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Revelation 2

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Verse 1

Chapter 2 - The Epistles to the Seven Churches

Ephesus, vv. 1-7

Smyrna, vv. 8-11

Pergamos, vv. 12-17

Thyatira, vv. 18-29

See "Revelation-WG" Topic notes for information on the seven churches of Asia.

To the angel . . The Greek word angeloi (“angels”) frequently refers to human messengers (e.g., Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52; 2 Corinthians 8:23; James 2:25). The "messenger" of each church could be a reference to the "reader" who read the letters to the churches Revelation 1:3. - WG

These things says -- reflects the expression “thus says,” which in the OT could introduce either a word from God (e.g., Amos 1:6, Amos 1:9; Amos 1:11) or a royal edict (e.g., 2 Chronicles 36:23). - ESVSB

Ephesus . . It was an inland city 3 mi. from the sea, but the broad mouth of the Cayster River allowed access and provided the greatest harbor in Asia Minor. Four great trade roads went through Ephesus; therefore, it became known as the gateway to Asia. It was the center of the worship of Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman), whose temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul ministered there for 3 years (Acts 20:31), and later met with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20). Timothy, Tychicus, and the Apostle John all served this church. - MSB

Ephesus . . Ephesus, the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire, and the largest city in Asia Minor, was situated where the Cayster River meets the Aegean Sea. It was a major center for commerce, political administration, and religion. it became the riches banking center in that part of the world. Ephesus was both a major port city and the site of many temples, including a large one dedicated to goddess Artemis (see Acts 19:27 and note).

The people of Ephesus were very independent; they declined help from Alexander in rebuilding their temple after it was destroyed (300s bc), arguing adroitly that one god should not stoop to build a temple to another god (see Strabo, Geography 14.1.22). The Ephesians’ protective pride also led to the uproar against Paul (Acts 19:23-41). - NLTSB

Ephesus -- one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Paul had visited Ephesus about a.d. 53, about 43 years before this letter in Revelation was sent to them. Paul remained in Ephesus for several years and preached the gospel so effectively “that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). This large city was thoroughly stirred by Paul’s message (Acts 19:11-41), with the result that the silversmiths created a riot because their business of making shrines of Artemis was threatened. - BKC

the one who holds -- This description of Jesus is taken from Revelation 1:16. The term “holds” speaks of a firm, sure grasp (cf. John 10:28). Nothing and no one could separate these churches from Jesus (cf. Romans 8:31-39) except their own refusal to repent and follow Him!

Christ is identified as the speaker at the beginning of each of the addresses to the churches in Rev 2–3; this reflects aspects of John’s introduction in Revelation 1:9-20. - Utley

the seven stars in his right hand . . The “stars” were the angels or messengers of the churches and the “lampstands” were the seven churches (Revelation 1:20). - BKC

walking among . . This anthropomorphic metaphor is used in Genesis 3:8 as a symbol of God’s presence with mankind (cf. Leviticus 26:12).

the golden lampstands . . This does not refer to the Menorah of the Tabernacle, but is another symbol for the seven churches. - Utley

Verse 2

I know -- This repeated refrain (Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:19; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:15 [for each church addressed]) shows Christ’s total knowledge of his people, their activities, and their circumstances. • The Ephesian Christians had a correct theology marked by perseverance and faithfulness. - NLTSB

They had examined various claims, exercised discipline on evil people, could tell what is true and what is false, and had patiently suffered for their faith in Christ. - NLTSB

your -- (second person personal pronoun, genitive singular ); Is this addressing the "angel" and his works & labor, perseverance, or is the address speaking of the full church as one entity. - WG

your labor and patient endurance . . Probably describes the church’s work for the sake of the gospel. - FSB

patience (KJV, NKJV).. (perseverance, NIV, etc.)

I know your deeds . . Commendation, as in Revelation 2:19; Revelation 3:8. hard work. Cf. “labor” in Revelation 14:13. perseverance. Cf. Revelation 2:19; “patient endurance” in rev 1:9. The same three Greek words occur in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (“work … labor … endurance”).


perseverance . . This term implies a voluntary, active, steadfast endurance. This is a major theme of the book (cf. 1:9; 2:2, 3, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12). Utley

tested . . This Greek term (peirazō) meant to test with either good but mostly bad intentions (cf. Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:10). The related term (peirasmos) had the connotation of testing with the view toward destruction. The balance is found in 1 John 4:1 where believers are to test (dokimazō) with a view toward approval those who claim to speak for God. The call for believers to examine those who claim to speak for God is found in both Testaments (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:22; Matthew 7:15-23; 1 John 4:1-6). - Utley

There is tension in the NT related to believers critically judging each other (cf. Matthew 7:1-5). However, Christians are called to evaluate each other for leadership roles (cf. Matthew 7:5, Matthew 6:1-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-12; 1 Tim. 3; 1 John 4:1-6). Attitude and motive are the keys to proper evaluation (cf. Galatians 6:1; Romans 2:1-11; Romans 14:1-23; James 4:11-12). - Utley

who say they are apostles . . The Ephesian church exercised spiritual discernment. It knew how to evaluate men who claimed spiritual leadership by their doctrine and behavior (cf. 1 Thess. 5:20, 21). MSB

which say they are apostles . . False teachers, who made false claims. Every age of revolution throws up such false teachers. We often find traces of them in the epistles. 1 John 4:1 shows how to test them. The Ephesian church had put them to the test and rejected them. - PNT

Verse 3

patient endurance . . The church was probably encountering opposition, which may have resulted in persecution. Their refusal to conform would have also caused social and political backlash, causing tension in commercial and familial relationships. - FSB

not become weary . . For over 40 years, since its founding, this church had remained faithful to the Word and the Lord. Through difficulty and persecution, the members had endured, always driven by the right motive, i.e., for Christ’s name and reputation. - MSB

This church was faithful amidst difficult circumstances, even persecutions. They had not denied Christ or grown weary in well-doing (cf. Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:3; James 5:7-8). See note at Revelation 2:7. - Utley

Christ commended those in the Ephesian church ... In addition they were commended for enduring hardships and not growing weary in serving God. In general this church had continued in its faithful service to God for more than 40 years. - BKC

Verse 4

I have this against you . . Christ’s commendation now turns to condemnation. This introduces Christ’s rebuke, cf Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:20.

left your first love . . To be a Christian is to love the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 16:22). But the Ephesians’ passion and fervor for Christ had become cold, mechanical orthodoxy. Their doctrinal and moral purity, their undiminished zeal for the truth, and their disciplined service were no substitute for the love for Christ they had forsaken. - MSB

Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love . . The order of words in the Greek is emphatic; the clause could be translated, “Your first love you have left.” Christ used the word agapēn, speaking of the deep kind of love that God has for people. This rebuke contrasts with what Paul wrote the Ephesians 35 years earlier, that he never stopped giving thanks for them because of their faith in Christ and their love (agapēn) for the saints (Ephesians 1:15-16). Most of the Ephesian Christians were now second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ. How the church today needs to heed this same warning, that orthodoxy and service are not enough. Christ wants believers’ hearts as well as their hands and heads. - BKC

left thy first love -- See James 5:19 note on APOSTASY

you have left your first love . . The church was initially zealous and motivated by love, but that love diminished as time passed. This love could be directed at God or brothers and sisters in the Lord. Their love for unbelievers in the city may have also waned under the heavy hand of persecution. - FSB

love you had at first . . Love for Jesus (Ephesians 6:24) and/or one another (Ephesians 5:2). - NIVZSB

When the church was first established, their love for Christ and for each other had been strong. Struggles with false teachers and persecution had caused that original love to grow cold. Correct theology, action, and even suffering (Revelation 2:2-3) are just an empty shell of Christian life if dynamic love is absent (1 Cor 13). - NLTSB

the love you had at first . . One interpretation is that Ephesus had lost its early love for Christ. Another interpretation is that Ephesian believers had lost love for one another and needed to revive the compassionate works you did at first. Many interpreters think both are in view, since love for Christ and love for one another are related (cf. Mark 12:29-31; 1 John 4:20). - ESVSB

- - - -

NASB, NKJV "you have left your first love"

NRSV "you have abandoned the love you had ast first"

TEV "you do not love me now as you did at first"

NJB "you have less love now than formerly"

There have been several theories as to what this meant: (1) TEV and Charles Williams translations assume it means love for Christ; (2) James Moffatt assumed it means love for one another; (3) Hershell Hobbs in his commentary assumed it means love for the lost; (4) J. B. Phillips in his translation combined all of the above; (5) some think it is related to the problem of second generation believers (cf. Judges 2:7-10); or (6) some see it as a loveless church of cold orthodoxy (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ff). - Utley

- - - - - -

Verse 5

1) Remember, 2) Repent, 3) Re-D0, or 3) be Removed.

remember . . This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE meaning “always keep in mind.” Believers are often admonished to remember their previous condition in sin and their new position in the grace and mercies of God through Christ. - Utley

Consider … repent … do the things you did at first. Jesus exhorts the church to seriously consider their situation and change their mind, heart, and actions. - NIVZSB

repent - see the word study in Utley on Revelation 2:5.

I will remove . . Failure to repent would result in the church’s removal from that place. If a church fails to fulfill its function, it will not continue to exist. - FSB

remove your lampstand . . If the Ephesians do not repent, they will lose their identity as a church. - NIVZSB

God’s judgment would bring an end to the Ephesian church. - MSB

will remove your lampstand out of its place . . The lampstand symbolizes the entire church. This may have involved the removal of Christ’s presence and blessing. The entire congregation was not facing apostasy, but the loss of their effective ministry.

This also applies to the churches of Pergamum (cf. Revelation 2:16); Thyatira (cf. Revelation 2:22-23); Sardis (cf. Revelation 3:3); and Laodicea (cf. Revelation 3:19). It is possible that each of these churches were affected by a Nicolaitan type of false teaching which promoted compromise with pagan culture. - Utley

The church continued and was later the scene of a major church council, but after the 5th century both the church and the city declined. The immediate area has been uninhabited since the 14th century. - BKC

Verse 6

See Word Study on Nicolaitans (See G3531)

deeds of the Nicolaitans . . We know little of the Nicolaitans who were evidently followers of someone named Nicolas (cf. Acts 6:5). Irenaeus, who lived in the late second century, wrote that they were without restraint in their indulgence of the flesh and practiced fornication and the eating of foods sacrificed to idols. The word “Nicolaitans” is a transliteration of two Greek words that mean “to conqueror” and “people.” Consequently Nicolaitanism has come down through history as typifying any system that seeks to dominate rather than serve people.

“The teaching of the Nicolaitans was an exaggeration of the doctrine of Christian liberty which attempted an ethical compromise with heathenism.” (Merrill Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, p. 61.) - Constable

deeds of the Nicolaitans . . They were commended because they hated the practices of the Nicolaitans. There has been much speculation concerning the identity of the Nicolaitans, but the Scriptures do not specify who they were. They apparently were a sect wrong in practice and in doctrine (for further information see Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, 4: 563–65; Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, pp. 60–1; Walvoord, Revelation, p. 58). - BKC

Little is known of this group; they are probably not connected to the Nicolaus of Acts 6:5. Given John’s disdain for the religious practices of the Roman Empire, the Nicolaitans may have compromised by allowing pagan religious practices into the church, thereby avoiding persecution and social tension (compare Revelation 2:14-15). - FSB

Nicolaitans . . A heretical sect whose name means “victory people.” They apparently promoted false teaching, idolatry, and immorality like Balaam (v. 14) and Jezebel (v. 20), and the Ephesian church opposed their practices, while some in Pergamum did not (v. 15). - NIVZSB

Not much is known of the Nicolaitans, but their teaching (Revelation 2:15) seems to link them with those who ate food sacrificed to idols and who were involved in sexual immorality, behavior prohibited by the council in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29). Irenaeus argued (about ad 180) that the Nicolaitans were dependent on Nicolas (Acts 6:3-5) and that John’s writings were directed against the heresies of the Nicolaitans who followed Cerinthus (see 1 John Introduction, “Setting,” p. 2138). - NLTSB

the deeds of the Nicolaitans. A problem in Pergamos also (Revelation 2:12-15), this heresy was similar to the teaching of Balaam (Revelation 2:14-15). Nicolas means “one who conquers the people.” Irenaeus writes that Nicolas, who was made a deacon in Acts 6:5, was a false believer who later became apostate; but because of his credentials he was able to lead the church astray. And, like Balaam, he led the people into immorality and wickedness. The Nicolaitans, followers of Nicolas, were involved in immorality and assaulted the church with sensual temptations. Clement of Alexander says, “They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.” Their teaching perverted grace and replaced liberty with license. - MSB

that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans . . There has been much speculation about who these Nicolaitans were and what they believed. The only biblical source we have is Revelation 2:6, Revelation 2:14-15. Speculation began early in the Church around a.d. 180 when Irenaeus and Hippolitus supposed that these were the followers of one of “the seven” chosen in Acts 6:5 named Nicolas. This is totally unsubstantiated. Irenaeus, in his book, Contra-heresies, 3:11:7, assumed that they were followers of Cyrenian gnosticism of the second century. Eusebius, in his book, Ecclesiastical History, 3:29:1, said that this particular sect did not last long.

