Revelation Chapter Two
The first great fact is, that the assembly in this world is subject to judgment, and to have its whole existence and place before God as light-bearer in the world set aside; secondly, that God will do this if it departs from its first spiritual energy. This is an immense principle. He has set the assembly to be a true witness of what He has manifested in Jesus; of what He is when Jesus is gone on high. If it be not this, it is a false witness, and it will be set aside. God may have patience, and has blessedly so. He may propose to her to return to her first love, and does; but, if this do not take place, the candlestick is removed, the assembly ceases to be God's light-bearer in the world. The first estate must be maintained, or God's glory and the truth are falsified; and the creature must be set aside. But no mere unsustained creature does this, none as such. Hence all fails and is judged, save as in, or upheld by, the Son of God, the second Man. Ephesus had gone on well in maintaining consistency, but that forgetfulness of self and thinking only of Christ, which are the firstfruits of grace, were gone. As heretofore remarked, there were works of labour and patience; but the faith, hope, and love had in their true energy disappeared. They had rejected the pretension of false teachers, and laboured and not fainted. All that can be said of them is said to shew Christ's love, and that He is not forgetful of them, or of the good manifested in them. Still they had left their first love; and this unless repented of and the first works done, involved the taking away of the candlestick.
Another important principle is found here, that when the assembly had departed from faithfulness when collectively it had ceased to be the expression of the love in which God has visited the world, God throws back individuals on the word of God for themselves: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches." The assembly is judged, and thus cannot be the security for faith; the individual is called to hear what the Spirit says. The warning of taking away the candlestick here is specially worthy of notice, because there was a great deal the Lord highly approved of-encouraged them by shewing He did; but, for all that, if first love was departed from, the candlestick would be removed.
The character of Christ and promises are general, as the assembly is characteristic of the whole principle on which the assembly stands. Christ has the stars in His right hand and walks amidst the candlesticks. It is not a special character applicable to a special state, but the whole bearing of His position in the midst of the assemblies. The assembly, viewed as having left its first love, is never promised anything. It cannot direct a believer when it comes under reproof and judgment itself. The promise is then to the individual overcomer: a very important principle. The promise given to him that overcomes is the general one-is the contrast to Adam's ruin, but in a higher and better way than that in which he enjoyed the good which he lost. He that overcomes shall eat of the tree of life. But this is not the tree of life in man's paradise in this world, but the paradise of God Himself. We must remark, too, that it is not as the first Adam now, individually keeping one's first estate, but overcoming. And what is before us to overcome in is, not only the world and its hostilities (though that may be), but within the sphere of the assembly itself. It is the call to hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies which gives occasion to the speaking of overcoming. This, in respect of the claim of the assembly to be heard, is an immensely important truth. The message is addressed to the assembly, not by it to individuals, and she is warned of her delinquency, and the individual saint is called to overcome.
The word to Smyrna is short. Whatever the malice and power of Satan, at the utmost, if permitted, he has but the power of death. Christ is First and Last, beyond as before death, God Himself; but more than that, has met and gone through its power. The saints were not to fear. Satan would work, be allowed to sift, to imprison. Let the saints only be faithful to the extreme point of his power; all beyond was beyond him, was Christ's; and the faithful one would receive from Him the crown of life. Tribulation, poverty, the contempt of those who pretended to have the legitimate hereditary claim to be God's people--always the persecutors, be they Jews or Christians--was the portion of the assembly here; and God suffered it. It was really mercy to the declining assembly. Their hope was beyond it all when Christ gave the crown of life. This made the assembly, sliding into the world, or about to do it insensibly through decline of its first love, sensible that the world was in Satan's hands-was not the rest of saints. But, if the Lord permitted, He limited the tribulation. All was in His hands. Not only was there the crown for the sufferers but whoever overcame, his portion was secure: the death of judgment, the second death, would not hurt him.
