THE SEVEN CHURCHES
The Church was born at the Feast of Pentecost, in Jerusalem, and fifty days after the Resurrection. A Church refers to those called out for Christ, also called a congregation. In ancient times called a synagogue, which had nothing to do with Jewish worship as such. It is the manifestation of God’s glory in this world.
The Gospel spread, and there were many churches. But, Jesus picked seven specific churches to convey a message with four levels:
- Prophecy and history of the Church described
- A spiritual message conveyed
- God speaks to the churches
- God speaks to individuals
PROPHECY AND HISTORY
Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.”
The book of Acts covers about thirty years of church history. The next 1,900 years are covered in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation.
|Ephesus||30 – 60 AD||Early church|
|Smyrna||60 – 300 AD||Early persecuted Church|
|Pergamos||300 – 500 AD||Marriage of World and Church|
|Thyatira||500 – 1500 AD||Medieval church|
|Sardis||1500 – 1800 AD||Reformation Church|
|Philadelphia||1800 – 1948 AD||Missionary Church|
|Laodicea||1948 – TODAY||The Last Standing Church|
Ephesus means “the desired one.” It is the early Church.
Ephesus was a political centre, and a city of wealth and power. It had a huge library, and it was a place of learning. It was home to the Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World, the Temple of Diana. To clarify, that is Artemis to the Greeks. Thousands of male and female prostitutes gave themselves in worship here. In the midst of this debauchery, Jesus Christ planted a church. It was all about the presence of the Lord, and nothing about a denomination, the buildings, or the leaders.
VERSE BY VERSE
Revelation 2:1 “He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” The candlesticks is the “lampstands” of Chapter 1, the churches. And, the seven stars in his right hand, God’s messengers to these seven churches. A description of Jesus as He who is present to sustain the Church.
Revelation 2:2 “Thou canst not bear them which are evil.” They did not turn a blind eye to wickedness, but called it out.
Revelation 2:4 “Thou hast left thy first love.” The Ephesian’s passion grew cold. Their service for Christ became disciplined and routine driven.
Revelation 2:6 “Thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” A “Nicolaitan” was a follower of Nicolaus, a heretic. The word made up of two Greek words, “nike” and “laos”. It means “conquerors of people”, those who wanted to dominate over others. Jesus hated it, and so did this Church.
•THE TREE OF LIFE
Revelation 2:7 “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” To him that stays loyal to Christ, he will be one day with Him in paradise. Revelation 22:2 tells us the tree of life will stand again in the “new heaven and earth.”
SPIRITUAL MESSAGE FOR US
When we find Christ, it is “first love.” A time of warmth, love, and labor for Christ. In time love fades, and we are merely going through the motions of religion and tradition. Christ wants more, He wants “first love.”
Smyrna was the commercial centre of Asia, and home to the persecuted Church. A place where believers were crushed for there faith.
The word “smyrna” derives from the word “myrrh.” A resin taken from a tree by hacking and crushing it with a machete. Every cut exudes the aromatic resin. This was often used in burial.
Note! The Magi brought at Christ’s birth gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11) Gold refers to His kingship. Frankincense refers to His priesthood. And, Myrrh refers to his suffering, and death. Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus, used myrrh to embalmed Jesus’ body.
We read about the coming Millenium in Isaiah 60. Interestingly, only gold and frankincense are offered, in verse 6. This is because Jesus’ death is behind Him.
VERSE BY VERSE
Revelation 2:8 “The first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” This description of Jesus Christ speaks of His redemption work. His commitment to believers.
Revelation 2:9 “I know… thy poverty, but thou art rich.” They are poor in the things of this world, but rich from a kingdom perspective. “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” The word Jew means “he who praises God.” This echoes John 8 when Jesus called the Pharisees children of the Devil. Those Jews whose hearts were uncircumcised. Who did not praise God, but blaspheme everything He stands for.
Revelation 2:10 “Ye shall have tribulation ten days.” Ten major emperors openly persecuted the Christians. The persecution of Dioclesian was the worst ever, and it lasted for ten years. “Be thou faithful unto death” and not as in all the other letters “till I come.” And, for this they will receive “a crown of life.” That is a reward for those who are faithful unto death.
•NO MORE DEATH
Revelation 2:11 “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” To the Christians this was a time of martyrdom. Jesus is not blind to their suffering. He encouraged them with the promise of an afterlife.
God does not wants us to live in fear, and to hide. He wants us to trust in Him, and to live fearless. In ourselves it is not possible, but in Christ we are more than conquerors.
Pergamos means “height.” It can also be read as “per” and “gamos”, that is “by marriage.” This is the Church that was wed to the world. Consequently, paganism enters.
Note! Remember the Tower of Babel? Babylon was the fountainhead of all idolatry. The priesthood always followed the power and the money. When Cyrus conquered Babylon, the Babylonian priesthood migrated with the Persians. When the Greeks conquered the Persians they migrated again, and set up shop in Pergamon. They erected various pagan temples, one being the Temple of Zeus. See more Abortion, human sacrifice. It became the occult capital of the world.
