Seven Churches – Revelation Chapter 1:3-5a

Seven Churches – Revelation Chapter 1:3-5a

Chapter 1

Verses 3-5a (New King James Version)

Revelation 1:3-5a

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Greeting the Seven Churches.

4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

Verse 3

“Blessed” in the Greek means: happy, well off, fortunate, to be envied.

“Blessed” (in Verse 3) is the first of seven blessings, or beatitudes, in the Book of Revelation. The seven beatitudes are:

  1. Rev 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it.
  1. Rev 14:13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
  1. Rev 16:15 Blessed are all who are watching for Me, who guard their clothing.
  1. Rev 19:9 Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
  1. Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.
  1. Rev 22:7 Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.
  1. Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and enter through the gates into the city.

In Verse 3, a blessing is given to the reader of the prophecy.  Writings were copied by hand, and so therefore, not everyone in the seven churches had their own scroll to read on their own.  An appointed speaker would stand up at the podium in the public assembly and read outloud the words of the prophecy to the congregation.

A blessing is given to the hearers of what they heard being read outloud. As the people heard this book being read, its message would give them strength and hope. The message would also help them examine their own lives, and each local assembly, to determine those areas needing correction.

A blessing is given to those who keep those things written in it. The blessing would come not just by hearing, but putting into practice what they heard and guarding it as a precious treasure.   James 1:22-25 (Amplified Version) tells us:

22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;

24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.

25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).

“For the time is near”, in Verse 3, means that we are in the last days for all these prophecies to be fulfilled and for the second return of Christ to occur. Jesus said He was coming soon 2000 years ago. To us, 2000 years does not sound like anytime soon.

In the third chapter of Peter, the Apostle Peter talks about the return of Jesus Christ as well as false teachers. He said in Verse 8-10a:

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

10 The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

Time is different in heaven than here on earth.  In Heaven, a thousand years is as if one day had elapsed and a day could seem like a thousand years.  Time here on earth is chronos time (the ticking away of the clock which is measured in terms of years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds).  Kairos time (God’s timing) means the appointed time, the set time for something to be fulfilled or to happen.

One reason for the delay in Christ’s coming, is that the Lord is merciful and is giving people more time to repent.  His will is that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God sent His Son Jesus to die for everyone in the world, and His will is that all would be saved and none would be lost.

The Greek definition for the word repent means “to change one’s thinking.”  The mindset has to be changed or enlightened first before one’s actions change.  A person cannot go beyond their level of thinking.  As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).  For true repentance (a turnaround) to take place, one has to begin to think in a new way.  Mental strongholds and traditions are powerful and keep the mind locked in to think a certain way.  However, the Word of God is more powerful and has the ability to renew the mind so that we are transformed (Romans 12:2).

“Greeting to the Seven Churches” (Verse 3) is in reference to seven actual historical churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). There were many more than just seven churches, but Jesus chose seven, out of all, of the churches to give a message to.

Seven is the number of totality, perfection, completion, fullness. The seven churches encompass every church in the world to ever exist, as well as seven groups of people within the Body of Christ. The messages to the seven churches are applicable to every church, and every Christian, today.

The seven churches included: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

“Grace and peace” (Verse 4) is a common salutation throughout the New Testament. To wish someone grace, is to wish them goodwill, lovingkindness, favor, benefits, and that which affords joy, pleasure, delight and sweetness. Grace is also defined as the unmerited favor of God and mercy.

To wish someone peace is the same as saying “Shalom”. Shalom is defined as:

 

  • peace (from war)
  • peace (inner peace)
  • good health
  • deliverance
  • preservation
  • salvation
  • prosperity
  • safety
  • friendship
  • well being
  • happiness
  • good welfare
  • favor
  • wholeness
  • rest
  • completeness
  • soundness
  • quietness
  • tranquility
  • contentment
  • harmonious state of the soul and mind
  • Covenant relationship with God

 

“Him who is and who was and who is to come” (Verse 4) is based on God’s self-identification in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am,” or, “I will be who I will be” (from Jewish New Testament Commentary).

“Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ”. This salutation may be alluding to the Trinity. John mentions the Godhead in other writings of his. I’ll mention one in particular. In 1 John 5:7, John records: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word (Jesus is the Word made flesh), and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

“Seven Spirits” is in reference to the Holy Spirit. It’s talking about the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Seven is the number of totality, perfection, fullness and completion.

The Seven Spirits of God are also known as “the seven-fold Spirit of the Lord.” See Isaiah 11:2-4 as a cross reference. Other references of the Seven Spirits of God are found in Revelation 3:1, 4:5, 5:6.

