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.

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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).

Seven Churches – Smyrna: The Persecuted Church

Seven Churches – Smyrna: The Persecuted Church

Historical City

The name Smyrna means “myrrh”. Myrrh has a sweet-smelling aroma, but is very bitter. Myrrh prophetically speaks of suffering.

Smyrna was 40 miles north of Ephesus.

Smyrna was called the “Crown of Asia” because of its beauty. This city was well planned and laid out, having beautiful temples, noble buildings and broad, paved streets. Beautiful mountains began at the harbor and circled the entire city.

Its natural harbor made the city an important commercial center. Smyrna enjoyed the trade of the rich. Because of its loyalty to Rome, it obtained permission to build a large and splendid temple for cult emperor worship.

This is the city which is noted as having the “Synagogue of Satan”. These were those who said they were Jews, but were not. They professed to be worshipers of God, but rather were regarded as being in the service of Satan.

Smyrna was the home of the Roman Forum. Today the city is known as Izmir in Anatolia.

Salutation

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write … “

The angel is the pastor. Polycarp was the leader of the church of Smyrna. He was a pupil of the Apostle John. In 155 A.D. Polycarp was arrested and brought to the public arena. There he was given a choice. He refused to worship Caesar and was burned at the stake. When urged to recant he said, “four-score years and six I have served the Lord, and He never wronged me; how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?” (from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary)

There were many in Smyrna who would not go to the temple of Caesar, burn incense or worship him. Extensive persecution was the result. When John’s letter arrived in Smyrna, Polycarp read the message from God to the church: “Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer – prison – tribulation – be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The sword of persecution was wielded mightily against the Church for two hundred years. The devil sought to destroy the Church, but it only caused a purging and an increase in the number of those willing to be faithful unto death.

“These things says the First and the Last” – Jesus is Alpha and Omega, He is Sovereign and in control, He is eternal, He knows the beginning from the end.

“Who was dead and came to life” – the One who conquered death has conquered it also for you.

Assets

“I know your works …”

“Tribulation” – great trouble, severe trial

“Poverty” – poor in material goods but rich in eternal things

“I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” – pretenders cleansed out. 2 Timoty 2:19 “The Lord knoweth them that are His.”

Encouragement

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days” – ten days means a short period of time.

Liabilities

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

Promise

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Also see James 1:12.

Seven Churches – Ephesus: The Loveless Church (B)

Seven Churches – Ephesus: The Loveless Church (B)

Salutation – Rev 2:1

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”

The angel is the presiding bishop of the church. Timothy was the pastor of the congregation at Ephesus.

The seven stars are the seven pastors of the seven churches. The seven golden lampstands (seven-branched Menorah’s) represent the seven churches.

God’s right hand represents strength, safety, protection, honor and blessing. In other words, Jesus was holding the seven pastors in the palm of His hand. He was upholding them with His righteous right hand.

Assets – Rev 2:2-3

I know your works – your deeds and actions

Your labor – industry, activity

Your patience – endurance, stability

And that you cannot bear those who are evil – holiness expressed in hatred of evil

And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars – spiritual discernment

You have persevered and have patience – you have stuck in there and have forbearance

And have labored for My Name’s sake – not labored for themselves, but for the Lord.

And have not become weary – have waited on God, Isaiah 40:31

You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate – a false sect which had also infiltrated the church of Pergamos

Liabilities – Rev 2:4-5

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love – hearts have grown cold. Lack of love for Jesus and for one another.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent – Get back to the basics or your light (revelation) will be removed.

This verse could possibly be interpreted as the Lord removing the church unless they return to their first love.

The church of Ephesus was busy doing the work of the ministry.  They started out right (reaching out to people because of the love of God in their hearts).  However, they got off track and their motivations for doing things changed.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 that if we speak in tongues, prophesy, have all knowledge, give to the poor, have faith to move mountains, give our body to be martyred … yet have not love, it profits us nothing.

Our personal relationship with God is our first priority. It’s from that intimacy with the Lord that we reach out in ministry.

Promise – Rev 2:7

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.