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PROPHECY

John to the Seven Churches

THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST        Revelation 1:1

The word APOCALYPSE, signifies literally, A REVELATION, or DISCOVERY of what was CONCEALED or HIDDEN. It is here said that this revelation, or discovery of hidden things, was given by:

A. God to Jesus Christ.
B. Christ gave it to his
ANGEL.
C. This angel showed it to JOHN.
D. John sent it to the CHURCHES.

THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS          Revelation 1:1

"If this book were written BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) and the prophecies in it relate to that destruction, and the civil wars among the Romans, which lasted but THREE or FOUR YEARS, then it might be said the REVELATION is of things which MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS. But if we consider the book as referring to the state of the Church IN ALL AGES, the words here, and those in ver. 3, must be understood of the COMMENCEMENT of the events predicted; as if he had said: In a short time the train of these visions will be put in motion." Wetstein

 JOHN TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES     Revelation 1:1

The apostle begins this much in the manner of the Jewish prophets. They often name themselves in the messages which they receive from God to deliver to the people.

WHICH ARE IN ASIA         Revelation 1:4

ASIA = ASIA MINOR, also the LYDIAN or PROCONSULAR ASIA.

The SEVEN CHURCHES were those of:

EPHESUS,
SMYRNA
PERGAMOS
THYATIRA
SARDIS
PHILADELPHIA
LAODICEA

These were not necessarily the only Christian Churches then in Asia Minor; there were several others then in PHRYGIA, PAMPHYLIA, GALATIA, PONTUS, CAPPADOCIA.

WHICH IS TO COME             Revelation 1:4

The Greek literally means "THE ONE WHO IS COMING". Hence the phrase WHICH IS TO COME, is to be explained in accordance with the key-note of the book, which is the second coming of the Son of God.

 THE FAITHFUL WITNESS      Revelation 1:5

Of the truth concerning Himself and His mission as:

1. Prophet
2. Priest
3. King
4. Savior
5. FAITHFUL WITNESS

He was the faithful witness, because all things that He heard of the Father he faithfully made known to his disciples also, and because He taught the way of God in truth, and cared not for man nor regarded the persons of men. Also, because the testimony to Himself on the part of the Father He denied not even in death. Lastly, because He will give true testimony of the works of Good and Bad at the day of judgment.

MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD     Revelation 1:6

"This book lays prominent stress on the saints kingdom. They are kings because they are priests: the priesthood is the continuous ground and legitimization of their kingship; They are kings in relation to man, priests in relation to God, serving Him day and night in His temple (See Rev. 7:15; 5:10). The priest-king rule, not in an external mechanical manner, but simply in virtue of what they are, by the power of attraction and conviction overcoming the heart." (Auberlen)

EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM        Revelation 1:7

All eyes in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem where He lands (Zech. 14:1-5). People in distant parts of the earth will not see Him until later (See Isa. 2:2-4; 66:19-21; Zech. 8:23).

PATMOS    Revelation 1:9

Now called PATMO and PALMOSA. In the Aegean, one of the group of the Sporades, about twenty-eight miles S.S.W. of Samos. It is about ten miles long by six in breadth.

THE SEVEN CHURCHES        Revelation 1:11

These seven are representative churches; and, as a complex whole, ideally complete, embody the chief spiritual characteristics of the Church, whether as faithful or unfaithful, in all ages.

The churches selected are not taken at random, but have a many-sided completeness.

Thus, on the one side we have Smyrna, a Church exposed to persecutions unto death;
On the other  Sardis, having a high name for spiritual life and yet dead
Again, Laodicea, in its own estimate rich and having need of nothing, with ample talents, yet lukewarm in Christ’s cause;
On the other hand Philadelphia, with but a little strength, to keeping Christ’s word and having an open door of usefulness set before it by Christ Himself.
Again, Ephesus intolerant of evil and of false apostles, yet having left its first love
On the other hand, Thyatira, abounding in works, love, service, and faith, yet suffering the false prophetess to seduce many.
In another aspect,   Ephesus in conflict with false freedom, the fleshly licentiousness (the Nicolaitans);
So also  Pergamos in conflict with Balaam-like tempters to fornication and idol-meats;
And on the other side, Thyatira, in conflict with the Jewish synagogue, legal bondage.

