Acts 6). Some say that Nicolas was a false believer who became an apostate, but retained influence in the church because of his credentials.
(2) View 2: Clergy Ruling Over The Laity. ‘Nico’ or ‘Nike’ means conquest, and ‘laos’ or people.
The Lord hates that! Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt.20:28).
Paul, writing to the Corinthians said "Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm." (2Cor.1:24 cf. Rev.1:9 brother and companion)
(a) I believe the Lord hates it when man tries to become a mediator between God and man (1Tim.2:5).
(b) Don’t ever fall in love with the messenger (Pastor).
(3) View 3: The People Conquering. Men trying to establish the kingdom of God by force. The Prince of Peace will establish the kingdom, His kingdom.
H. The Promise.
1. ‘…He who has an ear, let him hear…’ (v.7b).
a) The Spirit is speaking.
(1) Remember: This message is for the first century Ephesians, to all churches, and to us who are here now.
2. ‘…To him who overcomes…’ (v.7c).
a) The benefit of listening and doing.
(1) Here we have an exhortation to an active faith.
(2) ‘Overcomers’ are seen in 1 John 5:4-5
(3) See notes on 2:26 and 3:5
3. ‘…the tree of life…’ (v.7d).
(1) Sinful man was banned from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22–24), but in Christ we have eternal abundant life (John 3:16; 10:10).
(2) We enjoy this blessing now, and we shall enjoy it in greater measure in eternity (Rev. 22:1–5).
The Message to Smyrna
VIII. Smyrna: The Persecuted Church 2:8-11
A. Describing The Recipients.
1. ‘…in Smyrna…’ (v.8a).
a) Historical Background.
(1) This city was a center of emperor worship. Under Domitian it was a capital offense to refuse to offer a yearly sacrifice to the emperor.
(2) The Christians willingly submitted to the emperor’s civil authority (Rom. 13:1ff.) however, they refused to offer sacrifices to him and worship him.
b) This was a wicked city.
(1) There was an intense opposition to Jesus Christ by those outside the church.
(2) The Greek word ‘smyrna’ was used in the LXX to translate the Heb. word ‘myrrh’. Myrrh was produced by crushing a plant, which gave off a fragrant aroma. This pictures the state of the suffering church of Smyrna that was crushed by persecution and gave off a fragrant aroma of faithfulness to God (Mark 14:3).
(3) Persecution and trials are an inevitable and essential part of the Christian life (Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12). Because the believers at Smyrna loved Him, they remained faithful to Him; because of that faithfulness, they were hated.
(4) Jesus’ answer to this church (Jn.15:18-20).
B. Describing The Speaker: The Christ.
1. ‘…the First and Last…’ (v.8b).
(1) An O.T. title for God (Is.44:6; 48:12; 41:4).
(2) Christ is affirming His equality of nature with God (a claim to deity; cf. 1:17).
2. ‘…who was dead and came to life…’ (v.8c).
(1) The eternal God became man, experiencing death and yet conquering death, so that we may escape death.
(2) How can the one who “is Spirit” (Jn.4:24), transcending time and space die? Peter gives us the answer (1Pet. 3:18).
(3) Speaking of the Resurrection (Rom.6:9):
(4) The Lord was reminding them that if they were to face death that standing beside them is the One who conquered death (Heb.2:14)
He is the one who promised, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25–26).
(5) Christ’s resurrection is good news for us because death may come to you but that will not stop the work God plan and purposes.
C. Describing The Church: Christ’s commendation.
1. ‘I know your…tribulation…’ (v.9a).
(1) The word ‘tribulation’ conveys the idea of ‘pressure from outside’ or ‘affliction’. The focus in on the idea that the world is persecuting the Church due to their commitment to Christ.
(2) Reassurance comes from the idea that Jesus knows all about it!
Our Lord endured the most unjust and severe persecution anyone ever suffered: "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin “(Hebrews 12:3-4)
So He can serve as a compassionate and understanding source of power: "Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:17-18).
He goes on to say that "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
(3) We are also able to reassure others when suffer because we have gone through similar suffering (2Cor.1:3-7).
2. ‘…and poverty…’ (v.9b).
(1) The word here is used of abject poverty (used of a beggar).
(2) This fellowship was full of those who were destitute.
(3) Those who would not worship the Emperor as God had their properties and possessions taken away and the vendors in the marketplace would not sell to them.
3. ‘… (but you are rich)…’ (v.9c).
(1) But the Lord saw them as rich in relation to the things of the Spirit (2 Cor 6:10; 8:9).
(2) The Contrast: Smyrna was materially poor, but spiritually rich, Laodicea was materially rich but spiritually poor (Rev.3:17)
(3) During persecution we need to abide in the vine (John 15:5), not giving up.
D. The Opposition.
1. ‘…the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not…’ (v.9d).
(1) This is a description of one group of people who were persecuting the church. Many in that community were ethnically Jews yet they did not follow the teachings of Judaism.
(2) Any Jew who hated and rejected Jesus Christ were just as much of Satan’s followers as pagan idol worshippers (John 8:44)
(3) They were physical descendents of Abraham, but by Paul’s definition, not a true Jew (Rom.2:17-29 esp.28-20).
2. ‘…but are of the synagogue of Satan.’ (v.9e).
(1) Our struggles are not with flesh and blood (Eph.6:12). Satan uses people to accomplish his purposes (Matt.16:23). The devil is using these unbelieving Jews to promote his plan of persecuting the Church.
(2) The Jewish synagogue was actually a synagogue of Satan. However, He is not saying that all synagogues are of the devil.
E. The Promise.
1. ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer …’ (v.10a).
a) The fear of man is a snare (Prov.29:25).
(1) Pilate feared man rejecting him (Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25).
(2) Abraham feared that the men of Gerar might kill, so he said that Sarah was his sister, rather than his wife (Gen.20:1-11).
(3) Fearing man will put you into compromising situations and failing to stand up for what is right (Gal.2:11-13).
(4) The fear of man has kept people from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev.21:8).
(5) God has not given us a spirit of fear (2Tim.1:7).
Jesus said that “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
David said "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? “(Psalm 56:11, NASB95)
b) God is the Object of Fear—Not Man
(1) Let Him be your fear, & let Him be your dread (Isaiah 8:13).
(2) God has the power to cast into hell (Luke 12:5; Matthew 10:28).
God is the Author (Jeremiah 32:39-40): I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. `And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jeremiah 32:39-40 NKJV)
2. ‘…the devil is about to throw some of you in prison…’ v.10b).
a) The source.
(1) The devil is the source of this persecution upon the Church & he uses the circumstances of life to try and render us ineffective.
(2) The good news is that Job 1-2 reveals that the devil had to have God’s permission to bring trouble upon Job and that God Himself set the boundaries.
(3) By successfully enduring the trial, they would prove the reality of their faith and be strengthened (2Cor.12:9-10).
(4) God will never test you beyond what you are able to endure (1 Cor. 10:13).
3. ‘…that you may be tested…’ (v.10d).
(1) God's purpose is to test us, prove us, to mature and settle us (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:6, 14; James 1:2-4).
(a) Sandpaper (how it works): it’s the friction that smoothes out the rough edges.
(b) Oyster (how it works): a grain of sand (acts as an irritant) until it forms a beautiful pearl.
(2) The devil wants to devour, destroy and brings us into compromise, but God's purpose is to strengthen us in our faith (1Pet.5:8-10).
(3) The word for ‘tested’ is from the Greek word ‘peirasmos’. This word speaks of ‘to come through the fire as a metal is tested’.
(4) God uses the devil, who wants to destroy us, to actually produce a godly character in us:
(a) If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.
(b) If we value the material more than the spiritual, then we will not be able to “count it all joy”.
(c) If we live only for the present and forget the future, the trials will make us bitter not better.
(5) The devil is a mere puppet in the hands of God Almighty!
4. ‘…ten days…’ (v.10e).
a) Three major views:
(1) Ten General Roman Persecutions: this is based on the idea they do not take this book to be prophetic but allegorical.
(2) A Prediction Of A 10 - Year Persecution. This was a horrible persecution where many Christians suffered and lost their lives.
(3) The Hebrew Expression Meaning A Short Time. In light of the evidence, the third view is more than likely the writer’s intention
(4) Additional suggestions when experiencing persecution:
(a) Don’t be surprised when it happens (1Pet.4:12).
(b) Commit yourself to God (1 Pt. 4:19).
(c) Exhibit Patience (1 Cor. 4:12).
(d) Rejoice (Mt. 5:12; 1 Pt. 4:13).
(e) Glorify God (1 Pt. 4:16).
(f) Pray for deliverance (Ps. 7:1; 119:86).
(g) Pray for your persecutors (Mt. 5:44).
F. Dispensing The Counsel.
1. ‘Be faithful unto death…’ (v.10f).
(1) The Lord made it clear that believers could expect persecution.
(2) Again, don’t fear man, but be faithful (Mark 10:28-30).
