Study of The Book of Revelation
W. T. Russel (Tape #1)
Revelation is "apocalypsis" in the Greek language, and means a revealing or an unveiling which is the reason it has that name. Let me say in the beginning of this study--do not minimize the meaning of words. Every word has its meaning, and every word has its place. Some translators have used the wrong words in some cases, and the translation is not a perfect translation. However, the old, original tongue is a perfect record. We will point out some of these imperfect translations or words as we study this book.
Chapter 1:1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" Notice the first verse: The Revelation of whom? "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." And that is what it is. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" Now we must use the word "shortly" as God regards time--not as we regard time. The Apostle Peter said in the third chapter of his second letter, "One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day with the Lord." So we must understand "shortly" in the sense that God looks at it--"shortly come to pass. "Signified" is another word in the first verse which carries a great weight. A thing signified is done by signs. From that we talk about a symbolic presentation of the different things in the book of Revelation. This is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him," (that is unto Jesus Christ) "to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Chapter 1:2"Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." We read about a number of Johns in the Bible, and there are many opinions as to which John is referred to in verse one. Verse two tells us which John this is. It is the same John who bare record of the word of God and who wrote the gospel under his name, the Apostle John. "And of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." I think, the second verse is given to identify the writer as the same one who wrote the gospel under his name. A vast majority of writers from which I have read and studied, even the earliest writers such as Iranius, Josephus, Eusebious, and the earlier writers back in the third and fourth centuries agreed that the Apostle John was the one who was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. Chapter 1:3 "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Notice the third verse pronounced a blessing. A blessing is pronounced on the ones who hear the words of this prophecy and keep it. The "keep" here is not like keeping commandments. He is saying to keep the words of the prophecy in your mind--read the prophecies of this book and keep it in your mind. Learn it and keep it. Hold it. Now he said, "For the time is at hand." I think in a varied and very broad sense, he's talking about this dispensation in which we live. This is the last dispensation of time, and the time he is talking about is now. We are going to study about these things in the latter part of this book. Chapter 1:4 "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;” Notice in the fourth verse he announces who he is. He identifies himself. "John, to the seven churches which are in Asia." I want to say this now before it gets away from me. There were more than seven churches in Asia. This was in the Roman Province of Asia Minor, and these seven churches were in closer proximity and communication one with the other. We know there were at least three more churches in Asia. The church at Colosse was already organized which was in Asia, and there were two more in existence at that time. So let's not draw the conclusion there were only seven churches in Asia, but let's consider the real reason seven is used. We will deal with the number seven all though the book and it is used twelve times in these letters. Seven is the number for completeness. We have studied it before--just as a full week is seven days. We know also the number seven is used in the same way in the Old Testament time such as the record of Jacob working for Laban for seven years in order to get Rachel for his wife. He ended up having to work seven more years because he was deceived by getting the woman he didn't choose. But the Bible says, "And Jacob did so and fulfilled her week." Genesis 29:27, 28. It wasn't a week of seven days but a seven-year week. We have the same right, and I think we are obligated in studying this to give notice to the figure seven as a symbolic number rather than the literal number seven. There were more than seven churches in Asia at that time, but seven was enough for him to use in this particular lesson to set forth the necessary examples. He said, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come." This is introducing the eternal God from eternity through time and in eternity. "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God." He announces here there is peace and a blessing pronounced upon them from him which is and which was and which is to come." Notice here separate and apart, but a number for each one of the churches to have the same Spirit in substance.
