Study of Revelation, Chapter 2 – Message to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira Churches

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Revelation

As we move into Chapter 2 of Revelation, we see the first three of seven letters John wrote to the churches.  The messages were written by John in 95 AD.  The Church of Jesus Christ was approximately 66 years old at this time.  Although there were many other churches existent in Asia during this time, the churches that were selected were done so because of the spiritual conditions that existed during that time.  If we examine each of these letters carefully, we will see similarities with today’s churches.  Churches pass through ‘eras’ over the centuries, and each letter describes a church history.

These letters were not written to condemn the churches, but to encourage them to be strong in Christ.  Jesus wanted believers to know that He understood the persecutions that they faced.  He wanted them to know that even through their persecution, He was in their midst, and with Him they could overcome any evil that was lurking.  He saw the good, the faith, and the patience within the people.  But, He also saw sin among them.  He pointed out the compromise, apostasy, indifference, and luke-warmness that was evident within the churches, as we can also see evident today.

These letters can also be reviewed and applied to your personal life as well.  I believe we can all relate to some of the negative we see within the letters within ourselves, as well as a church that we know of.  Faith is moving among souls in great strength today.  I see a mighty Revival moving in many churches.  Many souls are being brought to Christ and I believe that Jesus is in our midst in great strength.  He is rising us up out of our comfort zone, and calling us to repentance.  Many are rededicating their life to Christ bringing a much stronger commitment.  Praise the Lord!  God knows everything about us; He knows our strengths and He knows our weaknesses.  There is nothing we can hide from God [Psalm 139:1-18Psalm 139:1-18
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139 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. 1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. compassest: or, winnowest 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. hideth...: Heb. darkeneth not the darkness and...: Heb. as is the darkness, so is the light 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. right...: Heb. greatly 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. substance: or, strength, or, body 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. all...: Heb. all of them which...: or, what days they should be fashioned 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.  

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].  He knows every hair on our head [Luke 12:7Luke 12:7
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7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  

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, Matthew 10:30Matthew 10:30
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30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  

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].  Whoa!  That’s powerful!  But, I take rest in knowing He knows everything about me and I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not.

Psalm 139:23Psalm 139:23
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23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  

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23Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious

thoughts.

24Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Revelation 2:1-7Revelation 2:1-7
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2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.  

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 begins with a message from God to the Church of Ephesus, or the Apostolic Church.  Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor.  Paul ministered here for three years and warned the people there that false teachers would visit and attempt to draw them away from their faith.

Acts 20:28-31Acts 20:28-31
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28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  

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28″So guard yourselves and God’s people.  Feed and shepherd God’s flock – his church, purchased with His own blood – over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.  29I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock.  30Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.  31Watch out!  Remember the three years I was with you – my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.

Notice that in each letter, Jesus begins by reporting something good and commending them for their faithful, hard work and patience.  We can see in Revelation 2:1Revelation 2:1
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2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;  

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, that Jesus holds these stars in His right hand indicating His power and authority over the churches and their leaders, and He walks in the midst of this church so we know this is Christianity.

God cares about your church!  If you have any doubt in this, search these letters more carefully.  Jesus knew the precise situation of each of these churches, and told John to write about specific people, places, and events.  He praised the believers for their successes and instructed them on how to correct their failures.  Our Lord wants our churches to reach its greatest potential, and we should as well.  Each week we enter church, we should enter with great expectations!  The group in which we worship with is God’s vessel for reaching the world with the Word of God.  This is something that we should take very seriously.  God certainly does!

Revelation 2:2-3Revelation 2:2-3
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2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.  