In Revelation 2:14-15, the teachings of Balaam and the teachings of the Nicolaitans are similar. There is a possible etymological connection between their names: (1) in Greek it means “conqueror” and “people”; (very similar to the meaning of the name Nicodemus) and (2) in the Hebrew, the rabbinical identification of the same term. What is obvious is that both were encouraging believers to participate in pagan worship practices which involved ritual sexual activity. In this sense the Nicolaitans and Balaamites (cf. Numbers 25:1-9; Numbers 31:16-18) are very similar to the teachings of Jezebel (cf. Revelation 2:20). - Utley

Verse 7

The one who has an ear . . Recalls Jesus’ exhortation throughout the Gospels (e.g., Matthew 13:9; Matthew 13:43): Hear, understand, and respond accordingly. This is reflected in the closing of each message to the seven churches (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6; Revelation 3:13; Revelation 3:22). - FSB

Echoes similar exhortations in the Gospels (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9) and the Prophets (Isaiah 6:9-10; Ezekiel 3:27) to hear and respond to God’s Word. - NIVZSB

what the Spirit says -- The one who addresses the churches (Revelation 2:7) and inspires prophecy (Revelation 19:10) and speaks directly in (Revelation 22:17), confirming the exhortation and promise in Revelation 2:12-13. - NIVZSB

the one who [overcomes] conquers . . The Lion of Judah conquered as a slain Lamb, redeeming people for God from every nation (Revelation 5:5; Revelation 5:9). Believers who hold to their testimony conquer the dragon (Revelation 12:11) and the beast (Revelation 15:2). - ESVSB

“Him who overcomes” probably refers to all Christians (cf. Revelation 2:2-3; Revelation 2:10 c; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:19; Revelation 2:25; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:10; 1 John 5:4-5). The promises given to overcomers in all seven letters and in Revelation 21:7 bear this interpretation out. - Constable

tree of life . . See note on Genesis 2:9; compare Revelation 22:2; Genesis 3:24.

tree of life. Access to this tree in Eden, and the eternal life it promised to the pure, was banned after humanity’s fall (Genesis 3:22-24). It reappears in the new Jerusalem, its roots watered by living water from God’s throne, its fruit a constant source of nourishment, and its leaves bringing healing to the city’s inhabitants, whose names appear in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 22:1-2). - ESVSB

The tree of life appears four times in the Book of Proverbs and its use there helps us understand its presence in Genesis and Revelation. Solomon referred to wisdom (Proverbs 3:18), righteousness (Proverbs 11:30), satisfied hope (Proverbs 13:12), and controlled speech (Proverbs 15:4) as a tree of life. These are all the fruits that would have provided Adam [with what he needed to rule his world] and will provide the overcomers ... - Constable

the paradise of God . . Paradise represents the ultimate place of rest and refuge with God. The new earth and arrival of the final kingdom of God is later cast in language like that used to describe Eden (Revelation 22:1-2; compare Genesis 2:8; Genesis 2:10). - FSB

tree of life -- Paradise of God . . This is an allusion to the Garden of Eden (cf. Genesis 2:9). As humans began in fellowship with God in a garden with the animals, so the Bible ends in the same manner (cf. Isaiah 11:6-9; Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:14; Revelation 22:19). The term “paradise” was a Persian word for a nobleman’s walled garden which was used in the Septuagint to translate the Garden of Eden. It is one of the many references to the Messianic age that is found throughout the letters to the seven churches.

The term “paradise” is used in two senses: (1) in Luke 23:4 it may refer to the righteous part of Sheol/Hades. Jesus tells the repentant thief that he would be with Him there that day (Jesus did not return to heaven for 40 days, cf. John 20:17) and (2) in 2 Corinthians 12:3 it refers to God’s presence, God’s heavenly throne room (“the third heaven”). - Utley

Verse 8

See "Revelation-WG" Topic notes for information on the seven churches of Asia.

Smyrna . . Smyrna, an important exporting city known for its beauty, was located on a protected harbor of the Aegean Sea next to a major road system. It was the home of a temple to the Roman emperor Tiberius and was a center of the Roman imperial religion. Smyrna is the first of two churches (Philadelphia is the other) that receive no critique from the risen Christ. - FSB

Smyrna . . A harbor city (modern-day Izmir [It is the only city of the seven that has survived to this day. Present population is about 200,000.]) 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Ephesus,... Smyrna was renowned for its beauty, civic pride, and claim to be Homer’s birthplace. The city was an important center of emperor worship and home to a temple to the goddess Roma. - NIVSB

Smyrna. Smyrna means “myrrh,” the substance used for perfume and often for anointing a dead body for aromatic purposes.

[It was also used in the anointing oil of the tabernacle, and in embalming dead bodies (cf. Exodus 30:23; Psalms 45:8; Song of Solomon 3:6; Matthew 2:11; Mark 15:23; John 19:39). While the Christians of the church at Smyrna were experiencing the bitterness of suffering, their faithful testimony was like myrrh or sweet perfume to God.]

Called the crown of Asia, this ancient city (modern Izmir, Turkey) was the most beautiful in Asia Minor and a center of science and medicine. Always on the winner’s side in the Roman wars, Smyrna’s intense loyalty to Rome resulted in a strong emperor-worship cult. Fifty years after John’s death, Polycarp, the pastor of the church in Smyrna, was burned alive at the age of 86 for refusing to worship Caesar. A large Jewish community in the city also proved hostile to the early church. - MSB

the first and the last . The phrases identifying Christ here reflect Revelation 1:17-18 - FSB

died and came to life again . . Thus, Jesus comforts and secures suffering believers. The city itself had “died” (600 BC) and been magnificently restored (290 BC). - NIVSB

To a church already suffering “slander” (Revelation 2:9) and soon to face persecution “unto death” (Revelation 2:10), Jesus identifies himself as Israel’s eternal Redeemer who prepared the way through death to resurrection life (Revelation 1:17-18). - ESVSB

Verse 9

Who is the real Israel today?

God’s Israel today is not that nation in Palestine called by that name, but His people who live by faith in Him and His Son Jesus Christ. Romans 2:28-29; Romans 4:12-14; Romans 9:4-8; Galatians 3:27-29; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9; 1 Corinthians 10:18

I know your affliction and poverty The believers in Smyrna likely faced harsh treatment and scarcity of employment.

When cities had large concentrations of artisans and craftsmen, trade guilds or unions were established. These guilds often required their members to participate in certain pagan activities. The believers’ unwillingness to participate in these activities resulted in exclusion from the guilds and financial hardship. - FSB

afflictions . . (“suffer persecution”). Includes economic hardship, verbal abuse, and marginalization, likely because they refused to participate in idolatrous trade guilds. - NIVZSB

your poverty— yet you are rich! . . This church is materially poor yet spiritually prosperous—the antithesis of Laodicea (Revelation 3:17). Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 8:9; James 2:5. - NIVZSB

slander . . This is literally the term blasphemy, which had an OT connotation of “to revile” and was usually used in connection with verbal attacks on YHWH (cf. Leviticus 24:13-23). - Utley

slander of those who call themselves Jews . . This church not only faced pressure from the pagan world but also found themselves in conflict with the synagogues. - FSB

who say they are Jews and are not . . A very similar phrase is used in Revelation 3:9; there it is obvious that they are racial Jews who claim to be God’s people but really are not (cf. John 8:44; Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16). From Acts and Galatians we know that the Jews caused great opposition to the proclamation of the gospel (cf. Acts 13:50; Acts 14:2, Acts 14:5, Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5) - Utley