Chapter 1:5"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” The first begotten of the dead is the first resurrected--the first one raised from the dead. If anyone tells you there was a resurrection before Christ, remember Jesus Christ was the first one to rise from the dead with a glorified body. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he came back to life in the same body he lived in before, and Jesus came out of the grave with a glorified body which is what the first begotten of the dead means. The "prince" is Christ. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” That doesn't need any explanation. Chapter 1:6 "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." This is one of the mistranslations. The revised version changes it, and I agree with it. It says "and he made us to be a kingdom to be priests unto his God and Father." Now that is what the church is. It is a kingdom to be priests unto God. What is a priest? What does the word priest in the scriptures mean? It means one who has something to offer, or to make an offering of. Paul admonished his people in Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. "Everyone who does that is a priest unto God and making a sacrifice and an offering to God. In addition, he made us to be a kingdom, an established kingdom of priests here on earth. So that brings in the church or the church kingdom. I noticed the word "Amen" That word "Amen" just simply means "so may it be" or "so be it." Chapter 1:7 "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindred’s of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. “In the seventh verse I disagree with many scholars who have written on this subject who have taken a position just simply to uphold a false theory of the conversion of the whole nation of Israel in one day. They take the position the next verse means the time will come when the Jews shall look on him whom they pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourned for his only son etc. They try to apply it to a time when the nation of Israel will all be saved in a day. I want to point out some of the flaws in this belief which make it impossible to mean that. "Behold, he cometh with clouds;" (Now this is the second coming.) "And every eye shall see him.” The word "every" includes everybody dead and living. Notice the next part, "and they also which pierced him:” The very ones that thrust the spear into the side of the Son of God will see the Lord when he comes in the cloud of his glory. And in order for them to see him, the dead now in their graves and have gone back to the dust will have to be raised from their graves and stand up and see the Son of God when he comes. The interpretation by others of "the house of Israel finally accepting Christ as the savior and they'll look on him whom their forefathers pierced" is not taught here. It teaches the very ones that pierced him, shall look upon him. I believe they will come out of their graves and look upon the Son of God when he comes back on the cloud of his glory. And then listen to this: "and all kindred’s of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Notice there is another "Amen". They might have something to lean on if it weren't for that one word "Amen". But that "Amen" is more than a stop. And there is just one verse thrown in there on that one subject, and it is the coming of the Son of God. The word "Amen" just simply means "so be it" or "so may it be", and it will be that way.
Chapter 1:8 "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." In the eighth verse, he said, "I am Alpha and Omega,” There's no reason for anybody to have problems with the pronunciation of those two words. The Greek actually pronounces the first letter of the alphabet alpha. I said o-meg'-a, and you can do that too, because that is alright. The Koine Greek says o'-me-ga. So it’s alpha and o'-me-ga which is the Koine dialect, but pronouncing it the other way doesn't make any difference whatsoever. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega or o-meg'-a is the last letter. He said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," (the first and the last or) "the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, remember, that God gave to him and gave it through his servant John. John was the one that received it in the vision as it were, and it was delivered by John to us. This Jesus Christ is he that was, and he is, and is to come, the Eternal God.
Chapter 1:9 "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." John identifies himself again. Notice, he tells us in this, as well as telling brethren down through the centuries that have read it--I am your brother. I am a companion in labor, in patience, in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. So this John was in the church and one who had suffered life's tribulation and persecution with the other servants of God. He said I am your companion in patience and labor writing to all. He tells why he is in the Isle of Patmos. Why are you over there, John? He is there "for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." In other words, he is there for his ministry and his preaching the gospel of the Son of God and the word of God as his text. He said, I "was in the Isle that is called Patmos." The Isle of Patmos was in the Sporades in the Aegean Sea. When I say Sporades, that's a cluster of islands just dotted about like stars. The Isle of Patmos was about ten miles long and about five miles wide. It was an island of salt mines. We can understand that because the ocean or sea is of salt water. There were salt mines in most of the islands as well as in the Isle of Patmos. I won't give you this as scripture because it is not scripture, but historians who have written about the Isle of Patmos tell us that prisoners were exiled on the Isle of Patmos and made to work in the salt mines. That leads us to believe possibly that John did the same thing while he was there as a prisoner.
Chapter 1:10 "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet," The phrase "as of a trumpet" didn't mean he heard a trumpet talking. It meant the voice he heard was loud like a trumpet. In other words, it was easy to be heard, and it was audible and distinct.
Chapter 1:11 "Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." He said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia;” He tells them which seven to send it to. Let's read--"unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." What was he told to do? He said, "What thou seest, write in a book." Now John was about to view something. He is told to write what he sees in a book and send it to the seven churches of Asia. He didn't say to write seven books and send each church a book. He says write it in a book and send it to the seven churches of Asia. What is possible is this, one book could have been written by John and sent to one church, and from that church to another until all of them had read it. I don't know, he might have written each individual church. But he is told to write what he sees.
