"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
 
Rev 22:7

 
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Revelation Bible Study Guide

Quick Links

Revelation 1:1-3Revelation 1:4-6Revelation 1:7-8Revelation 1:9-11
Revelation 1:12-16Revelation 1:17-18Revelation 1:19-20

Revelation 2-3 IntroRevelation 2:1-7Revelation 2:8-11
Revelation 2:12-17Revelation 2:18-29

Revelation Flow Chart


Revelation 1:1-3

1a) The Revelation of Jesus Christ

  • Apocalypsis" means to reveal something not known or hidden - to make known a mystery.
  • The Revelation of Jesus is to reveal things previously unknown or not understood about Christ.

1b) which God gave Him to show His servants

  • The Revelation of Jesus Christ is for believers – not unbelievers

1c) things which must shortly take place.

  • The word translated "shortly" is from the Greek word "tachos," which means to happen in rapid succession, or when things are revving up like "birth pangs."

1d) And He sent and signified it by His angel

  • Jesus reveals things to us through "signs" and "symbols" in a message through His angel.

1e) to His servant John

  • The angel gives the Revelation to the apostle John whom Jesus suggested would live to see the Lord's return in John 21:20-23 which John does see in his vision of the Revelation.

2a) who bore witness to the word of God

  • John testified that the Word of God is true in John 21:24.

2b) and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

  • The testimony of Jesus Christ is the "spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). "This means that prophecy at its very heart is designed to unfold the beauty and loveliness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the present age, therefore, the Spirit of God is not only to glorify Christ but to show believers things to come as they relate to His person and majesty. Christ is not only the major theme of the Scriptures but also the central theme of prophecy." – John F. Walvoord

3a) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it

  • Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who read and keep it.

  • To understand it, you must search the rest of the Scriptures.

  • Those who keep the things written in it usually seek to live holy lives as they watch for the Lord's return.

3b) for the time is near.

  • The time for the fulfillment of these prophecies is imminent.

Revelation 1:4-6

4a) John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:

  • These seven churches were in modern day Turkey in Asia Minor – not the Orient

4b) Grace to you and peace

  • This was a customary Hebrew greeting. This greeting leads into the introduction of the triune Godhead.

4c) from Him who is and who was and who is to come

  • This title describes the eternal nature of God the Father.

4d) and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne

  • The "seven Spirits" before the throne of God is the Holy Spirit who has 7 attributes in (Isaiah 11:1-2).

5a) and from Jesus Christ

  • Jesus is the third person of the Godhead introduced to us in the greeting.

  • The name Jesus means salvation and Christ means the anointed one or messiah.

5b) the faithful witness

5c) the firstborn from the dead

  • Jesus is the "first fruits" of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:16-23), as He was the first to rise from the dead among the "soul harvest" of men and receive a glorified body.

5d) and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

  • The Lord still has sovereignty over the earth as "King of kings," though He has granted temporary authority to Satan over the kingdoms of this world.

5e) To Him who loved us

  • The Father manifested His love to us by sacrificing His Son.

  • The Son offered Himself up in sacrifice because of His love for us.

5f) and washed us from our sins in His own blood

  • The Lord blood atones for our sin, covering it, and purifying us.

6a) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father

  • We are royal heirs as the spouse of the King of kings who will rule and reign with Him.

  • The New Covenant makes us priests, as our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

6b) to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  • God does not share His glory and His sovereignty is everlasting.

Revelation 1:7-8

7a) Behold, He is coming with clouds,

  • "Behold" means to "perceive" or "look" – Jesus is returning visibly.

  • Jesus will return "with" clouds (the heavenly host), but also in a literal cloud, the same way He ascended to Heaven after He rose from the dead.

  • The glory of the Lord also appears as a cloud.

7b) and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.

  • The inhabitants of the Earth and possibly Hell will witness the return of Jesus visibly.

  • Those who will witness the return of Jesus include the Jews who rejected their Messiah sending Him to the Romans to be crucified.

