Revelation 2: 1-11
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are letters to the 7 churches of Asia Minor. Although John wrote these to his original audience, they are also applicable to us and modern-day churches. The 7 churches represent the 7 dispensations of church history from the completion of the book of Acts in 65 AD until the rapture of the church. Each letter followed an almost similar pattern. Naming the church, partial revelation of Christ’s identity, words of commendation, words of rebuke, words of exaltation, and personal application.
VV 1-3, 1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
Ephesus or “ephesos” in Greek means desirable. Angel or “Angelos” in Greek, means a messenger. An angel is a messenger of God. Jesus revealed His identity to Ephesus as “the One who holds the 7 stars (angels) walking in the midst of the 7 menorahs (churches)”.
Words of commendation: their labor for the Lord, patience, perseverance, discernment, and exposition of false teachers.
VV 4-6, 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Words of rebuke: they had lost their first love for Christ. They had drifted away from the faith. They must repent, restore, and renew their first love for Christ, otherwise, they will be removed from His church.
Words of exaltation: they rejected the teaching of Nicolaitans, a heretic Christian sect who exercised absolute control over people.
V 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Personal Application: Have you lost your first love for Christ? If you have, you should repent and come back to Christ. Love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. Over-comers will eat from the tree of life, transplanted from Eden to heaven.
Church Dispensation: Ephesus corresponds to church history from 65 AD until 100 AD, when the church lost their first love for Christ.
V 8-9, 8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Smyrna was a persecuted church. Smyrna or “Smurna” in Greek means myrrh, which when crushed released a sweet-smelling fragrant. Christ revealed His identity to Smyrna as “the First and the Last”.
Words of commendation: their works, sufferings, poverty, and testing. Christ did not have any words of rebuke for Smyrna.
V 10-11, 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
Words of exaltation: Do not fear persecution or death. A person who is born once will die twice, physical death followed by the 2nd death in the lake of fire. A person who is born twice, (born again according to John 3: 3 & 5 ) will die only once, and will never experience the second death. At death, they will be rewarded with the crown of eternal life in heaven.
Church Dispensation: Smyrna corresponds to church history from 100 AD to 312 AD, where the church was under intense persecution.