BIBLE STUDY: PART 5
V. 1- This verse begins the first of the didactic epistles to the churches. Didactic means a letter that teaches a moral truth. These epistles, or letters, are written to the angels of the church. We found out last time that the angels are the ministers, or pastors in each of the seven churches, or types of churches, which will be addressed. God gives ministers the duty of developing the proper church foundation from which its people can grow. If the pastors is lax in her or his duties, the church suffers.
The word Ephesus means “desirable.” Ephesus was a Roman city in the province of Asia near the mouth of the Caster River. Having an artificial harbor that could accept the largest ships, and having highways to all the chief cities in the province, Ephesus was easy to reach by land or sea. This made it a prime target for missionaries. Paul took advantage of this and went there to build a church for the Lord. He worked two years to make sure it was established, and that the people of that area heard the Word. And they did hear it and understand it before he left.
Who did we say the person is who is holding the seven stars in His right hand? Jesus. It’s also Jesus who walks among the lampstands. It is widely believed that Jesus used these seven churches because they represent the church age from the beginning till His return. Ephesus is addressed first because she is considered to be the apostolic church, or the beginning of the church age as begun by the Apostle Paul himself.
Ephesus was also the place where the temple of the Greek goddess Artemis was, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Young girls were sent to worship and serve in this temple for one year.
V. 2, 3- Jesus acknowledged that He “saw” the works the ministers were doing. They were preaching, teaching, studying and administering the sacerdotal functions in the church. They also took church discipline seriously. And they were not fooled by false prophets. They remembered the words of John in I John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” and called those claiming to be apostles liars. God took notice of the works they were doing. Psalm 1:6 says, “For the Lord knows the ways of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” He gives credit for the good works. But, as with any minister, they faced opposition from satan and from the people around them. Jesus commended their patience, and their perseverance in working for Him even while they were persecuted and opposed, and for not becoming weary of doing good. (Galatians 6:9). What is the result of not growing weary and giving up? They reaped a good harvest. What kind of harvest? Both earthly and spiritual harvests, or rewards, came to them.
V. 4- Remember Romans 8: 1, 2. Let’s read those two verses. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” God does not condemn His own. That is, those who are saved in Christ. He does, however, correct them and point out their shortcomings. So- in spite of the good works the ministers were doing, what did God want Jesus to tell them through John about their ministry? Basically they had left their first love for the Lord. The ministers in that church were so busy doing the works that they lost sight of the importance of the love that would lead them to honor God and give Him glory. What they were doing wasn’t bad, it just was incomplete. We have churches like that now who are so filled up with programs that they don’t take care of worshipping God or taking care of the individual.
When John started the church the people were in love with God, and loved and served each other. They were of one mind, and all they had they shared. Apparently they left that basic principle along the way in their hard work. Some of the fire in that church was lost because of harsh persecution, because of the false teachers giving them ideas, and because of their desire for the worldly things, as with Demas. (Demas was a friend of Paul who travelled with him for missionary work, yet got caught up in the world and left Paul. [II Timothy 4:9, 10]) Ephesus is the church of which Paul said, “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers”(Ephesians 1:15, 16).
V. 5- Jesus reminds them to remember from where they have fallen. They were on top of the ministry. They were one of the greatest churches in that time. Yet, they were now heading downhill fast. What they were falling into is sin. I said earlier that God does not condemn His own, but He does correct and convict. That’s what’s going on here. When church leadership falls into sin, and allows sin to go unchallenged within the congregation, they begin to lose their Spirit power. Now they could no longer perform the miracles for which they once were known. All the works they were now doing were out of routine. Baptisms, the taking of the Lord’s Supper, and whatever other functions they performed were by habit, not from love for their fellow believers, or out of their love for God. They needed to reestablish their zeal, and reheat their love. The way to get back into right standing with God is what we see throughout the Bible: Repentance. To repent is to change your mind about what you are doing, and to begin doing things in a different way. They had to make up their minds to give up their works only ministry, and bring the love of God back into things. Jesus wanted those at Ephesus to repent, turn from their sinful shortcomings, and come back into fellowship with God in Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He’s telling the church this same thing now. I can heart Jesus shouting to us, “Repent. Stop altering my Word. Stop agreeing with the world about abortions, “gay” rights, divorce, debt, and so on. Stop harming my children, and all children. Come to me. Rest in Me. Trust in Me.”
