Category Archives: REVELATION 2

The first three letters sent by the apostle John to the churches in Asia.

REVELATION 2

Survey of Revelation chapters 2 and 3
The Lord Jesus had revealed Himself to John in chapter 1 in two capacities.  First, verses 12-16 officially, as the one vested with authority to judge.  Then in verses 17-18, personally, as one able to strengthen him to be able to cope with the revelations that were about to be given him in vision form.  Now the Lord is going to reveal Himself to seven churches in Asia.  He does so to four of them using features of His official capacity.  To two of them, Smyrna and Phildelphia He uses features of His personal appearance to John.  To one, Laodicea, He uses features that underlie the book as a whole.

We should carefully note the particular and special way in which the Lord addresses the churches.  He does so as Son of Man, the only time that this title is used in reference to churches.  This is deeply significant, and it is important to notice it, because it will help us to understand the letters.  The title Son of Man is given to the Lord Jesus not just because He is a man, (although we should remember He is not the son of a man, so that is not the title’s significance), but because He has rights over all men.  He is relevant to them all, individually and collectively.  In particular, He is authorised to judge all men precisely because He is the Son of Man.  His own words were, “the Father…hath given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is the Son of Man”, John 5:26.  As the Son of God, and therefore equal in all respects with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the one Godhead, He has Divine and therefore inherent right to judge.  But He has given rights in virtue of His coming into manhood, (things He has been given are listed in the notes on chapter 1), and one of them is the right to judge.  As one who has moved amongst men in sinless perfection, it has become obvious that He is not liable to judgement Himself.  Moreover, He has given men the opportunity to react to Him, and this is the basis upon which they will be judged. 

So we are prepared for the thought that the Lord Jesus is qualified to judge His people as well, (for the Father has committed all judgement unto the Son, John 5:22), and this is what He does in chapters 2 and 3, in order to achieve two objects.  First, to expose any who are mere professors, hence the word to the overcomers which comes at the end of each letter, and which serves to distinguish them from others who by their behaviour we showing themselves to be unbelievers.  Second, to assure the true ones amongst them that He knew what they were doing for Him, and to regulate them where they were going wrong.  In this way they will be saved from judgement for that particular failure at the Judgement Seat of Christ, when He will assess His people’s actions after they have all been taken to heaven at His coming.

So the letters to the seven churches are different in character to the epistles Paul wrote to various churches.  He assumed that the church he was addressing was composed only of believers, as should be the case.  The letters we are about to look at now, however, are addressed to all who claim to believe in Christ in a professing church in a particular town.  We should bear this fact in mind as we go through.

We should remember that the whole of the Book of the Revelation is called “the words of this prophecy”, 1:3, which we are to read and hear; and not to take away from or add to, 22:18,19.  So chapters 2 and 3 are prophecy, as much as the rest of the book.  This means that each of the seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 is a preview of what can prevail at any time during this age, for the seven churches already existed, it was not as though they would come into being after John had written.  So Ephesus, for example, is addressed in relation to what it was like at the time of writing, but since it was prophetic as well, it represented any “Ephesus-like” church at any time during the present age also.

We may also say that if a church heeds the warnings given to it, then it may change from being a Thyatira-church, for instance, to being a Philadelphia-church.  Since there are seven churches selected, and seven is the number of completeness in Scripture, we may say that all possible conditions of churches are represented in chapters 2 and 3.

Churches 4-6 have the promise of the Lord’s coming held out to them in some way, so they seem to have special relevance to the latter part of the present age.  This suggests that there is a progression in these seven churches, and they represent successive stages of the general condition of the Christian profession down through the centuries of this era.  Especially because, as we have noticed, the whole book is a prophecy, therefore chapters 2 and 3 must be prophetic in some way. This is not to say, for example, that there were no Philadelphian-like churches in the “Pergamos” era, but the prevailing trend down the years is discernible.  We could like at is in the following way:

Ephesus During the apostolic and post apostolic period. 
A question of affection; the need to return to first love.
Smyrna  The period of persecution by imperial Rome.
A question of affliction; the need to not be afraid.
Pergamos The time of Constantine’s influence, the joining of church and state.
A question of alliance; the need for a sword to separate.
Thyatira The medieval period, when Papal Rome was dominant.
A question of spiritual adultery; the need to hold fast.
Sardis The Reformation period, leading to liberal Protestantism.
A question of lack of alertness; the need to be watchful.
Philadelphia The time of separation from mere religion to know a living relationship with God in the assembly.
A question of appreciation; the need to not deny His name.
Laodicea  The time of decline in Christianity.
A question of apathy; the need for personal communion.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1 TO 7:

2:1  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
2:3  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
2:6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Structure of the letter to the church at Ephesus:

(a)  Verse 1
The Address 
The Lord holds the seven stars, and walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.  Just as the High Priest in Israel burnt incense while he trimmed the lamps, Exodus 30:7, so Christ, as He trims the lamps in discipline, adds the fragrance of His own name to the scene, so His character is the one foremost, and not that of the Ephesians, which in some ways was less than fragrant.
(b)  Verses 2, 3. The Assessment
“I know”, His perfect knowledge of their state is made known.
(c)  Verse 4. The Anguish of heart
He has somewhat against them.  They have left their first love.
(d)  Verse 5 The Appeal.
His desire that they respond to His concern for them.
(e)  Verse 6 The Approval
He takes note of those things that meet His approval.
(f)  Verse 7(a) The Admonition
All the churches are advised to take note of what is said to each church.
(g)  Verse 7(b) The Award
The reward held out to those who overcome

2:1-7    The letter to the church at Ephesus

(a)    Verse 1    The Address

2:1  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write- it is fitting that the church should be addressed via its representative in heaven, because we are not thinking of a body and head relationship, or even a church and its Lord, but the Son of Man addressing companies that very likely contain those who are not true believers.  The stars have already been interpreted as angels in chapter 1:20.  We have no warrant to interpret the interpretation.  More precisely, the star is the heavenly representative of those who have responsibility to exercise godly rule in the church.  They may be strengthened in their often difficult and traumatic task by the thought that the Lord holds the angel firmly in His right hand of administrative authority, and if that is the case, they, the ones the angel represents, are held too.