Jews . . The fact that Jews were prominent in this book in the persecution of Christians is an evidence that the book was written before AD 70 when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and they had no leverage in the Roman empire. cf. Revelation 3:9; See Revelation 1:1 "Reasons For Holding to the Early Date"

a synagogue of Satan . . As opposed to being involved in the activities of God, they were doing the work of His adversary. - FSB

synagogue of Satan . . Smyrna’s large, influential Jewish population persecuted Christians, possibly slandering them in Roman court, thereby aligning with Satan against God’s purposes (cf. Revelation 3:9; John 8:44-47; Acts 13:10). - NIVZSB

Jews who had no faith are condemned for aligning themselves with Satan in hostile opposition to the Christian faith (Revelation 3:9; see John 8:44; Acts 14:2-5; Acts 17:13; Acts 18:6; Acts 20:3; Galatians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). At the Jewish council of Jamnia, the Jews excluded Christians as unholy heretics. John was not anti-Semitic; he was a Jew describing the actions of fellow Jews against Jewish and Gentile Christians. - NLTSB

Verse 10

Do not be afraid . . Lit. stop being afraid.

those things which thou shalt suffer . . Probably refer primarily to a persecution immediately impending; but they are no doubt meant to apply also to the subsequent persecutions of the Church there, especially to the famous one, under the Antonines, in which Polycarp the Bishop suffered martyrdom, in a.d. 155. It will depend on the date assigned to this Book, whether Polycarp can have been Bishop at the time of this message. It is to be noted that the Jews were specially active in urging his execution, though officially it was the act of the pagan magistrates. - CBSC

Behold . . ("indeed” "I tell you" ) signals an oracular declaration (cf. Revelation 2:22; Revelation 3:8, Revelation 3:9, Revelation 3:20) - Constable

the devil . . John saw the devil as the sources of human hostility against Christian. - NLTSB

devil. The Gk. name for God’s archenemy means “accuser.” - MSB

that you may be tested . . This term is used in two senses:

(1) believers are tested so as to show their true faith and grow stronger (cf. Revelation 2:10; Acts 14:27; Romans 5:3-4; Romans 8:17-19; Hebrews 5:8; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:12-19) and

(2) unbelievers are tested to show their unbelief and deserved judgment (cf. Revelation 3:10). In Revelation the Christian’s trials are called “tribulations,” while the unbelievers are subjected to “the wrath of God.”

There were two Greek terms translated “test,” “try,” or “tempt.” One had the connotation of “to test with a view toward destruction” (peirasmos, peirasmo). The other terms (dokimos, dokimazo) were used with the connotation of “to test with a view toward approval.” Satan tempts to destroy; God tests to strengthen (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Peter 1:7; Genesis 22:1; Exodus 16:4; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:16; Deuteronomy 13:3; Judges 2:22; 2 Chronicles 32:31). - Utley

ten days . . A round number, reminiscent of Daniel 1:12; Daniel 1:14. Their testing might literally last for 10 days, or the number may be figurative and indefinite. - FSB

The period of their suffering would be ten days, symbolizing a limited time of persecution (see 1 Peter 1:6). - NLTSB

crown of life . . Refers to eternal life as a reward, not a literal crown or wreath. - FSB

The crown of life (i.e., eternal life) is the laurel wreath of victory that God promises to those who love him (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; James 1:12). - ESVSB

“Crown” here does not refer to the kind royalty wear, but to the wreath awarded winning athletes. - MSB

unto death . . Apparently up to this time none had died, but this could be expected. Later Polycarp, [a pupil of John] having become the bishop of the church in Smyrna, was martyred, and undoubtedly others were also killed. - BKC

be faithful unto death . . This ... emphasizes the believer’s need to continue in faith even if it means physical death (cf. Matthew 2:13; Matthew 12:11; Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Luke 12:4; Galatians 6:9). - Utley

the crown of life . . This was the victor’s crown called the “stephanos” (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25). It was the reward of Christian martyrs. We learn from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 4:15, that there were many martyrs, including Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna. There are also other crowns (rewards) mentioned in the New Testament (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 3:11). - Utley

life as your victor’s crown . . Athletic imagery fitting for Smyrna and Philadelphia (Revelation 3:11), famed for their games. Jesus promises honor, victory, and life to maligned believers facing potential death (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-8; James 1:12). - NIVZSB

Verse 11

He who has an ear, let him hear . . This is a recurrent admonition for spiritual attention and discernment (cf. Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13, Revelation 3:22; Revelation 13:9). - Utley

shall not be hurt of the second death . . Those who win the victory shall live forever. To die the second death is to be sent from the judgment throne into hell. See Revelation 20:14 - PNT

the second death . . The first death is only physical; the second is spiritual and eternal (cf. 20:14). - MSB

The “second death” referred to hell or eternal separation from fellowship with God (cf. Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8). - Utley

second death . . The lake of fire, eternal death (Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8) - NIVZSB

the second death See note on Revelation 20:14

the second death . . This event, which is described here as occurring at the final judgment, is experienced by personified Death and Hades and people who have not accepted Jesus (Revelation 20:15). It is called a second death because those who have already died bodily now die spiritually (Revelation 20:12-13; compare Daniel 12:1-4). - FSB

The one who conquers by faithfulness in the face of death is immune from the second death (see Revelation 20:4-6). - ESVSB

Verse 12

Pergamos -- the northern most of the seven churches in Asia Minor; noted for its vast library of 200,000 volumes. The art of preparing animal skins for writing manuscripts was perfected at Pergamos, and "parchment" came into use from the name of the city. Pergamum was about 20 miles inland from Smyrna. Like Ephesus and Smyrna it was a wealthy city, but it was wicked.

Pergamos . . Pergamos lit. means “citadel” and is the word from which we get parchment—a writing material developed from animal skin, which apparently was first developed in that area. Pergamos (modern Bergama [population about 14,000, of which about 3,000 profess to be Christians]) was built on a 1,000-foot hill in a broad, fertile plain about 20 mi. inland from the Aegean Sea. It had served as the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor for over 250 years. It was an important religious center for the pagan cults of Athena, Asklepios, Dionysius (or Bacchus, the god of drunkenness), and Zeus. It was the first city in Asia to build a temple to Caesar (29 b.c.) and became the capital of the cult of Caesar worship. - MSB

“It is interesting that Pergamum was a city to which Rome had given the rare power of capital punishment (ius gladii), which was symbolized by the sword. The Christians in Pergamum were thus reminded that though they lived under the rule of an almost unlimited imperium, they were citizens of another kingdom—that of him who needs no other sword than that of his mouth . . .” - Constable

Pergamum . . A magnificent city of 100,000 located 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Smyrna and 16.5 miles (26.5 kilometers) inland (see map, p. 2581). Pergamum was an important intellectual city with a library holding 200,000 volumes; it was Asia’s leading religious center, the foremost city for emperor worship, and home to a 40-foot-high (12 meters) altar to Zeus (king of the gods). - NIBZSB

The letter to the church in Pergamum portrays Christians who are tempted to compromise their morality and their loyalty to God. The city of Pergamum was the earliest capital of the Roman province of Asia. It contained a famous library, and its citizens developed the use of animal skins as writing materials. - NLTSB

Pergamum was built on terraces leading up the only accessible slope of its acropolis. It was an important center for pagan and imperial religion, but there are also indications of Jewish religion (e.g., Cicero, For Flaccus 28; Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 14.247–255). - ESVSB

Revelation 2:12 ADDRESS Angel = messenger

DESCRIPTON OF THE SPEAKER - Revelation 1:16 "two-edged sword"

sword . . See note on Revelation 1:16. Symbolizes Jesus’ ultimate authority to exercise judgment - NIVZSB

The two-edged sword was the Roman symbol of authority, which typified Pergamum as capital of the province. If the church failed, the true governor of the city (Christ) would turn his authority against them. - NLTSB

See "Revelation-WG" Topic notes for information on the seven churches of Asia.