In the Throne Room of Heaven, the seven-fold Spirit of God is symbolized by the seven lamps (torches) of fire burning before the Throne (Rev 4:5).

In the earthly tabernacle (which was patterned after the real Sanctuary in Heaven), the seven-fold Spirit of God is symbolized by the 7-branched Menorah that continually burned day and night.

The seven torches of fire, and the seven-branched Candelabra symbolizes the Holy Spirit bringing illumination and revelation. The Holy Spirit also sanctifies us just as fire purges the dross.

In Revelation 3:1, Jesus is said to have those Seven Spirits of God. This is symbolized by the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb in Revelation 5:6. This verse says: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

The horns speak of Jesus’ power and the eyes speak of Jesus’ manifold wisdom.

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Father (Matt 10:20, John 15:26) AND the Son (Gal 4:6, Phil 1:19). The Son issues out of the Father (John 8:42).

Isaiah 11:2-4a

2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

3  His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears;

4a  But with righteousness He shall judge the poor.

If Interpreting This Passage as Names of God

  1. Spirit of the Lord
  2. Spirit of Wisdom
  3. Spirit of Understanding
  4. Spirit of Counsel
  5. Spirit of Might
  6. Spirit of Knowledge
  7. Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

If Interpreting This Passage as the Seven-fold Character or Attributes of God

  1. Spirit of Wisdom
  2. Spirit of Understanding
  3. Spirit of Counsel
  4. Spirit of Might
  5. Spirit of Knowledge
  6. Spirit of the Fear of the Lord
  7. Righteousness (vs 4)

Kat Kerr, who has been caught up to Heaven many times, says that the seven Spirits of God are actually seven individual spirits who minister before God’s Throne (which is the Holy Spirit, who is eternal) and the six other spirits.

“The faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth”. The Bible Exposition Commentary says, “Jesus Christ is seen in His threefold office as Prophet (faithful Witness), Priest (First-begotten from the dead), and King (Prince of the kings of the earth). First-begotten does not mean ‘the first one raised from the dead,’ but ‘the highest of those raised from the dead.’ Firstborn is a title of honor (see Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15,18).”

A faithful witness is a reliable one. Proverbs 14:5,25 says, “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies. A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.”

“Firstborn” and “ruler over the earth’s kings” corresponds to Psalms 89:27, which says: “Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.”

The messages to the seven churches was given during a time of heavy persecution against the Church. The Jewish New Testament Commentary says the following:

“The original readers were greatly encouraged in their struggle against persecution by these three aspects of Yeshua the Messiah:

  1. He is the faithful witness (or “the faithful martyr”). He witnessed unto the point of his own death, and especially through his own death, that God is in control of history.
  1. He is the firstborn (or “foremost, chief”) of those who get raised from the dead. This means that faithful believers too can look forward to being resurrected and having eternal fellowship with God, even if in this world they receive no reward and die ignominiously.
  1. He is the ruler of the earth’s kings, the “King of Kings” (17:14, 19:16) who will one day subject to himself even the most unbridled and oppressive governments.”
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Seven Churches – Revelation Chapter 1:1-2 Commentary

Seven Churches – Revelation Chapter 1:1-2 Commentary

We are discussing the seven churches in Revelation 1-3.  I have given an overview and introduction of the seven churches, listed the promises to overcomers, and talked about the significant number patterns found in the Book of Revelation.

I am going to now start with Chapter 1 and go verse by verse explaining what it means.  After Chapter 1, I will go through each of the seven churches, one by one.

Chapter 1

Verses 1-2 (Amplified Version)

1 This is the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries]. God gave it to Him to disclose and make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond servant John,

2 Who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw [in his visions], the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Revelation was authored by Jesus Christ and given (by way of vision) to John the Apostle around 95-96 AD.  John was affectionately known as John the Beloved, but also Son of Thunder.  He was full of love, yet also zeal.  He was very outspoken and fiery in his preaching, and especially dealing with issues of sin and walking in love.

John was also Jesus’ cousin, as well as appointed caretaker of Jesus’ mother Mary.  John’s death was around 100 AD, and church records report that he lived to be in his 90’s.

The book entitled “The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary” by C. Bernard Ruffin says on Page 89 that according to the Apostolic History of Abdias, it stated that John was 97 when he died.  That means he would have been in his early 90’s when he had the Vision in 95-96 AD.