Chapter 1:12 “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;" All right, here's what he sees, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me." Now he didn't see the voice. Naturally he would turn to give heed and to take notice of what had been said and turned to see who was speaking. It was an unusual thing, a supernatural thing. "And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;" There's the seven again, seven golden candlesticks. I want to show you the difference right here. I don't want to let it get away. Back under the old ceremonial worship in the temple, there was a candelabrum. You'll see it in pictures of Israel, and in their parliament. It is almost as important to them as the flag, the Star of David. In Israel's case, it was a candelabrum. It had one base. There were arms which extended out from the one base and stem. Here he saw seven separate and distinct candlesticks showing that each one was independent one of the other. We must not fail to get that lesson.
Chapter 1:13 "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." What were the golden candlesticks? "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps" (the breast) "with a golden girdle."
Chapter 1:14 "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;"
Chapter 1:15 "And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters."
Chapter 1:16 "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." There's the seven again.
Chapter 1:17"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:" The one that walked in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks was the first and the last; in other words, the Son of God, the Christ.
Chapter 1:18 "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” "Amen" here means "so be it". The word "hell" is Hades. It is not Gehenna, the place of torment, but the state of disembodied spirits. It is this Christ that holds the keys, the authority over the hadean state of all dead--those that are dead in Christ and those that are dead without Christ. Jesus holds the keys of the state of the disembodied that are out of our midst now. He holds the keys!
Chapter 1:19 "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;"
Chapter 1:20 "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." Now we have an unveiling of the things. Could language be any plainer? It just couldn't be. The seven candlesticks represent the seven churches. Just as the seven candlesticks were separate and independent one from the other, so were the seven churches that the letters were to be written to. What did the seven stars in his right hand represent? Seven stars, my brothers and sisters, could be nothing else but the pastors of the churches that these letters were going to. Christ holds in his hand every one of his ministers--every one of the pastors of the churches. Christ holds these stars in his hand. He said the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. There is a primary sense in which the word "angelos" from the Greek means the created angels. There is no mortality about them, but in a secondary sense, Angelos in the Greek has reference to representatives or messengers. In this second sense is that which is used in this chapter. So the seven stars held in the right hand of the Son of God are the angels of the seven churches or the pastors, and the letters are written to those pastors. They are to relay it to the churches.
Chapter 2:1 "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;"
Chapter 2:2 "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:" "I know thy works,” When a church gets the idea God doesn't know what's going on among them, they are just fooling themselves. He knows exactly what is said, the actions taken, and the things done. God knows what's going on--what's truth and error, and what's right and wrong. "I know thy works,” (the kind of works they are.) Works are going on in churches today which are not good works! I know "thy patience". Evidently the works, labor, and patience of this church were acceptable. He said I know that "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:" Some came to Ephesus claiming to be apostles, and you know the admonition given previously in 1 John 4:1 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." He said, "thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them to be liars:" There are no apostles today. The day of the apostle's office is gone forever; yet some people act like apostles today. It's easy for me to see some maneuverings going on today in pulpits where preachers actually act like the apostles. That is absolutely wrong. The apostles had authority directly given unto them from God, and they were to carry out their work here in the world. But when that was done, the office of the apostle ceased.
Chapter 2:3 “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labor, and hast not fainted." They were a patient people, and labored for the sake of the name of Christ, and didn't give up. They just kept on. In other words, they heeded the admonition of the Son of God--Be not weary in well-doing. For in due season ye shall reap if you faint not. Notice what he does first. He commends them for the good that's in the church first. He doesn't begin taking a lash to them for their error and get them discouraged before he starts, but tells them of the good that's there. I think we would do well today to remind our churches of how much we appreciate the good in them first, and then point out the wrong. That's the Bible way to do it.
