THE SEVEN CHURCHES
Today we are going to take a close look at the 7 churches of
Over half the signs mentioned in this book come from the OT. In fact, out of the 404 verses of this book, 265 of them contain references to the OT. (Smith). While we may come to different conclusions on some of these symbols, one thing we can agree on is that this book was designed to warn the church of the persecution they would face and how they needed to endure by standing fast in the faith because Christ will be victorious in the end.
Parts of Revelation are fairly easy to understand such as
the 2 chapters we will be examining today. The book of Revelation starts out
with John being exiled to the
Revelation 1:10 I was
in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a
trumpet,† 11 saying, "I
am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you
see, write in a book 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."
As you can see on our map,
these were actual congregations that existed during Johnís time. The reason
this is important is because there are some religious groups who teach that the
7 churches represent seven ages of the church. They teach that:
While this is an interesting
view, it simply does not match up. For instance, the
As we examine these 7
churches we will see that they represent different problems that any church
could have and they serve as examples of what qualities Jesus wants His
churches to have. These letters are designed to encourage and point out the
things that needed to be taken care of in these churches. One of the recurring
themes we will see is that Jesus knows what is going on in His churches and
Rev. 2:1 teaches us that He continues to walk in the midst of His churches.
So, Jesus is not sitting
back in His easy chair waiting until the end of time, He is actively involved
with His people and He knows the spiritual condition of each congregation that
makes up His body. As we examine what Jesus said about the 7 churches, it will
help us to examine our own congregation and it will give us the tools we need
to grow stronger for our Lord.
The main purpose of these
letters was to help prepare these 7 churches for future persecution and give
them hope of eternal victory in the end if they take heed and stand fast in the
The first church addressed
by Jesus is the
1. It was a favorable seaport so it made an ideal place for trade.
2. Even though Pergamos was the capital of Asia,
3. It had an impressive theater that would hold around 25,000 people. There was a road that was little over 100 feet wide that ran from the harbor to the theater that had rows of columns on both sides. Behind these columns were baths, gymnasiums, and impressive buildings.
Paul visited Ephesus briefly on his second missionary
journey in Acts 18 and on his 3rd missionary journey in Acts 19, he
stayed there for almost 3 years in which he taught for 2 years at the school of
Tyrannus and Acts 19:10 says, ďall who dwelt
in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.Ē Aquila
and Priscilla †were there with him †Since Paul
had such a great influence over the people it started worrying the silversmiths
because they were afraid their business would slow down, so they caused a riot that
gathered in that great theater.
Apollos, the great speaker, worked in
"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ' These things says He who
holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven
golden lampstands:† 2
"I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear
those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are
not, and have found them liars;† 3
"and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's
sake and have not become weary.†
The word angel simply
means messenger, and I believe this is talking about an earthly messenger, but
who the messenger is, we do not know. Chapter 1 lets us know that Jesus is the
one who holds the seven stars, which represents the 7 messengers of the church.
Jesus has all authority over heaven and earth and no can take that power from
Him, and He is depicted as walking in midst of the seven golden lampstands,
which represents the 7 churches.
A lampstand is a fitting
symbol since it is supposed to be on fire and giving light to those around it.
This is same thing a church should be doing. It should always be on fire for
the Lord and providing the light of truth to a dark world. As Jesus continues
to walk in the midst of these churches, He is about to let them know their
weakness and their strengths and many of the weakness and strengths can be seen
in the various churches today.
In verse 2 and 3, Jesus
commends this church for what they have done. When it says, I know your works,
the word know means that Jesus has perfect knowledge of what they have been
doing. We need to understand as a church that nothing goes unseen by God
Hebrews 4:13 †there is no creature hidden from His sight,
but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must
At Ephesus, these were
not Christians who sat around with the hands in their pockets no they labored
for the Lord, which from Greek means they worked themselves toward weariness.
As the labored, they exercised great patience. Patience is hard thing to come
by for some, but if you are going to be an effective servant for the Lord, you
have to learn to develop patience, especially when it comes to leading people
While they were patient,
they did not tolerate the false way, and they tested those that came around
calling themselves apostles by comparing what they were teaching to the Word of
God. Paul had warned this church to watch out false teachers in:
"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the
Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the
Based on Jesus commendation, we can see that the Elders of Ephesus had listened to Paulís warning and tested all things. This is the same attitude that the church should have today. We should never take a preachers or any one elseís word as being the Gospel. Instead, we should test what they say with what Godís Word says. If they are found to be teaching something false, then it needs to be dealt with and not ignored as some like to do.
