Apostolic
Having to do with the 12 apostles or their teachings. This term is also sometimes used in Catholic circles as a synonym for “papal,” as the Pope is seen as the successor to the Apostles.
Epistle
A letter sent to a person or group of people. The New Testament contains many epistles from Paul and other leaders to various churches.
Heretical
Primarily used in religious circles to describe a person or doctrine that disagrees with that religion.
Heresy
Primarily used in religious circles to describe a person or doctrine that disagrees with that religion.
Papal
Having to do with the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church.
Pontiff
The title of certain religious leaders and high priests, now used mainly for the Pope.
Synagogue
A Jewish house of assembly, prayer, and study.
Vestments
Garments and articles worn by Catholic leaders in church ceremonies and services.
Apostasy
The turning from and opposing of one’s former religion.
Dogma
Established or authoritative doctrine of an organization, religious or otherwise.
Heathen
A person or group that does not acknowledge a particular religion, most often Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. In the Old Testament “heathen” referred to anyone who did not follow and worship the God of Israel.
Liturgy
A communal response to God through rituals such as readings or prayer.
Mass
The celebration of Eucharist and other ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church, in particular a ceremony similar to the Lord’s supper in which the bread is said to turn into Jesus Christ’s actual body.
Revelation 2 Commentary
Summary: Read Revelation 2 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
 
 

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Revelation 2 introduces us to seven letters. These letters were written to seven Christian churches that sprang up throughout Asian Minor, which is present-day Turkey. The distance between each city was about 50 kilometres, or about a day's journey on foot.

These seven messages written for specific congregations in the early Christian Church along the old Roman postal route are also prophecies of what God’s people would face during the following centuries of history. The letters contain a number of common features that applied to the Church in John's day, but also reflect the Church in prophetic time.

Each message to the churches includes an address, commendation, reproof, and promise. Each of the letters to the seven churches ends with an encouragement to overcome and each church is told of a special blessing they will experience in heaven.

Revelation 1 discussed how Christ is the Almighty God and the heart of the book of Revelation. Each letter is introduced with a part of the description of Christ found in Revelation 1.

The names of the seven cities are significant in that they convey a spiritual message relevant to the Church as a whole.

Ephesus

Revelation 2 KJV

Commentary

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;

Ephesus

2:1 Ephesus was a prominent city - the gateway to Asia Minor.

It was located on the Aegean Sea, had a beautiful harbor and was situated on the main highway for the region. Today the place of its once famous harbour is a marsh and sandy beach.

Artemis, also known as Diana of Ephesus, with her many breasts to nurture the world....

The city was the center for the worship of Diana (Mother of the gods) and in 480 BC the great temple of Diana, pagan goddess of fertility, was erected here as a symbol to the world.

Her temple was four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens and was counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, built of red, blue, yellow and white marble. Gold was said to have been used even for mortar.

The temple was destroyed in 263 AD and only the foundation stones remain. This Ephesian deity was equivalent to Astarte or Ashteroth, and was the center of orgiastic fertility rites of a highly immortal nature.

The apostle Paul remained in Ephesus for more than two years on his third major journey, and his preaching led to a major conflict between the Gospel and the worship of Diana. This preaching turned many away from idol worship, upsetting silversmiths who specialized in the manufacture of idols (Acts 19:26).

Prophetic Application

The Ephesian church represents the first century after Christ from AD 31 to AD 100 when all firsthand witnesses to Christ’s life and work had passed on. The early apostolic Church had grown into a force to be reckoned with, and Christianity was starting to challenge the religions and ideological institutions of the day.

Ancient Ephesus Library
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Satan can’t stand when souls are taken from his sphere of influence. The rapid spread of Christianity in the first century AD served to escalate the conflict between Christianity and paganism and the inevitable consequence was persecution.

In this description of Ephesus, we see Jesus walking among the candlesticks demonstrating His abiding presence with the Church.

