Why must we study these 7 letters to the 7 churches?
This is the key question. Each of these letters has a common phrase. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

This phrase occurs seven times in these seven letters. (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, & 3:6,13,22) The letters to the seven churches have a fourfold application:

  1. Local – these were real life local churches. These were not parables or fiction
  2. Applicable to every Church – You can map spiritually the condition of any Church – even the one you belong to
  3. Personal – “He who has an ear” You can take a personal insight from each of these seven letters
  4. Prophetic – These seven letters lay out a history. You can figure out where you are in time.

Each letter follows a particular format which is as follows:

  1. A personal address to the church which the letter was written
  2. Character description of Jesus
  3. Recognition or what they were doing right
  4. Shortfalls or what was wrong with them
  5. Corrective action or what they needed to do right
  6. Challenge
  7. Reward or Promise

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

God before dealing with the world, He will deal with His people – the Church. When the Lord starts dealing with His Church, His Church will start becoming better and better. The bible says, “That He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  (Ephesians 5:27) After this the Lord shall start dealing with the world.

This is one of the reasons why we see the Lord dealing with the Churches so early in the book of Revelation. After Revelation Chapter 4 most of the Church will not be around on the earth. We will go into this in detail later.

The Church of Ephesus
1 “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. 4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 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. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 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 Paradise of God.”’ (Revelation 2:1-7)

I- A personal address to the church
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,….(Revelation 2:1)
Background: Apostle Paul founded this Church and later asked Timothy to be its pastor. This was John’s home Church. He is said to have lived here with the Lord’s mother – Mary. Ephesus was famous for the temple of Diana. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

II- Character description of Jesus
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: (Revelation 2:1)

The Lord is always walking in the midst of the churches, examining everything that is being said or done in them especially by the messengers whom He holds in His hand.
III- Recognition/What were they doing right?
“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; (Revelation 2:2)

God’s Nature v/s Man’s Nature
Notice, how Lord Jesus begins by appreciating the Church first.The Lord always looks for that which is good first and expresses appreciation for that before pointing out what needs to be set right. On the other hand, man always criticizes first and rarely will show appreciation.

One of the signs that God is at work in us is that we will genuinely learn to appreciate the good in others before lovingly pointing out their shortcomings – again not to embarrass them or put them down but with a view to build them.

If only we would follow in the footsteps of the Lord by applying this principle, there would be greater release of God’s power in the church.

The church was commended for seven things

  1. Works
  2. Labor
  3. Patience
  4. Stand against evil
  5. Stand against false apostles
  6. Long suffering
  7. Endurance

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; (Revelation 2:2)

Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians in Acts 20:29-31: For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.  Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

From this commendation of Lord Jesus, we know that the Ephesians took Apostle Paul’s warning seriously. Apostles are primarily responsible for doctrine. They had kept their church pure in doctrine by not allowing false Apostles to deceive them.

“and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. (Revelation 2:3)
Also, the Ephesian church continued doing these things, without becoming weary.  No doubt they must have fought a hard battle against worldliness to keep it from entering the Church. They showed a godly perseverance that we should imitate today.

By all outward appearances, this was a solid church that worked hard, had great outreach, and protected the integrity of the gospel. One would have thought that such had everything that the Lord wanted to find in a Church. But it was not so.

IV- Shortfalls/What was wrong with them?
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (Revelation 2:4)

Notice it says, “left” not “lost”

Also, appreciation and rebuke are both signs of love. What the Lord was saying is, “In the midst of all your zeal and activity, you have lost sight of Me.”

The church at Ephesus had become like a wife who once served her husband with great joy and passion. She used to eagerly wait for her husband to come back from office or business but now – she does love her husband and she still does her tasks that a good wife is supposed to do but there is no passion left. She is just doing it because she has to do it.

God’s works become dead works when love for God is not the motivation.The Biblical standard is “faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

V- Corrective Action/What they needed to do right?
“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. (Revelation 2:5)

The corrective for a cold heart that the Lord prescribed was a three-step process

  1. Remember….from where you have fallen
  2. Repent
  3. Do the first works

Remember
Memory can be a powerful force in effecting a return to a more satisfying relationship. The prodigal son “17 “When he finally came to his senses (when he remembered), he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,” (Luke 15:17-18)

Repent
The simplest definition of repentance is a change of attitude. Usually we church going folk think that the word repent is for outsiders. However, God does not think so. Before we can preach repentance to the world we need to walk in repentance – otherwise we will be found as hypocrites.

