Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 2:16

Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Fellowship;   Impenitence;   Lukewarmness;   Pergamos;   Scofield Reference Index - Day (of Jehovah);   Repentance;   Satan;   Thompson Chain Reference - Commendation-Reproof;   Reproof;   Spirit, Sword of the;   Sword of the Spirit;   Weapons;   The Topic Concordance - Repentance;   Teaching;   War/weapons;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Alliance and Society with the Enemies of God;   Repentance;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Balaam;   Pergamum;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Patience of God;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pergamos;   Revelation of John, the;   Thyatira;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Arms and Armor;   Repentance;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asia;   Magi;   Nicolas;   Peter, Second Epistle of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Antichrist ;   Manna ;   Pergamus Pergamum ;   Repentance;   Tares ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sepharvaim;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Pergamos;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Per'gamos;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Mouth;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Pergamus;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Mouth;   Revelation of John:;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Will fight against them with the sword of my mouth - See on Revelation 2:12; (note). He now speaks for their edification and salvation; but if they do not repent, he will shortly declare those judgments which shall unavoidably fall upon them.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Repent - See Revelation 2:5.

Or else I will come unto thee quickly - On the word “quickly,” see the notes on Revelation 1:1. The meaning here is, that he would come against them in judgment, or to punish them.

And will fight against them - Against the Nicolaitanes. He would come against the church for tolerating them, but his opposition would be principally directed against the Nicolaitanes themselves. The church would excite his displeasure by retaining them in its bosom, but it was in its power to save them from destruction. If the church would repent, or if it would separate itself from the evil, then the Saviour would not come against them. If this were not done, they would feel the vengeance of his sword, and be subjected to punishment. The church always suffers when it has offenders in its bosom; it has the power of saving them if it will repent of its own unfaithfulness, and will strive for their conversion.

With the sword of my mouth - notes on Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12. That is, he would give the order, and they would be cut as if by a sword. Precisely in what way it would be done he does not say; but it might be by persecution, or by heavy judgments. To see the force of this, we are to remember the power which Christ has to punish the wicked by a word of his mouth. By a word in the last day he will turn all the wicked into hell.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 2:16

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly.

The necessity of immediate repentance

I. What that repentance is that is here enjoined. Repentance in Scripture has a threefold acceptation.

1. It is taken for the first act by which the soul turns from sin to God; the first dividing stroke that separates between sin and the heart; the first step and advance that a sinner makes to holiness; the first endeavours and throes of a new birth.

2. It is taken for the whole course of a pious life, comprising the whole actions a man performs from first to last inclusively; from his first turning from a wicked life to the last period of a godly.

3. Repentance is taken for a man’s turning to God after the guilt of some particular sin. It differs from the former thus: that the former is from a state of sin: this latter only from a sinful act. No repentance precedes the former, but this supposes a true repentance to have gone before. This repentance, therefore, builds upon the former; and it is that which is here intended.

II. Arguments to engage us in the speedy and immediate exercise of this duty.

I. No man can be secure of the future. Neither, indeed, will men act as if they were ha things that concern this life, for no man willingly defers his pleasures. And did men here well compute the many frailties of nature, and further add the contingencies of chance, how quickly a disease from within, or a blow from without, may tear down the strongest constitution, certainly they would ensure eternity upon something else than a life as uncertain as the air that feeds it.

2. Supposing the allowance of time, yet we cannot be sure of power to repent. It is very possible, that by the insensible encroaches of sin a man’s heart may be so hardened as to have neither power nor will to repent, though he has time and opportunity. The longer the heart and sin converse together, the more familiar they will grow; and then, the stronger the familiarity, the harder the separation. A man at first is strong and his sin is weak, and he may easily break the neck of it by a mature repentance; but his own deluding heart tells him that he had better repent hereafter; that is, when, on the contrary, he himself is deplorably weak and his sin invincibly strong.

3. Admitting a man has both time and grace to repent, yet by such delay the work will be incredibly more difficult. The longer a debt lies unpaid, the greater it grows; and not discharged, is quickly multiplied. The sin to be repented of will be the greater, and power and strength to repent by will be less. And though a man escapes death, the utmost effect of his distemper, yet certainly he will find it something to be cut and scarified and lanced and to endure all the tortures of a deferred cure. We find not such fierce expressions of vengeance against any sinner, as the Spirit of God, in Deuteronomy 29:20-21, discharges against him that obstinately delayed his repentance.

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.--

Christian victory

The Christian life is often compared in Scripture to “a warfare.” It is not enough to put on the armour and to commence the battle. He that overcometh, and he alone, will receive the salutation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But we are not left to fight without encouragement. As generals before a battle go in front of their troops to stimulate them to valour, so Christ, the Captain of our salvation, leads on the consecrated hosts of His elect.

I. The promise.

1. The promise of the hidden manna. God fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna. A portion of this was laid by in the ark, and thus was hidden from public view. Christ, speaking of the manna as a type of Himself, said, “I am the Bread which came down from heaven.” Jesus is the food of our faith, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” He is the food of our love, “We love Him because He first loved us.” He is the food of our obedience, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” He is the food of our peace, for when “justified by faith, we have peace with God.” He is the food of our joy, for if “we joy in God” it is “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He is the food of our hope, “that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The manna which sustained the Israelites was evidently the gift of God. And so this “hidden manna” is from heaven. It is no contrivance of man, no philosophy of human invention. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” It is spoken of as the “hidden manna.” Such is the Christian’s life. “Our life is hid with Christ in God.” The outward effects of it may be seen, but the inner life is invisible. So is the nourishing of the life. You may see the Christian on his knees, you may hear the words which he utters, but you cannot see the streams of Divine influence which are poured into his spirit; nor hear the sweet whispers of Divine love which fill him with joy; nor comprehend the peace passing all understanding which he is permitted to experience. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” Were this promise merely the reward of final victory, that victory itself would never be gained. We need to eat this manna during our pilgrimage. We cannot live without it. Every act of overcoming will be followed by a verification of the promise, “I will give him to eat of the hidden manna.” Yet we must look beyond the present life for its full accomplishment. As the manna was hidden in the ark, and that ark was hidden behind the curtain of the holy of holies, so the Christian’s hope “as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, enters into that which is within the veil.” Those joys we cannot yet conjecture; their splendour is too intense.

2. The promise of the white stone. At a time when houses of public entertainment were less common, private hospitality was the more necessary. When one person was received kindly by another, or contract of friendship was entered into, the tessera was given. It was so named from its shape, being four-sided; it was sometimes of wood, sometimes of stone; it was divided into two by the contracting parties; each wrote his own name on half of the tessera; then they exchanged pieces, and therefore the name or device on the piece of the tessera which each received was the name the other person had written upon it, and which no one else knew but him who received it. It was carefully prized, and entitled the bearer to protection and hospitality. Plautus, in one of his plays, refers to this custom. Hanno inquires of a stranger where he may find Agorastoclcs, and discovers to his surprise that he is addressing the object of his search. “If so,” he says, “compare, if you please, this hospitable tessera; here it is; I have it with me.” Agorastocles replies, “It is the exact counterpart; I have the other part at home.” Hanno responds, “O my friend, I rejoice to meet thee; thy father was my friend, my guest; I divided with him this hospitable tessera.” “Therefore,” said Agorastocles, “thou shalt have a home with me, for I reverence hospitality.” Beautiful illustration of gospel truth! The Saviour visits the sinner’s heart, and being received as a guest, bestows the white stone, the token of His unchanging love. He who chooses the sinner’s heart as His banqueting chamber, spreads there His choicest gifts--His exceeding great and precious promises, His finished sacrifice, His human sympathy, His perfect example, His pure precepts, His all-prevailing intercession, the various developments of His infinite love. He enrols our name among His friends. “He makes an everlasting covenant with us, ordered in all things and sure.” He promises never to leave nor forsake us. He tells us we “shall never perish.” He gives us the tessera, the white stone! Is not this “the witness of the Spirit,” the “earnest of the promised possession”? Does not His voice in our heart echo to His voice in the written Word? On this white stone is inscribed a “new name.” The part of the tessera which each of the contracting parties received contained the name of the other. And therefore the “new name” on the “white stone” which he that overcometh receives is that of Him who gives it. By the unbeliever God is known Power, as Majesty, as Justice. The Christian alone knows Him as “Love.” He was once Ruler--now He is Friend; He was once Judge--now He is Father. Do you know God by His “new name”? Do you so know Him as to wish no longer to hide from Him, but to hide in Him, as the only home in which you can be Bale and happy? Then, everywhere, in every city and every village, on the desert and on the ocean, in the solitude of secrecy and in the solitude of a crowd, in the bustle of business and in the sick chamber, a Friend is at hand who will always recognise the white stone He gave us as a token of His love. We have only to present it to claim the fulfilment of His promise. What Divine entertainment we shall receive! What safety from peril! What succour in difficulty! What comfort in trouble! What white raiment! What heavenly food! What exalted fellowship! What secure repose! A day is coming when we must leave the homes of earth, however endeared, and embrace for the last time the friends united to us as our own souls. What kind roof will receive us? What loving friend will welcome us? We shall not have left our best treasure behind! No! we shall carry the white stone with us; and looking for no inferior abode, shall advance at once right up to the palace of the Great King. We present the tessera; the “new name” is legible upon it; the angelic guards recognise the symbol; the everlasting gates lift up their heads; and the voice of Jesus Himself invites us to enter!