If they did not return to their first, hot love for the Lord and His church, He would remove their witness from the area. They would be a dead church, accomplishing nothing.
V. 6- What was one very good thing about the Ephesians? They hated sin! Sin is in opposition to what God’s Word teaches. Sin causes sickness and disease (not all sickness and disease is from sinning). Those who love the Lord must hate evil because God cannot look upon sin. And the Nicolatians were evil. The Ephesians hated the Nicolatians for their fornication, adultery, uncleaness, and for their eating of things offered to idols. The Nicolatians got their name from the word “Nicolah” which means, “let us eat.” That word was used to call people to eat the things sacrificed to idols. Although Ephesus hated this practice, and it didn’t take much root in their church, we will see later on that it did take solid root in the church at Pergamos. Let’s read Psalm 97:10. “Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”
V. 7- Who is, “...he who has ears?” It’s all the believers who have accepted Jesus as Savior and who have had their ears opened to the truth by the Holy Spirit. They now listen with spiritual ears. They have new discernment and are able to really hear. To these Jesus is speaking. “Change your ways, or else!” If people persist in sin, most likely they are not completely saved to the uttermost. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
To those who were saved, and were able to hear the truth of what Jesus was saying, and repented and changed their ways, to them He gave eternal life (I John 2:23-25). That’s what the Tree of Life is. God took Adam and Eve from the garden lest they eat from that tree and live (Genesis 3:22-24). Sinners cannot eat from the Tree of Life because there will be no sin allowed in heaven. That’s why God had to cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They could no longer have access to the Tree of Life. Also, the Tree of Life is now in the new paradise where God dwells, and where we will one day go to join Him.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 6
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:8-11).
V. 8- It’s not positively established who started the church at Smyrna, but most believe it was Paul. He was the one who published the Gospel of Jesus all over that region of Asia Minor (Acts 19:1-10). Verse ten of Acts 19 says, “And this continued for two years so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
The name Smyrna means Myrrh. This was a substance God had Moses use in the formulation they used to consecrate the altar. (Exodus 30:22-33) Myrrh was also used in the preparation of the maidens in Esther. (Esther 2:12, 13) A third use was when they offered Jesus wine mixed with Myrrh as He hung on the cross. Myrrh was also one of the spices used for embalming bodies.
It’s understood that the angel, or pastor, of Smyrna at the time this letter was delivered there was Polycarp, a disciple of John. Irenaeus said that Polycarp was appointed the bishop of Smyrna by the apostles. He was martyred there in Smyrna in a large amphitheater. ”Eighty and six years I have served him, how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt." When the Roman pro-consul threatened to burn him at the stake if he didn’t pledge to Caesar, Polycarp said, “You threaten with the fire that burns for a time, and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. But why are you waiting? Come, do what you will." And they did burn him alive. From what I read, you can still make a trip to that amphitheater, and you can still see his sepulcher.
After introducing Himself as “The First and the Last, the One who was dead then became alive!” Jesus said, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty…” This church was a poor, persecuted church located in a beautiful city of wealth and commercial greatness, with a large population of Jews, and yet, the people of the church suffered lack and persecution. Their persecution wasn’t the simple things like we deal with. We consider ourselves persecuted for Christ if someone calls us a Bible-thumper. These people were truly crushed under the weight of persecution. You see, the people of Smyrna were loyal to Rome. Smyrna was where emperor or Caesar worship began. Every year the residents of the Roman Empire had to burn incense on the altar built for Caesar worship. Because the Christians of Smyrna would not offer incense or bow their knee at the altar of men, they were often tortured and killed.
The Greek word for the persecution they endured was thlipsis. It means to crush under heavy pressure. People in the Middle East, China, India, and other places are today being severely persecuted, and killed for the faith. Women are raped to death in the Middle East if they won’t recant their faith. People are beheaded in the streets. Children are beaten and harmed in terrible ways.
The poverty they bore wasn’t simply being without a meal or a warm coat. This poverty went deep into every aspect of their lives. These people were so poor, poor people pitied them. Their possessions were taken from them. They could not find jobs. They could not buy or sell in the marketplace, or anywhere else even if they had money. Talk about discrimination! Anyone caught selling to them would be considered disloyal to Rome and punished. And Jesus said, “I know!” What a powerful statement of encouragement to those people who were dying for their faith! The One who had died for them and rose again knew what they were going through. He SAW!!!