Chapter 2:4 "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." All right, he said, "I have some what against thee”. The first of all the commandments is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. That's it. Mark 12:31 “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self. “ Are you? Just answer from your own heart. I can remember when I was first saved and how longingly and how urgently my heart cried out for the salvation of all my friends. I wanted them to have what I had and have it quickly. Somehow that has slipped away from us to some extent. The very first objective of the church being set up in the world was to win the lost to Christ. The commission said, "Make disciples." That's the first thing. When people or a church puts other things above winning souls from sin to God, they love that other thing more than they love lost souls. This may be putting it a little bit bluntly, but that's exactly the way it is. So, if God looked down in our churches today, what would he see? Would he say I have somewhat against you just like he did the church at Ephesus--you have left your first love. I'm afraid that would be the case a lot of times and a lot of places.
Chapter 2:5"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 fifth verse gives the remedy. I read a book sometime ago, and I guess several of you saw the book. It was written mostly about me and to me. I'm not calling any names, but it was about my position concerning the candlestick being removed and my teaching that the candlestick is actually the church. I still hold this position, and will continue to teach the candlestick is actually the church. But this writer said he would remove the candlestick out of its place that is the Lord's place. Jesus said I will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. I decided I would go back to see whether or not the original was followed in this translation. Paul told Timothy to study. I want to say to every preacher, it's necessary that you study. If you find yourself being disputed on any point, and you find that you're wrong, be man enough to admit it and give it up. But if you find out that you're right, hold to it just like a bulldog. Don't turn it loose. Don't compromise. This is another wrong translation. I can prove it by the original Greek. The Greek grammar, for Greek students, is the same as in English; nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc. Also the singular, the plural, and the genders in the Greek are exactly the same as in English. I want to point out right here this mistranslation. "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place." In the original, it is feminine gender, and it should have been "her place." I have the book if anybody wants to see it. I took a course in it, one semester at Western, and I wish I could take the other one if I could get the time to do it. But this is a mistranslation of the original Greek which is in the feminine gender. Mark it in your book. You can take it from me and from the authorities. That's it. It simply means the church has always been referred to in feminine gender, never in the masculine, and never in neuter. The church is referred to as a woman. It's referred to as her "she," and never he and never it, but always in the feminine gender. So he's saying here, I'll remove thy candlestick out of its place--in other words, the church's place, or locality. When the candlestick is removed, that local church ceases to exist. Another one may be set up somewhere else, or it may be the means of strengthening another church. But when that candlestick is moved, it is taken out of that locality, and this is exactly what happened at Ephesus.
Chapter 2:6 “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate." This is the church at Ephesus. Who was the pastor at Ephesus at that time? I have never read where anyone--historians, etc.--was able to definitely say who was pastor of the church at Ephesus at this time. So I'm not going to surmise and say so and so was pastor because there's no evidence. However, there was a pastor at Ephesus when this was written. In this sixth verse, it says, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate." Now notice, he didn't say, "thou hatest the Nicolaitanes." But he said, "Thou hatest the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes." God doesn't hate us, but he might hate some of our ways. He might hate some of our deeds, but he doesn't hate us. The church at Ephesus didn't hate the Nicolaitanes, they just hated their deeds. The question comes up, and I'm sure it would be asked, who were the Nicolaitanes? Some have voiced their opinion about this without proof. Their opinion was the Nicolaitans were derived from the teaching of Nicolas who was one of the deacons of the church at Jerusalem. They do not have any proof of that. It's just a speculation they have reached or guessed. I have no doubt the man's name was Nicolas who advocated the doctrine hated by the church at Ephesus. However, there is no evidence or proof whatsoever it was the Nicolas of the seven deacons chosen by the church at Jerusalem. We are not concerned too much with whom he was but rather what was his doctrine, and why the church at Ephesus and God hated this doctrine. Well the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was this. There was a difference of opinion in that day just like there is today, and that finally showed itself in the Roman Catholic Church. We'll get to that later on. There were people in that day who argued people were saved by works in the face of what the Bible taught--"by grace ye are saved." Now the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was this: If you are saved by grace and not by works, then if works couldn't save you, then it would make no difference whatsoever about immoral acts one committed after he was saved. If a person were saved, he was freed from the law, and the law had no bearing on him whatsoever. When saved by God's grace, the kind of life lived afterward makes no difference and will not hurt you at all. That's the doctrine that God hates. God commended the church at Ephesus for hating that kind of doctrine.