Do the first works
Notice the word ‘do’

The “deeds” they used to do probably refers to the activities that fanned the flame of their love. So then to rekindle first love there needs to be a return to first works because there is an intimate relationship between love and good works (1 John 5:2).

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep (do) His commandments. (1 John 5:2)

But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6)
Note the deeds that are hated not the Nicolaitans themselves. God hates sin and not sinners.

Who were the Nicolaitans?
One of the heretical sects that plagued the churches at Ephesus and at Pergamum, and perhaps elsewhere. It was founded by Nicolas the proselyte from Antioch. (Acts 6:5). Irenaeus, an early church father, identifies the Nicolaitans as a Gnostic sect. He wrote that they were without restraint in their indulgence of the flesh and practiced fornication and the eating of foods sacrificed to idols.

Nicolaitans taught that the deeds of the flesh had no effect upon the health of the soul and consequently no relation to salvation which was contrary to what the Bible says. The Bible teaches that Christians are supposed to “die” to sin and the deeds of our “flesh”: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

The word  Nicolaitans in the greek means ‘conquerors of the people’ Consequently Nicolaitanism has come down through history as typifying any system that seeks to dominate rather than serve people.

VI- Challenge
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:7)

VII- Reward/Promise
To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘ (Revelation 2:7)

Adam and Eve missed the privilege to eat from the tree of life. However, the Lord promises this lost privilege to the overcomer. The tree of life is a symbol of the divine life and the divine nature. Essentially what the Lord is saying is, “You can be a partaker of my nature.”

The Church of Smyrna
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: 9 “I 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. 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.”’ (Revelation 2:8-11)

I- A personal address to the church
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,….(Revelation 2:8)
Background: Smyrna, now called Izmir in Turkey is the third largest city in Turkey. Smyrna come from the Greek word “smurna” which in turn is translated from the Hebrew word “myrrh”. ‘Myrrh’ was one of the gifts with the which the Maggi worshipped Lord Jesus.

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

Scripture says that wise men brought gifts to Jesus which were prophetic in nature. The Bible does not refer to them as Kings but as ‘wise men’.

Gold = deity,royalty
Frankincense = priesthood
Myrrh = suffering and death

A very interesting fact, in the second coming of our Lord Jesus, gold and frankincense are offered but no myrrh since His death is behind Him. The following verse makes it clear.

Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,
the camels of Midian and Ephah.
The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense
and will come worshiping the Lord. (Isaiah 60:6)

Myrrh yields a fragrance when it is crushed. If you notice carefully, there is a theme of ‘death’ throughout this letter.

II- Character description of Jesus
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life (Revelation 2:8)
The church in Smyrna went through intense Roman persecution. According to Bible Scholars, it is estimated that nearly 6 million Christians were martyred during this period of time. Some of them were fed to the lions, some were crucified as the Roman Emperors sought out to root out Christianity.
Polycarp was the pastor of the church of Smyrna and a disciple of John the Apostle. Polycarp was arrested, and tried on the charge of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing Christ, he replied: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

At the stake to which he was only tied, but not nailed as usual, as he assured them he should stand immovable, the flames, on their kindling the fagots, encircled his body, like an arch, without touching him; and the executioner, on seeing this, was ordered to pierce him with a sword, when so great a quantity of blood flowed out as extinguished the fire. But his body, at the instigation of the enemies of the Gospel, especially Jews, was ordered to be consumed in the pile, and the request of his friends, who wished to give it Christian burial, rejected. They nevertheless collected his bones and as much of his remains as possible, and caused them to be decently interred.

A Church that is facing opposition and persecution desperately needs to see the Lord as the One who was conquered man’s greatest enemy – death.

III- Recognition/What they were doing right?
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);….(Revelation 2:9)

Evidently their persecutors were cutting off some of their incomes. Notwithstanding their physical poverty, the Christians in Smyrna were rich spiritually. This church was persecuted for their faith. Scripture says that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not…(Revelation 2:9)
Slander is another thing God’s faithful children will have to face. If you notice, this slander was not from outsiders but from those who said ‘they were Jews’. God’s children will not have to worry about the opposition from outsiders but from those who call themselves God’s people.