V. 9- These works are most likely the same type of works we learned about last week in Revelation 2:2. They were taking care of each other, taking care not to allow false teachers to get a hold on their people, and testing those who claimed to be apostles, but were liars instead. These people were working hard under much persecution and trials, but with patient endurance. The word tribulation means grievous trouble; severe trial or suffering. Study the word in your dictionary and you’ll see just how badly these people were being treated. Yet they persevered. These were a people ready to give up their very lives for the ONE they believed in.
The people at the Smyrna church were poor in the real sense of the word. Their things were ruined by the legalistic Jews who wanted to run them out of town. And they appear to have boycotted the businesses in that area, preferring to go without than to pay their money to satan. There are many types of prejudice in the world, and one of the harshest is the one against poverty. When we see a poor person, we don’t feel compassion, we feel contempt. “Well, if he’d just get a job and earn his money, he wouldn’t be poor.” In some cases that’s true. In other cases, it’s not. Here it was not true because if it were, Jesus would not commend them for their suffering of it. They are rich in the Lord. In Luke 12:1-21, we see what Jesus said about wealth and possessions. Take time this weekend to read those Scriptures, and pay close attention to the last verse.
These people were poor in things, but rich in faith. Their treasure was stored up where rust and moth could not destroy it, with Jesus. They were rich in the Spirit, and in good works.
Blasphemy in this case is the impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things. When you have time, go and study chapter 2 of Romans. There is so much there that we normally overlook in reading. It takes a deep study to find the truths in those verses. The blasphemers spoken of here in Revelation are the Jews who claimed to be Christians, but led the true believers astray. These professing Jews were not willing to suffer persecution either. It was these who also introduced Jewish and Pagan rites into the church. Candle burning is not of Jesus. It’s a pagan thing. It was these that Jesus called “the synagogue of satan.”
V. 10- What are some of the things the Christians of that day in that church would suffer? I got a partial list for you. They were: Scourgings: Imprisonment: Confiscation of personal goods, and, ultimately, death. None of these things seemed like the promise of good things to come, but remember, Jesus suffered each one of these things for our sakes. Remember Polycarp? Three days before his death he awoke from a dream in which he saw the pillow he was laying burning and told his companions that he would be burned for the cause of Christ. Many of the early Christians spent time in prison as a way to stop the spreading of the Gospel. Didn’t work really well, I’d say.
What was being tested in them? Their loyalty to Jesus and the Gospel, their faith, their patience, and their character were all looked at. Were they zealous enough for the works of the Lord to maintain their witness even in the face of such severe persecution? I would say in many cases they were. Then we have those who were trying to undermine the church, and they were revealed. Was the coming of persecution unexpected? Not if they knew the Words Jesus spoke while on earth. Look at Matthew 10:16-26. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” It doesn’t matter what lies people in church tell, Jesus will shine the light of truth there.
What is the ten days of persecution? From what I can find out, it was the “Ten persecutions under the Roman emperors.” It could be those were the persecutions suffered under the ten Roman emperors: Nero: Domitian: Trojan: Hadrian: Marcus Antoninus: Septimius Severus: Maximinus: Decius: Valarianus, and Dioclesian. Or it can mean the ten years that Dioclesian persecuted the church. One reason for thinking it’s the ten year period according to Gill, is that the Bible, and Revelation often uses days for years.
Why would they be faithful in suffering? It was to gain the crown of life (James 1:12). That is, to be forever with their Lord in heaven. So what if the body is killed. No one can kill their spirit, and no one could cast them into hell but Jesus. Their faith believed they would receive the crown of eternal life with Jesus. Who was this exhortation for? It was for the faithful in the church in Smyrna and it is for very Christian who stands up before the darts of the devils, and overcame. They maintained their true witness, and stayed faithful to the Lord and His testimony.
V. 11- Last week we saw that the ears spoken of here in this verse are the spiritual ears we are given at salvation. They are our circumcised ears that hear the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit. They are ears that have a new, deeper discernment, and are able to really hear the truth and believe it. What is the truth Jesus is revealing here? That any who are living the sanctified life, and are not falling away, but persevering through, will not lose their salvation or their eternal life in glory. You all know that the second death is the death of the body and soul as the person faces eternal separation from God. It is the results of Divine judgment and punishment.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 7
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
The name Pergamos comes from the combination of two Greek words. “Pergos” which means high elevation, and “gamos” which means married. So, Pergamos means married to the tower. This name indicates that Pergamos was married to the world. Pergamos is where paganism entered the true body of Christ. Pergamos is now located in Turkey.