7c) And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.

  • The Jews will mourn out of humbleness when they realize that Jesus the Messiah they rejected.

  • Unbelievers will mourn out of guilt when they realize judgment is upon them because they rejected the Lord.

7d) Even so, Amen.

  • "Amen" means "so be it" and is a Hebrew declaration used at the end of benedictions throughout the Old Testament.

8a) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord

  • The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

  • This is another way to say "the beginning and the end" or "the first and the last."

  • This title denotes the Lord's eternal existence and omnipresence.

8b) "who is and who was and who is to come,

  • This title describes the eternal nature of Jesus.

8c) the Almighty."

  • This title shows describes God's sovereignty or omnipotence - He exercises dominion with unrestricted power.

Revelation 1:9-11

9a) I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ

  • John relates to other believers as both a brother and companion, showing he is a humble servant of Christ.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong to His kingdom when you acquire patience through tribulation.

9b) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • John tells us he was on Patmos for the "Word of God" and the "testimony of Jesus," so he was probably persecuted and exiled to the Greek island for his faith.

  • The "testimony of Jesus" bears witness that the "Word of God" is true and that we have eternal life through Jesus.

10a) I was in the Spirit

  • Another way to say this is that John "came to be in the Spirit" which alludes to something beyond the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation and our daily walk in the Spirit. John "in the Spirit" might be something more like when Ezekiel was spiritually transported to the valley of dry bones.

10b) on the Lord's Day

  • The "Lord's Day" could refer to the Sabbath, or seventh day of the week.

  • Or, the "Lord's Day" could refer to the first day of the week, which is the day the Lord was resurrected and when the Church began to meet.

  • Or, the "Lord's Day" could refer to the seventh millennium on the earth that begins at the rapture and ends after the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. In this case, John would have been spiritually transported in time by the Holy Spirit to the eschatological "Day of the Lord."

10c) and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet

  • The loud voice like a trumpet is the Lord's voice.

11a) saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last"

  • Jesus introduced Himself in Revelation 1:8 as the "Alpha and Omega" which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

  • This is another way to say "the beginning and the end" or "the first and the last," the prototype, or firstborn of the dead, and paramount of all that there is.

  • This title denotes the Lord's eternal existence and omnipresence.

11b) and, "What you see, write in a book

  • Books during John's time were written on scrolls or tablets.

11c) and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

  • When John finished recording the events revealed to him, he was to send his account to seven churches in Turkey.

  • The order listed would have been the most efficient route for someone to hand deliver the message.

Revelation 1:12-16

12) Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

  • John turns to see who was speaking with the loud trumpet voice and he sees seven golden lampstands.

  • These lampstands represent the seven-fold Holy Spirit working through the seven churches, who feed into one lampstand, or menorah represented by Jesus.

13a) and in the midst of the seven lampstands

  • Jesus is the base of the menorah with the candlesticks, or churches feeding into it - He is the middle base being in the midst of the seven lampstands.

  • This is the same picture in John 15:5, where Jesus is the vine and the branches represent the body of believers.

  • The Holy Spirit is the source or fuel of the fire (often pictured as oil), but Christ is the Light and gives light to believers.

  • The 10 menorahs in the earthy temple may allude to the ten descriptions John gives of Christ's appearance.

13b) One like the Son of Man

  • This title speaks of Jesus' humanity.

  • Only a sinless human could fulfill the Law and free humanity from the penalty of sin and death.

  • As both the "Son of Man" and "Son of God," Jesus is the only mediator between God the Father and men, and the Father has given the Son authority to judge men.

13c) clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

  • The priests in the Old Testament wore corresponding garments and bands/sashes.

  • Being "girded" is a sign of strength.

  • The band symbolizes Israel's dependence on the Lord.

  • Gold represents holiness, purity, and kingship.

14a) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow

  • The hair like wool identifies the Son of Man as also being the "Ancient of Days" in Daniel.