Verse 13


Jesus is acquainted with the conditions which existsmin the churches.

Satan’s throne . . ("seat"). There were many heathen temples

in Pergamos, including a temple for emperor-worship.

Asclepias was the god of healing, and symbolized by a

serpent (Today the medical symbol of a serpent intertwined

around a pole)

Pergamum hosted temples dedicated to “the divine Augustus and the goddess Roma” and to Asklepios (the god of healing, symbolized by serpents), and a large altar dedicated to Zeus. The worship of the emperor as a god was also strongly emphasized, even required, in the province of Asia, and it was a major problem for Christians at the time. All of this qualifies Pergamum to be called the site of Satan’s throne. - ESVSB

At Pergamos in BC 29 a temple was built to Augustus and emperor worship became a prevalent practice there.

The throne of Satan might refer to the altar of Zeus on the mountain above the city or to emperor worship at the temple of Augustus. For many years, the Roman proconsul had his throne there, and the great temple of Athena and other shrines were also located in Pergamum. Its description as Satan’s city might also refer to the temple of Asclepius, whose symbol was coiled snakes. The city was dedicated to the Roman pantheon and emperor worship. - NLTSB

where Satan’s throne is . . The headquarters of satanic opposition and a Gentile base for false religions. On the acropolis in Pergamos was a huge, throne-shaped altar to Zeus. In addition, Asklepios, the god of healing, was the god most associated with Pergamos. His snake-like form is still the medical symbol today. The famous medical school connected to his temple mingled medicine with superstition. One prescription called for the worshiper to sleep on the temple floor, allowing snakes to crawl over his body and infuse him with their healing power. - MSB

where Satan’s throne is . . There have been several possible interpretations of this phrase: (1) it could refer to the large throne of Zeus which was located in Pergamum; (2) it could refer to the god of healing, Asclepios, whose symbol was a serpent; (3) it seems that the whole city looked like a giant throne because of the Acropolis which stood hundreds of feet above the city itself; or (4) it could be a reference to the Concilia, the local organization to promote emperor worship, which was very powerful in Pergamum. Because of the historical context, either #1 or #4 seems best. - Utley

you hold fast My name . . This ... It shows the significance of the name as representing the character of a person. Believers trust by calling on His name (cf. John 1:12; John 3:18; Romans 10:9-13) and worship by calling on His name (cf. Genesis 4:26; Genesis 12:8; Genesis 26:25) and persevere by calling on His name (cf. John 17:11-12). - Utley

Antipas my faithful witness . . [Antipas means “against all”] Little is known about this martyr, Antipas is heralded by Christ Himself.

faithful martyr . . Tradition [Tertullian] says Antipas was burned to death inside a brass bull. “Martyr,” a transliteration of the Greek word, means witness. Because so many of the witnesses faithful to Christ were put to death, the word “martyr” developed its current definition. - MSB

Verse 14

teaching of Balaam . . The prototypical unethical teacher whose compromise proved fatal to Israel (see Numbers 25:1-2; Numbers 31:16). - FSB

Balaam . . The Gentile prophet who blessed Israel when Balak (the Moab king) asked him to curse them (Num 22–24); he advised Balak to use Moabite women to seduce Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry (Numbers 25:1-2; Numbers 31:16; cf. Judges 1:11). - NIVZSB

Balaam showed Balak how to lead the children of Israel astray. See Num. 25:2, and 31:16. In the same way there were false teachers at Pergamos who taught that Christians might join the idol feasts and in heathen fornication. - PNT

because you have there some who hold to the teaching of Balaam . . Balaam was a true prophet of God (cf. Numbers 24:2) who was lured into helping to compromise the people of Israel (cf. Num. 22–25 and Numbers 31:16). He is condemned in both the OT and the NT (cf. Numbers 31:16; 2 Peter 2:15; Judges 1:11). - Utley

It is possible that the name Balaam in Hebrew meant “conqueror of the people” and the name Nicolaitans may have meant the same thing in Greek (Nicodemus of John 3 also has a similar meaning). This would identify these two groups as to their immoral practices (cf. Jezebel, Revelation 2:20). - Utley

things sacrificed to idols . . See Acts 15:19-29

to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality . . These two sins involved pagan worship practices. Not only were there pagan meals where the food was sacrificed to idols (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1-13) but often sexual immorality was the normal and expected worship practice at these pagan assemblies. Human sexual activity was a supposed means of assuring the health and fertility of herds, crops, and society. - Utley

Verse 15

the teaching of the Nicolaitans . . In conjunction with Revelation 2:14, this may indicate the Nicolaitans’ teaching: compromise with pagan religious practices (see Revelation 2:6 and note). - FSB

Apparently the teaching of the Nicolaitans were following the same behavior as Balaam’s schemes, as well also the teachings of "Jezebel" (Revelation 2:20). All of these were promoting pagan, idolatrous worship practices.

likewise the Nicolaitans . . though opposed in Ephesus, were spreading sexual and spiritual infidelity at Pergamum (see Revelation 2:6). - ESVSB

which thing I hate . . Instead of these words read in like manner. This correction makes it certain that we are not to suppose two immoral sects prevailing at Pergamum, those who held the doctrine of Balaam and those who held that of the Nicolaitans: but one sect holding the doctrine taught by Balaam of old and the Nicolaitans now. The sense is, “thou hast with thee followers of Balaam: he taught God’s people to fornicate and to communicate in idol-worship, and the Nicolaitans with thee teach the same.” - CBSC

Verse 16

Repent . . The church must turn away from immorality and false teaching to avoid imminent judgment (Revelation 2:5; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:19)

If not, I will come to you soon . . Jesus’ threat to come soon refers not to the second coming but to his intervention through providence, as at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:30-32). - ESVSB

The coming could refer to temporal judgment against the church or to the Second Coming of Christ to judge the world. It is significant that the church as a whole was called on to repent (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14) because of the sins of some; if they did not, the consequences were corporate discipline! - Utley

He promised that the judgment would come “soon” (tachys) ... (cf. Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20). Christ would contend with them, using the sword of His mouth (cf. Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 19:15, Revelation 19:21). This again is the Word of God sharply judging all compromise and sin. - BKC

I will make war . . Although not everyone compromised, the church as a whole was guilty of indifference to those who had. Christ Himself would wage war against them, proving the deadly nature of Balaam’s teaching. - FSB

the sword from my mouth . . See Revelation 1:16 and note; Revelation 2:12.

They would die by the sword proceeding from Christ’s mouth. Balaam had died, ironically, by the Israelites’ sword (Numbers 31:8). This judgment would be by the unyielding standard of God’s revealed Word that clearly condemns such behavior. Having taken sides with the enemy they could expect God to oppose them in His war against evil. - Constable

Verse 17

overcomes . . See note on Revelation 2:7

hidden manna . . Heavenly nourishment, in contrast to the food sacrificed to idols in v. 14 (compare Exodus 16:32-34; John 6:31-35)

hidden manna . . Recalls Exodus 16:32-34, where the Lord commands Moses to preserve an omer of manna for future generations. Jesus, the “living bread” from heaven (John 6:51), promises everlasting food (cf. Revelation 19:9) to this church tempted by idolatrous Roman feasts (Revelation 2:14). - NIVZSB

hidden away in heaven . . During the Exodus, a jar of manna was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:33-36). Jewish tradition said that at the coming of the Messiah, the Ark would reappear and manna would be eaten at the messianic banquet. Jesus is the bread from heaven and the bread of life (John 6:32-35; cp. Exodus 16:4-21). - NLTSB

the hidden manna] The reference is to the pot of manna kept in the Tabernacle, in or before the Ark (Exodus 16:34; Hebrews 9:4), and therefore “hidden” in the unapproachable Sanctuary. The Jews appear to have cherished an opinion that the Ark of the Covenant, and other sacred objects which were wanting in the Second Temple, had not perished with the First, but were concealed before its destruction (see e.g. 2 Maccabees 1:19 sqq., 2 Maccabees 2:4 sqq.), and were preserved somewhere in earth or heaven, to be revealed in the days of the Messiah. But we are not to understand that this Book sanctions the first part of this belief, when Revelation 21:22 contradicts the second: passages like Revelation 11:19 do not imply that the earthly Temple or its contents have been removed to Heaven, but that, whether the earthly Temple stands or falls, there remains in Heaven the archetype from which it was copied, according to the revelations made to Moses and (through David) to Solomon. See Exodus 25:40, Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:12; Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:23 sq. - CBSC

white stone . . White symbolizes purity and victory (see note on Revelation 3:5) and recalls the description of manna in Exod 16:31. White stones were associated with acquittal in court and admission to special feasts for athletic victors or members of a guild; - NIVZSBA

white stone . . was often given to victors at the games, and it was common for special banquets or festivities to use a white stone for admission. It therefore suggests acceptance and victory. -NLTSB

and I will give him a white stone . . This stone, also called “Tessera,” had many usages in the ancient Near East (1) it could be used for a ticket to special banquets; (2) it could be used to vote for acquittal by a jury; (3) it could be used as a symbol of victory for an athlete; and (4) it could be used to show the freedom of a slave. In this context, #1 seems to be the best ... - Utley

will give him a white stone . . Among the Greeks a white stone was a symbol of acquittal, as a black stone was of guilt. The white stone implies justification, innocence and victory. - PNT

a new name written . . All conjectures concerning this new name are idle. It is only given to those who have finally overcome and cannot be known to us here, but implies their new relation to God and the Lamb in their triumphant state - PNT

and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it . . This new name seems to be a symbol of the New Age or a title for the Messiah (cf. Exodus 28:36 ff; Isaiah 56:5; Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 65:15). This new name is mentioned often in the book of the Revelation (cf. Revelation 3:12; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 19:12-13, Revelation 19:16; Revelation 22:4). - Utley

on the stone a new name written . . Possibly refers to an invitation to partake in the banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). This would contrast the pagan ceremonies of v. 14; believers had greater festivities awaiting them and did not need to compromise. See Revelation 2:7. - FSB

The new name probably refers to the recipient’s transformed nature in Christ (see Gen 17:5; 32:28; John 1:42). - N:TSB

new name . . A personal message from Christ to the ones He loves, which serves as their admission pass into eternal glory. It is so personal that only the person who receives it will know what it is. - MSB

The historical parallel to the church in Pergamum is the period following Constantine’s legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313 that lasted for about 300 years. When Christianity became the official religion of the empire, paganism overwhelmed it. It became hard to distinguish true Christians because people claiming to be Christians were everywhere. Many of them were practicing pagans who indulged in immoral festivals and all kinds of behavior inconsistent with the teachings of Christianity. Many writers have noted that “Pergamum” comes from the Greek word gamos that means marriage. This letter pictures a church married to the world rather than to Christ. - Constable

Verse 18

Thyatira . . A commercial town about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Pergamum known for its many influential trade guilds, each with a patron deity. Lydia was “a dealer in purple cloth” from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). - NIVZSB

Thyatira . . This was probably the least significant city of chs. 2–3, but its letter is the longest. Thyatira was a center of manufacturing and trade, and the city’s commerce was linked to an assortment of religious practices—posing a threat to the Christians who resided there. - FSB

Thyatira, the smallest of the seven cities but the one that received the longest letter, lay about 45 miles to the southeast of Pergamum. [The first three cities were near the coastline, listed south to north; but the next cities are interior and listed north to south.] It was famous for its textiles, especially the production of purple dye (cf. Acts 16:14), and its trade guilds. - Constable

Thyatira . . Located halfway between Pergamos and Sardis, this city had been under Roman rule for nearly 3 centuries (ca. 190 b.c.). Since the city was situated in a long valley that swept 40 mi. to Pergamos, it had no natural defenses and had a long history of being destroyed and rebuilt. Originally populated by soldiers of Alexander the Great, it was little more than a military outpost to guard Pergamos. Lydia came from this city on business and was converted under Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:14-15). - MSB

Son of God . . Occurs only here in Revelation. The other phrases identifying Christ in this verse reflect Revelation 1:14-15. - FSB

The flaming eyes of the Son of God indicate penetrating perception; the solid feet portray Christ’s stability, in vivid contrast to the nearby Colossus of Rhodes, which had once been thought to be firmly planted until an earthquake destroyed it. - NLTSB

Christ’s eyes like a flame of fire and feet … like burnished bronze (cf. 1:14–15) evoke images familiar to Thyatiran metalworkers, as well as echoing OT visions of God’s glory (Ezek. 1:27). With fiery eyes, Jesus “searches mind and heart” (Rev. 2:23), and his feet will crush his enemies. - ESVSB

Son of God . . This is not one of the descriptive phrases from chapter 1. This term, like “virgin-born,” was used sparingly by NT authors probably because of the possible misunderstanding of pagan hearers, who would immediately relate these terms to their usages in the pagan pantheons. The Homeric gods and goddesses often were sexually active with humans, producing special offspring. - Utley

feet are like burnished bronze . . The words “burnished bronze,” which describe His feet, translate a rare Greek word chalkolibanō, also used in Revelation 1:15. It seems to have been an alloy of a number of metals characterized by brilliance when polished. The reference to His eyes being “like blazing fire” and the brilliant reflections of His feet emphasize the indignation and righteous judgment of Christ. - BKC