II. The condition annexed. A great war is being waged. It is not merely between the Church as a whole and the powers of darkness as a whole; it is not merely an affair of strategy between two vast armies, wherein skilful manoeuvres determine the issue, many on either side never coming into actual combat; but it is also a duel, for every Christian has to fight hand to hand with the enemy. God, as our Creator and Redeemer, justly demands our obedience and love. Whatever interferes with these claims is an enemy summoning us to battle. The world, the flesh, and the devil, draw up their battalions in imposing array. If we would possess the promise, we must “overcome” them. A mere profession of religion is of no avail. We must devote ourselves entirely and unreservedly to this great daily battle of life. It is a warfare until death. While we are in the body it will be always true, “We wrestle.” The oldest Christian cannot lay aside his weapons. The whole of the way, up to the very gate of heaven, is beset with foes, and we must fight to the last if we would overcome and enter in. Ah, it is no soft flowery meadow along which we may languidly stroll, but a rough, craggy cliff that we must climb. “To him that overcometh!” It is no smooth, placid stream along which we may dreamily float, but a tempestuous ocean we must stem. “To him that overcometh!” It is no lazy lolling in a cushioned chariot that bears us on without fatigue and peril, but plodding painfully in heavy marching order up the long and weary and beleagured road of self-sacrifice. “To him that overcometh!” It is not a time of listless repose, of careless mirth, as if no danger threatened, no foe were near. We fight in good company. The truly wise of all ages are on our side. We have the assured hope of victory. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

The manna and the stone

In Pergamos there were two houses, which represented the two forces that made life a battle to the Christian. One was the Church of Christ and the other was the temple of idolatry. When a man left that gorgeous temple in the great square he left everything that appealed to ease and pride and ambition. When he entered the poor little church in the back lane, he entered into conflict with his heart and with the world. That single renunciation of the sweets and successes of life was but the beginning of the strife. In the Church itself were some who taught that the Christian need not break with his former life in choosing Christ. The promise in the text corresponds to that temptation. Let these worshippers of the Christ keep from the meats of the idol shrine, and they shall feast on the best in the house of God. Let them refuse to be votaries of the foul altar, and they shall be very priests of the holy of holies. Let them forego the society of the heathen, and they shall be the close and particular friends of Him who is the visible Divinity of the heavenly sanctuary.

I. A provision peculiar to the sanctuary is promised to him that overcometh. Let us be loyal to Jesus now, as we see Him not, and at the end of the brief trial we shall come face to face with Him. He shall look on us with joy. He shall lead us forward, and name us to all heaven. He of whom we have had so many thoughts, and to whom we have winged so many words, shall be a real and close presence. And that hidden manna, laid bare thus to our adoring gaze, is no mere feast for our eyes, but true food for our soul. That near and constant companionship with Jesus shall cheer and strengthen and exalt our life. In new knowledge of Him, in new love, in new likeness, we shall receive Him ever anew and ever more fully. How poor, then, how altogether past and perished, are the joys for which we almost bartered the rich provision of the eternal sanctuary! Our gracious Lord does not, after all, make us wait for the prize until the fight is won. He brings to us, even in the stress of the struggle, a foretaste of the feast. He makes our poor, fainting heart a sanctuary, and turns our faith into a sacred ark for the manna. We have Him in us, and heaven with Him. So we have food of which the world knows nothing.

II. A dignity peculiar to the sanctuary is promised to him that overcometh. To have a right to enter the holiest, and to look on its secrets, meant, indeed, no less than to be High Priest. No other had the privilege of lifting the veil. This was an honour so great that it was solitary. He who was called of God to this dignity wore on his heart a symbol of it. This was the mystic Urim and Thummim--the light and the perfection. Like the glory over the ark, it was the symbol of Jehovah Himself--the Infinite in purity and in loveliness. This diamond was likely the one stone of its kind known to Israel, for the gem so named as on the breastplate was assuredly a commoner jewel. This unique stone was white with the very splendour of its shining, and it was given to Aaron as the badge of his dignity. With that upon his heart he had assurance of access to the very glory of God. Such was the dignity promised to those who kept their feet from the threshold of the heathen temple. Let them care nothing for the social standing which would be theirs as worshippers of the idol, and instead they shall have the loftiest rank in the home of God. Theirs to go to the inmost, holiest spot, and to have the foremost favour, and do the foremost service. And to us, tried by the like seductions, is the same cheer sent. If we, after all, do cling to the Lover of our soul, He shall at once put into our hand the mystic stone which means so much. Now, even as we war, is the priest’s badge hung on the soldier’s breastplate. The Urim of old was but a dead stone, and it lay but on the breast. It was but an outward symbol of God. This white stone is lustrous with the very Light, which is God, and it is hidden within the breast itself. The upshining of faith, the far-darting beams of hope, and the outspreading glow of love are glories born of God’s own glory. A Divine nature begins at the centre of the human nature, and as the Christian obeys it, it grows.

III. A communion peculiar to the sanctuary is promised to him that overcometh. The Urim of the High Priest was sacred because of the sacred purpose to which it was put as a symbol of God. But it was made yet holier by a more personal connection with Him. It is supposed, at least, that graven on the flashing stone were the four sacred letters which express the thrice holy name of Jehovah. So intimately did the Jews associate the word with the person that they forbore to utter it. It stood for all of God which He had made known to men. To see it was to see, through it, the Invisible One. When the priest, therefore, found the name written on the stone, he understood that God was to be his, and to be with him. As if from the midst of very glory the Glorious One was to draw near to him. Whenever in secret he laid bare the hidden name his spirit was hushed by the Holy Presence. He heard a gentle yet majestic voice whose words he felt as very love and very truth. He let his own heart answer, and knew that his thoughts were pulsing in an ear close and quick. Such a solemn and yet blessed fellowship was the peculiar privilege of the priest. It is promised also to those who shall let the friendships of earth go rather than belie their friendship with Jesus. To them, indeed, an intimacy even nearer and dearer still is here prefigured. In the white stone which they wear is set a new word for God. He is to let them know what none else has learned as to what He is. By the lips of Jesus He is to unveil His heart in a special way to them. This third hidden thing, like the other two, is a boon of which we may have the firstfruits now. Like those Christians of Pergamos we take on us the name of Christ. Let us but hold it fast, as they did, in spite of every temptation to deny our faith, and we shall in that very loyalty attain a special communion with our Lord, and receive a special name for God. Heaven will but make this name the dearer and the deeper a secret between the soul and its God. (D. Burns.)

The spiritual warfare, and the Divine promise

I. The spiritual warfare.

1. We must overcome the evil that is within ourselves. The best of men have spoken with sorrow of the state of their own hearts. “In many things we all offend.” “If we say we have no sin,” etc. “Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” etc. The Christian Church has always recognised the same mournful truth. The Te Deum Laudamus is the greatest Christian hymn. It is a lofty song of faith, hope, and triumph; but a trembling undertone of sadness runs through its joyous praise. “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.” The reason why good men see and feel the evil within them is that they are good men. The Spirit of God dwells in them and His light reveals the soul to itself. The holier we are, the more shall we feel our own imperfections. But it is not enough to feel and bewail the evil; we should also overcome it. The human heart resembles a garden. If rightly cared for, it will grow flowers of greatest beauty and trees abundant in fruit; hut if neglected, it will put forth noxious weeds and worthless thorns and briars.

2. We must overcome the opposition of the world. The Christians at Ephesus fought against error, and overcame it, and hence the praise given to them. There are two ways in which you may attempt to overcome error. First, you may make direct war against it; you may use arguments, and show that it is error and not truth, a phantom and not any real thing whatsoever. Your mind is the bow, your arguments are the arrows; the bow may be strong, and the arrows sharp and well aimed; but what matters it? They can do but little harm to the phantom. The second method of opposing error is the establishment of positive truth. When the fire of the glowworm begins to pale and the birds stir among the branches and the dawn opens in the east, the ghost in a great play is made to vanish from the sight. The spirit of the world is also to be overcome. There is nothing more difficult to overcome than this. A man may reason against false doctrines and confute their teachers; and he may have courage, and defy persecution in all its forms. But this spirit is subtle, silent, and penetrating. Living within the circle of its influence, we can hardly escape its effects. It is like an impure atmosphere; if you breathe it at all, you must inhale the poison.

3. We have to overcome the influence of the Wicked One. Deceit, fraud, guile, malice, and all the serpent qualities are ascribed to him; and of him it may be said, “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” This evil spirit is called “the Tempter.” He showed our Saviour all the kingdoms of the world, and said, “Worship me, and this power and glory shall be Thine.” He is ever revealing such things to men. True, they are only phantom kingdoms which he paints before the imagination; but then they appear most real at the time. The question we have to decide is, Shall we fall down before the Tempter like the first Adam, or overcome with “the Second Man, the Lord from heaven”?