We learn from Daniel 12:1 that nations have an angel; from Acts 12:15 that people do; and the first verse of this book tells us that Christ Himself has an angel representative.  It is instructive to notice that Paul writes about elders in connection with “the elect angels”, 1 Timothy 5:21.  Some angels have clearly been chosen to represent churches, and this is what is in view here.  It is the angel that is written to, as the one who represents the church before God, but the letters are sent to the seven churches. 
These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand- stars were made for several reasons, but one of the major ones was to rule during the night, Genesis 1:16.  Those who exercise government in the assembly do this, “for the night is far spent”, Romans 13:12, and what they do is represented in heaven before God.  This is why the Lord said to His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, ‘Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven'”, Matthew 18:18.  These words were spoken in connection with assembly discipline.  When those responsible for order in the churches act according to Divine wisdom, their verdict is in harmony with heaven’s.
Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks- if we plot the location of these seven churches on a map, we shall see that they form a rough circle.  So it is not that the Lord walks in the midst of each candlestick, but He walks in the midst of the seven considered together.  Since they are in a circle, He walks just as closely to Ephesus as He does to Laodicea.  This is encouraging, but it is also challenging, not only because it tells us that He scrutinises all churches, but also because it is not Christ on the inside surrounded by His people, but Christ on the outside looking in.

There is no problem with the word candlestick.  We should not envisage seven seven-branched candlesticks, but rather seven simple stands upon which a light may be placed.  They are sticks to uphold a light, but the light is not the main feature in this context, (it is not mentioned), but the responsibility to uphold it.  No doubt the lamp is Christ, and the church is expected to ensure He is noticed.  Go into any hardware store and purchase a torch, and it most likely will be rated in candlepower, even though it is not a candle.  The word candel is a unit of light, irrespective of what produces the light.

(b)    Verses 2,3.    The Assessment    

2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

I know thy works- this is what they had done with energy, for the word for work used here is “ergon”, which even today is used as a measure of work done.
And thy labour- they had worked to the point of weariness.
And thy patience- this was their attitude of heart as they worked and laboured;they were determined to persevere.
And how thou canst not bear them which are evil- the word for “evil” has the idea of those who are useless and incapable, and who spoil the labours of others in some way.  It is an evil thing to be a hindrance to spiritual work.  It is also an evil thing to allow such people to frustrate the ongoing work of God.
And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars- they were not afraid to confront men who were so bold as to claim to be apostles.  They had put them to the test, and found that their claim was untrue, and they were therefore liars.  The apostle Paul warned the  Corinthians believers of those who would be false apostles, even though they came pretending to be ministers of righteousness, 2 Corinthians 11:13.

2:3  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

And hast borne- they were enabled to bear up under the burden of protecting the testimony from the attacks of wicked men.  They did not allow those attacks to prevent them working, unlike those of the Book of Ezra, who were prevented from building for God by wicked men, Ezra 4:23,24.
And hast patience- they showed endurance in doing their own good works, and likewise endured the pressure and stress of dealing with those whose works were evil.
And for My name’s sake hast laboured- it was because they were defending the reputation of Christ that they laboured in this way.  They refused to allow evil men to dispute His claims and dishonour His name, meaning His character.
And hast not fainted- despite the relentless onslaughts of the enemy, they refused to be weary in well doing.

(c)    Verse 4.    The Anguish of heart       

2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee- we might think from the foregoing that they were doing well.  We should be glad that the Lord Jesus assesses us righteously, and does not cover up our failure.  He does this so that the failure may be remedied, and we do not make the same mistake again.
Because thou hast left thy first love- it is very possible for us as believers to be so occupied with service, that we forget the one who is served.  Love for fellow-believers, for the unsaved, even for truth, can so occupy our minds that we forget love to Him.  Love for other things can all become a substitute for love to Him, and even a disguise for lack of love to Him.  The Lord warned against this when He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, ye also love one another'”, John 13:34.  The critical phrase is “as I have loved you”, which means that our love for fellow-believers must be of the same sort as love to Him.  But if our love for other believers is of a different sort, in that it is greater than love to Him, then we have failed to obey His commandment, even though we love both Him and believers.  It is the balance between that love that is vital.

The Ephesian believers clearly thought that their abundant labours were an expression of love to Him, and in one sense they were right.  But they had become so occupied with their works, that they were neglecting His person.  We have all heard of those who are said to be “married to their work”.  There are those who are “golf widows”, when the husband is so taken up with his recreation that he forgets his duty to his wife.  The Ephesian believers were like this, and are rebuked for it here.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian assembly and said that he had “espoused them” to one husband, that they might be presented to Christ in the future as a chaste virgin, 2 Corinthians 11:2.  A chaste virgin is one who has loved no-one else in the past, and this is how Paul wants the Corinthians to be at the Judgement Seat; an expoused virgin is one who wants to love no-one else in the future, and that is the hope that Paul had for the Corinthians in the past, when he had seen them formed into an assembly.  A true espoused virgin wants to be wholly taken up with her beloved.  This is what is described in Jeremiah2:2 as “the love of thine espousals”, for it is a specially precious love, and would correspond to “first love”.  And it is because Christ is jealous for the undivided affection of His people that He rebukes them here in such a stern way. 

(d)    Verse 5    The Appeal.

2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen- in the passage from Jeremiah just quoted, God said to Israel, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals”.  So He had fond memories of their original love to him.  Now, in this passage, it is the the Ephesian believers who are encouraged to remember.  They had not always been how they were then, and they should long to get back to their former state.  Love to Christ is a high position, but they had taken lower ground, even though they were busy for Him.
And repent- it is not just sinners who need to repent, for believers need to repent, too, if they fail the Lord in some way.  The fact that it is repentance that is required shows that it was not only a question of their affections, but their minds.  Their minds had been corrupted, 2 Cor.11:3, and they no longer thought in the right way about Christ, and therefore their love was diverted from Him.
And do the first works- if they did this it would prove that they had returned to first love.  So it is not that love and works are in opposition, but that love to Him must be the motivation for their works, and not anything else.  First works are the expression of first love.
Or else I will come unto thee quickly- He values every minute of our time, and every expression of our affection.  So critical is this matter of love to Him that there is the need for urgent action.  It is good for us to have a sense of urgency too, if we feel that our love to Christ is waning.
And will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent- just how critical love to Him is can be discovered from what He will do if it is lacking.  The church might still function, in the sense that the meetings continue and gospel work is done, but the love is gone.  The fact that a church continues is no guarantee that love to Christ continues.  And just because a church continues does not mean that the lampstand is still there.  After all, the lampstand is not literal, but figurative.  It represents testimony for Christ and to Christ.  He has the right to remove it from its place of recognition in His sight.