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 shows us more about this particular church. We know that they did not tolerate evil people and refused to tolerate sin among its members.  This was a difficult task during a time that this city was noted for immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of the goddess Artemis.  How does this verse apply to our life today?  We live in times of great sin and sexual immorality.  More and more, we see the push for ‘open-mindedness’ toward many types of sin.  We hear certain types of sin being referred to as personal choices or alternative lifestyles.  It can have any name applied to it, but it is still sin.  When the body of the church begins to tolerate such sin within the church it is compromising the church’s witness.  In doing this, are we attempting to seek approval from the world?  What does the world offer to a child of God?  Nothing!  God’s approval is infinitely more important!  We must begin to use the Word of God to set the standards by which we live, not by what other people are willing to accept, or tells us to accept.   It appears that the Church of Ephesus was well grounded in the Word of God. They did not accept just anyone who claimed to be an apostle.  They judged the message before acceptance.  We must also do the same.  We must be a church, strong in standards, even though we are surrounded by evil.  This church is a spiritual church, guided by the Holy Spirit.  They are full of power and the presence of God each week, and will be found working when the Lord Jesus returns.

In Revelation 2:4Revelation 2:4
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4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  

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, Jesus brings to light the church’s loss of love for Him.  At one time, Paul had commended this church for its love for God and others.

Ephesians 1:15-17Ephesians 1:15-17
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15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: in...: or, for the acknowledgement  

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15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16I have not stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

But, over the years, many of the church founders had passed away, and a lot of the second-generation believers had lost their enthusiasm for God.  There is no doubt that this church was busy doing much to benefit themselves and the community, but they were doing it out of the wrong motives.  Any work that we do for God MUST be motivated by love for God, or it will not last.  It is questionable that this church began to entertain more than teach, becoming more appealing to the world than to God.

2 Timothy 3:52 Timothy 3:5
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5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  

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5They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!

If we are believers, our first love is Jesus, ahead of everything else.  Do you see this present in any of today’s churches?  Do you compromise Jesus in your personal life?  God does not tolerate compromise and we, as believers, must make every effort to keep Jesus #1 in our life and church!  Think about a newly married couple.  There is excitement and commitment!  When we see a new believer we see this same excitement and commitment.  It is only when we begin to lose sight of the seriousness of sin that we begin to lose the excitement of our forgiveness.

2 Peter 1:8-112 Peter 1:8-11
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8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. barren: Gr. idle 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  

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8The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen.  Do these things, and you will never fall away.  11Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Do you still have the excitement you had the day you received Christ into your heart?  Do you still have the enthusiasm you had when you were a new Christian?

Hebrews 10:32-39Hebrews 10:32-39
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32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. in yourselves...: or, that ye have in or, for yourselves 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.  

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32Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.  Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.  33Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.  34You suffere along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy.  You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

35So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  36Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised.

37″For in just a little while,

the Coming One will come and

not delay.

38And my righteous ones will live

by faith.

But I will take no pleasure in

anyone who turns away.

39But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction.  We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

The statement in Revelation 2:5Revelation 2:5
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5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  

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is a grave warning to repent and return to the love of God first and foremost, or Jesus will come and remove their lamp-stand from its place among the churches.  This means that the church would cease to be effective.  Jesus would extinguish any light that did not fulfill its purpose.  Churches were to give light to their surrounding communities.  If they did not repent of their sins, they would lose their light.

Again, we can sum this up easily when we compare our love for Jesus as a newly married couple.  When a man and woman are married and take their vows, there is a special relationship that develops between the man and his wife.  They want to be together, and seek to know everything they possible can about their spouse.  They share their most intimate details about themselves with each other, and the time they spend apart seems to last a lifetime.  This is the kind of love that we should have for the Lord Jesus Christ.  We should develop that special relationship with Him.  We should seek knowledge about Him and His character in His Word.  Through prayer, we can speak to God and ask Him to search our heart and cleanse us.  God already knows our most intimate details.  We should strive to always keep Jesus in our life, and never part from Him.  Keeping our love pure for Christ will allow us to give 100% of ourselves to His cause.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Is there anything that has replaced Christ as the central focus of your life?

Do you ever disregard your relationship with God?

Do you spend less time in prayer?  in worship?

Are you neglecting the Word of God?

Do you allow your own desires to come between you and your relationship with God?

Are you compromising yourself by being tolerant of sin?

Have you lost the enthusiasm for saving lost souls?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, it is a sign that you (or your church) has left their first love, Jesus Christ.