The Roman Emperor Domitian ruled from 81-96 AD.  Persecution and martyrdom against Christians was intense during that time.

Earlier attempts during the reign of Domitian were made to persecute, torture and martyr John, but were unsuccessful (God supernaturally intervened and he lived and escaped).  Later on John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos to a prison camp as a form of persecution for preaching the Gospel.

It was while he was at Patmos that he received the Vision.  Patmos is a tiny, rocky island in the Aegean Sea, around 25 miles off the coast of Miletus – Miletus is around 35 miles south of Ephesus.

The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis from which we have our word Apocalypse.  It is defined as:  “disclosure of what was concealed or hidden, an uncovering, to lay open what has been veiled, manifestation, to make known, a revealing, an appearance.”

The main theme of the Book of Revelation is that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ.  The Amplified says “His unveiling of the divine mysteries.”

The Bible Exposition Commentary says,

“John’s prophecy is primarily the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of future events.

In Revelation 1-3, Christ is seen as the exalted Priest King ministering to the churches.

In Revelation 4-5, He is seen in heaven as the glorified Lamb of God, reigning on the throne.

In Revelation 6-18, Christ is the Judge of all the earth; and in Revelation 19, He returns to earth as the conquering King of kings.

The book closes with the heavenly Bridegroom ushering His bride, the church, into the glorious heavenly city.”

God first imparted the revelation to His Son Jesus Christ.

Then Christ sent an angel to reveal the Vision to His servant John.

Then John sent the Vision to the seven churches.

According to Bible Knowledge Commentary, the angel who appeared to John is not named, but some theologians believe the angel was Gabriel, who explained visions to Daniel, and who brought messages to Mary and Zacharias (Daniel 8:16; 9:21-22; Luke 1:5-31).

The Greek word for angel is agellos, and it simply means “a messenger; to bring tidings; one who is sent.” The definition also says that the word angel could apply to a heavenly spirit-being or could be in reference to a pastor. In Revelation 1:1, the angel is a heavenly being, probably Gabriel.

In the letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), the seven angels are seven pastors or bishops.

The phrase, in the NKJV, “The revelation which God (the Father) gave Him (His Son Jesus) to show (for Jesus to show) His servants (servants would be John, the seven pastors of the seven churches and other servants)”—the Amplified Version uses the word disclose.  The Greek word translated as show or disclose is the word deixai or deiknuoo which means:  “to point out, to cause to see, to present to the sight, to give evidence or proof of a thing, to show by words, to teach.”  This suggests that what was to be revealed was to be presented to the sight by tokens, symbols and words.

The phrase, “certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety” could mean:

  1. That the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately. Once the end-time events begin, they will occur in rapid succession.
  1. Time does not exist with God in the same way that we have time here on the earth.  A thousand years is as a day in light of eternity, and a day is as a thousand years.  On earth, we live in chronos time (the ticking away of the clock in terms of years, months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes).  Kairos time is the set appointed time for something to be fulfilled when everything is in place.

The phrase: “He sent and communicated it through His angel” (AMP).  The KJV says “sent and signified”.  The Greek word translated as communicated or signified is the word semaino meaning “to make known by signs or symbols,” but the verb also includes communication by words.

The word “bondservant” (referring to John) in Verse 1 denotes the idea of being a love slave of Christ.  It also refers to being a servant leader.  Jesus said that he who is greatest in the kingdom of God must first of all be a servant (Matthew 23:11).

The term bondservant is used by Jesus (Philippians 2:7 NKJV), Paul (Romans 1:1, Galations 1:10, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1 NKJV), Timothy (Philippians 1:1 NKJV), Epaphras (Colossians 4:12 NKJV), James (James 1:1 NKJV), Peter (2 Peter 1:1 NKJV), John (Revelation 1:1 AMP) and Jude (Jude :1 NKJV).

Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus, Himself, was a bondservant—serving His Father and serving others around Him.  Mark 10:45 NKJV says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served (to be ministered to – KJV), but to serve (minister – KJV), and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the Cross.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Verse 2 – John was an eyewitness of what had occurred in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

In John’s writings and public ministry (preaching, teaching, working of miracles and healings, testifying about Christ), John regarded himself as a witness of what he had seen and heard, and claimed only to make a faithful and fair record of it.

The phrase “The Word of God” could be referring to:

  1. The teachings of God
  1. A Name of Jesus Himself (i.e. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”).

The phrase “testimony of Jesus” could be referring to:

  1. John testifying of what he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears the things which Jesus taught, the miracles He performed and other displays of Jesus’ glory (such as on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-8 when Jesus transformed into spirit, yet man.  Bright light emanated from Him.  He spoke with Moses and Elijah.  The Father’s Voice from Heaven said “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” They were all enveloped by the Shekinah glory cloud.)
  1. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).