2. ‘…the crown of life’ (v.10g).
a) The need for endurance.
(1) “The crown of life” is one of several crowns promised to Christians (1Cor.9:25; 1Thes.2:19; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Rev. 4:4).
(2) The crown (reward, culmination, outcome) of genuine saving faith is eternal life, and perseverance proves the genuineness of their faith as they endure suffering.
(3) The Scriptures teach that true Christians will persevere (Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 4:13–20; John 8:31; Col. 1:21–23; 1 John 2:19).
(4) Because they had trusted Him, they were overcomers—victors in the race of faith (Heb. 12:1–3).
1. ‘…he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death’ (v.11).
a) The second death.
(1) The second death, defined in (v.14) as the “lake of fire” is the eternal death of eternal hell (Gehenna) as mentioned in (Rev.20:1-6, 11-15).
(2) Even though believers suffer the first (physical) death, they will never experience the second death (which is not annihilation but conscious, eternal damnation in hell; Rev. 20:14; 21:8).
No true child of God will ever face God’s eternal wrath: “Having now been justified by His blood,”
Paul wrote, “we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:9).
To the Thessalonians he added, “Jesus … rescues us from the wrath to come.… For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).
(3) Believers must “hold fast with perseverance” (Luke 10:15)!
The Message to Pergamos
IX. Pergamos: Corrupted And Married To The World 2:12-17
A. Describing The City ‘…in Pergamos…’
1. Historical Background.
(1) The meaning of the word Pergamos comes from the word for ‘paper’ or ‘parchment’ since the city was famous for these things.
(2) The Greek prefix per, seen in words like “pervert,” means opposition. The suffix gamos, seen in words like “monogamy” or “bigamy,” means “marriage.” Pergamos, then, means “objectionable marriage”—a fitting description of the next phase of church history.
(3) Located in western Asia Minor (50 miles north of Smyrna) 30 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
(4) The city was built upon a giant mountain (an Acropolis) where there existed a giant altar to Zeus. According to Greek mythology, Pergamos was the birthplace of Zeus. The altar was 100 ft square at its base and was the place where incense was burned to claim Caesar as Lord.
(5) A wealthy city with many temples devoted to idol worship, full of statues and sacred groves.
(a) The pagan cults of Zeus, Athena, Asklepius and Dionysius were prominent.
(b) The city was considered a "Seat of Emperor worship."
(c) In the first year Rome was an Empire (29BC.) they wanted to erect a Temple to Augustus and they chose Pergamos.
(6) Each citizen was required to go to the pagan feast or lose his or her jobs. At these feasts were orgies, immorality and idolatrous practices. It was tough to be a Christian in Pergamos.
(7) They established the first medical school there and were the first to use psychiatry.
B. Describing The Christ
1. ‘…He who has the sharp two-edged sword’ (v.12b).
(1) On the one hand, it comes in and cuts away the sin and bondage of the believer, and on the other hand, it is used to destroy the ungodly and unbelievers in Rev 19.
C. Describing The Church: Christ’s commendation.
1. ‘…you dwell, where Satan’s throne is’ (v.13a).
(1) There are two views to the interpretation of this. One view takes this literally and sees it as a place that Satan made his headquarters since he is not omnipresent. Another view saw it as symbolic of the evil that was so prevalent in the city. Most interpreters lean toward the symbolic/descriptive view.
2. ‘…you hold fast to My name…’ (v.13b).
(1) In a hostile environment this is a great compliment.
(2) They did not compromise in confessing His name.
3. ‘…and did not deny My faith…’ (v.13c).
(1) Antipas is an example of one who took a stand for the Lord.
(2) His name means "against all" and may be a symbolic name that encourages us to be loyal to God.
(3) He took a stand and was killed for his faithfulness.
D. Christ’s concern.
1. ‘But I have a few things against you…’ (v.14a).
(1) It seems that there is a progression from bad to worse.
2. ‘…the doctrine of Balaam…’ (v.14b).
a) (Numbers 22-25; 31:15-16)
(1) There are 3 Views concerning this phrase.
(a) Some see this as speaking of antinomianism (opposition to all law)
(b) Prophets for hire
(c) Intermarrying with pagans. But it seems best to see this as referring to a general reference to people following the ways of the world and then justifying their action (just as Balaam did).
(2) The story of Balaam. Moabite King Balak asked Balaam, a true prophet of God, to pronounce a curse on the people of Israel, God forbade the prophet Balaam to go. After three failed attempts, realizing he couldn’t curse them, Balaam resorted to an alternate plan. “If your women seduce the Israelite men,” he said to Balak, “they can introduce idol worship to them through which Israel will thereby bring a curse upon herself”. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” (see Numbers 22).
(3) What, then, is the doctrine of Balaam? It is Pergamos: objectionable marriage with the world.
b) Having A Deep Affection—Spiritual Adultery (James 4:4)
(1) Adultery is the sin of violating a marriage covenant by having sexual intimacy with someone other than a spouse.
(2) Adulterers & adulteresses is a metaphorical description of spiritual unfaithfulness (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38).
(3) The Unfaithful Israel as a spiritual harlot (2Chronicles 21:11,13; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1,6,8,9; Ezekiel 16:26-29; Hosea 1:2; 4:15; 9:1).
(4) These people are professing Christians, outwardly associated with the church, but holding a deep affection and strong attachment for the things of the world. Those with a deep longing emotional attachment for the things of this world give evidence that they are not redeemed (1John 2:15-17).
(5) Spiritual adultery is a Christian who turns away from God to the world, breaking his or her commitment to God for worldly things.
(6) Believers are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1-2; Ephesians 5:24-28; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:9), therefore, our affections should be on Christ:
Paul writing to the church at Colosse said "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2, NKJV)
We need to be like Daniel who "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8, NKJV)
c) A Christian gets involved With the World Gradually by Compromising: Compromising leads to:
Friendship with the world "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4, NKJV)
Friendship leads to getting spotted by the world "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27, NKJV)
Friendship leads to loving the world "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15-17, NKJV)
Friendship with the world makes it easier to conform to the world "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2, NKJV)
Jesus said remember Lots wife (Luke 9:62; 17:32-33)
(1) Her heart was so knit together with Sodom and all that it stood for that she was reluctant to leave; in looking back, she came under divine judgment. Christ warned, "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (Luke 17:33).
(2) We need to be like Moses who chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God that to enjoy the passing pleasure of sin” (Heb.11:24-25)
(3) It is just like Psalm 1:1-3 and Peter following Jesus at a distance.
(4) Joshua 14:6-10
(6) Matthew 4:10
3. ‘…to eat things sacrificed to idols…’ (v.14c).
(1) ‘Eat things sacrificed to idols’ also carries the aspect of an idolatrous activity mixed with sexual immoral activities.
4. ‘…and to commit sexual immorality…’ (v.14d).
(1) Sexual immorality was included in the feast where there was meat offered to idols.
5. ‘…the doctrine of the Nicolaitans…’ (v.15a).
(1) See notes for 2:6
E. Delivering The Command.
1. ‘Repent…’ (v.16a).
(1) See 2:5
F. Declaring The Consequences.
1. ‘…I will come to you…’ (v.16b).
(1) Even though there was faithfulness in the church, Jesus is calling the believers to repent of the compromise that is creeping into their lives.
2. ‘…will fight against them with the sword of my mouth…’ (v.16c).
(1) It could be that the ‘them’ is a reference to the time the Lord comes and destroys the unbelievers.
(2) ‘Fighting with the sword of His mouth’ goes back to 2:12 and is also seen in Rev. 19 when the Lord comes back in judgment.
G. Dispensing The Counsel.
1. ‘…I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.’ (v.17a).
(1) Inside the ark was a pot of manna.
(2) Jesus said He is the true bread which comes down out of heaven.
(3) This could be a contrast to the meat offered to idols.
(4) Walvoord suggests that the hidden manna represents the spiritual food the Lord will supply for the believer both now and in eternal glory.
2. ‘…I will give him a white stone…’ (v.17b).
(1) There are 4 views concerning the ‘white stones’. In light of all of the options, it seems best to see this as the believer’s acceptance and favor with Christ.
(2) Notice: The stone has a name on it that nobody knows except the recipient. What is the name? Answer: Nobody knows!
The Message to Thyatira
X. Thyatira: Compromising And Permissive, 2:18-29
A. Describing The City ‘…in Thyatira…’
1. Historical Background.
(1) Thyatira was one of the first cities to develop unions or trade guilds.
(2) Each one had their own god with regular pagan festivals, and it was company policy to participate in these festivals which contained orgies and idolatrous worship.
(3) The pressure was to compromise their faith or lose their jobs and security.
(4) 40 miles SE of Pergamos and set in a valley.
2. Church Background.
(1) Lydia was the 1st convert of Asia who was from Thyatira. The city was famous for its purple dye as mentioned about Lydia in (Acts 16:14-15).