II. The Divine promise.

1. Christ strengthens and supports the soul in its conflict with evil. Let the experience of the apostles illustrate this. In their outward circumstances they had all the elements of unhappiness and misery. But a greater Power was for them than that by which they were opposed. The promised and mysterious Presence followed them through all the trials, temptations, and sorrows of life. They fought, overcame, and received the crown of victory. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” We should mark their experience at the time of their great conflict. The world frowned, but heaven smiled upon their spirit. They were not only able to withstand the enemy, but they had peace, joy, and consolation in the midst of the strife. “The peace of God”--a plentiful stream from the fountain of all blessedness--flowed into their hearts.

2. The strength which Christ gives is known only to the soul who receives it. It is “hidden manna.” Nature has her “open secrets.” They are exposed to the gaze of all, but all have not the power to behold them--open and yet secret. This applies to the spiritual life. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” The Divine energy that braces the mind and heart for noble deeds; the peace which results from perfect reconciliation to God; the consolation imparted to the soul by His Spirit these are the open secrets of religion. They are open and clear as daylight. But from the unbelieving, from the proud, from the worldly, and from the disobedient they are concealed. Being unfelt they must be unknown, for they are revealed to the heart rather than to the intellect. (T. Jones.)

The laurels of a victorious life

I. Divine sustentation.

1. His doctrines are bread to the intellect.

2. His fellowship is bread to the heart.

3. His Spirit is bread to the whole life.

II. Divine distinction.

1. “The sign of distinction.” “A white stone.” He will have full admission into all the honours of eternity.

2. The character of the distinction. (Homilist.)

Moral conquest and its destiny

I. The victory. The life of the good is a stern moral conflict, pervading every sphere of life--the home, the mart, the shop, etc. It is impossible to go where the strife is not. In this way character is tested and developed, and our attachment to Christ revealed.

1. Moral conquest is required, not an indolent evasion of the strife.

2. Moral conquest is required, not a cowardly retreat in the conflict of life.

3. Moral conquest is required, not an easy method of attaining the dignity of the future life.

II. The repast.

1. This repast is in sublime contrast to any other that can be provided.

2. It is concealed from the unsanctified gaze of men.

3. It will give eternal satisfaction to all who shall partake of it.

III. The revelation.

1. The Christian victor will enter upon the highest method of moral life.

2. The Christian victor will enjoy the most complete revelation of God


1. Learn to fight the good fight of faith.

2. Persevere unto victory.

3. Take courage from this glimpse of your reward. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The rewards of the conquering Christian

I. The text is addressed to “him that overcometh.”

1. The man to whom this description can be applied must certainly be one who knows that he has spiritual enemies assailing him. He must have discovered that he has interests at stake, which the world, the flesh, and the devil unite in opposing. The idea of a victory necessarily presupposes a contest.

2. The language before us must imply, therefore, that the man to whom these blessings are promised is contending with the enemies by whom he finds himself surrounded. It describes the Christian, not as the friend of the world, but the determined opposer of its corrupt maxims and customs; not as the obedient slave of the prince of darkness, but his decided foe. It is this habitual conflict with evil which constitutes the great difference between the servant of God and the man of the world. It is this which testifies that our understandings are enlightened, that our conscience is on the side of God, that our affections have been touched by His grace, and a principle of a new and spiritual life communicated to our souls. But we must not stop here.

3. The texts leads us to infer that the Christian is actually overcoming his enemies. The world is gradually losing its power over him; Satan is bruised underneath his feet; and as for his lusts, they are one by one weakened and subdued. Oh what a blessed victory is this! Who does not long to share in its honours and inherit its rewards? But these rewards are not easily attained, neither is this victory easily won. No mortal power can achieve it. The victory must be ascribed to God. It is He who gives us at first a disposition to struggle with our adversaries; it is He who crowns that struggle with success.

II. But though the victory is the Lord’s, He often condescends to speak of it as attained by the Christian himself; and He promises him in the text a gracious and rich reward.

1. One of the blessings comprehended in this promise is pardon. But a mere acquittal, precious as it is to us, is too poor a gift for the Captain of our salvation to bestow.

2. He adds to it the blessing of adoption. God Himself “is not ashamed to be called his God,” and prepares for His long lost but now recovered son a never ending feast of joy.

3. Hence spiritual provision is another blessing included in this promise. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

The hidden manna

I. There is a victory to be gained.

1. We must overcome Satan. He was not afraid to assail our blessed Lord. We have times of special darkness and assault.

2. There is a victory over ourselves; over the evil of our own hearts; over the corruption of our own natures.

3. You must overcome false doctrines. You must resist all unscriptural opinions.

4. If there is any easily-besetting sin, any marked peculiarity of your condition which has a tendency to evil, it must be overcome. Is there constitutional temperament which is unfavourable to virtue? Bring your body into subjection.

5. Lastly, there is victory over the world; and in two forms of it--first, as intimidating, and second, as persecuting. Men and women are victors on earth as they adhere to the truth, as they practise virtue, and do the will of God, and are conformed to the image and example of the Lord Jesus.

II. The privileges that accompany the conquest that is gained.

1. Here is the hidden manna; that is the first thing. It is the scorer hidden knowledge and experience of the efficacy, power, and satisfaction of the truth and doctrine of the Lord Jesus. Let the believer eat and be satisfied; satisfied in the love of God, in the grace of Christ, and in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

2. And I will give him a white stone. This indicates absolution from all sin and the forgiveness of all iniquity. There is forgiveness in the court of heaven, and in the court of our own consciences.

3. Lastly, it is said that in the stone there shall be a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. We may take a person to be a hypocrite and a castaway, when God sees him to be His child. No one knows but God and ourselves. Judge not others; judge yourself. (James Stratten.)

A white stone.

A white stone

I. Victory. There is before my mind’s eye a vision of the ancient Olympic games. Vast amphitheatre, with seats rising tier on tier, crowded with eager and excited spectators. Sweet perfume drops through the canopy which shelters from the burning sun, and clouds of dust rise from the chariot-wheels, from the glowing hoofs of the horses, and from the swift feet of those who run. By and by I hear a mighty shout that almost rends the welkin, as the plaudits of the thousands echo round the scene; and presently a man steps forward who has won the race, or slain the lion, or killed the gladiator, to receive from the emperor’s own hand a crown of laurel leaves which fades by the very heat of the head that wears it. I notice also that the emperor gives him a pure white stone, with his name written on it. He is now entitled, on presentation of that white stone ticket, to be fed at the country’s expense, and to be feted and honoured well-nigh wheresoever he goes. Now, the Christian life is a race; the Christian experience is a conflict. Rise to the battle now. Go on to victory, and to thy reward.

II. Purity. I see now an ancient tribunal where the judges sit. There are lictors bearing the fasces--a bundle of sticks with an axe-head bound up amongst them, the symbol of justice and of punishment. I see the jurors in their places; I listen to the progress of the trial; and when all the witnesses have been heard, and the prisoner has made his own defence, I notice that into the ballot-box are cast some little stones. Some are white, others black; but, thank God, the white stones predominate, and the foreman of the jury having counted them, declares that the prisoner is not guilty and should be dismissed. So in this place of sin, with all the enticements of evil, there were some who retained their purity and spotlessness--some who, like Joseph, fled at the tempter’s voice; some who, like Daniel, could not forget the Lord their God; some who, like the holy children, would rather blaze in the furnace than bow before the image. To such the token of innocence was given. How is it with thee?

III. Novelty. I remember to have seen one of Dore’s celebrated pictures--“The entry of Christ into Jerusalem”--shortly after it was painted, when the colours were ell bright and beautiful; and though I much admired the drawing, I was particularly struck with the colouring. Everything seemed so fresh and new; of course it was in a new frame, and the very faces of the people |earned lighted up with a new joy as they beheld their King. It is possible that the colours have faded before this, but this I know--that Christ’s triumphal entry into the sinner’s heart brings glorious sunshine, new joys, new hopes, new songs, new desires, new everything.

1. The new name is the name of adoption.

2. Then there is the new name of espousal, for we are married unto Him, and He to us.

3. There Is the new name, too, of promotion for those who overcome. It were a grand thing to be a private in Christ’s army, to belong to the rank and file of the Lord’s elect; but when He says, “Come up higher, and I will exalt thee, for thou hast exalted Me,” it is better still; and this He does so often as we fight His battles well, and every victory leads to some fresh reward.

4. The new name that we shall get at last is the name of glorification. Worms now, we shall be angels then; sinful creatures at present, sons of the living God and brighter than the seraphs shall we then appear.

IV. Secrecy. The name He gives is unknown, except to those who receive it. The world cannot understand us, or our joys, or our sorrows. These are spiritual things, and must be spiritually discerned.

V. Charity. Everything that we have is God’s good gift. If we cat of hidden manna, it is because He gives us to eat thereof, and if we have the earnest of the Spirit it is because He gives us the pure white stone. Some think there is a reference here to a stone called the tessera hospitalis. My heart is open to Christ; heaven is open to me. I am His property and He my possession; He holds me in His mighty hand, and I retain my hold on Him with such faith as He gives me. (J. A. Spurgeon.)

The white stone

With this white stone may the saints comfort themselves against all the black coals wherewith the world seeks to besmear them. (J. Trapp.)

A new name written.--

The new name

I. The large hopes which gather round this promise of a “new name.” Abraham and Jacob, in the Old Testament, received new names from God; Peter and the sons of Zebedee, in the New Testament, received new names from Christ. In the sad latter days of the Jewish monarchy its kings, being deposed by barbarian and pagan conquerors, were reinstated, with new names imposed upon them by the victors. In all these cases the imposition of the new name implies authority and ownership on the part of the giver; and generally a relationship to the giver, with new offices, functions, and powers on the part of the receiver. And so when Christ from the heavens declares that He will rename the conqueror, He asserts on the one hand His own absolute authority over him, and on the other hand His own perfect knowledge of the nature and inmost being of the creature He names. And, still further, He gives a promise of a nature renewed, of new functions committed to the conqueror, of new spheres, mew closeness of approach to Himself, new capacities, and new powers. Can we go any further? Let me just remind you that there are two things that shine out plain and clear in the midst of the darkness and vagueness that surround the future glories of the redeemed. The one is their closer relationship to Jesus Christ; the other is their possession, in the ultimate and perfect state, of a body of which the predicates are incorruption, glory, power, and which is a fit organ for the spirit, even as the present corporeal house in which we dwell is an adequate organ for the animal life, and for that alone.

II. The connection between Christ’s “new name” and ours. What is this “new name” of Christ’s? Obviously the new name of Jesus is a revelation of His character, nature, and heart; a new manifestation of Himself to the glad eyes of those that loved Him, when they saw Him amidst the darkness and the mists of earth, and so have been honoured to see Him more clearly amidst the radiances of the glories of heaven. Only remember that when we speak of a “new name” of Christ’s as being part of the blessedness of the future state to which we may humbly look forward, it is no antiquating of the old name. Nothing will ever make the Cross of Jesus Christ less the centre of the revelation of God than it is to-day. But the new name is the new name of the old Christ. Then what is the inscription of that name upon the conqueror? It is not merely the manifestation of the revealed character of Jesus in new beauty, but it is the manifestation of His ownership of His servants by their transformation into His likeness, which transformation is the consequence of their new vision of Him.

III. The blessed secret of the new name. “No man knoweth it save he that receiveth it.” Of course not. There is only one way to know the highest things in human experience, and that is by possessing them. Nobody can describe love, sorrow, gladness, So as to awaken a clear conception of them in hearts that have never experienced them. That is eminently true about religion, and it is most of all true about that perfect future state. A chrysalis, lying under ground, would know about as much of what it would be like when it had got its wings and lived upon sweetness and blazed in the sunshine, as a man when he lets his imagination attempt to construct a picture of another life. Death keeps his secret well, and we have to pass his threshold before we know what lies beyond. But more than that. That same blessed mystery lies round about the name of each individual possessor, to all but himself. Just as we shall know Christ perfectly, and bear His new name inscribed upon our foreheads, and yet He has “a name which no man knoweth but He Himself,” so the mystery of each redeemed soul will still remain impenetrable to others. But it will be a mystery of no painful darkness, nor making any barrier between ourselves and the saints whom we love. Rather it is the guarantee of an infinite variety in the manner of possessing the one name. All the surrounding diamonds that are set about the central blaze shall catch the light on their faces, and from one it will come golden, and from another violet, and another red, and another flashing and pure white. Each glorified spirit shall reveal Christ, and yet the one Christ shall be manifested in infinite variety of forms, and the total summing up of the many reflections will be the image of the whole Lord.

IV. The giving of the new name to the victors. The language of my text involves two things, “To him that overcometh” lays down the conditions; “Will I give” lays down the cause of the possession of the “new name”--that is to say, this renovation of the being, and efflorescence into new knowledges, activities, perfections, and joys is only possible on condition of the earthly life of obedience and service and conquest. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The secret of the new name

The book which is the grand interpreter of man’s inward nature and relations makes repeated references to the sacred power of names. In the biblical view, to give anything a name is to perform an act of religion. What is it? It is to apply to some individual object, having God for its maker, that sign by which it shall be known, separated from other things, and called: and surely that ought to be done reverently, as in the presence of Him from whom all things came, and to whom all things are known. When we rise to the plane of human life, this same sanctity of names becomes more evident yet. Because then they come to stand not only for individual existences, but for conscious beings. They mark off soul from soul, among the infinite ranks and gradations of the immortal family, on earth and in heaven, that no man can number. If we ascend still higher, from the human to the Divine, the power of names is more signally manifested yet. Him whom no eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hand touched, we yet know by His wonderful and Almighty name--our God. It is striking that the Scriptures everywhere speak of the “name” of the Lord as of the Lord Himself. His name is His glory, His presence, His power, His wisdom, His person--and it is the only outward sign, or bond, of personal communication between Him and us who are allowed to make no image of Him. How impressive, too, that when His great manifestation is to be made in humanity, it is declared that the eternal Word is made flesh. That is the uttered Divinity--the God pronounced, communicated to man, through the Incarnation. After the Redeemer appeared, the universal command to Christendom was that its prayers should be lifted to the Father “in the name” of Christ. So we arrive at the point of the text: “To him that overcometh,” saith that Faithful and True Witness, the First and the Last, “will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” The spiritual truth which the veil of figure covers can hardly be mistaken. He that overcometh--every victorious soul prevailing by faith and by righteousness in the long and patient battle of life--shall have secret satisfactions springing up in his heart, known only between himself and his Lord. They will not consist in outward applauses, in visible successes, in any worldly compensations whatever. The chief of them all will be the silent assurances of His personal affection, who is the purest, highest, holiest. The token of His favour will be the inestimable good. So much light does advancing excellence always cast on old forms of truth, a deeper life ever illuminating even familiar oracles, that the very name of the Christ shall have a new meaning. It shall be a new name. It shall have a personal charm and preciousness to each several believer. None shall know it as he knoweth it that receiveth it.

I. The strict and private individuality of all real religious experience. Sooner or later some monitory Providence comes and searches us, and shows that the path to God’s right hand is in great part a lonely one.

II. A second characteristic of that true inward life which the text implies is that its rewards are not such as can be described beforehand. No man knoweth them saving he that receiveth them. They remain to come out and be felt unexpectedly in their place. The very result the religion of Christ undertakes to achieve in men’s hearts is disinterested devotion. Virtue under pay is no longer virtue. Faith is not hired. Why, even in all the loftier and purer human relationships, affection scorns the calculations of self-interest. There is not a tie of holy friendship on earth but feels itself insulted by the suggestion of a price.

III. Christian piety is to be prized for its secret intrinsic quality, rather than for its quotable results. No man knoweth it like him that hath it. Its hidden testimonies are worth more than its public demonstrations. Being religious for effect spoils the effect--like being honest for effect, or humble for effect, or affectionate or chaste for effect. It runs straight to a base hypocrisy, and not only abolishes its own influence, but begets a general scepticism of sincerity which blights every high interest, and unsettles virtue itself. Faith must dwell in her own sanctuary, see by her own light, feed on her own secret and immortal manna, be content with her own joy, cling to the white stone with the ineffable name, and wait for her spiritual justification and victory. To selfish, earth-bound hearts no secrets are revealed. No tokens of personal remembrance, no signs of secret favour come from the Master.

IV. It has been applied all along as a chief doctrine lying at the very heart of this passage, as it lies at the heart of the gospel itself, that the special character and privilege of the Christian rest in a personal and conscious union between him and his living Redeemer. (Bp. F. D. Huntington.)

The new name

The “white stone” has been spoken of as being the symbol of acquittal, of election and choice, of admission to the heavenly banquet; all which may be true. But there is one objection to any such interpretations, namely, that they all are gathered from the circle of heathen associations, whereas the whole Apocalypse moves within the circle of Jewish symbols. So, then, if we doubt as to the force of these and other similar interpretations, have we anything in the Jewish history, especially somewhere about the same period as the manna, which may help us? I think that an explanation which has been sometimes given seems to be commended by very many considerations. There was a precious stone, lustrous and resplendent--for that is the force of the word “white” here, not a dead white but a brilliant coruscating white--on which there was something written, which no eye but one ever saw, that mysterious seat of revelation and direction known in the Old Testament by the name of Urim and Thummim (that is, lights and perfectnesses), enclosed within the folds of the High Priest’s breast-plate, which none but the High Priest ever beheld. We may, perhaps, bring that ancient fact into connection with the promise in my text, and then it opens out into a whole world of suggestions with regard to the priestly dignity of the victors, with regard to the gift that is bestowed upon them, a hidden gift worn upon their breasts and containing within it and inscribed upon it the Divine name, unseen by any eye but that of him that bears it.

I. That new name is Christ’s and ours. It is His first, it becomes ours by communication from Him.

1. “I will give him a new name”--a deeper, a more inward, a fresh knowledge and revelation of My own character--as eternal love, eternal wisdom, all-sufficient, absolute power, the home and treasure, the joy and righteousness of the whole heart and spirit. The Cross remains for ever the revelation of the love of God, but in heaven we shall learn what we know not here--the full wealth which shall succeed the earnest of the inheritance, and possessing the lustrous glories we shall understand something more of the infinite mercy that has bought them for us. The sun remains the same, but as different as its sphere looks, seen from the comet at its aphelion, away out far beyond the orbits of the planets in the dim regions of that infinite abyss, and seen from the same orb at its perihelion when it circles round close by the burning brightness, so different does that mighty Sun of righteousness look to us now in His eternal self-revelation, by sacrifice and death, from what He will seem in that same self-revelation when we shall stand by His side!

2. On this new revelation of the name of Christ there follows as a consequence assimilation to the name which we possess, transformation into the likeness of Him whom we behold. We cannot know His name without sharing it. If we behold His glory we shall possess it, as the light must enter the eye for vision. The light and the soul which receives will, as it were, act and react. The light beheld transforms. The soul transformed is capable of more light. That again flows in and purifies and beautifies. Thus, in continuous reciprocal energy, the endless process of learning to know an infinite Saviour, and becoming like a perfect Lord goes on with constant approximation, and yet with somewhat ever undisclosed. The gift is not once for all, but is continuous through eternity.

3. Then there is a third idea implied in this promise, if the new name be Christ’s, and that is possession or consecration. His name is given, that is, His character is revealed. His character is imparted, and further, by the gift He takes as well as gives, He takes us for His even in giving Himself to be ours. The High Priest’s mitre bore on its front “Holiness to the Lord,” and one of the last and highest promises of Scripture is cast in the form supplied by the symbol of Aaron’s office and honour, “His servants shall serve Him”--in priestly service that is--“and they shall see His face.” Action and contemplation, so hard to harmonise here, shall blend at last. “And His name shall be in their foreheads,” the token of His possession, manifest for all eyes to behold. And thus when we behold Him we become like Him, and in the measure which we become like Him we belong to Him, not one step further.

II. This new new is unknown except by its possessor. That, of course, is true in all regions of human experience. Did ever anybody describe a taste so that a man that had not tasted the thing could tell what it was like? Did ever anybody describe an odour so as to do more than awaken the memory of some one who had once had the scent lingering in his nostrils? If we have not known the love of a child, no talking will ever make a man understand what a father’s heart is. Religious experiences are not unlike ordinary human experiences in this matter. It is not possible to communicate them, partly by reason of the imperfection of human language, partly by reason that you need in all departments sympathy and prior knowledge in order to make the descriptions significant at all. And in our earthly life, though your faith and mine, and our joys and our consciousness of Christ’s love are all weak and tremulous, as we know, still we cannot speak them full out, and if we could there are no ears to hear except the ears of those who are possessors of like precious faith. The law applies to the heavens as well. Not till we get there shall we know. The text seems to imply what is more wonderful still, that though there shall be no isolation in heaven, which is the perfection of society, there may be incommunicable depths of blessed experience even there. Each man standing at his own angle will see his own side of the light; it will be enough and the same for all, and yet different in each. “No man knoweth saving he that receiveth.” We must possess to understand; we must stand before the throne to apprehend.

III. The condition and the true cause of possessing this new nature. It comes as the reward of victory; it comes as a bestowment from Christ; “To him that overcometh will I give.” And it seems to me that we have much need of trying to unite these two thoughts more closely together than we generally do. The victory is condition. It is not anything more than a condition. The real cause is Christ’s bestowment. I believe as thoroughly as any man can in the application of the idea of reward to Christian service, but I believe that this is a secondary idea, and that the primary one is “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” I believe that all outward discipline, and labour, and sorrows, and disappointments, and struggles, the efforts that we make after victory, that all these prepare Christians, and make us capable of receiving the gift. I believe that the gift comes only out of His infinite and undeserved, and God be thanked! inexhaustible forgiving goodness and mercy. The one is, if I may so say, the preparing of the cloth for the dye, and after that you have the application of the colour. No heaven except to the victor. The victor does not fight his way into heaven, but Christ gives it to him. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The new name

1. A new name preaches to us of a new relationship. A child parts with its own name, and takes the name of the family into which it is received as an adopted son or daughter. “The Lord God shall call His servants by another name.”

2. This new name is the declaration of sanctity. If we are children we should maintain the honour of the family name. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.”

3. Dignity is expressed by a new name Christianity bestows a name of rank and title that is emphatically new--above the human, above the angelic--Divine.

4. Secrecy belongs to this name. “A new name which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Our holiest and grandest emotions are those that stifle utterance. They seal the lips, and make us feel how inadequate are all human vehicles to express heavenly and Divine emotions. The pleasures of the worldling lie on the surface. “You have seen, it may be,” says a writer, “an antique Italian painted window, with the bright Italian sunshine glowing through it. It is the special excellence of pictured glass that the light which falls merely on the outside of other pictures, is here interfused throughout the work, illuminating the design, and investing it with a living radiance … Christian faith is a grand cathedral with Divinely pictured windows. Standing without you see no glory, nor can possibly imagine any. Nothing is visible but the merest outline of dusky shapes. Standing within all is clear and defined, every ray of light reveals a harmony of unspeakable splendours.” (The London Pulpit.)

The new name

The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the Divine judgment, the solemn holy doom of the righteous man, the “Come, thou blessed,” spoken to the individual. In order to see this, we must first understand what is the idea of a name--that is, what is the perfect notion of a name. The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol--his soul’s picture, in a word-the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is, or even, seeing what he is, could express in a name-word the sum and harmony of what he sees. To whom is this name given? To him that overcometh. When is it given? When he has overcome. Does God then not know what a man is going to become? As surely as He sees the oak which He put there lying in the heart of the acorn. Why then does He wait till the man has become by overcoming ere He settles what his name shall be? He does not wait; He knows his name from the first. It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with the name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. The name is one “which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” blot only then has each man his individual relation to God, but each man has his peculiar relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being, made after his own fashion, and that of no one else; for when he is perfected he shall receive the new name which no one else can understand. Hence he can worship God as no man else can worship him--can understand God as no man else can understand Him. This or that man may understand God more, may understand God better than he, but no other man can understand God as he understands Him. As the fir-tree lifts up itself with a far different need from the need of the palm-tree, so does each man stand before God, and lift up a different humanity to the common Father. And for each God has a different response. With every man He has a secret--the secret of the new name. In every man there is a loneliness, an inner chamber of peculiar life into which God only can enter. See, now, what a significance the symbolism of our text assumes. Each of us is a distinct flower or tree in the spiritual garden of God--precious, each for his own sake, in the eyes of Him who is even now making us--each of us watered and shone upon and filled with life, for the sake of his flower, his completed being, which will blossom out of him at last to the glory and pleasure of the great Gardener. For each has within him a secret of the Divinity; each is growing towards the revelation of that secret to himself, and so to the full reception, according to his measure, of the Divine. Every moment that he is true to his true self, some new shine of the white stone breaks on his inward eye, some fresh channel is opened upward for the coming glory of the flower, the conscious offering of his whole being in beauty to the Maker. Each man, then, is in God’s sight of great worth. Life and action, thought and intent, are sacred. And what an end lies before us! To have a consciousness of our own ideal being flashed into us from the thought of God! (George MacDonald, LL. D.)

The third promise to the victors

The Church at Pergamos, to which this promise is addressed, had a sharper struggle than fell to the lot of the two Churches whose epistles precede this. It was set “where Satan’s seat is.” The severer the struggle, the nobler the reward.

I. We have the victor’s food, the manna. That seems, at first sight, a somewhat infelicitous symbol, because manna was wilderness food. But that characteristic is not to be taken into account. Manna, though it fell in the wilderness, came from heaven, and it is the heavenly food that is suggested by the symbol. One moment the din of the battlefield, the next moment the refreshment of the heavenly manna. And the first thing that it plainly suggests to us is the absolute satisfaction of all the hunger of the heart. Here we have to suppress desires, sometimes because they are illegitimate and wrong, sometimes because circumstances sternly forbid their indulgence. There, to desire will be to have, and partly by the rectifying of the appetite, partly by the fulness of the supply, there will be no painful sense of vacuity. Then there is the other plain thing suggested here, that that satisfaction does not dull the edge of appetite or desire. Bodily hunger is fed, is replete, wants nothing more until the lapse of time and digestion have intervened. But it is not so with the loftiest satisfactions. You that know what happy love is know what that means--a satisfaction which never approaches satiety, a hunger which has in it no gnawing. Satisfaction without satiety, food which leaves him blessedly appetised for larger bestowments, belong to the victor. Another thing to be noticed here is what we have already had occasion to point out in the previous promises: “I will give him.” The victor is seated at the board, and the Prince, as in some earthly banquet to a victorious army, himself moves up and down amongst the tables, and supplies the wants of the guests. Christ Himself bestows upon His servants the sustenance of their spirits in the realm above. But there is more than that. Christ is not only the Giver, but He is Himself the Food. He said, “I am the Bread of God that came down from heaven.” The man that lives upon the Christ by faith, love, obedience, imitation, communion, aspiration, here on earth, has already the earnest of that feast. If you do not like the earthly form of feeding upon Jesus Christ, which is trusting Him, obeying Him, thinking about Him, you would like less the heavenly form of that feeding upon Him.

II. Note, the victor’s new name. When we read, “I will give Him a stone, on which there is a new name written,” we infer that the main suggestion made in that promise is of a change in the self, something new in the personality and the character. What new capacities may be evolved by the mere fact of losing the limitations of the bodily frame; what new points of contact with the new universe; what new analogues of that which we here call our senses, and means of perception of the external world, may be the accompaniments of the disembarrassment from “the earthly house of this tabernacle,” we dare not dream. But whatsoever be these changes, they are changes that repose upon that which has been in the past. And so the second thought that is suggested by this new name is that these changes are the direct results of the victor’s course. Both in old times and in the peerage of England you will find names of conquerors, by land or by water, who carry in their designations and transmit to their descendants the memorial of their victories in their very titles. In like manner as a Scipio was called Africanus, as a Jervis became Lord St. Vincent, so the victor’s “new name” is the concentration and memorial of the victor’s conquest. So once more we come to the thought that whatever there may be of change in the future, the main direction of the character remains, and the consolidated issues of the transient deeds of earth remain, and the victor’s name is the summing up of the victor’s life.

III. Lastly, note the mystery of both the food and the name. Both symbols point to the one thought, the impossibility of knowing until we possess and experience. That impossibility besets all the noblest, highest, purest, Divinest emotions, and possessions of earth. Poets have sung of love and sorrow from the beginning of time; but men must love to know what it means. Since, then, experience alone admits to the knowledge, how vulgar, how futile, how absolutely destructive of the very purpose which they are intended to subserve, are all the attempts of men to forecast that ineffable glory. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 2:16". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.

The admonition here is that, "The church as a whole must repent of its too tolerant attitude to the errorists."[69] As Graham noted, "They had taken no corrective action and had applied no discipline."[70] Such a "broadminded" indifferent attitude toward gross sins would have to be repented of.

I will come unto thee quickly ... "The one thing clear is that, when John speaks of an imminent coming of Christ, he is not necessarily thinking of the Parousia (the Second Advent)."[71] What is meant is that a divine judgment against them will be speedily enforced. This may be understood in either of two ways, or both: (1) Their effectiveness as a true church would soon disappear unless they repented. (2) A supernatural, divine visitation against them would be executed, as upon Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). Moffatt understood it to be the latter, "some physical malady or mortal sickness."[72] If Moffatt is correct in this, as would seem to be indicated by the more specific reference to Jezebel (Revelation 2:20-23, below), then the very fact of such judgments, associated with the earliest years of the church, being threatened here would indicate an early date for Revelation.

Make war against them with the sword of my mouth ... This is a symbolical reference to the word of God as the principal weapon employed in the destruction of error.

[69] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 357.

[70] Billy Graham, op. cit., p. 21.

[71] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 41.

[72] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 357.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Repent,.... This is said to those who were truly godly in those times, but still retained their communion with these corrupt men, and had not, as yet, separated from then; nor had they protested against these evil doctrines and practices, at least but very coldly, and had too much connived at them; and therefore are called upon to repent of their lukewarmness, negligence, and sinful compliances:

or else I will come unto thee quickly: in a providential way, to rebuke and chastise for such remissness, indifference, and evil communication:

and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; of this sword; see Gill on Revelation 1:16. And it is observable, that Christ does not say, "I will fight against thee"; the true members of his mystical body, though lax and supine, for Christ does not fight against his people, but for them; but he says, "and will fight against them"; the Balaamites and Nicolaitans, for their idolatry and uncleanness.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The three oldest manuscripts read, “Repent, therefore.” Not only the Nicolaitanes, but the whole Church of Pergamos is called on to repent of not having hated the Nicolaitane teaching and practice. Contrast Paul, Acts 20:26.

I will come — I am coming.

fight against themGreek, “war with them”; with the Nicolaitanes primarily; but including also chastisement of the whole Church at Pergamos: compare “unto THEE.”

with the sword of my mouth — resumed from Revelation 1:16, but with an allusion to the drawn sword with which the angel of the Lord confronted Balaam on his way to curse Israel: an earnest of the sword by which he and the seduced Israelites fell at last. The spiritual Balaamites of John‘s day are to be smitten with the Lord‘s spiritual sword, the word or “rod of His mouth.”

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I will make war ( πολεμήσω )

The words war and make war occur oftener in Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament. “An eternal roll of thunder from the throne” (Renan).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

If not, I come to thee — who wilt not wholly escape when I punish them.

And will fight with them — Not with the Nicolaitans, who are mentioned only by the by, but the followers of Balaam.

With the sword of my mouth — With my just and fierce displeasure. Balaam himself was first withstood by the angel of the Lord with "his sword drawn," Numbers 22:23, and afterwards "slain with the sword," Numbers 31:8.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Ver. 16. Or else I will come unto thee] He was in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks before. But when he comes to correct, he comes out of his place, Isaiah 26:21, and it is a motion that he hath no such mind to, Lamentations 3:33, it is to do his work, his strange work, Isaiah 28:21.

With the sword of my mouth] With fearful threatenings, terrible executions, having vengeance in readiness for the disobedient, 1 Corinthians 10:6. Elisha had his sword as well as Jehu and Hazael theirs, 1 Kings 19:17. See Hosea 6:5; Jeremiah 1:10; Isaiah 11:4.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 2:16. Will fight against them He does not say that he will fight against the church, but the Nicolaitans; therefore repent, that is, "Be wise, and separate yourselves from those seducers, or else you shall be involved in their damnation, as Balaam was in the destruction of the Midianites." In the last phrase, with the sword of my mouth, the metaphor or allegory is still carried on, and the symbols suit the title of our Saviour in the beginning of the epistle, Revelation 2:12 and further allude to the sword whereby the angel of God would have hindered Balaam in his intended journe

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16.] Repent [therefore] (Lyra, a-Lapide, Tirinus, Bengel, al., join the preceding ὁμοίως to this clause, understanding it, as well as the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:5.

The command is addressed not only to the Nicolaitans, but to the church, which did not, like that of Ephesus, hate them, but apparently tolerated them): but if not, I (will) come to thee (dat. incommodi, see above on Revelation 2:5) quickly (here again, though in the common eschatological phrase, not of the Lord’s final coming; as indeed the language shews, for then He no longer πολεμήσει), and will make war with them (the Nicolaitans. This making war must not be understood as Grotius, “Prophetas excitabo in Ecclesia, qui id faciant quod Episcopus negligit, et fortiter se opponant Nicolaitis” (similarly Calov.)) with ( ἐν, in, as armed with or arrayed in: but sometimes in the Rev. it is difficult to trace the proper meaning of ἐν, and it seems almost purely instrumental: cf. Winer, edn. 6, § 48, d) the sword of my mouth (many expositors (e. g., Grot., Wetst., Vitr., Beng., Stern, Hengst., Trench, al.) suppose an allusion to the sword of the angel, armed with which he withstood Balaam in the way (Numbers 22:23; Numbers 22:31), or to that and the sword by which those who sinned in the matter of Baal-peor (Numbers 25:5), and eventually Balaam himself (Numbers 31:8), were slain: but seeing that the connexion with ch. Revelation 1:16 is so plainly asserted by our Revelation 2:12, it seems better to confine the allusion to that sword, and not to stretch it to what after all is a very doubtful analogy).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 2:16. The summons to repentance, and the threat in case this is neglected, is added to the reproof, Revelation 2:14-15, as in Revelation 2:5. As to the ἔρχομαί σοι, see on the former passage, and with respect to the ταχύ, cf. Revelation 1:1. The church as a whole, to whose members the Nicolaitans belong, having shared in the reproof, so also share in the admonition to repentance and the threat; for the conflict of the coming Lord, which is of course immediately directed only against the Nicolaitans ( πολ. μετʼ αὐτῶν), must cause suffering to the entire body of the church ( ἔρχ. σοι). It will nevertheless be a judging and visible coming to the entire church, if it continue to neglect the deliverance of its still curable members, and to cut off those actually dead already. It is against the idea of the coming of the Lord in general, and against the significance of the image of the sword in the mouth of the Lord in particular,(1171) if the πολε΄ήσω, κ. τ. λ., be explained: “I will raise up prophets in the church to do what the bishop neglects, and to courageously oppose themselves to the Nicolaitans,”(1172) or be supplemented “by another bishop;”(1173) so too Grot., Wetst., Vitr., Bengel, Herd., Stern, Rinck, Hengstenb., etc., offend against the latter idea, in maintaining a remembrance of the sword of the angel against Balaam,(1174) or the sword whereby the misled Israelites were swept away,(1175) or both.(1176) Already the statement expressly added after Revelation 2:16, ῥο΄φ. τοῦ στό΄ατός ΄ου, renders this impossible.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 2:16. ἔρχομαί σοι καὶ πολεμήσω μετʼ αὐτῶν) Many, from parallel passages, have inserted ταχύ(35) after σοί. But the Italian Version, which is nearest to the hand of John, did not contain the word quickly. To the writers who followed that reading, Ansbert is added with considerable regularity, and Bede and Ambrose, also, in Psalms 118. Serm. 19; nor has Apringius the word quickly in his paraphrase on this passage. It will be worth while to have turned over the Latin MSS. of the Apocalypse in this place. Sometimes the fuller reading is the genuine one, but generally the shorter. I will say under what circumstances each holds good. The fuller reading is sometimes to be preferred. For I. in the case of words having a similar ending, or in the recurrence of words or syllables, the copyists have easily passed over the intermediate text, which is to be restored from the more ancient authorities. II. Conjunctions, which are less frequent in other languages than in Greek, are often omitted in the Versions, which it is useless to follow too closely in this particular. III. The Greeks frequently removed something from the public reading, to which many copies were accommodated: and in such cases the fuller reading ought to be retained, if supported by the other authorities of greatest antiquity, and especially the Latin Version. Examples are of constant occurrence. If we except these three causes, brevity is an all but invariable characteristic of a genuine reading. For since the Greek copies, and the translators and fathers who have followed them, are to be divided into two classes, namely, into those of Asia and of Africa, as I have copiously explained in my Apparatus, you will seldom find that manuscripts of both classes endeavoured to fill up short passages by certain explanations of their own, though you will find in some places that many of the one class, and in some that many of the other, have done so. Hence the fuller reading, which now is too scrupulously defended by many, is almost always a counterfeit; whereas the shorter reading is genuine. In such passages the witnesses, however few they are, provided that they have sufficient antiquity, ought to have weight: in which particular the Latin witnesses are again conspicuous, as we have remarked, a little while ago, at ch. Revelation 1:11. Where such crumbs are treated of, it is indeed better in such an abundance of bread to pass over something genuine, than eagerly to catch at anything heterogeneous and infected by human feeling. That is undoubtedly to be preferred in every place, which is required by reasons peculiar to the passage under consideration. Here no critic can compel others to agree with him; but, on the other hand, others can have no control over him. We return to the particle quickly. The Lord repeatedly announces His coming in the Apocalypse, and chiefly so from ch. Revelation 2:5 to ch. Revelation 3:20 : and that in such a manner, that He may make His coming gradually nearer. The particle quickly is used at last, ch. Revelation 3:11; and therefore in the passage now before us, ch. Revelation 2:16, it has not yet a place.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Repent; thou that art guilty of conniving at such things, change thy mind and practice, and let those who have entertained these opinions, and run into those filthy practices, change their hearts and practices;

or else I will come unto thee quickly; I will quickly come against thee, and punish thee: See Poole "Revelation 2:5".

And will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; and fight against them by my word; either convincing them, or pronouncing sentence against them; or, by raising up other teachers, who shall preach my word more faithfully, and whose doctrine shall be like a sword to devour and to destroy them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

мечом уст Моих См. пояснение к 1:16.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.’

Notice that it is the whole church that is told to repent (‘you’). They are failing in their responsibility. They are clearly not taking a stand against these flagrant evildoers, for they should have cast them out. So they must change their attitude of heart and mind immediately, and do what is required. However finally the judgment will be against those involved (‘them’). The two-edged sword, the word of God, will expose them, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12), and they will be smitten and have judgment brought on them.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

4. Exhortation2:16

If the erring believers would not judge themselves and repent, they could anticipate God"s judgment (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:31).

"Unwillingness to repent shows that a person is not a faithful believer." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 1-7, p196.]

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.

"The fault of Pergamum is the opposite of Ephesus where the heretics were rooted out but love was missing ( Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:4)." [Note: Mounce, p99.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 2:16. The exhortation follows. Repent therefore, as in Revelation 2:5 to Ephesus, or else I come onto thee quickly. Comp. on Revelation 2:5, but note that the word ‘quickly’ is now added, although the coming is still special, not general. We have again an illustration of that climactic style of address which appears in these Epistles when they are considered as a whole.—Ana will make war against them with the sword of my month. The Lord will come to war against the Nicolaitans, not against the church. Against His Church, even in her declension, He cannot war. Her threatened punishment (and is it not enough?) is, that the Lord will make war upon His enemies without her; and that, not taking part in His struggle, she shall lose her part in His victory. It is difficult to say whether in the sword spoken of there may be any allusion to the sword of the angel in Numbers 22:23; but such an idea is not improbable.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

will. Omit.

fight = make war. Greek. polemeo. Occ only in Rev. and James. A threat which is not addressed to the Church of this age.

against. Greek. meta. App-104.

with. Greek. en. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

A B C read, 'Repent, therefore' [ oun (Greek #3767)]; 'Aleph (') h, Vulgate, Syriac, omit 'therefore.' Not only the Nicolaitanes, but all Pergamos, is called on to repent of not having hated the Nicolaitane teaching and practice. Contrast Acts 20:26.

I will come - I am come.

Fight against (war with) them - the Nicolaitanes primarily: including chastisement of the whole church at Pergamos: cf. "unto THEE."

With the sword of my mouth - from Revelation 1:16; but with an allusion to the angel of the Lord confronting with a drawn sword Balaam on his way to curse Israel: an earnest of the sword by which he and the seduced Israelites fell (Numbers 25:5; Numbers 31:8). The spiritual Balaamites are to be smitten with the Lord's spiritual sword, the word of His mouth (Isaiah 11:4).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
5,21,22; 3:19; 16:9; Acts 17:30,31
will fight
12; 1:16; 19:15,21; Isaiah 11:4; 49:2; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8
Reciprocal: Job 4:9 - by the breath of his nostrils;  Isaiah 27:1 - with his;  Isaiah 30:28 - his breath;  Ezekiel 18:30 - Repent;  Hosea 6:5 - I have;  John 8:7 - and said;  Hebrews 4:12 - sharper

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 2:16. — "Repent therefore: but if not, I come to thee quickly, and I will make war with them with the sword of My mouth." In the warning to Ephesus "remember" precedes the call to repent. Not one of the assemblies had been so richly blessed, had enjoyed so much of the goodness and grace of God, as the assembly in the capital of western Asia. Paul had laboured in Ephesus for three years. His service and tears had borne abundant fruit, and in his epistle to the saints of that city he had unfolded truths of the most exalted character without one accompanying word of rebuke or censure. Faith in Christ and love to all saints were characteristics of their Church life. How fitting therefore the words of divine admonition, "Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent." But the assembly in Pergamos never had been in the enjoyment of such exalted grace and privilege; hence the omission of the word "remember."

"Repent therefore," omitted in the Authorised Version, is in view of the faithful exposure of grave evils in their midst. Personally the angel of the Church had neither imbibed the teachings nor practised the deeds reprobated, but, on the other hand, he had not denounced them, nor had he opposed their entrance into the Church which the angel of the Church in Ephesus had energetically done. If no self-judgment followed the call to repent, the Lord threatens speedy judgment: "I come to thee quickly." The imminence of the judgment is expressed in the use of the present tense, as also in the introduction of the word "quickly," wrongly inserted in verse 5, rightly here in verse 16 (see R.V. for both texts). The coming here referred to does not signify the personal return of the Lord, or what is spoken of as the second Advent, but points to an immediate dealing with the assembly by the Lord Who would visit it in judgment. To the angel He says, "I come to thee," but to the still more guilty, "I will make war with them." Thus the Lord distinguishes. There are degrees of sin and, proportionately, of punishment. We, too, should distinguish between leaders and led. In the various forms and phases of discipline enjoined in the New Testament in order to preserve the holiness of God's House this distinction should be carefully acted upon. "Of some," says the apostle, "have compassion, making a difference; but others save with fear, snatching (them) out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 1:22-23). "The sword of My mouth" refers to the judging power of His Word; it pierces.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Repent. (See comments at Revelation 2:5 on this subject.) Fight against them means a spiritual war since the weapon is the sword of my mouth. It means these guilty members will be exposed and condemned by this sword which is the word of God.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 2:16

Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.


that is to say, let the angel repent, and the church repent, and these ministers and members especially, who are guilty of those doctrines which I hate, repent and sorrow after a godly manner.

Or else I will come unto thee quickly,

to wit, in a way of visitation and correction.

And will fight against them

that hold the doctrine of Balaam, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, that is to say, erroneous, false, and damnable doctrines, such teachers and such doctrines, as the apostles prophetically foretold and testified against. { 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Peter 2:1-2}

With the sword of my mouth

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:12: Christ fights against a church and people "with the sword of his mouth," first, when he sends some Boanerges with awakening, thundering word of God, who shall so preach and declare his righteous judgments unto them, that shall sew and cut as a sharp sword. { Hosea 6:4-5} Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth. Secondly, when Hebrews, by the hand of his divine judgments upon them for their sins and impenitency; { Jeremiah 21:5} And I my self will fight against you with an outstretched hand, and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.

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Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 2:16. Repent, therefore; but if not, I will come to thee quickly, and will fight with them by the sword of my mouth. The therefore, which rests on the best authorities (comp. Revelation 2:5, Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:19), is omitted by Luther. The quickly Bengel would remove without sufficient external proof, perhaps, in favour of a pre-established opinion. He says also, "If men, especially pastors, rebuke the evil, the Lord Jesus will spare them, so as not to visit them with rebuke; but if they are careless and negligent, he will come the more sharply against them." If the angel listening to the admonition exercised repentance, and showed greater zeal, many of the heretics, or, at least, of those who had been deceived by them, would still be delivered. But in that case the Lord would not have come to him, so as to have rendered the appearance, which was intended for the properly guilty party, a subject of terror also to him. Bengel: "Neither here nor elsewhere does the Lord add what he would himself do to the angel of the church. But the conflict with the Balaamites would bring punishment to him also." Till now the angel could not say with Paul, "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men" (Acts 20:26); and so he must tremble, when he thought of Ezekiel 3:17, ss., to which Paul alludes, at the words: I will fight with them. If he did his duty, the backsliders would either be reclaimed to the truth, or they would be expelled from the church. The expression: "I come to thee quickly, and will fight with them," to one not acquainted with the language of Scripture, might seem to indicate a visible appearance of the Lord, and a palpable execution of judgment by him. But the Lord often, and indeed usually, exercises his power secretly; and it is the method of Scripture to designate by such strong expressions even, that concealed action, in order to rouse fleshly security out of its indolent slumber.

The fighting with the sword of the Lord's mouth, as we have said, refers to the history of Balaam. "Like sin, like punishment." In Numbers 31:8, it is said, "And the kings of Midian they slew upon their dead, Evi, etc., the five kings of Midian; and Balaam, the son of Beor, they killed with the sword." In Joshua 13:22, "And Balaam, the son of Beor, the enchanter, did the children of Israel kill with the sword, to their slain." The author of the seductive plan and the seducers alike fell by the sword of the Israelites. That behind this was concealed the avenging sword of God and of his Logos, appears from Numbers 22:23, "And the ass saw the angel of the Lord in the way, and his drawn sword in his hand." Numbers 31:8 stands related to this as the fulfilment to the threatening.[Note: At Numbers 31:8 the Sept. version has, not μά χαιρα, but, is here, ῤ ομφαί α.]

Revelation 2:17. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: He that overcomes, to him will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he that receives it. The words: to him will I give to eat, makes allusion to the eating of the idol-offerings. "On this heavenly bread," says Bengel, "they must lose their relish for the things offered to idols. In the world men are in many ways guilty of imprudence in their desires to make trial of this and that; but whosoever yields himself up in the denial of self and of fleshly delights, he will come to experience much in spiritual, heavenly, supernatural things, of which others must be deprived." In John 6 Christ represents himself as the true manna, which his people partake of, and obtain thereby life everlasting. Here, the manna is the life itself, consisting, however, in nothing else than close fellowship with Christ. Such free allusions indicate still more clearly the identity of the author than the most explicit agreements. For, in the latter there is the possibility of a borrowing. Manna was the wilderness-food of the Israelites, which ceased when they reached Canaan (comp. John 6:31); and according to the typology of Scripture, the wilderness corresponds to this life, and the possession of Canaan to the next. Accordingly, some expositors refer this first promise to what the Lord imparts to his people in this life, and the second to the future recompense; as also, indeed, in 1 John 3:1-2, we find set beside each other what Christians have now ("that we are the children of God"), and what they shall receive hereafter ("we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.") So Bossuet: "Manna is nourishment in the wilderness, and the secret consolation with which God supports his children during the pilgrimage of this life." But against this view is the condition, "he who overcomes," which can only refer to the completed victory, and is explained in Revelation 2:26 by the additional words, "and keeps my works to the end." So also the analogy of the other concluding promises, which all have respect to the life to come. Hence we must suppose, that the character of the manna as food for the wilderness is here left out of view, and only its character as heavenly food taken into account (comp. Psalms 78:24, Psalms 105:40, John 6:32), in contrast to the poor enjoyments which the earth yields for the satisfaction of the flesh. Still, the promise does not on this account lose its reference to the present life. Scripture knows nothing of an absolute contrast between the present and the future. According to its mode of contemplation, there is only a completing there of whatever has been begun here, and he only that already has, shall have given to him hereafter—comp. John 4:14, John 5:24.

The manna is represented as hidden. This predicate has not respect to the natural manna, which is rather the manifest, the palpable, but only to the spiritual, to the blessed life in fellowship with Christ, "the sweetness of which the world knoweth not, and no one knoweth saving he that tasteth it." We may compare the hidden treasure in the field, Matthew 13:44, and Colossians 3:3, "Our life is hid with Christ in God." The foretaste of this hidden manna is given to the faithful in this present life. What the Lord said to his still inexperienced disciples, "I have a bread to eat which ye know not" (John 4:32), they may repeat before the world. As the eating of the manna, so this designation of the manna itself as the hidden is employed with reference to the Nicolaitans; and in such a manner, that what in this first promise forms only a subordinate point, becomes the main one in the second, and that the predicate which is here attributed to the manna is the link of connection between the two promises. The Gnostics wished to introduce something of the heathen mysteries into Christianity; they boasted, in the spirit that has ever characterised worldly wisdom, of possessing what was hidden and known to none but themselves, and thereby drew many after them. As heavenly stand opposed to their sensual enjoyments, so do the true and important secrets to their false and miserable ones. And the connection of both references with each other is the more natural, as with the Gnostics there existed a combination of sensual lust and trafficking in mysteries, and their pretended discoveries especially had fleshly-indulgence for their object.

The words, I will give him a white stone, are isolated by many expositors, and regarded as a promise apart by itself. But this is entirely unsuitable. The promise can be only a double one here, else were the number twelve destroyed. If the white stone is supposed to have been named only as writing material, the promises of the verse are united together by the bond of the secretness belonging to both. But if, on the other hand, an independent value is attached to the white stone, the promises fall asunder. The new name is written on the white stone. But the white stone cannot first have a separate worth of its own, and then again serve as means to an end. If this last cannot be denied, then the first must be abandoned. Further, if we ascribe to the words an independent value, they would contain a reference to a heathenish custom, as all are agreed who do so. The supposition of such a reference, however, we must be extremely cautious of admitting generally into the Revelation; and the more so here, as this supposed second promise in any case is closely intertwined with the third, which bears a genuine Israelitish stamp. (Ewald even could not avoid remarking: More Graeco mire cum Hebraeo mixto.) Then, the reference to the heathenish custom here would want the necessary clearness and explicitness, as appears alone from the diversity of opinions adopted by the expositors as to what custom was really in the eye of the prophet. Finally, we obtain from this view no satisfactory meaning. What would most readily occur are the judicial stones; but the objection to this is, that the white or exculpatory stones of the judges were not given to the accused, but cast into an urn. In that case too, it would be acquittal before the divine tribunal that would be marked. But this, from the connection, would be too small a boon, and wants, besides, the reference to the Nicolaitans, which undeniably exists in what precedes and follows, and which is also continually found in the promises made to the churches that were infested by these heretics.

We must, then, connect the words closely with what follows. The antiquarian clement that comes here into consideration is simply the fact, that in ancient times they were wont to write much on small stones. To the new glorious name corresponds the white stone. The λευκό ς, white, is not, as used in the Apocalypse, the simple white, the colour of innocence, but the shining white; comp. on ch. Revelation 4:4. "The word new," says Bengel, "is a truly apocalyptic word: new name, new song, new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem, all new, ch. Revelation 14:3, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 21:2." The word has a sweet sound for those, by whom the old has been felt burdensome and oppressive. It is derived from Isaiah 62:2, "And the heathen see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory; and thou art called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord hath spoken;" comp. Isaiah 65:15, "And he will give to his servants another name." Neither here, nor in the fundamental passages, is any particular name meant; otherwise, it would certainly have been mentioned. It is enough, that the name is a new one, that it is much more glorious than the old one, that the state which it indicates has nothing in common with the earlier one, so full of tribulation, hunger, thirst, heat, and tears. Parallel is ch. Revelation 3:12, "And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem—and my name the new." There, to whom the conqueror in the new state of things belongs, here, the new name which he himself receives. In 1 John 3:2 the new state which is expressed by the new name, is described by the words, "But we know that, when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." No one knows the new name but he who receives it. It is a secret unspeakably more precious than the secrets of the Nicolaitans, so much praised and yet so worthless. The name of Christ in ch. Revelation 19:12 corresponds, as being one which no one knows but himself. Also, according to 1 John 3:1-2, the blessed state of Christians, what now belongs to them, and much more than that, what they shall possess hereafter, is one that the world cannot understand—one that, with all its boasted knowledge, it so little understands, as still to be ignorant of God, and Christ, and those who believe upon his name (John 15:21, John 16:3).

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16.Thee’ them—His visitation would be to the Church and its bishops, his fight would be with the sensualists.

Sword of my mouth—The blessed weapon of moral warfare and providential destruction. Observe the threatening corresponds with the sword of the self-assertion in Revelation 2:12.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 2:16. The church as a whole must repent of her too tolerant attitude to these errorists, but the threatened visitation is directed against the errorists themselves in the shape of some physical malady or mortal sickness, according to the current belief in early Christianity (cf. on 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 11:30, Everling: die paul. Angelologie, etc., 20 f.). Grotius refers the threat to the prophetic order (“prophetas suscitabo in ecclesia”). But the ethnic conscience generally regarded pestilence or any physical calamity as a punishment inflicted by the god for some offence against his ritual or some breach of morals. In the Hexateuch, the sword opposes (Numbers 22:23; Numbers 22:31) and finally slays (Numbers 31:8) Balaam. The run of thought in the verse is that if the church does not repent, i.e., if she does not act on her own initiative and expel the wrongdoers (in the hope of them ultimately coming to a better mind, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5), she must submit to having them cut out of her, and thus being irretrievably lost by death. The church is responsible for her erring members, and the exercise of discipline is viewed as a duty to them as well as to herself and God. Weak laxity is false kindness, the prophet implies; it merely exposes offenders to an alternative far more dreadful than discipline itself. The sword, Viet, remarks on Revelation 1:16, is used to punish deserters as well as to win victory for the faithful. For instrumental in the pre-Christian vernacular, see Tebtunis Papyri vol. 1. (p. 86) - .



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

16. Tum from your sins. Forgiveness requires turning from sin first. If not I will come. A grim warning to the unrepentant.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 2:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.