(e)    Verse 6    The Approval   

2:6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

But this thou hast- the Lord commends what He can.
That thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate- whilst there was with the Ephesian church a lack of the right sort of love, they were not slow in hating what they should hate.  In verse 15 there is reference to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, for deeds and doctrine always go together.  It is not possible to say from what is written in Scripture who these people were, and what their deeds and doctrines were, but clearly they were hateful to Christ and also to the Ephesians.  Perhaps we do not need to know the specifics, so as to learn the general lesson that we should hate what the Lord hates.  The Ephesian believers would know who was meant, and so, in our day, we can discern what the Lord hates, as we are guided by the Spirit of God.  It is one of the marks of a true believer that he recognises that which is contrary to Christ.  Even new believers can do that, as John explains in 1 John 2:20, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”.  The “all things” they knew were the facts about the anti-Christian heretics he has referred to in verses 18 and 19.  The “unction from the Holy One” is the gift of the Spirit of God, which is given the moment a person believes.  So from the outset of the Christian life there is the ability to discern error, and the desire to turn from it.

There are those who suggest that the word Nicolaitane is the Greek equivalent of Balaam.  A Nicolaitane may be a follower of Nicholas, whose name means “conqueror of the people”.  And the name Balaam means “lord of the people”.  It may even be that the Nicolaitanes named themselves after Balaam, without ever having a leader called Nicholas.  Balaam became lord over the people of Israel because “he taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication”, Revelation 2:15.  However, the next verse says, “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate”.  So there seems to be a difference, however slight, between the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. 

(f)    Verse 7(a)    The Admonition   

2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- we are here introduced to the work of the Spirit of God in relation to these seven churches.  In the address to each church, it is the Lord Jesus who is speaking, but now we learn there is harmony between the Spirit and the Son, just as there was harmony between the Son and His Father when He was on earth.

Notice that each of the churches is spoken to by the message to one particular church, so the word to one is relevant to all.  A church that is Philadelphian today, may be Laodicean in a few years time, so all should take heed.  It is also true that the whole of the Book of Revelation, mainly concerned with judgements on unbelievers on earth as it is, is sent to the seven churches, 22:16, so there are lessons to be learnt in the body of the book, too.

(g)    Verse 7(b)    The Award       

To him that overcometh- we come now to the word overcomer, which has led some astray, for they have taught that Christians are divided into two classes, the “ordinary” and the “overcoming”.  That this is not the meaning of the expression is seen in the fact that the overcomer will not be hurt of the second death, verse 11.  This strongly implies that those who are not overcomers will be hurt of the second death.  But since every believer has “passed from death unto life”, and “shall not come into judgement”, John 5:24, then we may say that all believers are overcomers.  Salvation is purely of grace and not of works, whether done before faith is exercised or afterwards.  The true believer will show the genuineness of his faith by overcoming the difficulties with which his circumstances confront him.  The word reminds us of the need for diligence in the face of daunting situations.
Will I give to eat of the tree of life- Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because she was overcome by the evil one.  He managed to drive a wedge between her and God, and also between her and her husband, and she took of the forbidden tree herself, and was followed by Adam.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an ordinary tree, but because it had a ban imposed on it, to eat of it was to have disobeyed God’s simple command.  This resulted in the gaining of the knowledge of good and evil in a practical way on the part of Eve and Adam.

The tree of life promised here is Christ Himself.  When Adam and Eve fell God prevented them from eating of the tree of life in their fallen state by driving them out of the garden where it was.  To eat of that tree and live for ever would have been a terrible thing, and God mercifully prevented it happening.  Those who have had their sins forgiven, and who are reckoned to be righteous in the sight of God, will be able to enjoy eternal life to the full when they have been raised from the dead they.  And since the apostle John said of the Son of God, “This is the true God and eternal life”, 1 John 5:20, then the overcomer is rewarded by Christ Himself, for He is the full expression of eternal life; to know Him is to know life.  The beloved one in the Song of Solomon said, “I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste”, Song of Solomon 2:3, and this will be the portion of every true believer in eternity. 
Which is in the midst of the paradise of God- not the garden where sin entered, but that where sin can never come, and where Christ’s love will be enjoyed for ever, with neither Satan nor sin intruding.  The apostle Paul was caught up to the third heaven, and then he writes he was caught up to Paradise, 2 Corinthians 12:2,4, so it is clear that Paradise is in heaven now. Christ will be in the midst, as the Tree of Life, whereas on earth, in love to our souls, He hung upon the central tree.  This is the price He was prepared to pay so that we might be with Him in eternity.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 2, VERSES 8 TO 11:

2:8  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
2:9  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.
2:10  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.
2:11  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  The Letter to the Church in Smyrna.

2:8  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write- as with the letter to Ephesus, the angel of the church is addressed as representing them before God, although the actual letter is sent to the town of Smyrna for the assembly to read.

The word Smyrna is derived from the word for myrrh, an aromatic gum which was used in the making of the sweet incense for use in the tabernacle.  As such it represents the graces of Christ, brought out because of suffering.  The myrrh tree yields its gum naturally under the hot desert sun, but its flow is increased when its bark is cut or bruised.  So Christ, the “tree planted by the rivers of waters”, Psalm 1:3, yielded a sweet fragrance to God as a result of the trials and temptations He experienced during His life.  But this was greatly increased when He was on Calvary’s tree.  Instead of reacting like the dying thieves, with cursing and railing, there were only spiritual responses from His heart.  The believers in Smyrna may learn from this, and react like Christ did in trying circumstances.  Stephen had certainly done this, and had called for forgiveness for his tormentors, just as Christ had done, Acts 7:60; Luke 23:34.