B. Describing The Christ.
1. The descriptions picture Jesus as Judge (v.18).
a) ‘…the Son of God…’ (v.18).
(1) In (Rev.1:13) Christ was described as the “Son of Man”, emphasizing His humiliation & identification with believers as their merciful and high priest (Heb.2:17-18).
(2) In (Rev.2:18) Christ is described as “Son of God” (the only time this phrase appears in Revelation) emphasizing His deity & His approach to judge this church.
(3) The Lord Jesus Christ has called His church to be holy and maintain purity by dealing with sin in its midst:
(a) The very first instruction Jesus gave to the church was about confronting sin (Matthew 18:15-17).
(b) The Lord demonstrated His commitment to a pure church by executing Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11).
(c) The Jerusalem Council commanded believers to observe “these essentials” (Acts 15:28-29).
(d) The Apostle Paul also had a great concern for the purity of the church (1Cor.5:1-5).
(e) Paul put two unrepentant sinners out of the church (1Tim.1:20) & explains his motive for the church’s purity (2Cor.11:2).
(4) See Rev. 2:27
(5) From Psalm 2 and focuses on Christ as ruler and judge.
(6) This refers to Christ as Messiah who has authority to rule and judge.
b) ‘…eyes like a flame of fire…’ (v.18).
(1) Speaking of the omniscient, penetrating gaze of the One who will eventually judge everyone based on His knowledge.
c) ‘…His feet like fine brass:’ (v.18).
(1) The burnished bronze portrays His purity and holiness as He stomps out impurity.
(2) The imagery of the winepress (Rev 19:15). This comes from the ancient practice of stomping on grapes as part of the wine-making process.
(3) The splattering of the grape juice pictures the pouring out of the blood of Christ’s enemies (Rev.14:18–20).
(4) Isaiah 63:1-3 describes the destruction of Edom, which represents the God hating world.
C. Christ’s commendation.
1. ‘…love, service, and…patience…’ (v.19a).
(1) Christ reassured them that He had not forgotten their deeds:]
The writer of Hebrews said that "God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. “ (Hebrews 6:10, NASB95)
(2) By the possession of these qualities, we can assume that these are genuine Christians.
2. ‘…your works, the last are more than the first.’ (v.19b).
(1) Here Jesus describes this church as growing church seen in the fact their last deeds are more than their first.
(2) This is a warning to all true believers that we can fall. Their fall was not due to “external persecution” but “internal compromise” (Acts 20:29-30).
D. Christ’s concern.
1. ‘…you allow (tolerate) the woman Jezebel…’ (v.20a).
a) Their sin was twofold.
(1) They violated the scriptural instruction that women are not to be teachers or preachers in the church (1 Tim. 2:12).
(2) They allowed her, not only to teach, but to teach error.
(3) Biblical accounts of Jezebel: (1 Kings 16:30-31, 19, 21 & 2 Kings 9:30-35). Her name is probably not Jezebel but is a word to show how evil and dangerous this woman is to the Church.
(4) Through Jezebels evil influence, Baal worship became widespread in Israel.
(5) Jesus points out that tolerating evil in the church is a sin against Him (even if they were not subscribing to what was being taught).
(6) Here the Lord paints a picture the moral decay that was ruining this church. This woman:
2. ‘…calls herself a prophetess…’ (v.20b).
a) She is self-appointed.
(1) She claims to be a prophet and is using that title to give authority to her teaching.
(2) ‘…teach(es) and seduce(s)…’ and she beguiles the true believers.
3. ‘…to commit sexual immorality… to eat things sacrificed to idols…’ (v.20c).
(1) Definition: “Immorality is a behavior that is opposite to moral principles.” Today’s culture is gripped with sex more than ever.
(2) Even though there is the distinct possibility of contracting AIDS and other diseases through immoral sexual activity, more and more people accept and even endorse sex outside of marriage.
(3) Men and women engage in all sorts of unlawful sex and wicked behavior and are fully accepted by the world. However, based on God’s standard, sexual impurity is always a sin and will always be judged.
The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian Christians: Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints.… For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:3, 5–6).
Paul tells the believers in Corinth to “flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1Cor.6:18).
(4) The writer of Hebrews uses the same root word (pornos, from which we get pornography) for “fornicators” in Hebrews 13:4.
The writer admonishes them by saying, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
(5) Don’t say that your lust is love like Shechem in the O.T.
Listen to how he justifies his lust: "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.” (Genesis 34:1-4)
(6) Shechem may have been a victim of “love at first sight,” but his actions were impulsive and evil. Don’t allow sexual passion to boil over into evil actions. Passion must be controlled (1Thess.4:3-8). Now such things as “safe sex” but “save sex.” .
(7) This woman encourages believers to be involved in libertinism.
(8) Is Involved in ‘…her sexual immorality…’ (Jude. 4, 18-19)
(9) She is somehow involved in the deep things of Satan as seen in verse 24.
(10) To fall into sexual sin is one thing, but to lead other Christians into false doctrine of immoral living is very serious (Matt.18:6-10).
(11) Make a covenant to avoid lust (Job 31:1).
Very Important! Thyatira was renown for its trade guilds or unions. They were the center of much of the city’s social and business life. Therefore, if believers did not attend these, there was a possibility that it might affect their employment and relationships with their neighbors. The argument of the false teacher, Jezebel, had a strong appeal. It would take a strong minded minister and teacher to proclaim a life of separation in such a situation.
What happened, of course, was that many of the socials became drunken and immoral parties. Believers who were present were attracted to the opposite sex and caught up in the immoral affairs just like everyone else. Believers were having immoral affairs, committing fornication.
Naturally the believers did not want to be misfits, so they would be sociable and drink and dance and participate in the activities of their neighbors. The end result was bound to happen: believers were caught up in the drunken immorality of the world. They had normal human desires just like all human beings; therefore, they were attracted to the opposite sex and some became involved in immoral affairs, committing adultery. Remember why: all because of the false teaching of Jezebel that believers must not separate themselves from the world, that they must be sensible and reasonable and not cut themselves out of the necessary business functions, socials, and pleasures of the world.
4. ‘And I gave her time to repent…’ (v.21a).
a) God’s glorious grace.
(1) God's glorious grace is extended even toward this evil woman.
(2) Here we see the extent of the efficacy of the sacrifice of the cross.
(3) God gave this woman time (space) to repent. The purpose of the kindness of God is not to excuse men of their sin but to convict them of it and lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4).
(4) God waited 120 years for men to repent while Noah was building the ark and calling them to repentance through his preaching of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5).
(5) Despite His many warnings and Israel’s continued rebellion, the Lord waited 800 years before sending His people into captivity.
(6) Instead of saying why does God allow awful things to happen to apparently good people, we should ask why He allows seemingly good things to happen to obviously bad people. We could ask why He does not strike down many other people for their sins, including Christians, as He did in (Acts 5:1–10).
5. ‘…and she did not repent…’ (v.21b).
a) Loving darkness rather than light.
(1) The Lord gave the false prophetess at Thyatira time to repent, but exemplifying the sad truth that people love darkness rather than the light (John 3:19), she did not want to repent of her immorality.
(2) Nor did those who experienced the sixth trumpet (Rev.9:20-21); or Pharaoh (Ex.8:32; 10:7; 11:9); nor the chief priests & elders of the people (Matt.21:28-32).
6. God's judgment upon this woman (22-24)
a) Notice the three ‘I wills’:
(1) #1: ‘…I will cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation…’ (v.22).
(a) God is going to allow her to be stricken with physical disease. God will allow sickness to happen in order to get our attention, & to have us repent.
(b) Here is a play on words where she thinks she is on a bed of pleasure, but it will turn into sickness (see Rom 1:27).
(c) The words of sickness are not part of the original Greek text. So the word “bed” could refer to death and hell—the ultimate resting place for those who refuse to repent.
(d) ‘…into great tribulation…’ Believers receive severe chastening; possibly even physical death (1Cor.11:30; 1 John 5:16), He does not threaten to send them to hell as He did the false prophets.
(2) #2: ‘…I will kill her children with death…’ (v.23a).
(a) There sin is going to affect the future generation. As a father, I know that every decision, good or bad will not only affect me but also my wife and children (see Joshua 7:22-26; Romans 5:12).
(b) Our Lord has a passion for a doctrinally and behaviorally pure church. He will do whatever is necessary to purge His church of sin —even to the point of taking the lives of false teachers.
(c) This warning causes me to make certain that I am speaking the truth (James 3:1).
(d) Notice the double emphasis on death.
(e) ‘…all the churches shall know that I am the one who searches the mind and hearts…’ Since this phrase is used in the O.T. as a reference to God (1Chron.28:9; Ps.7:9; Prov.24:12; Jer.11:20; 17:10; 20:12), it offers further confirmation of Christ’s deity.
(3) #3: ‘…I will give to each one of you according to your works’ (v.23b).
b) God is righteous in His judgments (v.23b).
