Revelation Chapter Two

In Chapter Two of the Book of Revelation Jesus address three of “the seven churches” of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, and Thyatira.  These were actual churches in the first century and John seems to have had a relationship with them.  They were each contending with a problem which we also find in the contemporary church.  Ephesus was the doctrinally pure church who moved away from their love for God and each other.  Granted they were “right” about the truth but wrong about the heart of the matter.  Jesus’ word to them is a stern warning.  Today we see many “high tension” churches that draw firm boundaries around the truth, as they understand it.   At the same time they are loveless toward others.  Can they really love God (1 John 4.7)? This type of church is easy to caricature and that faulty picture defines Christianity to the outside world.  Smyrna was the small church facing persecution.  Its problem came from Jews who exposed them to the authorities as people who refused to worship the emperor.  The Jews themselves were legally free from having to worship the emperor.  They saw it as idolatry as did the Christians.  As long as the Romans perceived the Christians to be basically Jews it was no problem.  But it seems that the Jews in Smyrna made it a point to tell the Romans that the Christians were not Jews and that they refused to offer a sacrifice to the Emperor.  Consequently, Jesus tells them, they can look forward to a season of imprisonment and martyrdom.  Jesus’ message to them is comforting.  We see this type of church, the persecuted church, throughout church history and in many places today.   The third church addressed in this chapter is the church of Pergamum.  This church had a problem opposite to that of Ephesus.  Here prophets were encouraging people to embrace the culture, and likely, pagan worship (including immorality) with it.  Pergamum did stand strong in the face of persecution but lacked the necessary regard for the truth.  Jesus’ message to them is a warning that he will judge them according to the sword in his mouth, the Word of God, unless they repent.  And we see many churches of this type in the world today as well.

 

About bob

I am a Vineyard pastor and a passionate student of the Bible with an instinctive distrust of "business as usual" when it comes to the story of the Bible. Gratefully I have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and my purpose with this blog is to share what I discover.

3 thoughts on “Revelation Chapter Two

  1. Bob- Enjoying the series greatly… just finished Chapter 2 through the Church at Pergamum… my sense is that these letters to the churches are both for corporate and individual application, though I take the point that as Believers steeped in our American culture we are heavily biased to read and apply these letters to ourselves first and foremost; or worse to use them to judge other individuals in the “Church”. I have thought the new name and white stone as also have very personalized meaning at the Great Judgement. Can’t wait to get into the following chapters!

  2. Thanks for listening John. I agree with you, there is a corporate and individual application for these letters. I think that as Americans we struggle to approach the New Testament from the perspective of its first audience. Consequently we confuse what God is calling us to and what He will do for us. I believe that God is interested in my personal well being but is using the circumstances around it to develop the image of Christ within me and advance His Kingdom around me. This image is not only a moral development or the process of becoming a servant. It is also equipping for the Age to Come. In other words, God is at work pursuing His purpose and He graciously draws my life into it. Sometimes this means my circumstances are “blessed” beyond my imagination and sometimes it means I must endure with “longsuffering.” At the end of the day He will say (I hope to me) “well done good and faithful servant” which sounds a lot like a new name and a white stone. (Sorry for rambling. I’m in St. Petersburg and sleep deprived.)

  3. Thought you might be “on the road.” I am chewing on your comment… “God is at work pursuing His purpose and He graciously draws my life into it. Sometimes this means my circumstances are “blessed” beyond my imagination and sometimes it means I must endure with “longsuffering.” I agree … it points to His Providence and Sovereignty… and challenges me to remember that it all the circumstances, “His love endures forever” not bridled by circumstance.

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