  • Jesus as the Son of Man looked like a normal human, but the Ancient of Days is the Lord in His glorified form.

  • Hair white as snow represents Christ's power to cleanse us from our sin.

14b) and His eyes like a flame of fire

  • The Lord's piercing gaze relates to judgment and His displeasure with sin.

15a) His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace

  • Daniel describes the Lord's feet as "burnished bronze."

  • Bronze is strengthened when it is purified in fire and pictures judgement and restitution.

  • The utensils and laver used in the earthly temple were used for the atoning sacrifices for sin.

  • The Lord will trodden down His enemies in judgment with his bronze feet.

15b) and His voice as the sound of many waters

  • The Lord's voice is like a trumpet, but also like the deafening sound of many waters like a powerful waterfall.

16a) He had in His right hand seven stars

  • The seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches in Turkey (Revelation 1:20).

  • The "right hand" shows favor and symbolizes strength: protection, and salvation.

16b) out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword

  • The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword that has the power to kill in judgment.

  • Jesus is the personified Word of God who will kill His enemies by the Word of His mouth at the end of the Tribulation.

16c) and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

  • This describes the physical manifestation of the Lord's glory, and like the sun is too bright to behold with our physical eyes.

Revelation 1:17-18

17a) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

  • John could not behold the Lord in His glory.

  • Falling on one's face is due to human sin that is self-evident before a Holy God.

17b) But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid

  • The right hand signifies favor, strength, protection, and salvation. All these things provided by our Savior should give us comfort instead of fear.

  • Our sin nature comes between us and the Holy God. In our sinful state, fear is the natural emotion felt by those who experience the glory of God.

  • Believers should have reverent fear of the Lord, not terror like unbelievers.

17c) I am the First and the Last.

  • We should not have fear because the Lord is eternal.

  • The Lord is also the prototype of our resurrection, being the firstborn of the dead and is omnipresent or paramount of everything finite.

18a) I am He who lives, and was dead

  • We should not have fear because through His death, Jesus claimed victory over death, and over Satan, who once had the power over death.

18b) and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.

  • We should not have fear because Jesus conquered death, rising from the dead as the firstfruits of our resurrection.

18c) And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

  • We should not have fear because Jesus paid the ransom and penalty for our death through His own death.

  • After Jesus rose from the dead He had the power to release the souls from Hades and raise them from the dead.

Revelation 1:19-20

19) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

  • John gives us the "table of contents" for the rest of Revelation:

  • Chapter 1: Things which you [John] have seen

  • Chapters 2-3: Things which are [counsel to the churches]

  • Chapters 4-22: Things which will take place after this [in the future]

20a) The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands

  • God reveals mysteries through the Spirit.

  • The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches (20b).

  • The seven golden lampstands are the seven churches in Turkey (Revelation 1:11).

  • The number "seven" denotes complete perfection.

20b) The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches

  • An angel is a messenger either supernatural or human.

  • A star can depict a supernatural being, but it can also represent someone of prestige or nobility.

  • In this case, stars being human make the most sense, both as guardians and respected leaders over the flock, and logistically in delivering the messages.

20c) and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

  • While Jesus addressed seven literal first century churches, the application of His message to these churches extends to the Church body at large and there is a spiritual interpretation that encompasses the entire Church history.

Introduction to Revelation 2-3

  • Address - Jesus addressed the message to the angel or messenger of each church. There are some interesting tie-ins between the history of the city, the meaning of the name of each church, and the message of each letter.

  • Description of Christ - In every message to each church, Jesus cites a different description of Himself that give us clues to the central theme of the letter. In most cases, these are the same descriptions given of the Lord in Revelation 1.

  • What is known - Jesus opens each message assessing the current condition of each church.

  • Praise - Most of the churches received commendation from the Lord for the works they did for Him.