V. 12- To the leadership at Pergamos, or Pergamum, from He who has the sharp two-edged sword. The sword spoken of here is the Word of God. The Romans considered the sword a sign of high authority. The sword of the Word is the only weapon the true Christians at Pergamos had to fight against the evil that was within the church. It was, and is, a very effective weapon. In Hebrews 4:2 we see that the Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. To separate the marrow from the bone would take a very thin, sharp, strong sword that is flexible. It’s actually virtually impossible to separate the tweo completely.
In Ephesians 6, we are told to put on the whole armor of God. After you have girded your waist, shod your feet, donned the shield, and taken on salvation, you take up the Word of God. All these other things are ineffective without the Sword of the Spirit, the Bible, the living Word of God. Jesus had the Word of God to fight the battles for His people. He never faced satan without quoting the Word. In Matthew 4:1-11, where the deviled tempted Him, Jesus said two “It is written,” and one, “…for it is written.” My friends, this is why studying the Bible is so relevant and important for today. The devil is working harder than ever to draw people away from truth and the TRUTH. If we don’t have at least a basic knowledge of how to respond to the devil, we will be lost to Jesus forever.
There was real evil in the Pergamos church. There was corruption, and there was the spirit of antichrist which is the spirit of deception, within the congregation. They needed the sword to keep them safe from all who were against them. Remember, the most important works those people were doing was spreading the truth of God in Jesus for salvation.
Do you believe Harry Potter books and movies are innocuous fun ways to pass the time? NO! These media are being used to indoctrinate the young people into the new age! There are ghost movies and angel movies that are aimed at turning you from the Lord. They seem friendly enough, but they are truly promoting an antichrist spirit. The Bible makes it specifically clear that we are not to commune with spirits.
V. 13- Pergamos was built under a high mountain. And the people of that area built a high tower on the mountain. It was the best city in Asian minor. It had magnificent temples, and a library that held an estimated 200 thousand volumes. But it was a pagan city, and many gods were worshipped there. There was Athena and Dionysus, and the chief of the Greek gods, Zeus. satan’s seat in this verse is his actual throne (thronos). It was in the temple built to the Imperial Religion of Caesar worship. Remember Nebuchadnezzar and his golden statue? Caesar worship is the same principle and right out of hell.
What satan could not accomplish from the outside with persecution and tribulations, he would try to accomplish from within the church. Now he began to set up a spirit of unfaithfulness in the church. But the good thing was, there were people like God’s faithful martyr, Antipas. The method of martyrdom that he suffered was extreme torture. In the city was a hollow brass bull that the people kept burning red hot. This is where they roasted Antipas alive. Jesus commended this church based on the works of His faithful servants who held to the truth of His Word even in the face of this horrible death.
V. 14-15- Jesus said He had a “few” things against them, and these things were huge, namely the doctrines of Ballam (Numbers 31:6) and of the Nicolatians. Compromise with paganism, intermarriage between Christian men and pagan women, and idol worship were some of the things introduced in the order of Balaam. The people were taking foods and eating them that had been sacrificed to Baal as they did in Numbers 25:1-3. They were having adulterous affairs (Acts 15: 24-29). One article I read said that the leaders of Pergamos built brothels along the roads leading out of town. The women would entice the men with food and drink then get them to commit sexual sins with them. We know how God feels about that. Balaam thought he could get God to change His mind about his prophesying for Balak, but God can’t be corrupted. He’s not for sale at any price. It was also during this time that Jewish babies were sacrifice on the fiery altar of Molech. Sometime this week read Numbers 22-25 and 31:15, 16.
The Nicolatians were a sect begun by Nicolas, one of the original seven deacons chosen in Acts 6:5. He brought in a lot of pagan rituals that he thought would enhance Christianity. The congregation of the early churches had no say in what went on. The clergy made all the decisions. That’s what led to the Pope! But notice one difference between us and the Catholic Church. In our Bible we are told that we are all priest, we are not run by priests. The priesthood was set up for the offer of sacrifices. Jesus was the substitution; the sacrifice God made on our behalf, therefore the need for priests was finished when Jesus died. The Nicolatians are the new priesthood that God hates. They took control of the church, and ran it with a heavy hand. They instituted a new meaning to the Lord’s Supper that is; they keep bringing Jesus body back to life! How? By using the words, hocus es corpus menus. Protestants believe the bread is merely a symbol of Jesus’ body, not His actual living self that needs to be killed every time we take communion.