(1) Works have always been the basis for divine judgment (Matt.7:16; 16:27; Rev.22:12; Romans 2:6; 2Tim.2:14).
(2) People’s deeds reveal their spiritual condition:
That is what James meant when he said, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).
Saving faith will inevitably express itself in good works, causing James to declare that “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17, cf. v. 26).
Christians are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
(3) Works cannot save, but they do damn.
E. Delivering The Command.
1. ‘…to you I say and to the rest in Thyatira…’ (v.24).
a) The Lord describes them as:
(1) ‘…as many as do not have this doctrine…’ lover’s of the truth.
Listen to the words of Malachi about those who feared divine judgment: Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” (Mal. 3:16–17)
(2) ‘…who have not known the depths of Satan…’ desire for holiness.
(a) Just as there are the deep “things of God” (1Cor.2:10) which are taught by the Spirit, the phrase “the deep things of Satan” (2:24) are the things of Satan which result from his work, & reveals how far the Thyatira church had slipped in relation to those in Smyrna and Pergamum.
(b) The Smyrna church faced hostility from the “synagogue of Satan,” that is, from unbelieving Jews (2:9). The Pergamum church existed at the site of Satan’s throne (2:13), symbolizing Gentile false religion (particularly the cult of emperor worship). But the church at Thyatira had plunged headlong into the very depths of satanic deception.
(c) In the midst of all this compromise the Lord speaks to the faithful ones.
(d) The last part of verse 24 “and I will put no other burden on you” shows that the Lord is in control of how much He will allow this Church to go through.
2. ‘…hold fast…’ (v.25).
a) It’s not going to be easy.
(1) The use of the word krateō (hold fast) indicates that it would not be easy. It is also a warning of not becoming overconfident (1Cor.10: 12).
(2) Isn't it comforting to know that the Lord only allows us to go through a certain amount of trials and he knows how much we can take, so He encourages us to hang in there?
(3) Listen to what God says about Job (Job 2:1-10). Our hearts are to be good soil that the seed fell upon (Luke 8:15).
(4) We are to hold fast the gospel (1Cor.15:1-2) & the Word of Life (Philippians 2:16).
(5) Among many other things, we must examine everything carefully (1Thess.5:21). Other references (Deut.11:22; 30:20; Joshua 22:5; Heb.3:6, 14; 414; 10:23)?
F. The Reward.
1. ‘…and he who overcomes, and keeps my works…’ (v.26a).
(1) Jesus is speaking to the true believer who is characterized by doing the will of God (Lk. 6:46; Jn. 14:15; Heb. 3:14; Col. 1:21-23; 2Tim. 4:7-8).
2. ‘…I will give power over the nations…’ (v.26b).
(1) The overcoming Christians are promised places of authority & will one day rule and reign with Christ over the Nations.
(2) The word for “rule” means literally “to shepherd.” There rule will not be just to execute judgment, but also having mercy and direction to those who are the sheep as contrasted to the goats (Matt.25:31-46).
3. ‘He shall rule with a rod of iron…’ (v.27).
(1) John quotes Psalm 2:8-9 (in 2:27) to prove that Christ Himself will reign (Rev.12:5; 19:15), thus we will share in this inheritance.
(2) The Lord will delegate authority to us just as He has receive authority from the Father (John 5:22, 27).
(3) Bottom Line: We are encouraged to be faithful until the end due to the fact we will one day rule over those who are asking us to compromise now.
4. ‘…I will give him the morning star.’ (v.28).
(1) There are two views to this statement:
(2) View #1: Rev 22:16 – ‘The Morningstar’ is Christ Himself.
Christ promised believers Himself in all His fullness; the One whom we “now … know in part [we will] then … know fully just as [we] also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
(3) View #2: 2 Peter 1:19; Prov 4:18 - Your hope will come to pass when Christ returns and ushers in His kingdom. On that day, all His promises will be fulfilled.
5. ‘He who has an ear to hear…’ (v.29).
a) Three important truths stand out.
(1) This letter reveals the seriousness of practicing and tolerating sin, and that God will judge continued, unrepentant sin in the church.
(2) A pattern of obedience marks true Christians.
(3) God’s promise to His own is that, in spite of struggles with sin and error in churches, they will experience all the fullness of Christ as they reign with Him in His kingdom. Those churches, like Thyatira, who fail to heed the message, will receive divine judgment; those who do heed its message will receive divine blessing.
The Message to Sardis
XI. Sardis: Reputation…But Dying 3:1-6
Introduction: One light year: One light-year equals the distance that light, traveling at more than 186,000 miles per second, travels in one year—more than 6 trillion miles. If a star thirty light-years away from the earth exploded and died five years ago, we would not be able to tell by looking at it for another twenty-five years. Though no longer in existence, the light from that star would go on shining as if nothing had changed.
That picture sums up the condition in many churches. They still shine with the reflected light of the brilliant past. As we look at churches today, you could assume that nothing had changed, but because of sin and false teaching, the light on the inside had been extinguished even though on the outside some of their reputation remains. This describes the church in Sardis (3:1).
The church in Ephesus began by leaving its first love, Pergamum’s worldliness, and Thyatira’s toleration of sin.
A. Describing The City ‘…in Sardis…’
1. Historical Background
a) Sardis was the Capitol of the Lydian Kingdom.
(1) It was about 50 miles east of Smyrna and about 30 miles north of Thyatira.
(2) Sardis was a very wealthy city.
(3) The city was located on an important trade route.
(4) Croesus was the King.
(5) It was said of Croesus: "everything he touched turned to gold."
(6) The city sat on a 1500ft acropolis and was surrounded by deep cliffs and was almost impenetrable.
(7) The phrase "a thief in the night" was coined in 549 B.C. when Cyrus followed Croesus home one night after a war and snuck up upon the city, scaled the city walls and captured the city.
(8) The phrase then became a watchword for the people of Sardis to remember or to be alert.
(9) Antiochus the Great did the same thing in 214 B.C. when he also conquered the city at night.
b) The cultural and spiritual state of the city was wicked.
(1) Herodotus: "Sardis was being eroded by its lax morals and open licentiousness."
(2) Much of the city was given over to paganism and the mystery cults.
(3) A Temple to Cybele (the god of nature) was there.
(4) Emperor worship was prominent as well as worship of Artemis and Dianna.
(5) The city supposedly had healing waters and springs, and they claimed their hot springs could "raise the dead."
(6) Emperor Tiberius helped the city be rebuilt after an earthquake (17 ad.) and they erected a Temple there in his honor.
(7) Sardis had a name "the Lydian kingdom" but the city's glory was all in the past. The emphasis is on they had a name.
B. Describing The Christ.
1. ‘…He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars…’ (v.3:1b).
(1) We have already established (See 1:4; 1:20) that the seven spirits and the seven stars are seven angels.
(2) This shows us that Jesus is the One who has the sovereign control over the Churches.
C. Describing The Church.
1. ‘I know your works…’ (v.1c).
a) God’s infallible knowledge.
(1) Notice Christ does not open with a commendation. The Lord goes directly to His concerns for the church.
(2) A commendation comes in verse 4.
2. ‘…you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead…’ (v.1d).
a) The inward decay.
(1) The city had a great past and had a name, but the Lord's estimation is far different.
(2) It seems that the other Churches around them held this group in high esteem, they seem to be a busy Church but their activities were not right in God's sight.
(3) They thought they had a name but they were actually dead. Their appearance fooled many people but could not fool God!
(4) A Church filled with activity can be mistaken for one with spiritual life and power.
(5) Spiritual Principle: (1) We do not always truly know our own state or that of others (1Cor. 4:1-5); (2) Sin is always connected with spiritual death (Eph.2:1; Luke 9:60; 15:24, 32; Col. 2:13; 1 Tim. 5:6; 1 John 3:14).
b) Playing with sin: the story of Samson.
(1) His Birth (Judges 13:1-6, 24-25).
(2) In spite of his amazing deeds and his incredible strength, his life came to a sad and tragic end (Judges 16:20-21).
(3) Samson was meant to be a deliverer but became a slave because of disobedience. Thinking he was he was the freest of men, & yet he was the greatest slave (Judges 16:20).
(4) In Samson’s increasing immersion of the world, his sin robbed him of his sensibilities.
(5) Our lives might be on Shifting Sand & we don’t realize it!
(6) So also the church at Sardis, once spiritually alive and strong was now blind and weak, not realizing that God had long since departed.
D. Delivering The Command.
1. ‘…be watchful…’ (v.2a).
a) Wake up.
(1) Romans 13:11-14: The Encyclopedia Britannica defines sleep as “a state of inactivity, with a loss of consciousness and a decrease in responsiveness to events taking place.” Paul calls them to awaken from spiritual sleep—from unconsciousness, unresponsiveness, and inactivity concerning the things of God.
(2) Jonah 1:6: Jonah is sleeping while others are perishing.
(3) Luke 22:39-46: The Garden of Gethsemane.
