It is regularly taught by some well-meaning groups that the 7 Churches (Gk. Ekklesia/or Ecclesia; - meaning, group or gathering of called out ones), of Chapters 2 & 3, are the same groups, or the descendants of, the Churches established by Paul on his missionary journeys, and that all the comments that our Lord makes to them applies to the current Body of Christ (i.e. the True Church). Whilst many points undoubtedly do apply, our Lord in these two Chapters is specifically concerned with these special groups, only one of which bears the name of Paul's original efforts, Ephesus.
Because of the content and message, the "Administration" (Dispensation; Age) has clearly changed to that of the "Jew first"; which is a reversal of the events of Acts 28:28, which means that again Jehovah God is dealing with "His Chosen people", His, "first born son", not Gentile first! This means that the prophecies of so called O.T., and up to end of Acts, will become current, after abeyance for 2,000 years plus; which was due to the rejection of Christ Jesus by Israel during the Gospel's period, and up to Acts 28:28! This change should be kept in mind during the reading and study of Revelation! See: Replacement Theology.
In Chapter 1:10, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that all these events are "in the Lord's Day", i.e. the Day of Jehovah Zebaoth, which means the God of all the Earth or mankind, is dealing with the world directly for the first time since the flood. During that yet to be period of time, (current date August 2014) much turmoil, death and banishment can be expected by human and spiritual forces who are opposed to the True God Jehovah, and to whom are attributable the misery, suffering and death of humans since Eden, see later Chapters!
At the present time we are in the government of man, most of (if not all) whom are subject to, and manipulated by Satanic force (even though most do not know or acknowledge this fact, and most in any case do not accept the entity of Satan)! The "Lord's Day" of Chp. 1:10, has not yet arrived, nor has it been in the past, although it is probably near. Our Lord's concern and exhortation for these yet apparently future Churches (Ekklesia) is that they "Overcome" that they "endure to the end", and are almost certainly anti-thesis to the failure of Israel in the O.T.
It is to be demonstrated what the difference is when men avail themselves of the Holy Spirit power; which will then be available again, as per Old Testament, and up to the end of Acts, and its consequences as depicted in Lev. 26, and Deut. 28 and 32.
This previous O.T. failure by Israel to link to the God given Holy Spirit (and up to Acts 28:28), demonstrated to heavenly creation that mankind without the help of the Holy Spirit, fails as per. Eden, and that failure was demonstrated, as noted in Ephesians 3:10-11! The contrary will be underway in The Revelation period. That will be demonstrated by the will of the Jew (and others), who avail themselves of the Holy Spirit's help from Christ Jesus! This is the real Holy Spirit empowering (as opposed to the fraudulent of some present Christian Groups).
The Old Testament Jewish behaviour (better defined as the Age of the Jews which ended at Acts 28:28) and that failure is about to be revisited and to be retested. Those concerns are in stark contrast to this present time (better defined as the Age of the Gentiles) when anyone who turns to God through Christ can freely obtain mercy, grace and salvation to eternal life. But; only through Christ! (Acts 4:12); and "overcoming", and "works", do not apply now in the same way as in Revelation.
The individual's personal service to their Lord is a different matter, but not as a condition of Salvation. Another note of special interest is that all the seven Churches are in an area of present day Turkey that in Paul's day was Greek!
Why such a small land area should be chosen as opposed to the whole world is significant. Some safe statements can be made:
1) It was previously, as stated, ancient Greek territory, and was the most prolific and influential pagan area under Greece and Rome, linked to Egypt and Babylon.
2) It is the beginning of Asia proper, as opposed to Europe, and as such a highway of ideas and trade.
3) It is central to Biblical “Prophetic Area”, as Israel and Jerusalem are central to God's purpose.
4) It dominates land travel from Europe to Asia, and therefore was the main route for various historic Empires.
5) It is on the area of "Satan's seat", (Pergamos), and the requirements detailed for each Ekklesia will be difficult in the extreme, in the proximity of Satan's Seat, emphasising the need for Holy Spirit help!
6) It is the area that the ancient Babylonian priests removed to when Babylon was destroyed, and where at that time the Babylonian pagan spread had been the most successful.
7) It is the area (Constantinople) where the Emperor Constantine established the erroneous Roman Church, and which for a time became a Roman capital.