Now that Jesus has commended them, He is going to tell them what their weakness is.
4 "Nevertheless I have this against
you, that you have left your first love.
Many scholars clash on
what this first love was because some think it was a love for the brethren,
while others think it refers to their love for God. But, it really doesnít
matter which one it refers to because both are necessary to be pleasing to God.
But if I was forced to choose, I would say it refers to their love for God
because that is every Christians first love, and without that love they
wouldnít even begin to have love for the brethren. The love mentioned here
comes from the Greek word agape, which means an unselfish committed love.
While these brethren were
defending Godís truth and doing many works in His name, somewhere along the
line they lost their love and they were being motivated by something else. We
must understand that going through the motions and doing everything right is
not worth a hill of beans unless we are motivated by love. As Paul said,
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though
I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become
sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.† 2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and
all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.† 3
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my
body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.†
Next, Jesus warns them,
5 "Remember therefore from where
you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you
quickly and remove your lampstand from its place -- unless you repent.
Jesus tells them how they
can remedy their situation and get back to their first love.
First, they must remember
how they used to be motivated by love for God or by love for their brethren.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to get in a bad habit and we donít treat others
like we should and we forget why we became a Christian. So, from time to time,
we should all take time out to reflect on why we became a Christian and why we choose
to good works in the name of God. When we do this it will help us to relight
our love for God and for others.
Second, they were to
repent that is to change their way of thinking and get back on track.
Third, they were to get
busy doing the first works that is doing their works motivated by love. One the
best ways that you and I can show that we have returned to back our first love
is by doing works of repentance because our actions prove our commitment to
If any church is
unwilling repent of this sin, then Jesus will remove its lampstand. In other
words, it will no longer be considered a
6 "But this you have, that you
hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Once again, Jesus
commends them for standing against evil deeds. Later, Jesus puts the doctrine
of Nicolaitans on same level as the doctrine of Balaam. It is believed that the
Nicolaitans were some of the first Gnostics who practiced immorality and
encouraged others to do the same. As a
7 "He who has an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to
eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the
Jesus is letting the
church know that every individual Christian must hear this lesson and the
lessons that are learned from His other letters to the churches. Every
Christians that overcomes their sins by remaining faithful to God will get to
eat from the tree of life that is found in heaven.
The second church that is
addressed by Jesus is
Revelation 2:8 "
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ' These things says the First
and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
Again this letter is
written to the earthly messenger of the church, and Jesus lets them know that
it is from Him because He is the First and the Last who died and was raised
from the dead. The reason it was important for them to know that Jesus is Deity
and that He has power over death was because they were going through great
persecution as we will see in just a minute. Anytime that you are under great
distress, it is comforting to know that God is in control and even if you die
physically, you will still live forever with Him.
know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the
blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a
synagogue of Satan.†
Jesus knows their works
and how they had been enduring extreme tribulation, and to top it off, they
were in deep poverty to the point where they were destitute and beggars. Even
though they were being physically challenged in this way Jesus said they are
rich. No, not with physical wealth or things; they were rich spiritual because
they were in Christ and they had all the spiritual blessing that are found in
Christ. As Paul said,
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your
sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
No matter how poor we
become, we will always be rich when we live our lives for God and we need to
remind ourselves that this life is temporary and no matter what may happen to
us, it cannot compare to the riches we will receive in heaven. As Paul said in,
Romans 8:18 †For I consider that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us.
I also like what he said
1 Timothy 6:6 Now
godliness with contentment is great gain.†
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is
certain we can carry nothing out.† 8
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Jesus knows all about the
opposing Jews who were blaspheming the name of Jesus. These Jews† we causing these Christians to be persecuted
and they were probably using the Romans to deal out this punishment. Jesus
calls these Jewís meeting place a synagogue of Satan because of they were being
adversary to the Lordís church.
Next, Jesus exhorts them
and warns them of more persecution.