We now need a closer judgment. Christ appears as the One having the two-edged sword of the word proceeding out of His mouth. It will be remarked here, that, in Smyrna and Pergamos, a special character of Christ applies to a special state. There is no general result for the assembly. In Ephesus we have Christ's position as Judge in the midst of the candlesticks, and the assembly threatened with removal from its place of witness upon earth. In Thyatira He takes His place as Son of God, Son over His own house, and, as things are (as to the assembly) got to the worst, is revealed in all-piercing and immutable judgment, and the whole blessing of the new state is promised to the overcomer. In Pergamos we have faithfulness found in its previous path, Christ's name and faith heldfast in spite of persecution. It differs from Philadelphia, that His word is not said to be held fast as that of Christ's patience (that the assembly, in its Pergamos state, did not do), but it did hold fast the confession of Christ in the midst of persecution. But another kind of evil came in- seduction to fall in with the world's ways by evil teaching within. The doctrine of Balaam was there. Idolatry flowed in. There were also sects within, which taught pretended sanctity but evil practice. These the Lord would judge.
The general truth of removing the candlestick had no place here, neither as a general truth, when the assembly could be called on to keep its first love, nor as fiery judgment, because it was gone wholly astray; but there were corrupters, and Christ's servants led into idolatry and evil. Individual approbation by Christ, communion with Himself in future blessing (in spirit then), as the once humbled and rejected One (which the assembly was ceasing to be), a name given by Christ, and so of tenderness on His part, a link known only to him who had it. In a word, individual association and individual blessing of secret delight--this was the promise to the overcomer when corruption was advancing, not yet dominant and unhindered in the assembly.
In Thyatira the assembly reaches to the close. There was found, in what Christ owned in this state of things, increasing devotedness. But Jezebel was allowed; and both connection with the world, idolatry, and children begotten to it in the assembly itself. All would be judged, great tribulation fall on Jezebel, and her children be killed. Christ searched the heart and reins, and applied judgment in unchangeable righteousness. The faithful ones of this epoch, the "you" that Christ specially addresses, are but a "rest," a remnant, but specially and growingly devoted. It is, we may remark here, what the assemblies are towards Christ, which is especially in view. What Jezebel did towards the faithful ones is not noted. The Lord's coming is the time looked to; and the whole millennial blessing is promised to him that overcomes; both the reign with Christ, and Christ the Morning Star Himself. "He that hath an ear" is now put after the overcoming; not said in connection with the assembly, but with those who overcome in it. The state is the state characterised by this. Thyatira may go on to the end, but does not characterise the witness of God to the end; other states must be brought in to do that. It is, I have no doubt. the Popery of the middle ages, say to the Reformation; Romanism itself goes on to the end. The judgment on Jezebel is final. The Lord had given her space to repent, and she had not repented. It would be a forced association with those whom she had once seduced to the ruin of them all. The whole character here is piercing judgment according to God's own nature and requirements; special trial and judgment, yet the blessing not special, but the portion of the saints at large in that which they have with Christ; as the departure and judgment were complete-adultery, not merely failure in first love.
We have seen the close at the Lord's coming contemplated in Thyatira. Sardis begins a new collateral phase of the assembly's history. Save the having the seven stars, none of the ecclesiastical characters of Christ, none of those noticed in Him as walking in the midst of the assemblies, are noticed. Still the assembly is noticed as such. It is still the history of the assembly. But, the Lord's coming having been noticed, all characteristics of Christ refer to what He will have in the kingdom. Still He has yet the seven stars-supreme authority over the assembly. It is nothing peculiar to this assembly. He has it over, and as to, all. It is in this character He has to do with Sardis. He has the seven spirits, the fullness of the perfection in which He will govern the earth. Thus He is competent to bless in the assembly, though there is no regular ecclesiastical connection. He has power over all, and the fullness of the Spirit; both in perfection. Whatever the assembly is, He is all this. This is a great comfort. The assembly cannot fail in the place of witness through want of fullness of grace in Him. Nor can He fail him who has ears to hear.
