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Revelation 2:8-11:“Christ’s Letter To The Church At Smyrna”

SIH STSTA ICON

THE TEXT:

 

The Letter To Smyrna…

 

 

Rev 2:8-11 KJV

(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, (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.

(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.

(11)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

 

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

 

From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:

 

Church Location Name Meaning Areas of Faithfulness Areas of Unfaithfulness Possible Punishment Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)
Ephesus Desired or Allowed Many areas of faithful outward service.  Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes. Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ. Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God) Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise
Smyrna Myrrh Spiritually rich N/A N/A Not hurt by second death
Pergamos Fortified Tower Faithfulness in face of persecution Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication) Will war against those who hold false teaching Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name
Thyatira Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse Works of love, service, faith, patience False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship) Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers. Be given power over the nations
Sardis Depart, Escape, Exit A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain. Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead.  Their works not “perfect” before God. Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute) White garments.  Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father
Philadelphia Love Of The Brethren Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials N/A N/A Permanent pillar in temple of God.  Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them
Laodicea Judgment Of The People N/A Lukewarm service.  Blinded to their spiritual destitution. Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord. Sit with Christ in throne.

 

 

 

Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches.  Each message contains four basic parts:

  1. Description of Christ
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
  4. Promise to Overcomers

 

The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Smyrna.

  1. Description of Christ (v 8)
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (v 9-10)
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (NA)
  4. Promise to Overcomers (v 11)

 

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

Revelation 2: –

(8)  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; 

John now writes this personalized letter to the church at Smyrna.  Smyrna was a port city that contained both Jewish and Gentile citizens.  It is believed that the church at Smyrna first faced opposition at the hands of Jewish unbelievers who disagreed with their acceptance of Christ as the promised Messiah and, later, at the hands of the Roman government who imprisoned and martyred many of its members.

 

These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Once again, John points back to his previous vision of Christ (1:17-18).  This portion of the description of Christ teaches us that He was the beginning and ending of all things and that He was also the One who was crucified and rose again. Christ, our Creator, was willing to suffer and die for us.  What better example could be set for those who would be called upon to suffer for Him.

Note that the resurrection of Jesus proves to us that:

1. He is the promised Messiah (the One sent to be the Savior of the world)

2. His work was accepted by His Father in heaven (He successfully completed the work necessary for the salvation of His people)

3. He was Victor/Lord of sin and death (He is exalted to the position of King of Kings and Lord of Lords resulting from His faithfulness to His Father’s will)

Here, Christ is centering on the descriptions that reveal Himself as Lord/Victor over all the powers of darkness after suffering and dying for the ones He loved.  This is a very important point to stress to the Smyrna church that was faced with persecution on every side from both Jews and Romans.

 

(9)  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

The Lord now begins to list for the members of the Smyrna church the many areas of faithfulness that exhibited in their service to Him:

1. works – their acts of service to Him

2. tribulation – the trials they faced from every side

3. poverty (but thou art rich) – the financial hardships they faced due to their stand for Christ, but they were spiritually rich in Christ.

4. blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan – The Jewish unbelievers at Smyrna were blaspheming (speaking ill) of God, by denying Christ as the Messiah.  They claimed to be members of God’s spiritual nation (the Israel of God) but were in actuality worshipping and serving Satan by opposing the truths of God held forth by this Smyrna church.

 

Please note that the Lord had faced a similar type of unbelieving Jew during His earthly ministry, Joh 8:30-47 KJV…

As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.  I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.

Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.  Ye do the deeds of your father.

Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

Based upon this teaching by Christ, we can clearly see that those who are of Jewish descent are not considered to be a part of the spiritual Jewish nation if they deny the truths of God.   They are however, considered the servants and worshippers of Satan.  This is the exact type of Jew that was being spoken of in this message to the Smyrna church.

 

(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.

The Lord now looks ahead in time and some events that will be taking place soon after the writing of this message to the Smyrna church.  He warns them of upcoming persecution at the hands of the Roman empire.  This persecution was believed to have taken place over the next few hundred years ending in about 300 AD.