10 "Do not fear any of those
things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some
of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation
ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.† 11 "He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be
hurt by the second death." '
This church had already
been through the ringer, but they would have to dig down deep and keep their
faith in God. Jesus lets them know that they are going to be thrown into
prison, which would test them. Some Christians are under the false impression
that being a Christian is going to make them have a perfect life with little or
no hardships, but that simply is not true. Sometimes persecution can become
part of your life because of what you stand for, but just like these Christians
When Jesus said they
would suffer tribulation for 10 days, this is not referring to 10 literal days,
but is symbolic. The number 10 represents completeness, fullness, or power.
Jesus tells them to be faithful until death. Sometimes it is easier to give up
than to be faithful when things are not going our way, but if we must put our
full trust in God and believe His promise that if we remain faithful that we
will receive that crown of life, which is talking about eternal life with.
Again, Jesus wants the
churches to know that this royal crown is available to every Christian who will
hear these words and live by them. When we overcome sin and endure, we cannot
be hurt by the second death, which is eternal separation from God. As John
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he
shall be My son.† 8 "But
the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers,
idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with
fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Even though Jesus does not point out any weaknessrs of this church, it does not mean that they were perfect, but overall, they were very strong in the faith.
The third church addressed by Jesus is the church at Pergamos.
Pergamos was the Roman capital of
†It was considered a stronghold for the Roman government and it was a place that enforced emperor worship. Not only were there multiple temples set up to worship the emperors, there were temples for Zeus and Athena. There was also a large group of Jews in this area and the Nicolaitans were practicing their doctrine there as well.
Now letís look at what Jesus said about the
Revelation 2:12 "
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ' These things says He who
has the sharp two-edged sword:† 13 "I
know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you
hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which
Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan
Jesus is identified as
having the sharp two-edged sword, and in chapter one, this sword is pictured as
coming out of his mouth. Since the Word of God is referred to as sword (Eph.
6:17; Heb. 4:12), this is referring to the Word of God. Notice the sword has
two sides. On one side it can save by cutting the heart with the truth, and on
the other side it can judge and destroy someone by committing their soul to
hell for eternity if they do not obey the Word.
Again Jesus knows exactly
what this church has been doing and how they have not denied the name of Christ
even though they are at Satanís thrown. I just finished telling you how his
city was full of pagan worship so what better way to describe this place than
Satanís thrown, and this term would include those opposing Jews because
remember Jesus called the opposing Jews gathering place in Smyrna a synagogue
Very few martyrs are
named in the Bible, but Antipas is named here. We no nothing of this man other
than what Jesus said about him. Even though this man was killed for being a
Christian, the church remained strong, and this is the same attitude we must
have today. Even if something bad happens to one of our faithful brethren
because of death or because they get led away by worldly ways, we should remain
strong in the faith. Now that Jesus has commended them, He will now point out
what He has against them.
"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.† 15 "Thus you
also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
While this church was doing good as a whole of keeping the false way out, some of its members were practicing the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolatians. Now some believe these two doctrines may be the same doctrine called by two different names. In either case, these doctrines were wrong and they should not be tolerated. For a fuller explanation of Balaamís story read Numbers 22-25.
In those chapters you will see that Balak bribes Balaam to
cures the children of
So this church at Pergamos was turning a blind eye to those who were engaging in sexual immorality and participating in idol worship involving the eating of sacrificed animals. Jesus wanted them to understand that they cannot allow those members practicing this sin to go undisciplined. He tells them what they need to do in,
Revelation 2:16 'Repent,
or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword
of My mouth. †
Jesus gets straight to the point, repent or else. This was a sin that needed to be dwelt with. If they did not, He would come to them quickly and fight against the Christians involved in this sin with the sword of His mouth. Jesus was not referring to a physical fight, but that He would send someone to come preach to them the Word of God to make them see the error of their ways.
This is same weapon that we must yield when it comes to correcting those that are living in sin. We canít just say their wrong we must show them how they are wrong from the Word of God and if they listen and are convicted of their sin great. If they donít listen,† will be judged by the Word of God. Finally, Jesus says,
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To
him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give
him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows
except him who receives it." '
As all these letters were read in the 7 churches, Jesus wants each Christian to take heed to what He writes, and if these shortcomings apply to them, He wants them to make the necessary changes in their life.
Jesus encourages them to overcome their faults, and He promises
to give them some of the hidden manna. This is most like referring to the manna
that fell from heaven and sustained the children of
Now there are a lot of
different ideas on what this white stone is and what the new name is. I donít
have time to explore all of them, but know this. White is associated with
purity and righteousness and the new name from the Greek does not have to mean
a new name that has never been heard, but it can mean one that is known by the
recipient. So, it is possible this new name is Christian or it could be a name
that we will not know until we get to heaven. But whatís important is the
overall idea that you will be in heaven with God if you overcome.