But the state of the assembly shewed that it was far from availing itself of it. It had indeed a name to live; it was superior in its pretensions to the evil of Thyatira; nor were there Jezebels and corruption. But there was practically death. There was no completeness in her works before God. It was not evil here, but lack of spiritual energy. But this did leave individuals to defile their garments in the world. She was called to remember, not her first works, but what she had received and heard, the truth committed to her, the gospel and word of God; if not, she would be treated as the world. The Lord would come as a thief; for the Lord's coming is now always in view.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Revelation》
Epistles to the churches in Asia, with warnings and encouragements, To the church at Ephesus; (1-7) at Smyrna; (8-11) at Pergamos; (12-17) and at Thyatira. (18-29)
Commentary on Revelation 2:1-7
(Read Revelation 2:1-7)
These churches were in such different states as to purity of doctrine and the power of godliness, that the words of Christ to them will always suit the cases of other churches, and professors. Christ knows and observes their state; though in heaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches on earth, observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The church of Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps an account of every hour's work his servants do for him, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enough that we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and there must be waiting patience. And though we must show all meekness to all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. The sin Christ charged this church with, is, not the having left and forsaken the object of love, but having lost the fervent degree of it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with his people, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him. Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking their first love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness, and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves and others; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. They must repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinful declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They must endeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. If the presence of Christ's grace and Spirit is slighted, we may expect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention is made of what was good among them. Indifference as to truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not so; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. We must never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shall have a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shall derive from Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness, not in the earthly paradise, but in the heavenly. This is a figurative expression, taken from the account of the garden of Eden, denoting the pure, satisfactory, and eternal joys of heaven; and the looking forward to them in this world, by faith, communion with Christ, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take your wrestling life here, and expect and look for a quiet life hereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promises quietness and complete freedom from conflict here.
Commentary on Revelation 2:8-11
(Read Revelation 2:8-11)
Our Lord Jesus is the First, for by him were all things made; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. He is the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First and Last, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother and Friend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourable amidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviest tribulation, like the church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as to this world, are poor as to the next; and some who are poor outwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, rich in privileges, rich in gifts, rich in hope. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be well borne; and when God's people are made poor as to this life, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up to them in spiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear none of these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it, furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be to try them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of the reward; "I will give thee:" they shall have the reward from Christ's own hand. Also, how suitable it is; "a crown of life:" the life worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with a much better life, which shall be eternal. The second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in the agonies of it, and as it is eternal death: it is indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a man is kept from the second death and wrath to come, he may patiently endure whatever he meets with in this world.
Commentary on Revelation 2:12-17
(Read Revelation 2:12-17)
The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together, should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support. This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer's soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.
Commentary on Revelation 2:18-29
(Read Revelation 2:18-29)
Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them. Here is praise of the ministry and people of Thyatira, by One who knew the principles from which they acted. They grew wiser and better. All Christians should earnestly desire that their last works may be their best works. Yet this church connived at some wicked seducers. God is known by the judgments he executes; and by this upon seducers, he shows his certain knowledge of the hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper. Encouragement is given to those who kept themselves pure and undefiled. It is dangerous to despise the mystery of God, and as dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. Let us beware of the depths of Satan, of which those who know the least are the most happy. How tender Christ is of his faithful servants! He lays nothing upon his servants but what is for their good. There is promise of an ample reward to the persevering, victorious believer; also knowledge and wisdom, suitable to their power and dominion. Christ brings day with him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory, in the presence and enjoyment of him their Lord and Saviour. After every victory let us follow up our advantage against the enemy, that we may overcome and keep the works of Christ to the end.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Revelation》
 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;
Write — So Christ dictated to him every word.
These things saith he who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand — Such is his mighty power! Such his favour to them and care over them, that they may indeed shine as stars, both by purity of doctrine and holiness of life! Who walketh - According to his promise, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world." In the midst of the golden candlesticks - Beholding all their works and thoughts, and ready to "remove the candlestick out of its place," if any, being warned, will not repent. Perhaps here is likewise an allusion to the office of the priests in dressing the lamps, which was to keep them always burning before the Lord.
 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:
I know — Jesus knows all the good and all the evil, which his servants and his enemies suffer and do. Weighty word, "I know," how dreadful will it one day sound to the wicked, how sweet to the righteous! The churches and their angels must have been astonished, to find their several states so exactly described, even in the absence of the apostle, and could not but acknowledge the all-seeing eye of Christ and of his Spirit. With regard to us, to every one of us also he saith, "I know thy works." Happy is he that conceives less good of himself, than Christ knows concerning him.