Please note: the phrase “ten days” is referring to “ten periods” of Roman persecutions that took place after this letter was written.  The ten major persecutions of Christians following the writing of Revelation. These include persecutions under the authority of:

 

  1. Domitian
  2. Trojan
  3. Marcus Antoninus
  4. Verus and Lucius
  5. Septimus Severus
  6. Maximinus
  7. Decius
  8. Valerianus
  9. Aurelianus
  10. Dioclesianus

 

 

(Keep in mind, there were many “lesser” persecutions that took place in addition to the above ten major persecutions of Christians in the days of the church of Smyrna.)

 

However, it is important to notice that the number 10 throughout the book of Revelation denotes “many and varied”.  If “10 days” is used symbolically in this verse, the Lord is simply warning the church that there would be many, various periods of persecutions that they would be facing. I believe this is a more likely meaning of the “10 days” of persecutions.

 

One thing is for certain, the “10 days” phrase cannot be talking about a literal ten days.  The church at Smyrna faced multiple persecutions that lasted for years during its existence.

 

The Lord promises them that if they are faithful, even to the point of giving their lives for Him, they would receive a reward of eternal life.   This is another great mark of a truly saved individual.  They are willing to sacrifice their physical life for the sake of furthering the cause of Christ by sharing His Word to those who so desperately need it.

 

(11)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The Lord gives a promise to those who are victors (continuing in faithful service) over the periods of opposition that the church would be facing.  He promises that they would “not be hurt of the second death”.  The second death is speaking of eternal consignment of both body and soul into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:6, 14).  In other words, those who are victorious in times of temptation and opposition are proven to be genuinely saved.  It is those who will experience salvation (deliverance) from an eternity in the Lake of Fire.

 

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this section of Scripture, we can see Christ, the Eternal Creator, as the One who gains the ultimate victory over Satan, sin, the sinful powers of this world, and death itself.  It is because of this, we can look forward to being graced with the ability to be overcomers over tribulation and opposition in this world and kept eternally secure from eternal punishment in the world to come.

 

 

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

Our Lord is the Victor over the powers of darkness of this world.  As His children, through His empowerment, we can look forward to enjoying a wonderful eternity with Him.  We should never look at ourselves as a defeated one, but always recognize that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us…

 

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth.   Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.   Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

 (Romans 8:32-37)

 

 May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

 

 

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The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: to him that overcometh…

SIH TOTT ICONRev 2:7 KJV  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.

 

 

 

 

Oh to be an overcomer for the cause of Christ!

What do we mean to be an “overcomer”?  The word translated “overcomer” means to gain a victory, to prevail, or to conquer.   Folks, think about it…. what a wonderful thing it would be for each one of us to know that we are victorious in the spiritual warfare that we face every day of our lives!

The Word of God clearly explains the key to securing victory in the war that rages about us.  The amazing thing is that it is not based upon us, or what we do.  It is entirely based upon Christ and what He has done for us.

  1.   Christ has prevailed over the powers of Satan, sin and death. In doing so, He is exalted to Lord over all and given complete control of all the events of this world…

Rev 5:5 KJV  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

  1. Christ, as the Ultimate Overcomer over the powers of darkness, is clearly on display when He permanently brings wickedness to an end in the days to come….

Rev 17:14 KJV  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

 

  1. When we place our faith in Christ, the Ultimate Overcomer, we share in the victory over Satan and the powers of darkness….

1Jn 5:3-5 KJV  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.   For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.   Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

  1. One of the great results of trusting in Christ is that He comes and lives within us, this is the reason why we can be overcomers…

1 Jn 4:4 KJV  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

 

  1. Knowing Christ is in us allows us to have peace in the midst of the storms of life. We know that Christ has already secured our victory over the storm…

Joh 16:33 KJV  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

 

  1. This knowledge of the certainty of our victory gives us the boldness to treat our enemies kindly and, if called upon, to give our lives for Him…

Rom 12:19-21 KJV  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.   Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.   Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 Rev 12:10-12 KJV    And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.    And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.    Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

 

  1. Because Christ has overcome the world, He has also secured our future eternal blessings for us. Our future is secure in His hands, because He has gotten the victory…

Rev 21:6-7 KJV   And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.    He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

 

May we all come to an understanding, because of Christ and His work, we possess the status of victors over the darkness of the world and put this knowledge on display by living holy lives for His glory.

