Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 2

Verse 1

In Ephesus (εν Επεσωιen Ephesōi). Near the sea on the river Cayster, the foremost city of Asia Minor, the temple-keeper of Artemis and her wonderful temple (Acts 19:35), the home of the magic arts (Ephesian letters, Acts 19:19) and of the mystery-cults, place of Paul‘s three years‘ stay (Acts 19:1-10; 20:17-38), where Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos laboured (Acts 18:24-28), where Timothy wrought (1 Tim. and 2 Tim.), where the Apostle John preached in his old age. Surely it was a place of great privilege, of great preaching. It was about sixty miles from Patmos and the messenger would reach Ephesus first. It is a free city, a seat of proconsular government (Acts 19:38), the end of the great road from the Euphrates. The port was a place of shifting sands, due to the silting up of the mouth of the Cayster. Ramsay (Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 210) calls it “the City of Change.”

These things (ταδεtade). This demonstrative seven times here, once with the message to each church (Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:8, Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:18; Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:14), only once elsewhere in N.T. (Acts 21:11).

He that holdeth (ο κρατωνho kratōn). Present active articular participle of κρατεωkrateō a stronger word than εχωνechōn in Revelation 1:16, to which it refers.

He that walketh (ο περιπατωνho peripatōn). Present active articular participle of περιπατεωperipateō an allusion to Revelation 1:13. These two epithets are drawn from the picture of Christ in Revelation 1:13-18, and appropriately to conditions in Ephesus describe Christ‘s power over the churches as he moves among them.

Verse 2

I know (οιδαoida). Rather than γινωσκωginōskō and so “emphasizes better the absolute clearness of mental vision which photographs all the facts of life as they pass” (Swete). So also in Revelation 2:9, Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:19; Revelation 3:1, Revelation 3:8, Revelation 3:15. For the distinction see John 21:17, “where the universal knowledge passes into the field of special observation.”

Works (εργαerga). The whole life and conduct as in John 6:29.

And thy toil and patience (και τον κοπον και την υπομονην σουkai ton kopon kai tēn hupomonēn sou). “Both thy toil and patience,” in explanation of εργαerga and see 1 Thessalonians 1:3, where all three words (εργον κοποσ υπομονηergonεργαkoposκοποιhupomonē) occur together as here. See Revelation 14:13 for sharp distinction between υπομονηerga (activities) and κοποςkopoi (toils, with weariness). Endurance (και οτιhupomonē) in hard toil (κοποςkopos).

And that (ου δυνηιkai hoti). Further explanation of δυνασαιkopos (hard toil).

Not able (βαστασαιou dunēi). This Koiné form for the Attic βασταζωdunasai (second person singular indicative middle) occurs also in Mark 9:22; Luke 16:2.

Bear (και επειρασαςbastasai). First aorist active infinitive of πειραζωbastazō for which verb see John 10:31; John 12:6; Galatians 6:2. These evil men were indeed a heavy burden.

And didst try (δυνηι εχειςkai epeirasas). First aorist active indicative of τους λεγοντας εαυτους αποστολουςpeirazō to test, a reference to a recent crisis when these Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6) were condemned. The present tenses (και ουκ εισινdunēiκαι ουκ ονταςecheis) indicate the continuance of this attitude. Cf. 1 John 4:1.

Which call themselves apostles (λεγονταςtous legontas heautous apostolous). Perhaps itinerant missionaries of these Nicolaitans who posed as equal to or even superior to the original apostles, like the Judaizers so described by Paul (2 Corinthians 11:5, 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 12:11). Paul had foretold such false teachers (Gnostics), grievous wolves, in Acts 20:29; in sheep‘s clothing, Jesus had said (Matthew 7:15).

And they are not (και ευρεςkai ouk eisin). A parenthesis in Johannine style (John 2:9; John 3:9; 1 John 3:1) for ευρισκωkai ouk ontas to correspond to επειρασαςlegontas didst find (πσευδειςkai heures). Second aorist active indicative of πσευδηςheuriskō Dropping back to the regular structure parallel with epeirasas (pseudeis). Predicate accusative plural of pseudēs self-deceived deceivers as in Revelation 21:8.

Verse 3

Thou hast (εχειςecheis). Continued possession of patience.

Didst bear (εβαστασαςebastasas). First aorist indicative of βασταζωbastazō repeated reference to the crisis in Revelation 2:2.