This morning we began looking at the 7 churches of
The fourth church addressed by Jesus is Thyatira.
Thyatira was not as impressive as the other 3 cities we have
looked at so far. It was viewed as a resting place for those who were traveling
back and forth from Pergamos and
The main problem with these trade guilds was that each one of them had their own deity, and they engaged in eating sacrificed animals to their God, and in some cases sexual immorality. So, Christians would have hard time separating themselves from these guilds because they would be out work and they would be ostracized, but if they wanted to be faithful to God, they would have to. This is no different today because some jobs require you to promote or be involved in sinful things, and if a person in a job like this becomes a Christian, he needs to find a new job. Many in this city also worshipped the sun God Apollo.
Even though Thyatira is not mentioned much by 1st century writers, Jesus says more to this church than all the others. So, letís begin looking at His instructions to this church.
Revelation 2:18 "
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ' These things says the Son
of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:† 19 "I know your works,
love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last
are more than the first.
As usual, Jesus identifies Himself and this is the only time in the book of Revelation that we will see the phrase Son of God. If there was any doubt of who this message was coming from, it should now be clear that Jesus is the source. This imagery that Jesus used to describe himself is appropriate for a city that built and sold things. However, others believe that Jesus may have called Himself the Son of God and used this description of Himself to show that He is superior to the false sun god Apollo.
Jesus commends this church in verse 19. Over all, this
church stood out as a faithful church. They were actively serving God and they
were known for their love. This is the only church that Jesus commends their
love. Every church needs to have love at its core because without it, we can
end up like the church at
This church had great faith and trust in God and they were patient. When Jesus said, ďas for your works, the last are more than the first. He was saying that this was a growing church that was doing more now than when they started. Again, this is a great example for all churches of Christ to follow. We should always be growing and doing more for the Lord as we can, because a growing church is a healthy church. Even though this church was growing, it still has some room for improvement as we read in,
"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that
woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants
to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.† 21 "And I gave her time to
repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.† 22 "Indeed I will cast her
into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation,
unless they repent of their deeds.† 23
"I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that
I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you
according to your works.
Now whether this womanís name was actual Jezebel or was a name given to her after the notorious evil Jezebel of the O.T., we do not know, but we do know that she called herself a prophetess and she taught and seduced Christians in that church to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols, and the church tolerated it.
Please notice that Jesus did not call her a prophetess, but she claimed to be one. Apparently, she was appealing to those Christians who belonged to these trade guilds and she was telling them things like, God has said its ok for you to remain in those guilds and to participate in their rituals so you can put food on the table. Some were buying into this lie because when our back is up against the wall and we want to find a way to live our lifestyle and still be accepted by God, we are willing to believe false teachers to put our minds at ease. When we do this, we are allowing ourselves to have a false comfort because God will not be pleased with what we are doing. So, we need to be careful that we donít sell our souls to the devil, by compromising Godís truth by believing a lie.
We can see how patient Jesus is because He gave this woman time to repent, but she would not. If she and her converts donít repent, then Jesus said He was going to throw her into a bed of suffering along with all those who had joined with her and they would suffer great tribulation, unless they repented of their deeds.
When Jesus says he will kill her children to death, He is talking about all those that have been conceived through her false doctrine. Like Ananias and Sapphire in Acts 5 served as an example to the churches that God will not tolerate lying to the Holy Spirit, these Christiansí death would set example among the churches that God will not tolerate the sin of Jezebelís doctrine and that the churches need to discipline those involved in this sin and withdraw from them if they will not repent. When Jesus put to death these offspring of her doctrine, the churches would know that Jesus does indeed searches the hearts and minds of men and that we will receive our rewards or our punishments based on our deeds.
"Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have
this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put
on you no other burden.† 25
"But hold fast what you have till I come. †††††
Some in this congregation had not believed in this doctrine of Jezebel, and they had not allowed themselves to be engaged or influenced by it. Since they had not engaged in these sins, they had not known the depths of Satan. While Jezebel was teaching her followers that she had a deeper message for them to learn from God, Jesus exposes her teaching as being the deeper things of the devil instead.