Sardis and Laodicea without any active opposition to call forth their spiritual energies; a dangerous position, considering man’s natural indulgence. In the historic scheme of interpretation, which seems fanciful. Sardis and Laodicea without any active opposition to call forth their spiritual energies; a dangerous position, considering man’s natural indulgence. In the historic scheme of interpretation, which seems fanciful.

Ephesus    (meaning "the beloved" or "desired" represents the waning period of the apostolic age.

Smyrna     (meaning Myrrh) bitter suffering, yet sweet and costly perfume, the martyr period of the Decian and Diocletian age.

Pergamos   (meaning a castle or tower), the Church possessing earthly power and decreasing spirituality from Constantine’s time until the seventh century. (meaning a castle or tower), the Church possessing earthly power and decreasing spirituality from Constantine’s time until the seventh century.

Thyatira     (meaning unwearied about sacrifices) the Papal Church in the first half of the Middle Ages; like "Jezebel", keen about its so-called sacrifice of the mass, and slaying the prophets and witnesses of God. Sardis, from the close of the twelfth century to the Reformation.

Philadelphia    (meaning brotherly love), the first century of the Reformation.

Laodicea    the Reformed Church after its first zeal had become lukewarm.

Note that the history of the first three churches is consecutive; whereas the history of the remaining four overlap, and then practically runs concurrently to the end at Christ’s coming.

1. Thyatira "hold fast till I COME." Rev. 2:25
2. Sardis "I will COME on thee as a thief." Rev. 3:3
3. Philadelphia "I COME quickly." Rev. 3:11
4. Laodicea "I WILL spue thee out " Rev. 3:16

SEVEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS        Revelation 1:12

Here the seven are separate candlesticks, typifying, as that one, the entire Church, but now no longer as the Jewish Church (represented by the one sevenfold candlestick) restricted to one outward unity and one place; the several churches are mutually independent as to external ceremonies and government (provided all things are done to edification, and schisms or needless separations are avoided), yet one in the unity of the Spirit and the Head ship of Christ.

The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light, holding it forth to give light around. The light is the Lord’s not the Church’s; from Him she receives it. She is to be a light-bearer to His glory. The candlestick stood in the holy place, the type of the Church on earth, as the holiest place was type of the Church in heaven. The holy place’s only light was derived from the candlestick, daylight being excluded; so the Lord God is the Church’s only light; hers is the light of grace, not nature.

GOLDEN GIRDLE         Revelation 1:13

The garment and girdle seem to be emblems of His priesthood, Compare Ex. 28:2,4,31; Aaron’s robe and girdle were "for glory and beauty," and combined the insignia of royalty and priesthood, the characteristics of Christ’s anti typical priesthood , "after the order of Melchisedec." His being in the midst of the candlesticks (only seen in the temple), shows that it is as a king-priest He is so attired.

This priesthood He has exercised ever since His ascension; and, therefore, here wears its emblems. As Aaron wore these insignia when He came forth from the sanctuary to bless the people (See Lev. 16:4, 23,24, the chetoneth, or holy linen coat) so when Christ shall come again, He shall appear in the similar attire of "beauty and glory" (Margin, Isa. 4:2. The high priest’s girdle was only interwoven with gold, but Christ’s is all of gold; the anti type exceeds the type.

I AM HE THAT LIVETH           Revelation 1:18

Translated in Greek, "AND THE LIVING ONE," connected with last sentence, v. 17. AND WAS- (Greek), " and (yet) I became dead."ALIVE FOR EVERMORE -(Greek), "living unto the ages of ages;" not merely "I live," but I have life, and am the source of life to my people.