8) During the Spanish Inquisition, (set up by the Roman Church in AD 1480), exiled Jews were welcomed to Turkey and have remained welcome since. This may mean that after "the peace deal" with Israel (Dan. 9:27) for the first three and half years, the present Synagogues or offshoots may well be the Ecclesia", of these Chapters! Historically that area has had a quite large Jewish population, and still does, which escaped the genocide of Hitler; and there are many Synagogues in the country.
The fact that our Lord chose that area, and the named Churches, so close to the seat of Satan, with the inevitable intense suffering, means they will be in the eye of the world. It does not mean necessarily that these are the only Church/Ekklesia groups in the world as V.4 Chapter one shows, the letters are addressed to "Churches which are in Asia", implying there are others, but certainly they will be the ones in focus. The reason these named Churches are on record for future events, is probably to do with the fact that to the Greeks that area of Asia Minor was based on Ephesus! Which embraced a number of Greek states in the third century BC.
As we know from Daniel, the Leopard (Greece) is implicated in end time events! The third century BC was when Alexander was rampant, prior to which that area fell under the kings of Pergamum! Later the Greeks accepted "the Cult of Rome", which was established initially at Pergamum!
When Paul evangelised in this area 3 times, he was doing so on instructions from the risen Christ, he ceased when Christ was rejected finally by the Jews, at Acts 28:28! It is appropriate that Christ chooses in Revelation to recommence the battle in this same area, with His personal help to the 7 "Churches, Synagogues", who are Jewish, having to "overcome" the same temptations as their forebears, and have to "endure" to the end, and it is achieved by "the blood of the Lamb", (Rev. 12:11).
(a)To the angel of the Church in (b)Ephesus write; (c)These things saith He that holdeth (d)the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candelsticks.
(a) The angel of the Church/Ekklesia/Synagogue, in Jewish tradition is the presiding minister (the Sheliach Tzibbur); E.W. Bullinger, Revelation Com. Pg. 166.
(b) “Ephesus"; ancient Greek settlement, and on one of the major sea routes to Rome. It became a major Roman centre during Rome's Empire dominance, and in the 1st Century BC its population was more than 250,000.
It housed the major temple to Diana (Artemis), which was so spectacular that it was considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
Its influence was such that it vied with other pagan centres for major influence as the pagan entity. During the Roman period it was a major centre of gladiatorial combat, and houses the largest gladiator cemetery in the whole of Asia Minor.
Dr Bullinger comments “The Ephesus of Paul’s writing was about Grace; this Ephesus is about works”. This defining points to future not past as when the Age of the Jews recommences; the Holy Spirit will be available to assist those Jews who “in faith” request it, to be able to “overcome”.
(c) During Paul's ministry: Apostle Paul: Christ underpinned His work in that area against the Goddess Diana or Artemis. Helenism (Greek Paganism) a Satanic stronghold, and it is interesting to note that the Gospel was taken to the heart of Enemy activity. Ephesus was also on the main sea-route from Asia Minor to Rome. Sacked by the Goths in AD 262 and is now a ruin.
(d) “Seven stars”, and “seven golden candlesticks” (Zech. 4:2). (See notes Rev. 1:20).
I know thy works and labour, and patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil, and thou hast tried them which (a)say they are apostles, and are not and hast found them liars:
(a) Say they are apostles", many examples in the Acts, which indicates that the characteristics of this future time to be similar to the Acts period (Jews are again "first priority", and again "Ammi", Hos. 1:10-11 &2:1).
At the present time, many people say they are Christians, but are not! These people are easily discerned, they do not like to study the Bible, and tend to devalue it "as only one of the Churches founding documents". They cannot use the name of Christ in conversation without embarrassment, and tend to refer to "God" frequently, when The Lord's name should be used. When asked to express their faith, they usually express anger, or they will use the noun "Jesus", but cannot say "my Lord and Saviour Jesus The Christ”.
Their "Jesus" is probably one of the impostors that Jesus warned against, such as Jesus Barabbas, and they will undoubtedly be in the category described in Matt. 7:22-23. They are also often very active in the Ecumenical movement: The Ecumenical Movement and the Bible: which is powered by Rome, which teaches, "we must all live together, not concentrate on our differences, and there are many ways to God, and pray for world peace". This of course chimes well with the world's politicians, who are afraid of religious conflict becoming uncontrollable.