The great pagan religions had been set up by Satan to counterfeit the plan of salvation and to deny access to the world's Redeemer. It has always been Satan's strategy to either force or deceive people to accept the counterfeit rather than the true.

In Ephesus, Christianity struck a blow to the worship of Diana. It is noteworthy that the modern-day equivalent, the worship of Mary as the mother of God, finds its root in Ephesus. In 451 AD, at the Council of Ephesus, the Roman Catholic Church bequeathed the title "Mother of God" to Mary, thus reviving the ancient cult in a modern garb.

2I 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:

3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

2:2-3 Commendation: The apostolic Church was a pure church that would not tolerate heresy. Its labors had brought the Gospel to the then-known world.

It is just like Jesus to first commend His people for whatever good qualities they may possess. If there is anything of which He approves, He mentions it first!

There was much that was commendable about the Christian Church here in Ephesus. It had patience and good works, and had tested the false teachers and had remained faithful to the truth. The Ephesian Christians hated the "deeds of the Nicolaitanes," a group who sought accommodation with the pagan world and discounted obedience to God's law.

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

 

5Remember 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.

2:4-5 Reproof: Sadly, the early Christian church lost its ardent first love and excitement for Jesus. He was calling them back to that first-love experience, to repentance and reformation. Without a burning love for Christ in our hearts our religion is useless.

By John's day, before the end of the century, the first stages of disunity were creeping into the Church, provoking the admonishment, "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love" (Revelation 2:4).



The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Ephesus as well. We know this letter as the book of Ephesians and we learn much about this church from his epistle. Paul beseeches the Ephesian Christians to live worthy of their calling to serve God (Ephesians 4:1-2). He explains to them afresh what it means to have put on Christ (Ephesians 4:17-24). His warning to "grieve not the holy Spirit" (Ephesians 4:30) is an indication of the intensity of the battle for the soul.

Paul calls the Ephesians back to unity (Ephesians 4:3-6), and admonishes them not to sin but to walk in love and the light of the Gospel (Ephesians 4:26). These same sentiments are expressed in Revelation's letter to Ephesus:

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

2:6 The Nicolaitanes claimed to be Christian but taught that obedience to God’s law was unnecessary. The Bible teaches, however, that the saved show evidence of salvation by living a changed life in harmony with God’s law and character. 1 John 5:3.

7He 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.

2:7 Promise: Certain trees were objects of worship in Ephesus. This was also true in other parts of Greece. It is therefore suitable that the promise contains a reference to the tree of life.

There is only one tree of life mentioned in the Bible.

It is mentioned six times, three times in Genesis, and three times in the Revelation; but it is used every time with the definite article "the". It is the tree of life in the first book of the Bible, thee tree of life in the last; the tree of life in the "Paradise" (the term used for "garden" in the Greek translation of Genesis) in Eden at the beginning, and the tree of life in the Paradise of which John now speaks, in heaven above. If there is but one tree, and that was at first upon earth, it may be asked how it has now come to the be in heaven. The answer would be that it must have been taken up to the Paradise above. -- Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation p. 367

John H. Kurtz writes in Manual of Sacred History, p. 50:

The blessed abode from which man is expelled, is neither annihilated nor even abandoned to desolation and ruin, but withdrawn from the earth and from man, and consigned to the care of the most perfect creatures of God, in order that it may be ultimately restored to man when he is redeemed.

In Genesis 3:24, we are told that angels were dispatched to "keep the way of the tree of life", so that no man would eat of it after he sinned. But in "keeping" the tree of life, those angels are not just guarding it, but they are keeping it for us to partake of, when we are restored to heaven.

Through Jesus, all may be overcomers and have eternal life. Christ’s power in the life provides victory over sin and gives us holiness of character.

The church members of Ephesus are given one of the joys that await all of God's redeemed when they reach heaven - to eat from the tree of life.




Smyrna

8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Smyrna


Turkey, Izmir, Agora (ancient city of Smyrna, 1st Century AD), arches in the basement of...