The sufferings had been anticipated, for the wise men brought myrrh amongst their gifts for Him when He was just a child.  Perhaps they did not know the significance of their offerings, thinking only to bring an expression of their worship., but unwittingly their treasures were eloquent.  The gold told of His Deity, what He ever is.  The frankincense told of the virtues of His manhood, what He became.  The myrrh spoke of the sufferings of His death, what He would do.  These were practical gifts, for when Mary brought her baby to present Him to the Lord, she offered the poor person’s sacrifice, Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:8.  After the wise men had come, however, she and Joseph were well provided for by the precious gifts they brought for Jesus.  Gifts, moreover, which would be easily exchanged for money in Egypt, where they sheltered from the wrath of Herod.

It is interesting to wonder what Mary and Joseph thought of those gifts, especially as Simeon warned Mary that a sword would pierce through her heart, Luke 2:35, a reference to the feelings she would have as she stood by the cross.  The gold had been in the crucible, the frankincense and the myrrh had come as a result of the bruising of a tree.

When he buried the body of the Lord, Joseph of Arimathea used myrrh, so He was given it at birth and in death, showing there was no time when it was not a suitable symbol of His attitude to suffering.  At neither time was He able to appreciate it, however, for it was given either when He was a small child, or when He was dead in the tomb.

He was offered myrrh in His life, however, when the soldiers tried to give Him the wine mingled with myrrh that the daughters of Jerusalem provided in their pity for those crucified.  Myrrh, however, dulls the senses when taken, and lessens pain, and the Saviour would enter into the sufferings of the cross in full consciousness, so He refused it after testing what it was, Mark 15:23.

Myrrh is especially prominent in the Song of Solomon, where it is found eight times.  Six of those times it relates to the writer of the love song, and twice to his beloved, but only after he has gone to the mountain of myrrh.  How significant this is, for it only those who have associated with the Man of Calvary, (the true Mountain of Myrrh), that have the virtues of Christ attributed to them, so that Paul can write of being “accepted in the Beloved”, Ephesians 1:6.  And this is the same epistle that speaks of the sacrifice of Christ as that of one who has “loved us, and hath given Himself an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour”, 5:2.  And then Paul reminds them that “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it”, 5:25.  How sad that the assembly which had these things written to it is the one that has to be rebuked for leaving first love, verse 4.  What Ephesus failed to be, Smyrna will be to the Lord.

These things saith the first and the last- this is taken from the words of the Lord Jesus to John in chapter 1:17, which were the means of calming his fears, and it is designed to have the same effect here.  The assembly at Smyrna will pass through much trauma and suffering, but there is one who is in total control.  He stands as the First, the one who is the great example of suffering, and He is the Last, for none shall never come after Him to surpass Him in suffering.  In Isaiah these titles are ascribed to God as the One who is the initiator and consummator of all things as Creator.  Here it is God manifest in flesh who is supreme in suffering, but He has not lost His role as the First, for nothing happens without His permission, and the Last, for nothing endures longer than He permits.
Which was dead, and is alive- He is going to exhort them to be faithful unto death, verse 10, but not before He has reminded them that He has suffered a far worse death than they will be called upon to endure, and therefore they can count upon His support through every trial.  Not only so, He has emerged from death into resurrection, and He lives as one over whom death has no more dominion, Romans 6:9.

2:9  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.

I know thy works, and tribulation- despite being in tribulation, they still continued working for the Lord, as they were able.  The word tribulation comes from the Latin word “tribula”, which means the heavy log, studded with pieces of metal and flint, that was dragged over the threshing-floor to separate the wheat from the chaff.  And the tribulations do thus separate.  The Lord spoke of tribulations coming because of the word, and as a result some who professed to be believers were shown up as spurious, Matthew 13:21. 
And poverty, (but thou art rich)- no doubt as a result of their trials, the believers of Smyrna were poor financially, but they were rich spiritually.  Every true believer is rich spiritually in one sense, for he knows the riches of God’s grace.  But some believers respond to these riches in a fuller way, and their lives are full of appreciation for what God has done.  Paul exhorted those who were well-off to be “rich unto good works”, 1 Timothy 6:18.  The Laodiceans said they were rich, and that was true as to material things, but in fact they were poor as to spiritual things, 3:17, the reverse of the believers in Smyrna.
And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan- the footsteps of the apostle Paul had been dogged by the Judaisers, who tried to impose the law on believers.  They were clearly present at Smyrna, and the believers were the objects of their evil speaking.  The apostle Paul had known the experience of the Jews “contradicting and blaspheming”, at Antioch in Pisidia, Acts 13:45.
As Romans 2:28 explains, “he is not a Jew which is one outwardly”, and God demands reality, and condemns hypocrisy.  The men referred to here say they are Jews.  They are indeed Jews, but only by birth and profession, but by their unbelief are shown to be distant from God.  A true Jew is one who is circumcised in heart, which involves repentance for sin and faith in Christ.

The expression “synagogue of Satan” is a very severe one, but we must remember it is the Lord Himself who is using the phrase.  This is how He views these people, for they have sided with Satan in his opposition to the gospel.  Perhaps it is from these that the tribulation of verse 9 is coming.  The apostle Paul wrote of the Jews that “they both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men”, 1 Thessalonians 2:15.  The Lord had warned His own that this would happen, for He said, “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues”, Matthew 10:17, and so it came to pass.  “Synagogue of Satan” is not, therefore, an exaggeration.

2:10  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.