Verse 19

I know . . Christ emphasizes knowing and seeing all things as he praises the Thyatirans. - NLTSB

love and faith . . Essential Christian virtues (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3) - NIVZSB

last works are greater than the first . . Their love for God and one another increased, in contrast to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4-5) - FSB

Thyatira’s strengths and weaknesses are the inverse of those at Ephesus. This church is strong in love evidenced in works; but it lacks discernment and tolerates heresy. - ESVSB

This verse is Jesus’ acknowledgement of the ministry of the believers at Thyatira. They were active in kingdom work and getting even more active. This affirmation, however, did not excuse the heresy of v. 20. - Utley

Verse 20

Jezebel . . The name of the murderous wife of King Ahab (e.g., 1 Kgs 18:4). Like Balaam, Jezebel is one of the villains of the Bible. Her indictment is probably similar to the one against the Balaamites in Revelation 2:14. - FSB

Jezebel . . A false prophet who deceived church members by leading them into moral and religious compromise. Her symbolic name alludes to King Ahab’s wife, who promoted unprecedented Baal worship, sorcery, and evil in Israel (1 Kings 16:31-32; 1 Kings 21:25-26). - NIVSB

The mention of Jezebel, who led Israel into pagan idolatry and immorality (1 Kings 16:31-33; 1 Kings 21:5-26), indicates a serious problem. Like the OT queen who led the pagan cult of Baal (see 1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:1-3), this unknown Jezebel called herself a prophet but was leading God’s people into various forms of immorality, including sexual misconduct and straying from God into idolatrous alliances and actions (Exodus 34:15-16; Psalms 106:39; Isaiah 57:7-8). - NLTSB

Many scholars think “Jezebel” represented an actual woman “prophetess” who was leading people astray in the church of Thyatira. In any case, she symbolizes the prostitute Babylon, who seduces through pleasure and luxury as well as ruthless violence (Revelation 17). ESVSB

Jezebel . . Probably a pseudonym for a woman who influenced the church in the way Jezebel influenced the OT Jews into idolatry and immorality. (cf. 1 Kings 21:25-26)- MSB

The church in Thyatira may have first heard the gospel from Lydia, converted through Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:14-15). Interestingly now a woman, a self-claimed “prophetess,” was influencing the church. Her name “Jezebel” suggests that she was corrupting the Thyatira church much like Ahab’s wife Jezebel corrupted Israel (1 Kings 16:31-33). - BKC

Who “Jezebel” was—whether a real woman, or a personification of a sect,—is almost equally doubtful on any view: but it seems simplest to suppose a real person. - CBSC

sexual immorality … food sacrificed to idols . . Gentile Christians faced pressure to participate in these practices associated with pagan temple worship and guild feasts. Cf. v. 14; Acts 15:29; 1 Corinthians 8:1. - NIVZSB

sufferest that woman Jezebel . . Either a person or a party of which the wicked wife of Ahab was a type. As a woman in Revelation is a symbol of the church, true or false, I believe this symbol is used to designate a faction in the church at Thyatira of an idolatrous spirit. This faction had teachers who claimed the gift of prophecy. They taught the doctrine of Balaam named in Revelation 2:14. - PNT

Evidently a woman claiming to be a prophetess (cf. Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5) had been influencing some in this church to join the local trade guilds without which a tradesman could not work in Thyatira. This meant participation in the guild feasts that included immoral acts and the worship of idols. Her name may or may not have been Jezebel. I think it was not.128 However her behavior reflected that of wicked Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 16-2 Kings 9) who led Israel into immorality and idolatry by advocating Baal worship (cf. Revelation 2:14; Acts 15:28-29).

“With her Nicolaitan orientation the prophetess could suggest that since ‘an idol has no real existence’ (1 Corinthians 8:4), believers need not undergo the privation which would follow from unwillingness to go along with the simple requirements of the trade guild.” [Mounce, p. 103]- Constable

Verse 21

I gave her space (time) to repent. The long suffering and mercy shown in the delay of judgment are here pointed out. - PNT

The Lord has given the “prophetess” (v. 20) time to repent, or the church time to bring her to discipline. Neither has occurred - ESVSB

Through messengers such as John, Christ had given this false prophet opportunity to repent of her sinful teachings and actions, but like many, she had refused (cp. Revelation 9:20-21). NLTSB

God had not brought judgment on her previously so she might repent (2 Peter 3:9). Since she refused to change her ways, God would judge her and her followers unless they repented. - Constable

Verse 22

I will cast her . . Judgment is imminent for Jezebel and her unrepentant followers, whether the sickbed is physical or symbolic. cf. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.

I will cast . . lit. ‘I am casting’ i.e. am about to cast. Cf. ‘I ascend’, John 20:17. - CBSC

sickbed . . Lit. “bed.” Having given this woman time to repent, God was to judge her upon a bed. Since she used a luxurious bed to commit her immorality, and the reclining couch at the idol feast to eat things offered to false gods, He was to give her a bed in hell where she would lie forever. - MSB

unless they repent of her deeds . . This is a THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL which referred to potential future action but with an element of contingency. - Utley

Revelation 2:22-23 . . Christ’s judgment on this “Jezebel” and her followers comes in three stages: (1) Jezebel is on a bed of suffering (literally a bed); (2) her followers will suffer greatly; and (3) her children will die (cp. Acts 5:5, Acts 5:10; 1 Corinthians 11:30). This judgment echoes the plagues on Egypt that ended with the deaths of Egypt’s firstborn sons (see Exodus 12:29-30). - NLTSB

But if Jezebel be understood to mean a sect rather than an individual woman, it will be possible to distinguish her “adulteries” as metaphorical from the literal “fornication” which she encouraged: if so, her paramours are the false teachers, her children their disciples. - CBSC

Verse 23

her children . . Refers to those who follow in her teaching. - FSB

This does not refer to literal children, but to her followers (cf. Revelation 2:22; 2 John 1:1). - Utley

Her children are the adherents; those who perpetuate the immoral practices. The threat implies that they shall come to certain destruction. - PNT

her children . . The church was about 40 years old as John wrote, and her teaching had produced a second generation, advocating the same debauchery. - MSB

I will kill . . May allude to 2 Kings 10:1-11, where Jehu kills the descendants of Ahab, Jezebel’s husband. - FSB

and all the churches will know . . This shows that the seven letters were to be read and the truth applied by all the churches, then and now. - Utley

And all the churches shall know . . By reason of the judgments inflicted.

Some have strongly urged that by “Jezebel” is meant a Sybil, half heathen, half Christian, claiming prophetic powers, who is known to have lived in Thyatira. - PNT

I am He who searches the minds and hearts . . The Bible asserts that God knows the motives and thoughts of all humans (cf. Psalms 7:9, Psalms 26:2; Psalms 39:1; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:12-13; Romans 8:27). - Utley

who searches the minds and hearts . . God has perfect, intimate knowledge of every human heart; no evil can be hidden from Him (Psalms 7:9; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). - MSB

he who searches hearts and minds . . Recalls the Lord’s self-description in Jeremiah 17:10. - NIVZSB

God sees thoughts and intentions (see Jeremiah 17:10; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:12-13), and he gives whatever sentence people deserve (see Revelation 22:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 16:27). - NLTSB

according to your works . . Always the basis for future judgment (Revelation 20:12-13; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6). - MSB

Verse 24

the rest of you in Thyatira . . After His condemnation, Christ extended a word of exhortation to the godly remnant who existed in the church in Thyatira, implying that the rest of the church was apostate. - BKC

the deep things of Satan . . Jezebel claims secret knowledge, but her teaching comes from Satan and results in death and destruction. - FSB

Satan’s so-called deep secrets. Like early Gnostics [See note below on Gnosticism], the false teachers may have claimed esoteric insight into “the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10 b) or advocated that believers’ superior “knowledge” allowed them to continue to participate in pagan idolatry (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:4). Such deep “knowledge” is satanic (cf. Revelation 2:9). - NIVZSB

Gnosticism is a term used to designate a variety of beliefs, fundamental to which was a dualistic view of reality. The spiritual world was regarded as good, while the material world, including human bodies, was regarded as evil. Gnostic views are found reflected in various literary sources, including the works of early church fathers who rejected such Gnostic teaching. - (Introduction to 1John "Gnosticism) - NIVZSB

depths of Satan . . might be a striking reference to the Gnostic god named “Depth” (Bythos), who with his partner “Silence” (Sigē) formed a philosophic godhead. Gnosticism placed great emphasis on secret knowledge. - NLTSB

Jesus’ eyes distinguish sincere believers from those who abandon God’s Word to search elsewhere for the deep things of Satan, deceptive promises of secret spiritual knowledge through false religions. Those content with the gospel have nothing to fear and no other burden, as long as they hold fast. - ESVSB

the deep things of Satan . . There are several theories relating to this phrase. It could refer (1) to a catch-phrase of Jezebel and her followers; (2) to the gnostic false teachers’ emphasis on knowledge; (3) to the initiation rites of the mystery religions of the Roman Empire; or (4) in an antithetical way, to “the deep things of God” (cf. Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 3:18). - Utley

I place no other burden on you . . This is an affirmation of the true believers in the city of Thyatira. They had an active, aggressive faith (cf. Revelation 2:19). - Utley

no other burden . . Yet it is a question whether we may not understand the sentence as if the construction were “I will put on you no other burden than to hold fast that which ye have till I come.” [cf Revelation 2:25] - CBSC

Verse 25

hold fast until I come . . Christ’s followers must persevere in the truth. Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13. WG

On this godly remnant He imposed one simple instruction: only hold on to what you have until I come. Perhaps because the church was small, Christ did not command them to leave it but to remain as a godly testimony. Judgment on Jezebel and her followers would come soon and would purge the church. In modern times Christians who find themselves in apostate local churches can usually leave and join another fellowship, but this was impractical under the circumstances in Thyatira. - BKC

Verse 26

overcomes . . “Him who overcomes” probably refers to all Christians (cf. Revelation 2:2-3; Revelation 2:10 c; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:19; Revelation 2:25; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:10; 1 John 5:4-5). The promises given to overcomers in all seven letters and in Revelation 21:7 bear this interpretation out. - Constable

Also, think of the blessings afforded those who overcome. They inherit all things and realize intimate fellowship with God (Revelation 3:20; Revelation 21:7). They have God’s promise to be with them (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5-6; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:13). God promises that, if fellowship with Him results in the death of His saints, they will be blessed, rest from their labors (Revelation 14:13), continue to live and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4), and the second death will have no power over them (Revelation 20:6). What greater security could we desire? - Ogden

I will give him authority over the nations . . cf. Matthew 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:3; . The prominence of God’s people among the various nations is a common feature of the Scriptures, cf. Psalms 2:8-9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:4;

nations . . The use of this term from the OT implies that ... It becomes a way of referring to godless, wicked peoples (cf. Revelation 2:26; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:2, 9, 18; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6, 8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:15; Revelation 18:3, 23; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 20:8). - Utley

power (authority) . . Christ’s word, the gospel, is the absolute authority in the world determining what is good, ethical, moral, and just. No matter what the "nations" or world may want to assert.

power . . [authority] . . The word in v. 27 translated “rule” (poimanei) means “to shepherd”. The quote in verse 28 refers to Christ’s rule, his shepherdling. The shepherd has an "iron" staff or club to smash the wolves, or enemies of his flock, and will "dash them to pieces." - WG

Verse 27

v. 27 . . A quote from Psalms 2:9.

rule . . The word translated “rule” (poimanei) means “to shepherd”. This quote from Psalms 2:9 (the Septuigent) refers to Christ’s rule, his shepherding. The shepherd has an "iron" staff or club to smash the wolves, or enemies of his flock, and will "dash them to pieces." - WG

rule them with a rod of iron . . Lit. “shepherd them with an iron rod.” - MSB

2:26–28 . . Christ promises that those who are obedient will share authority with him, as symbolized by the iron rod that will smash the opposition like clay pots (quoting Psalms 2:8-9, Greek version; cp. Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15). NLTSB

I also have received authority from my Father . . Jesus has already been given all authority (cf. Ps. 2; Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:9-11). - Utley

Verse 28

the morning start . . The morning star is the planet Venus, which signals the coming of a new day. Here it refers to the promise of resurrection at Christ’s return (Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19). - NLTSB

the morning star . . In Revelation 22:16, this refers to Jesus. It is probably an allusion* to Numbers 24:17, where it is associated with the tribe of Judah. - FSB

* allusion A figure of speech that makes an implied or indirect reference to literature, culture, history, etc., leaving the reader or hearer to make the connection.

morning star . . Christ (Revelation 22:16). Balaam identified a star and scepter as Messianic symbols (Numbers 24:17). - NIVZSB

[This knowledge and understanding by the "wise men from the east" Matthew 2:1-2 that brough them to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem, seeing the one who was born king. WG]

the morning star . . The Scriptures do not explain this expression but Jesus use the similar express later Revelation 22:16 as a reference to himself. - WG

Verse 29

hear what the Spirit says . . The letter to Thyatira closes with the familiar exhortation to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Unlike the earlier letters, this exhortation follows rather than precedes the promise to overcomers, and this order is followed in the letters to the last three churches. - FSB

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches . . This admonition is repeated throughout the letters to the seven churches (cf. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; Revelation 3:6, 13, 22). It was a phrase that came from the words of Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9, 43). Spiritual truth must be responded to by mind and hand. This is similar to the Hebrew term shema, “hear so as to do” (cf. Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 9:1; Deuteronomy 20:3; Deuteronomy 27:9-10). - Utley

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 2". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/revelation-2.html. 2021.
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