2:8 Smyrna was located on the Aegean Sea about 40 miles (60 km) north of Ephesus at the present-day port of Izmer. It is the one of the oldest cities in the world and today is Turkey's second largest city with one of the most important harbors in the region. It was an important center of trade with a good harbor even when John write the letter. Frequently referred to as "the ornament of Asia", Smyrna stood at an elevation of 600 feet with Mount Pagus in the center with a shrine to the goddess Nemesis on top. From a distance its skyline resembled a crown. Its name means "sweet smelling" and is synonymous with myrrh, a symbol often used for suffering.
Modern Izmir (ancient Smyrna).
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Smyrna was one of the last cities to fall to Islam and today still contains a large number of Christians (200,000-320,000).

Acts 19:10 suggests that the church in Smyrna may have been established by Paul on his third missionary journey.

 


Prophetically, Smyrna stretches from the early 100s to the early 300s, ending about AD 323. This period effectively ended in AD 323 with the conversion of Constantine when the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity.

To this church, many of whose members would actually suffer death by persecution, Jesus introduced Himself as "the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive."

9I 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.

2:9 Commendation: They are known for good works, poverty and tribulation. During these two centuries the pagan Roman Empire periodically tried to destroy the Christian church. Although suffering persecution and privation, they were rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom.

The term Jew is not here used in a literal sense... It denotes some character which was approved by the gospel standard. Paul's language will make this point plain: He says "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew [in the true Christian sense], which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." Romans 2:28,29 See also Romans 9:6,7 and Galatians 3:28,29. To say, as some do, that the term Jew is never applied to Christians, is to contradict all these inspired declarations of Paul, and the testimony of the faithful and true Witness to the Smyrna church. Some were hypocritically pretending to be Jews (or Christians) when they possessed none of the necessary characteristics. Such were of the synagogue of Satan. -- Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation p. 369

 

10Fear 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.

2:10 Throughout this time the church experienced tremendous growth while enduring severe persecution.

In 107 AD, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in Syria and a friend of John the apostle, was thrown to the lions and eaten alive in the amphitheatre of Rome.i

In 155 AD, Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and a close friend of Ignatius, was killed by the sword, his body burned at the stake in Smyrna.ii

The worst persecution was during a span of ten years (AD 303-313) under the Roman emperor, Diocletian, who, in 303 AD, launched a vicious, empire-wide effort for the complete annihilation of Christianity.
 

Although he died in 305 AD, the persecution continued until it was finally brought to an end in 313 AD by the decree of toleration issued by Emperor Constantine.

The ten-day tribulation predicted for this church (verse 10) coincides with this ten-year period when the day-year principle of Biblical prophecy is applied.The letter to Smyrna contains no admonishment, and as the name implies, the sacrifice which Christians were called upon to make in this time period served to draw people to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

It was through the witness of Christian martyrs that Tertullian of Carthage, in Africa, was converted to Christianity at the age of 30, and thereafter became a defender of the Christian faith. Read Tertullian's work

Persecution cleansed the Church by forcing Christians to consider whether they were truly willing to follow Christ for the right reasons.

11He 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.

2:11 Reproof: There is no reproof for those in Smyrna. Jesus knew their works of faith under trial.

Promise: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” These Christians would rather die than deny their Lord Jesus. The second death is described in Revelation 20:11-15. The language of Christ here refers to what He taught His disciples in Matthew 10:28. Although the people of the Smyrna church may have been put to death on earth, a future life was to be given them which no one could take away.

In the ancient city of Smyrna, the most expensive homes were on the mountainsides that rose above the bay. This gave it the name "Crown City." We can appreciate the appropriateness of the promise, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life...He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death" (Revelation 2:10-11).

i. Benjamin Harris Cowper, Tales of the Martyrs of the First Two Centuries (Oxford University Press, 1859):21-28.

ii. Paul Burns and Alban Butler, Butler's Lives of the Saints: February (Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998): 228.

Pergamos

12And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write;

These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13I 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.

Pergamos


Bergama (ancient Pergamos).