And thy labour — After the general, three particulars are named, and then more largely described in an inverted order, 1. Thy labour 6. Thou hast borne for my name's sake and hast not fainted. 2. Thy patience: 5. Thou hast patience: 3. Thou canst not 4. Thou hast tried those who say they are bear evil men: apostles and are not, and hast found them liars.
And thy patience — Notwithstanding which thou canst not bear that incorrigibly wicked men should remain in the flock of Christ.
And thou hast tried those who say they are apostles, and are not — For the Lord hath not sent them.
 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
But I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love — That love for which all that church was so eminent when St. Paul wrote his epistle to them. He need not have left this. He might have retained it entire to the end. And he did retain it in part, or there could not have remained so much of what was commendable in him. But he had not kept, as he might have done, the first tender love in its vigour and warmth. Reader, hast thou?
 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.
It is not possible for any to recover the first love, but by taking these three steps, 1. Remember: 2. Repent: 3.
Do the first works. Remember from whence thou art fallen — From what degree of faith, love, holiness, though perhaps insensibly.
And repent — Which in the very lowest sense implies a deep and lively conviction of thy fall. Of the seven angels, two, at Ephesus and at Pergamos, were in a mixed state; two, at Sardis and at Laodicea, were greatly corrupted: all these are exhorted to repent; as are the followers of Jezebel at Thyatira: two, at Smyrna and Philadelphia, were in a flourishing state, and are therefore only exhorted to steadfastness. There can be no state, either of any pastor, church, or single person, which has not here suitable instructions. All, whether ministers or hearers, together with their secret or open enemies, in all places and all ages, may draw hence necessary self-knowledge, reproof, commendation, warning, or confirmation. Whether any be as dead as the angel at Sardis, or as much alive as the angel at Philadelphia, this book is sent to him, and the Lord Jesus hath something to say to him therein. For the seven churches with their angels represent the whole Christian church, dispersed throughout the whole world, as it subsists, not, as some have imagined, in one age after another, but in every age. This is a point of deep importance, and always necessary to be remembered: that these seven churches are, as it were, a sample of the whole church of Christ, as it was then, as it is now, and as it will be in all ages.
Do the first works — Outwardly and inwardly, or thou canst never regain the first love.
But if not — By this word is the warning sharpened to those five churches which are called to repent; for if Ephesus was threatened, how much more shall Sardis and Laodicea be afraid! And according as they obey the call or not, there is a promise or a threatening, Revelation 2:5,16,22; Revelation 3:3,20. But even in the threatening the promise is implied, in case of true repentance.
I come to thee, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place — I will remove, unless thou repent, the flock now under thy care to another place, where they shall be better taken care of. But from the flourishing state of the church of Ephesus after this, there is reason to believe he did repent.
 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
But thou hast this — Divine grace seeks whatever may help him that is fallen to recover his standing.
That thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans — Probably so called from Nicolas, one of the seven deacons, Acts 6:5. Their doctrines and lives were equally corrupt. They allowed the most abominable lewdness and adulteries, as well as sacrificing to idols; all which they placed among things indifferent, and pleaded for as branches of Christian liberty.
 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.
He that hath an ear, let him hear — Every man, whoever can hear at all, ought carefully to hear this.
What the Spirit saith — In these great and precious promises.
To the churches — And in them to every one that overcometh; that goeth on from faith and by faith to full victory over the world, and the flesh, and the devil. In these seven letters twelve promises are contained, which are an extract of all the promises of God. Some of them are not expressly mentioned again in this book, as "the hidden manna," the inscription of "the name of the new Jerusalem," the "sitting upon the throne." Some resemble what is afterwards mentioned, as "the hidden name," Revelation 19:12; "the ruling the nations," Revelation 19:15; "the morning star," Revelation 22:16. And some are expressly mentioned, as "the tree of life," Revelation 22:2; freedom from "the second death," Revelation 20:6; the name in "the book of life," Revelation 20:12; 21:27; the remaining "in the temple of God," Revelation 7:15; the inscription of "the name of God and of the Lamb," Revelation 14:1; 22:4. In these promises sometimes the enjoyment of the highest goods, sometimes deliverance from the greatest evils, is mentioned. And each implies the other, so that where either part is expressed, the whole is to be understood. That part is expressed which has most resemblance to the virtues or works of him that was spoken to in the letter preceding.