In the first century the enemies of Christians leveled six slanderous accusations against them:

  1. Cannibalism (because they taught eating the body and blood of Christ)
  2. Lust and immorality
  3. Breaking up homes
  4. Atheism
  5. Political disloyalty
  6. and being Incendiaries (because they taught that the world would be destroyed by fire according to 1 Peter 3:10).

…but are a synagogue of satan. (Revelation 2:9)
One day Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind Me, satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
This sounds harsh as this does not seem to go well with the gentle character of Lord Jesus and besides Jesus was addressing one of his closest disciples.
When Lord Jesus revealed to the disciples that He was going to die on a cross. Peter could not understand it and rebuked Jesus for talking like this. Unknowingly, Peter was speaking for satan. Peter was not setting his mind on the things of God—His ways, His plans, and His purposes. Instead, his mind was set on the things of man, the things of the world and its earthly values. Hence Lord Jesus rebuked Him strongly.

This was the same Jesus who called this group of religious people ‘a synagogue of satan’ Even today, He would exactly use the same strong language to rebuke churches and ministries that have deviated from God’s intended plan and purposes for them.

IV- Shortfalls/What was wrong with them?
Lord Jesus Christ had no rebuke for these saints. Evidently in their trials they had remained pure in belief and behavior.

V- Corrective Action/What they needed to do right?
None

VI- Challenge
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer (Revelation 2:10)
In 1734, Moravian missionaries first set foot on the shores of the American colonies in Georgia.  The following year a group of their co-workers found themselves on board a ship crossing the Atlantic with two young Anglican missionaries’ names John and Charles Wesley. The passage was particularly difficult and at one point it appeared that the ship might go down in a storm. The young John Wesley took special note that the Moravians and their children showed no fear of death during the storm. The following account is taken from Wesley’s journal entry of Sunday, January 25, 1736.

In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans (Moravians) calmly sang on. I asked one of them afterwards, “Were you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied mildly. “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”

This shipboard encounter with the faithful Moravians challenged John Wesley to examine his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fear will always limit you
Fear kept Peter from testifying…..
Fear keeps you from giving to God’s work….
Fear keeps you from attempting great things for God

Fear is one of satan’s master weapons through which he enslaves many from doing and being all that God has called them to be .
Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested… (Revelation 2:10)
Lord Jesus warned His disciples in advance, “2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” (John 16:2-3)

In the middle ages, many Godfearing disciples of Lord Jesus Christ were brutally murdered by so called Christian inquisitionists – all in the name of God.

…..and you will have tribulation ten days. (Revelation 2:10)
In the years AD 100 through AD 313, there were ten Roman emperors  who correspond to the ten days mentioned over here. They launched horrific attacks on the Christians. The Ten days include:

Nero AD 64
Under whose reign Apostle Peter was crucified upside down and Apostle Paul was beheaded

Domitian 90-96
Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during persecution under Domitian was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos.

Trajan AD 104-117
Under whose reign Ignatius was was given to the wild beasts to be devoured

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A.D. 162
Polycarp was martyred

Septimius Severus AD 192
He killed Irenaeus an early church father

Maximinus AD 235
During this persecution, raised by Maximinus, numberless Christians were slain without trial, and
buried indiscriminately in heaps, sometimes fifty or sixty being cast into a pit together, without the least decency.

Decius, AD 249

Valerian, AD 257

Aurelian, A.D. 274

Diocletian
He was the worst of all

VII- Reward/Promise
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
Christian Crowns

Title Reason Reference
An Imperishable Crown For leading a disciplined life 1 Corinthians 9:25
A Crown of Rejoicing For evangelism and discipleship 1 Thessalonians 2:19
A Crown Of Righteousness For loving the Lord’s appearing 2 Timothy 4:8
A Crown of Life For enduring trials James 1:12; Revelation2:10
A crown of Glory For shepherding God’s flock faithfully 1 Peter 5:4

“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.”‘ (Revelation 2:11)

What is the second death?
The second death is mentioned on multiple occasions in the book of Revelation and is synonymous with the lake of fire. It is a separation from God, the Giver of life. It is called the “second” one because it follows physical death.