(4) Other references: (Mt 25:5-7 26:40, 41; Mk 13:35-37; 1 Co 15:34; Eph 5:14; 1Thess. 5:5-8).
2. ‘…strengthen the things which remain…’ (v.2b).
(1) The Church still had a few good things that the Lord could revive and bring to life (Matt.12:20).
(2) In ancient times reeds were used for many purposes, but once a reed was bent or battered it was useless.
(3) When a lamp burned down to the end of the wick, it would only smolder and smoke without making any light. Since such a smoldering wick was useless, it was put out and thrown away, just like a broken reed.
(4) The battered reed and the smoldering wick represent people whose lives are broken and worn out, ready to be discarded and replaced by the world. Because they can no longer “make music” or “give light,” society casts off the weak and the helpless, the suffering and the burdened.
(5) In the hands of the Savior, the battered reed is not discarded but restored, and the smoldering wick is not put out but rekindled.
(6) Those in Sardis people needed to wake up to their true spiritual condition. They lost their spiritual alertness and needed to realize they are spiritually asleep.
3. ‘…that are ready to die…’ (v.2c).
(1) The time for their repentance was running short.
4. ‘…I have not found your works perfect…’ (v.2d).
(1) The word ‘perfect’ means ‘mature’ or ‘complete’.
(2) This descriptive word tells us there was something lacking in their service to the Lord. Even though the church in Sardis had a reputation before men, their deeds were not enough and unacceptable in God’s sight.
E. The Remedy to Spiritual Apathy
1. ‘Remember…’ HOW you received and heard…’ (v.3a).
(1) Go back to that simple child like faith and trust in the Lord and return to that place where you simply loved the Lord.
2. ‘…hold fast…’ (v.3b).
(1) Go back to the loyalty you once had to the Lord and do not get involved in compromise.
3. ‘…Repent...’ (v.3c).
a) Take the Lord's estimation of your spiritual condition.
(1) Do not take your own (or another’s) estimation of your spiritual condition.
F. Declaring The Consequences.
1. ‘…I will come upon you as a thief…’ (v.3d).
(1) The Lord is saying that He will come and destroy the Sardis church is there is not repentance.
(2) A special judgment upon the Church or a coming to judge and removing the lampstand (the place of influence this Church had in society to further the gospel).
Those who know that truth and don’t turn away from their sin have a worse punishment: "Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”“ (Hebrews 10:29-30)
G. Delivering The Commendation.
1. ‘…you have a few names…’ (v.4a).
a) The few faithful among the tares (Matt.13:38-39).
(1) The entire Church was not corrupt since there were a few people who were living spiritually alert and without compromise.
(2) The Lord had not forgotten those who had remained faithful to Him (Mal.3:16-17; Heb.6:10) and will always have his remnant (Romans 11:1-5).
2. ‘…who have not defiled their garments…’ (v.4b).
a) Garments symbolize character.
(1) Defiled is from molunō, which means “to stain,” “to defile,” “to smear,” or “to pollute.”
(2) In the OT the clothing of a leper was contaminated and had to be burned (Lev. 13:47–57).
(3) The loyal remnant could come into God’s presence. These are the ones who had not defiled or polluted themselves, but were marked by their godly character.
(4) The idea of not defiling their garments expresses moral purity.
3. ‘…they shall walk with Me in white…’ (v.4c).
a) The blessing of obedience.
(1) There are 5 Views concerning this phrase, and based on the context it can be seen to refer to garments that represent the righteousness of Christ that washes us white as snow.
(2) White robes of purity are worn by Christ (Matt.17:2; Mark 9:3) & and the holy angels (Matt. 28:3; Mark 16:5; Acts 1:10).
4. ‘…for they are worthy…’ (v.4d).
a) The basis of blessing.
(1) The word ’worthy’ literally means, ‘to balance the scales’.
(2) This does not communicate the idea of earning salvation; but, the need to practice what we preach or to live out the truths we believe.
H. Dispensing The Counsel.
1. ‘He who overcomes…’ (v.5a).
a) A call to perseverance.
(1) The Lord speaks to those who do not quit in their walk with Christ (Rm. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Jn. 213; 1 Jn. 5:4-5; Rev. 2:7; 11; 17; 26; 3:5; 12; 21).
2. ‘…shall be clothed in white…’ (v.5b).
a) The benefit of perseverance.
(1) This points back to verse 4.
3. ‘…name not blotted out of the Book of Life…’ (v.5c).
a) This is a promise not a threat!
(1) It does not say He will blot out some names, but that He will not blot them out.
(2) It must be pointed out that the ones the Lord gives assurance to are those who show evidence of holiness.
(3) This promise is NOT for those who supposedly receive Christ and then live any way they choose.
4. ‘…I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels…’ (v.5d).
(1) To have your name confessed by the Lord shows complete acceptance by God in eternity.
I. The call to listen to the Lord.
1. ‘…He who has an ear, let him hear…’ (v.6a).
(1) This is a call to listen that assumes that you will act on what has been said.
(2) James (1:22-25; Luke 8:21; 11:28).
The Message to Philadelphia
XII. Philadelphia: Faithful And Alive 3:7-13
Introduction: Have you ever seen a church that is alive and faithful to Christ? A church that focuses upon Jesus Christ? A church that makes Jesus Christ the center of its ministries and activities? A church that focuses upon reaching and growing people for Christ? A church that focuses upon teaching people to love Christ and to love one another more and more? This was the church at Philadelphia. The very word Philadelphia means brotherly love or one who loves his brother. The believers at Philadelphia loved Christ; therefore, they gave their hearts and lives to Christ. They lived like Christ said to live and they carried out the mission of Christ upon earth. The church at Philadelphia was alive and faithful. It represents all the churches down through the ages that are alive and faithful. It shows us exactly what Christ wants a church to be.
If someone was to ask me where a church is located that has no problems, my response would be, “If there is such a church, don’t join it because you will spoil it.” The point: there are no perfect churches.
Similar to all churches, the one in Philadelphia had its flaws. However, the Lord commended its members for their faithfulness and loyalty. The church in Philadelphia and the congregation at Smyrna were the only two of the seven churches that were not rebuked from the Lord. This church serves as a good model for us today.
A. Describing The City ‘…in Philadelphia…’
1. Historical Background
(1) The name means "the city of brotherly love."
(2) 25 miles SE of Sardis in a beautiful valley set on a trade route. Fertile agricultural area. The main crop was grapes, obviously used for the making of wine.
(3) The city experienced severe volcanic activity and several earthquakes. In 17 A.D. the city was destroyed by an earthquake.
(4) The city was created to spread the Greek culture. It was located in a strategic area because it was a gateway to many areas of the ancient world.
(5) Their coins abound in worship of Artemis and Asklepius and especially Dionysius, which was known for its pagan orgies and debauchery.
(6) The city was known for its Roman orgies. Today the Church still exists and has a small impact upon this area.
B. Describing The Christ.
1. ‘…He who is holy…’ (v.7a).
(1) These words are a direct claim to deity. Jesus possesses the infinite, undiminished holy nature that the Father possesses.
(2) Remember that holiness means to be completely and totally set apart and different from all other beings. Christ is supremely holy.
(3) To say that God is holy is to say that He is utterly separate from sin; therefore His character is absolutely unblemished and flawless.
(4) This means something significant for the church that is alive and faithful. It means they are worshipping and following God Himself by following Christ. By giving their hearts and lives to Christ, they are giving themselves to the sovereign Majesty and supreme Force of the universe, to the most holy God Himself.
(5) These words are used to describe the Lord in 6:10 that appeals to His holiness for justice.
(6) The N.T. uses the term “Holy One” as a Messianic title for the Lord Jesus Christ:
The demons said “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24, NKJV)
The angel described Jesus as “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35, NKJV)
When many of Jesus’ disciples withdrew from Him and walked with Him no more, Jesus asked His disciples “do you want to go away also?” and Peter said "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:69-70, NKJV)
Peter rebuked the Jews by saying "But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you," (Acts 3:14, NKJV)
2. ‘He who is true…’ (v.7b).
(1) The word true means the true as opposed to the false, the genuine as opposed to the counterfeit, the real as opposed to the unreal. Jesus Christ is the true, genuine, and real God.
(2) He is the only true and living God (John 17:3), & all gods worshipped by men are false, counterfeit, and unreal.
John said that Jesus "Was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:9, NKJV)
John goes on to say in (v.14) that He was “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NKJV)
He is the only was who can truly satisfy "Jesus said Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32, NKJV)
Speaking to Pilate He said "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)
3. ‘…He who has the key of David, who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens…’ (v.7c).
(1) Remember, whatever the Lord does, no one has the power to overturn or undo:
The Lord says that "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions.” (Isaiah 43:13, NLT)
I love what the Lord says here "And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God—I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I will call a swift bird of prey from the east—a leader from a distant land who will come and do my bidding. I have said I would do it, and I will." (Isaiah 46:9-11NLT; Jer.18:6; Dan.4:35)
(2) The passage refers to the Messiah as the one who is able to open and shut the door of salvation.
