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Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 2

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-7

Ephesus (Verses 1-7)

The City

The city of Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor and was one of the most important cities in the Roman world. It had a population of over 250,000. It was the “home” temple of the goddess, Diana. The temple of Diana was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was 4 times larger than the Parthenon; had 127 marlbe pillars; 36 of then covered with gold and jewels. Diana was (in pagan folklore) the daughter of Jupiter.

The Church

Paul had dome some great work in this area. He taught at the school of Tyrannas. He spent three years here. The church was started in the midst of the riot in the theater. ( Act_19:1-41 ) John was here before his banishment and returned here when he was released from exile.

Things Commended

Their toil and work

Patience in the midst of persecution

Discipline of false teachers

Dealing with the Nicolaitans (who retained pagan practices)

Faithful to the doctrine, refusal to accept error

They worked for the same of Christ’s name

Nicolaitans were of the branch of teachers teaching antinomianism. This is a big word that simply means, (in the words of a restaurant commercial) “No Rules, Just Right!” Free in Christ, they believed meant no rules, no law, no commands, no moral code. Anything goes, was their motto. They are identified with Baalam because he led Israel into fornication. Christ hated their teaching and so did the Ephesians.

Things Condemned

They left their first love

Left their first love - Think back to the first time you were in love. Can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Excited. Write their name all over your notebook. Can’t stop thinking about them. Talk to them for hours. Spend every moment possible with them. What happens over time? One of two things - the love deepens or you “get over it.” The problem is that the Ephesians were “getting over it.” Jesus was saying, “You no longer love me as you once did.”

Verses 8-11

Smyrna (Verses 8-11)

The City

Thirty five miles north of Ephesus was another harbor city of 200,000 people. It was known as a most beautiful city. Smyrna was a wealthy, prosperous and proud city. The city was founded by Alexender the Great. The original Olympic games were held here. It is the only city still in existence today. Now it is called Izmir, Turkey.

The Church

The origin of the church here is not recorded in the New Testament. History tells of the persecution suffered here. Polycarp is a well known martyr from Smyrna.

Things Commended

This was a WEALTHY church.

Rich in spite of real poverty. They had no money but had treasures in heaven.

Rich in spite of slander. The Jews were blaspheming them. When Polycarp burned, Jews brought the firewood.

Rich in spite of persecution. Polycarp would be burned at the stake some 60 years later. Some were beaten. They were not allowed to buy or sell in the open market. They suffered tribulation for 10 days.

Rich because of a sympathetic savior. Jesus was on their side and aware of their problems.

Rich because of the precious promises. They were promised a crown of life. There are two different words translated “crown” in the New Testament. There was the royal crown of power and authority, the royal diadem. But the crown mentioned here is the crown of victory (Gold medal from the Olympics). They will not be hurt in the second death (eternal punishment in hell) because they will have eternal life.

Things Condemned

There is not a single word of condemnation in this letter. Jesus found nothing to rebuke.

Verses 12-17

Pergamos (Verses 12-17)

The City

Pergamos was a city high in the mountains. It was located at 1,000 feet elevation. It was another city with a large population, around 200,000 and the world’s second largest library. It had a famous school of medicine. Pergamos was known for ointments, medicines, parchments and pottery. A large temple to Aphrodite, goddess of fertility, was located here. Pergamos was the beginning of emperor worship.

The Church

We have no information about the planting of the church here.

Things Commended

They are living in the seat of Satan’s throne, the origin of emperor worship. Being faithful here was more than just attending church services. They had already suffered the death of Antipas. His death was a great testimony to his faith in Christ. They had not denied the faith, even in the face of such persecution. What would you do? Justify? Cave in to the pressure? Would you stand firm in your faith?

Things Condemned

Heresy had entered the church. The teachings of Baalam were here. (See Num_23:1-30 ; Num_24:1-25 ) Baalam sought to make material gain at the cost of the spiritual and moral life of the people. He led the people to idol worship and fornication. Some were willing to make spiritual compromise in order to obtain personal safety. They would teach evil in order to save their own neck.

Verses 18-29

Thyatira (Verses 18-29)

The City

Of the seven letters, the letter to Thyatira is the longest. The city was known for manufacturing and marketing. Here every trade (silversmiths, candle makers, carpenters, etc.) was organized into trade guilds. If you wanted to sell candles, you had to belong to the trade guild of candle makers. Each trade guild had a special god who was supposed to bless their work. Lydia, a seller of purple, was from this city. She was converted by Paul in Act_16:14-15 .

The Church

It is assumed that Lydia was the first influence to begin the church here. We know that Paul was aware of this church and wrote a letter to them. We do not have that letter. However, the letter to the Colossians was to be exchanged with the letter to Thyatira. ( Col_4:16 )

Things Commended

Jesus knows their works. He is aware of their service to God. He recognizes their love. Jesus appreciates their patience, their ability to hold their own under extreme pressure. They are increasing. Their works are more now than in the beginning. This is the opposite of Ephesus. They are a strong, faithful, growing, working, and loving church.

Things Condemned

The church is harboring heresy. They allow a woman, Jezebel, to teach error. It seems this was some woman in the church who may have claimed some mystic power. She was seducing them to commit fornication. Some think the name, Jezebel, is not her real name, but symbolic of the Old Testament queen, wife of Ahab. She was a Jezebel in character, morals and conduct. Like the Old Testament namesake, she will not be allowed to continue. She and her followers will meet destruction. God is still in charge.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 2". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-2.html. 2021.
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