The words “witness” and “testimony” are legal terms.  It gives the picture of being in a court room and giving an eyewitness account of what happened, what you saw and heard, what was said, what was done, who was involved, when it happened, and so forth.

Seven Churches – Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church

Seven Churches – Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church

Revelation 3:14-22

In writing to the seven churches, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John, drew spiritual applications from the natural surroundings in which the people found themselves.

To the Laodiceans it was written: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Verse 16).

Laodicea, directly east of Patmos from which John wrote, was in the Lycus Valley. Its water was obtained from the hot springs nearby. Tumbling over rocks and cliffs, it was lukewarm by the time it reached the city.

Other references to the city’s status are given:

  1. It was a banking center – “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods … I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire (Verses 17 and 18).
  1. Sheep grown in the valley produced luscious wool, making Laodicea a clothing center – they were told to buy “white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed” (Verse 18).
  1. The city had a medical school and made eye salve – Jesus said “Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see” (Verse 18).

Material prosperity and affluence characterized this city, but they were warned that spiritually they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Verse 17).

Perhaps even worse than these characteristics is the attitude which says, “I have need of nothing” (Verse 17). God can meet the need of the miserable, poor, blind and naked, but there is no hope for the individual, the city, or the nation that says they have no need of God.

God’s mercy is indeed longsuffering for He issues to this church an invitation of fellowship that He does not include in any of the other letters: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Verse 20).

Salutation

“These things saith … “

  1. “The Amen” – Once in the New Testament “Amen” is a title of Christ, Revelation 3:14, because through Him the purposes of God are established, 2 Corinthians 1:20 (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
  1. “The faithful and true witness” – this is an amplification of the word “Amen”, as one of the definitions of “Amen” is: “God is faithful”.
  1. “The beginning of the creation of God” – John 1:1-2

Assets

There is nothing to commend them for.

Liabilities

“I know thy works … “

  1. “Thou art neither cold nor hot” – be either for Me or against Me, but not apathetic.
  1. “Thou art lukewarm” – implies that they were once hot and then cooled off.
  1. “Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods” – spiritual pride. Material prosperity had become idolatry to them. It is possible to be rich and yet not make money an idol, or to put your trust in riches. It all depends on the condition of the heart.
  1. “And have need of nothing” – this is the epitome of the independent or prideful spirit.
  1. “Knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” – they didn’t know their own position before God.
  1. “I counsel thee to buy of me” – I advise you to purchase from me these things:
  1. “gold tried in the fire” – deity, purity, divine nature
  2. “that thou mayest be rich” – spiritually rich
  3. “white raiment” – marriage garment
  4. “that thou mayest be clothed” – fit to come into my presence
  5. “eye salve” – revelation of God, insight into the Word of God
  6. “that thou mayest see” – see God for who and what He is and then see your spiritual condition
  7. “Be zealous … and repent” – chastening is for sons and daughters because of love; Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:5-11.

Promise

“To him that overcomes” …

Will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and have sat down in My Father’s Throne” – to him who overcomes he shall sit where I sit, having the same power and authority that I have.

The highest promise given to the seven churches is for the ones that can overcome the apostasy of the last days.

Seven Churches – Philadelphia: The Faithful Church

Seven Churches – Philadelphia: The Faithful Church

The name “Philadelphia” means love of the brethren or brotherly love. Philadelphia was a city of the province of Lydia in Western Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Philadelphia was about 28 miles southeast of Sardis.

Philadelphia was a center of the wine industry. Volcanic activity contributed richness to the soil for growing vines.

Philadelphia has been nearly destroyed several times by earthquakes. The promise, “him that overcometh I will make a pillar,” i.e. immovably firm, stands in contrast to Philadelphia often shaken by earthquakes. A portion of a stone church wall topped with arches of brick remains; the building must have been magnificent, and dates from Theodosius. This church had but “little strength,” i.e. was small in numbers and poor in resources, of small account in men’s eyes. The cost of repairing the often shaken city taxed heavily the citizens (from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary).