To eat of the tree of life — The first thing promised in these letters is the last and highest in the accomplishment, Revelation 22:2,14,19. The tree of life and the water of life go together, Revelation 22:1,2; both implying the living with God eternally.
In the paradise of my God — The word paradise means a garden of pleasure. In the earthly paradise there was one tree of life: there are no other trees in the paradise of God.
 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
These things saith the first and the last, who was dead and is alive — How directly does this description tend to confirm him against the fear of death! verses 10, 11. Revelation 2:10,11 Even with the comfort wherewith St. John himself was comforted, Revelation 1:17,18, shall the angel of this church be comforted.
 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
I know thy affliction and poverty — A poor prerogative in the eyes of the world! The angel at Philadelphia likewise had in their sight but "a little strength." And yet these two were the most honourable of all in the eyes of the Lord.
But thou art rich — In faith and love, of more value than all the kingdoms of the earth.
Who say they are Jews — God's own people.
And are not — They are not Jews inwardly, not circumcised in heart.
But a synagogue of Satan — Who, like them, was a liar and a murderer from the beginning.
 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.
The first and last words of this verse are particularly directed to the minister; whence we may gather, that his suffering and the affliction of the church were at the same time, and of the same continuance.
Fear none of those things which thou art about to suffer — Probably by means of the false Jews.
Behold — This intimates the nearness of the affliction. Perhaps the ten days began on the very day that the Revelation was read at Smyrna, or at least very soon after.
The devil — Who sets all persecutors to work; and these more particularly.
Is about to cast some of you — Christians at Smyrna; where, in the first ages, the blood of many martyrs was shed.
Into prison, that ye may be tried — To your unspeakable advantage, 1 Peter 4:12,14.
And ye shall have affliction — Either in your own persons, or by sympathizing with your brethren.
Ten days — (Literally taken) in the end of Domitian's persecution, which was stopped by the edict of the emperor Nerva.
Be thou faithful — Our Lord does not say, "till I come," as in the other letters, but unto death - Signifying that the angel of this church should quickly after seal his testimony with his blood; fifty years before the martyrdom of Polycarp, for whom some have mistaken him.
And I will give thee the crown of life — The peculiar reward of them who are faithful unto death.
 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The second death — The lake of fire, the portion of the fearful, who do not overcome, Revelation 21:8.
 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
The sword — With which I will cut off the impenitent, verse 16. Revelation 2:16
 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Where the throne of Satan is — Pergamos was above measure given to idolatry: so Satan had his throne and full residence there.
Thou holdest fast my name — Openly and resolutely confessing me before men.
Even in the days wherein Antipas — Martyred under Domitian.
Was my faithful witness — Happy is he to whom Jesus, the faithful and true witness, giveth such a testimony!
 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
But thou hast there — Whom thou oughtest to have immediately cast out from the flock.
Them that hold the doctrine of Balaam — Doctrine nearly resembling his.
Who taught Balak — And the rest of the Moabites.
To cast a stumblingblock before the sons of Israel — They are generally termed, the children, but here, the sons, of Israel, in opposition to the daughters of Moab, by whom Balaam enticed them to fornication and idolatry.
To eat things sacrificed to idols — Which, in so idolatrous a city as Pergamos, was in the highest degree hurtful to Christianity.
And to commit fornication — Which was constantly joined with the idol-worship of the heathens.
 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
In like manner thou also — As well as the angel at Ephesus.
Hast them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans — And thou sufferest them to remain in the flock.
 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
If not, I come to thee — who wilt not wholly escape when I punish them.
And will fight with them — Not with the Nicolaitans, who are mentioned only by the by, but the followers of Balaam.
With the sword of my mouth — With my just and fierce displeasure. Balaam himself was first withstood by the angel of the Lord with "his sword drawn," Numbers 22:23, and afterwards "slain with the sword," Numbers 31:8.
 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
To him that overcometh — And eateth not of those sacrifices.
Will I give of the hidden manna — Described, John vi. The new name answers to this: it is now "hid with Christ in God." The Jewish manna was kept in the ancient ark of the covenant. The heavenly ark of the covenant appears under the trumpet of the seventh angel, Revelation 11:19, where also the hidden manna is mentioned again. It seems properly to mean, the full, glorious, everlasting fruition of God.