May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of   the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3KZ

Do We Play With Sin Or Hate It?

SIH HALTAL ICONRev 2:6 KJV   But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 

For the SIH devotional on this subject:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3MZ

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

SIH TOTT ICONRev 2:6 KJV   But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 

Believe it or not, in our text for this morning we find the Lord commending a local church for their feelings of hatred.   But even more amazingly, we also read that the Lord possesses hatred in His heart as well.

 

It might be a new concept to some of us, but it is important to remember that hatred is not always a sinful emotion when it enters our hearts and minds.   There are times when it is not only appropriate to hate, but it is actually a desirable emotion that works righteousness in our lives.

In our text for this morning, we find that the Lord clearly states that He hates “the deeds of the Nicolaitans”.  What were these people doing?  They were trying to lead the local assembly of Ephesus into the false worship of idols.  Their actions were aimed at deceiving and harming God’s people while taking away from God’s glory and the worship that He deserves.

This helps us to understand that hatred doesn’t always displease God, nor does it do us harm.  Depending upon what we hate, there are times when our hatred is pleasing to God and helpful to us.   When we hate sin, its presence in our life angers us; when we are angry at the sin we commit, we will put it out of our lives.

Paul addressed this very principle in Ephesians 4:26, when he said – “Be ye angry and sin not…”

 

King David had much to say about this type of hatred…

Psa 26:5 KJV – “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.”

Psa 101:2-4 KJV – “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.   I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.”

Psa 139:21-22 KJV – “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.”

 

In these verses, David clearly explains that a Godly hatred towards sin will result in him refraining from the commission of sin, and will also disallow relationships with sinful men to influence him to depart from the paths of His God.

To put it very simply, God hates acts of sin and He commended the church at Ephesus for hating the sins of the Nicolaitanes and not allowing them to influence their Christ-like walk.  Folks, we are to be commended for our hatred against sin.  When we see sin appear in our lives, we should hate it and turn from it.

May we all seek to develop a Godly hatred and anger against sin.  In doing so, may we cast known sin from our lives and live lives of glory and honor to Christ.

May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of   the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3KZ

 

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: I will remove thy candlestick out of his place.

SIH TOTT ICONRev 2:5 KJV – 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.

 

 

The Lord commended the church at Ephesus for many wonderful works of service to Him (vs 2-3).  However, the Lord saw one area of sin within the church that would utterly destroy her ministry and her standing before God… the church had left her first love, Christ.

In this section of our text, we read about one of the results of a church who has left their first love. .. “I will remove thy candlestick out of his place.”    For us to properly understand this statement, we need to remember its background context.

Keep in mind, in the preceding chapter John had been given a vision of Christ enjoying close fellowship with seven local churches on earth.  This is symbolized in a vision of Christ standing in the middle of a circle of seven candlesticks (Rev 1:12-20).

Now, in our text for this morning, the Lord is telling one of these assemblies that, if they do not repent of their sin  He would “remove thy candlestick out of his place”.  In other words, He would remove their church out of his “circle of fellowship”.  He would no longer commune with them, authorize them and use them for His glory.   When they met they would claim to be one of His churches, but they would only be a “social club” lacking His power and presence in their midst.

In today’s time we would call this a “dead” church.  We all have visited one from time to time.  The people are going through the motions of worship, but God’s presence is not there.  There is no concern for His will to be done, no fire within the church to do His bidding, no strength to continue on faithfully.  They are drifting, they are serving out of habit, they are spiritually dead.    May we all see the need to refrain from membership in these types of assemblies.

Also, we must keep in mind that a local church is made up on individual Christians.  There is no such thing as a church that exists apart from its members.    When the Lord tells this church that they need to make Him their first love He is talking to each and every member of the church.  As each member put Him first in their life, it would result in the local church, as a body, placing Him first as well.

As individual Christians, we must make Him our first love, when we sin, the Lord breaks communion with us as well.  Unconfessed sin in the life of a Christian does not result in a loss of salvation, but a loss of fellowship, communion and a close walk with Him.