Chapter 2:7 "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 God. “The seventh verse said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” We notice here, without question, the letters which were being written to the seven churches of Asia were messages of the Spirit of God. He said, "He that hath an ear" (What kind of ear would a person have to have? He'd need a spiritual ear if he heard or understood what was said to the seven churches.) And he said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;" - not church. Now the church is spoken of in the scriptures in the singular, from a local standpoint, like the church at West End. You can mention every church in this country, and it's a local, independent body as we talked before about the candlesticks being independent one from the other. There were seven golden candlesticks, and here are seven churches. So he said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." He said the seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches. There is no such thing as one big church--universal. I know that is taught, but it's not taught in the scriptures. I made a decision, and I think it would be profitable for us to make this division tonight for a later time in the study. You notice here it said, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." At the end of every letter written to these separate churches, there is the promise of a reward. I don't want you to think as I did for a long time that the church at Ephesus would enjoy distinct rewards from the other six churches. Let's not read and think of it in that way. You can put every one of the promises of rewards the Lord mentioned to the seven churches in one sentence, and every one of them is a blessing and a reward to the entire group of the seven churches. We are going to get to that later in the study. So I'm going to leave that off for the time being. The eating of the tree of life: I might say this, we get a little hint about that by going back to the book of Genesis after Adam had transgressed the law and had fallen from his holy state, and God said,..."now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever," the Lord sent him out of the garden." Now that gives us a little hint of what he is talking about. But we will get to that later on. Chapter 2:8 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; “In the eighth verse, "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;" Smyrna today is known as Ismar and still exists. He said, "These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;" (Of course that's Christ.) Chapter 2:9"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." "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty." They were poor people and were not rich like some of the other churches in the things of the world, but we find in parenthesis the statement "(but thou art rich)". They were rich in the things of God--not in worldly riches."....and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. "Now Jews had their synagogues, and ruins of synagogues are still in evidence today in various parts of Israel. But here is a group of people that claimed to be Jews, and the Lord said they are not. They could make the claim of being legal descendants from Abraham. Well, the Arabs can make that claim today because they had Abraham as their father to begin with. I believe a lot of trouble in Israel today is because the Arabs and Jews, (the Hebrew) have the same claim on Abraham as their forefather. In my opinion, this has been going on for some time and will continue to go on. These groups of Jews here, even though they were right in saying they were legal descendants of Abraham, were not spiritual Jews. Somebody asks, what is a spiritual Jew? Paul said he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, but he is a Jew which is one inwardly and that circumcision is not that which is outward in the flesh, but that circumcision is of the heart. The spiritual Jew is one who has been born again. It matters not who he is. He's a spiritual Jew if he's been circumcised in the heart. Circumcision of the flesh was just a figure of the circumcision brought about by Christ. So these Jews who were giving trouble at Smyrna were descendants, no doubt, of Abraham, but they were not born again. They were causing the church at Smyrna a lot of trouble. Chapter 2:10 "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." Now I wouldn't try to literalize that ten days. That's a round figure. I'm sure they were not all thrown in prison at the same time. He's just simply saying some of them would be thrown into prison. In past centuries, history shows many Christian people have been imprisoned. Thousands of Christians have given their lives for the faith they stood for. This said that ye may be tried as the reason you will be put into prison, and you will have tribulation ten days, but be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Here is the promise and the reward again. Some might take the position this crown of life is salvation, but it's not. This crown of life is a reward, and at the end of every letter we find a promise made for those that overcome. We will put it all together later on. Chapter 2:11"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." Of course the second death is the casting of both soul and body into hell at the end of the world, but we will get to that later. Let me back up just a little. I think we know who was pastor of the church at Smyrna without any question. Josephus, who was a Jewish historian, Iranius, and others have stated emphatically in their history that Polycarp was the pastor of the church at Smyrna at the time this letter was written. Polycarp was a disciple of John, and I'm talking about John, the Apostle. Let me say this now about the word apostle. Sometimes you hear it pronounced a-pos'-tale. It's not pronounced that way. The "t" is silent, and you pronounce it a-pos'l as the three letters John wrote in the Bible are referred to as the three Epistles of John. The "t" is silent, and it's e-pis'al as a-pos'al--not a-pos'-tle or e-pis'-tle. The "t" is silent. I just wanted to drop that thought as we passed by. Look at any dictionary you choose, and you can see this is true.