And hast not grown weary (και ου κεκοπιακεςkai ou kekopiakes). Perfect active indicative of κοπιαωkopiaō old verb, to grow weary (Matthew 6:28), play on the word κοποςkopos late form in ες̇es for the regular ας̇as (λελυκαςlelukas). like απηκεςaphēkes (Revelation 2:4) and πεπτωκεςpeptōkes (Revelation 2:5). “Tired in loyalty, not of it. The Ephesian church can bear anything except the presence of impostors in her membership” (Moffatt).

Verse 4

This against thee, that (κατα σου οτιkata sou hoti). For the phrase “have against” see Matthew 5:23. The οτιhoti clause is the object of εχωechō didst leave (απηκεςaphēkes). First aorist active (kappa aorist, but with ες̇es instead of ας̇as) of απιημιaphiēmi a definite and sad departure.

Thy first love (την αγαπην σου την πρωτηνtēn agapēn sou tēn prōtēn). “Thy love the first.” This early love, proof of the new life in Christ (1 John 3:13.), had cooled off in spite of their doctrinal purity. They had remained orthodox, but had become unloving partly because of the controversies with the Nicolaitans.

Verse 5

Remember (μνημονευεmnēmoneue). Present active imperative of μνημονευωmnēmoneuō “continue mindful” (from μνημωνmnēmōn).

Thou art fallen (πεπτωκεςpeptōkes). Perfect active indicative of πιπτωpiptō state of completion. Down in the valley, look up to the cliff where pure love is and whence thou hast fallen down.

And repent (και μετανοησονkai metanoēson). First aorist active imperative of μετανοεωmetanoeō urgent appeal for instant change of attitude and conduct before it is too late.

And do (και ποιησονkai poiēson). First aorist active imperative of ποιεωpoieō “Do at once.”

The first works (τα πρωτα εργαta prōta erga). Including the first love (Acts 19:20; Acts 20:37; Ephesians 1:3.) which has now grown cold (Matthew 24:12).

Or else (ει δε μηei de mē). Elliptical condition, the verb not expressed (μετανοειςmetanoeis), a common idiom, seen again in Revelation 2:16, the condition expressed in full by εαν μηean mē in this verse and Revelation 2:22.

I come (ερχομαιerchomai). Futuristic present middle (John 14:2.).

To thee (σοιsoi). Dative, as in Revelation 2:16 also.

Will move (κινησωkinēsō). Future active of κινεωkineō In Ignatius‘ Epistle to Ephesus it appears that the church heeded this warning.

Except thou repent (εαν μη μετανοησηιςean mē metanoēsēis). Condition of third class with εαν μηean mē instead of ει μηei mē above, with the first aorist active subjunctive of μετανοεωmetanoeō f0).

Verse 6

That thou hatest (οτι μισειςhoti miseis). Accusative object clause in apposition with τουτοtouto (this). Trench tells of the words used in ancient Greek for hatred of evil (μισοπονηριαmisoponēria) and μισοπονηροςmisoponēros (hater of evil), neither of which occurs in the N.T., but which accurately describe the angel of the church in Ephesus.

Of the Nicolaitans (των Νικολαιτωνtōn Nikolaitōn). Mentioned again in Revelation 2:15 and really meant in Revelation 2:2. Irenaeus and Hippolytus take this sect to be followers of Nicolaus of Antioch, one of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5), a Jewish proselyte, who is said to have apostatized. There was such a sect in the second century (Tertullian), but whether descended from Nicolaus of Antioch is not certain, though possible (Lightfoot). It is even possible that the Balaamites of Revelation 2:14 were a variety of this same sect (Revelation 2:15).

Which I also hate (α καγω μισωha kagō misō). Christ himself hates the teachings and deeds of the Nicolaitans (αha not ουςhous deeds, not people), but the church in Pergamum tolerated them.

Verse 7

He that hath an ear (ο εχων ουςho echōn ous). An individualizing note calling on each of the hearers (Revelation 1:3) to listen (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:28; Revelation 3:3, Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13, Revelation 3:22) and a reminiscence of the words of Jesus in the Synoptics (Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9, Matthew 13:43; Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35), but not in John‘s Gospel.

The spirit (το πνευμαto pneuma). The Holy Spirit as in Revelation 14:13; Revelation 22:17. Both Christ and the Holy Spirit deliver this message. “The Spirit of Christ in the prophet is the interpreter of Christ‘s voice” (Swete).

To him that overcometh (τωι νικωντιtōi nikōnti). Dative of the present (continuous victory) active articular participle of νικαωnikaō a common Johannine verb (John 16:33; 1 John 2:13; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4.; Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 21:7). Faith is dominant in Paul, victory in John, faith is victory (1 John 5:4). So in each promise to these churches.