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer- they were in tribulation at the moment the Lord spoke to them, but they were to suffer in the future as well.  This epistle is to encourage and strengthen them in view of this.  They are not to fear the suffering before it comes, nor when it has come.  Paul reminds the Roman believers that neither things present nor things to come can separate from the love of Christ, Romans 8:38. 
Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried- imprisonment tried Joseph, for “the word of the Lord tried him”, Psalm 105:16-22.  God had promised him the prime place, and now he was in prison!  But then “the word came”, that is, the fulfilment of the word of promise that tried him in its lack of fulfilment, for the prison was exchanged for the palace.  These believers, however, were forewarned of what would happen.  Prison tried John the Baptist, too, and he became very depressed, not because he had not been given a prime place, but because Christ had not been acclaimed as the Messiah.  All the prophecies of old time that spoke of the Messiah’s glory seemed not to have been fulfilled.  He did not know that this present age was to be inserted into God’s programme, and the kingdom glories were still ahead. We might begin to wonder whether things are working out to plan, but this epistle shows us that Christ is in total control of all things.
Notice that just as the synagogue of the Jews had become the synagogue of Satan, (a word which means “the opposer”), who does everything he can to halt the work of God, so the ones who will cast them into prison are instigated by Satan in his guise as the accuser.  The only way to get these believers imprisoned is to falsely accuse them.  They may be assured that even though men accuse, bring charges, condemn, and imprison, God does none of these things.  Paul assures us in Romans 8:31-39, that even if men prosecute us in the courts, God is for us.  Even if men bring charges, God does not, for He delivered up His Son to death to show He was on our side.  Even if men condemn, God does not, for Christ has died, risen, ascended, and currently makes intercession for us.  His advocacy is far superior to that of any prosecutor of earth.  Even if men separate by imprisonment, they cannot separate the believer from the love of God and all that it guarantees.
And ye shall have tribulation ten days- not only would some be locked away in prison, but others would have tribulation.  Yet the Lord assures them that it will be between boundaries that He, as the First and the Last, will set.  Not one day more than He allows will they suffer in this way.  By these trials the fragrant myrrh that comes when the tree is bruised will flow, and there will be a reminder of the sufferings of Christ in it all.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life- in the Lord’s estimation they were faithful in the present; He now exhorts them to be faithful in the future.  They were in tribulation, some of them would be in prison, and now there is the warning that some of them would lose their lives for the faith.  As they had been faithful, and were faithful, they should be faithful in the future, even to the point of death.

There are two sorts of crown in the New Testament.  There is the diadem, the inherited crown, and the victor’s crown, the merited crown.  It is the latter here.  It was the crown awarded to the soldier who won a battle; to the athlete who won the race; to the suitor who won the heart of his bride; to the citizen who won the acclaim of his fellow-citizens.  As such, it is not a crown given indiscriminately.  Not every believer will gain this crown, for it is promised only to those who have been faithful unto death.  To not have that experience, and yet be crowned with the crown of life, is to devalue the prize for those who do win it.

Every true believer has eternal life as a gift, but these are given a crown that befits the way they overcame death, and their compensation is a crown that befits their life in resurrection after a martyr’s death.  The crown does not consist of life, but is the crown befitting a life lived, and a life laid down.  Is this what the writer to the Hebrews calls “a better resurrection”?  Hebrews 11:35.  The crowns available to believers are all appropriate to the matter for which they are awarded.

2:11  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.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- any believer, at any time during this present age, is liable to be imprisoned for their faith, for the world is deeply hostile to the things the believer represents and defends.  So the word is for all believers, not just those at Smyrna.
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death- this is conclusive proof that the overcomer is the “ordinary” believer, and is not in some elite grouping amongst believers.  No true believer will be hurt of the second death, for the sure promise of Christ is, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24.

The second death is banishment to the Lake of Fire, according to Revelation 20:14 and to go there is condemnation indeed.  But here Christ’s promise is to those who show the reality of their salvation by being faithful to Christ in the midst of trial and difficulty.  As the Lord Jesus said when He was here, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him rather which is able to destroy body and soul in hell”, Matthew 10:28. 

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 2, VERSES 12 TO 17:

2:12  And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
2:13  I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
2:14  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
2:15  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
2:16  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
2:17  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation2:12-17      The letter to the church in Pergamos.

2:12  And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write- as far as Pergamos as a city was concerned, it had been the capital of the Attalid Empire, whose last emperor had bequeathed the empire to Rome.  The city sheltered the Magi when they were expelled by the Persians.  Julius Caesar made himself Pontifex Maximus and claimed Divine honours, as successor to Belshazzar.  Pergamos became an important centre of Caesar-worship and also, as we shall see, serpent-worship. 
These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges- the sharp sword in the hand of the Son of Man went forth out of His mouth, 1:16, so is symbolic of His acute discriminating judgement uttered against anything that is contrary to His righteous standards.  It is sharp, and is therefore effective, and achieves its purpose.  “So shall My word be that goeth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”, Isaiah 55:11.  This sword is not ceremonial, or decorative, but has practical use.  It had two edges, for the church at Pergamos was a mixture of true and false, and there was a cutting-edge for both.  It is fitting that it should be the sword that is emphasised, for there needed to be separation, and if the people would not do it, then the Lord would do Himself, verse 16.

2:13  I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

I know thy works- this is said to each of the churches.  It is specially noted because works are an indicator of character.  “For every tree is known by his own fruit”, Luke 6:44.  It is not said that he approves of all their works, for some only professed salvation, and therefore could not do Christian works.
And where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is- the city of Pergamos was the stop-off place for the priests of Babylon, when Constantine incorporated pagan practices into Christendom, in order to attract the heathen to Christianity.  Such festivals as Christmas and Easter are simply and only pagan festivals in the guise of pseudo-Christianity.  Believers would do well to give serious thought to these things, and separate from them.  God never works through compromise.

We know that Satan is the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and its prince as well, John 16:11, but Pergamos was especially a place where Satan-worship was practised.  The Emperor Domitian made it the centre of the Imperial Cult, involving the worship of the Caesars.  Coupled with this, it was the centre of the worship of Aesculapius, the “man-instructing serpent”.  This of course takes us back to the fall of man, when Satan, under the guise of the serpent, taught man to doubt God and disobey His word.  It should have been very obvious to the church in Pergamos that they were to be separate.
And thou holdest fast My name- they had refused to give Divine honours to Caesar by ascribing to him the names belonging to Christ.  Caesar claimed to be God, the Saviour of the world, and Lord.  The believers rejected such blasphemies, and refused to burn incense to Caesar to give him divine honours.
And hast not denied My faith- Satan attacks the faith, the whole body of Christian doctrine, so that Christ is devalued, and the way is prepared for the outright denial of His name.  The believing element in the church had seen it to be their duty to be “the pillar and ground of the truth”, 1 Timothy 3:15.  Notice that the Lord calls it His faith, signifying that He counts it precious to Himself, so should we count it precious.
Even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth- even the slaying of Antipas did not deter the believers from being steadfast and loyal.  It is said that Antipas was roasted alive on the great Altar of Zeus in Pergamos, which had a brazen bull upon it, into which the head of the victim was placed, and the bull was then heated by the fire of the altar and the victim burnt to death.  Such is the cruelty of Satan’s world.  This great altar was dismantled in the 18th Century, and taken to Berlin, and re-erected in the Museum there.  It was used as the model for Hitler’s stage at his pre-war rallies, and from which he announced the start of the persecution of the Jews which ended in the Holocaust.  Satan’s cruelty lives on! 
Note the repetition of the idea of Satan dwelling there, to give them a strong reminder of what the true situation was, and their great spiritual danger.