Chapter 2:12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; these things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;" We stated previously that the seven stars which Jesus said he held in his right hand were the angels of the seven churches. The primary meaning of the Greek word “angelos" is angel or the spiritual creation of God. The secondary meaning of that word is representative or messenger. Therefore, the letters addressed to these seven churches are written to the pastors for the Lord plainly tells us that he holds them in his right hand, and they are the angels of the seven churches. I want to do a little reasoning right here lest somebody would ask, "How does he draw the conclusion that the angels are pastors?" Would you want to take it literally? If the letters were written to literal angels, how did they tell the churches and what language did they use? If a thousand angels came to us speaking in their language, we wouldn't understand them. This cannot be interpreted literally for that simple reason as well as others that we might mention. Chapter 2:13 "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." It is very easy for me to determine the pastor of Pergamos was Antipas. Antipas was killed by the enemies of the church. He speaks about where Satan's seat is. "And thou holdest fast my name" even in the face of that of Satan's seat and his power "and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth."
Chapter 2:14 "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." This church was lacking in discipline. I'm afraid most of our churches today (I'd be safe in saying all of them) are also lacking in discipline. The few things he had against them were that they were allowing these things to exist in the church. Let's look back just a little. Antipas, the pastor of the church, no doubt, had been killed by the occults, the worshipers of the Devil, Satan's followers--just put it that way. I'm satisfied the people who made up the church were fearful. Just bring that home to yourself tonight and the churches. If one is killed and made a martyr for the things they stand for and believe in, there's going to be somewhat of a dread and a fear attached to that. Now then the things that God had against this church at Pergamos were this. Thou has there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. In other words, the same thing that Balaam taught, they're teaching. The same thing that Balaam did, they are practicing. Well what did Balaam do? Read the twenty-second chapter of Numbers in the Old Testament. I will, however, refer to it here now. Balac tried to get Balaam to curse the armies of Israel so they might win a victory over them. God told him not to do it, but when he saw Balaam was going to do it anyway, God told him to go on. Poor old weak Balaam was offered quite a bit of money to do it, I'm satisfied, and money talks. See Nehemiah 13:2 and Numbers 22. Balaam had his mind made up and was actually going to do what Balac had asked. Balaam was on his way riding on his donkey when the angel of God stood in the way with a drawn sword. Numbers 22:23 “And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way." Balaam was kicking that mule trying to get him to go by the angel while the mule was going one way and another. Read Numbers 22:23-35. However, Balaam was still determined to go on against God and place a curse on the armies of Israel that Balac might win a victory. After Balaam was denied, and God wouldn't let him curse Israel, he did come up with this sneaking idea and presented it to Balac. I'll tell you what you do. You let the children of Israel intermarry with your people. You go over and partake of their sacrifices and invite them over to partake of yours. In such a manner there was brought together an evil communion between the two nations. It resulted in things that were obnoxious in the eyes of God. In this church at Pergamos, they had the same class of people. There's no harm if you've been saved, go over yonder and partake of the heathen sacrifices--the sacrifices that are offered to idols. Go on over and eat with them. Let them come over and eat with you. Just be good and friendly and don't even try to place yourself in a position to show the world that you are a separate people. You just be on good terms with every-body. What did he say about that? He reprimanded them for their lack of discipline on that class of people who brought heresy into the church that proved nothing else but division among the members of that church and its hurt. I started to say ruination, but that would be the wrong word. There is one of the churches that we will read and study about. There weren't but a few of them left that were sound, and they were admonished to strengthen that which remained. Well, we will get to that later on. Look again at the fourteenth verse "...and to commit fornication." The fornication here was carnal. There might also have been spiritual fornication as far as I know.
Chapter 2:15 "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate." So they were drifting into that community. Some of the members of the church were advocating the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which is this: As long as you are a child of God, go ahead and do as you please. No harm will come unto you whatsoever. This doctrine was started by the Devil, and God hates it.
Chapter 2:16 "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." One thing that I want to point out here is "I will come unto thee quickly.” We have a lot mentioned in the New Testament, first and last, of Christ's coming. Every time it is spoken of as Christ's coming, it doesn't mean the final advent. We need to know and understand the difference between Christ actually coming to a church in spirit and His actual coming in person at the final advent. Christ said here in these letters I will come, and I will remove your candlestick. I will come and fight against them with the spirit of my mouth. Well how is he going to come? I want to point that out to you from the promise Jesus made before he went back. He said to his disciples in John 14:18 "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." That didn't mean Jesus would come in his body, personally, but he did come as God in Spirit. He says here, I come, and I will remove the candlestick from the church at Ephesus, and we know that happened. It's in ruins. There's no church there anymore. He said I will come and I will fight against you with the spirit of my mouth. What did he mean there? He meant he would come by his servants who are led by the spirit of God fighting against heresies with the teaching of his doctrine and his word. He did not mean he would come in person.
Chapter 2:17 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." This verse will be discussed when we get through with the seven churches. However, here it is not to be thought of as the church at Pergamos receiving a special reward that will not be given to the other six churches of Asia.
Chapter 2:18"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;"
Chapter 2:19 "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first." This right the opposite from the church at Ephesus. The first works of Ephesus were better than the last. They had left the first love, but the last works of the church at Thyatira were better than their first. In other words, their enthusiasm, interest, and anxiety for the carrying out of the works that God had enjoined upon them were growing greater instead of less.
Chapter 2:20 "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach, and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." I would just like to point out right here there's not a bit of difference in the practice of these two churches. One is Jezebel and the other is Balaam. That's the only difference. The woman Jezebel didn't exist in the church by that name. That's going back to the Old Testament. He’s just saying you have one in that church, and he didn't say who it was. B. H. Carrol said it might have been the pastor's wife. That's what he said about it. I didn't say that. That's what he said. He said that could have been the pastor's wife, Jezebel. And he said you've got one there in the church just like the old Jezebel of long ago. What did she do? She did the very same thing that Balaam told the people at Pergamos to do--that was to marry and intermarry between the two. First thing you know, he would have the whole thing contaminated and have idolatry brought into the church--not only that, but intercommunion with idolatry as well. So I think that will be enough on that count. Of course the fornication he's talking about--"to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."--is spiritual fornication. Chapter 2:21 "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."
Chapter 2:22 "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." Now I want to say a thing right here about repentance. The Apostle Paul in his acknowledgments of personal errors in life, and wrongs that he did certainly didn't claim to be a perfect man. He said I die daily. In other words, what Paul meant was that he separated himself daily from those things that were wrong--dying to sin--that he had committed. Churches are called upon to repent. They are called upon to give up and to turn away from those things that might be in the church that's contrary to the will of God and do what is pleasing in his sight. So this church is called upon to repent of their failure to discipline that woman Jezebel or that character referred to as Jezebel of the Old Testament times who was seducing the members of the church into error. That is going into idolatry and participating of idolatrous practices.
Chapter 2:23 "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he who searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."
Chapter 2:24 "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden."
Chapter 2:25 “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come." The phrase "till I come" is having reference to the end--to his second coming.
Chapter 2:26 "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:” Notice these churches that are written to, even though they are addressed as churches, are personified. What I mean is that the letters are addressed to each member of that church in particular. "...he that overcometh" is a member of that church. It is the church personified by its membership as individual members. So he clarifies it by using the personal pronouns showing that he's talking to each individual member of that church.
Chapter 2:27 “And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father."
Chapter 2:28 "And I will give him the morning star." We'll leave this 26th, 27th and 28th verses until we put them all together which are the promised blessings upon the churches for their endurance and for their being faithful.
Chapter 2:29 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." This is the admonition of the twenty-ninth verse.