Let me ask one more question…Are the works that you do motivated by a passion for God, or are you doing them out of a sense of duty?  We should never perform a work solely for the main purpose of feeling guilty or feeling as though we are being pressured into it and don’t feel we can say ‘no’.  Everything we do should come from the heart and because we are reflecting God’s love in our work.

Matthew 22:37-38Matthew 22:37-38
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37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.  

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37Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  38This is the first and greatest commandment.

Revelation 2:6Revelation 2:6
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6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  

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 tells us that Jesus hated the sin, but not the sinner.  The mention of the Nicolaitans in this verse, I believe, is telling us that we must avoid worldliness all together.  The Nicolaitans believed that if they were involved with idolatry and fleshly things that it would not be held against them since they had been set free by Christ.  This is evident in some churches today as we see certain belief systems that indicate sin is okay because God forgives our sin.  All this is doing is twisting God’s words and trying to belittle Jesus.  We must be very careful not to transfer worldliness into worship.  This is a very dangerous practice!  God does not tolerate sin and expects us, as believers, to stand against it.  Be careful not to fall into the trap of Satan when you make excuses to justify a sinful behavior.  The world needs us to be strong in our faith without compromise or excuses to validate our actions.  We need to be able to guide people toward right living.

I would like to inject a note at this point regarding the Nicolaitans.  In the Evergreen Devotional New Testament, written by Dr. Hollis Green, he notes that the Nicolaitans taught that to master sensuality, one had to experience the whole range of immorality.  These heretics were hated and expelled by the church in Ephesus, but tolerated by Pergamum [page 383].

Up until this point, God has been speaking to the church.  But, in Revelation 2:7Revelation 2:7
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7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.  

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, He begins to speak to us as individuals, as we are not saved as a collective body but as an individual.  We must open our ears and listen to God’s Spirit and pray for understanding.  We must avoid the temptations of the flesh for those who are victorious, Jesus will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God!  This verse is speaking of the new earth.  Eventually, evil will be destroyed and believers will be brought into a restored paradise, where everyone will eat from the tree of life and live forever.

In Revelation 2:8-10Revelation 2:8-10
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8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  

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, Jesus begins to address the Church in Smyrna, or the Persecuted Church, which was approximately 25-35 miles north of Ephesus.  It’s nickname, Port of Asia, reflected its gracious harbor on the Aegean Sea.  Smyrna was recognized by Rome as a loyal ally, which gave this church two main sources of evil to contend with: the Jewish population that was strongly opposed to Christianity, and a non-Jewish population that was loyal to Rome and supported the worship of the emperor.  In an environment such as this, the believers of Smyrna were persecuted to great extent, often losing their means of livelihood as a result of their commitment to the Lord.  For the believers of Smyrna, making a public proclamation of their faith meant much suffering, and sometimes death.  The word ‘tribulation’ itself means intense and constant pressure.  Are you able to relate to this?  Do you feel you are under intense and constant pressure for announcing your faith publicly?  Do you profess your faith knowing the consequences it may bring?  Jesus comforts us by telling us He was dead but is now alive.  This message comes from the Jesus as we know Him!  We need to understand that persecution does not come from God, but from Satan.  Satan will cause believers to be thrown into prison and even killed.  But, as believers, we should not fear death, because it will only result in receiving the crown of life.  Satan can only hurt our ‘earthly’ bodies, but he can never damage our spiritual body.  This is what is meant by ‘synagogue belongs to Satan’.  When the Jews came together for worship, they were serving Satan’s purposes, not God’s.  Noting ‘ten days’ shows that although you will undergo intense persecution, the time will be relatively short, and God will remain in control.

Pain and suffering is part of life, and we all experience this at some time.  Jesus’ message to the Church of Smyrna was to encourage them to remain faithful and not to fear the future.  Are you suffering in your life?  If so, do not allow this to turn you away from God.  It is easy to follow Jesus when everything in our life is going good.  But, so many times when we are going through difficult times, we look for someone to blame and God just sort of lands at the top of our list.  God never promised that we would not experience pain or difficulties in our life.  He did promise that He would always be with us and never forsake us [Deuteronomy 31:6Deuteronomy 31:6
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6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.  