Very similar to the response given to the Gentiles in Acts 15, Jesus will not put any more burden on these faithful men and women, but He does want them to hold fast to there faithfulness until the end.
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will
give power over the nations --† 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;† 28 "and I will give him the
morning star.† 29 "He who
has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' †
Those who teach the rapture theory take this to mean that Christians will rule over the nations of the earth for a 1000 years when Jesus comes back again to establish His earthly kingdom, but this is not true because Jesus has already established His kingdom and is reigning over it right now and the Scriptures do not teach anything about a future earthly kingdom. Instead, we are told when Jesus comes back, we will meet Him in the air and we will go to the place He has prepared for us in heaven (1 Thes. 4:17; Jn. 14:1ff).
What Jesus is describing is the power of Godís spiritual kingdom and if we overcome and remain faithful, we share in His rule. As Paul said:
Romans 5:17 For if
by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who
receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life
through the One, Jesus Christ.)
2 Timothy 2:12 †If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.
said this is the same privilege that He received from His Father and He will
give those who overcome the morning star, and in Rev. 22:16 Jesus says He is
the bright and morning star. This is wonderful gift to look forward to for all
eternity if we remain faithful to the end. This letter and the remaining 3 will
conclude with Jesus saying, ďHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
says to the churches."
The fifth church Jesus
addresses is the
Great names of ancient history were associated with the place,
such as Croesus, Cyrus, and Alexander the Great. Gold was mined there and money
was first minted there. A earthquake destroyed the city in A.D. 17. and it was
rebuilt Tiberius Caesar, but it was never restored back to it former glory.
They worshipped Cybele the goddess in which immorality was encouraged. The
letter to this church has no commendations from Jesus, the only other letter
like this was written to the church at
Revelation 3:1 "And
to the angel of the church in
Jesus identifies Himself
from what was written in chapter one. He has the seven Spirits of God found
Rev. 1:4, which is referring to the Holy Spirit and from Rev. 1:20 He has the
seven stars, which are the angels or messengers of the church. This shows that
Jesus is in control and has all authority.
We need to keep in mind
that all 7 of these letters would be read in all 7 of these churches. If you
put yourself in the shoes of this church, imagine how you would feel after you
heard the first 4 letters read that all had commendations in them and then it
came to your letter and you hear, I know
your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.†
This had to a devastating
blow to this church. They had been busy for the Lord in the past, but they had
become lax in their service. Noting in this letter indicates that they were
under any kind of oppression or persecution and maybe this had led to them
becoming spiritual dead.
In verse 2, Jesus teaches
them to continually be watchful and strengthen those few works that still
remained that were about to vanish away. This indicates that they allowed their
few good works they were still doing to remain undone.
This can certainly happen
to churches today because it easy to lose site of God when we live in a country
that is flourishing and we can take care of most of our own problems. While it
is comforting to have the blessings that we enjoy, if we are not careful, we
can find ourselves becoming independent of God and lax in our service toward
Him just like the Children of Israel did in the O.T. When things were going
good, they moved away from God and entered into sin. When things were going
bad, they focused on God and strove for righteousness. Next Jesus warns this
Revelation 3:3 "Remember
therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if
you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what
hour I will come upon you. †
Every Christian in every
church should take time to remember what they have received through Jesus and
to remember the Word of God, and we must †hold fast to that foundation because it is key
in remaining faithful and for producing Godly sorrow which leads to repentance.
Jesus tells this church
if they do not repent of their spiritual deadness that He will come upon on
them like a thief in the night. This same language is used to describe Jesusí
second coming, but here is it used in a limited sense of judgment. Now what
kind of judgment is not specified, but this warning should be enough to get
them to wake up, repent and get busy for the Lord.
"You have a few names even in
Even when a church has
become spiritual dead as a whole, you can usual find a few Christians that have
remained spiritual alive. These faithful few at
Those faithful few will
be walking with Jesus in white because of their faithfulness. Even though none
of us are worthy of this honor, Jesus has made us worthy, but only if we are
obedient to His will. This promise is given to all Christians who overcome and
remain steadfast in their faith. When we do not defile our gaments, our name
will not be removed from the Book of Life and Jesus will confess our name
before the Father. This is important because if your name is not in that book,
Jesus will deny you before the Father, and you will not make it into heaven.