King David, a man saved by God’s grace, understood this truth when he said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: “ (Psa 66:18 KJV).
In this text David clearly tells us that if we harbor sin in our lives our fellowship with the Lord is hindered.

Also, when he was spiritually awakened to the grave sin he had committed with Bathsheba, he said Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit.  (Psalms 51:11-12)
In this request to the Lord, he is asking the Lord to not break fellowship with him, take the joy of his salvation from him, and take the empowerment and enabling of the indwelling Spirit from him.  In this text he is not saying he would lose his salvation, but he is concerned about losing the communion, joy and empowerment of God in his life.

Folks, how important it is for us to take a moment ask God for His grace to reveal to us any unconfessed sin in our lives.  May we stop and search our heart and lives for sin that is harbored within us.   Then may we seek the Lord’s mercy as we confess our sin and renew a right spirit within us.

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of   the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3KZ

 

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: thou hast left thy first love

SIH TOTT ICONRev 2:4 KJV –  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

 

The Lord commended the church at Ephesus for many wonderful works of service to Him (vs 2-3).  However, the Lord saw one area of sin within the church that would utterly destroy her ministry and her standing before God… the church had left her first love, Christ.

 

Folks we see the same things happening around us today… local churches that are “going through the motions” of worship and service without putting Him first.  This is the reason there are spiritually dead churches around us with no real passion for service and willingness to sacrifice for Him.  This sin is a big deal that can bring a church to absolute ruin.

As we will see in our next devotional, this sin was so grave that it would result in the church being separated from Christ, loose their authority to minister for Him, and no longer be considered as one of His churches.  Basically, they become a “social club” claiming the name of Christ without enjoying genuine fellowship with Him.

Sadly, this sin not only affects local churches, but it can affect lives of Christians as well.  How often do we serve the Lord out of habit, obligation, or self-motives; instead of serving out of love, appreciation and a passion for Him.

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”  Deu 6:5 KJV

 

To possess Christ as first love of our life will affect every part of our being…

It will affect our desires (heart) – we will find ourselves wanting only what the Lord wants for our life.  Our personal desires will fade away as our desires say “Not my will but thine be done”.

It will affect our physical lives (soul – the breath we have within us) – we will find ourselves living lives that are pleasing to Him.   Knowing we are accomplishing His will for us will satisfy us and give us a feeling of spiritual fulfillment and allows us to say,  “I have learned that in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

It will affect our strength (might) – we will place all of our efforts and strength into the faithful completion of our ministries He has given to us.  It will drive us to continue to strive faithfully in the midst of opposition, persecution and even threat of death.  Truly, when He is first in our lives…“Love is as strong as death”

 

Folks, does Christ hold first place in our lives over all others?   Do we yearn to hear Him say “Well done my good and faithful servant?”    If so, may we continue to live our lives passionately for Him.  If we do not, may the Lord intervene in our lives and restore the “first love” for Him that we experienced when we  came to Him in repentance and belief and received His eternal salvation.

May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of   the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3KZ

 

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.

SIH TOTT ICONRev 2:2 KJV – 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:

In this section of Scripture, the Lord is commending the church at Ephesus for their many acts of service to Him.     One of the areas of commendation they receive is concerning their testing of those who claimed to be sent by God.  During the course of their examination they found these men to be liars.   In actuality, they were the servants of Satan who were attempting to mislead the church into sinful errors.

Folks, one of the great needs of our day are for Christians to examine those who claim to be messengers of God and to properly discern their intent.  There are many false teachers in our midst who seek to pervert the teachings of God’s Word for the profiting of the powers of darkness of this world and their own personal benefit.

The only way that a proper examination of those who claim to be sent by God is by examining the message that they proclaim, verbally and through their actions, to see if they align themselves with the truths of God’s Word.

 

In the Bible, we read of the faithful Bereans who unfailingly examined the teachings they received…

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  (Acts 17:10-11)

 

It is important to notice two basic teachings concerning  the Berean Christians.

The first of which is their position in comparison to the Thessalonian church:

  1. They are said to be “noble”. The word noble carries with it the idea of “performing at a higher level”, “to be more pleasing”, “to do a greater work”.