(3) This verse is a quote from (Isaiah 22:22), the context: The Assyrians took the North captive. The King Hezekiah’s steward Eliakim (who had the keys to all the treasuries) hears the Assyrian threats against Judah. They call Isaiah the prophet to hear from the Lord. In Is 22:20-25 ‘the key’ is to not only the King’s treasure, but the doorway of the Messianic line which will not allow the Assyrians to invade.
(4) This speaks to the Church, which was being persecuted by an evil world. They should not worry since Christ has the keys to His Messianic Kingdom and salvation and it is by Him & His power & authority to determine who enters His messianic kingdom:
The 3rd of the 7 “I AM” statements is Jesus saying "I am the door of the sheep…” "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7, 9, NKJV)
The 6th “I AM” statement of Jesus is “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV)
There is only salvation in Jesus Christ, Peter said "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NKJV)
(5) Revelation 1:18 reveals that Jesus has the keys to death and hell; here He is depicted as having the keys to salvation and blessing.
C. Describing The Church.
1. Christ’s commendation: 4 promises (v.8-11).
a) Promise #1: ‘…I have set before you an open door…’ (v.8a).
(1) A Door of Salvation. Today God has opened a door of salvation to any who will come. One day the door will be closed and locked, and no one else will be allowed to enter (see also Rev. 3:20; John 10:9; Matt. 7:13-14).
(2) A Door of Safety (v.10). The Philadelphia-like church will be removed before Jesus judges the earth during the Tribulation (Rev. 4:1). The church is mentioned nineteen times in Chapters 1–3 but is clearly absent when judgment begins.
(3) A Door of Service. This is probably the meaning of the door. The Lord sets before this Church an open door to reach people based on its strategic location that no force or power can shut. Often in the New Testament, a door symbolizes entering into an opportunity to serve God (1Cor.16:8-9; 2Cor.2:12; Col.4:3). Both the merchant roads and the highways marched on by the great Roman armies came through Philadelphia. The city was strategically located to reach out to many other cities with the gospel.
Paul said that he would "Tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (1 Corinthians 16:8-9, NKJV)
When Paul went to Troas "To preach Christ’s gospel,” he said that “a door was opened to me by the Lord," (2 Corinthians 2:12, NKJV)
Paul exhorted the church in Colosse to "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains," (Colossians 4:2-3)
(4) The good news is that this opportunity is based on the strength of Christ and not this Church.
b) The Lord describes them as having the following characteristics:
(1) ‘…you have little strength…’(v.8a) – Our weakness is a prerequisite to a successful witness.
Paul said that "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. “ (2 Corinthians 12:10, NASB95)
As Paul said that we are to "Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, NASB95)
(2) ‘… (you) have kept My word…’(v.8b) – There can be no witness apart from the Word of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. “ He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” (John 14:23-24, NASB95)
Do you lay down you life for the Lord? Again the words of our Lord are "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14, NASB95)
We should be able to say as Job did: "I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. “ (Job 23:12, NASB95)
(3) ‘…and (you) have not denied My name…’(v.8c) – They faithfully proclaimed Christ and Him crucified. These followers also remained loyal no matter what it cost them. A great example of loyalty is David to Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-10).
John describes the Tribulation saints who refused to take the mark of the beast: “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev.14:12).
(4) ‘…and have kept the word of My perseverance…’(v.10) – Endurance is an essential part of saving faith:
Jesus said that "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. “ (Matthew 10:22, NASB95)
Jesus Himself was the model for us, One who endured till the end. We are to fix "our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin…” (Hebrews 12:2-4, NASB95)
(5) ‘…those of the synagogue of Satan…’ – This is a group of people who claim to be Jews but are unbelievers and belong to the devil.
Racially, culturally, and ceremonially they were Jews, but spiritually they were not. Paul defines a true Jew in Romans 2:28–29: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God”.
c) Promise #2: ‘…I will make them come and worship before your feet…’ (v.9b).
(1) This is actually taken from (Is.45:14, 49:23 and 60:14) where it is the Gentiles who would actually bow down at the feet of the Jews.
(2) It does not mean that they will actually worship but they will have to confess that the believers were right and that our God is the true God.
(3) The idea is “the defeated” bowing down before the victor.
(4) These false Jews were persecuting the true Church thinking they were doing it for God, yet in the eternal realm they will see that it is the Christians that the Lord actually loves.
(5) Jesus will honor us before all the unbelievers one day.
d) Promise #3: ‘…I will keep you from the hour of trial… (v.10b).’
(1) ‘The hour of trial’ is a reference to the tribulation period so this verse relates to the promise of the rapture.
(2) This is not just a promise to keep us during the time but from the entire period.
(3) The Greek preposition means "out of" and stresses deliverance from and not perseverance through.
(a) Unbelievers will either pass the test by repenting (Rev.6:9–11; 7:9–10, 14; 14:4; and 17:14).
(b) Or failing the test by refusing to repent and are damned (Rev.6:15–17; 9:20; 16:11; and 19:17–18).
(4) The Bottom Line: This is a direct promise and proof of the pre-trib position.
e) Promise #4: ‘…I am coming quickly!’ (v.11a).
(1) In contrast to the previous declarations of His coming (that dealt with coming to judge the church), this reference deals with His imminent return for His church.
(2) Notice Christ has no correction. Our response should be (22:20).
D. Delivering The Command.
1. ‘…hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown…’ (v.11b).
(1) Christ bids us not to lose what we have. This speaks of always moving forward in our walk with the Lord.
(2) How do we do this?
(a) Trusting that the Lord will complete what He has started (Phil.1:6).
(b) Continuing to have undying faith (Col.1:22-23; 1Jn.2:19).
b) Those who faithfully persevere will receive a crown.
(1) The crown referred to here is probably the ‘crown of life’ spoken of in (Rev.2:10 and James 1:12).
(2) Second Timothy 4:8 describes it as a crown of righteousness, and 1 Peter 5:4 as one of glory. In our glorified state, we will be perfectly righteous, and thus perfectly able to reflect God’s glory. Those whose faithful perseverance marks them as true children of God need never fear losing their salvation.
(3) How do we do this?
(a) Again, trusting in Him who is able to keep you from stumbling (Jude 24), but at the same time "building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 20-21, NASB95)
(b) Have you ever waited for someone to pick you up for a movie or some sort of event that you really wanted to go to? We are to wait with that same expectancy.
E. Dispensing The Counsel.
1. ‘He who overcomes…’ (v.12a).
(1) Again a call to perseverance.
(2) One who overcomes is another name for a Christian (1Jn.5:5).
2. ‘…I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God…’ (v.12b).
a) Strength & Security.
(1) Strength – A pillar was used to strengthen a building. It was a symbol of stability, permanence, and immovability. Pillars were often erected in ancient cities to honor famous people. Jesus says He will honor this church by erecting a pillar in their name.
In those days the leaders put their names on the pillars, yet the believer will not just have His name written on one, but will be one.
3. ‘…he shall go out no more’ (v.12c).
(1) Security – The idea of being a pillar may be in contrast to the instability that the earthquakes caused in the area. Again, Philadelphia was a city of earthquakes. People would have to go out (leave the city) every time an earthquake occurred. Jesus was telling them that He would be their security.
It is interesting that after the earthquakes hit the only thing standing were the pillars of their buildings.
(2) The believers in Philadelphia were used to fleeing their city because of earthquakes or enemies; however the Lord promises them they will not go out of heaven.
(3) This promise of going out no more carries the idea of being protected from the world and all its evils & was understood as security in eternal glory.
4. ‘I will write on him…’ (v.12d).
a) Three different names will be written upon us.
(1) ‘…the name of My God…’ (v.12) – This speaks of the fact that all true Christians belong to God.
(2) ‘…the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem…’ (v.12) – This speaks of the eternal citizenship that we have in Christ.
(3) ‘…My New Name…’ (v.12) – This speaks of the fact that we are completely Christ’s, and we will enjoy His fullness for eternity.
(4) 1 John 3:2 – Whatever we know now will pale in comparison to what is promised!
(5) The writing of these three new names upon us shows that we completely belong to the Lord, the idea of ownership is being presented.
5. ‘…let him hear what the Spirit says…’ (v.13).
a) Again we are to hear and do!
(1) Doing the will of God is what counts (Matthew 21:28-32 Parable of the two sons).
The Message to Laodicea
XIII. Laodicea: Affluent…But Lukewarm 3:14-22
A. Describing The City ‘…of the Laodiceans…’
1. Historical Background.
Laodicea was located 40 miles SE of Philadelphia in what is now present day Western Turkey. The city was famous for several things:
(1) Being located near some hot mineral springs that cascaded over the cliffs. Unfortunately, by the time the water from the springs reached the city it is lukewarm and tasted horrible (v.16).