2:14  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

2:14- But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam- Balaam was a false prophet who was hired by Balak, king of the Moabites, to speak against Israel.  God over-ruled, however, and instead of cursing Israel, as Balak hoped, his words were turned into a blessing, Numbers 23:11.  So it was that “Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place”, Numbers 24:25, but not until he had taught Balak another way to defeat Israel- by compromise with idols, and with its consequent immorality, as we see from the very next verses in the book of Numbers.  So it was that what failed to happen by enchantments, was achieved by lack of separation, for the daughters of Moab called the men of Israel to share the sacrifices to their gods.  Scripture says that “Evil communications corrupt good manners”, and so it was for Israel in the past, and so it was in danger of being for Pergamos in the present.  They had those who were worldly and unbelieving in their company.

What the Devil fails to achieve by open opposition, he then seeks to do by infiltration.  Hence the warning to the church, because “thou hast them there”, they were already doing their evil work of teaching error.  The elders with responsibility in the church were held responsible for allowing them to be present. 
Who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication- note how that immorality and idolatry go together.  As soon as we put anything between ourselves and God, this is virtually idolatry, and will lead to unholiness.

2:15  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate- we are not told what this doctrine was, so we may take it as a general warning to hate what the Lord hates.  Some of the “Church Fathers” said that these were followers of one Nicolas of Antioch, whose followers developed into a gnostic sect, with all its moral laxity and excesses.  They were the sort of people Peter warned about in 2 Peter2:10-20, and Jude also.  They were even more wicked that the Balaamites, for if they were a gnostic sect, they openly indulged in immorality to show their disdain for the body, and there occupation with supposedly “spiritual” things.  Jude says that they had crept in unawares, which explains the expression here, “so hast thou”, for they were within the professing church.  Christ hates compromise of all sorts, and He wields a sword to deal with it. 

2:16  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Repent- they must change their minds about allowing these people to remain amongst them.  They should not have received them in the first place.  It is not just unsaved people who need to repent; believers need to do it if they have made a mistake, whether individually or collectively.
Or else I will come unto thee quickly- the call to repent is not an invitation, but a command, and it is here accompanied with a solemn warning.  They should not leave the matter to be dealt with by the Lord at the Judgement Seat of Christ.  The church is responsible for judging those who are within its ranks, 1 Corinthians 5:12, and who sin to such a degree that they need to be excluded for the sake of the testimony.  A Christian church is composed of “called-out ones”, such is the meaning of the word church.  It is not to tolerate the situation where there is a mixture of saved and unsaved.
And will fight against them with the sword of My mouth- the word of God is the standard and the judge.  We should be grateful that we have that standard, and do not have to trust our own judgement.  Those who reject the truth of God stand condemned by the Scriptures, and the Lord is very able to step in as He did at Corinth, so that it could be said, “many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep”, 1 Corinthians 11:30.  The Lord had intervened and had done for them what they should have done for themselves. 

2:17  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- that is, is prepared to listen, and not stop the ear to the truth.  This is always the test, whether there is a response to the word of God from our hearts.  Every church should practise separation, so the word is to all seven churches.
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna- the overcomer was not prepared to let the world, the flesh, and the Devil overwhelm him in defeat.  The world would try to make them burn incense to Caesar, and give Him Divine honours.  This they refused to do, and some had lost their lives because of it.  The flesh was making itself felt in the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, and some at least were uncompromising in their rejection of their teachings.  The Devil was active at Pergamos, making it his special seat.  They had overcome his evil influence.  They had done all this by allowing the word of God to separate them to God.  John wrote in his first epistle of those who had overcome the wicked one, and they did this because the word of God had an abiding place in their hearts, 1 John 2:14.

When God provided the manna for Israel, He ordained that a portion of it should be laid up before Him in a golden pot, as a memorial of His goodness, Exodus 16:32-34.  This is a figure of God’s appreciation of Christ as the one who has lived down here in this world, and whose pathway was marked by complete separation.  So the promise here is that Christ, the One “laid up before the Lord”, will be available in eternity to those who appreciated His walk and followed His steps.  The pot contained an omer, which was God’s daily supply for each Israelite, Exodus 16:16.  So in eternity, (which Peter calls the Day of God, 2 Peter 3:12), the believer shall enjoy what the Father enjoyed as He watched His Son move down here for His glory.
And will give him a white stone- this in Bible times was a sign of approval and joy in the following ways:
1.  It was given on feast days, reminding us that “in His presence is fulness of joy”, Psalm 16:11. 
2. It was given to mark acquittal from charges brought against a person, reminding us “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”, Romans 8:1, for whatever the Devil may try to do, he cannot bring any successful charge against God’s elect, verse 33. 
3.  It was given as a memento of victory in the Games.  These are true overcomers, and they have run their race well.
4.  It was given as an invitation to a meal, reminding us that we shall feast in the Father’s House for ever.  The prodigal, when he returned, found himself in the banqueting house, and it is said “they began to be merry”, Luke 15:24.  We do not read that they finished.
5.  It marked an invitation to enter a temple to worship a god.  So it is said in relation to the True and Living God that “His servants shall serve Him: and they shall see His face”, Revelation 22:3,4.

We can see in all these reasons for giving a stone, the reverse of what happened as a result of the teaching of Balaam, for the daughters of Moab invited the men of Israel to a feast, (compare numbers 1 and 4); this led to worship of idols, (compare number 5); and marked the defeat of many in Israel, (compare number 3), and occasioned God’s stern judgement upon them, (compare number 2).