In other words, the Berean Christians were performing at a higher spiritual level, were more pleasing to the Lord, and did a far greater work than their Thessalonian counterparts.

 

How did they attain such a high position over the Thessalonian church?  To answer this question leads us to our second basic teaching concerning the Bereans… the manner in which they received the Word of God:

  1. They are said to have received the Word….
    1. “with all readiness of mind” – they received it with a mind willing to be taught and to act upon it.
    2. “searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so” – literally, they interrogated the Word to see if the teachings they received were supported by the Word. (Much like a witness is interrogated during a court proceeding).

 

Folks, this is no small issue, the ability to discern truth from error is a sign of a genuine salvation experience and the indwelling Spirit in our lives…

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world… 
They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.  (1 John 4:4-6)

 

May we all have a great desire to be “noble” Christians who excel in our service to Christ.  May we all see our need to receive God’s Word with a mind ready to do His bidding.   But along with that, may we be willing to carefully examine what we have been taught in the light of God’s Word to make certain it is the truth.

May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of   the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation:

http://wp.me/pU88A-3KZ

 

Revelation 2:1-7:“Christ’s Letter To The Church At Ephesus”

SIH STSTA ICON

 

THE TEXT:

 

The Vision Of Christ, the Candlesticks, and the Stars…

 

Rev 2:1-7 KJV

(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.

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:

 

Church Location Name Meaning Areas of Faithfulness Areas of Unfaithfulness Possible Punishment Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)
Ephesus Desired or Allowed Many areas of faithful outward service.  Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes. Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ. Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God) Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise
Smyrna Myrrh Spiritually rich N/A N/A Not hurt by second death
Pergamos Fortified Tower Faithfulness in face of persecution Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication) Will war against those who hold false teaching Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name
Thyatira Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse Works of love, service, faith, patience False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship) Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers. Be given power over the nations
Sardis Depart, Escape, Exit A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain. Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead.  Their works not “perfect” before God. Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute) White garments.  Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father
Philadelphia Love Of The Brethren Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials N/A N/A Permanent pillar in temple of God.  Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them
Laodicea Judgment Of The People N/A Lukewarm service.  Blinded to their spiritual destitution. Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord. Sit with Christ in throne.

 

Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches.  Each message contains four basic parts:

  1. Description of Christ
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
  4. Promise to Overcomers

 

The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Ephesus.

  1. Description of Christ (v 1-2)
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (v 3, 6)
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (v 4–5)
  4. Promise to Overcomers (v 7)

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 Revelation 2: – 

 (1)  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; 

John writes this individualized message to the church at Ephesus.  Ephesus was the commercial and religious headquarters of the region and was the home of the Temple of the Goddess Diana (Artemis).  This caused Ephesus to be the recipient of a constant flow of heathen foreigners looking to do business there, as well as idolaters who came to the city to worship at Diana’s temple.   Needless to say, the church at Ephesus was constantly surrounded by idolatry, other heresies perpetuated by unbelievers who were set on influencing the church’s beliefs and practices

 

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

John identifies Jesus as the author of this message by using the symbols that represented Christ that he saw in the previous vision.  In this case, John centered upon the symbols that emphasized Christ’s intimate relation to His churches and their pastors.

 

(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.

Christ, the One in the midst of His assemblies, knows all about them.  He knows their spiritual condition, their needs and their acts of faithfulness.  This basic principle supports the fact He is present with each of His churches, enjoying communion with them, loving them and caring for them.  Christ can truly say “I know…”

John now lists for the Ephesus church several areas of their service that is pleasing to the Lord.  These include:

  1. works – their acts of service
  2. labour – their acts of painful exertion
  3. patience – their willingness to bear heavy loads
  4. canst not bear them who are evil – they did not support or allow wickedness to dwell among them
  5. tried them …and found them liars – they put false apostles to the test and revealed them to be false
  6. hast borne – bore up under many oppostions
  7. hast patience – continued faithful in the midst of the persecution
  8. hast laboured for name’s sake – worked to the point of collapsing in Christ’s name
  9. hast not fainted – but continued unwaveringly in His service

What a wonderful outward testimony of a close, loving relationship to the Lord.  However, looks can be deceiving…

 

(4)  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

John now points to the church’s shortcoming.  They no longer loved Christ (their first love) above all else.  He now was taking second or, perhaps, third or fourth place in their church body.