  • Rebuke - While most of the churches received praise, most were also lacking in their works, or rebelling in what they tolerated or allowed. For those churches that received rebuke, the Lord preached repentance in His counsel. Otherwise, the Lord said He would personally intervene in the affairs of that church judicially. Rather than administering punishment immediately, the Lord in His longsuffering and mercy (Numbers 14:18), gave these churches a chance to repent first.

  • Counsel - For most of the churches, the Lord gave instruction for what needed correction, warning that He would personally intervene if repentance did not occur. For the few churches that receive no rebuke, He admonished them to stay on track.

  • Call to Hear - The Lord gives the same call to every church: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

  • Promise to Overcomers – Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believers will receive all the promises given in the letters to all the churches.

  • Summary and Theme - Every word spoken by the Lord to each church pertains to the condition and behavior of each church.

  • Prophetic Church Age Type - The character of each church has curiously appeared to manifest in the major divisions of the history of the Church, but it is important to stress that this view should not overshadow the clear literal meaning directed toward the first century churches and the Church body at large.

Summary of the Letters to the Churches

Click on phrase to link to relevant commentary.

Church Ephesus Smyrna Pergamos Thyatira Sardis Philadelphia Laodicea
Name meaning "Overseer" or "Guardian" "Myrrh" "All encompassing marriage" Possibly "censor to burn incense" Type of gemstone "Brotherly love" "Rule by the people"
Description
of Christ
Holds the 7 stars and 7 lampstands First and Last, who was dead, came to life Has a sharp two-edged sword Eyes like flame of fire, feet like brass Has the 7 Spirits of God and the 7 stars Holy and true, has the key of David The Amen, Faithful True Witness, at creation
What is known Works, labor and patience Works, tribulation and poverty Works and dwells near Satan's throne Works, love, service, faith and patience Works, have a name, dead Works, have and open door Works not hot or cold
Praise Cannot bear evil, lying apostles Spiritually rich Did not deny the Lord Motives right, except for works Few names do not have defiled garments Kept the Word, did not deny Christ, persevered No praise
Rebuke Left their first love No rebuke Tolerate the doctrines of Balaam and Nicolaitans Allow Jezebel to teach and seduce Be watchful, strengthen things that remain No rebuke Lukewarm and spiritually bankrupt
Counsel Repent and do first works Do not fear and be faithful to death Repent from endorsing false doctrines Hold fast to what you have Hold fast, repent and watch Hold fast to what you have "Buy" remedies to become spiritually rich
Call to Hear ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches
Promise to overcomers Eat from the Tree of Life in Paradise Not hurt by second death Receive hidden manna and white stone with a new name Power over the nations and given the morning star Clothed in white, not blotted out of Book of Life Be a pillar, have the new name of God and New Jerusalem Sit with the Lord on His throne
Theme God desires unbroken fellowship No need to fear death Study of the Word produces sound doctrine Neglect of "first works" leads to sin Only works done through the Spirit will endure as a gemstone God opens doors despite instability and our weakness Spiritual bankruptcy leads people's heart away from the Lord
Prophetic Church Type Apostolic Church (Penecost-100AD) Persecuted Church (100-313AD) Compromised Church (313-606AD) The Pagan Church (606AD-rapture) The Spiritually Dead Church (1500s-rapture) The Missionary Church
(1800s-rapture)
The Lukewarm Church
(1900s-rapture)


Ephesus - Revelation 2:1-7

Address

1a) "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write"

  • The name Ephesus means: "Overseer" or "guardian," possibly derived from the Greek word "ephoros."

  • Paul lived in Ephesus for a few years during his ministry. He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on selling the statuettes of Artemis in the Temple of Artemis (Acts 19:23-41). Paul wrote 1 Corinthians while he lived in Ephesus and wrote his epistle to the Ephesians while he was in prison in Rome.

Description of Christ

1b) 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand'

  • Jesus is the guardian over the angels of the churches.

1c) who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands

  • Jesus first appeared in Revelation 1:13 & 20, in the midst of the lamp stands, or churches, as the "Son of Man."

  • As in the menorah, Jesus is the supporting base to the branches that hold the lamps, which represent the churches, or the assembled believers of Christ.