In short, many of the world's established Churches are now little more than social clubs, with music, and many other activities taking the place of true evangelising.
The Acts 4:12 principle is now forbidden, "so as not to offend people". The insights of Martin Luther and the other worthy reformers are ignored and devalued in the inexorable march towards "Ecumenical peace". This false "peace" will arrive, first for Israel, and then the world, under Anti-Christ! At that stage the ref. in Zech. 1:11, and Rev. 6:4 will apply.
In the Old Testament Jewish context, the false leaders and bad shepherds were not challenged, and the damage and evil that followed are evident up to the present day. The false and corrupt shepherds of Israel are destined for special judgement (Jer. 25:34-36 and Ezk. 34). It is certain that the false shepherds of today, and their helpers in the congregations will meet a similar fate. This subject has been laboured because throughout the Ages The Lie (Rev.14:5); propagated by Satan in many guises has held sway. It holds sway now. The truth of Acts 4:12 is denied worldwide.
In the example above, Jews are saying they are Jews, but are not! Here men claim Apostleship: (one who is a special messenger, App. 189 Comp. Bible), for purpose of false teaching causing dispute and dissent. The same in Rev. 3:9. The punishment for these and all liars is shown in Rev. 21:27, and 22:15. The purpose in this case is to cause weakness of resolve, and to work against "the angel". The object is to engender failure of the "Ephesus Church", and failure as the anti-thesis. This also indicates an expected early event, and a "filling full" in the yet future!
In these 7 Churches, with the special focus of Christ, all Satan's wiles are to be resisted, hence the many references to Old Testament situations and characters. They are showing to be the "anti-thesis", with Christ's Holy Spirit help to Israel's failure and perversion, when in their "Ammi" state, prior to Christ's first advent. "Christ's help" here means access to Holy Spirit empowerment, as was the case for Jewish and some Gentile believers up to Acts 28:28!
And hast patient endurance and didst bear for My names sake, hast (a)laboured and hast not wearied.
(a) Works, Acts, Tribulation and O.T. periods characteristic, as opposed to this present Age of Grace, (Acts 4:12).
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou didst leave thy first (a)love.
(a) Agape: Love of Christ - Messiah. Also, a reminder of Israel's failure to honour their vows of espousal to Jehovah, Jer. 2:2, Ezk.16:18, Deut. 28 and Ex. 19:5.
(c)Remember therefore whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do (a)the first works; or if I come unto thee and will move thy (b)candlestick out of his place if thou repent not.
(a) Again, work is the characteristic. But here a reminder of the "first works"; i.e. O.T.!
(b) See 7: (a) and Rev. 1:20 (b) and (c). The "candlestick" in context clearly relates to Israel, not the present Church, and is relative to the "oil feeding" (i.e Holy Spirit), as Zech. 4 and Rev. 1:12.
(c ) A reminder to Israel of their past corrupt behaviour, as listed in O.T., but particularly in Malachi.
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds (works) of the (a)Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
(a) Dr. Bullinger is of the opinion that these are end Age characters. However, in the understanding that this is Acts principle, the city of Nicopolis (Tit. 3.12) approx. 180 miles west of Athens, may qualify, at that time. Also, as per Daniel 2:43, on one interpretation of that verse Nephilim may re-emerge in this end Age period, as they manifested in Saul and David's days, or their principle, which may be an interpretation of the Nicolaitanes.
In either case; the Nicolaitanes represent evil and Satan.
The NIV notes that in the time of the early Church (which puts their interpretation in past tense;) the Nicolaitanes were a "heretical" Sect which reached compromise with the Pagans as to worship and activity together! They were linked in tradition with Nicolas of Antioch (Acts 6:5).
The principle of mixing true and paganised worship and activity is certainly referred to here, as Chapters 17 and 18 show in the context of "Spiritual Babylon".
Moffatt/Kiddle agree with the NIV comments, but in the context of the "early Church", as opposed to our view of later "filling full", i.e. completion after the "age of Grace", as all context is Jewish, shown in Chapter one.
An existing example of "paganised practice and worship", is the Roman Church, which derived much of its teaching from Babylonian teaching, see: Why the Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is not of God Almighty: The Nicolaitanes apparently went further in their adoption of open sexual worship practises to Apollo! It therefore follows that this adulteration is not to be allowed by the "Overcomers", and is specifically prohibited by Christ in warning them not to repeat this massive error of their Jewish forebears, as it is tantamount to worshipping Satan!
(c)He that hath an ear, let him hear what the (d)Spirit says to the (Ecclesia) Churches; to him that (a)Overcometh will I give to eat of the (b)tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God".
(a) The tribes of Israel, when they finally entered the promised land under Joshua (Jesus), were instructed to avoid mixing with the local tribes, and particularly not to engage in the pagan practices they would encounter. They were promised that Jehovah would be with them and that they would "Overcome" their enemies when they honoured Jehovah, and witnessed to His Being, the One True God. The "Overcoming empowering" was always contingent on their faithfulness and fidelity to Jehovah. In this, as is recorded in O.T., they failed! In this case and the other Ecclesia (Churches) of this Chapter and Chapter 3, faithfulness and fidelity is again being requested and tested, and where the Ecclesia successfully honour their Lord, power is given for Overcoming. This is reminiscent of Acts 2, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, for the purposes of witness etc., to the Jews first! The strict principles of "First Love;" i.e. of Christ-Messiah, and of Jehovah, are to be re-established. This establishment allows the candlestick to operate (i.e. glow, illuminate, oil flow), so that holding first principle is the enabling of overcoming Satan's subtle lies and infiltration into individual and group.
(b)"Tree of life"; this first mentioned in Gen. 3:22, and is to be the reward of the "Overcomers", (see Rev. 22:14). At the present time "life", is only obtainable through Christ (Acts 4:12) no matter what religious teachers on Earth say.
This is proof positive that the "Grace" period is over at the time of these events described; and that "Overcoming", and "works", are the new pre-requisites. As we know these events described are for Jewish groupings, they may probably apply only to that nation. It is considered by many teachers that the Age of Grace ends at the start of the events of Revelation; this may or may not be the case, and other teachers consider a possible over-lapping of this Jewish period with the Age of Grace.
This opinion may hold veracity as many consider that Christians (The Lord's Body) do not leave the Earth until the Lord returns for the remnant Israel. What is certain is that as well as the special Holy Spirit enabling for these Jewish groups "Ecclesia", many of them and others are salvaged at that time by their witness to the blood of Christ (Rev. 5:9, 7:14 and 12:11).
(c) Only the Lord Jesus ever used this phase, on 14 occasions: six times in the Gospels, and eight in Revelation. It is Christ Jesus Himself speaking; and He used this phrase only in the context of Israel!
(d) “Spirit"; third person of the Godhead Trinity.
(a) Smyrna; (modern name Izmir) second only to Athens, has a 5000 year history, one of the principle cities of ancient Greece etc., in competition with Ephesus and Pergamos. Pagan Rule. A Satan stronghold, with temples to Zeus, and Cybele (Mountain Mother) linked to Earth-goddess "Gaia" and many other Cults. In Rome Cybele known as "Magna Mater" (Great Mother). This led to the creation of "Goddess Roma", or Goddess of Rome. This together with other cults of Egypt and elsewhere, influenced Constantine and his mother in the formation of "the Holy Roman Empire", to introduce mother and child worship as embodied in "Maryology". The "Magna Mater", also became a TROJAN goddess; which indicates the Trojan "Maryology"!
(b) “First and Last"; i.e. ALPHA and OMEGA (i.e. JEHOVAH'S DESCRIPTION OF HIMSELF)! In the Old Testament, (see Rev. 1:8). "Which was dead, and is alive". Ref. to New Testament risen Christ. (The same entity, JEHOVAH, saying and confirming He is the Messiah (CHRIST), confirming the Godhead concept, so reviled by some Jews and other religions). By joining them together in this statement, the Almighty is clearly indicating a change, (Administration 1Cor. 12:5) has or is about to take place. (See Zech. 2:11 and 14:9). The Zech. 14:9 statement is; "and Jehovah shall be King over all the Earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah and His name one, (united)"! (The word "one", in the Interlinear is "united", Strongs 259). Deut. 6:4 explains the unity of the 3 in one, by the use of the Hebrew word “ehad”; which Dr. Bullinger explains as “a compound unit”. (The Latin equivalent is “unus”, one made up of others).