Saul confessed that in his unconverted days he had cast his black pebble and condemned believers to death, for this is what “gave my voice, against them” means, Acts 26:10.  And that is what the world was doing to these believers at Pergamos, but they were undeterred, and unbeaten. 
And in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it- this can mean one of two things.  The new name is either an appreciation of Christ that is special to the particular overcomer, being the record Christ has kept of his personal devotion.  Or it is the record of the personal appreciation of Christ of that believer.  There is not too much difference between the two ideas; they are intertwined.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 2, VERSES 18 TO 29:

2:18  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;
2:19  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.
2:20  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.
2:21  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
2:22  Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
2:23  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.
2:24  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
2:25  But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
2:26  And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.
2:28  And I will give him the morning star.
2:29  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

2:18-29  Letter to the church in Thyatira

2:18  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;

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God- this is the only time that this title is used of Christ in the Book of Revelation, but His Deity is implied in 1:10 where He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last”.  The words of Isaiah 44:6 tell us this is a title of Deity because it reads, “Thus saith the Lord…I am the First and I am the Last”.
The vision of chapter 1 was of the Son of Man, but in Daniel 7:22 we find that the Son of Man comes to reign, but it is the Ancient of Days that comes, so the Son of Man fully manifests the Ancient of Days, and we know from the New Testament that this is because they are co-equal. That this interpretation of Daniel 7 is correct we see from the words of the Lord Jesus to Caiaphas, “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”.  In response to this Caiaphas rent his clothes, and charged the Lord Jesus with blasphemy, Matthew 26:64,65.  He realised that He was claiming to be the Son of Man that Daniel wrote of, and since the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days were equal, then the Lord was claiming equality with the Ancient of Days.  Because he did not believe this, Caiaphas thought Him to be blaspheming.
Who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire- when all the tabernacle parts had been made, they were inspected by Moses, and “he looked on them”, Exodus 39:43.  At the judgement seat the Lord Jesus will look at the works of His people, and all that is worthless will be burnt up, for His eyes are as a flame of fire.  But it is far better to assess our works in the light of His presence now, and remedy any shortcomings, than to leave it until the judgement seat.
And His feet are like fine brass- we noticed in connection with 1:14 that it was as if His feet were still glowing from the furnace.  Just as John sees Him as a lamb as it had been slain, a powerful reminder of Calvary, so here is a eloquent testimony to the testing He endured when down here, which testing showed He was not capable of giving in.  This being the case, He is now able to trample down that which opposes Him, for He has no point of weakness. 

2:19  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.

I know thy works- He knows perfectly, for he “searches the reins and hearts”, verse 23.  Thyatira was noted for its trade guilds, for it was a very busy place.  The believers had been busy too, and that is good.  The apostle Paul wrote, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works”, Ephesians 2:10.  And James reminds us that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”, James 2:17.
And charity- so they did not regard works as a substitute for love, nor did they see love as a substitute for works.  The word for love that is used here means “love for love’s sake”.  Believers are partakers of the Divine nature by new birth, and therefore have the ability to love as God loves.  This love is the out-working of a nature, it is not at all like emotion, which expresses itself in feelings.
And service- even the Son of God became a servant, so we should not hesitate to serve God and men.  The apostle Paul reminds us that “there are differences of administrations”, meaning that there are different ways of serving, but Christian service is all for the sake of the same Lord, 1 Corinthians 12:5.
And faith- this is not so much saving faith as the dependent faith of the believer.  John wrote, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”, 1 John 5:13.  So those who believe on the name of the Son of God are exhorted to believe on the name of the Son of God.  In other words, to keep on doing it, and to do it with intelligence.  It is in this sense that our faith can be small.  Saving faith, because it rests on Christ alone, has no grades or degrees.  But the faith of the believer, considered as to his degree of reliance on the Lord in day-to-day matters, may be great or small, see Luke 7:9; 12:28. 
Perhaps there is a contrast here with those who felt the need to join trade guilds to protect their interests.  The believers had the Son of God to protect their interests. 
And thy patience- this is positive perseverance, not passive indifference.  They persevered in the doing of good things, and this pleased the Lord.  As Paul wrote,  “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”, Galatians 6:9.
And thy works; and the last to be more than the first- not content with doing “the first works”, verse 5, they were increasing in their industry as time went by, so that they were doing more now than when they began.
We now know the sort of things that the Son of God, with eyes like flame of fire, approves of, and which will stand the test of His scrutiny in the day of assessment to come.  In the next verse we shall learn the sort of things He does not approve of.

2:20  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.

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel- despite all their fine efforts as summarised in verse 19, they were in danger of destroying it all by allowing things that the Son of God did not approve of.  Jezebel was one of the wickedest women of the Bible, for she had a very bad influence on the nation, leading it idolatry.  The prophets of Baal and the prophets of the groves ate at her table, 1 Kings 18:19.  Perhaps the woman that is mentioned here had the same character, so the Lord calls her a Jezebel.  The word has come down to us in the English language to describe a really wicked woman. 
Which calleth herself a prophetess- she claimed to be able to prophesy.  Now it is true that believing women had this gift in New Testament times, Philip’s four daughters for instance, Acts 21:9, but the things that Jezebel incited people to do tell us very clearly that she was not sent of God.  In the days before the Word of God was complete, a prophet was either tested by whether his prophecy came to pass as predicted, or whether his teaching was confirmed by the Scriptures when they had been finally completed.  And this latter test is the way to assess those who claim to be prophets in our day.  Anyone can make predictions about things in the distant future, but that is not the test.  The real test is whether their words comply with the completed word of God.  As Isaiah the prophet wrote, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”, Isaiah 8:20.
To teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols- the trade guilds of Thyatira held feasts where debauchery and immorality were rife.  Each trade guild was affiliated to its own idol.  The Lord does not accuse the believers of allowing this woman into the assembly, but He does condemn them for allowing the believers to be influenced by her.  We see why the Lord presents Himself to this church as the Son of God, for idolatry is an attack on Him, for He is the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15, (using the word image in a spiritual sense), and is the sole means of representing God to men.  We need to watch our associations and what we access.  The Son of God calls the believers His servants, and they should be careful to serve only Him.  As the Lord Jesus quoted to the Devil, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve”, Matthew 4:10.  Believers are married to Christ, Romans 4, and association with evil is spiritual fornication.

2:21  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not- fornication is used in Scripture in a literal sense, and also in the sense of unfaithfulness of God expressed in idolatry; Jezebel was guilty of both, and so were many in Thyatira.  Despite her wickedness, God had given this woman time to repent, but she did not respond.  It was the Lord who stepped into this situation, for she did not come into the range of the church’s jurisdiction.  “them that are without God judgeth”, 1 Corinthians 5:13. 

2:22  Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Behold, I will cast her into a bed- the punishment will fit the crime, and so the one who has been given over to a bed of pleasure is now given over by the Lord to a bed of pain.
And them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation- those who consort with her literally, and who go astray into idolatry as her converts, (her children), and who act as she does, will experience severe suffering in some way.  This is not the Great Tribulation as the rest of the Book of Revelation describes it, but personal affliction of some sort to chastise them for their sin.
Except they repent of their deeds- the Lord is very patient, even with idolaters, but there is a limit to His patience.

2:23  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.

And I will kill her children with death- when David sinned in the matter of Bathsheba, God’s judgement upon him was that the child produced as a result of the union, died.  It is quite possible that there were children produced as a result of Jezebel’s wicked doctrines, whether her own, or of her adherents.  The best thing for them is for the Lord to take them before they reach the age of discretion, rather than be brought up in a wicked environment.  They were to be killed with death, which means they would die instantly, not die after a lingering illness.  The Lord’s hand in their death would be unmistakeable. 
The alternative to this explanation is that her devotees are her spiritual children, but it seems strange that they were to be killed, whilst Jezebel and those consorting with her initially, were not. 
And all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts- when this severe judgement takes place, (and it will be clear that it is of the Lord when it happens), then the ability of the Son of God to look into the hearts of men will be evident.  It was said of Him when He was down here, “He knew what was in man”, John 2:25, and this is still true.  Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?  I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”, Jeremiah 17:9,10.  This, therefore, is a claim to Deity, and explains why he presents Himself to the church as the Son of God.  Explains also why He declares that His eyes are as a flame of fire, because he sees into the heart, and burns in anger against sin.  His feet are like brass, for as He walks amongst the churches He is unbending, uncompromising, with regard to evil.
And I will give unto every one of you according to your works- the believers should not think of themselves as beyond the Lord’s scrutiny and discipline.  Those led astray by Jezebel’s influence would be judged for evil works, whereas those who overcame in that situation would be praised for good works.

2:24  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira- the letter is addressed to the angel, the heavenly representative of those in responsibility as elders in the church, and to the rest of the church also.  The word “you” is plural, (as opposed to the singular “thee”, a distinction we lose if we depart from the Authorised Version), so this suggests that the angel does represent more than one person.
As many as have not this doctrine- that is, the teaching of the woman Jezebel, referred to in verse 20.  To have the doctrine is to believe it. 
And which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak- not only had they not believed the evil doctrines about fornication and idolatry that Jezebel had promoted, but they had not gone further and begun to be initiated into the mysteries of the idol-worship.

The worship of idols is on two levels.  The ordinary worshipper simply bows down to an idol in ignorance and superstition.  There are those, however, called “the perfected ones”, who have been indoctrinated with the hidden meaning of the idol-worship.  Those who reach the highest level of this knowledge are allowed into the shrine to see the god.  But far from being on a high level, this knowledge is in fact the depths of Satan, and is one of his most powerful means of gaining a hold on the minds of men.
I will put upon you none other burden- they were already busy for Him, as verse 19 tells us, and apart from the task of keeping clear of Jezebel, there was nothing else the Lord required them to do.  To steer clear of Satan’s works, and to be occupied with works for God, is the whole duty of the man who is burdened about promoting God’s glory.

2:25  But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

But that which ye have already hold fast till I come- they were to maintain their current position in faithfulness to Him until He comes again.  They already had works, charity, service, faith and patience, as things credited to their account with the Lord.  Now He asks them to hold those things fast.  This is the first of the churches to have the coming of the Lord held out to it as a hope and a reward.  His coming would deliver them from the sphere of influence of Jezebel.

2:26  And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

And he that overcometh- faced with the wickedness represented by Jezebel, they were to stand fast and firm, refusing to listen to her doctrines.  This emphasises faith, for it is faith that overcomes the world in all its forms, 1 John 5:4.  But faith must be accompanied by works, hence the next phrase.
And keepeth My works unto the end- His works were works that glorified Him because they were works He had directed them to do.  He owns what they were doing for Him by calling them “My works”.
To him will I give power over the nations- the major ways by which Satan seeks to control the world is through evil doctrine and evil practice.  He will almost succeed in subduing the world to himself when the worship of the Antichrist and his image takes place, for this will be the worship of Satan.  He will bribe Antichrist with world power, as long as he bows down to him.  This Antichrist will do, and will worship the god of forces, Daniel 11:38, which is Satan himself. 

2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.

And he shall rule them with a rod of iron- in Revelation 21:7 we read, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son”.  This is an allusion to 2 Samuel 7:14, where these things were promised to Solomon.  But the writer to the Hebrews quotes them concerning Christ, as He prepares to come to earth to reign, Hebrews 1:5.  We are introduced by these verses to the idea of the believer reigning with Christ, and exercising the same control over the nations as He shall.  Paul wrote, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us”, 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
As the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers- the result of this iron rule is that Gentile dominion shall be shattered, just as an iron rod smashes a clay pot.  It cannot be restored, and neither will Gentile rule be restored, for Christ shall reign for ever. 
Even as I received of My Father- this authority will not be given to the overcomer because he has merited it, but purely because of association with Him whose right it is to reign.  It is because He has received the authority that we receive it, and on no other basis.  As he will say to the overcomer in Laodicea, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down on My Father’s throne”, 3:21.

2:28  And I will give him the morning star.

And I will give him the morning star- this is the star that is prominent in the heavens before dawn.  It is true that the Lord Jesus is coming in power and great glory to set up His kingdom upon earth, and as Malachi prophesied, “the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings”, Malachi 4:2.  But before this he shall descend into the air to take His people of this age to be for ever with Him.  So before “the sun” rises, “the morning star” will appear.  And this is the hope that is held out to the overcomers.  For them there will be no passing through the Great Tribulation with all its woes.

2:29  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches- the warnings, encouragements, and promises, are relevant to all in the churches, wherever they are, and whenever they are during this present age until the Lord comes.