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Special Study of Revelation 2-3: For Understanding the Epistles of Jesus Christ

Note: The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible states: “These chapters contain letters to the
seven churches. These were local churches in Asia Minor, but they were each
representative of a particular age in church history.” But also what Jesus says about the
actual churches can help us understand more about what is God-pleasing Christianity.
Much of what is being professed as Christianity is legalistic religion and not “to God be
the glory” behavior. “Each of the letters is addressed to the leader of the church, who is
called an angel for some uncertain reason.”

Characteristics of Jesus Christ--


1. Who is all powerful: “He Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, Who walks in the
midst of the seven golden lampstands.” (2:1) -- This indicates Christ’s intimate involvement
in the life of Christian churches.
2. Who is all knowing: “I know your works” (2:2, 9, 13, 19, 3:1, 8, 15) -- If individuals
believed this, they would not think and do much of what they think and do.
3. Who is hoping for professing Christians to learn God’s truth and wisdom, and overcome
sinful living: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7,
11, 17, 26 & 29, 3:5-6, 12-13, 21-22)
4. Who is giving: to the overcomers of the church of Ephesus-- “opportunity to eat from the
Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (2:7); to the overcomers of the
church in Smyrna-- “the crown of life” and “shall not be hurt by the second death” (2:10-
11); to the overcomers of the church in Pergamos-- “some of the hidden manna to eat”, “a
white stone” on which “a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it”
(2:17); to the overcomers of the church of Thyatira-- “power over the nations… as I [Jesus]
have received from My Father” and “the morning star” (2:26-28); to the overcomers of the
church in Sardis-- permission “to be clothed in white garments” and a promise that his or her
name will not be blotted out from the Book of Life but confessed by Him before His Father
and His angels (3:5); to the overcomers of the church in Philadelphia-- becoming “a pillar in
the temple of” God with permanent residence in the New Jerusalem (3:12); and to the
overcomers of the church of the Laodiceans-- permission to sit with Him on His throne
(3:21).
5. Who is “the First and the Last, Who was dead, and came to life” (2:8)
6. Who has “the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12)
7. Who has “eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass” (2:18)
8. Who has “the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1)
9. Who is “holy, He Who is true, ‘He Who has the key of David, He Who opens and no one
shuts, and shuts and no one opens.’” (3:7)
10. Who is “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”
(3:14)

Commendations--
To the church of Ephesus
1. Good works of labor (mentioned twice, 2:2 & 3 with the addition in verse 3 “for My name’s
sake and have not become weary”; “name” is this context means character)
2. Patience (mentioned twice, 2:2 & 3)
3. “Cannot bear those who are evil” (2:2)
4. “Tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (2:2)
5. Persevered (2:3)
6. “Hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (2:6) -- The Evangelical
Commentary on the Bible states: “Little is known about this group except that they were
active in Ephesus and Pergamos and that they encouraged immorality and the eating of meat
sacrificed to idols…. They seem to have been liberalists or modernists who felt that the
church was too strict in its standards, and they advised compromise.”
To the church of Smyrna: Rich spiritually because of “tribulation and poverty” (2:9)
To the church in Pergamos:
1. Living apart from Satan’s rule. (2:13)
2. “You hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was
My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” (2:13)
To the church of Thyatira:
1. “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and the last are more than the
first.” (2:19)
2. “I will give to each one of you according to your works.” (2:23)
To the church in Sardis:
1. “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive...” (3:1a)
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.” (3:4)
To the church in Philadelphia:
1. “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you
have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (3:8)
2. Because Jesus Christ loved the Philadelphia Church, He “will make those of the synagogue
of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie” and “will make them come and
worship” before the Philadelphia church members’ feet. (3:9)
3. “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.” (3:10)

Condemnations--
To the church of Ephesus: “You have left your first love.” (2:4) -- See 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.
To the church in Pergamos:
1. “You have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling
block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual
immorality.” (2:14) -- In Balaam’s day, there was a ritual of fornication and of eating of
meat sacrificed to idols. (Numbers 15:1-3)
2. “You also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (2:15)
To the church of Thyatira:
1. “You allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My
servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (2:20) -- Read 1
Kings 16 and 2 Kings 9.
2. “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.” (2:21)
3. “And those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their
deeds.” (2:22)
To the church in Sardis:
1. “… but you are dead.” (3:1b)
2. “… for I have not found your works perfect before God.” (3:2b)
To the church of the Laodiceans:
1. “I know your works, that you that you are neither cold nor hot….” (3:15a)
2. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My
mouth.” (3:16)
3. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing and do not
know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked ...” (3:17) -- The Evangelical
Commentary on the Bible states that Christ Jesus “is not impressed by our money, fine
clothes, or status.”

Challenges--
To the church of Ephesus: “Or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand
from its place-- unless you repent.” (2:5c)
To the church of Smyrna: “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. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life..”
(2:10)
To the church in Pergamos “Or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with
the sword of My mouth.” (2:16)
To the church of Thyatira:
1. “All churches shall know that I am He Who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to
each one of you according to your works.” (2:23)
2. “As many as do not have this doctrine [of Jezebel], who have not known the depths of Satan,
as they say, I will put on you no other burden.” (2:24)
3. “But hold fast what you have till I come.” (2:25)
To the church in Sardis:
1. “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” (3:2a)
2. “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.” (3:3)
To the church in Philadelphia: “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
(3:11)
To the church of the Laodiceans:
1. “… Therefore be zealous and repent.” (3:19b)
2. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will
come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (3:20)
Corrections, Suggested--
To the church of Ephesus:
1. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; …” (2:5a)
2. “Repent and do the first works”. (2:5b)
To the church in Pergamos: “Repent”. (2:16)
To the church of Thyatira: “Repent.” (2:22)
To the church in Sardis: “Remember therefore how you have received and heard.” (3:3)
To the church of the Laodiceans:
1. “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be clothed, that the
shame of your nakedness may not be revealed and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you
may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten...” (3:18-19a) -- The Evangelical
Commentary on the Bible states that “Laodicea was known for its fine products and
medicines, but Christ counsels the church to purchase things of true worth from Him.” “Eye
salve symbolizes spiritual sight.” “That you may see” means understand.
2. “… I could wish you were cold or hot.” (3:15b)