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].   We remain faithful by keeping our focus on Christ and His promises.  Will your faith be strong enough for you to stand when all odds are against you?

2 Timothy 1:72 Timothy 1:7
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7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  

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For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Again, in Revelation 2:1Revelation 2:1
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2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;  

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1, Jesus tells us that anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.  We are also told that whoever is victorious will not be harmed in the second death.  This is significant for all believers and unbelievers will experience physical death, and all will be resurrected.  The difference is that believers will be resurrected to eternal life with God!  The unbelievers will be resurrected to be punished with a second death, eternal separation from God.  This is a great promise from God to over-comers.  We will not experience the death associated with hell.  We will have been crowned with everlasting life!  Praise the Lord!  I could not imagine being separated from my glorious King for all of eternity.  What a dreadful day that will be for unbelievers, when they go to spend eternity with Satan.

The book of Revelation, to me, is presenting good against evil; God against Satan.  God WILL win!  Have you made your choice in how you wish to spend eternity?  We never know what tomorrow will bring, do not tarry in your decision, your life depends on it!

Out of the seven churches, only two are spared reprimand.  Smyrna is one of those churches.  In today’s church, this would be the church who preaches the pure Word of God to people who are seeking the Truth.  The Word of God is not watered down, or manipulated in this church.  Church members attend as often as is available, which is usually several times a week.  They are hungry for the Word of God and can’t seem to get enough.  They are the members that are cautious and test every word said against Scripture.  You can feel the Holy Spirit in the Church!  Their deeds are geared towards their eternity with God; that is more important than their life on earth.  They live to love others, and to bring lost souls to Christ.

It’s important that we all evaluate our church of attendance.  Are the church leaders following the Scripture and feeding their flock?  Can you feel the Spirit of God in your services?  Do you wake up in the morning with great enthusiasm about attending church, or are you one who says ‘ughhh, we have to go to church today’?  It shouldn’t be a chore.

Revelation 2:1Revelation 2:1
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2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;  

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2-17  contains the letter to the Church in Pergamum, or The State Church.  Here we begin to see the danger of doctrinal compromise.  Pergamum was built way up on a hill, providing its own fortress.  The city itself was sophisticated in Greek culture and education.  It was also a cult center with the focus on four cults specifically: Zeus, Athene, Dionysos and Asklepios.  Because of its many other altars and cults, it could aptly be called ‘Satan’s Seat‘.  The city’s chief god was Asklepios, whose symbol was a serpent.  This god was considered the god of healing, and many people came to Pergamum from all over the world to seek healing from this god.

In the letter to the Church in Pergamum, Jesus yet refers to himself differently.  This time He calls himself the one with the sharp two-edged sword.  This, of course, is the Old and New Testament, and represents God’s ultimate authority and judgement.  It may also represent God’s future separation of believers from unbelievers.  With the city being surrounded by worship of Satan and the Roman emperor as god, Jesus recognized their faithfulness and the refusal to denounce their faith.  They were holding onto their beliefs with everything they had.  When we are faced with evil in our life, do we make light of our faith, or hide behind closed doors to protect ourselves?

Malachi 3:6Malachi 3:6
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6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.  

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I am the Lord, and I do not change.

That is a powerful statement!  And one that we should heed and not take lightly.  The things that God opposed so many years ago, remain the same in today’s world.  God doesn’t change, although over time, we do.  We must be careful not to allow change in our life to become confident, disregarding sin. As we get closer to the return of Jesus Christ, Satanic influence becomes stronger and stronger.  We must dress ourselves with the Whole Armor of God each day before rising and each evening before retiring for the night.  We must always be prepared for spiritual warfare from Satan.  He doesn’t want us to follow Christ.  He wants us to be with him in hell.  Pray each day for strength to fight against the evil that may be surrounding you in your area.