Revelation 21:8 explains the second death in the most detail: “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Three other places in Revelation also mention the second death. The first is Revelation 2:11: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” In this verse, Jesus promises that Christians (“overcomers”; see 1 John 5:14) will not experience the lake of fire. The second death is exclusively for those who have rejected Christ. It is not a place Christians should fear.

Revelation 20:6 speaks of the second death in relation to a future period called the Millennium: “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

This verse notes three important facts. First, those who die for their faith in Jesus during the Tribulation will later be resurrected to enter the Millennium and live with Him. Second, these martyrs will escape the lake of fire or second death. Third, they will reign with Christ.

The second death is also mentioned in Revelation 20:14-15: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” At the end of time, even death and the grave (Hades) will be thrown into the lake of fire.

In addition, every person not included in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. This condition will be final; the destination is permanent.

The Church in Pergamos
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 dwells. 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. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 “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.”’ (Revelation 2:12-17)

I- A personal address to the church
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write…. (Revelation 2:12)
Background: Pergamos was an extremely religious city.  It had temples to the Greek and Roman gods Dionysus, Athena, Demeter, and Zeus.  It also had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman Emperor.

Pergamos was especially known as a center for the worship of the deity known as Asclepios. Represented by a serpent, Asclepios was the (so called) god of healing and knowledge.  There was a medical school at his temple in Pergamos.  Because of the famous temple to the Roman god of healing, sick and diseased people from all over the Roman Empire flocked to Pergamos for relief. Medical services today still use the serpent as an emblem.

II- Character description of Jesus
….These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: (Revelation 2:12)
In each of the seven letters, the title that Christ picks up is relevant to that Church’ need. He also chooses that title that fits the situation. In this case, the Church was one that had compromised its doctrine.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). This was the sword with which He overcame satan in the wilderness when He was on the earth. (Matthew 4:1-11)

This sword still comes out of His mouth today. This is the weapon that we need for battle against satan as well. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)

III- Recognition/What were they doing right?
I know your works, and where you dwell, where satan’s throne is…..(Revelation 2:13)
Pergamos was a city so evil that the Lord said that satan has his earthly headquarters. It was a stronghold of satan and yet the LORD had placed His church right there in such a place. This is very prophetic in nature and true of  every local Church.

No lampstand complains of how dark the surroundings are. Your surroundings may be evil but with the LORD on your side and the word in your mouth, you can surely overcome. Stars are seen at night and not during the day.

…..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 dwells. (Revelation 2:13)
The Lord commends this Church for holding fast His name even in the midst of severe persecution.

Who was Antipas?
Bible scholars tell us that he was one of the first martyrs in Asia. I am sure Antipas was not a man-pleaser but a God-pleaser. He was killed because He was a threat to the kingdom of satan. God needs Antipas’ in every part of the world today. People who will not compromise and are willing to pay the price.

IV- Shortfalls/What was wrong with 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. (Revelation 2:14)

The Doctrine of Balaam
Who was Balaam? Balaam was hired by a Moabite king called Balak. Balak offered money to Balaam so that he would curse the Israelites. He was unsuccessful in his attempt because the Lord was with Israel, there was no divination that could work against Israel.

Balaam then advised Balak to get some of the most beautiful women in his kingdom to seduce the men of Israel and persuade them to worship idols and other immoral practices. What Balaam was to ancient Israel, the Nicolaitans were to the Church at Pergamos.

This is how satan succeeded at Pergamos. He could not succeed in overcoming the church through persecution so he corrupted the church from within by making to commit spiritual fornication – compromising the word of God.

Even today we see the Church lured into non-Christian religions and beliefs. For ex: Homosexual marriages are accepted today in many Churches. Abortions are encouraged. This is nothing but compromising the word.

Idolatry and immorality were the two sins that God condemned the most throughout the Old Testament. Even today these are the two sins that He condemns the most. According to the New Testament, to be greedy, to worship money or one’s profession or anything earthly is idolatry.
Lord Jesus said, “27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

To compare your wife or husband unfavourably with someone else’s spouse is to “covet your neighbor’s” spouse. This too is immorality

“Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:15)
In Revelation 2:6, Jesus praised the Ephesian Christians because they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans.  But the Nicolaitans also have their doctrine, and some among the Christians held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

What is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans?
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He taught His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, whom He denounced as hypocrites. With them, He classed the chief priests and the temple officials, together with teachers in the synagogues.