What is known

2a) "I know your works, your labor, your patience"

  • The Church should labor and do good works as a testimony of their faith.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong in the Kingdom, by enduring trial and tribulation, which cultivate patience, or perseverance, and character.

Praise

2b) and that you cannot bear those who are evil.

  • Paul admonished the church of Ephesus to avoid fellowship with those who show the "works of darkness" and "expose them" (Ephesians 5:8-11). In other words, the church was not to put up with open sin within the congregation.

2c) And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars

  • The Greek word "apostolos" translated "apostles," means "one who is commissioned." The use of the word "apostle" in this context extends beyond the scope of the original twelve chosen by Jesus.

3a) and you have persevered and have patience

  • The Ephesians "persevered," enduring an apparent bombardment of false teachers trying to infiltrate the church.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong to His Kingdom when you acquire patience through tribulations (Revelation 1:9).

3b) and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.

  • Laboring for the Lord's "name sake" is to minister to other believers (Hebrews 6:10-15).

Rebuke

4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

  • The Ephesians had apparently became so busy in their works, that their heart turned from serving the Lord, to serving men; they left their "first love” – the sacrificial love for the Lord.

  • Sacrificial love is that which is essential to strengthen a marriage between a husband and wife. This is also the same type of love Christ has given to the Church through His sacrifice on the cross.

  • Paul taught the Ephesians about the love between Christ and the Church, comparing it to the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5).

Counsel

5a) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works

  • Making the Lord first in priority, by loving Him with all one's "heart, soul and mind" are the "first works."

  • The Lord urged them to repent of their motives and return to serve with "sincerity of heart, as to Christ... and not to men" (Ephesians 6:5, 7) to restore their relationship with the Lord.

5b) or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent.

  • The lamp stand being moved "from its place" means that the church of Ephesus would no longer be used by the Lord.

  • The Greek word "kineo" translated as "remove" can also mean to provoke, or stir. The Lord's counsel would have created quite a "stir" that would hopefully have led the congregation to repentance.

6) But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

  • "Nicolaitan" comes from the Greek words "nikao," a verb which means to conquer, or lord over, and "laos," a noun which means people. Therefore, a "Nicolaitan" would be clergy who rule over the "laity," or body of believers.

  • The "Nicolaitan" movement would have been the beginning of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which has its roots in the Babylonian pagan priesthood.

Call to hear

7a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

7b)"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • After the fall, God prevented man from eating of the tree of life, so that he would not live in sin forever (Genesis 3:22-24).

  • To eat freely of the tree of life is symbolic of eternal life without sin and the regained access to God through Christ (Romans 5:1-2).

  • The "Paradise of God" was initially in the Garden of Eden. After the fall of man, God moved "Paradise" to the center of the earth. After the cross, when Jesus restored man to God, Jesus took "Paradise" to Heaven.

Summary and Theme

  • God desires unbroken fellowship

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Apostolic Church (Penecost-100AD)


Smyrna - Revelation 2:8-11

Address

8a) "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write

  • The name Smyrna means: "Myrrh," from the Greek "smurna." Myrrh is a bitter spice that releases a fragrant aroma when crushed. Myrrh was a spice used in embalming the dead.

Description of Christ

8b) 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life

  • Jesus is eternal the prototype of resurrection of the dead ( Revelation 1:11, 17-18)

What is known / Praise

9a) "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)

  • The works of the church at Smyrna relate to enduring persecution, because the Lord promises a reward to them for being faithful to Him even unto death (Revelation 2:10).

  • The "tribulation" that Smyrna was going through led to physical poverty.

  • The guild, or union structure, of Smyrna's economy may have led to persecution of the Christians there.

  • Smyrna was physically poor, but the Lord says they were spiritually rich.

9b) and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

  • It is a blasphemy against God for people to call themselves Jews, merely by ancestry, or by trying to keep the Mosaic Law, which has been an impossible task for all but Christ.

  • God only considers those circumcised in the heart that do not resist the Holy Spirit as true Jews.

  • The religious leaders in Jerusalem mandated that anyone that confessed that Jesus was the Messiah were not allowed in the synagogues – their rejection of Christ was satanic in nature (John 8:42-44), thus they were of the "synagogue of Satan."

Counsel

10a) Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.

  • We should not fear what might happen to us because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin through His death, claimed victory over death and Satan, and rose from the dead to live eternally as the firstfruits of our resurrection.

10b) Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested

  • The Christ rejecting Jews, who were of their "father the devil" (John 8:44), were going to throw some of the Christians in Smyrna into prison.

  • God sometimes uses Satan to test us.

  • Testing is a refining process, as in precious metals.

  • The testing of our faith, through trial and tribulation, builds character and produces patience.

10c) and you will have tribulation ten days.

  • In Scripture "ten days" relates to testing, tribulation, or waiting

10d) Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  • The Lord calls us to be faithful to Him through persecution, even to the death

  • The "crown of life" is a reward for faithfulness through trial (James 1:12-15).

Call to hear

11a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

11b) He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • There will be two types of resurrections. The "first resurrection" is to eternal life, the second is to eternal death, or the "second death" (Revelation 20:5-6, 10-14).

  • The second death is permanent separation from God and eternal suffering for all those who do not "overcome" (Revelation 21:7-8).

Summary and Theme

  • No need to fear death

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Persecuted Church - 100 to 313AD


Pergamos - Revelation 2:12-17

Address

12a) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write

  • The name Pergamos means: "All-encompassing marriage" from the Greek roots, "peri" and "gamos."

  • The name is similar to the Greek word for parchment "pergamene."

  • When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city.

Description of Christ

12b) 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword

  • The church of Pergamos allowed doctrinal errors to seep in. Correct doctrine comes through the reading of the Word of God.

What is known

13a) "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is.

  • "Satan's throne" is the center of pagan worship that originated in Babylon.

  • Satan will give this throne to the beast in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:2).

Praise

13b) And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith

  • The Lord commended the church of Pergamos for their good works of being able to stay true to the Lord and His faith despite the fact they resided near Satan's throne, where polytheism was rampant.

13c) even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

  • According to tradition, Antipas was a bishop of Pergamos, ordained by the apostle John. Many believe the pagans martyred Antipas, by burning him to death in a bull shaped bronze altar.

  • The name "Antipas" means "in place of all." Antipas did not live life for himself, but for Christ. He held fast to the name of Christ and did not deny the faith, because Jesus died for all, in our place (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Rebuke

14) But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

  • Balak, the king of Moab, summoned a Midianite prophet by the name of Balaam to curse Israel.

  • After God did not allow Balaam to curse Israel, he devised a plan to corrupt Israel, to try to get God to curse them instead. Balaam had Balak send Moabite women to seduce some of the men of Israel into sexual immorality and idol worship (Numbers 22-25 & 31).

  • While the Church is not under the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14), we are not to use our liberty to become a stumbling block to others. That is why the early Church leaders warned the flock to stay away from having any part in these pagan practices.

  • The "doctrine of Balaam" in the Church would be that of compromising morals and testimony after the ways of the world. Friendship with the world in God's eyes is a form of adultery (James 4:4).

15) Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

  • The Nicolaitans are likely a movement that initiated the ecclesiastical hierarchy into the Church. This model has roots in the Babylonian pagan priesthood (Revelation 2:6).

  • The Ephesians hated the "deeds of the Nicolaitans," who vied for positions as clergy for dishonest gain, but the church of Pergamos apparently embraced this unscriptural doctrine (1 Peter 5:2-3).

  • Adopting the Babylonian priesthood model goes hand in hand with giving into the doctrine of Balaam; compromise with the ways of the world that lead to sin.

Counsel

16) Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

  • Permitting the "doctrine of Balaam," and embracing the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" within the Church, led to doctrinal errors.