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.  This is the first and great commandment.”   (Matthew 22:37-38)

 

If this is the case, how do we explain their many, outward acts of faithfulness?

Notice, they were said to have “left” their first love.  This helps us to understand that, at one time, they had put Christ first in their assembly and loved Him above all else.  It is very possible, during the time they put Christ first, they had developed many good routines of faithful service to Him.  Then, when they no longer loved Christ as they should, they continued on doing what was “routine” and “traditional” for them to do.   They were so involved in “service”, they left out the One they were serving.  This very sad scenario is an ongoing issue we see taking place in churches and the lives of Christians even to this day.  We find ourselves serving because “it is the thing to do” and “we have always done things this way”, instead of serving because we love our Lord and He is leading us to do these things.

This is the most likely explanation of what was taking place in the church at Ephesus among several possibilities.

 

This warning to the church helps us to understand that true faithfulness is not simply a set of actions of service.  The motives behind those acts is just as important to the Lord as the acts themselves.  Anything that is done, which is not motivated by a love for Christ in obedience to His leadership, is a worthless act.  This truth applies in the lives of individual Christians as well as church bodies.

 

(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.

The Lord tells them the three-fold remedy to their sinful situation.  This remedy applies to any type of sin that may be committed by an assembly (or individual)…

1. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen” – Recognize the sin that is taking place.

2. “Repent” – Change their attitude about their sin and turn from it

3. “Do the first works” – Replace their sinful attitudes with a Godly attitude (in this case placing Christ first once again).

If they did not repent and begin to put Christ first once again He would visit them and “remove their candlestick from its place”.  To help us understand this phrase we need to remember the vision John had just received of Christ standing in the midst of His churches (candlesticks) representing His fellowship with His local assemblies.    When Christ said He would “remove” the candlestick from their place, in others words they would be removed from this circle of intimacy and communion with the Lord.  In other words, He was saying that He would no longer dwell in their midst, nor fellowship with them, they would no longer be recognized as one of His assemblies on earth, they would be no longer used by Him, and they would no longer have His authority standing behind their ministry.

This is a picture of a church, once united to Christ (much like a marriage), that has transferred their love for their Lord to another (a “spiritual” type of adultery) and faces the sundering of their union (divorce) from Christ if they did not repent of their sin…

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”   (James 4:4, see also Jeremiah 3:20)

 

(6)  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

The Lord now lists another outward display of faithfulness on the part of the Ephesus church, they hated the works of the Nicolaitans.  Whatever their works were, we can rest assured they were false, sinful works that opposed the cause of Christ.  Christ hated these sinful works, as did the Ephesus church.

 

(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.

The Lord now only speaks to the believers in the church at Ephesus.  Yhey are the ones with the indwelling Holy Spirit, who allows them to understand the truths of God… they are the ones with the “ear” to hear His words.

True believers are described as “overcomers” because they are God’s children who are given the ability to overcome the darkness of this world through the workings of Christ in their lives…

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”   (1 John 4:4)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?   (1 John 5:4-5)

To the saved, He promises that they will receive eternal life (eat of the tree of life) and dwell in His presence forever (in the midst of the paradise of God).  What a wonderful way to stir up the Ephesian’s appreciation of their salvation and motivate them to want to please Him and love Him above all others.

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this text, we can see Christ being shown to us as the One who wants to hold first place in the lives of His churches and people.  He demands first allegiance in our lives because He deserves it.  He deserves the preeminence in all things including our affections, motives, goals, and actions.

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.”  (Colossians 1:17-18)

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.  This is the first and great commandment.   (Matthew 22:37-38)

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

Here we learn of a very sobering truth… our outward actions of obedience are lacking when He is not first in our lives.    If we put Him and His will for our lives first, all of our actions and words will take care of themselves. However if our love is lacking, no matter what we may do for Him, we will never fully please Him.

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

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