I am Jesus the Savior, who, though the fountain of life, have died for mankind; and being raised from the dead I shall die no more.

THE  LETTERS  TO  THE  SEVEN  CHURCHES

REVELATION  CHAPTERS  TWO  AND THREE

The course of this present age is presented in a second major passage found in Rev. 2,3. Whereas Matthew thirteen surveyed this present age in its relation to the kingdom program Revelation 2 & 3 outline the present age in reference to the program in the church.

THE  TIME  PERIOD  OF  REVELATION  2 & 3 :

John, in the book of Revelation, is writing concerning things that were past, things that are present, and things that are future (Rev. 1:19). The great divisions of the book are here written for the instruction of the Church of God:

1. "What thou hast seen" refers to the vision of Christ just beheld (verses 12-16). (Note Dan. 7:9,10; Rev. 5:11-14).

2. "The things that are" refer to the several successive, broadly-defined features of the professing Church and of   Christ’s relation thereto, till its final rejection, not yet accomplished (Rev. 2,3).

3. "The things that are about to be after these things." In this third division, the world and the Jews, and, we may add, the corrupt and apostate Church, that which is to be "spued out," are embraced in this strictly prophetic part of the Apocalypse.   (Rev. 4-22:5)

It would seem evident, then, that John, in writing to the seven Churches, is depicting this present age from the inception of the Church to the judgment of the apostate church prior to the second advent. Thus the period of time covered by these chapters would essentially parallel the period covered by Matthew thirteen.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SEVEN LETTERS:

A threefold purpose in the writing of the seven letters may be suggested:

1. John is writing to seven local congregations in order to meet the needs of these individual assemblies. There would be, then, a direct historical application of what is here recorded to each of the seven churches.

2. These letters would reveal the various kinds of individuals and assemblies throughout the age. The seven Churches represent seven varieties of Christians, both true and false. It is of these seven sorts that the whole church is made up.  Thus there would be a spiritual application, in addition to the historical interpretation.

3. There is a prophetic revelation as to the course of the age in the letters.

THE CHURCHES

THE CHURCH THINGS COMMENDED THINGS CONDEMNED
Ephesus Works
Labor
Patience
Can't bear evil
Tried false apostles
Not fainted
Hated deeds of Nicolaitanes
Left thy first love
Smyrna Works
Tribulation  
Poverty
Pergamos Works
Holding to Christ's Name
Not denying the faith
Holding doctrine of Balaam
Eating things sacrificed to idols
Committing fornication
Holding Nicolaitanes' doctrine
Thyatira Works
Charity
Service
Faith
Patience
Increased Works
Jezebel teaching
Committing fornication
Eating sacrificed food
Tolerating her
Sardis Works
A live church
Few godly members
Works not perfect
You are dead
Philadelphia Works
Little strength
Kept my Word
Not denied My Name
Laodicea Works Not cold or hot
Lukewarm and nauseating
Proud and self-satisfied
Ignorant of true state

HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES
Revelation 3:6

A WHITE STONE        Revelation 2:17

Victory stones. Also in ancient times they meant pardon and the evidence of it. Judges had white and black stones. If a black one was given the criminal was condemned. If a white stone he would be pardoned. Conquerors in the public games were also given white stones with their names in them, which entitled them to be supported the rest of their lives at public expense.

 THE BOOK OF LIFE          Revelation 3:5

Here Christ promises not to blot the name out of the book of life of any man who will obey the commands above (See Rev. 3:2-5). God promised Moses concerning any man who sinned, HIM WILL I BLOT OUT OF MY BOOK (Ex. 32:32-33). The Psalmist by the Holy Ghost prayed that God would blot out the names of Judas and all like him (Ps. 69:25-28 with Acts 1:20). In Rev. 22:18-19 Christ again threatens to take the names of men out of the book of life if they take anything away from the words of the book of this prophecy.

 

 Forward to the Next Section:  A Door was Opened in Heaven

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