I will give (δωσωdōsō). Future active of διδωμιdidōmi as in Revelation 2:10, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:23, Revelation 2:26, Revelation 2:28; Revelation 3:8, Revelation 3:21; Revelation 6:4; Revelation 11:3; Revelation 21:6.

To eat (παγεινphagein). Second aorist active infinitive of εστιωesthiō the tree of life (εκ του χυλου της ζωηςek tou xulou tēs zōēs). Note εκek with the ablative with παγεινphagein like our “eat of” (from or part of). From Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22. Again in Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:14 as here for immortality. This tree is now in the Garden of God. For the water of life see Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17 (Cf. John 4:10, John 4:13.).

Which (οho). The χυλονxulon (tree).

In the Paradise of God (εν τωι παραδεισωι του τεουen tōi paradeisōi tou theou). Persian word, for which see Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4. The abode of God and the home of the redeemed with Christ, not a mere intermediate state. It was originally a garden of delight and finally heaven itself (Trench), as here.

Verse 8

In Smyrna (εν Σμυρνηιen Smurnēi). North of Ephesus, on a gulf of the Aegean, one of the great cities of Asia (province), a seat of emperor-worship with temple to Tiberius, with many Jews hostile to Christianity who later join in the martyrdom of Polycarp, poor church (rich in grace) which receives only praise from Christ, scene of the recent massacre of Greeks by the Turks. Ramsay (op. cit., p. 251) terms Smyrna “the City of Life.” Christianity has held on here better than in any city of Asia.

The first and the last (ο πρωτος και ο εσχατοςho prōtos kai ho eschatos). Repeating the language of Revelation 1:17.

Which was dead (ος εγενετο νεκροςhos egeneto nekros). Rather, “who became dead” (second aorist middle indicative of γινομαιginomai) as in Revelation 1:18.

And lived again (και εζησενkai ezēsen). First aorist (ingressive, came to life) active of ζαωzaō (ο ζωνho zōn in Revelation 1:18). Emphasis on the resurrection of Christ.

Verse 9

Thy tribulation and thy poverty (σου την τλιπσιν και πτωχειανsou tēn thlipsin kai ptōcheian). Separate articles of same gender, emphasizing each item. The tribulation was probably persecution, which helped to intensify the poverty of the Christians (James 2:5; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 8:2). In contrast with the wealthy church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17).

But thou art rich (αλλα πλουσιος ειalla plousios ei). Parenthesis to show the spiritual riches of this church in contrast with the spiritual poverty in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17), this a rich poor church, that a poor rich church. Rich in grace toward God (Luke 12:21) and in good deeds (1 Timothy 6:18). Perhaps Jews and pagans had pillaged their property (Hebrews 10:34), poor as they already were.

Blasphemy (βλασπημιανblasphēmian). Reviling believers in Christ. See Mark 7:22. The precise charge by these Jews is not indicated, but see Acts 13:45.

Of them which say (εκ των λεγοντωνek tōn legontōn). “From those saying” (εκek with the ablative plural of the present active articular participle of λεγωlegō).

They are Jews (Ιουδαιους ειναι εαυτουςIoudaious einai heautous). This is the accusative of general reference and the infinitive in indirect discourse after λεγωlegō (Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9) even though λεγοντωνlegontōn is here ablative (cf. Revelation 3:9), common idiom. These are actual Jews and only Jews, not Christians.

And they are not (και ουκ εισινkai ouk eisin). Another parenthesis like that in Revelation 2:2. These are Jews in name only, not spiritual Jews (Galatians 6:15., Romans 2:28).

A synagogue of Satan (συναγωγη του Σαταναsunagōgē tou Satanā). In Revelation 3:9 again and note Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:24, serving the devil (John 8:44) instead of the Lord (Numbers 16:3; Numbers 20:4).

Verse 10

Fear not (μη ποβουmē phobou). As in Revelation 1:17. Worse things are about to come than poverty and blasphemy, perhaps prison and death, for the devil “is about to cast” (μελλει βαλλεινmellei ballein), “is going to cast.”

Some of you (εχ υμωνex humōn). Without τιναςtinas (some) before εχ υμωνex humōn a common idiom as in Revelation 3:9; Revelation 11:19; Luke 11:49.

That ye may be tried (ινα πειραστητεhina peirasthēte). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist passive subjunctive of πειραζωpeirazō John himself is in exile. Peter and John had often been in prison together. James the brother of John, Paul, and Peter had all suffered martyrdom. In Revelation 3:10 a general persecution is outlined by πειρασμοςpeirasmos shall have (εχετεhexete). Future active, but some MSS. read εχητεechēte (present active subjunctive with hina, “that ye may have”).

