Footnotes By Thomas Perez. Copyright On This Chapter; 2014.
II The Message to the Seven Churches
A. Letter to Ephesus
1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith (says) he that holdeth (holds) the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh (walks) in the midst (middle) of the seven golden candlesticks; (Cr 1)
2. I know thy (your) works, and thy (your) labor, and thy (your) patience, and how thou (you) canst (can) not bear them which are evil: and thou (you) hast (have) tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast (have) found them liars: (Cr 2)
3. And hast (have) borne, and hast (have) patience, and for my name’s sake hast (have) labored, and hast (have) not fainted. (Cr 3)
4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee (you), because thou (you) hast (have) left thy (your) first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence (where) thou (you) art (are) fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee (you) quickly, and will remove thy (your) candlestick out of his place, except thou (you) repent. (Cr 5)
6. But this thou (you) hast (have), that thou (you) hatest (hate) the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (says) unto the churches; To him that overcometh (overcomes) will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst (middle) of the paradise of God. (Cr 7)
B. Letter to Smyrna
8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith (says) the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; (Cr 8)
9. I know thy (your) works, and tribulation, and poverty, but thou (you) art (are) rich and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Cr 9)
10. Fear none of those things which thou (you) shalt (shall) suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye (you) may be tried; and ye (you) shall have tribulation ten days: be thou (all of you) faithful unto death, and I will give thee (you) a crown of life. (Cr 10)
11. He that hath (has) an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (says) unto the churches; He that overcometh (overcomes) shall not be hurt of the second death. (Cr 11)
C. Letter to Pergamos
12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith (says) he which hath (has) the sharp sword with two edges; (Cr 12)
13. I know thy (your) works, and where thou (you) dwellest (dwell), even where Satan’s seat is: and thou (you) holdest (hold) fast my name, and hast (have) not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth (dwells).
14. But I have a few things against thee (you), because thou (you) hast (have) there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Cr 14)
15. So hast (have) thou (you) also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee (you) quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Cr 16)
17. He that hath (has) an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (says) unto the churches; To him that overcometh (overcomes) 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 (knows) saving (except) he that receiveth (receives) it. (Cr 17)
D. Letter to Thyatira
18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith (says) the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; (Cr 18)
19. I know thy (your) works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy (your) patience, and thy (your) works; and the last to be more than the first. (Cr 19)
20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee (you), because thou (you) sufferest (suffer – allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth (calls) herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication (spiritual adultery), and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Cr 20)
21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. (Cr 21)
22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth (searches) the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Cr 23)
24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. (Cr 24)
25. But that which ye (you) have already hold fast till I come. (Cr 25)
26. And he that overcometh (overcomes), and keepeth (keeps) my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Cr 26)
27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Cr 27)
28. And I will give him the morning star. (Cr 28)
29. He that hath (has) an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (says) unto the churches.
Cr1. Rev 1:16, 13. Cr2. Psa 1:6, I Jn 4:1, 2 Cor 11:13. Cr3. Gal 6:9. Cr5. Matt 21:41. Cr7. Matt 11:15, Rev 22:2, 14, Gen 2:9, 3:22. Cr8. Rev 1:8, 17-18. Cr9 Lk 12:21, Rom 2:17, Rev 3:9. Cr10. Matt 10:22, 24:13, James 1:12. Cr11. Rev 13:9, 20:6, 14, 21:8. Cr12. Isa 49:2, Rev 1:16, 2:16. Cr14. Num 31:16, Acts 15:29, I Cor 6:13. Cr16. II These 2:8. Cr17. Ex 16:33-34, Rev 3:12. Cr18. Rev 1:14-15. Cr19. Rev 2:2. Cr20. I Kin 16:31, 21:25, Ex 34:15. Cr21. Rev 9:20, 16:9, 11. Cr23. Here 11:20, 17:10. Cr24. II Tim 3:1-9, Acts 15:28. Cr25. Rev 3:11. Cr26. Jn 6:29, Matt 19:28. Cr27. Psa 2:8-9. Cr28. II Pet 1:19.
Vs. 1-7. The church of Ephesus. Ephesus; a literal metropolis located between Jerusalem and Rome, the third largest city of the Roman Empire boasted great temples dedicated to Artemis, called Diana by the Romans. Ephesus is mentioned in Acts 18:19-21, 19:1, 17, 26-28, 20:16-17, 29-30, I Cor 15:32, 16:8, Eph 1:1 (the entire book), I Tim 1:3, II Tim 1:18, 4:12, Rev 1:11. It is in this city that Paul conducted his most successful work about 54-57AD. Their conversion became known throughout Asia. It is believed that Timothy ministered most of his time in Ephesus after Paul’s death. Timothy ultimately suffered persecution and martyrdom under the rule of Domitian. It is also believed by those who support a late composition for Revelation that John, receiving the apocalyptic visions, recorded them during the same persecutions that sent Timothy to his death and exiled John to the island of Patmos. See more on the exile pf John in our “Introduction to Revelation” The term “have left your first love” (Vs. 4) may indicate the false teaching of Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus (1 Tim 1:3, 19-20; 2 Tim 2:17-18), hence causing divisions in the church of Ephesus. Where there is division there is disunity and distrust, which in turn can result in a lack of love for one another. Such a lack of love toward one another also demonstrated a lack of love for Christ Himself. Heresy should be treated as such, but when heresy results in losing precious stones, like a love, a neighbor or a family member, then the focus has shifted from Jesus Christ to loving a “proto-orthodoxcal” approach. When a proto-orthodoxcal approach uses condemnation, as opposed to penal correction, then we have missed and lost out first love. This is truly demonstrated in I Cor 5:1-5, and I Tim 1:20. Blasphemers are admonished to learn, thus the correction, and thus their ultimate reconciliation. While those who claim “orthodoxy” are warned of losing its ‘candlestick” (Vs 5). In Vs 6, the Ephesian church is commended for having a hatred for Nicolaitanism. They are found in Pergamos, Vs 15. A deacon by the name of Nicolas is known to have initiated the heresy as described by Hippolytus of Rome. Early Church fathers; Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret mention the group, often associating them with unrestrained fleshly indulgences and eating things offered to idols. They are often associated with the term “antinomian,” a heresy of Corinth – though this has not been proven of the group except for what we find in historical church documents. Thomas Aquinas believed the group to be filled with polygamists. Ultimately, according to Eusebius, they were short lived. In the “Panoramic” scheme of events, Ephesus is seen as the church representing (circa 30, 33-100AD). Dispensationalists call this period, “The Apostolic Church Age.”
Vs. 8-11. The church at Smyrna. Smyrna, located North of Ephesus receives no condemnation whatsoever. Smyrna is commended for its works, tribulations, and poverty. They are rich in spirit. Their willingness to leave all materialistic worldly goods and/or influences caused them to become rich in Christ. According to early church documents, Smyrna’s Bishop was a pupil of the Apostle John; whose name was Polycarp. At his martyrdom, when offered his freedom, Polycarp is cited as saying, “Eighty and six years have I served Christ and He has done me nothing but good; how then could I curse Him, my Lord and Saviour?” Polycarp was burned alive. Such was the history of this church. The church suffered heavy persecutions under the reigns of Domitian, 95AD (who instituted a short but very violent persecution where thousands were martyred), Trajan 98-117AD (in his reign, Simon, the brother of Jesus – Bishop of Jerusalem was crucified in 107AD, and Ignatius 2nd Bishop to Antioch was thrown to wild beasts in 110AD), Hadrian 117-138AD (in his reign, Telephorus, pastor of the Roman church suffered martyrdom), Antonius Pius 138-161AD (in his reign, Polycarp was martyred), Marcus Aurelius 161-180AD (in his reign, Justin Martyr was martyred), Septimius Severus 193-211AD (in his reign, Origen‘s father, Leonidas was killed), Maximin 235-238AD (in his reign, many Christian leaders were put to death. Origen escaped by hiding), Decius 249-251AD (in his reign, Origen dies of imprisonment and torture in 254AD, Decius conducted cruel tortures in Rome, North Africa, Egypt, and Asia Minor. Cyprian cited “The whole world is devastated”), Valerian 253-260AD (in his reign, many are martyred – among them, Cyprian of Carthage) and Diocletian 284-305AD (for ten years Christians were hunted down, imprisoned, beheaded, thrown to wild beats, or tortured until death in every conceivable way devisable). In the panoramic scheme of events, Smyrna is seen as the church representing (circa 100-312AD). Dispensationalists call this period “The Persecuted Church.” They see the persecutions mentioned as an historical correlation with that of Smyrna.
Vs. 12-17. The church of Pergamos. Pergamos, a city located about 60 miles North of Smyrna. It boasted the greatest library in Asia Minor with over 200,000 volumes, which was later moved to Egypt by Antony and presented to Cleopatra, in what became known as the “Great Library of Alexandria.” Pergamos was a city steep in idolatry. Temples to Zeus, Athena, Apollo, and Asclepias have been discovered there. Some have identified the seat of Satan (Vs 13) as the alter of Zeus found by archaeologists. The church of Pergamos tolerated Nicolaitanism (Vs 15) as opposed to that of Ephesus which didn’t (2:6). The phrase “doctrine of Balaam” comes from the story of Balaam (Num 22:5, 31:15-16, 23:8). As we learn in the story, the “Balaam doctrine” is one that uses the strategy of intermingling. The intermingling of Pergamos is compared to the literal story of the OT where the Israelites were enticed to intermarry the Moabites. In the same way, Pergamos has defiled themselves by allowing the doctrine of Balaam to persist – thus they have married the worldly foreigner. The doctrine is an enticer itself so to speak. It causes spiritual adultery, fornication, and idolatry. It was the job of the physical enticer (Balaam) to stop the advancing Israelites of the OT and the job of the spiritual enticer of the advancing church. In the panoramic scheme of events, Pergamos is seen as the church representing (circa 313-600). Dispensationalists call this period “The Age of Constantine.” If we are to take this view, it would appear that the enticer succeeded in spiritually intoxicating the Holy Church of Pergamos with that of Roman flavor. The first Christian Emperor by the name of Constantine, in his “Edit of Milan/Toleration,” (313AD) gave Christians the freedom to worship as they pleased. Because of persistent pagan adherences of Roman Aristocracy, Constantine gradually moved his capital to Byzantium and called it “Constantinople.” Legend has it that Sylvester I, Bishop of Rome, had close relations with Constantine, and that Constantine handed over the empire to Sylvester – this is based upon a document known as the “Donation of Constantine.” However, scholars reject the document, citing that it is an 8th or 9th century forgery. However, it is believed that this relationship fueled what later became known as the “Gelasian Doctrine of Papal Supremacy,” which is supposedly attributed to Pope Gelasius (492-496AD). Gelasius called for strict orthodoxy and a more assertive push for papal authority. It was papal authority guiding imperial power. By the end of the 4th century, the Christian Church largely became 5 great centers of equal authority. The Bishops were called “Patriarchs.” They included; Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. However, on February 27, 380, Emperor Theodosius (378-395AD) declared Nicene Christianity (the Catholic Church) the official state religion of the Roman Empire before its division into Eastern and Western empires. However, after the division of the Roman Empire (395AD), the Bishops or Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria recognized the leadership of Constantinople, the “New Rome,” “the Byzantium church” – thus began the increasing tensions and struggle for supremacy between Rome and Constantinople. After about 1200 years of rule, the Western Empire fell in 476AD – courtesy from the Barbarians – and thus ushering in the Dark Ages (Middle Ages or Medieval Period) until its diminishment as a whole in the 1500’s. This diminishment is often depicted in correlation to notable events that transpired in history. For some scholars, it is the conquest and fall of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 that ended the Medieval Period. For the English, it is the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. For many, it is the discovery of America in 1492. For the Spaniards, it is the conquest of Granada in 1492, the death of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1504 or the death of King Ferdinand II in 1516. For the religious and Dispensationalist, it is the Protestant Reformation of 1517. For others, it is the Enlightenment. Whatever the case may be, this correlation should only be seen as a starting and ending point in history. It is merely an attempt to identify a period of history.