When the Romans conquered the Greeks, the priesthood moved to Rome. It became known as “The New Babylon.” The same gods and myths of Babylon took on Greek labels in Pergamon, and Latin labels in Rome. Thus, Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite and Venus are all one and the same goddess.
Constantine made Christianity legal in AD 312. He reigned over an empire of pagans, and he put his Babylonian pagan priests into the church. With them came the robes, beads, candles, headdresses, mass and purgatory.
VERSE BY VERSE
Revelation 2:12 “He that hath the sharp sword with two edges.” Referring to the word of God that cuts to both sides. Ephesians 6 tells us it is an instrument for spiritual warfare, and this Church was under attack.
Revelation 2:13 “Even where Satan’s seat is.” The Temple of Zeus was here, a place of pagan worship and blood sacrifices. “Antipas was my faithful martyr” Antipas was the bishop of Pergamon, ordained by the Apostle John.
Note! Antipas casted out so many devils that the demons complained about it. The pagan priests went to the Roman governor and complained that this man was driving their spirits out of town. Antipas was sentenced to death on the Altar of Zeus in AD 92.
•BALAAM AND BALAC
Revelation 2:14 “The doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel.”Balaam was a false prophet in the Old Testament. The king of the Moabites, Balac, hired Balaam to openly curse Israel. He could not. But, under the table he told Balac a neat little trick. Subsequently, Balac sent his prettiest girls over to the Israeli camp to entice the men into fornication. (Numbers 22-31)
Revelation 2:15 “Them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.” The heresy of the Nicolaitanes, that we saw in the church of Ephesus, is here in Pergamos too.
Revelation 2:16 “Repent, or else… I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” This is not speaking of believers, but false witnesses in the Church.
•BREAD OF LIFE
Revelation 1:17 “I give to eat of the hidden manna.” Jesus Christ himself is the bread of life. Only if they depend on Him, will they make it trough. The same way Israel made it through the desert when God supplied them with manna. “Will give him a white stone.” Jurors casted a white stone for innocence and a black stone for guilt. Also, a white stone was given to victors at the games. Victory is in Jesus Christ alone.
Jesus noticed the Christians that became comfortable around sin, and He calls them out. Sin is like leaven in bread. That is to say you have to stamp it out straight away, or the consequences will overwhelms you.
The medieval church. It was the age of clerical domination in which the Church usurped the place of Christ. The Babylonian paganism had creeped into the Church.
It was once called Semiramis. Later, it was given the name Thyatira. It means “daughter” or “continual sacrifice.”
VERSE BY VERSE
Revelation 2:18 “The Son of God” speaks of His divinity. “His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.” Fire and brass are Levitical symbols for judgment. This Church is in trouble.
Revelation 2:19 “I know thy works, and charity, and service.” Jesus noticed them doing good things for others.
Revelation 2:20 “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel.” Jezebel was the wife of Israel’s King Ahab, in the Old Testament. She worshiped Baal and Astarte, and she encouraged Ahab to do the same. Subsequently, king Ahab led Israel into idolatry under the driving force of Jezebel. (I Kings 16)
Revelation 2:22-23 “I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children.” Adultery is spiritual fornication. God is jealous for us, and He does not share His glory with another. Jesus Christ is warning those who do it, will be destroyed.
Note! The worship of Astarte, The Queen of Heaven, goes back to ancient Babylon. It is the mother goddess worship that persisted to this day. The worship of Semiramis, the consort of Nimrod and the mother of Tammuz.
In Egypt the same mother goddess was Isis, and in Persia she was Ishtar. In Phoenicia she was Athena, who became Venus. In Rome she was sneaked in under the name of Mary.
It was what idolatry in the Old Testament was about. Many times God ordered the Israelites to cut down the Asherah, and to destroy the idols of the false gods. Babylonian paganism.
Revelation 2:24 “As many as have not this doctrine.” What I want is important, and I will not submit to God’s plan. “Which have not known the depths of Satan.” Even though Satan has bound them before, they will not say no to it.
Revelation 2:25 “Hold fast till I come.” We read for the first time about the Second coming. This church will be around at His second coming.
Revelation 2:26 “To him will I give power over the nations.” In chapter 19 they are coming with Christ. They are trusted with much responsibility to rule over the nations in the Millennium.
Revelation 2:27 “And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter.” During the Millennial Christ will reign on earth with a rod of iron, and He will not tolerate evil.
Revelation 2:28 “I will give him the morning star.” The morning star is considered the planet Venus, the mother goddess who receives constant worship. A deception, because it is simply the bright planetary light given by God. The spiritual morning star is Jesus Christ giving us direction. (Revelation 22:16)
There are Christians who do charity work, and God notices it. At the same time, they fail to notice that there worship is entangled with Babylonian paganism. Jesus Christ is calling them out: “Babylon the great is fallen…. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” (Revelation 18)
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES:
SOURCES FOR REVELATION, CHAPTER 2:
- The Seven Letters to the Seven Churches by Dr Chuck Missler
- Revelation by Dr Baruch Korman
- The Unveiled Christ of Revelation by Dr John Barnett
- A Light in the Darkness by Rick Renner
OTHER SOURCES FOR REVELATION, CHAPTER 2: