Having, in the first chapter, mapped out the subject by a general reference to the seven churches, represented by the seven candlesticks, and to the ministry of the churches, represented by the seven stars, John now takes up each church particularly, and writes the message designed for it, addressing the epistle in every case to the angel, or pastors, of the church. p. 345, Para. 2.
VERSE 1. Unto the angel
of the church of Ephesus write:
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his
right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden
candlesticks; 2. I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy
patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil:
and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and
are not, and hast found them liars: 3. And hast borne, and
hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and
hast not fainted. 4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against
thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5. Remember
therefore from whence thou are fallen and repent, and do
the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and
will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou
repent. 6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds
of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 7. He that hath an
ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches:
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of
life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. p.
345, Para. 3.
Church of Ephesus. -- Some reasons why the seven
churches, or more properly the messages to them, should be
regarded as prophetic, having their application to seven
distinct periods covering the Christian age, have been
given in the remarks on chapter 1:4. It may here be added
that this view is neither new nor local. Benson quotes
Bishop Newton as saying,
Many contend, and among them such
learned men as More and Vitringa, that the seven epistles
are prophetical or so many successive periods, or states,
of the church, from the beginning to the conclusion of
all. p. 345, Para. 4.
Many expositors have imagined that these
epistles to the seven churches were mystical prophecies of
seven distinct periods, into which the whole term, from the
apostles' days to the end of the world, would be divided.
p. 346, Para. 1.
Although Newton and Scott do not themselves hold this view, their testimony is good as showing that such has been the view of many expositors. Matthew Henry says:-- p. 346, Para. 2.
opinion has been held by some commentators of note,
which may be given in the words of Vitringa: 'That under
this emblematical representation of the seven churches of
Asia, the Holy Spirit has delineated seven different states
of the Christian church, which would appear in succession,
extending to the coming of our Lord and the consummation of
all things: that this is given in descriptions taken from
the names, states, and conditions of these churches, so
that they might behold themselves, and learn both their
good qualities and their defects, and what admonitions and
exhortations were suitable for them' Vitringa has given a
summary of the arguments which may be alleged in favor of
this interpretation. Some of them are ingenious, but they
are not now considered sufficient to support such a theory.
Gill is one of the principal of the English commentators
who adopt this view, that 'they are prophetical of the
churches of Christ in the several periods of time until he
appears again,' p. 346, Para. 3.
It appears from the authors above cited, that what has led commentators of more modern times to discard the view of the prophetical nature of the messages to the seven churches, is the comparatively recent and unscriptural doctrine of the temporal millennium. The last stage of the church, as described in chapter 3:15-17, was deemed to be incompatible with the glorious state of things which would exist here on this earth for a thousand years, with all the world converted to God. Hence in this case, as in many others, the more Scriptural view is made to yield to the more pleasing. The hearts of men, as in ancient times, still love smooth things, and their ears are ever favorably open to those who will prophesy peace. p. 346, Para. 4.
The first church named is Ephesus. According to the application here made, this would cover the first, or apostolic age of the church. The definition of the word Ephesus is desirable, which may well be taken as a good descriptive term of the character and condition of the church in its first state. Those early Christians had received the doctrine of Christ in its purity. They enjoyed the benefits and blessings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were noted for works, labor, and patience. In faithfulness to the pure principles taught by Christ, they could not bear those that were evil, and they tried false apostles, searched out their true characters, and found them liars. That this work was specially done by the literal and particular church at Ephesus more than by other churches of that time, we have no evidence: there is nothing said about it by Paul in the epistle he wrote to that church; but it was done by the Christian church as a whole, in that age, and was a most appropriate work at that time. [See Acts 15; 2 Cor. 11:13.] p. 347, Para. 1.
The Angel of the Church. -- The angel of a church must denote a messenger, or minister, of that church; and as these churches each cover a period of time, the angel of each church must denote the ministry, or all the true ministers of Christ during the period covered by that church. The different messages, though addressed to the ministers, cannot be understood to be applicable to them alone; but they are appropriately addressed to the church through them. p. 347, Para. 2.
Cause of Complaint. --
I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.
less worthy of warning than departure from fundamental
doctrine or from Scriptural morality, is the leaving of
first love. The charge here is not that of falling from
grace, nor that love is extinguished, but diminished. No
zeal, no suffering, can atone for the want of first love.
-- Thompson. The time never should come in a
experience, when, if he were asked to mention the period of
his greatest love to Christ, he would not say, The present
moment. But if such a time does come, then should he
remember from whence he is fallen, meditate upon it, take
time for it, carefully call up the state of his former
acceptance with God, and then hasten to repent, and retrace
his steps to that desirable position. Love, like faith, is
manifested by works; and first love, when it is attained,
will always bring first works. p. 347, Para. 3.
I will come unto thee quickly, and
will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou
repent. The coming here mentioned must be a figurative
coming, signifying a visitation of judgment, inasmuch as it
is conditional. The removing of the candlestick would
denote the taking away from them of the light and
privileges of the gospel, and committing them to other
hands, unless they should better fulfil the
responsibilities of the trust committed to them. But it may
be asked on the view that these messages are prophetic, if
the candlestick would not be removed anyway, whether they
repented or not, as that church was succeeded by the next,
to occupy the next period, and if this is not an objection
against regarding these churches as prophetic. Answer: The
expiration of the period covered by any church is not the
removal of the candlestick of that church. The removal of
their candlestick would be taking away from them privileges
which they might and should longer enjoy. It would be the
rejection of them on the part of Christ as his
representatives, to bear the light of his truth and gospel
before the world. And this threatening would be just as
applicable to individuals as to the church as a body. How
many who professed Christianity during that period thus
came short and were rejected, we know not; doubtless many.
And thus things would go on, some remaining steadfast, some
backsliding and becoming no longer light-bearers in the
world, new converts meanwhile filling up the vacancies made
by death and apostasy, until the church reached a new era
in her experience, marked off as another period in her
history, and covered by another message. p. 348, Para. 1.
The Nicolaitanes. -- How ready is Christ to commend his people for whatever good qualities they may possess! If there is anything of which he approves, he mentions that first. And in this message to the church of Ephesus, having first mentioned their commendable traits and then their failures, as if unwilling to pass by any of their good qualities, he mentions this, that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which he also hated. In verse 15 the doctrines of the same characters are condemned. It appears that they were a class of persons whose deeds and doctrines were alike abominable in the sight of Heaven. Their origin is involved in some doubt. Some say that they sprang from Nicholas of Antioch, one of the seven deacons [Acts 6:5]; some, that they only attribute their origin to him to gain the prestige of his name; and others, that the sect took its name from one Nicholas of later date, which is probably the nearest correct. Concerning their doctrines and practices, there seems to be a general agreement that they held to a community of wives, regarding adultery and fornication as things indifferent, and permitted the eating of things offered to idols. [See Religious Encyclopedia, Clarke, Kitto, and other authorities.] p. 349, Para. 1.
Summons to Attention. --
He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. A solemn
manner of calling universal attention to that which is of
general and most momentous importance. The same language is
used to each of the seven churches. Christ, when upon
earth, made use of the same form of speech in calling the
attention of the people to the most important of his
teachings. He used it in reference to the mission of John
[Matt. 11:15], the parable of the sower [Matt. 13:9], and
the parable of the tares, setting forth the end of the
world. Verse 43. It is also used in relation to an
important prophetic fulfilment in Rev. 13:9. p. 349, Para.
Promise to the Victor. -- To the overcomer it is
promised that he shall eat of the tree of life that grows
in the midst of the paradise, or garden, of God. Where is
this paradise? Answer: In the third heaven. Paul writes, in
2 Cor. 12:2, that he knew a man [referring to himself]
caught up to the third heaven. In verse 4 he calls the same
paradise, leaving only one conclusion to be drawn,
which is that paradise is in the third heaven. In this
paradise, it seems, is the tree of life. There is but one
tree of life brought to view in the Bible. It is mentioned
six times, three times in Genesis, and three times in the
Revelation; but it is used every time with the definite
article the. It is the tree of
life in the first book of
the Bible, the tree of life in the last; the
tree of life
paradise [Septuagint] in Eden at the beginning,
and the tree of life in the paradise of which John
speaks, in heaven above. But if there is but one tree, and
that was at first upon earth, it may be asked how it has
now come to be in heaven. And the answer would be that it
must have been taken up, or translated, to the paradise
above. There is no possible way that the same identical
body which is situated in one place can be located in
another, but by being transported bodily thither. And that
the tree of life and paradise have been removed from earth
to heaven, besides the necessary inference from this
argument, there is very good reason to believe. p. 349,
2 Esdras 7:26 occurs this language:
Behold, the time
shall come, that these tokens which I have told thee shall
come to pass, and the bride shall appear, and she
forth shall be seen that now is withdrawn from the earth.
There is an evident allusion here to the
bride, the Lamb's
wife [Rev. 21:9], which is the
holy city, New Jerusalem
[verse 10; Gal. 4:26], in which is the tree of life [Rev.
22:2], which is now
withdrawn from the earth, but which
will in due time appear, and be located among men. Rev.
21:2,3. p. 350, Para. 1.
following paragraph on this point we quote from
Sacred History, p. 50:-- p. 350, Para. 2.
act of God in appointing the cherubim 'to keep the
way of the tree of life' [Gen. 3:24], in the garden of
Eden, likewise appears not only in an aspect indicating
judicial severity, but also in one which conveys a promise
full of consolation. The blessed abode from which man is
expelled, is neither annihilated nor even abandoned to
desolation and ruin, but withdrawn from the earth and from
man, and consigned to the care of the most perfect
creatures of God, in order that it may be ultimately
restored to man when he is redeemed. Rev. 22:2. The garden,
as it existed before God 'planted,' or adorned it, came
under the curse, like the remainder of the earth, but the
celestial and paradisiacal addition was exempted, and
entrusted to the cherubim. The true paradise is now
translated to the invisible world. At least a symbolical
copy of it, established in the holy of holies in the
tabernacle, was granted to the people of Israel after the
pattern which Moses saw in the mount [Ex. 25:9, 40]; and
the original itself, as the renewed habitation of redeemed
man, will hereafter descend to the earth. Rev. 21:10. p.
350, Para. 3.
To the overcomer, then, is promised a restoration to more than Adam lost; not to the overcomers of that state of the church merely, but to all overcomers of every age; for in the great rewards of Heaven there are no restrictions. Reader strive to be an overcomer; for he who gains access to the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, shall die no more. p. 351, Para. 1.
The time covered by this first church may be considered the period from the resurrection of Christ to the close of the first century, or to the death of the last of the apostles. p. 351, Para. 2.
VERSE 8. And unto the
angel of the church in Smyrna
write: These things saith the first and the last, which was
dead and is alive; 9. I know thy works, and tribulation,
and poverty [but thou art rich], and I know the blasphemy
of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the
synagogue of Satan. 10. Fear none of those things which
thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you
into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have
tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I
will give thee a crown of life. 11. He that hath an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: He
that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. p.
351, Para. 3.
It will be noticed that the Lord introduces himself to each church by mentioning some of his characteristics which show him to be peculiarly fitted to bear to them the testimony which he utters. To the Smyrnian church, about to pass through the fiery ordeal of persecution, he reveals himself as one who was dead, but is now alive. If they should be called to seal their testimony with their blood, they were to remember that the eyes of One were upon them who had shared the same fate, but had triumphed over death, and was able to bring them up again from a martyr's grave. p. 351, Para. 4.
and Riches. --
I know thy poverty, says Christ
to them, "but thou art rich." Strange paradox this may seem
at first. But who are the truly rich in this world? --
Those who are "rich in faith" and "heirs of the kingdom."
The wealth of this world, for which men so eagerly strive,
and so often barter away present happiness and future
endless life, is
coin not current in heaven. A certain
writer has forcibly remarked,
There is many a rich poor
man, and many a poor rich man. p. 352, Para. 1.
They are Jews, and Are Not. -- That the term Jew
not here used in a literal sense, is very evident. It
denotes some character which was approved by the gospel
standard. Paul's language will make this point plain. He
says [Rom. 2:28, 29]:
For he is not a Jew which is one
outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in
the flesh; but he is a Jew [in the true Christian sense]
which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the
heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise
is not of men, but of God. Again he says [chapter 9:6, 7]:
For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither,
because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all
children. In Gal. 3:28, 29, Paul further tells us that in
Christ there are no such outward distinctions as Jew or
Greek; but if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed
[in the true sense], and heirs according to the
say, as some do, that the term Jew is never applied to
Christian's, is to contradict all these inspired
declarations of Paul's, and the testimony of the faithful
and true Witness to the Smyrnian church. Some were
hypocritically pretending to be Jews in this Christian
sense, when they possessed nothing of the requisite
character. Such were of the synagogue of Satan. p. 352,
Tribulation Ten Days. -- As this message is prophetic, the time mentioned in it must also be regarded as prophetic, and would denote ten years. And it is a noticeable fact that the last and most bloody of the ten persecutions continued just ten years, beginning under Diocletian, from A.D. 303 to A.D. 313. It would be difficult to make an application of this language on the ground that these messages are not prophetic; for in that case only ten literal days could be meant; and it would not seem probable that a persecution of only ten days, or only a single church, would be made a matter of prophecy; and no mention of any such case of limited persecution can be found. Again, apply this persecution to any of the notable persecutions of that period, and how could it be spoken of as the fate of one church alone? All the churches suffered in them; and where, then, would be the propriety of singling out one, to the exclusion of the rest, as alone involved in such a calamity? p. 352, Para. 3.
unto Death. -- Some have endeavored to base a
criticism on the use of the word unto, instead of
though the idea of time was not involved. But the original
word, rendered unto, signifies, primarily, until.
argument, however, can be drawn from this for consciousness
in death. The vital point for such an argument is still
lacking; for it is not affirmed that the crown of life is
bestowed immediately at death. We must consequently look to
other scriptures to learn when the crown of life is given;
and other scriptures very fully inform us. Paul declares
that this crown is to be given at the day of Christ's
appearing [2 Tim. .4:8]: at the last trump [1 Cor. 15:51-54];
when the Lord shall himself descend from heaven [1
Thess. 4:16, 17]; when the Chief Shepherd shall appear,
says Peter [1 Pet. 5:4]; at the resurrection of the just,
says Christ [Luke 14:14]; and when he shall return to take
his people to the mansions prepared for them, that they may
ever be with him. John 14:3.
Be thou faithful until
death; and having been thus faithful, when the time comes
that the saints of God are rewarded, you shall receive a
crown of life. p. 353, Para. 1.
Overcomer's Reward. --
He shall not be hurt of the
second death. Is not the language Christ here uses a good
comment upon what he taught his disciples, when he said,
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy
both soul and body in hell? Matt. 10:28. The Smyrnians
might be put to death here; but the future life, which was
to be given them, man could not take away, and God
not; hence they were to fear not those who could kill the
body, -- to
fear none of the things which they should
suffer; for their eternal existence was sure. p. 353,
signifies myrrh, fit appellation for the church of
God while passing through the fiery furnace of persecution,
and proving herself a
sweet-smelling savor unto him. But
we soon reach the days of Constantine, when the church
presents a new phase, rendering a far different name and
another message applicable to her history. p. 354, Para.
According to the foregoing application, the date of the Smyrnian church would be A.D. 100-323. p. 354, Para. 2.
VERSE 12. And to the
angel of the church in Pergamos
write: These things saith he which hath the sharp sword
with two edges: 13. I know thy works, and where thou
dwellest, even where Satan's seat is; and thou holdest fast
my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days
wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among
you, where Satan dwelleth. 14. But I have a few things
against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the
doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block
before the children of Israel, to eat things
sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15. So
hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the
Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. 16. Repent; or else I
will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them
with the sword of my mouth. 17. He that hath an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him
that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and
will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name
written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
p. 354, Para. 3.
Against the church of Smyrna, which has just been considered, there was no word of condemnation uttered. Persecution is ever calculated to keep the church pure, and incite its members to piety and godliness. But we now reach a period when influences began to work through which errors and evils were likely to creep into the church. p. 354, Para. 4.
The word Pergamos signifies height, elevation. The period covered by this church may be located from the days of Constantine, or perhaps, rather, from his professed conversion to Christianity, A.D. 323, to the establishment of the papacy, A.D. 538. It was a period in which the true servants of God had to struggle against a spirit of worldly policy, pride, and popularity among the professed followers of Christ, and against the virulent workings of the mystery of iniquity, which finally resulted in the full development of the papal man of sin. p. 354, Para. 5.
Where Satan's Seat Is. -- Christ takes cognizance of the unfavorable situation of his people during this period. The language is not probably designed to denote locality. As to place, Satan works wherever Christians dwell. But surely there are times and seasons when he works with special power; and the period covered by the church of Pergamos was one of these. During this period, the doctrine of Christ was being corrupted, the mystery of iniquity was working, and Satan was laying the very foundation of that most stupendous system of wickedness, the papacy. Here was the falling away foretold by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3. p. 355, Para. 1.
Antipas. -- That a class of persons is referred to by this name, and not an individual, there is good reason to believe; for no authentic information respecting such an individual is now to be found. On this point William Miller says:-- p. 355, Para. 2.
is supposed that Antipas was not an individual, but a
class of men who opposed the power of the bishops, or
popes, in that day, being a combination of two words, anti,
opposed, and papas, father, or pope; and at that
of them suffered martyrdom in Constantinople and Rome,
where the bishops and popes began to exercise the power
which soon after brought into subjection the kings of the
earth, and trampled on the rights of the church of Christ.
And for myself, I see no reason to reject this explanation
of this word Antipas in this text, as the history of those
times is perfectly silent respecting such an individual as
is here named. -- Miller's Lectures, pp. 138, 139.
355, Para. 3.
Ancient ecclesiastical history furnishes no
account of this Antipas. Dr. Clarke mentions a work as
extant called the
Acts of Antipas, but gives us to
understand that it is entitled to no credit. p. 355, Para.
The Cause of Censure. -- Disadvantages in situation are no excuse for wrongs in the church. Although this church lived at a time when Satan was especially at work, it was their duty to keep themselves pure from the leaven of his evil doctrines. Hence they were censured for harboring among them those who held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes. [See remarks on the Nicolaitanes, verse 6.] What the doctrine of Balaam was, is here partially revealed. He taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel. [See a full account of his work and its results in Numbers, chapters 22-25 and 31:13-16.] It appears that Balaam desired to curse Israel for the sake of the rich reward which Balak offered him for so doing. But not being permitted by the Lord to curse them, he resolved to accomplish essentially the same thing, though in a different way. He therefore counseled Balak to seduce them by means of the females of Moab, to participate in the celebration of the rites of idolatry, and all its licentious accompaniments. The plan succeeded. The abominations of idolatry spread through the camp of Israel, the curse of God was called down upon them by their sins, and there fell by the plague twenty-four thousand persons. p. 356, Para. 1.
The doctrines complained of in the church of Pergamos were of course similar in their tendency, leading to spiritual idolatry, and an unlawful connection between the church and the world. Out of this spirit was finally produced the union of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, which culminated in the formation of the papacy. p. 356, Para. 2.
Repent. -- By disciplining or expelling those who hold these pernicious doctrines. Christ declared that if they did not do this, he would take the matter into his own hands, and come unto them [in judgment], and fight against them [those who held these evil doctrines]; and the whole church would be held responsible for the wrongs of those heretical ones whom they harbored in their midst. p. 356, Para. 3.
Promise. -- To the overcomer it is promised that he
shall eat of the hidden manna, and receive from his
approving Lord a white stone, with a new and precious name
engraved thereon. Concerning manna that is
hidden, and a
new name that no one is to know but he that receives it,
not much in the way of exposition should be required. But
there has been much conjecture upon these points, and an
allusion to them may be expected. Most commentators apply
the manna, white stone, and new name, to spiritual
blessings to be enjoyed in this life; but like all the
other promises to the overcomer, this one doubtless refers
wholly to the future, and is to be given when the time
comes that the saints are to be rewarded. Perhaps the
following from the late H. Blunt is as satisfactory as
anything that has ever been written upon these several
particulars:-- p. 356, Para. 4.
It is generally thought by commentators that this refers to an ancient judicial custom of dropping a black stone into an urn when it is intended to condemn, and a white stone when the prisoner is to be acquitted; but this is an act so distinct from that described, 'I will give thee a white stone,' that we are disposed to agree with those who think it refers rather to a custom of a very different kind, and not unknown to the classical reader, according with beautiful propriety to the case before us. In primitive times, when traveling was rendered difficult from want of places of public entertainment, hospitality was exercised by private individuals to a very great extent of which, indeed, we find frequent traces in all history, and in none more than the Old Testament. Persons who partook of this hospitality, and those who practiced it, frequently contracted habits of friendship and regard for each other, and it became a well- established custom among the Greeks and Romans to provide their guests with some particular mark, which was handed down from father to son, and insured hospitality and kind treatment whenever it was presented. This mark was usually a small stone or pebble, cut in half, upon the halves of which the host and guest mutually inscribed their names, and then interchanged with each other. The production of this tessera was quite sufficient to insure friendship for themselves or descendants whenever they traveled again in the same direction, while it is evident that these stones required to be privately kept, and the names written upon them carefully concealed, lest others should obtain the privileges instead of the persons for whom they were intended. p. 357, Para. 1.
natural, then, the allusion to this custom in the
words of the text, 'I will give him to eat of the hidden
manna!' and having done this, having made him partake of my
hospitality, having recognized him as my guest and friend,
I will present him with the white stone, and in the stone a
new name written, which no man knoweth save he who
receiveth it. I will give him a pledge of my friendship,
sacred and inviolable, known only to himself. p. 358,
On the new name, Wesley very appropriately says:-- p. 358, Para. 2.
after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Wouldst
thou know what thy new name will be? The way to this is
plain -- overcome. Till then, all thy inquiries are vain.
Thou wilt then read it on the white stone. p. 358, Para.
VERSE 18. And unto the
angel of the church in Thyatira
write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes
like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine
brass; 19. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and
faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be
more than the first. 20. Notwithstanding I have a few
things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman
Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and
to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat
things sacrificed unto idols. 21. And I gave her space to
repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22.
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit
adultery with her into great tribulation, except they
repent of their deeds. 23. And I will kill her children
with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he
which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto
every one of you according to your works. 24. But unto you
I say, and unto the rest of Thyatira, as many as have not
this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of
Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other
burden. 25. But that which ye have already hold fast till I
come. 26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto
the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27. And
he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a
potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received
of my Father. 28. And I will give him the morning star. 29.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith
unto the churches. p. 358, Para. 4.
If the period covered by the Pergamos church has been correctly located, terminating with the setting up of the papacy, A.D. 538, the most natural division to be assigned to the church of Thyatira would be the time of the continuance of this blasphemous power through the 1260 years of its supremacy, or from A.D. 538 to A.D. 1798. p. 358, Para. 4.
sweet savor of labor, or
of contrition. This would well describe the state of the
church of Jesus Christ during the long period of papal
triumph and persecution. This age of such dreadful
tribulation upon the church as never was [Matt. 24:21],
improved the religious conditions of believers. Hence they
receive for their works, charity, service, faith, and
patience, the commendation of Him whose eyes are as a flame
of fire. And works are then again mentioned, as if worthy
of double commendation. And the last were more than the
first. There had been an improvement in their condition, a
growth of grace, an increase in all these elements of
Christianity. This church is the only one that is commended
for an improvement in spiritual things. But as in the
church of Pergamos unfavorable circumstances were no
apology for false doctrines in the church, so in this
church, no amount of labor, charity, service, faith, or
patience could compensate for a like sin. A rebuke is
therefore given them for suffering in their midst -- p.
359, Para. 1.
Woman Jezebel. -- As in the preceding church Antipas
denoted, not an individual, but a class of persons, so,
doubtless, Jezebel is here to be understood in the same
sense. Watson's Bible Dictionary says,
The name of Jezebel
is used proverbially. Rev. 2:20. William Miller, Lectures,
p. 142, speaks as follows:-- p. 359, Para. 2.
is a figurative name, alluding to Ahab's wife,
who slew the prophets of the Lord, led her husband into
idolatry, and fed the prophets of Baal at her own table. A
more striking figure could not have been used do denote the
papal abominations. [See 1 Kings, chapters 18, 19, and 21].
It is very evident from history, as well as from this
verse, that the church of Christ did suffer some of the
papal monks to preach and teach among them. (See the
'History of the Waldenses.') p. 359, Para. 3.
Comprehensive Commentary has the following remark upon
Children are spoken of, which confirms the idea
that a sect and its proselytes are meant. The judgments
here threatened against this woman are in harmony with the
threatenings in other parts of this book against the Romish
Church under the symbol of a corrupt woman, the mother of
harlots and abominations of the earth. [See chapters 17-19.]
The death which is threatened is doubtless the second
death, at the end of the one thousand years of Revelation
20, when the righteous retribution from the Searcher of
the reins and hearts of all men will be given. And
further, the declaration,
I will give unto every one of
you according to your works, is proof that the address to
this church looks forward prophetically to the final reward
or punishment of all accountable beings. p. 360, Para. 1.
All the Churches Shall Know, etc. -- It has been
argued from this expression that these churches could not
denote seven successive periods of the gospel age,
exist contemporaneously, as otherwise all the
could not know that Christ was the searcher of the reins
and hearts from seeing his judgments upon Jezebel and her
children. But when is it that all the churches are to know
this? -- It is when these children are punished with death.
And if this is at the time when the second death is
inflicted upon all the wicked, then indeed will
churches, as they behold the infliction of the judgment,
know that no secret thing, no evil thought or purpose of
the heart, has escaped the knowledge of Him, who, with eyes
like flames of fire, searches the hearts and reins of men.
p. 360, Para. 2.
Will Lay upon You None Other Burden. -- A respite
promised the church, if we rightly apprehend, from the
burden, so long her portion, -- the weight of papal
oppression. It cannot be applied to the reception of new
truths; for truth is not a burden to any accountable being.
But the days of tribulation that came upon that church were
to be shortened for the elect's sake. Matt. 24:22.
shall be holpen, says the prophet,
with a little help.
And the earth helped the woman, says John.
Rev. 12:16. p. 360, Para. 3.
Fast till I Come. -- These are the words of the
of God, and bring to our view an unconditional coming. To
the churches of Ephesus and Pergamos, certain comings were
threatened on conditions:
Repent, or else I will
thee, etc., implying visitations of judgment. But here a
coming of a different nature altogether is brought to view.
It is not a threatening of punishment. It is suspended upon
no conditions. It is set before the believer as a matter of
hope, and can refer to no other event but the future second
advent of the Lord in glory, when the Christian's trials
will cease, and his efforts in the race for life, and his
warfare for a crown of righteousness, will be rewarded with
everlasting success. p. 361, Para. 1.
church brings us down to the time when the more
immediate signs of the soon-coming advent began to be
fulfilled. In 1780, eighteen years before the close of this
period, the predicted signs in the sun and moon were
fulfilled. [See chapter 6:12.] And in reference to these
signs the Saviour said:
And when these things begin to
come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for
your redemption draweth nigh. In the history of this
church we reach a point when the end is drawing so near
that the attention of the people could properly be called
more particularly to that event. All along Christ has said
to his followers,
Occupy till I come. Luke 19:13. Now he
Hold fast till I come. p. 361, Para. 2.
the End. -- The end of the Christian age.
shall endure unto the end, says Christ,
the same shall be
saved. Matt. 24:13. Is not here a like promise to those
who keep Christ's works, do the things he has enjoined,
keep the faith of Jesus? Chapter 14:12. p. 361, Para. 3.
Power over the Nations. -- In this world the wicked bear rule, and the servants of Christ are of no esteem. But the time is coming when righteousness will be in the ascendancy; when all ungodliness will be seen in its true light, and be at a heavy discount; and when the scepter of power will be in the hands of the people of God. This promise will be explained by the following facts and scriptures:  The nations are to be given by the Father into the hands of Christ, to be ruled with a rod of iron, and dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel [Ps. 2:8, 9];  Associated with Christ when he thus enters upon his own work of power and judgment, are to be his saints [Rev. 3:21];  They are to reign with him in this capacity for one thousand years [chapter 20:4];  During this period, the degree of judgment upon wicked men and evil angels is determined [1 Cor. 6:2,3]:  At the end of the one thousand years, they have the honor of sharing with Christ in the execution of the sentence written. Ps. 149:9. p. 361, Para. 4.
Morning Star. -- Christ says, in chapter 22:16, that
he is himself the morning star. The morning star is the
immediate forerunner of the day. What is here called the
morning star, is called the day star in 2 Pet. 1:19, where
it is associated with the dawn of the day:
Until the day
dawn, and the day star arise. During the saints' weary
night of watching, they have the word of God to shed its
needful light upon their path. But when the day star shall
arise in their hearts, or the morning star be given to the
overcomers, they will be taken into so close a relationship
to Christ that their hearts will be fully illuminated with
his Spirit, and they will walk in his light. Then they will
no longer need the sure word of prophecy, which now shines
as a light in a dark place. Hasten on, O glorious hour,
when the light of heaven's bright day shall rise upon the
pathway of the little flock, and beams of glory from the
eternal world shall gild their banners! p. 362, Para. 1.
© by S. D. Goeldner,