  • Jesus warned the church of Pergamos that if they didn't turn away from their tolerance of such doctrines, that He would "fight against them with the sword of [His] mouth," which is the Word of God.

Call to hear

17a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

17b) To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • Pergamos tolerated the "doctrine of Balaam," which included eating of food sacrificed to idols, which spiritually compromised their Christian witness.

  • Conversely, Christ offers manna to the overcomers.

  • When the miracle of manna ceased, as Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses commissioned Aaron to take some manna and place it in the Ark of the Covenant hidden" behind the veil, where the high priest entered only once a year.

  • The veil that hid the manna tore in two (Mark 15:38) when Jesus, our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), died on the cross.

  • He has revealed Himself as the manna that was hidden, the "living bread" that is now available to us. Those who eat of the "bread of life" will never die (John 6:48-51).

17c) And I will give him a white stone

  • When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land, they set up an altar of whitewashed stones, with the words of the Law written on them (Deuteronomy 27:2-3).

  • The Law written on whitewashed stone is the first covenant. Under the new covenant, God will write His Law on the hearts and minds of believers (Hebrews 8:6-7, 10 & 9:15).

  • The white stone then, symbolizes the promised inheritance of the overcomers, bought with the cleansing blood of Christ, who writes His Law on their hearts and minds.

17d) and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

  • Names in Scripture are rich with meaning. Jerusalem will receive a new name that will describe its restoration to the Lord, in contrast to being forsaken and desolate.

  • Like Jerusalem, overcomers will be remade and receive a new name. The new name will be a secret between the overcomer and God. This is possibly speaking of the special intimate relationship the Lord has with each believer.

  • Part of the enticement behind the Babylonian priesthood was to learn what was "forbidden knowledge" to others, so the reference to "hidden manna" and a "secret name" might be a counter to the hidden and secret practices of those who held to the pagan practices that originated in Babylon.

Summary and Theme

  • Study of the Word produces sound doctrine.

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Compromised Church - 313 to 606AD


Thyatira - Revelation 2:18-29

Address

18a) And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write

  • Church tradition says that Thyatira means "odor of affliction," possibly originating from "thymiaterion,” which is a censor used to burn incense, and the Greek root word "thuo," which means sacrifice.

Description of Christ

18b) These things says the Son of God

  • The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

  • Thyatira is under the burden of the "works of the devil."

18c) who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass

  • The Lord's piercing gaze relates to judgment and His displeasure with sin (Revelation 1:14).

  • Bronze is also associated with judgment and purification from sin and shows that the Lord is not pleased with the congregation at Thyatira (Revelation 1:15).

What is known / Praise

19) I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

  • The "first work" is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Revelation 2:4-5).

  • Apparently the congregation at Thyatira had put more emphasis on their love and works toward others, allowing it to encroach on their devotion to the Lord, but they were not rebuked for leaving their "first love" like the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4).

Rebuke

20a) Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel

  • Jezebel was a woman in the church working in the "spirit of Jezebel."

  • Jezebel led the northern kingdom of Israel into sin through Baal worship, a cult involving sexual immorality and idol worship, which is harlotry and witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22).

20b) who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

  • Those called a "prophetess" in Scripture were godly women, who were given messages from the Lord in the same way as the men called prophets.

  • It appears that this woman Jezebel had come into the Church under the guise of a prophetess, but used witchcraft to lead astray some of the Lord's servants, or believers (Revelation 1:1), into sexual sin and idolatry, which was the "doctrine of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14).

21) And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

  • The woman Jezebel remained rebellious and unrepentant in her sexual immorality which was a physical manifestation of spiritual harlotry.

22a) Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed

  • This phrase in the Greek was a figure of speech commonly used that meant "to make one sick."

22b) and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation

  • This period of "great tribulation" is not speaking of the last half of the Tribulation described in Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14, but was a time of punishment through sickness for Jezebel and those that committed adultery with her.

22c) unless they repent of their deeds.