He declared that they had so corrupted the truth of God with the doctrines of men (the same sin as the Nicolaitans) that the truth, as originally given, was no longer with them. That which these blind leaders of the blind were teaching as truth was making their converts more the children of hell than they were.

The doctrine of Nicolaitans (as another Bible Scholar) was to create a separate class of people called the ‘Clergy’ and “laity’ The New Testament does not support this separation.

V- Corrective Action/What they needed to do right?
‘Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

Five of the seven churches are commanded to repent.  Repent is a command that also applies to Christians and not only to those who first come to Jesus.

Unless they repent, the Christians of Pergamos will face the Jesus who has the two-edged sword. Judgment will begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

VI- Challenge
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:17)
I believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us right now. We need to be sensitive and listen to what He is saying.

VII- Reward/Promise
To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:17)
In the Old Testament Moses was told to hide some Manna in the most holy Holy place of the tabernacle. Now the Israelites tried to hide the Manna in their tents and it began to stink however the manna that was hidden in the holy place remained fresh throughout the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Hidden Manna is the fresh revelation of God’s word that we will receive in His presence.

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.”‘ (Revelation 2:17)

A white stone and a new name written on it is the spiritual equivalent to an engagement ring on which and expensive precious stone and a name is engraved on it.

In some cultures (even in India), after a wife marries a new name is given to her by her husband. This new name speaks about an intimate relationship with the Lord such as a bride has with her husband. An average Christian who is not radical in his hatred towards sin and worldliness will never understand this level of intimacy. No wonder they are just going through the motions of Christianity. However, the true overcomer has a type of relationship with the Lord as described in the “Song of Solomon”

The Church of Thyatira

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. 20 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. 21And 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. 24 “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. 26 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.” (Revelation 2:18-29)

I- A personal address to the church
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write….. (Revelation 2:18)
Acts 16:14-15 mentions Lydia of Thyatira, who was a seller of purple cloth from the city of Thyatira. “Thyatira was famous for the manufacture of a purple dye, and numerous references are found in secular literature of the period to the trade guilds which manufactured cloth.

Thyatira was an important military city founded by Alexander three hundred years before Christ. Thyatira stood at the junction of three main roads leading to Pergamos, Sardis and Smyrna.

II- Character description of Jesus
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: (Revelation 2:18)

The Lord says here that He has eyes like a flame of fire. He searchers the hidden thoughts and motives of the heart. This also means that He does not judge as men do, who only look at the outward appearance.

Fine bronze speaks of bronze that has been purified in fire. His feet are like fine bronze. Which means that He believes in severe judgement on sin. If there is one clear message that comes down to us from the cross of Calvary is this that God hates sin and will judge it severely wherever it is found.

III- Recognition/What were they doing right?
19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

This Church was commended for five things

  1. Works
  2. Love
  3. Service
  4. Faith
  5. Patience

In many ways, the church at Thyatira was a model church.  They had five great essential qualities.  They had love, both for the Lord and for one another.  They knew service, and had faith and works and patience worth mentioning.

As for your works, the last are more than the first (Revelation 2:19)
This is another compliment to the church at Thyatira.  Their recent works are greater than their former works. This simply means that their works were increasing in measure.

IV- Shortfalls/What was wrong with them?
Nevertheless I have a few things against you,… (Revelation 2:20)
Despite all the good Lord Jesus sees in the church at Thyatira, there are significant problems.  While the quantity of those deeds had increased considerably, their quality had come down. Compromise and worldliness had crept into the Church.

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. (Revelation 2:20)
The name Jezebel had a powerful association.  If we called someone a “Judas” or a “Hitler” it would means something strong.  It’s also a strong thing to call this woman Jezebel.  “She was one of the most evil characters of the Old Testament, who attempted to combine the worship of Israel with the worship of the idol Baal, often practiced immoral acts and controlled her husband Ahab.

Lord Jesus clearly said this would happen in Matthew 24:11: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”  Those words were first spoken with a view of the end times, but there have always been those who call themselves prophets in the church, but are not. On the other, there are also true prophets of the Lord even today.

The Greek word translated as “woman”  here can also be translated as “wife”. This would mean that Jezebel was the wife of the leader of the church in Thyatira. This would certainly have made the situation more difficult for the leader.