Still a city of considerable size, Philadelphia is known today by the Turks as Allah-shehr “the city of God” (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

Revelation 3:7-13

Salutation

“These things says … “

  1. He who is holy (pure, undefiled, set apart)
  2. He that is true (faithful)
  3. He that has the Key of David (Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16 refer to the Tabernacle of David being restored. The Key of David is praise, kingly authority, prophet and priestly authority, governmental authority)
  4. He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens (cross reference is Isaiah 22:22) – has access to go through doors and authority to lock and unlock doors

Assets

“I know thy works … “

  1. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it (“A great and effectual door is opened unto me” – 1 Corinthians 16:9)
  2. For you have a little strength, and have kept My word (small in number, not rich, not strong and powerful, yet faithful to the Word)
  3. And have not denied My Name (have not denied the faith, have not denied that His Name is Lord)
  4. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
  5. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
  6. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

Liabilities

None (Jesus had nothing negative to say to the churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna)

Promises

“He who overcomes … “

  1. I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more (a strong support in God’s house, steadfast and unmovable); see Galations 2:9 – James, Peter and John were regarded as pillars.
  1. “I will write upon him … “
    1. The name of My God (those who belong to Him bear His Name, Revelation 14:1, Acts 9:15)
    2. The name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God (Revelation 21:2 and Galations 4:26)
    3. My new name (bridal relationship with Jesus, Revelation 2:17)

Seven Churches – Sardis: The Dead Church

Seven Churches – Sardis: The Dead Church

Sardis was the capital of Lydia in Western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It was 50-60 miles northeast of Smyrna. Sardis stood on the river Pactolus, at the foot of Mount Tmolus.

Sardis was the capital of the ancient Lydian Empire and the residence of kings. It passed to the Persians, Greeks and Romans during their dominance of the ancient world. In AD 17, an earthquake desolated Sardis and eleven other cities in Asia Minor. The city was rebuilt, although it did not thrive like it did prior to its destruction.

The church of Sardis had a reputation of being alive, although it was spiritually dead. The church of Sardis was affected by the complacency of the city and its reliance on its past glory.

Sardis was like whitewashed tombs which appear outwardly beautiful, but are full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27). Its thriving, healthy appearance masked an inner decay (Nelson’s Bible Dictionary).

Salutation

“These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God” – xref Isaiah 11:2-4

  1. Spirit of the Lord
  2. Spirit of wisdom
  3. Spirit of understanding
  4. Spirit of counsel
  5. Spirit of might
  6. Spirit of knowledge
  7. Spirit of the fear of the Lord

The seven Spirits of God are not seven Holy Spirits, but is the seven-fold character of the Lord. (Kat Kerr, who has been caught up to Heaven on many occasions, says that the seven Spirits of God are seven spirit beings who minister before God’s Throne, which includes the Holy Spirit, and six other spirits.)

“And the seven stars” – the seven stars are the seven angels (bishops) of the seven churches, according to Revelation 1:20.

Assets

I know thy works …

  1. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.
  2. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Liabilities

  1. I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead – physically alive, but spiritually dead (a church, nation, individual)
  2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
  3. Hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

Promises

“He that overcomes …”

  1. Shall be clothed in white garments (Revelation 19:8 – robe of righteousness).
  2. I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life will have access forever to the tree of life in Revelation 22:2
  3. I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (Matthew 10:32)

Seven Churches – Thyatira: The Corrupt Church

Seven Churches – Thyatira: The Corrupt Church

Thyatira was located on the borders of Lydia and Mysia in Asia Minor (Turkey). Its modern name is Akhissar (meaning “white castle”).

Lydia, the seller of purple (cloth dyed this color), was from this city (Acts 16:14). She was the Apostle Paul’s first convert in Europe.

Although never a large city, Thyatira was a thriving manufacturing and commercial center during New Testament times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of many trade guilds and unions here. Membership in these trade guilds, necessary for financial and social success, often involved pagan customs and practices such as cult worship, union feasts using food sacrificed to idols, and loose sexual morality (Nelson’s Bible Dictionary).

There was a certain woman named “Jezebel” who taught and beguiled Christians to conform to pagan practices and to commit sexual immorality. She called herself a prophetess. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary says that it could have been a collection of prophets (the feminine in Hebrew idiom expressing a multitude). Whether “Jezebel” was one woman, or a company of so-called prophets, Jezebel was closely attached to and influential over the church of Thyatira and its presiding bishop, just as Jezebel in the Old Testament had control over her weak husband Ahab. The presiding bishop should have exercised his authority, as Jezebel seduced many into the practices of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.