Tribulation ten days (τλιπσιν ημερων δεκαthlipsin hēmerōn deka). “Tribulation of ten days” (or “within ten days”). It is unwise to seek a literal meaning for ten days. Even ten days of suffering might seem an eternity while they lasted.

Be thou faithful (γινου πιστοςginou pistos). “Keep on becoming faithful” (present middle imperative of γινομαιginomai), “keep on proving faithful unto death” (Hebrews 12:4) as the martyrs have done (Jesus most of all).

The crown of life (τον στεπανον της ζωηςton stephanon tēs zōēs). See this very image in James 1:12, a familiar metaphor in the games at Smyrna and elsewhere in which the prize was a garland. See also Revelation 3:11. The crown consists in life (Revelation 2:7). See Paul‘s use of στεπανοςstephanos in 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8.

Verse 11

Shall not be hurt (ου μη αδικητηιou mē adikēthēi). Strong double negative with first aorist passive subjunctive of αδικεωadikeō old verb, to act unjustly (from αδικοςadikos), here to do harm or wrong to one, old usage as in Revelation 6:6; Revelation 7:2.; Revelation 9:4, Revelation 9:10; Revelation 11:5.

Of the second death (εκ του τανατου του δευτερουek tou thanatou tou deuterou). ΕκEk here used for the agent or instrument as often (Revelation 3:18; Revelation 9:2; Revelation 18:1). See Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8 where “the second death” is explained as “the lake of fire.” The idea is present in Daniel 12:3; John 5:29 and is current in Jewish circles as in the Jerusalem Targum on Deuteronomy 33:6 and in Philo. It is not annihilation. The Christians put to death in the persecution will at least escape this second death (eternal punishment).

Verse 12

In Pergamum (εν Περγαμωιen Pergamōi). In a north-easterly direction from Smyrna in the Caicus Valley, some fifty-five miles away, in Mysia, on a lofty hill, a great political and religious centre. Ramsay (Op. cit., p. 281) calls it “the royal city, the city of authority.” Eumenes II (b.c. 197-159) extended it and embellished it with many great buildings, including a library with 200,000 volumes, second only to Alexandria. The Kingdom of Pergamum became a Roman province b.c. 130. Pliny termed it the most illustrious city of Asia. Parchment (χαρτα Περγαμεναcharta Pergamena) derived its name from Pergamum. It was a rival of Ephesus in the temples to Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, in the great grove Nicephorium (the glory of the city). Next to this was the grove and temple of Asklepios, the god of healing, called the god of Pergamum, with a university for medical study. Pergamum was the first city in Asia (a.d. 29) with a temple for the worship of Augustus (Octavius Caesar). Hence in the Apocalypse Pergamum is a very centre of emperor-worship “where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:13). Here also the Nicolaitans flourished (Revelation 2:15) as in Ephesus (Revelation 2:6) and in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20.). Like Ephesus this city is called temple-sweeper (νεωκοροςneōkoros) for the gods.

The sharp two-edged sword (την ρομπαιαν την διστομον την οχειανtēn romphaian tēn distomon tēn oxeian). This item repeated from Revelation 1:16 in the same order of words with the article three times (the sword the two-mouthed the sharp) singling out each point.

Verse 13

Where (πουοπουpou- Πουhopou). οπουPou is interrogative adverb used here in an indirect question as in John 1:39. πουHopou is relative adverb referring to ο τρονος του Σαταναpou Satan‘s throne (κρατεις το ονομα σουho thronos tou Satanā). Satan not simply resided in Pergamum, but his “throne” or seat of power of king or judge (Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32, Luke 1:52). The symbol of Asklepios was the serpent as it is of Satan (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). There was, besides, a great throne altar to Zeus cut on the Acropolis rock, symbol of “rampant paganism” (Swete) and the new Caesar-worship with the recent martyrdom of Antipas made Pergamum indeed a very throne of Satan.

Holdest fast my name (κρατεωkrateis to onoma sou). Present active indicative of Κυριος Καισαρkrateō “dost keep on holding,” as in Revelation 2:25, Revelation 3:11. This church refused to say Κυριος ΙησουςKurios Kaisar (Martyrd. Polyc. 8f.) and continued to say ουκ ηρνησωKurios Iēsous (1 Corinthians 12:3). They stood true against the emperor-worship.

Didst not deny (αρνεομαιouk ērnēsō). First aorist middle second person singular of την πιστιν μουarneomai Reference to a specific incident not known to us.

My faith (Αντιπαςtēn pistin mou). Objective genitive, “thy faith in me.”