(2) It was also a financial & banking center, clothing manufacturing center, & the location of a famous medical school renown for the eye salve which it produced for the healing of the eyes. Because of this they worshipped the god Asklepius (the god of healing).
(3) Perhaps the condition of the church in Rev. 3:17—“poor, blind, and naked”—has reference to these three industries.
(4) This was the only city that did not need or receive any help from Rome when the area was destroyed by a major earthquake in 60 A.D. They had so much money they were able to rebuild the city themselves.
Take note that the address is not to the church at Laodicea, but to the church of the Laodiceans. The Greek word laos, from which we get our word “laity,” means “people.” Diece means “decision” or “rule.” Thus, the church of the Laodiceans was directed by the people rather than guided by the Lord. The Laodicean mentality remains.
2. Church background.
(1) Colossians chapters 1 and 4 mention Epaphras as the Pastor.
(2) In Col 4 Paul spoke of a letter he wrote to the Laodiceans and told them to read the letter to the Colossians.
(3) The church at Laodicea is the last and worst of the seven churches addressed by our Lord.
B. Describing The Christ.
1. ‘…the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness…’ (v.14).
a) ‘…the Amen…’ (v.14a).
(1) The Lord presented Himself as “the Amen,” which is an Old Testament title for God (see Isa. 65:16, where the word truth is the Hebrew word amen).
(2) Amen is a transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “truth,” “affirmation,” or “certainty.” It refers to that which is firm, fixed, and unchangeable.
(3) Amen is often used in Scripture to affirm the truthfulness of a statement. Whatever God says is true and certain; therefore, He is the God of truth.
(4) Through the person and work of Jesus Christ all God’s promises are fulfilled and guaranteed.
Paul, writing to the Corinthians says that "All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV)
(5) Every one of the Old Testament promises of forgiveness, mercy, loving-kindness, grace, hope, and eternal life are bound up in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Amen since He is the One who confirmed all the promises of God.
b) ‘…the Faithful (Witness)…’ (v.14b).
(1) Faithful means “true”, “sure”, “trustworthy”, “believable”, & “worthy of credit”, of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties.
(2) This Church needed to listen to the one who is faithful and understands the truths of God. When a person said "Amen" they were agreeing with a spiritual truth. Christ is the truth of God.
c) ‘…and True Witness…’ (v.14c).
(1) Christ is the one who is the true witness of God in contrast to this Church that was off the mark.
(2) The Greek word translated “witness” is martus, from which we get our word “martyr.” What is a witness? One who lives so much like Jesus Christ and is so in love with Jesus Christ that he ends up being crucified even as Jesus Christ was crucified.
The Bible puts it this way: "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12, NKJV)
(3) You’ll never hear a message about suffering, persecution, or martyrdom in a Laodicean church. They don’t want to think about those things. The truth, however, is that if we’re living godly, we’re going to get nailed. No question.
(4) The Lord was about to tell this church the truth about its spiritual condition & unfortunately, they would not believe His diagnosis.
(5) The Laodicean church was blind to its own needs and reluctant to face the truth. If we want God’s best for our lives and churches, we must be honest with God and let God be honest with us.
2. ‘…the Beginning of the creation of God’ (v.14d).
(1) Cultists often use this verse to say that Jesus is created and therefore not coequal with the Father.
(2) However, the Greek word translated “beginning” is arche which actually means ‘the source/origin’ or ‘the ruler/prince’.
(3) In light of this, we see in this verse a reference to the fact that Jesus is the source of creation or the ruler of creation. Through His power everything was created:
John says that "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." (John 1:3, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews says that God "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:2, NKJV)
(4) The church in Colosse was dealing with the same heresy:
Paul refuted this by writing that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col. 1:15–17)
“Firstborn” (prōtotokos) is not limited to the first one born chronologically, but refers to the supreme or preeminent one, the one receiving the highest honor (Ps. 89:27). Christ is thus the source (archē) of the creation, and the supreme person (prōtotokos) in it.
(5) The word ‘beginning’ is also applied to God the Father (Rev.1:8; 21:6; 22:13; Isaiah 44:6). Does that mean that God the Father had a beginning?
(6) In the last days the question is, and will continue to be “Who is the Creator?”
C. Describing The Church.
1. Notice that there is no commendation from Christ.
a) Nothing good to say.
(1) There was nothing in this church that Christ could commend them for. Since there was nothing good to say about this church, the Lord goes directly into the concerns He has.
2. ‘I know your works…’ (v.15a).
a) Works make known the true spiritual condition.
(1) While salvation is wholly by God’s grace through faith alone, works prove or deny the presence of genuine salvation (James 2:14ff; Matt.7:16; Rom.2:6-8).
(2) In this case their works were questioning their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord rebukes them for this.
3. ‘…you are neither cold nor hot…I wish you were’ (v.15b).
a) One or the other.
(1) In Laodicea’s sister city of Hieropolis were hot springs. To take advantage of this, a channel was constructed that carried the hot water from Hieropolis through Laodicea and on to Colosse. In theory, it was a good idea. But in reality, by the time the water reached Laodicea, it was foul, dirty & lukewarm. Thus, as lukewarm water flowed through their city, the Laodiceans would know hot water was useful, cold water was refreshing, but lukewarm water was not good for much.
(2) The Lord says the same thing about His people. “If you’re hot, I can use you. If you’re cold, I can deal with you. But if you’re lukewarm, you’ll neither be hot enough to use nor cold enough to correct.”
They needed to make a choice. Joshua said that "If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”" (Joshua 24:15, NKJV)
4. ‘…you are lukewarm…’ (v.16a).
a) Definition of lukewarm.
(1) Tepid, moderately warm or lukewarm; lacking in passion, force or zest; marked by an absence of enthusiasm or conviction.
(2) Metaphorically, speaks of the condition of the soul wretchedly fluctuating between a dullness or extreme sluggishness and a fervor of love.
b) In the Christian life, there are three “spiritual temperatures”:
(1) A burning heart, on fire for God: When Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus the disciples said: "To one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”" (Luke 24:32, NKJV)
(2) A cold heart: Jesus said that "Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12, NKJV)
(3) A lukewarm heart: And here to the church in Laodicea He says "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Revelation 3:16, NKJV)
c) There are 2 views on this idea of being ‘…lukewarm…’
(1) View #1: ‘cold’ refers to unbelievers, those who reject Jesus Christ; ‘hot’ refers to spirit-filled believers, those who are spiritually alive and possess the fervency of a transformed life and ‘lukewarm’ refers to carnal believers, those who are not genuinely saved, yet they do not openly reject the gospel.
(2) View #2: ‘cold’ refers to unbelievers, ‘hot’ refers to true believers and ‘lukewarm’ refers to those who profess to be Christians.
(3) Scriptures we need to take heed to (Matt.26:41; Rev. 2:4; Rev. 3:2, 15, 16).
(4) We need to be fervent (Rom.12:11; Col.4:12).
5. ‘…you say, I am rich and have need of nothing…’ (v.17a).
a) The danger of deception.
(1) The church at Smyrna thought they were poor, when they were really rich (Rev. 2:9); the Laodiceans boasted that they were rich, when in fact they were poor.
(2) The Laodiceans lukewarmness was compounded by their self-deception. See, they said a few things about themselves & believing it to be true but did not realize their true spiritual state. They had an inaccurate self-assessment.
(3) Like the rich young ruler they were deceived about their real spiritual state (Matt.19:16-22).
(4) It is better to have need and depend upon the Lord then to have everything and forget about Him.
The writer of Proverbs says "Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches— Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God. "(Proverbs 30:8-9, NKJV)
(5) Why were they spiritually declining? Maybe they had become proud of their ministry and had begun to measure things by human standards instead of by spiritual values.
b) Five words describing the Laodicean church.
(1) ‘…you are wretched…’ Paul uses this of his rotten flesh in Rom 7:24.
(2) ‘… (you are) miserable…’ The Greek word for ‘miserable’ used in 1 Cor 15:19 of one who doesn't believe in the resurrection.
(3) ‘… (you are) poor…’ The word here is for absolute destitution, they are spiritually destitute.
(4) ‘… (you are) blind…’ In 2 Cor 4:4 Satan has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever.
(5) ‘… (you are) naked…’ The book of Revelation uses this term to describe the opposite of those clothed in the robes of salvation.
D. Delivering The Command.
1. The nature of Christ’s command.
(1) The Lord attacks the three main industries of this city where the people were receiving their status and security.
(2) The Lord attacks their strength of Banking, Clothing and the Medical Field.
2. ‘…buy from Me gold refined in the fire…’ (v.18a).
a) That you may be rich.
(1) Is 55:1 resembles this command. See also (Is.64:5-6).
(2) 1 Peter 1:7 says that genuine faith is like gold tested in the fire.
(3) This Church needed a true and genuine faith that will pass the test as to its genuineness.
3. ‘… (buy from Me)…white garments…’ (v.18b).
a) That you may be clothed.