And I will give him a white stone — The ancients, on many occasions, gave their votes in judgment by small stones; by black, they condemned; by white ones they acquitted. Sometimes also they wrote on small smooth stones. Here may be an allusion to both.
And a new name — So Jacob, after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Wouldest thou know what thy new name will be? The way to this is plain,-overcome. Till then all thy inquiries are vain. Thou wilt then read it on the white stone.
 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
And to the angel of the church at Thyatira — Where the faithful were but a little flock.
These things saith the Son of God — See how great he is, who appeared "like a son of man!" Revelation 1:13.
Who hath eyes as a flame of fire — "Searching the reins and the heart," verse 23. Revelation 2:23 And feet like fine brass - Denoting his immense strength. Job comprises both these, his wisdom to discern whatever is amiss, and his power to avenge it, in one sentence, Job 42:2, "No thought is hidden from him, and he can do all things."
 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
I know thy love — How different a character is this from that of the angel of the church at Ephesus! The latter could not bear the wicked, and hated the works of the Nicolaitans; but had left his first love and first works. The former retained his first love, and had more and more works, but did bear the wicked, did not withstand them with becoming vehemence. Mixed characters both; yet the latter, not the former, is reproved for his fall, and commanded to repent.
And faith, and thy service, and patience — Love is shown, exercised, and improved by serving God and our neighbour; so is faith by patience and good works.
 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.
But thou sufferest that woman Jezebel — who ought not to teach at all, 1 Timothy 2:12.
To teach and seduce my servants — At Pergamos were many followers of Balaam; at Thyatira, one grand deceiver. Many of the ancients have delivered, that this was the wife of the pastor himself. Jezebel of old led the people of God to open idolatry. This Jezebel, fitly called by her name, from the resemblance between their works, led them to partake in the idolatry of the heathens. This she seems to have done by first enticing them to fornication, just as Balaam did: whereas at Pergamos they were first enticed to idolatry, and afterwards to fornication.
 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
And I gave her time to repent — So great is the power of Christ! But she will not repent - So, though repentance is the gift of God, man may refuse it; God will not compel.
 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
I will cast her into a bed-into great affliction-and them that commit either carnal or spiritual adultery with her, unless they repent - She had her time before.
Of her works — Those to which she had enticed their and which she had committed with them. It is observable, the angel of the church at Thyatira was only blamed for suffering her. This fault ceased when God took vengeance on her. Therefore he is not expressly exhorted to repent, though it is implied.
 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
And I will kill her children — Those which she hath borne in adultery, and them whom she hath seduced.
With death — This expression denotes death by the plague, or by some manifest stroke of God's hand. Probably the remarkable vengeance taken on her children was the token of the certainty of all the rest.
And all the churches — To which thou now writest.
Shall know that I search the reins — The desires.
And hearts — Thoughts.
 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
But I say to you who do not hold this doctrine — Of Jezebel.
Who have not known the depths of Satan — O happy ignorance! As they speak - That were continually boasting of the deep things which they taught. Our Lord owns they were deep, even deep as hell: for they were the very depths of Satan. Were these the same of which Martin Luther speaks? It is well if there are not some of his countrymen now in England who know them too well! I will lay upon you no other burden - Than that you have already suffered from Jezebel and her adherents.
 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
What ye — Both the angel and the church have.
 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
By works — Those which I have commanded.
To him will I give power over the nations — That is, I will give him to share with me in that glorious victory which the Father hath promised me over all the nations who as yet resist me, Psalms 2:8,9.
 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
And he shall rule them — That is, shall share with me when I do this.
With a rod of iron — With irresistible power, employed on those only who will not otherwise submit; who will hereby be dashed in pieces - Totally conquered.
 And I will give him the morning star.