In researching this, I found that the Doctrine of the Nicolatians was a form of antinomianism. Antinomianism is a belief that is based upon recognition of the mercy of God as the ground of salvation, but it makes the fatal mistake that man can freely partake in sin because the Law of God is no longer binding. It held the truth on the gratuitous reckoning of righteousness; but supposed that a mere intellectual “belief” in this truth had a saving power.
V. 16- Jesus told the people then to repent of their evil ways, or the Sword of His mouth would remove the blessings on their church. And He did. In 622 A.D., Mohammed came and began to take everything the Christians owned. When they still refused to repent, Jesus allowed Mohammed to take the cathedral, Saint Sophia, and turn it into a mosque.
V. 17- The “hidden manna” is said to be a pot of the original manna that Jeremiah took and hid in a cleft of Mount Sinai. It’s what Jesus is supposed to find when He returns. To the Jews, eating of the hidden manna is to share in the blessings of their coming Messiah. Jesus made it clear that He is the bread of life in John 6:51. Let’s read that one verse.
For Christians, Jesus is the manna, the Bread of Life. He is the food source for our spirits, and for our strength. The Jews in the wilderness received the physical manna for food. We receive the Spiritual Bread of Life for our nourishment.
In biblical times, when a man came before a judge for his crime, the jury would cast their votes with either white or black stones. The white stone is the stone of acquittal. If the verdict was not guilty, the judge took a white stone from the bag, wrote the name of the accused on it, and gave it to a prisoner when his trial was over. If the prisoner received a black stone, it meant he was a guilty, and he received judgment.
Also, the white stone could represent someone’s adoption into a new family. This stone became his proof of inheritance, his acceptance into the family. The young man or woman would take the name of his/her new parents, and write it on a stone. It was a visible proof of his new connections to the family who had taken him in.
Written on our stones is the name no man will know but the person and God. This stone is God’s demonstration of our personal relationship with him. So, those who hold fast till the end will receive the blessings of the hidden manna (eternal life), and the white stone of son-ship that they can then present before the Lord to prove they belong with Him. It’s their passport to eternal life with Christ.
Many of the people began to believe a man named Arius when he said that Jesus was not God and man, but created man that sits halfway between both. This is what Jehovah Witnesses teach even today. This false teaching led the survivors of the persecution to meet and draw up the Nicene Creed. It stated exactly what they believed, and wanted the church to continue teaching.
In all my studying, one thing kept surfacing. It was not until the Christians began to receive recognition and freedom to worship that they fell so far into this sinful church style. Constantine gave them all their rights as a religion, and even returned their properties to them. Romans could now convert to Jesus without fear of persecution. And that freedom is where corruption grabbed hold. They no longer needed to suffer for the cross, so they forgot its meaning. It’s like that to this day.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 8
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 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. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 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. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 2:18-29).
V. 18- The church at Thyatira. “Those things says the Son Of God.“ is the way Jesus reaffirmed His position of authority over the church. Do you remember what we learned about “the eyes of fire” in chapter one of Revelation? Daniel 10:6 called these eyes “torches of fire.” The meaning is that with His eyes, Jesus can see everything, even to the depths of man’s heart. And “His feet of bronze” represents what? It represents His ultimate sacrifice. In Exodus 27:1-8 we see that everything to do with the altar of sacrifice had to be covered in bronze. Here Jesus is reminding them that it’s the God who died for them who is searching their hearts and finding good and bad in their church. And He is the only One who can do that.
V. 19- Thyatira is the next church in line after Pergamos. It begins the southward route of the seven churches. Thyatira was a busy town with shops and factories, and many people coming and going from all over the place. It is supposed that the church at Thyatira first heard the gospel from Lydia, a maker of purple cloth, and a convert of Paul’s.
Many wicked feasts and orgies were held there to honor idols. One of the gods the pagans of this city worshipped was Tyrimnus, the sun god.
Jesus was pleased with some of this church community. He commended them for their works, love, service, faith and patience. Some of those works were sharing the Gospel, taking care of the physical needs of others, maintaining the Scripture, and making new copies of them for the future generations. For the most part, however, He condemned the people there.