We do not know much about Antipas, except that he would not compromise and he died for his faith.  It was not easy being a Christian in Pergamum.  Believers were constantly receiving pressure to compromise or leave the faith.  Jesus was very well aware of the type of place that they resided in; very evil surroundings.  But, the church was committing sin by compromising with the sinful around them.  They became tolerant of those who taught or practiced what Christ opposed.  We are encouraged as believers to cooperate with people as much as we can, but avoid any relationship with them that leads to immoral practices.    We, as Christians, realize that we interpret passages with some difference, or have a difference of opinion, but there is no room for a belief contrary to the Word of God.  Today, we see pornography, sexual sin, gossiping, and lying all around us.  It is alright to be open-minded, but not to the point of bowing to the pressure of tolerating sin.  It is important to remember that fellow-shipping with those of unbelief is very dangerous.  We are to witness to them, planting the seeds, then go on our way.  We are not of this world [Ephesians 6:12Ephesians 6:12
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12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. flesh...: Gr. blood and flesh spiritual...: or, wicked spirits high: or, heavenly  

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, John 15:19John 15:19
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19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  

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, John 8:23John 8:23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.  

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, 1 John 5:191 John 5:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.  

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].  When we begin to interact with the world and partake in worldly activities , we begin to compromise.

As we take a look at the last church addressed in Revelation Chapter 2, we see that they were in great danger of moral compromise.  The Church in Thyatira, or The Papal Church, was located approximately 30 miles southeast of Pergamos.  Thyatira was a working person’s town, with many trade guilds for cloth making, dyeing, and pottery.  Lydia, who was a merchant from Thyatira, was Paul’s first convert in Philippi.

Acts 16:14Acts 16:14
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.  

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One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God.  As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

Thyatira was primarily secular and had not placed their focus on any particular religion.

Notice, once again, that Jesus refers to himself differently with each church He addresses. With the Church of Thyatira, He greets them as the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze.  The fire and bronze in the description of Jesus emphasize His promise to judge the false teachers of this church.  The city was dominated by female dye and cloth industry and it has been suggested that the church was suffering from female false teachers.

Jesus begins by complimenting the church for their love, faith, service, and patient endurance.  He commends them for their continuous improvement in all of these things [Revelation 2:1Revelation 2:1
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2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;  

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9 ].  In Revelation 2:20Revelation 2:20
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.  

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, Jesus presents His complaint.  The Church of Thyatira had allowed a woman, who Jesus referred to as Jezebel, to entice believers away from their faith. Jesus accuses Jezebel of teaching the church to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols.  We do not know that this particular woman’s name was actually Jezebel, but it may be more significant that the name Jezebel refers to a system of evil, whether taught by men or women.  If you remember, Jezebel was a pagan queen of Israel, and was considered the most evil woman who ever lived [1 Kings 19:1,2; 21:1-151 Kings 19:1,2; 21:1-15
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19 1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 21 1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. seem...: Heb. be good in thine eyes 3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. 9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: on high...: Heb. in the top of the people 10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. 11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.  

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, 2 Kings 9:7-10, 30-372 Kings 9:7-10, 30-37
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: 9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: 10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled. 30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. painted...: Heb. put her eyes in painting 31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master? 32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. eunuchs: or, chamberlains 33 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. 34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter. 35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: by: Heb. by the hand of 37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.  

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]!  By calling this woman by name, Jesus is exposing the presence of Satan in the midst of this church.  Do not be confused, the issue that Jesus is dealing with in this verse is the issue of fornication, not the issue of a woman in the church [Galations 3:28; Acts 2:17-18Acts 2:17-18
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17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  

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; Acts 21:8-9Acts 21:8-9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.  

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].  Anyone, whether male or female, promoting this kind of sin would be a Jezebel in Christ’s eyes.

We do not see many Christians today worshiping wooden or stone idols, but we do have idols of a different color in today’s world.  What are some idols that you can identify that are present in our life today?  To name just a few…material possessions, lusting (after anything), desires, and our own personal and professional ambitions.