Different teachers have different opinions as to the definitions of Administration, many quote 7 Administrations from Genesis to the end of Revelation, Charles Welsh quotes 18. All the opinions are based on an event which seems to be decisive, such as the Flood. In our opinion the most logical transition of Administration is when the responsibility for Almighty God's work passes to a different person or group. This is clearly the case in Acts 28:28 when the Jews were placed to one side for a time by Almighty God: and the responsibility for the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom transferred to the peoples of all Gentile nations.
A reasonable listing is as follows: First Administration (Dispensation), from Gen. 1, to Gen. 12:1-3. Second Administration, from Gen. 12:1-3 to Acts 28:28. Third Administration from Acts 28:28 (the present) to some time in the future. Fourth Administration to cover much of Revelation, which shows again a Jewish stewardship of God's Oracles. There is clearly an Administration change again when Almighty God/ Christ risen are ruling from Jerusalem in the Millennium period.
I know thy tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the (a)blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are of a (b)Synagogue of Satan.
(a) To be a Jew in that time and place is clearly important and the reasons are given in the notes at the top of this Chapter. So much so that Satan wishes to infiltrate, and as usual, deceive. The blasphemy is counterfeiting the Holy Spirit (see 14:1c) and the usual perversion of Truth to the end of neutralising the Jews in membership, neutralising or perverting the Truth, causing sin and dissent in the members, all to the effect of increasing physical poverty, attempting to diminish their spirituality, and leading to physical tribulation, as happened previously prior to their Babylonian exile. Satan again attempts to defeat them by the same methods, (see notes 2:2). Satan's attack at that time, mirrors that on the Old Testament tribes of Israel, which neutralised the help of Almighty God, and brought them to defeat, and led them to the exile in Babylon, and later to worldwide dispersion. In this future re-attempt of Satan, his object is to again defeat Israel, and by implication Jehovah God! He knows that if he succeeds again, the "oil" (spirit) will not flow to the "Lamps"! At the present time, Satan is attacking Christ - Ones (Christians), for the same purpose, to reduce their effectiveness in witness of Christ and Acts 4:12, by enticing them to sin, and reducing their reliance on Christ the Holy Spirit indwelling them!
There is a grouping on Earth calling themselves “the ten lost tribes of Israel”. See: The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Their members are worldwide, but particularly in Europe, Scandinavia and USA. Their main teaching seems to be that the decline on Earth is attributable to the lack of adherence to all the Jewish Law and customs, and they seem to feel they can reverse that trend by strict adherence. This obviously means they are teaching salvation by works, as opposed to the truth of this Age (Administration), which is based on Acts 4:12. As most if not all of them are not of Jewish decent, there is clearly much delusion in them. It is clear from Ezra 6:17, that the sin offering is for all Israel, and the number 12 is quoted, i.e. all 12 tribes. As the division of Israel happened after the death of Solomon, and in Ezra is the restoration, (see: Ezra 6:17 & 1Kings 12:17 etc.) there are clearly many of Israel and Judah together again, after the carrying away to Babylon in two waves, and to Syria of Israel. If those calling themselves the “lost tribes” are some of those referred to in Chp. 3:9 they will obviously oppose the will of the Spirit by their doctrine, and hence the warning by the Spirit. However, it is our view that the "lost tribes" groupings are not being referred to here, but are yet future peoples controlled by Satan whose purpose is to disrupt this latest scenario instigated by God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
(b) "Synagogue of Satan;” Interlinear has; “but are a Synagogue of Satan”. Strongs no. 4864 from 4863, for synagogue has; “a gathering, group, assembly, congregation, a Synagogue specifically for Jews”! The statement is a powerful confirmation of Satan’s groups and forces throughout the world, but here referred to, as they oppose the truth being given by Christ Jesus to Smyma. These comments also confirm that those spoken to are Jews, and not as most teachers say "the Church"!
(b)Fear not those things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tested; and ye shall have tribulation (a)ten days: become thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.
(a) Here the Lord is giving foreknowledge of this 10 day tribulation of the Jews at the hands of Antichrist, but with the comfort and assurance of the crown of life. This again confirms that the Administration (Dispensation) rules have changed, and does not compare to the present Dispensation of Grace, but are as stated earlier, future, where the emphasis is "Overcoming" and "Works". As a definite period of days is given, and as it is clearly stated that tribulation shall be imposed even unto death, this indicates strongly the period of "Jacob's Trouble", Jer. 30:7. This tribulation of Jacob's Trouble is imposed on Israel at that time by the great enemy Satan. The 10 day period mentioned indicates that it is close to the end of the 3½ years of the prophetic period stated for this in the Old Testament, which is at the end of the 7 year period known by some as "the 7 year countdown". This is the 70th week of Daniel's vision; Dan. 9:24-27), which totals 490 years.
When the Holy Spirit comments in days relative to the Jews, the connection is usually to "troubled" times, see comments by Dr. Bullinger, Companion Bible.
(b) See Matt. 10:22, 24:9-10 & John 16:1-4. These refs. are the comments Jesus made to His Jewish listeners, and were prophetic for the Acts period, and for the future "Jacob's Trouble".
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the (a)Churches/Ecclesia; (b)he that Overcometh shall not be hurt of the (c)second death.
(a) This general comment to the Churches (groupings) is collective, and all the differences probably applies to each group.
(b) The "he" must be small h (lower case), the capital was introduced by C. of E. to suit their teaching, that it referred to Christ; and mixes together the C. of E. and Roman Church doctrine, deliberately perverting the meaning. This wrong translation by inserting the capital H, takes away from the intended meaning that the Holy Spirit conveyed in the text, that it is the individual and the group that must overcome at that time, with the help of the spirit of Christ Jesus, as mentioned in Chapter one. They must however request His help as indicated in Chapter 1:20 and Zech. 4:11-12, as their will is crucial to the flow of the oil (Spirit)!
(c) Matt. 10:28, and Rev. 20:6. "The second death" is emphasised by our Lord as the stage to be feared in reality, as opposed to the death of the human body. It is clear that the second death is at the volition of God the Father and comes into play at Revelation 20. As that is at the end of the Millennial and is the Almighty's dealings finally with all that has been wrong with people and events under the influence of both their own fallen nature and Satan, this stage is final for both. It is also interesting to note that in Rev. 20:14, the completion of the effect of our Lord's Death on the cross at Calvary, is enacted, as death and the grave are also cast into the lake of fire.
This reference to the "second death" of Rev. 20, shows the definite qualification of "overcoming" successfully in this 7 year period; by the individual Jew and proselyte, with the help of the "spirit", as depicted in Chapter 1. The reason is to be the successful formation of "Jeshuran" (ideal Israel) of Old Testament prediction (Isa. 44:2) as opposed to the failed "Jeshuran" of Deut. 32:15. See: Millennial Purpose.
And to the angel of the Church in (a)Pergamos write: these things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges:
(a) Pergamos: a city of Mysia famous for the worship of AEscrilapius, to whom the title of "soter" (SAVIOUR) was given and whose emblem was the serpent! Identified with Apollo (Acts 16:16). It is reported the Babylonian pagan priesthood removed to Pergamos at the fall of Babylon; and it will become the Earthly centre of Satan induced powers, i.e. mediums/ wizards/ divination and supernatural powers of all sorts. ALL OF WHICH ARE AN ABOMINATION TO THE ALMIGHTY (Deut. 18:11) (Lev. 19:31 and 20:27). It was the natural home for Babylon's priests as their success had made Pergumum the epi-centre of pagan worship and activity; second only to Ancient Babylon!
Pergamos, Greek, (Pergamum) Rev. 2:12,13. (Now Bergamo).
Pergamum existed at least from 500 BC, but became important only in the Hellenistic Age. (Greek Empire 338 – 146 BC). (See Dan. 2). At this time it was the residence of the Attalid dynasty, with their fortress and palace on the peak of the hill.
The town was on the lower slopes. (Under the Romans the city was on the plain below). The Attalids had formal autonomy. Initially they ruled as vassals of the Seleucid's Kingdom. Attalid territory around Pergamum (Mysia) greatly expanded by 188 BC which included Lydia (excluding most Greek coastal cities), part of Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Pisidia. In 133 BC the kingdom was bequeathed to Rome, due to no heir. Under the Attalids the city of Pergamum became one of the most important and beautiful of all Greek cities in the Hellenistic Age. The city planning was outstanding. The library was second only to Alexandria.
Notable facts are:
- Contained temple of Athena Nicephorus, also Hera & Demeter.
- Contained great Alter to Zeus (Father of Apollo) and the chief god.