Once again, verse 6 makes it clear that this promise is to every Christian in
The sixth church
addressed by Jesus is the church at
Even though the church in
this city was surrounded by all these temples and false Godís, they were a
strong faithful church because as we will see nothing negative is said about
Revelation 3:7 "
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ' These things says He
who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens
and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens":
Jesus identifies Himself
in 3 ways. First, He is the Holy one, which was a term used described God. Second
He is true. In a city filled with false Godís Jesus is the real thing, hence He
is the true God. Third, He has the key of David. To have the key denotes His
authority to accept or deny entrance into His kingdom. It also implies Jesusí
lineage through David and that He is sitting on Davidís thrown. Whatever Jesus
opens, no one can shut and what He shuts no one can open, not even the devil
himself. Next, is Jesusí commendation.
Revelation 3:8 "I
know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut
it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My
name.† 9 "Indeed I will
make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not,
but lie -- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to
know that I have loved you.† 10
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from
the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who
dwell on the earth.† 11
"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may
take your crown.
Jesus has perfect
knowledge of the works of this church and He used the key of David to open a
door for them that no one could close. This is referring to an open door of
evangelism. Jesus would make it possible for them to continue to preach the
Good News to their city and beyond.
Even though this church
was small in number, they had kept Godís Word and had never denied the name of
Jesus even though they were surrounded by false Godís. Since there was so many
false gods to worship, they had their work cut of for them, but with Godís help
they could press on. This teaches us that a church does not have to be a mega
church to accomplish great things for God. Even the small churches that are
committed to serving God can make a big impact in Godís kingdom.
In verse 9, Jesus calls
these opposing Jews who do not believe Him false Jews and that there gathering
place is the synagogue of Satan, which the same thing He said about them in His
letter to Smyrna. While these Jews may have been Jews physically, they were not
spiritual. As Paul explains in,
Romans 2:28 For he
is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which
is outward in the flesh;† 29
but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of
the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from
men but from God.†
When Jesus said He would
make these Jews worship at their feet, He does not mean worship in the sense
one worships God, but that they would show reverence to them. There are a couple
of possibilities of how this would happen. Some of the Jews may have finally
believed due to the open door Jesus created, and they would recognize that they
were wrong all this time and show reverence to those that converted them. Or
some event would occur that would make these Jews realize that Christians are
Godís special people.
In verse 10, Jesus
comforts the church by letting them know that He would be with them to help
them through the upcoming trials that would test the world, since they had kept
His Word. These Christians had already been enduring persecutions from the
Jews, but more persecutions would come that would test the world.
When Jesus said He would
keep them from these trials, it does not mean that they would be uninfected by
it, but that He would help them through it. Every faithful Christian can take
comfort in these Words because Jesus is with us as well. Even when difficult
times come our way, we can know that we can endure and make it through the trials
of this life because we can draw strength through Christ.
When Jesus says He is
going to come quickly, He is talking about His judgment and not His second
coming. Even when this trial did happen, Jesus encourages them to hold fast to
their faith, so they can stand victorious in the end. Now notice the promise
Jesus makes in,
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and
he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the
name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven
from My God. And I will write on him My new name.† 13 "He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '
This should be comforting
to all Christians because a pillar is designed to be a permanent structure,
which indicates that when we remain faithful, we will become a permanent part
of the glorified church in heaven. Not only will we be in heaven, Jesus will
write on us the name of God and the name of the city of
Jesus wants the church at
The seventh church
addressed by Jesus is the church at
One thing they were
famous for was their clothing they made from black wool, which made them a
clothing and fashion center. History also teaches us that a medical school
located just outside the city created an eye medicine to treat diseased eyes
called ďPhrygian powderĒ that was sought after by the ancient world, and it was
distributed by this wealthy city as well. This city had a heavy population of
Jews and the Caesars were worshipped their as well.
This letter sent to this
church is unique because Jesus does not commend the church nor does He mention
their being a faithful few. So, letís begin examining this final letter.
Revelation 3:14 "
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ' These things says the
Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
As usual Jesus message is
given to the angel of the church and Jesus indentifies Himself in 3 ways.
First, He is the amen, which comes from Hebrew word that means firm and
steadfast and sometimes this word is translated as truth in the O.T. (Isa.
65:16). This is certainly a great description of Jesus.