When we begin to take a look at sexual immorality, we should review why this is so important.

Someone is always hurt where sex outside of marriage occurs.

When we partake in sex outside of marriage, we are showing God that we prefer to satisfy our desires our own way instead of according to God’s Word or to satisfy them immediately instead of waiting for His timing.  This hurts God!  It hurts others because the commitment that is so necessary to a relationship has been violated.  You, personally, may be physically hurt risking disease and mentally/emotionally because inevitably, this choice will affect your personality.  We build our family, church, and community relationships on integrity and love.  Sexual immorality destroys this.  Regardless what others are partaking in, or believe in, we should abstain from being involved in any sexually immoral act.  This way, we prevent ourselves from hurting the God we love, and He protects us from hurting ourselves and others.  The Book of Levitcus, Chapter 18, lists the sexual practices forbidden by God.

In Revelation 2:21Revelation 2:21
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.  

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, Jesus gives Jezebel time to repent, but she did not want to turn away from her immorality.  Repent means ‘to change one’s mind and to turn from sin’.  Your decision to repent will be the determining factor in your eternity.  How many people do you know that stubborn willfulness stands in their way of accepting Christ?  God shows great mercy, and gives us time to follow Him.  If you are not saved, or you know someone personally who has not accepted Christ, I encourage you to seek Him and ask for His forgiveness.  Every minute that we are alive, it is a blessing from God.  We have no idea how long we will be here, so don’t tarry in your decision!  Your eternity depends on it!

This brings us into verse 23.  God knows our hearts.  There is no hiding from the Almighty, plain and simple!  It doesn’t matter what we have done in our lives; what sins we have committed.  GOD STILL LOVES US!  There is no need to try to hide anything from God.  He already knows, so it is best to confess what you have done and ask for forgiveness.  This allows us to move on in our spiritual growth, with no skeletons in our closet, so to speak.  The motive behind our deeds is just as important as the deed itself.  Sin within the church will not always be ignored by God.  He will bring judgement against sinful churches and the punishment will be severe.  Dr. Hollis Green’s notation regarding verse 23 states that ‘The children were not participators, but were associated with the evil.  This speaks to those who cause their children to stumble or enticed them to sin by their example [page 384].

Jesus addresses the believers who have not followed the false teaching of this church in Revelation 2:24-25Revelation 2:24-25
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.  

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.  The ‘deeper truths’, or ‘depths of Satan’ in this verse is the doctrine of fleshly lust and fornication.  It is the belief that you can do what you want to do without consequence, as long as you are baptized.  This belief would condone sexual desires outside of marriage.  It is possible that another appeal of the ‘deeper truths’ is the sense of pride that such knowledge stimulated in those seeking it.  That is why it is so very important to hold tightly to the basics of our Christian faith.  Jesus wants us to live a life as He did as closely as we humanly can.  We cannot be perfect and He is very well aware of that fact.  It is our passion for Christ that will keep us close to Him.  Be very careful of any new teachings that turn us away from the Bible, church, or our basic confession of faith.

Revelation 2:26-28Revelation 2:26-28
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star.  

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 Jesus tells us what our reward will be if we hold onto sound doctrine, remain faithful until the end, and continue to please God.  We will rule over Christ’s enemies and reign with Him as He judges evil.  In verse 28, Jesus promises us that He will give Himself to us; His eternal presence.  Jesus IS the morning star!

Revelation 2:29Revelation 2:29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  

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 closes with a message to all of the churches (note plural): He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  He is telling us that we must all open our ears to hear.  Humble yourself and let your pride go.  Open your heart and feel His love.  Open your eyes and see His great Majesty.  Open your ears and hear His Word.

Study of Revelation, Chapter 1

Study of Revelation, Chapter 3

Study of Revelation, Chapter 4

Detailed Description of the Seven Churches

Do You Believe In The Rapture

The Proclamation Of The Three Angels In Chapter 14

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Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

2 thoughts on “Study of Revelation, Chapter 2 – Message to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira Churches

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