(1) Rev 7:14 shows that we need the garments washed in the blood of Christ so that our sin (spiritual nakedness) will not be obvious as we stand before the Lord.
4. ‘…and anoint your eyes with eye salve…’ (v.18c).
a) That you may see.
(1) In 1 John 2:20-27 where the anointing is the Holy Spirit who teaches us the truth about Christ that brings eternal life. We need an anointing from God to see the truth.
(2) Christ is the true witness from whom this Church needs to receive the truth about their spiritual condition.
(3) The Apostle Peter teaches that when a believer is not growing in the Lord, his spiritual vision is affected (2 Peter 1:5–9).
(4) Their eyes needed to be opened (Acts 26:18; 1Pet.2:9).
5. An explanation: ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten’ (v.19a).
(1) This verse indicates they were believers. The reason the Lord has such strong words is due to the fact He loves us greatly and wants us to repent.
(2) He planned to chasten them as proof of His love (Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:5–6).
6. An exhortation: ‘Therefore be zealous and repent’ (v.19b).
(1) Our response is to repent once again, and we should do this eagerly.
(2) Repenting of pride and humbling yourself before the Lord is of the utmost importance. The Laodiceans had to “stir up that inner fire” (2 Tim. 1:6) and cultivate a burning heart.
7. An invitation: ‘…I stand at the door and knock…’ (v.20a).
a) There are 4 Views concerning this statement:
(1) View #1: The Door of the Church at Laodicea. Christ is outside of the Church and is calling people out of this corrupt Church.
Problem: Christ said He will come in, not asking people to come out.
(2) View #2: The Door is the 2nd Coming of Christ. When we open the door Christ will come.
Problem: The Day of the return is set and Christ is not waiting for us to do something.
(3) View #3: The door is the door of the believers' heart. The carnal Christian needs to get right with the Lord so he can have fellowship (dining) with the Lord.
(4) View #4: The door is the heart of the unbeliever who professes to be a Christian. Once the person accepts the true witness of Christ of himself, he will open the door of his heart and truly get saved.
b) What is the Lord appealing to?
(1) The Lord wants to dine with them which speaks of fellowship, communion & intimacy, the people’s desire to abide in Him.
(2) The Laodiceans were not abiding in Christ and drawing their power from Him. They had a “successful program” but it was not fruit that comes from abiding in Christ (John 15:1–8)
(3) Judgment will come to this world, but it first begins with the house of God (1Pet.4:17).
E. Dispensing The Counsel
1. ‘To him who overcomes…’ (v.21a).
(1) Christ is consistent in the group that he counsels (all believers; 2:7, 11, 26; 3:5, 12; 1 John 5:5).
2. ‘…I will grant to sit with Me on My throne…’ (v.21b).
(1) Christ will sit upon a throne and rule a government as seen in Is 9:6-7.
(2) The Bible tells us that:
(a) We are kings (Rev 1:6).
(b) We will sit on thrones for 1,000 years and rule and reign with Christ (Rev 20).
(c) We are joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:15-17).
3. ‘…as I also overcame…’ (v.21c).
(1) Jesus uses Himself as the standard and connects our walk and victory with His walk and victory while on the earth (Heb. 12:1-3).
(2) Of course our victory is ultimately ‘in Christ’ and without Him we would have no victory.
(3) This is a great example of the power of the justification of the believer through the sacrifice of Christ.
The Throne of God
XIV. Chapter 4:1-5:14
A. Where Is The Throne?
1. ‘After these things…’ (v.1a).
a) The Greek phrase used here is ‘meta tauta’.
(1) This word has its source in Rev 1:19 where an outline of the entire book is presented.
(2) The "after these things" fits the context of the things which will take place after the description of the seven churches in chapters 2-3.
(3) Some see this phrase as proof of the rapture of the Church taking place at this point and see John as a picture of the Church being caught up to heaven.
(4) This phrase occurs 11 times in the book, which makes it much broader than just a reference to the rapture.
(5) I find it interesting that in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, the word “church” appears nineteen times. From chapter 4 on, however, it never appears. Why? In keeping with the Lord’s promise to spare His church from the hour of testing (the outpouring of wrath before the Lord returns) given in 3:10, the church will be raptured before that time of tribulation (described in detail in chapters 6–19) begins.
2. ‘…I looked…a door open in heaven…’ (v.1b).
a) Signifying the second vision given to John.
(1) John wrote what he saw and heard, thus it was an eyewitness account of the events spoken of.
(2) I like this! In verse 20 of chapter 3, we saw Jesus knocking at the door. Anyone who opens the door of his heart to the Lord will have the door of heaven opened to him.
3. ‘…come up here…’ (v.1c).
a) John is called up into heaven!
(1) Some see this as a reference to the rapture, where John represents the Church, but when looking at the evidence, this seems to be a hermeneutic ‘over-reach’.
(2) The best possible interpretation is that John is being called up to heaven into the throne room of God.
(3) In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul wrote of being transported to the third heaven (the abode of God). But he was not allowed to speak of what he saw there (2Cor.12:4).
(4) But unlike Paul, John was allowed to give a full description of his vision, which he did in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation.
4. ‘…I was in the Spirit…’ (v.2a).
(1) It is a reference to being translated into the spiritual realm (in contrast to the realm of the flesh) and not a reference to being filled with the Holy Spirit.
(2) In other words, experientially he was taken up to heaven though his body was actually still on the island of Patmos .
(3) John was transferred to the Day of the Lord (see notes for Rev 1:10).
(4) Rev 17:3 shows that John was transported from one place to another.
B. Who Is On The Throne?
1. ‘…and One sat on the throne.’ (v.2b).
a) The term sitting here indicates the posture of reigning.
(1) The thought is not resting because the work of redemption has been accomplished (Heb.1:3; 10:12; 12:2), but reigning because judgment is about to take place.
(2) This is a reference to God the Father (See 4:8; 11; 5:1)
(3) The word ‘throne’ is mentioned 45 (14 times in chapter 4) times in the book of Revelation and only 15 other times in the entire N.T. So the focus shifts from earth to God’s throne.
2. ‘…He who sat there was like…’ (v.3a).
a) The description of the One on the throne.
(1) Here we see that ‘the One’ on the throne is about to be described. It is important to remember that John is going to use items known by the readers to describe the indescribable.
(2) Remember: (Isaiah 40:18 & 46:5) shows us that we cannot compare God to anything, thus John has to continually use the word ‘like’.
(3) ‘…a jasper (stone)…’ (v.3). The picture seems to be this brilliant light radiating like a jasper stone clear as crystal with light shining through it. The focus is on the light that radiates from Him, or in other words the glory of God (the Shekinah).
(4) I Tim 6:16 says that God dwells in unapproachable light.
(5) Rev 21:11- The New Jerusalem has the glory of God and the jasper is like clear crystal.
3. ‘…and sardius stone in appearance…’ (v.3b).
a) The beauty of God’s glory.
(1) This is like our ruby and is a red color.
(2) Many suggestions have been made as to the symbolism behind this red stone. No matter what the symbolism, we can know that what is being described here is the transcendent glory of God is on display.
(3) Ezekiel 1:28
C. What Is Around The Throne?
1. ‘…a rainbow around the throne…’ (v.3c).
a) God’s faithfulness.
(1) In Gen 9:13-17, the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and the earth, thus it pictures the fact God will keep all His promises.
(2) This is seen to reflect part of the faithful character of God.
2. ‘…twenty-four elders…’ (v.4a).
a) On the thrones…sitting:
(1) Some see them as ‘angelic beings’ other see them as ‘human representatives of the church’. It is best to see them as the latter.
(2) Elders sitting indicate that they reign with Christ, Angles do not sit on thrones, nor do they reign with Christ.
(3) Their role is to serve as “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14; cf. Matt. 18:10).
(4) The church, on the other hand, is repeatedly promised a co-regency with Christ (2:26–27; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4; Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1Cor. 6:2–3; 2 Tim. 2:12).
(5) In Scripture, ‘elders’ refer to the key leaders of the congregation that represent the people before God and carry out the Lord’s will amongst the people.
b) ‘…clothed in white robes…’
(1) Representing righteousness imputed to the believers at salvation and purity. In (Rev.3:5) the Lord promised believers they would ‘be clothed in white garments.’ In (Rev.3:18) the Laodiceans would counseled ‘to buy white garments that they may be clothed.’ When the Lord returns, His bride will be ‘in fine lined, bright and clean.’
c) ‘…wearing ‘…crowns of gold…’
(1) Further evidence that the twenty four elders are not angels. Nowhere in Scripture are angels seen wearing crowns of gold.
(2) Stephanos (crown) is the victor’s crown, worn by those who successfully endured the trial, those who competed and won the victory (Rev.2:10; 1Pet.5:4; 2Tim4:8; 1Cor.9:25; James 1:12).
(3) See the notes for Rev 5:9-10 as to the identity of the 24 elders.