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2:12-13 Pergamos (also called Pergamon or Pergamum) was situated 60 kilometres past Smyrna along the ancient Roman postal road. The name means "elevation" or "exalted." Appropriately, the religious and cultural center of the city was on top of a conspicuous mount. The capital of the Roman province of Asia, it was a sophisticated city, a famous cultural center.

Smyrna was one of the last cities to fall to Islam and today still contains a large number of Christians (200,000-320,000).

Acts 19:10 suggests that the church in Smyrna may have been established by Paul on his third missionary journey.

Pergamos inherited the ancient system of sun worship from Babylon. According to this verse,Pergamos was Satan's seat. It was a center of ancient sun worship, and the place where the famous altar of Zeus stood on a terrace on the slopes of the mount.

The leader of Pergamos used the same ancient title and vestments as Babylonian priests. The last pontiff king of Pergamos was Attalus III, who bequeathed his title to Rome in 133 BC, which "ended the history of Pergamum as an independent political entity."i

Today, the city of Bergama lies at the base of the mountain on which Pergamos once sat. Excavations nearby have uncovered a vast complex which include two temples, a theater, and a medical library. Some of the most famous physicians practiced here. The medical symbol was a serpent wrapped around a pole— very similar to the symbol representing medicine today. Nearby stood the world's second largest library (after Alexandria), with a collection of some 200,000 volumes.


The name "Antipas" is a combination of two words: 'anti', opposed and 'papas', father or pope. Some propose that Antipas was not an individual but a class of people who opposed the power of the bishops or popes. Many of these would have suffered martyrdom as these bishopes or popes came into power and trampled on the rights of the church of Christ. ii

"Where Satan's seat is"- It is interesting to note that the city of Pergamos became the seat of ancient Babylonian sun worship.

The Chaldean Magi enjoyed a long period of prosperity at Babylon.... [After the Medo-Persian occupation], the defeated Chaldeans fled to Asia Minor, and fixed their central college at Pergamos, and took the Palladium of Babylon, the cubic stone, with them. Here, independent of state control, they carried on the rites of their religion, and plotted against the peace of the Persian Empire, caballing with the Greeks for that purpose.iii

i. "Attalus III Philometor Euegetes," Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

ii. Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation page 373, quoting William Miller in Evidence From Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, pp. 135, 136

iii. William B. Barker, Lares and Penates page 232, 233

Prophetic Application

A reconstruction of the Pergamon altar at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
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When persecution could not rid the earth of Christianity, the great adversary turned to deception and compromise to rid the world of its influence.

Pergamos represents the Church of Compromise, from 323 AD to 538 AD, when the last major obstacle hindering the power of the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome was removed. It was during this time that the church became strongly linked with the state. The bishop of Rome was made head of all the churches. The pomp, splendor, corruption and absolute authority wielded by the pope’s “seat” during this period could rightly be called “Satan’s seat.”

This was a period of deteriorating moral standards and doctrinal corruption.

It was a period in which the true servants of God had to struggle against a spirit of worldly policy, pride and popularity among the professed followers of Christ, and against the virulent workers of the mystery of iniquity, which finally resulted in the full development of the papal "man of sin". 2 Thessalonians 2:3 --Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, page 372

Satan had failed to destroy the Church through persecution so instead he endeavoured to destroy her through compromise. Christian standards were lowered, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism.

It was during the Pergamos period that the Church adopted many pagan practices. The seeds of paganism had already been sown into Rome when King Attalus III had bequeathed his title Pontifex Maximus to the pagan Roman emperors in 133 BC.

In 322 Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, but kept the pagan title Pontifex Maximus. In his efforts to unite his empire in the early 300s, Emperor Constantine blended the interests of pagans and Christians. Concerning Constantine’s aims, Church historian F.J. Foakes-Jackson declares,

In dealing with the Church, his object was gradually to transfer from heathenism to Christianity all that had hitherto made it attractive in the eyes of the people." Read more about Constantine’s marrying of paganism and Christianity



However, in 378 AD, Emperor Gratian refused the title Pontifex Maximus as unbefitting for a Christian. The Roman Catholic bishop then took the title upon himself, as the Catholic Church has done with many pagan sun worship symbols. The church in Pergamos represents this historical period of compromise. In exchange for religious tolerance and acceptance, the true principles of Christianity were sacrificed to accommodate pagan beliefs.