  • Sexual immoral believers at Thyatira could have also been spared "great tribulation" and suffering if they had repented of their sin with Jezebel, like King Ahab (1 Kings 21:25-29).

23a) I will kill her children with death

  • Any children conceived in sin by Jezebel at Thyatira, were going to die because of her sin.

  • Though not every child born out of a sexually immoral relationship dies, God may choose to take the life of the child to punish the parent's sin like King David who lost the child born out of his adulterous relationship.

23b) and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.

  • The Lord would punish as an example and warning to all the churches of what would happen if they lived in unrepentant sin.

  • The Lord addressed Himself to the church at Thyatira as "the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire." (Revelation 2:18), which relate to His judgment and displeasure with sin (Revelation 1:14).

  • Searching the minds and hearts of men is to look at their motive (Jeremiah 17:10).

23c) And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

  • God will judge the works of everyone, both good and bad (Romans 2:4-11).

  • Believers in the Tribulation will be rewarded when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on Earth (Matthew 16:24-27).

Counsel

24a) Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira

  • The Lord gives counsel to both the angel and "the rest" of the congregation in Thyatira. This may support the argument that the angels of the churches are men (Revelation 1:20).

24b) as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan

  • The opposite of the "depths of Satan" would be the "deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:7).

  • The Holy Spirit reveals the "deep things of God." Conversely, the "depths of Satan" would be revealed through his demonic devices, in the same way he gives "forbidden knowledge" to those in the Babylonian pagan worship (Revelation 2:17).

  • Jezebel taught the false doctrine of Balaam (Revelation 2:14), which encouraged the sinful activities of sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. Her rebellion and refusal to repent, was a form of witchcraft, powerful enough to entice believers at Thyatira to follow her false doctrine.

24c) as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

  • A "burden" is the expectation to follow certain items from the Law of Moses.

  • The Law of Moses was a "burden" that was impossible to follow completely. However, that does not mean that there are not items from the Law that Christians would do well to take heed to, as indicated by the apostles (Acts 15:29).

  • If we follow the Lord's commandments to love Him and our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), staying away from idolatry and sexual immorality is not a "burden" anyway (1 John 5:1-3).

25) But hold fast what you have till I come.

  • While most of the letter to Thyatira was a rebuke from the Lord, Jesus did praise the church encouraging them to "hold fast," or work to maintain the positives things they had - their works, love, service, faith and patience (Revelation 2:19).

Promise to overcomers

26) And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • As the Lord is faithful in His promises, we should strive to be faithful and diligent in doing His works, until death, or the rapture (Ephesians 2:10).

  • Those who overcome will receive the promise to reign with Christ over the nations in the Millennium, as "kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6).

27) 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'- as I also have received from My Father

  • The Father bestows power to the Son to rule over the nations with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:7-9).

  • To rule with a rod of iron means that the Lord's rule will be just and punishment will be swift and harsh. Iron symbolizes strength that has the power to destroy (Daniel 2:40).

  • Archeology has shown us that a guild of potters also established a trade in Thyatira.

  • A potter can mold a pot while it is still clay, but when the clay has hardened, the potter has the prerogative to destroy it if not pleased with it (Isaiah 45:9).

  • Those who live in the Millennium will either be molded by the Lord willingly, or be "dashed to pieces," if their hearts are against Him.

28) and I will give him the morning star.

  • The morning star appears during the darkest hour of the night, before the day dawns (2 Peter 1:17-19).

  • Overcomers can have confidence in the promises given by the Lord. They are to watch for Him as they would the morning star in the dark of the night (Psalms 130:6).

  • As the morning star appears in the darkest hour of the night, the Lord will return in the darkest moment of human history, at the end of the Tribulation (Mark 13:24-26).

Call to hear

29) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Summary and Theme

  • Neglect of "first works" leads to sin.

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • The Pagan Church - 606AD to the rapture


* Note: I will continue to add notes to this study guide every
few weeks as I cover the material in the Bible study I teach *


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