Second, He calls Himself
the Faithful and True Witness. No other person could make this claim except
Jesus. Only He was perfect and only He could be a true witness for God because
He was from God, and only truth was found in Him. John 14:6 Jesus said Ö "I am the way, the truth,
and the life.
Third, Jesus said He was
the Beginning of the creation of God. Now some religious groups like the
Jehovah Witnesses think this means that Jesus was created by God, but we know
that is not true because John made it clear in his Gospel that Jesus has always
existed because He is the I AM (Jn. 8:58). So, Jesus is saying that He is the
source and origin of creation. The Father made the plan, but Jesus was
responsible for all things being created as Paul says,
Colossians 1:16 For by
Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All
things were created through Him and for Him.
Revelation 3:15 "I
know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold
or hot.† 16 "So then,
because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My
mouth.† 17 "Because you
say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not
know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked --
This church was one of
the wealthiest churches in existence at that time and these Christians could of
have been making great use of their wealth to further Godís kingdom, but they
had allowed themselves to become half-hearted. They were not on fire for the
Lord, but they were not completely lifeless for the Lord either. Now it is easy
to understand why Jesus would want them to be hot for the Lord, but it is more
difficult to understand why He would want them to be cold. Perhaps the reason
for this was because those that are cold for the Lord are not really going to do
much harm to Lordís church, but those that are lukewarm will because while they
may hold to some of the principles in Godís Word, but they are not committed,
and when you are trying to lead people to Christ and teach them that they must
change, its not going to happen when they see that you are not behaving any
better than they are. When a church becomes lukewarm they will never finish
projects they start, instead they will only talk about them.
When a church becomes
this way it makes Jesus sick to the point that He wants spew or vomit them out
of His mouth. Every church of the Lord needs to keep themselves in check
because it easy to become complacent and lazy and before they know it a church
can find itself drifting away from God.
Even though they had
everything that money could buy Jesus said they were wretched, miserable, poor,
blind, and naked. No not physically, but spiritually. This same attitude has
been downfall of some of the churches today. They have allowed themselves to
get to comfortable with the freedoms we have in this nation and our ability to
take care of many of our own problems. When we stop depending on God in our
everyday lives, this is when we become lukewarm and we donít really care if
false doctrine sneaks into the church. So, we have to pay attention and not
allow our independence to cause us to become lukewarm. Next Jesus gives the
remedy to this problem.
Revelation 3:18 "I
counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and
white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your
nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you
may see.† 19 "As many as
I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.†
Even though this church
was in bad shape, Jesus loved them and He gave them some great advice they
better listen to if they want renew their relationship with God.
First, He wants them to
buy refined gold from Him. In other Words, He wants them to have the true
riches that only come from Christ. As Jesus said,
Matthew 6:19 "
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal;† 20
"but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.† 21 "For where your treasure
is, there your heart will be also.
Second, He wants them to
trade in their fashionable black garments with white garments so that they can
cover up their spiritual nakedness.
Third, instead of using
the salve their city sells, they need to use some spiritual salve that will
open their eyes to how they are living their lives so they can see the changes
they need to make to be reconciled to God.
Again, Jesus† rebuked them because He loves them, and He
wants them to repent. Jesus does not want His churches to fail, He wants them to
succeed. Even if they get of track, He would rather they repent and start doing
good than to get further off track.
20 "Behold, I stand at the door
and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him
and dine with him, and he with Me.
This teaches us two
things. First, it shows that this church had shut Jesus out of their lives and
they were in desperate need to repent. Second, it shows how Jesus is always
there for us waiting for us to invite Him back into our lives. He is not just
waiting silently, no, He is knocking at the door, trying to get you attention
so He can come in and dine with you.
While this statement
would have been devastating to this church to know that they had shut the door
on Christ, it would have also been comforting to know that He still wanted to
be part of their lives if they were willing. Finally Jesus says,
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also
overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.† 22 "He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' "†
What a comforting promise
for those who remain faithful. We will get to sit with Christ and enjoy all the
benefits of heaven, which is a promise to every faithful Christian.
As you can see, these 7
churches have taught us what kind of church Jesus wants us to be and what
things we should avoid. As we come to the conclusion of our study of these 7
churches, I would close by summarizing the characteristics we have learned that
Jesus wants His church to have.
He wants churches that:
(This summary was adapted
from Wayne Jackson book on Revelation p.37).