By the end of the period, in 538 AD, Emperor Justinian decreed Christianity the official religion of the empire, joining church and state.



Commendation: During this time the Christian Church which had held fast to the truth in the midst of persecution began to compromise its principles because of its worldly success, the praise of men and its newfound political power. Yet there were many who held fast to their faith and opposed this corruption of Christianity.

14But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

2:14-15 Reproof: In the Old Testament “Balaam” sought to destroy Israel by tempting them to join the Moabites in fornication and idol worship. Numbers 22-25. Here Satan sought to destroy the Church by inducing its leaders to mingle paganism with Christianity and to use the state to enforce those compromises. By doing so, the Church committed spiritual “fornication.” Ezekiel 23:3.

The letter rebuked the church of Pergamos for fraternizing with those who held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. It was Balaam who led Israel to moral corruption, just before they were due to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. The Nicolaitans, a heretical sect who compromised with the pagan cults, had been rejected by the Ephesian church but were courted by the church of Pergamos. Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew [in the true Christian sense], which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." Romans 2:28,29 See also Romans 9:6,7 and Galatians 3:28,29. To say, as some do, that the term

Despite the strong delusions surrounding them, it was the duty of God's people to keep themselves from being influenced by Satan's false doctrines.

In spite of this drift from the true faith of the early apostles, there were those who sought to maintain the true faith. Foremost among them was Patrick, who, in the early years of the fifth century, established scores of churches out of which grew the Celtic Church. This church held onto much of the true faith through the centuries of spiritual darkness that followed.

16Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth.

2:16 As the centuries progressed and the church did not repent, the Lord sent reformers with cutting Bible truths—the two-edged sword (Hosea 6:5) that exposed the false teachings and errors being taught in the fallen church.

17He 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.

2:17 Promise: The promise to the faithful of the Pergamos period was the hidden manna, a reference to a new life in Christ. The white stone is a symbol of freedom from the slavery of sin, and the new name represents the character transformed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Jacob, after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Each person who overcomes the specific defects in their character will receive a new name when they enter the heavenly kingdom.

In ancient times, a white stone was used in court to symbolize innocence and purity while a black one symbolized guilt. Jesus promised that the overcomers, those who are faithful to Him, will never be condemned but will instead be given a white stone inscribed with a new name, a pure name that signifies their close personal relationship with Him. Romans 8:1.

Thyatira

18And 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;

Thyatira

2:18 Thirty kilometers west of Pergamos on the imperial Roman road lay Thyatira, where the town of Akhisar lies today. Apollo, the sun god, was the chief deity of the city. The city was also noted for its industries, the most notable being the dying of cloth—particularly in the colors purple and crimson. It was here that Lydia bought her dyes. Acts 16:11-15.

Thyatira means “odor of affliction.” This well describes the state of the church of Christ during the long years of papal persecution the church experienced during this period. The church of Thyatira represents the Church of the Middle Ages. Thyatira received the longest of the letters, containing grave information about the conditions that would prevail. The Church would be inundated with false doctrines and persecuted for faithfulness to God and His Word.

Pope John Paul II wearing a fish mitre, and carrying a staff with both a...

In this time of spiritual darkness, the truth was abandoned and Christianity was replaced by the old pagan form of sun worship dressed in a garb of Christianity. Forms, rituals, objects, and works replaced the elevating truths of the Gospel. Pagan deities masquerading under Gospel titles replaced Jesus, and the ancient Babylonian mysteries were reintroduced.

Even the pagan vestments with their prominent purple and crimson colors were introduced as the vestments of the priesthood. The symbols of Dagon, the fish god, became symbols of the so-called “shepherds of the flock.”

