1. This chapter begins the letters to the 7 churches. These are 7 literal churches, but not a building with four walls. The word church is used 110 times in the New Testament and is NEVER referring to a building; it refers to the body of Christ, wherever they may gather. (See Romans 16:5 as one proof of this). The word translated as church is “Ekklesia” and it means “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting”. It is not a building. These 7 churches, being real, also represent, as said before, church ages through history.
2. Ephesus is the first church written to. Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) represents the church at the end of the apostolic (time the Apostles lived) age in its sense of churches through history. This body had a great beginning devoted to Christ and standing under persecution and strong faith. Jesus commends them for this, then rebukes them because they left this devotion to Him. He tells them He will remove their candlestick. Unless they remember, repent, and return to Him. The Nicolaitians are mentioned here, and is probably the result of their downfall. Nicolaitians tried to use God’s grace and forgiveness to live their lives however they want, and not for Christ. The church at Ephesus is now in ruins, and is a sign of what happens in many churches today when the candlesticks are removed. They become dead.
3. Smyrna is next. Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) represents the persecuted church in the church history through the ages. The name of the church is interesting because it means “myrrh”, which was used in embalming. That ties into what many saw from their belief and faith….death. They receive comforting words from Christ that it will not last long, but are persecuted mainly by unbelieving Jews. Christ promises them a crown of life because they persevere through this. This church is interesting, because of the 7 churches, it is the only one not to receive a rebuke or warning from Jesus. Christ also refers to some Jews infiltrating that are of the synagogue of Satan. These Jews said they followed Moses, yet persecuted the church. Synagogue means “gathering of” and church means “the called out ones”. We, as the church, are called out to be different from the world, just as these Christians were. Others try to trap us into being just like the rest of the world as these Jews did. Jesus calls this blasphemy!
4. An interesting note is the church at Smyrna is told they will endure 10 days of suffering. History shows this is not 10 literal days. Much the same as Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, the days here equal time periods, and referenced rulers they would live and endure under. Those rulers were Nero, Domitian, Trojan, Antonius, Severus, Maximum, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, & Diocletian. The final reign of these 10 ending around 284AD.
5. The next church is Pergamos which means marriage. Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17) represents the church united with the world up to about 316 A.D. Christ tells them they have done well even being centered in the midst of Satan’s seat. It is called this because the city was highly pagan with altars and even a throne for Zeus. He then tells them that what He has against them is that they have become tolerant of the doctrine of Balaam. This results in idolatry and being immoral in that it mixes paganism with Christianity. That is something we see a lot of today, and many professing Christians simply shrug it off and say it is okay because they don’t view it the same way. This is due to the Roman Catholic church. The Roman emperor Constantine went on record saying he accepted the Christian faith. One thing not mentioned is that he kept his title of Pontifex Maximus which means that he considered himself to be the high priest of the entire world. He had pagan temples turned into supposed Christian worship buildings, later called churches, and is where the false notion comes that a church, is a building with four walls. It was through this, that Christianity married the state of Rome…or the world. In doing so, it mixed Roman paganism and politics and birthed the stronghold of the Roman Catholic church. Christ gives a strong warning for them to repent or face judgment from Him.
6. Thyatira is next. Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) represents the church of the Dark Ages. It is the false church Rome has been building on. Thyatira means continual sacrifice. This shows in their masses as well as what they call communion with their belief that Christ physically returns each and every time in the wafer and the drink, as an ongoing sacrifice for them. Christ said, “It is finished”, when He was on the Cross. One sacrifice, through Him, is more than sufficient for anyone and everyone. The Roman church is ruling in this age and there is little witnessing of true believers due to persecution as well as those, such as liberal Christians today, who want to pick and choose what they follow in God’s Word. Christ commends them for their good works, but then rebukes them as well.
7. Jesus mentions Jezebel, who is different from the Old Testament Jezebel, yet guilt of the same things. She called herself a prophetess and was leading people into corruption with pagan things. This is the same with the Roman Catholic church. When you look back, you see the Babylonian religion of Genesis chapter 10 had Nimrod as its source. When he died, and his wife (who was also his mother) had another son called Tammuz, she told everyone it was Nimrod born anew. She then became known as the Queen of Heaven. This teaching is no different than the Roman Catholic church’s view of Mary and son, called the “Madonna & child”. It is no different than other pagan forms of this same figure (woman and child adored) and breaks down to worship and idolatry. This church never repented as Jesus instructs and remains the same today in the Roman Catholic church, but in professing Christian churches (buildings) too. Many would rather rely on their church doctrines and rules over what is in the bible, because they rarely even read it. Instead of the Bible being the final authority, it has become men in high places in buildings called a church that people depend on to tell them what is in the Bible rather than read it themselves. Christ warns of His judgment to come upon those who take part in the “jezebel” system.
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