If the Church leader of Thyatira would have been a true disciple of the Lord and had learnt to “hate” his wife as Lord Jesus had told his disciples to do in  Luke 14:26 then there would have been no problem at all.

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26)

But he obviously loved his wife more than he loved the Lord and the Church. And so he did not want to offend her. And so he allowed her to have her way in the Church. That was how the church at Thyatira was corrupted. And that is how many Churches are corrupted today.

Jezebel is nothing but the spirit of immorality working in the body of Christ. It is also the spirit of control. The Jezebel doctrine allows compromise in sexual matters under the guise of tolerance or grace.

“And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. (Revelation 2:21)
In these words we see both the mercy and judgment of our Lord.  Time to repent shows mercy.  If God gives us time to repent then we also should deal with others the same way.

And she did not repent speaks of the judgment of God.  God gives time to repent, but it is not an unlimited time.  We cannot take the grace and goodness of God for granted. There is a time when God says, My Spirit shall not strive with man forever (Genesis 6:3).

People who live in sin in the world are not judged so quickly by God.But those who come into the Church and treat sin lightly are dealt with more severely and more quickly.

God’s judgment of Ananias and Sapphira and those who sinned in Church (1 Corinthians 11: 29,30) are examples of the severity of God towards those who take the name of Christ lightly.

V- Corrective Action/What they needed to do right?
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 

The figure of a sickbed is fitting.  They were guilty of adultery, both sexual and spiritual.  It is as if Lord Jesus was saying, “You love an unclean bed.  Here, I will give you one, and cast you into a sickbed.”

I have seen many people go to healing and deliverance services today but very few want to repent of their deeds.

Jesus reveals the purpose for this chastening.  First, it is to draw them to repent of their deeds.  They wouldn’t listen to Jesus before, so He has to speak “louder” through a sickbed.  Second, it is to give an example of holiness to other churches: and all the churches shall know

…I am He who searches the minds and hearts….  (Revelation 2:23)
Lord Jesus says, “I know your every thought and your every feeling.”

 

And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
The Lord goes on to say that he will give to each one according to his deeds. This is in stark contrast to the teaching of false grace in Thyatira that said “Our deeds won’t matter to God  if we just believe.” The Truth is – Our deeds do matter. Our deeds must be in line with the character and nature of God and His word.

God’s word says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; (Romans 8:13)

VI- Challenge
“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. (Revelation 2:24)

Any doctrine of “grace” that takes away the fear of sinning is certainly a false teaching. If a doctrine enables you to take sin lightly and to ask for forgiveness cheaply, without the deep sorrow and vehement hatred for sin  that true repentance brings, then you can be sure that that doctrine is one of the “ deeper truths of Satan”!

Not all in Thyatira had adopted this satanic doctrine. There were some who did not agree with Jezebel or follow her teaching. To these the Lord Says, That He will place no other burden on them.

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)

The anointing within them had told them that something was wrong with these false grace teaching that Jezebel preached ; and they had listened to the anointing.

“But hold fast what you have till I come. (Revelation 2:25)
The LORD is telling to hold on to pure doctrine and not corrupt ourselves

VII- Reward or Promise
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations- (Revelation 2:26)
The Lord promises the overcomer – the who overcome the threat of immorality and idolatry, the reward of authority over the nations in the future.

The expression “He shall rule them” actually means “He shall shepherd them”. The word ‘rule’ here comes from a Greek word (Gr. poimanei) means literally ‘to shepherd.’  Their rule will not be simply that of executing judgment, but also that of administering mercy and direction.”

‘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; (Revelation 2:27)
This quotation from Psalm 2 speaks of the authority of the Messiah when He rules over the earth.  In that day, righteousness will be enforced, and those who rebel against Jesus will be dashed to pieces like a clay pot hit with an iron rod.
The Lord will share that rod of iron (speaks of authority) with the overcomer who would have learnt during his time on earth how to use the rod of authority with wisdom, gentleness and firmness.

“and I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)
Lord Jesus offers them a reward greater than the kingdom.  He offers them the reward of Himself, because He is the Morning Star.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:29)
This is a letter that applies to everyone.

  • It applies to those who are like Jezebel, who lead others into sin.
  • It applies to those who follow the teaching of a Jezebel, and follow others into sin.
  • It applies to those who permit a Jezebel to work her wickedness.
  • It applies to the faithful who must hold fast.
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