I will give him the morning star — Thou, O Jesus, art the morning star! O give thyself to me! Then will I desire no sun, only thee, who art the sun also. He whom this star enlightens has always morning and no evening. The duties and promises here answer each other; the valiant conqueror has power over the stubborn nations. And he that, after having conquered his enemies, keeps the works of Christ to the end, shall have the morning star,-an unspeakable brightness and peaceable dominion in him.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Revelation》
Chapter 2. Letters to Four Churches
Hold the Seven
Walk among Lampstands
I. To the Church in Ephesus
II. To the Church in Smyrna
III. To the Church in Pergamurn
IV. To the Church in Thyatira
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Two General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To examine the first four of seven letters to the churches in
2) To glean what we can about the condition of each church: their
strengths and weaknesses, the warnings and promises given
3) To note that the fulfillment of most promises will be described
later in the visions to come
In this chapter John is instructed to write to four churches in
Asia: Ephesus, , Pergamos, and Thyatira. The Lord generally follows Smyrna
the same format: His self-designation, commendation, condemnation and
related warning, exhortation and promise. Each letter closes with the
admonition, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to
the churches." This suggests the letters were not just for the
personal benefit of the churches addressed.
The church at
is commended for its steadfastness, especially Ephesus
against false apostles. But while standing for the truth, they had
lost their first love. Exhorted to repent and be restored by doing the
"first works", they are warned that their "lampstand" would be removed
if they did not repent (1-7). The church at
is commended for Smyrna
being "rich" despite their tribulation and poverty. Unlike most
churches, there are no words of condemnation directed toward it. While
they would experience a little persecution, they are exhorted to remain
faithful to death (8-11). The church at Pergamos is also praised for
its steadfastness, but faulted for allowing false teachers in their
midst. The Lord threatens to come and fight with the sword of His
mouth if there is no repentance (12-17). The church at Thyatira is
also commended, for their last works are more than their first. But
they too have a false teacher and followers which jeopardize the
condition of the church. Despite giving this "Jezebel" time to repent,
she has not and so the Lord intends to make her and her followers an
example before the other churches (18-29).
I find noteworthy the connection between these letters with what was
seen in chapter one, and what will be seen in succeeding chapters. In
most cases the Lord's self-designation borrows something from the
vision of the Son of Man in chapter one, which relates somehow with the
particular message in which it is found. Also, we will see how most of
the promises to those who overcome will be fulfilled in the unfolding
of the visions that begin in chapter four.
I. LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN
A. THE LORD'S SELF-DESIGNATION (1)
1. "He who holds the seven stars in His right hand"
2. "Who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands"
B. COMMENDATION (2-3,6)
1. For their works, labor and patience
a. They cannot bear those who are evil, having tested those
who say they are apostles but were liars
b. Their perseverance, patience and labor for His name's sake,
not growing weary
2. They hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, as does the Lord
C. CONDEMNATION AND WARNING (4-5)
a. The Lord has something against them
b. They have left their first love
a. Remember from where they have fallen
b. Repent and do the first works
c. Or the Lord will come quickly and remove their lampstand
from its place
D. EXHORTATION AND PROMISE (7)
1. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
2. To him who overcomes, He will give to eat from the tree of
life in the midst of the Paradise of God
II. LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN
A. THE LORD'S SELF-DESIGNATION (8)
1. "The First and the Last"
2. "Who was dead, and came to life"
B. COMMENDATION (
1. For the works, tribulation, and poverty
2. But they are rich
C. EXHORTATION AND PROMISE (9b-11)
1. The Lord knows those who claim to be Jews but are a synagogue
2. Do not fear what they are about to suffer
a. The devil is about throw some into prison, that they may be
b. They will have tribulation ten days
3. Be faithful unto death, and He will give them a crown of life
4. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
5. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death
III. LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS (12-17)
A. THE LORD'S SELF-DESIGNATION (12)
1. "Who has the sharp two-edged sword"