Balaam worship (Numbers 22:5-7; 31:16; 25:1-2) included:

  1. Associating with the evil one
  2. Eating meat sacrificed to idols
  3. Committing fornication

The doctrine of the Nicolaitans included:

  1. Licentiousness
  2. Unrestrained indulgence
  3. Abusing the grace of God

Salutation

Son of God – divine authority

Who has eyes like a flame of fire – intense love. His eyes also purge the soul.

His feet are like fine brass – strong and immovable

Assets

I know your works – your deeds

  1. Love – love for all, beginning with love for God
  2. Service – showing faith by works, James 2:18
  3. Faith – faith in God to do what He has promised
  4. Patience – endurance

As for your works, the last are more than the first.

Liabilities

You allow that woman Jezebel

  1. Which calls herself a prophetess
  2. To teach
  3. To seduce My servants into sexual immorality
  4. Gave her time to repent of sexual immorality, but she did not repent

Sexual immorality also applies to pornography and racy pictures. Behind pornography is the spirit of Jezebel. This spirit seduces men (and women, but mostly men), and even men of God, into sexual immorality. Pornography is a form of adultery and fornication, because Jesus said that if a man lustfully looks on a woman, he has committed adultery in his heart. Pornography also leads to acting out behaviors. Pornography hurts marriages. Pornography opens the door to demons in your life. The only way to get free from this spirit is by prayer, intercession, fasting, and submitting to accountability (such as a Christian men’s group or a group that focuses on getting set free from addictions).

The result of being under Jezebel’s seducing control is great tribulation for her and them that commit adultery with her. Idolatry is spiritual adultery.

Death to her children – all she produces will die.

All the churches shall know that I am He who searches the reins and the hearts –

Psalms 7:9

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I will give to each one of you according to your works.

In John Paul Jackson’s book entitled Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit he goes into a detailed description of the characteristics of the Jezebel spirit. It’s a spirit that can work through both men and women. John Paul Jackson goes into great detail about how this spirit works in churches.

Promises

Dominion and authority. Overcomers shall have equal power and authority with Jesus.

And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels — as I also have received from My Father.

And I will give him the morning star.

Seven Churches – Pergamos: The Compromising Church

Seven Churches – Pergamos: The Compromising Church

Historical City

Pergamos was the chief city of Mysia, near the Caicus River in northwest Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The city was 15 miles from the Aegean Sea.

Great buildings were erected. The city was noted for its vast library, containing 200,000 volumes. The Egyptians, concerned with this library which rivaled their own at Alexandria, refused to ship papyrus to Pergamos. As a result, a new form of writing material, Pergamena charta, or parchment, was developed.

In the days of Roman dominance throughout Asia Minor, Pergamos became the capital of the Roman province of Asia.

Pergamos was a government center with splendid temples built to Athena, Zeus and Asklepios (The Greco-Roman god of medicine and healing).

In the Book of Revelation, John spoke of Pergamos as the place “where Satan’s throne is” (Revelation 2:13). This could be a reference to the cult of emperor worship, because Pergamos was a center where this form of loyalty was pledged to the emperor of the Roman Empire (Nelson’s Bible Dictionary). Some suppose “Satan’s throne” to be in reference to the worship of Aesculapius, from the serpent being his characteristic emblem (Smith’s Bible Dictionary).

Pergamos was noted for its wickedness, insomuch that our Lord says “Satan’s seat” was there. The church of Pergamos was rebuked for swerving from the truth and embracing the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Antipas, Christ’s “faithful martyr”, here sealed his testimony with his blood (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

The modern name of the city is Bergama.

Salutation

Revelation 2:12: “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword”

The sword is the Word of God spoken out of the mouth of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 1:16). We are to have a two-edged sword in our hand according to Psalm 149:6. “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” The sword brings either mercy or judgment.

Assets

“I know your works” – your deeds

“And where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is” – living in a place that is the center of cult worship and much Satanic activity

“You hold fast to My Name” – did not deny the Lord

“And did not deny My faith” – even when Antipas was martyred they did not deny their faith

Liabilities

“There are those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam” – Numbers 22:5-7; 31:16; 25:1-2.

  1. Associating with the evil one
  2. Eating meat sacrificed to idols
  3. Committing fornication

“You also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I hate” –

  1. Licentiousness
  2. Unrestrained indulgence
  3. Abusing the grace of God

“Repent or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” – turn quickly to God to avoid certain judgment. You don’t ever want the Lord fighting against you.

Promises

“I will give some of the hidden manna to eat” – spiritual food, rhema, revelation in the Word

“I will give him a white stone” – a stone of acquittal

“On the stone a new name written” – a new name denotes a change of character (such as Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul).