Heavenly Father, we praise You and thank You because You are worthy to be praised. You are Holy and righteous, perfect and pure. We listen to You in humility and obedience, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Jesus taught in a synagogue on the Sabbath in Capernaum. Synagogue in Greek means a place of gathering. After the destruction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, the exilic Jews built synagogues in Babylon as gathering places to meet and practice Judaism. After the exile, the Jews continued to build synagogues throughout Israel. The elements of a synagogue service include prayer, worship, and teaching from the Old Testament.
21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘’Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘’What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority, He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.’’
Jesus taught, preached, and exorcised a demoniac man in the synagogue on a Sabbath day.
Sabbath is between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday. The Jews were not allowed to do any work during the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath because He healed the sick and exorcised demons on the Sabbath.
A demonized man manifested when Jesus taught with authority.
The demon knew Jesus of Nazareth by name and called Him the Holy One of God. It trembled with fear at the sight of Jesus because He was God.
Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the man and when it didso, the man had a convulsion.
The people were amazed and immediately His fame spread throughout Galilee. Note the word ‘’immediately’’.
The demon knew Jesus’ identity and called Him Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy One of God.
The demon was terrified at the sight of Jesus because He was God.
Jesus taught with authority because He was, and is God. He did not have to study the Bible because He is the author of the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16.
2 Timothy 3:16, Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness,
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us a glimpse of Jesus preaching, teaching, and exorcising a demonized man in a synagogue in Galilee 2000 years ago. Thank You for the testimony of Mark, a disciple of Peter, a cousin of Barnabas, and a missionary worker, who gave us this fast-paced book. Thank You for the blessings You give us, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
After healing the centurion’s servant, Jesus came to the city of Naim and raised a widow’s only son back to life. This miracle is unique to Luke. In the canonical gospels, Jesus raised three people from the dead, the son of the widow of Naim, the daughter of Jairus, and Lazarus of Bethany.
11 Soon afterward, he went to a city called Nain. Many of his disciples, along with a great multitude, went with him. 12 Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, one who was dead was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Many people of the city were with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, “Don’t cry.”14 He came near and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” 15 He who was dead sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear took hold of all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited his people!” 17 This report went out concerning him in the whole of Judea, and in all the surrounding region.
Ancient Naim is located 2 miles southwest of Mount Tabor in the Galilee region. When Jesus reached the city gate of Naim, He encountered a funeral procession of the only son of a widow. In the patriarchal society of first-century Israel, once a woman was married, she belonged to her husband. A widow could not go back to her father’s house for support. Without a son to support her, this widow would be destitute.
Jesus had compassion for her and comforted her. He touched the coffin and commanded the dead man to rise up. To the amazement of everyone, the dead man stood up and began to talk. Everyone trembled and glorified God, acknowledging that Jesus was a prophet and that God had visited them. Zacharias prophesied this in Luke 1:68. Words spread like wildfire throughout Jordan and all the surrounding region.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.
Jesus had compassion for the widow of Naim. Jesus has compassion on you too. He is the God of all comfort, 2 Corinthians 3-4.
Jesus is more than a prophet. He is God’s incarnate who came to earth in the form of a man. He is fully God and yet fully man. He is the second Person of the Trinity.
Jesus raised the dead man to life by speaking the words. He had authority over death and have the keys to death and hades, Revelation 1:18
Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the resurrection and the life, John 11:25. God’s word has the power to give life. Today, you can speak the word of God to other people to bless them.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 3:4
and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever and ever. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to us, who is the resurrection and the life. Thank You that whoever believes in Jesus will never die. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to wash away our sins and give us eternal life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You have done for us in our lives. We acknowledge that You are the creator of the universe and God of the Bible. Thank You for speaking to us through the inspired, infallible, and inerrant words of the Holy Scripture, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
A centurion is a Roman soldier who had 100 soldiers under his command. In the first-century world, masters treat their servants like a piece of furniture. They were not obligated to treat their servants with kindness. However, this centurion was very kind to his servant when he was on the verge of dying. Even though he was a Gentile, he loved the Jews and helped them build a synagogue. He sent Jewish elders to beg Jesus to come to his house and heal his servant.
6 Jesus went with them. When he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. 7 Therefore I didn’t even think myself worthy to come to you but say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude who followed him, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel.” 10 Those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was well.
As Jesus was approaching the centurion’s house, the centurion had a sudden change of heart. He realized that he was not worthy to receive Jesus into his home. He sent his friends to Jesus asking him not to come to his house but to pray for healing from a distance.
His faith was incredible and amazing. He recognized Jesus’ authority. He knew that His word was as good as His presence. He believed that Jesus could cure his servant from a distance.
Jesus was amazed at the faith of the centurion. Even the Jews did not have such great faith. The centurion’s friends returned to the centurion’s house to find the servant recovered! Jesus was omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He healed the centurion’s servant through a private miracle from a distance. The public was not privy to the miracle. Only Jesus, the apostles, the centurion, his family, and his friends knew about the miracle.
Faith moves mountains. Even a mustard seed faith is enough to start a miracle. How big is your faith? Do you pray with faith? Jesus will mountains for you if you pray with faith according to His will.
Faith is to know that you will get what you hoped for even when your physical eyes cannot see it coming.
You cannot please God if you do not have faith, Hebrews 11:6.
Faith is your third pair of eyes. Walk by faith with your spiritual eyes, 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen
Without faith, it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.
for we walk by faith, not by sight
2 Corinthians 5:7
Heavenly Father, thank You for the lesson on faith. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight. Open our spiritual eyes of faith to see into the spiritual dimension. Increase our faith. Help us with our unbelief, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, bless us as we listen to Your word and be transformed. May the soil of our heart will be fruitful so that Your word will be able to take roots deeply and produce fruits. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Jesus taught by the Sea of Galilee. In the last chapter, Jesus’ mother and half-brothers thought He was mad. The Jews accused Him of being demon-possessed. Now He spoke to the multitude from a boat, as a floating pulpit, teaching them in parables. A parable or parabola in Greek is an earthly story, usually an agricultural story, to explain a spiritual truth. It is a worldly story with a heavenly meaning. One-third of Jesus’ teachings were in parables.
3 Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside, and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 And some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased, and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. 9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
A sower went out to sow seeds. Some seeds fell on the wayside, trodden by feet and eaten by birds. Some seeds fell on stony ground, and grew immediately but dried up just as quickly. Some seeds fell among thorns, grew but choked by thorns, and yielded no crop. Some seeds fell on good ground, grew healthily, and became fruitful.
The seed is the word of God, the gospel message. The sower could be Jesus, the disciples, or Christians,m. This is the sower of the seed of the gospel message. The soil is the human heart. The human heart is deceitful and unfruitful, Jeremiah 17:9.
Jeremiah 17:9, ‘’The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’’ There are four types of human hearts.
When you preached the gospel, it will land on four kinds of people, represented by the soil types:
1). Wayside, the indifferent heart, where seeds cannot penetrate and are eaten by birds or satan. They are not open to spiritual truth, stubborn, and will not listen.
2). Stony ground, the emotional heart, where there is no depth or roots. They had an initial shallow response but when hardship or suffering comes along, they fell out of faith and stop growing.
3). Thorny ground, the divided heart, a lukewarm Christian. They believed but could not dissociate with the world. The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for material things made them too busy for God.
4). Good ground, the fruitful heart, who heard, believed, grew, and bear fruits, Psalm 1:3
Evangelism is very rewarding because the return of investment is so incredible. A 30-fold increase is 3000%, a 60-fold increase is 6000%, and a 100-fold increase is 10,000%. There is no earthly investment with such returns!
Psalm 1:3, He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the key to understanding the parable of the sower. Thank You for showing us that evangelism produces such an incredible return of investment. There is no investment in the world that is able to match a return of this magnitude. Help us to s
Heavenly Father, we come before You to learn, listen, worship, and fellowship with You. Speak to us and Your servants will listen, hear, and obey, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb very early on Easter Sunday when it was still dark. She saw the tombstone rolled away and falsely concluded that tomb raiders had stolen the Lord’s body. She bumped into Peter and John, and told them what she saw. The duo raced to the tomb as fast as they could.
4 They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. 5 Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn’t enter in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they didn’t know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.
John outran Peter and reached the tomb first but did not go in. He saw the empty tomb from the outside. The Greek word for saw here is “blepo” which means to take a glance. John did not see anything significant.
Peter arrived at the scene, entered the tomb, and saw the linen cloths lying on the floor, undisturbed in two piles, one for the head and one for the rest of the body., from the neck to the toes. The Greek word for saw here is “theoreo”, which means to see like a detective investigating a crime scene. Peter saw the empty linen clothes but could not connect the dots.
After this, John entered the tomb and saw what Peter had just seen. The Greek word for saw here is “aido”, which means to see with insight and understanding. John saw the “cocoon” and correctly concluded that Jesus had resurrected from the dead. He understood that Christ’s resurrection body body had passed out from the linen cloths like a butterfly exiting a cocoon. John was the first disciple to believe in the Resurrection of Christ.
On Good Friday, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped up Jesus’ body with linen strips from the head to the toes. The linen strips were interlaced with myrrh and aloes. Over time, when the spices dried up, the linen strips hardened and solidified into a cocoon-like structure.
On Easter, three people came out from Easter with different conclusions. Mary Magdalene saw the opened tomb and falsely concluded that tomb raiders came to steal the body. Peter saw the linen cloths but could not connect the dots. John saw the linen cloths and believed that Christ had Risen. What about you? What did you ‘see’ from the Easter narrative? Did you ‘see’ the Risen Christ and believed?
Today, you can visit the garden tomb in Jerusalem as a pilgrim and relive the experience of Peter and John when you walk into the empty tomb. The Bible is about real people, real places, real history, and real geography. It is not a figment of someone’s imagination. The Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Thank You that You have conquered sin and death on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter. Thank You for the gift of salvation and eternal life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
When Jesus taught the people, Pharisees and teachers of the laws came from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem to spy on Him. Four men carried their paralytic friend on a stretcher to Jesus. Mark informed us that there were four men, Mark 2:3. When they could not come near to Jesus, they went up the roof, broke the tiles, lowered the stretcher from the ceiling, and presented the man to Jesus.
And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
20 Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, answered them, “Why are you reasoning so in your hearts? 23 Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you;’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’ 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (he said to the paralyzed man), “I tell you, arise, take up your cot, and go to your house.” 25 Immediately he rose up before them, and took up that which he was laying on, and departed to his house, glorifying God. 26 Amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God. They were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
The four friends of the paralyzed man had tremendous faith, determination, perseverance, and persistence. The massive crowd did not hinder their effort. They overcame the crowd by thinking out of the box. Acknowledging the faith of his friends, Jesus told the paralyzed man that He forgave him of his sins. The scribes and teachers of the law thought in their hearts that Jesus was a blasphemer. With omniscient power, Jesus knew what they were thinking and said that He had the power to forgive sins because He was the Christ, the Son of Man. He told the paralyzed man to take up his mat and walk and he walked! Jesus had authority over nature, sin, sicknesses, evil spirits, and death. The man got up, left the room, and walked home glorifying God all the way! The people were afraid, astonished, and amazed at the miraculous healing.
The man’s friends had faith. Nothing could stop them from bringing the paralyzed man to Jesus. Do you have faith in Jesus? Do you believe that He can do all things, even the impossible things?
Jesus can forgive sins because He is God. Jesus is fully man and fully God. He is the second person of the Trinity.
Jesus is omniscient. He knows everything about you and me. Nothing is hidden from Him, Hebrews 4:13. He knows your thoughts, and He knows your past, present, and future. He even knows the number of hairs on your head, Matthew 10:30.
Jesus is the Son of Man, which means that He is the Messiah (Christ), Jesus is the fulfillment of the Son of Man described in Daniel l7:13.
Jesus spoke the word and the man was healed instantly.
There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Messiah, the Son of Man. Thank You that You came to seek and save those who are lost. Thank You for justification and salvation by grace through faith in Christ, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
After the calling of Peter, John, James, Andrew, and the miraculous catch of fish in the Sea of Galilee, Jesus went His way, bumped into a leprous man, and miraculously healed him.
12 While he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” 13 He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be made clean.” 14 He commanded him to tell no one, “But go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” 15 But the report concerning him spread much more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.
Jesus left Galilee, came to another town, and met a man with leprosy. The leprous man fell forward prostrate on the ground and begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus touched him and immediately healed him. The leprous man sought Jesus’ will, asked Him, “if You want”and Jesus replied, “I want” .
Leprosy is caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium lepra. Today, it is curable by taking antibiotics. In the first-century world, leprosy was a dreadful, contagious, fatal, and incurable disease. Leprous people were ostracised by society and confined to leper colonies. This was a living death sentence. Lepers must not come near or touch anyone. When they see anyone from a distance, they must shout, unclean, unclean. They were social outcasts. No one dared to touch the leprous man for fear of contracting leprosy. But Jesus touched him and healed him. Jesus touched him with love, compassion, acceptance, and friendship. The power of His touch healed the man instantly. The ministry of touch is very important in any relationship.
Jesus commanded the man not to tell anyone but to present himself to the priest for cleansing and offering sacrifice according to Leviticus 14:2-4 and following. But he could not keep quiet and told his testimony wherever he went. Words spread fast and everyone came to Jesus for healing. Jesus went into the desert alone by Himself and prayed. Luke gave us a glimpse into Jesus’ humanity. He needed to pray and be recharged before He could minister effectively.
Jesus told the man to present himself to the priest to testify to him that he was cured of leprosy. If God had cured you of some ailment, show yourself to others as a testimony to them.
The leprous man told his testimony wherever he went. Did you tell your testimony where ever you go?
The leprous man asked Jesus to heal him according to His will. Did you pray according to God’s will?
Jesus touched the leprous man. Have you touched someone physically or through acts of kindness.? The ministry of touch is so important in a personal relationship. Give someone a hug when it is appropriate.
After healing the man, Jesus retreated into the mountain alone to pray. If Jesus needed to spend time alone with His Father in prayer, how much more that you and I needed to spend time with Him in prayer?
This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp. The priest shall examine him. Behold, if the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two living clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.
Heavenly Father, help us to spend time alone with You in prayer to seek Your will and to listen to You. Help us to touch someone with love and compassion today. Help us to share our testimony with others so that they will come to know You as their Lord and Savior, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we pray that You will enable us to log in to Your channel, frequency, and wavelength. Help us to fine-tune our spiritual antennas to receive divine signals from You. Help us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
By this time, Jesus’ popularity was at an all-time high. People were coming from everywhere to listen to Him. He was surrounded by a massive crowd in the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Galilee. There were two boats, one belonging to Simon Peter, and the other to James and John. Jesus alighted Simon Peter’s boat and told him to move deeper into the water. He sat down and taught the people in the floating pulpit of the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered him, “Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word, I will let down the net.” 6 When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came and filled both boats so that they began to sink. 8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” 9 For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught;
After teaching the people, Jesus commanded Peter to go into deeper water and throw in the nets. Simon Peter reluctantly threw in the net because he did not expect any result. He had been throwing the nets one whole night to no avail. To his surprise, the net was so full of fish and so heavy that the net was going to break. This miracle is unique to Luke.
Simon Peter signaled to his partners James and John in the other boat for assistance. They came alongside and collected the fish into the two boats. The fishes were so heavy that the two boats began to sink. Amazed at such a great miraculous catch, Peter knelt in front of Jesus and confessed that he was a sinful man.
Even James and John, the sons of Zebedee were astonished. Jesus told them not to be afraid. From now on Jesus would make them fishers of the souls of men. When the boats reached land, they left everything and followed Jesus. Here, Jesus chose four fishermen from Galilee as His apostles, Peter and his brother Andrew, James, and his brother John.
When Peter was fishing by his own self-effort throughout whole night, he could not catch any fish at all. When Peter followed the direction of Jesus, the catch was so great that they filled up 2 boats! The catch was so bountiful and beyond his wildest imagination. Convicted of his sins, Peter fell prostrate before Jesus, and worshiped Him.
You will not be successful when you share the gospel with your self-effort. You will be successful if you listen carefully to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow God’s instructions. You need to pray before you make a move and listen very carefully. Evangelism must be done according to God’s will and direction. You need to do evangelism Jesus’ way. He is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6.. No one can come to the Father except through Him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.
Heavenly Father, thank You for making us fishers of men. Help us to equip ourselves with the tools and skills of personal evangelism. Help us to share the Gospel with non-believers. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight. Help to do things according to your ways and not be our own self-effort, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today, you can the archaelogical ruins of the church of Pergamon in western Turkey as a tourist. You can see the seat of satan in the ruins of the church of Pergamon. If you visit the Berlin, be sure to visit the Pergamon museum. This museum showcased many archaelogical finds from the church of Pergamon which flew all the way from Turkey in the 1900s I was fortunate to visit this museum 30 years ago.
12 “To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: “He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things: 13 “I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. You hold firmly to my name and didn’t deny my faith in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise. 16 Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it
The destination of the third letter was to the church of Pergamon. Ancient Pergamon was a rich and powerful Greek city in Mysia, Asia Minor, which is in modern-day Turkey. Pergamon was a demonic stronghold, home to the seat of Satan’s throne.
Jesus called Himself, “He who has the sharp two-edged sword”. The two-edged sword is the word of God and sword of the Spirit. Hebrews 4:12.
Christ commended them for their loyalty and faithfulness. They they did not deny His name, in the face of persecution, when one of their members, Antipas was martyred.
Christ censured them because some of them followed the doctrine of Balaam and Nicholas. The doctrine of Balaam is embracing pagan worship and committing sexual immorality. The doctrine of Nicolas is Gnosticism. Nicolas was a first-century Christian of Acts 6:5, who had apostasized and promoted Gnosticism.
If they do not repent, Christ will wage war against them with the two edged sword of His mouth.
A promise of reward
To those who overcome, hear, and obey His word, He will give them the hidden manna, and a white stone with a new secret name written on it.
The hidden manna is Jesus Christ, who is also called, the living manna, the bread of life, the bread of God, and the bread from heaven. He is the food that sustained our spiritual health.
The white stone is a symbol of Christ’s righteousness imputed to believers. Christ will give believer a white stone with a new secret name that only the recipient knows.
For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch
Do not compromise your faith by partipating in pagan worship and sexual imorality.
Do not follow the teachings of false teachers and cult. Beware of the prosperity doctrine and the word of faith movement. There are plenty of false teachers today peddling false doctrines and leading believers astray. It is a good practice to check the credentials of any preachers before listening to them and countercheck what they say with the Bible.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this timely message to remind us that there are false teachers in our society today. We pray for biblical education and literacy ad a tool to discern false doctrines. Help us to know the truth and be set free from deception, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Revelation 2 and 3 are Christ’s seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor i.e. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These letters had a seven-preset template consisting of, the destination church, a description of Christ, initial commendation, censure, a call to repentance to avoid serious consequences, final commendation, and a promise of rewards for those who overcome. Christ is omniscient. He knew all the strength and weaknesses about each of these churches. Each letter always ends with, “he who has a ear to hear, let him hear“, which is a call to listen very carefully. The letter to Ephesus was the first letter to first of the seven churches of Asia Minor, which is Turkey today.
Revelation 2: 1-7
1 “To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write:“ He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lamp stands says these things: 2 “I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you can’t tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false. 3 You have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly and will move your lamp stand out of its place, unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God
Ancient Ephesus was infamous for pagan worship. It was home to the temple of Artemis, the centre of pagan worship of the Greek goddess Diana. Paul lived and ministered in Ephesus for 18 months during his third missionary journey. He taught in the synagogue for 3 months but when the hostile, unbelieving Jews persecuted him, he relocated to the school of Tyrannus, Acts 19: 9-10.. Here, he taught, preached, and shared the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles from Asia Minor. Timothy and apostle John also played prominent roles in the Ephesian church at various times.
The destination church of this letter was Ephesus. Christ described Himself as “He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lamp stands”. The seven stars represent the seven angels of the seven churches. Christ holds the seven stars in His hands. The seven golden lamp stands or menorahs symbolize the seven churches of Asia Minor. Christ walks among the seven golden menorahs i.e. the seven churches. He had close and personal contact with the churches and was never far from them.
Now, the initial commendation. Christ is omniscient. He knew everything about the church of Ephesus. He knew about their suffering, perseverance, and faithfulness. He commended them because they discerned and rejected evil men and false apostles. They endured hardship and persecution for Christ’s sake and in Christ’s name, and yet were faithful to their calling.
Now, the rebuke. Christ censured them for losing their first love for Him. They neglected personal time and intimacy with Christ such as quiet time, prayer, praise and worship, communion, and bible study. Christ encouraged the Ephesian Church, to repent and take steps to return to Him. Work of the ministry cannot substitute personal time and fellowship with Christ. They must repent, dethrone self, enthrone Christ, surrender to Him, and make Him centre of their life.
Now, the warning. If they do not repent, Christ will come quickly and dismantle their church.
Now, the final commendation. Christ commended them for rejecting the works of the Nicolaitans. According to the second century church father, Irenaeus, Nicolaitans were followers of a Gnostic sect, founded by Nicolas of Antioch in Acts 6:5. Gnosticism is a dangerous, heretic cult to be rejected at all cost
Now, the promise of rewards. Those who overcome, hear, and heed His words will be rewarded with the fruit of the tree of life in the new heaven and new earth in the new Jerusalem..
God placed the tree of life in the centre of the garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to enjoy. After the fall, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden. But God will bring back the tree of life into the new heaven and earth in the new Jerusalem, Revelation 22:2. Those who make it to heaven will be able eat the fruits from the tree of life.
But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Remember your first love for Christ? Remember how fervent you were when you first became a Christian?
Do not lose your first love for Christ. Do not allow your love for Christ to go cold. Do not neglect personal quiet times, bible study, prayer, praise and worship, and communion with the Lord.
Do not give in to persecution, trials, and tribulation. Persevere and be faithful to your calling. Christ will reward you with the tree of life, crown of life and eternal life in heaven.
Discern and reject false teachers and have nothing to do with them.
Repent and take steps to come back to Him. The works of the ministry cannot substitute personal time and communion with Christ. Repent, dethrone self, enthrone Christ. surrender and make Him the centre of you life.
Even the church needs to repent. If they do not repent, Christ will come quickly and dismantle our church.
Heavenly Father, help us to not to lose our first love for You. Help us to cultivate personal intimacy with You. Help us cultivate the daily habit of quiet time, bible study, praise and worship, prayer, and communion. Help us discern false teachers and reject them, in Jesus’ name, Amen.