Vs. 18-29. Thyatira. Thyatira, located West of Turkey in Asia Minor, is commended for their works, charity, service, faith, and patience. But they are rebuked for allowing the false prophetess Jezebel to exercise authority to teach, and by teaching, seduce the servants of God by means of fornication and spiritual idolatry. The story of Jezebel can be found in I Kings 16, 18, 19:1-2, and II Kings 9. Jezebel reigned circa 875-854BC. Jezebel’s detestable accomplishments Include; the establishment of the Phoenician worship of at the court of Ahab, she supported at least 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Astarte, she secured the death of Naboth through deceit, she was often at odds with the prophet Elijah, she deceived many, except for 7000 Israelites who did not bow the knee. Jezebel’s husband, king Ahab (7th king of the Northern tribes of Israel), though considered most evil by Biblical standards (I Kings 16:30) and contemporary Christianity, was really in all actuality a bipartisan – allowing two forms of worship to flourish. Thus, finding common ground between the God of Israel and the god of the Canaanites, “Baal” (Jezebels god). It was a compromise. In the “Panoramic” scheme of events, Thyatira is seen as the church representing (circa 600-1517). Dispensationalists call this period “The Dark Ages.” At first glance one would think that the dark ages, though filled with mysticism and superstition, as a period in history when all things were suppressed, I.e., the reading of God’s Word, enligtenment, and scientific advancement. However, that is not the case. Many claimed (and still do) the period to be “dark” from their perspective. Protestant reformers (16th century), and members of the Enlightenment (18th century) saw the period as such because they saw their own “enlightenment” and “advancement” absent from the earlier period. This is far from the truth. There are many reasons why the dark ages were not as dark as many would have it. During this time; universities were born, scientific foundations were laid, the Carolingian renaissance was established – this included, literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical, and Scriptural studies (8th and 9th centuries). The Byzantine golden age, religious unity, a united Church in Europe, the Canon of Scripture was agreed upon, philosophical traditions developed, the development of algebra, further development in art and architecture, good law, and agricultural advantages all saw a surge in development (howbeit under the watchful eye of the church). If we are to make an allowance for such an interpretation, many good things came out of this period of church history. If indeed there was a darkness, it was in all likelihood a spiritual darkness that engulfed the land and its kingdoms by the simple neglect of the Word of God – locked in Latin (courtesy of St. Jerome 382-405AD). Though the Scriptures were canonized before this period (397AD), it was only provided to the masses by the Popes, parish priests, clergymen, and monks of the day and interpreted as they saw fit in Latin during religious ritualistic ceremonies. But the people did not understand the language. Moreover, the Scriptures were forbidden to be translated or read in the common language. Any clergymen, priest, or monk caught doing so faced harsh penalties which often led to trials, recantations through the means of threatened excommunications and torture, imprisonment, or even death. Thyatira is told to repent of this, but did not (Vs 21-22). Yet there were many who did not have the doctrine of “compromise.” This was found in their speech (Vs 24). This is sometimes seen as a reference to John Wycliffe, John Huss, and other forerunners of the Reformation. Therefore, Thyatira was told to hold fast that which they already had, the name of Jesus Christ. Those who did not bow the knee to Baal was given the “morning star.” Some would acquaint this “morning star” to that of John Wycliffe (the Protestant Reformer who was the first to translate the Scriptures from Latin into the common English tongue – he is called the morning star of the Reformation). However, this is speculative. The term “morning star” in Gk is ἀστέρα – the transliteration is astera. It is a noun – in the accusative singular masculine. Aster as-tare’: a star over the sky, literally or figuratively – star. The citation in Vs 28, “I will give him the morning star” indicates a blessing. The blessing of the morning star is the birth of a new day (II Pet 1:19). Some would acquaint new day with that of the Reformation. More likely, the accusative singular masculine in this instance indicates the singular person of Jesus Christ (The Bright and Morning Star) the judge (the accusative aspect of His ministry and righteous Saviour) – the Word of God made manifest through His Word and made known by the Word even onto other sources – for He is Lord of all, without compromise. There is no compromise when One is Lord over all.