B. COMMENDATION (13)
1. He knows their works, and where they dwell, where Satan's
2. For holding fast to His name
3. For not denying His faith even when Antipas was killed among
C. CONDEMNATION AND WARNING (14-16)
a. They have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam
1) Who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before
2) To eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual
b. They have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,
which He hates
a. Repent or He will come to them quickly
b. He will fight against them with the sword of His mouth
D. EXHORTATION AND PROMISE (17)
1. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
2. To him who overcomes, He will give...
a. Some of the hidden manna to eat
b. A white stone with a new name written on it which no one
knows except he who receives it
IV. LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA (18-29)
A. THE LORD'S SELF-DESIGNATION (18)
1. "The Son of God"
2. "Who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine
B. COMMENDATION (19)
1. For their works, love, service, faith, and patience
2. Their last works are more than the first
C. CONDEMNATION AND WARNING (20-24)
a. They allow that woman Jezebel
1) Who calls herself a prophetess
2) To teach and beguile His servants to commit sexual
immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols
b. Whom the Lord had given time to repent of her sexual
immorality, but she did not
a. He will cast her into a sickbed
b. Those who commit adultery with her will have great
tribulation, unless they repent
c. He will kill her children with death; and the churches will
know that He searches the minds and hearts
d. He will give to each one according to their works
e. For those in Thyatira who do not follow her doctrine, or
have not known the depths of Satan, as they call it, He
places on them no other burden
E. EXHORTATION AND PROMISE (25-29)
1. Hold fast what they have till He come
2. To him who overcomes and keeps His works until the end...
a. He will give power over the nations, just as He received
from the Father
b. He will give the morning star
3. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Letter to the church in
- Letter to the church in
- Letter to the church in Pergamos (12-17)
- Letter to the church in Thyatira (18-29)
2) What pattern is generally followed in these letters to the churches?
- Self-designation, commendation, condemnation and warning,
exhortation and promise
3) What is generally the basis for the Lord's self-designation in these
- The description of the vision of the Son of Man in chapter one
4) For what does the Lord commend the church in
? (2-3,6) Ephesus
- Their works, labor, patience
- Testing those who claimed to be apostles, but were liars
- Persevering and laboring for His name's sake, not growing weary
- Hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans
5) For what does the Lord condemn them? (4)
- Losing their first love
6) What solution does Jesus give for restoring their first love? (5)
- Remember from where they have fallen
- Repent and do the first works
7) What warning does Jesus give the church in
? (5) Ephesus
- Repent or else He will come quickly and remove their lampstand
from its place
8) For what does the Lord commend the church in
? (9) Smyrna
- Their works, tribulation, and poverty (but they are rich)
9) Who was guilty of blasphemy in
? (9) Smyrna
- Those who say they are Jews, but are a synagogue of Satan
10) Why were they not to fear what they were about to suffer? (10)
- Their tribulation will be short (ten days)
- If they are faithful unto death, Jesus will give them a crown of
11) For what does the Lord commend the church in Pergamos? (13)
- Their works, holding fast to His name, not denying His faith even
when Antipas was killed
12) What is said about where they dwell? (13)
- Where Satan's throne is, where Satan dwells
13) For what does the Lord condemn them? (14-15)
- Having those who hold the doctrine of Balaam
- Having those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans
14) What warning does Jesus give the church in Pergamos? (16)
- Repent or else He will come quickly and fight against them with
the sword of His mouth
15) For what does the Lord commend the church in Thyatira? (19)
- Their works, love, service, faith and patience
- Their last works being more than the first
16) For what does the Lord condemn them? (20)
- Allowing Jezebel to teach and beguile His servants to commit
sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols
17) What does the Lord say regarding the woman who calls herself a
- He gave her time to repent, but she did not
- He will cast her into a sickbed, and those with her into great
tribulation unless they repent
- He will kill her children with death
18) What exhortation does He give the church at Thyatira? (25)
- Hold fast what they have till He come
19) What exhortation is given at the end of each letter? (7,11,17,29)
- He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the
20) List the promises given in this chapter to those who overcome (7,
- To eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the
- Not be hurt by the second death
- Some of the hidden manna to eat
- A white stone, on which a new name is written which no one knows
but him who receives it
- Power over the nations, as He received from His Father
- The morning star
Letters to four churches
Hold the seven stars
Walk among lampstands
To the church in
1. Hard work and perseverance
2. Forsake first love
3. Eat from the tree of life
II.To the church in
1. Afflictions and poverty
2. Faithful even to death
3. The crown of life
III. To the church in Pergamurn
1. Faithful witness
2. The teaching of Balaam
3. Hidden manna
IV. To the church in Thyatira
1. Do more good
2. Tolerate heresy
3. Authority of the morning star
── Chih-Hsin Chang《an Outline of The New Testament》