Other people later followed him. Perhaps these people did not completely understand his teaching. Nicolaus emphasised that we should be careful about the use of our bodies. But some Christians ate the wrong kind of food. For Christians this was not right. Those who followed Nicolaus gave a different meaning to his teaching. Christians were free to do as they wished.
These people also argued that the physical body is evil. Therefore a Christian is free to do what he likes with it. They gave a further argument. Therefore, it does not matter what you do. You can do anything that pleases you. This is false teaching. The standards of Christians are different from those of people who are not Christians. We find Christian standards in what Christian leaders teach us. We find them in our Bibles. They were not careful about what they ate and drank.
To them, wrong behaviour was normal. The false teachers claimed that they were not destroying the church. They were improving it. They were making it more favourable. People outside the church would then accept it. The Christians at Ephesus must not follow them. Such ideas are a danger to the church today. The enemy can be inside the church as well as outside it. This phrase appears in each of the letters. It is not just to one church. It is not only for the Christians in Asia. They lived a long time ago.
In each letter, Christ is the speaker. But the words here are what the Spirit says. The word of Christ is the word of the Spirit. Christ speaks to the Christians in his churches through the Holy Spirit. It is a park with a wall round it. It is a garden for pleasure. The two terms are the same. In the middle of the first Garden of Eden was the tree of life Genesis But there was another tree, the tree of knowledge.
God told Adam not to eat the fruit from that tree Genesis , God knew that it would not be good for Adam and Eve. They both ate the fruit. So God sent them out of the garden Genesis So then, they could not get to the tree of life. Wisdom is the tree of life. It gives full life to people who accept it Proverbs You may hope for something. When you get it, it is a tree of life Proverbs A tongue is a tree of life Proverbs He sends it to each of the churches.
He gives a promise to those who keep going on. Christ will allow them to eat the fruit of the tree of life. The result was that he could not get to the tree of life. Heaven is where God is. God is love. Heaven is the place where there is perfect love. But he may remove this right The reward for love is more love. Smyrna is almost due north from Ephesus.
It is about 35 miles away, on the coast. Smyrna was a beautiful city. They called it the crown of Asia. They called it the flower of Asia. There were beautiful streets and beautiful houses there. They had a street of gold. This was the most famous street. Smyrna competed with Ephesus to be the best city. It had a good road to the rest of Asia. It had a good natural harbour. Therefore, there was much trade in this city. It was one of the richest cities in Asia. Its name now is Izmir. The city had been a ruin for years. The people in Smyrna were clever at politics.
They always chose to be on the right side in wars. Smyrna was the first city in the world to do this. It was between the cities in Asia. Smyrna won the competition. The judges held their courts in Smyrna. It became a free city. It competed with Ephesus for first place in everything.
Verse 8 The message is from the First and the Last see Jesus is the one who died. He came to life again. This description is fitting to this city. The people had built it again. Verse 9 Christ knows that the members of this church suffer. There are three reasons for this:. They have afflictions, which are serious troubles.
They are very poor. They were as poor as it was possible to be. There were rich people in Smyrna. So, we may not understand why the Christians were so poor. It could be because of their businesses. Maybe they refused to use wrong methods. It may have been difficult for them to find employment. Maybe people robbed their houses see Hebrews But Jesus says that they are rich. Paul said this to the Christians in Corinth. We are poor but we are making many people rich. It is when people meet together.
This is what John is saying.
The truth is that you are a meeting place of the devil. They learned their ways from their master. He is the devil see verse This means one who accuses. Jesus called him a liar a person who does not speak the truth and the father of lies John Those who follow him do not like the truth. The insults would have made the Christians sad. They did not behave like their neighbours. In this, the Christians copied their Master see 1 Peter They said that Christians ate people. Sometimes, some members of a family would become Christians.
Other people in the family would not. Their enemies said that they were dividing families. They were spoiling family relationships. Atheism is a belief that God does not exist. The Christians would not do this. Christians said that the world would end in flames. So they accused them of using fire to cause damage. But he does nothing to end their troubles. They are poor. But he does not make them rich.
The authorities put some of them into prison. We often ask this question. Christians have struggled with this problem ever since. John does not give an answer. But in the whole book of Revelation, there is a strong certainty. God will never leave us. Jesus has given us a job to do. He calls us to share in his suffering. We may suffer. Verse 10 The Christians in Smyrna must not be afraid. They are certain to suffer. This will test them. But God will qualify them to pass the test. Many Christians are in prison. That is the work of the devil. The testing is the work of God. Prison in those days was not punishment.