V. 20- Jesus had a few things against this church. Here He told them that they were allowing Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, who had killed the prophets in the Old Testament (I Kings 18:4), and who brought Baal worship and the goddess Asherah (I Kings 18:19), who is the female version of Baal, to Israel, and placed people in authority as prophets of Baal. Jezebel was used here symbolically, or the woman was actually named Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, and was being allowed to teach in the congregation. Jezebel was the woman who was teaching the same sort of idol worship, and sexual misconduct that Jezebel taught earlier in history. This was forbidden to happen in Exodus 34:10-17. Moses had just gone up for the second set of tablets, and when he came down with them, he renewed the covenant between God and Israel. Let’s read those verses.
Another thing Jesus had against them is that they elevated Mary to a position above Jesus. He was no longer considered the Son of God there, but the Son of Mary. They also elevated the bishop of Rome over all the bishops in all the churches calling him the “head of the church” which in fact is Jesus’ position.
V. 21- Jesus had warned Thyatira to repent of these things, but she did not. The church then fell into teaching false doctrines and superstitions along with the real Word, and they began to initiate pagan rituals and rites, like candle burning, sprinkling incense, which only the Levitical priests were allowed to do, and praying to images of the apostles, Mary and others they called saints. (Christians know who the true saints of the church are. Read I Corinthians 1:2. We are the saints, and we know that we are not supposed to bow down to man, but only to God.) This brought corruption to the church from within the ranks. Clergy were now being worshiped alongside God. Just because someone can tackle a Scripture and twist it to make it agree with him, does not make it the truth of the Word of God. You know by the prompting and revelation of the Holy Spirit when something is wrong. A smattering of the Christians in Thyatira kept the message alive because they kept the truth.
Have we figured out yet which church Thyatira represents. It’s the Catholic church. Even now they continue to serve the statues, and pray to plaster of Paris. If you go to the Place called La Salette Shrine, you can buy holy water, relics of the cloth the “saints” wore, things blessed by the pope, and so on. All idol worship and superstitions. When we were kids, my mother would go around the house making crosses on the windows and doors with holy water blessed by the pope so that lightning would not strike us during a storm!
V V. 22,23- Jesus has previously warned this church to repent. In its insolence, it continued in its evil practices, so Jesus had John write His judgment on her. As in the Old Testament, Jesus warned that He would take the lives of the false teachers, and the lives of their children if they did not repent and place Him back onto His rightful throne where now they had set the pope. By this the rest of the world would know, along with the pagans in that community, that Jesus really does search out the heart and soul of man seeking man’s goodness, and judging his wickedness. God repays us according to what we are willing to do for Him. Evil begets evil, love begets love. You can’t love God and put man on His throne.
V. 24-29- The ones who were faithful, and continued in the Way without coming to know the “way of satan” would have no further burdens laid upon them. We can see what that way is in II Timothy3:1-9. Let’s read that. There are two reasons Jesus left the faithful remnant in the church at Thyatira.1. they would be left in that church as a testimony for Jesus. 2. going to another church was not easily accomplished. The folks at Pergamos had the same wickedness going on in their church, maybe not to the same extent, but they served Baal and allowed foods offered to idols to be consumed. And Sardis was a dead church. So they were left with little choice. Jesus told them to keep the faith. For those who remained faithful to ”... keep my works until the end,” (John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He sent.) was the promise of power over the nations. Look at Matthew 19:28. In this chapter, Jesus was teaching about divorce, celibacy, the little children, the Ten Commandments, and that all things are possible with God. After that, Peter wanted to know what the apostles were going to receive as a reward for giving up everything for His sake. And He said they would have the authority to sit on the throne and judge the tribes of Israel. All the rights we see here being promised to those faithful people at Thyatira were the things God promised to give Jesus if He asked for them (Psalm 2: 8,9). Now Jesus would pass this power to His faithful servants who kept the Word.
Jesus promised to give the survivors the “morning star.” What is that? It’s Jesus! Look at II Peter 1:19. Jesus is promising to give more of Himself to those who are faithful and do good works. He will rise in their hearts to give them new understanding, and power and strength to overcome the evil one. The more we say no to sin, the stronger we become against it. If you have the spiritual ears you were given at salvation, listen and heed the Word of God. These warnings are relevant for today.