Of Antipas (ΑντιπαAntipas). Indeclinable in this form. It is possible that ο μαρτυς μουAntipa (genitive) was really written, though unimportant as the nominative follows in apposition. Nothing is really known of this early martyr in Pergamum before the writing of the Apocalypse. One legend is that he was burnt to death in a brazen bull. Other martyrs followed him at Pergamum (Agathonice, Attalus, Carpus, Polybus).

My witness (ο πιστος μουho martus mou). Nominative in apposition with a genitive as in Revelation 1:5 (with ablative), common solecism in the Apocalypse. “Witness” as Jesus had said they should be (Acts 1:8) and Stephen was (Acts 22:20) and others were (Revelation 17:6). The word later (by third century) took on the modern meaning of martyr.

My faithful one (μουho pistos mou). Nominative also, with απεκταντηmou also. Jesus gives Antipas his own title (Swete) as in Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14. Faithful unto death.

Was killed (αποκτεινωapektanthē). First aorist passive indicative of παρ υμινapokteinō this passive form common in the Apocalypse (Revelation 2:13; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 9:5, Revelation 9:15, Revelation 9:18, Revelation 9:20; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 19:21).

Among you (οπου ο Σατανας κατοικειpar humin). By your side. Proof of the throne of Satan, “where Satan dwells” (hopou ho Satanās katoikei), repeated for emphasis.

Verse 14

There (εκειekei). That is παρ υμινpar' humin (among you). A party in the church that resisted emperor-worship, to the death in the case of Antipas, yet were caught in the insidious wiles of the Nicolaitans which the church in Ephesus withstood.

Some that hold (κρατουνταςkratountas). “Men holding” (present active participle of κρατεωkrateō).

The teaching of Balaam (την διδαχην αλααμtēn didachēn Balaam). Indeclinable substantive Balaam (Numbers 25:1-9; Numbers 31:15.). The point of likeness of these heretics with Balaam is here explained.

Taught Balak (εδιδασκεν τωι αλακedidasken tōi Balak). Imperfect indicative of διδασκωdidaskō Balaam‘s habit, “as the prototype of all corrupt teachers” (Charles). These early Gnostics practised licentiousness as a principle since they were not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:15). The use of the dative with διδασκωdidaskō is a colloquialism rather than a Hebraism. Two accusatives often occur with διδασκωdidaskō cast a stumbling-block (βαλειν σκανδαλονbalein skandalon). Second aorist active infinitive (accusative case after εδιδασκενedidasken) of βαλλωballō regular use with σκανδαλονskandalon (trap) like τιτημι σκανδαλονtithēmi skandalon in Romans 14:13. Balaam, as Josephus and Philo also say, showed Balak how to set a trap for the Israelites by beguiling them into the double sin of idolatry and fornication, which often went together (and do so still).

To eat things sacrificed to idols (παγειν ειδωλοτυταphagein eidōlothuta). Second aorist active infinitive of εστιωesthiō and the verbal adjective (from ειδωλονeidōlon and τυωthuō), quoted here from Numbers 25:1., but in inverse order, repeated in other order in Revelation 2:20. See Acts 15:29; Acts 21:25; 1 Corinthians 8:1. for the controversy over the temptation to Gentile Christians to do what in itself was harmless, but which led to evil if it led to participation in the pagan feasts. Perhaps both ideas are involved here. Balaam taught Balak how to lead the Israelites into sin in both ways.

Verse 15

So thou also (ουτως και συhoutōs kai su). Thou and the church at Pergamum as Israel had the wiles of Balaam.

The teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise (την διδαχην των Νικολαιτων ομοιωςtēn didachēn tōn Nikolaitōn homoiōs). See note on Revelation 2:6 for the Nicolaitans. The use of ομοιωςhomoiōs (likewise) here shows that they followed Balaam in not obeying the decision of the Conference at Jerusalem (Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29) about idolatry and fornication, with the result that they encouraged a return to pagan laxity of morals (Swete). Some wrongly hold that these Nicolaitans were Pauline Christians in the face of Colossians 3:5-8; Ephesians 5:3-6.

Verse 16

Repent therefore (μετανοησον ουνmetanoēson oun). First aorist (tense of urgency) active imperative of μετανοεωmetanoeō with the inferential particle ουνoun (as a result of their sin).

I come (ερχομαιerchomai). Futuristic present middle indicative, “I am coming” (imminent), as in Revelation 2:5 with ταχυtachu as in Revelation 3:11; Revelation 11:14; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20. As with εν ταχειen tachei (Revelation 1:1), we do not know how soon “quickly” is meant to be understood. But it is a real threat.

Against them (μετ αυτωνmet' autōn). This proposition with πολεμεωpolemeō rather than καταkata (against) is common in the lxx, but in the N.T. only in Revelation 2:16; Revelation 12:7; Revelation 13:4; Revelation 17:14 and the verb itself nowhere else in N.T. except James 4:2. “An eternal roll of thunder from the throne” (Renan). “The glorified Christ is in this book a Warrior, who fights with the sharp sword of the word” (Swete).

With (ενen). Instrumental use of ενen For the language see Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 19:15.

Verse 17

Of the hidden manna (του μαννα του κεκρυμμενουtou manna tou kekrummenou). “Of the manna the hidden” (perfect passive articular participle of κρυπτωkruptō). The partitive genitive, the only N.T. example with διδωμιdidōmi though Q reads τοto (accusative) here. For examples of the ablative with αποapo and εκek see Robertson, Grammar, p. 519. See John 6:31, John 6:49 for the indeclinable word μανναmanna The golden pot of manna was “laid up before God in the ark” (Exodus 16:23). It was believed that Jeremiah hid the ark, before the destruction of Jerusalem, where it would not be discovered till Israel was restored (2 Macc. 2:5ff.). Christ is the true bread from heaven (John 6:31-33, John 6:48-51) and that may be the idea here. Those faithful to Christ will have transcendent fellowship with him. Swete takes it to be “the life-sustaining power of the Sacred Humanity now hid with Christ in God.”

A white stone (πσηπον λευκηνpsēphon leukēn). This old word for pebble (from πσαωpsaō to rub) was used in courts of justice, black pebbles for condemning, white pebbles for acquitting. The only other use of the word in the N.T. is in Acts 26:10, where Paul speaks of “depositing his pebble” (κατηνεγκα πσηπονkatēnegka psēphon) or casting his vote. The white stone with one‘s name on it was used to admit one to entertainments and also as an amulet or charm.

A new name written (ονομα καινον γεγραμμενονonoma kainon gegrammenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of γραπωgraphō Not the man‘s own name, but that of Christ (Heitmuller, Im Namen Jesu, p. 128-265). See Revelation 3:12 for the name of God so written on one. The man himself may be the πσηποςpsēphos on which the new name is written. “The true Christian has a charmed life” (Moffatt).

But he that receiveth it (ει μη ο λαμβανωνei mē ho lambanōn). “Except the one receiving it.” See Matthew 11:27 for like intimate and secret knowledge between the Father and the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal the Father. See also Revelation 19:12.

Verse 18

In Thyatira (εν Τυατειροιςen Thuateirois). Some forty miles south-east of Pergamum, a Lydian city on the edge of Mysia, under Rome since b.c. 190, a centre of trade, especially for the royal purple, home of Lydia of Philippi (Acts 16:14.), shown by inscriptions to be full of trade guilds, Apollo the chief deity with no emperor-worship, centre of activity by the Nicolaitans with their idolatry and licentiousness under a “prophetess” who defied the church there. Ramsay calls it “Weakness Made Strong” (op. cit., p. 316).

The Son of God (ο υιος του τεουho huios tou theou). Here Jesus is represented as calling himself by this title as in John 11:4 and as he affirms on oath in Matthew 26:63. “The Word of God” occurs in Revelation 19:13.

His eyes like a flame of fire (τους οπταλμους αυτου ως πλογα πυροςtous ophthalmous autou hōs phloga puros). As in Revelation 1:14.

His feet like burnished brass (οι ποδες αυτου ομοιοι χαλκολιβανωιhoi podes autou homoioi chalkolibanōi). As in Revelation 1:15.

Verse 19

Thy works (σου τα εργαsou ta erga). As in Revelation 2:2 and explained (explanatory use of καιkai = namely) by what follows. Four items are given, with separate feminine article for each (την αγαπην την πιστιν την διακονιαν την υπομονηνtēn agapēnπιστινtēn pistinδιακονιανtēn diakonianκαιtēn hupomonēn), a longer list of graces than in Revelation 2:2 for Ephesus. More praise is given in the case of Ephesus and Thyatira when blame follows than in the case of Smyrna and Philadelphia when no fault is found. Love comes first in this list in true Johannine fashion. Faith (καιpistin) here may be “faithfulness,” and ministry (οτιdiakonian) is ministration to needs of others (Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

And that (των πρωτωνkai). Only πλειοναkai (and) in the Greek, but doubtless hoti (that) is understood.

Than the first (tōn prōtōn). Ablative after the comparative pleiona (more).

Verse 20

Thou sufferest (απειςapheis). Late vernacular present active indicative second person singular as if from a form απεωapheō instead of the usual απιημιaphiēmi forms.

The woman Jezebel (την γυναικα Ιεζαβελtēn gunaika Iezabel). Symbolical name for some prominent woman in the church in Thyatira, like the infamous wife of Ahab who was guilty of whoredom and witchcraft (1 Kings 16:31; 2 Kings 9:22) and who sought to drive out the worship of God from Israel. Some MSS. here (A Q 40 min.s) have σουsou (thy wife, thy woman Ramsay makes it), but surely Aleph C P rightly reject σουsou Otherwise she is the pastor‘s wife!

Which calleth herself a prophetess (η λεγουσα εαυτην προπητινhē legousa heautēn prophētin). Nominative articular participle of λεγωlegō in apposition with the accusative γυναικαgunaika like ο μαρτυςho martus in apposition with ΑντιπαςAntipas in Revelation 2:13. ΠροπητιςProphētis is an old word, feminine form for προπητηςprophētēs in N.T. only here and Luke 2:36 (Anna), two extremes surely. See Acts 21:9 for the daughters of Philip who prophesied.

And she teacheth and seduceth (και διδασκει και πλαναιkai didaskei kai planāi). A resolution of the participles (διδασκουσα και πλανωσαdidaskousa kai planōsa) into finite verbs (present active indicatives) as in Revelation 1:5. This woman was not a real prophetess, but a false one with loud claims and loose living. One is puzzled to know how such a woman had so much shrewdness and sex-appeal as to lead astray the servants of God in that church. The church tolerated the Nicolaitans and this leader whose primary object was sexual immorality (Charles) and became too much involved with her to handle the heresy.

Verse 21

I gave her time (εδωκα αυτηι χρονονedōka autēi chronon). First aorist active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi allusion to a definite visit or message of warning to this woman.

That she should repent (ινα μετανοησηιhina metanoēsēi). Sub-final use of ιναhina with first aorist active subjunctive of μετανοεωmetanoeō she willeth not (και ου τελειkai ou thelei). “And she is not willing.” Blunt and final like Matthew 23:37.

To repent of (μετανοησαι εκmetanoēsai ek). First aorist (ingressive) active infinitive with εκek “to make a change out of,” the usual construction with μετανοεωmetanoeō in this book (Revelation 2:22; Revelation 9:20.; Revelation 16:11), with αποapo in Acts 8:22. ΠορνειαPorneia (fornication) here, but μοιχευωmoicheuō (to commit adultery) in Revelation 2:22.

Verse 22

I do cast (βαλλωballō). Futuristic present active indicative rather than the future βαλωbalō since judgment is imminent.

Into a bed (εις κλινηνeis klinēn). “A bed of sickness in contrast with the bed of adultery” (Beckwith).

Them that commit adultery with her (τους μοιχευοντας μετ αυτηςtous moicheuontas met' autēs). Present active articular participle accusative plural of μοιχευωmoicheuō The actual paramours of the woman Jezebel, guilty of both πορνειαporneia (fornication, Revelation 2:21) and μοιχειαmoicheia (adultery), works of Jezebel of old and of this Jezebel. There may be also an allusion to the spiritual adultery (2 Corinthians 11:2) towards God and Christ as of old (Jeremiah 3:8; Jeremiah 5:7; Ezekiel 16:22).

Except they repent (εαν μη μετανοησουσινean mē metanoēsousin). Condition of first class with εαν μηean mē and the future active indicative of μετανοεωmetanoeō put in this vivid form rather than the aorist subjunctive (ωσιν̇ōsin) third-class condition.

Of her works (εκ των εργων αυτηςek tōn ergōn autēs). ΑυτηςAutēs (her) correct rather than αυτωνautōn (their). Jezebel was chiefly responsible.

Verse 23

I will kill with death (αποκτενω εν τανατωιapoktenō en thanatōi). Future (volitive) active of αποκτεινωapokteinō with the tautological (cognate) εν τανατωιen thanatōi (in the sense of pestilence) as in Ezekiel 33:27.

Her children (τα τεκνα αυτηςta tekna autēs). Either her actual children, like the fate of Ahab‘s sons (2 Kings 10:7) or “her spiritual progeny” (Swete) who have completely accepted her Nicolaitan practices.

Shall know (γνωσονταιgnōsontai). Future (ingressive punctiliar) middle of γινωσκωginōskō “shall come to know.” “The doom of the offenders was to be known as widely as the scandal had been” (Charles).

Searcheth (εραυνωνeraunōn). Present active articular participle of εραυναωeraunaō to follow up, to track out, late form for ερευναωereunaō from Jeremiah 17:10.

Reins (νεπρουςnephrous). Old word for kidneys, here only in N.T., quoted also with καρδιαςkardias from Jeremiah 17:10. See Revelation 22:17 for the reward of punishment.

Verse 24

To you the rest (υμιν τοις λοιποιςhumin tois loipois). Dative case. Those who hold out against Jezebel, not necessarily a minority (Revelation 9:20; Revelation 19:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

As many as (οσοιhosoi). Inclusive of all “the rest.”

This teaching (την διδαχην ταυτηνtēn didachēn tautēn). That of Jezebel.

Which (οιτινεςhoitines). “Which very ones,” generic of the class, explanatory definition as in Revelation 1:7.

Know not (ουκ εγνωσανouk egnōsan). Second aorist (ingressive) active of γινωσκωginōskō “did not come to know by experience.”

The deep things of Satan (τα βατεα του Σαταναta bathea tou Satanā). The Ophites (worshippers of the serpent) and other later Gnostics (Cainites, Carpocratians, Naassenes) boasted of their knowledge of “the deep things,” some claiming this very language about Satan (the serpent) as Paul did of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is not clear whether the words here quoted are a boast of the Nicolaitans or a reproach on the other Christians for not knowing the depths of sin. Some even claimed that they could indulge in immorality without sinning (1 John 1:10; 1 John 3:10). Perhaps both ideas are involved.

As they say (ως λεγουσινhōs legousin). Probably referring to the heretics who ridicule the piety of the other Christians.

None other burden (ουαλλο βαροςou- αροςallo baros). πορτιονBaros refers to weight (Matthew 20:12), περωphortion from ογκοςpherō to bear, refers to load (Galatians 6:5), βαροςogkos to bulk (Hebrews 12:1). Apparently a reference to the decision of the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:28) where the very word baros is used and mention is made about the two items in Revelation 2:20 (fornication and idolatry) without mentioning the others about things strangled, etc. See the Pharisaic narrowness in Matthew 23:4.

Verse 25

Howbeit (πληνplēn). Common after ουκ αλλοouk allo as a preposition with the ablative (Mark 12:32), but here a conjunction as in Philemon 1:18.

Hold fast (κρατησατεkratēsate). First aorist active imperative of κρατεωkrateō either ingressive (get a grip on) or constative (hold on as a single decisive effort). See present imperative κρατειkratei in Revelation 3:11 (keep on holding).

Till I come (αχρι ου αν ηχωachri hou an hēxō). Indefinite temporal clause with αχρι ουachri hou (until which time) with modal ανan and either the future active indicative or the first aorist active subjunctive of ηκωhēkō (usual idiom with αχριachri in Revelation as in Revelation 7:3; Revelation 15:8; Revelation 20:3, Revelation 20:5).

Verse 26

He that overcometh and he that keepeth (ο νικων και ο τηρωνho nikōn kai ho tērōn). Present active articular participles of νικαωnikaō and τηρεωtēreō in the nominative absolute (nominativus pendens) as in Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21, resumed by the dative αυτωιautōi (to him), as in Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17.

Unto the end (αχρι τελουςachri telous). That is, αχρι ου αν ηχοachri hou an hēxo above.

Authority over the nations (εχουσιαν επι των ετνωνexousian epi tōn ethnōn). From Psalm 2:8. The followers of the Messiah will share in his victory over his enemies (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15).

Verse 27

He shall rule (ποιμανειpoimanei). Future active of ποιμαινωpoimainō to shepherd (from ποιμηνpoimēn shepherd), also from Psalm 2:8. See again Revelation 7:17; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15.

With a rod of iron (εν ραβδωι σιδηραιen rabdōi sidērāi). Continuing the quotation. Instrumental use of ενen αβδοςRabdos (feminine) is the royal sceptre and indicates rigorous rule.

The vessels of the potter (τα σκευη τα κεραμικαta skeuē ta keramika). Old adjective, belonging to a potter (κεραμευσ κεραμοςkerameusσυντριβεταιkeramos), here only in N.T.

Are broken to shivers (συντριβωsuntribetai). Present passive indicative of suntribō old verb, to rub together, to break in pieces (Mark 14:3).

Verse 28

As I also have received (ως καγω ειληπαhōs kagō eilēpha). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō Christ still possesses the power from the Father (Acts 2:33; Psalm 2:7).

The morning star (τον αστερα τον πρωινονton astera ton prōinon). “The star the morning one.” In Revelation 22:16 Christ is the bright morning star. The victor will have Christ himself.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.