Prophetic Application

Prophetically, Thyatira represents the period dominated by the Roman Catholic Church from the mid-500s to 1798 but the prophecy against the Church is not yet complete. During this period the Catholic (meaning main or universal) Church system accepted so many pagan practices that the truths of God’s Word were forgotten. The Bible was banned, and all who refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Papal Church were persecuted. Many faithful Christians were put to death as “heretics,” causing great numbers of God’s people to flee into the wilderness. This was the darkest period yet for God’s people, as the corrupted church enforced its domination and tried to destroy the faithful remnant.

This period of papal persecution by the Roman Catholic Church is referenced in several places in the Bible, including Daniel 11:33,34Revelation 12: 13-17; and Daniel 7:24, 25.

19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

2:19 The spirit of compromise that started with Pergamos would reach its zenith in the time of Thyatira. Works as a means to obtaining grace would become a prominent feature of the time. Nevertheless, there were some who understood the true meaning of faith and works, and exhibited charity, faith and patience through trial. In John 14:15 Jesus says: "If you love you, keep my commandments." Those that tried to stay true during this dark time understood the true connection between faith and works.

The phrase "the last to be more than the first", refers to the time when darkness began to lift in the 1500's and light began to dawn. Towards the end of this period, the Reformation began to sweep away the false teachings of the Roman Church, and people began to read the Bible.

20Notwithstanding 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.

2:20 Reproof: Jezebel was a heathen princess that Ahab, king of Israel, married. She was a Phonecian Baal worshiper, although God had expressly forbidden intermarriage with heathens. This marriage led to Baal worship being introduced into Israel, even though it was supposedly done in the name of Jehovah.

She spread the most vile idol worship throughout Israel and slew God’s prophets. 1 Kings 16:29-22:24. Similarly, the church of the Dark Ages adopted many pagan beliefs and practices and murdered those who dared to oppose her authority."Things sacrificed to idols" may represent many things but include the host and the doctrine of transubstantiation taught during the Dark Ages. "Fornication" in the Bible refers to spiritual adultery, mixing truth with error.


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In the prophetic time of Thyatira, pagan temples, symbols, and festivals were converted into Christian temples, symbols, and religious festivals. All this was done in the name of true worship of the divine God.

Speaking of this amalgamation between paganism and Christianity, Arthur E.R. Boak declares this:

The long association between pagans and Christians and the rapid incorporation of new converts into the ranks of the Church (after Constantine's "conversion"), exercised a profound influence upon Christian beliefs and practices. Pagan belief in magic contributed largely to the Christian belief in miracles; and the development of the cult of the saints was stimulated by pagan concepts of inferior divinities, demigods and demons. Many pagan festivals were transferred into the festivals of the Church.i

Fornication and sacrifices to idols are the symbols of apostasy against God and His Son Jesus, the Word made flesh. We are to eat the flesh of the Son of God—to internalize His truth—not replace it with mere outward forms. Of this, the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism says the following:

The missionary history of the [Catholic] Church clearly shows her adaptability to all races, all continents, all nations. In her liturgy and her art, in her tradition and the forming of her doctrine, naturally enough she includes Jewish elements, but also elements that are of pagan origin. In certain respects, she has copied her organization from that of the Roman Empire, has preserved and made fruitful the philosophical intuitions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, borrowed from both Barbarians and the Byzantine Roman Empire—but always remains herself, thoroughly digesting all elements drawn from external sources...In her laws, her ceremonies, her festivals and her devotions, she makes use of local customs after purifying them and "baptizing" them.ii

The twin pillars of Roman Catholicism are faith in the Eucharistic mystery and faith in the intercessory role of Mary. The Catholic Church is even considering making this Marian role as co-advocate and intercessor an infallible church dogma. Neither of these two doctrines can be found in the Scriptures, and they are contrary to the very basis of the Christian faith. Salvation can be found in Christ alone (John 10:9).



Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

In the Eucharistic mystery, the bread and wine are said to literally become the body and blood of Christ. Christ's sacrifice on the cross is repeated during each mass, which too is contrary to the plain teaching of the Scriptures:

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once when he offered up himself (Hebrews 7:27).



For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26).

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).

i. Arthur E. Boak, A History of Rome (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921): 387.

ii. Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, as quoted in André Rétif, The Catholic Spirit (Burns & Oates, 1959).

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

22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23And 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.

Ignoring a Second Chance


2:21-23 God gives opportunities for repentance. The period of papal supremacy spanned 1260 years, and during all that time Roman Catholicism would not repent from her unfaithfulness to God.

The judgments here threatened against this woman are in harmony with the threatenings in other parts of this book [the Book of Revelation] against the Roman Catholic Church under the symbol of a corrupt woman, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. iii

In verse 22, it speaks of a "bed", which refers to Isaiah 28:20 where God says He will cast Babylon into a sickbed. It also speaks of "great tribulation" referring to the fifth plague which falls upon Babylon because she repented not of her deeds. Verses 22 and 23 describe the future punishment of Jezebel and her children that will take place at the end of time. When it says "I will kill her children with 'death'", it refers to the second death that takes place when those that oppose God are cast into the lake of fire. Matthew 16:27

It is then that "all the churches [people throughout time] will know..." Nothing escapes the eye of Christ. No secret thing, no evil thought or purpose will escape the knowledge of God at that time. He searches the hearts of men and is acquainted with all our deepest thoughts and intents and these things will be revealed to all the ones watching the final destruction of the opposers of God.

When Rome rejected the message of the Reformation, the turmoil that followed led to the greatest sufferings in human history. At the Council of Trent in 1563, the Reformation message was officially set aside. Shortly thereafter Europe agonized under the plague and the 30-year war (1618-1648), but neither of these dreadful situations brought Rome back to a love of the truth.

God is patient with people He has made (See Exodus 34:4-10, 2 Samuel 24, 2 Chronicles 33). His people Israel constantly turned away from Him, but He was constantly providing opportunities for them to turn back to Him, even saying this:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God is the same way with the people of Babylon. He longs for them to return to Him (Jeremiah 51:8-9). Just as God raised up Elijah with a message of reform in the days of Jezebel, so God raised up some within the Church who called for reformation during the Church's long history and even after its rejection of the Reformation.


 

iii. Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, page 378

24But 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.

25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27And 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.

28And I will give him the morning star.

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

2:24-29 Promise: The promise of the ultimate victory of Christ stands as a rebuke to the Church of the Middle Ages. Even during the periods of darkest apostasy God has always had His faithful few. There were many Christians during the Dark Ages, like the Waldenses hidden in the mountains of northern Italy, who suffered torture and death rather than compromise the truth. To those who do not partake in apostasy Christ says, “Hold fast,” “I will put upon you none other burden.” Many of the devoted Christians in Thyatira understood only a limited amount of truth, yet Christ promised to give them Himself, forever, and make them co-rulers if they would live up to all the light they had been given. God only judges us by what we know or have the opportunity to know. Acts 17:30.

In the first three of the seven Churches, Christ's coming was either not mentioned at all, or threatened on condition: ""Repent or else I will come..." But here Christ's second coming is not mentioned as a threatening of punishment, but as a promise before the believer, a matter of hope, for when the Christian's trials will cease and his efforts and warfare are rewarded with everlasting happiness. Here and in the remaining seven Churches, the believer is admonished to watch and wait for Christ's second coming. The Thyatira Church ends in 1798 when the "time of the end" began. Ever since then, the Church is to be watching and waiting for the "blessed hope" - the second coming of our Lord and Saviour.

Christ calls Himself the morning star in Revelation 22:16. Another name for it is "daystar", used in 2 Peter 1:19. When the daystar arises in the hearts of those who seek God, or the morning star is given to the overcomer, is when Christ comes so close in relationship with the believer that they will walk in His light and their hearts are filled with His Spirit, and their countenances radiate with heavenly joy.

 

Ahead to Revelation 3

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