It was a place of waiting. People waited for a decision on their crime. The result might be work in the salt mines. The result might be that they must leave the country. The result might be death. Whatever the result, they would only spend a short time in prison. These troubles will last ten days.
This may refer to the end of their suffering. It will last only for a short time. It will be a hard test but it will end. God speaks the last word see James The Christian message was not popular. The people in Smyrna did not want to hear it. They did not approve of the Christian way of life, with its high standards.
High standards are difficult. Sometimes lower standards tempt us. It would be easy for us to lower our standards. It would be easy for us to live as other people live. Here in Smyrna Jesus encourages the Christians. We fear death. The opposite of death is life. Jesus knew the pain of death. One is the royal crown that kings and queens wear.
The crown here is not that one. Here it is something like a bundle of flowers. The winner at the games would receive this. It would be especially suitable in Smyrna. In Smyrna, they had the famous sports games. Suffering is the distinction of a true Christian. His name was Polycarp. He was one of the best known Christians.
The Christians in Smyrna suffered greatly. It was dangerous to be a Christian in Smyrna. The rulers arrested him. They brought him to the courts. The judge ordered him to curse Christ. This was his reply to the judge. They burnt him to death. That was not its purpose. It was a political test.
He had passed the test. That meant that he was a good citizen. He was loyal to the state. That was dangerous. People would say that he was not a loyal citizen. He might cause trouble. He might oppose their government. He would be a danger to the state. But a Christian could not do this. That name was for Jesus Christ only. So Christians were always in danger. At any time, someone might go the authorities. The authorities could then put him into prison.
They could even kill him. The second death will not hurt them. They believed that after death there was nothing. Another group also believed this. They were the Epicureans. For both of these groups death was the end. It did not seem right to them. It meant that the end was the same for everyone. It was the same for both the wise person and the fool Ecclesiastes , 16; The belief was that there were two deaths.
First, there was physical death. This death comes to every person. Then there was another death. This was the punishment of God. See note on the Tree of Life. Everyone passed to another state until the time for judgement. This meant that there would be two deaths. The first would be physical death. No one can escape that. This would be for the wicked.
Paul said the same thing. The promise is to those who love Jesus Christ. Neither life nor death can separate them Romans 8: 38, Many Christians in the world today face problems. These may not be the same as the problems in Smyrna. The tests may be of a different kind. Perhaps we do what everyone else does. We know that these things are wrong. But we are afraid to be different. Our task is to live to please him. Every person who hears these things should listen.
He should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. Pergamum was to the north from Smyrna. It was about 55 miles away. Pergamum was famous for its schools and colleges. There was a large library there. In those days, people wrote books by hand. They made it from the skins of animals. Pergamum was like a royal city. He held his court of law there. There were theatres.
He hates the light Luke ; Ephesians ; John His statue a person that someone makes out of material stood on a rock. It was 40 feet high. It was feet up on a hill. There was another god there. He was Asclepios. He was the god of Pergamum. He was the god of healing. People came to Pergamum from all over the world. They came to get better from their illnesses. The Christians would not have approved of this. Also, the sign of Asclepios was a snake. The Christians would not have accepted that either see Pergamum was the centre of government in Asia. He called himself a god. If they would not say it, the rulers would kill them.
Christians could not make this statement. This is probably why he used this description. This sword has two edges. Pergamum was the centre of government. An official represented him in the city.
He had power to put people to death. He would kill them with the sword. He is stronger than any world power. It is the place where they have always been. It is their permanent home. Jesus is always with them. So he knows all about them. He knows about their troubles. He knows the kind of people that they live with. These are not friendly people. John tells us about a man called Antipas. He speaks the truth. He could be in great danger.
Letter Six: To the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13)
But he does not fear. We know nothing about Antipas. The authorities probably killed him. There were many martyrs in the early church. There are many martyrs today. Jesus gives Antipas the same title. Verse 14 There were a few things that were wrong. There was false teaching in the church. Some followed the teaching of Balaam. This was the enemy inside the church. They were ready to enter the Promised Land.
Balaam tried to speak. But words of cursing would not come. Balaam then had another plan. They would get them to take part in their evil meals. Then they would sell the meat in the market. Then they would eat it. But this was not right for them. The leaders of the church were there. They said that Christians should not take part in these two things Acts The people in Pergamum did these things. They held big parties. There was much evil behaviour in them. But these things were not right for the Christians.
God had different plans for them. They must not act as their neighbours did. God required this. They were to be holy people. God is holy because he is different from men and women. The Christian is holy because he is different from other people. See note on verse 6. They taught two false things. They were similar. They both taught the same thing. Christ had saved them. Therefore, as Christians, they were free.
They were no longer under the law. This was what they taught. They taught more than this. Clearly, this is false. It is the enemy inside the church.
Otherwise, he will fight against them. They are true words. His words were for the false teachers. These same words will destroy some people. The words of Christ are important. This means to say that we are sorry. But there is something more. He asks us to change the direction of our lives.
He asks us to go in a different direction. He asks us to turn towards him and not away from him. Christ offers two precious gifts. This stone has a new name written on it. They had no food. But they still remembered it. He gave them what they needed. Jesus is the bread of life. He is the true bread from heaven. He gives life to the world John If anyone eats this bread, he will live for ever John It could be in a court of law.
The judge would decide whether a person was guilty or not guilty. If the person was guilty, the judge would give him a black stone. If he was not guilty, the judge would him give a white stone. The Christian is not guilty. They used to believe that some days were happy days.
The Nicolaitans don't have much written about them in the Bible, outside of a couple of references here in Revelation. Dake comments:. It notes that from the long epistle of Ignatius, "Flee also the Nicolaitanes, falsely so-called, who are lovers of pleasure and given to calumnious speeches". In addition to their immoral practices, this would indicate that they were a bit caustic and defensive about their positions.
There is debate as to whether they were or were not followers of Nicolaus. There seems to be some agreement on their position as gnostics and their blind eye toward immorality. Unfortunately, Jesus also said there was a serious problem with the church. They had left their first love. The first love of a church should always be Christ, so this would be understood to be a reference to Him. How do we leave one we love? Well, it usually isn't a quick process. Usually, over time, something else takes the place of the one we love in our hearts. It often happens so slowly that we don't really realize it is happening.
We start thinking about one or more of these things more and more often and of our first love less and less often. In many cases, we start spending more and more time with this other thing instead of with our first love. Usually, the first love is the first to notice this is happening. We are too wrapped up in the new thing to notice that we aren't paying the kind of attention to our first love that we used to. But the first love notices. What are some modern day parallels to this? Well, prayer is one of the first things to go.
Prayer is, at its simplest, talking and listening to God. It takes time and people are uncomfortable praying before or after services or frequently in public at all , so we just don't talk with Jesus as much as we once did. In many denominations, church prayer is limited to stock prayers. We let that be sufficient for talking to Him and never take time to listen for answers from Him.
I couldn't help but think of the people in the pews around the world saying the Lord's Prayer and seriously wondered if God wouldn't like to throw the hammer at all of us and say "Yes, you've got that one down pat. Let's try something else and actually have a conversation for a change! Bible study and Bible reading take real time from our lives, so they are one of the first things to go at home. Sunday School attendance in the U. Time and time again, social functions either at church or partying late Saturday night and sleeping in wins out over learning more about God.
If you're a Sunday School teacher, take time to get something fresh from God. Don't just stand up and read the quarterly to your students! Most of them can read. Once and a while, like in the Revelation series we are doing now, the writers don't get it right. Take the time to study and bring something fresh to the class. People might be more interested in coming to a lesson if there was something worth hearing than just a rehash of what they read in their student quarterlies.
At church, we start substituting other books and studies for studies of the Word. We don't want to listen to what the Spirit is saying or to let the Spirit open our minds to what the Scripture is saying, so we rely on other books more and more often and let the Word gather dust.derivid.route1.com/comunistas-y-pilaristas.php
Lessons from the seven churches of Revelation: Part 3
We start preaching on social issues instead of Christ crucified. Remember what Paul said he preached:. There's lots of feel good preaching out there today. It fills the churches and the offering plates because people don't want to be held accountable to anybody or made to feel that they should be doing more for God and less for the world. The church needs to get back to preaching Christ and Christ crucified and let God bring the increase. It'll be a more lasting reward than filling the pews with people who just want to be entertained and made to feel included because we have watered down the truth to accept them without giving them any reason to conform to Christ's standards that will save them.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I can attest to how difficult it is to try to preach truth about some moral issues to those who don't want to hear. I will freely admit that it would be perhaps a hard service format to hear nothing other than the crucifixion message. Yet I am able to turn most of the studies I post to a point where I can offer an altar call at some point. You usually don't hear it when I'm teaching Sunday School because I believe that my students have all accepted Christ as Savior.
But those who are reading the messages on the Internet do see it. Clearly, I have no more control as to whether anyone actually clicks on the link and ends up saved from hell by the blood of Jesus because of it than pastors do when they give their altar call. There should be few sermons preached that don't get back to Christ and Salvation at some point. It doesn't mean that the whole sermon has to be about it, but everything should have some tangential or direct bearing to that subject. It's the job of the church! It is clear that the church was doing great and mighty works for him.
It was a busy church. Christ says that this is good, but it is a lower place than being one with Him.
A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Chapter 3) Letters to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea
To do works is a great thing. Indeed, the Bible declares that if you don't do works, your faith will die. But if you become so busy that you lose your love for Jesus, if works and the cares of life start interfering with your relationship with Him, then you have fallen to a lower place than you previously were. That place is one that requires repentance, according to Him. Perhaps, the church had gotten so far away from Him that they had started putting their faith in the works that they were doing for Salvation instead of His blood.
The church is commanded to put Him first in their hearts again. Additionally, He commands the church at Ephesus to start doing the first works it did. What are the first works a church does? You need to remember that for all of these churches, there was no previous church in town. Someone came in to a completely non-Christian environment and started teaching Christ. In most cases, the initial outreach was to the Jewish people.
Reaching others followed. But the first works they had to do to have a church at all was to spread the word about Christ. How are we doing at winning the family, friends, and strangers that we meet to Christ? All churches and church members need to get back to that one basic work.
We are busy with too many other things. We all need to get back to the basics of spreading the word about Christ and Christ crucified. We like to think we are a Christian nation. However, this is gradually slipping away. The biggest problem is that there are so many dead churches around that have the name of Christ but not the power that it appears all is well. Yet if a church were to spring up where the fountain of the Holy Ghost was flowing freely, they might just have such an early church experience of being a cities only source for true worship. Today, in fact, not only is the church at Ephesus gone, the whole city is gone.
A Turkish town has taken its place, sitting on its ruins, but that town has nowhere near the glory that Ephesus had at the time of John's writing. Let us fervently hope that He doesn't do the same thing to our own churches if we fall in the same category as the church at Ephesus. The last verse gives a promise to those who hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, indicating that the message is not just for that particular church, but for all who read the letters at any point in history. All of the warnings still apply All of the commendations still apply All of the grievances still apply If you overcome, you will get to eat of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God.
Do we have ears to hear? Are we of a mind to overcome? The promises are huge if we do. Revelation And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;. This was one of the few churches that John wrote to where Jesus didn't have anything to condemn in them. That isn't to say that everything was going well there. Indeed, they were being persecuted and lived in poverty. Some were going to be tried and thrown into prison, presumably for their beliefs and stand for Christ.
Some would die for Christ. He promises a crown of life for those who do. Here, those who overcome are promised that they will not face the second death. He also says that he knows the blasphemy of the people who said they were Jews but were not, and were in fact serving Satan.
No matter how we try to spruce up our images and look good to the world, Christ knows our hearts.
About Revelation chapters 1-3
He knows His sheep well. He also knows those who are not of His flock. He would reach out His hand to save all, but sadly some have so hardened their hearts that they are in a place where they will not ask for help. Let us strive to stay in the proper sheepfold. Be ever vigilant to spot Christians who are teaching doctrines that are not backed up by scripture.
Stay away from denominations who are moving away from the Bible's sound teaching. Seek the truth. Let the Holy Spirit always be your guide when weighing the words you read on the Internet or when listening to sermons sitting safely on a warm pew. Read your Word and know the truth.
Be set free from those who would lead you astray. The church in America seems to be trying to widen the shoulders of the road God has made in order to make the way more palatable. We don't want to offend anyone anymore. In fact, preaching against certain sins will soon be illegal in the United States.
Our Congress is trying to get some Biblical sins classified as protected and speaking against these Biblical abominations could then be classed as hate speech HR , leading to criminal prosecution. We like to think that there will be no persecution in the United States. At some point that may only be true if we agree to stop preaching Biblical truth. Stand up for your rights! Tell Congress to deal with their own problems and to stop drafting religious laws preventing the church from teaching the truth we believe.
According to the first amendment to the United States Constitution, they aren't supposed to do that. It isn't hate speech to try to keep someone from spending an eternity in hell! It is hatred to not try to inform them of God's opinion on the subject! His is the only one that counts in the long run. Regardless of what may or many not happen in the United States, there are many Christians around the world who are indeed in poverty today. There are many who are being persecuted for their faith.
There are many who are giving up their lives for the faith just like those at the church of Smyrna. To all, the Bible still says Jesus is waiting for you with a crown of life! Revelation And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;. The church at Pergamos receives a mixed review. At the start of this section, Christ is again described as the one that hath the sharp sword with two edges.
As mentioned earlier, this may well be a symbol of His words and the written Word, being sharper than a two edged sword. This church had chosen to establish itself where Satan's seat is. The Amplified Bible says "where Satan sits enthroned. We often think of Satan as a defeated angel, but remember that he is the ruler of the planet. When he tempted Jesus with dominion over all of the world's kingdoms if Jesus would bow down and worship him Mt. If he hadn't been able to follow through on his offer, there would have been no temptation!
This verse says that at that point in time, Satan's throne was in Pergamos. I'm not sure what attracted Satan to that city, but it is clear that the church was under persecution there. No wonder. Antipas had been martyred, but the Christians had held fast to the name of Christ and had not denied the faith even in those darkest days. Dake comments about Antipas include:. The good news is that the fact they were having difficulties probably means they were making a difference.
Satan is not likely to waste his time on an ineffective church. So that is also in their favor. Where has Satan set up his throne today? The Bible doesn't make clear whether Pergamos was the only location where Satan was sitting enthroned at the time, or if it was his primary point of power. Is his throne still in Pergamos or has he moved to somewhere more to his liking?
Anyone want to venture any guesses - is it in the U. Christ has two primary charges against the church. Both relate to allowing individuals or groups who taught evil practices to remain in communion with the church. The Amplified Bible translates both parts of these verses as the groups were "clinging to the teaching of". The first group mentioned were those that taught the doctrines of Balaam, saying it was OK to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. The second group mentioned were those that held to the practices and doctrines of the Nicolaitanes see above, sexual sins such as adultery, fornication.
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Many denominations today suffer under the same problems of the church at Pergamos. Nobody wants to offend anyone anymore. Nobody wants to find out what the Bible really says about sin, because that might be inconvenient and might require some lifestyle changes that we don't want to impose on anyone. So we just make a bigger more inclusive tent and try to rework the Bible or omit talking about certain inconvenient parts of the Bible that would make someone squirm in their seats to try to have bigger churches that take in more money and are seen as successful in the eyes of the world and our peers.
Shame on us! I won't rehash what I said earlier here, but the warning of Christ is clear! He is talking to the church. The church then and now needs to repent and get back to teaching the truth of the Bible. Many in the church hierarchy in the United States are going to have a lot to answer for when they stand before Christ at the Judgment of Christian's works 1 Cor. The warning is to be careful what you build on the foundation of Christ. Paul said to be careful to not lay down any doctrine that he hadn't taught. A lot of what is being said by leaders in a couple of denominations is non-scriptural rubbish that is going to be burned up.
How many souls will go to Hell because they sought out a church where they could feel comfortable and believe that they could take any path they wanted to Heaven instead of the narrow road? Teach God's truth as stated in scriptures. We aren't supposed to be popular with the world. If we aren't, we are probably doing our job right. If we are, we should be very, very nervous!
Christ loves each and every sinner equally. He wants everyone to accept Him as their Savior, and He wants everyone to have the opportunity to hear His plan of salvation and to accept it. That said, He expects those who do accept Him to allow Him to be the King of their lives and to put away all sin and trespass. When He said:. He wasn't just letting His lips flap for the fun of it.
He really does expect us to live up to what the Bible says God's standards are as Christians. It doesn't matter to God what you have done before you accept Christ as your Savior. All sin separates us from God. It does matter what you do after that. You aren't responsible for doing things you don't know are wrong. Once you learn God's standards, He has a right to hold you to them and judge you for how you have or have not measured up. Live up to His standards as Christians. Don't live down to the world's standards.
The world promotes tremendous numbers of things that may be pleasurable, fun, exciting, fill in the blank. Satan wants the world to look good to you. But the Bible is pretty much black and white. You are either white saved, living for Jesus, and doing your best to conform to His will for you or gray or black.
Christ's call to repentance comes with its own warning. Christ says that if they don't repent, Christ Himself will come and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. As mentioned earlier, the sword can be thought of as the Word, the Bible. Today, the Episcopal church is facing its own Pergamos moment. The issue of gays and not accepting the authority of the Anglican community coming from the leaders of that denomination has put them far away from God in the eyes of other denominations and many conservative Episcopal churches.
They face a Sept. There is some concern that there won't be many funds for Africa and other poor countries if the U. Episcopal church is cut off from the worldwide Anglican body. God will provide! The church must stand for the Bible. The Bible teaches that you cannot serve both God and the world. Advance your knowledge of Scripture with this resource library of over 40 reference books, including commentaries and Study Bible notes. Try it for 30 days FREE. You must be logged in to view your newly purchased content. Please log in below or if you don't have an account, creating one is easy and only takes a few moments.
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Related A Bible Study of Revelation Chapter 3
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