- Contained temple to the Egyptian gods; Isis, Osaris, Serapis and Horus. (Isis had a child by her brother Osiris, named Horus, and worship of Isis and Horus was introduced by Constantine into his new "Holy Roman Empire Religion" as "Mother and child" worship [Mary and child Jesus], to placate the cult followers).
- Contained temple to the bull god “Apis”.
- Contained temple to "Serapis", built by Hadrian, now known as "the Red Basilica" (still stands).
- Predictably, humanistic scholarship developed (E.B. Macropaedia, Vol. 8 page 1172c).
Attalus ruled most of the Seleucid kingdom north of the Taurus mountains from (228 – 223 B.C.).
The fact the Bible in Revelation 2:13 places Satan's Throne at this site is of great future significance. It is also of great significance that the priesthood of Babylon relocated to Pergamum historically! (Babylon means; "gate of the god"; Satan, which indicates that as the city of Babylon is destroyed, Pergamum is the new worldwide centre of Satan's power in the future). They are the servants of Satan historically, and all pagan worship originates from Babylon, see: Babylon and has spread to all points of the compass in various guises. Notably Buddhism, Hindu, Sun and Star Worship in various forms from Egypt, Asia and South America, etc., and many of these religions are now substantially under the heading of the New Age Movement. There is considerable concern among Christians who can discern, regarding the Ecumenical Movement. The major problem is that of the slow erosion by previously Christian groups and Denominations of Christ's true position as depicted in Acts 4:12, being avoided or even overtly eliminated "so as not to rock the boat". It is our view that as Rome carefully orchestrates the Ecumenical Movement, that at the appearance in the future of the Antichrist he will be accepted as the True Christ in His second coming by Christians, the Hidden Imam for Islam (the Mahdi), the Messiah for the Jews, 5th Buddha for the Buddhists, and for the "New Agers", Maitreya!
All pagan worship is of the Enemy, and has only one purpose which is rebellion against the One True God, the Almighty. Its aim is to ensnare all mankind, to elevate Satan against the Almighty, and attempt to bring to nothing the great and loving work of our Saviour, Christ Jesus. As Satan has yet to be ejected from the Heavens, he has yet to take up his Earthly throne at Pergamum.
When Satan sets up his throne in this ancient Greek site, he will be at the epi-centre of his spiritual stronghold, as physical Babylon is destroyed and the centre of Greek pagan worship, and as the "chief pagan god". This is why in the period after Christ's Ascension, so much effort was expended by the Apostle Paul etc., "in taking the battle to the Enemy", at his main location. That area will again be central in the yet future (Zech. 9:13), as Zech. 9 describes the destruction of Greece and others of Israel's enemies in the "Day of the Lord".
Prior to his defeat, the Antichrist will hold sway in Jerusalem, with Satan simultaneously in Pergamum. Satan cannot be enthroned in Jerusalem, unless he brings to naught the promises of Jehovah, which would now entail the complete destruction of all Israel. His emissary will attempt just that, i.e."70th week of years", (Daniel 9).
I know where thou dwelleth, (a)even where Satan's throne is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, in those days (b)Antipas My faithful witness, who (b)was slain alongside you, where Satan dwelleth.
(a)This dire time, when Satan has such rule and power, when his mark is imposed to enable commerce and life, is mercifully short. But that time is brutal and filled with terror. The text states “those days”, which again indicates future events. (See introductory note Chapter 18).
(2012 NOTE and 2014): As is well known, Pergamum is now in Turkey. The recent events of the ‘Arab Spring”, started in early 2011, and is now encompassing all the countries named in the Bible that are involved in the ‘end times’ regarding Israel. Turkey has recently cooled its relationship with Israel, and is in early conflict with Syria. The Caucuses and Russia are on the fringes of these developments and Russia has defence agreements with some of the Caucuses nations! The recent discovery of oil off the coast of Israel is causing Turkey and Cyprus to explore their waters to see if they have oil wealth. There is clearly plenty of motive force to expand hostilities in this volatile area, with Israel central!
(NOTE JUNE 2014) The current unrest and possible civil war in Iraq and Syria; and the emergence of "Isis"; which is looking very threatening, may auger a quickening of the formation of the first "beast" of Rev. 13.
The reparations of the 1st World War in the area under General Allenby, Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence leading to the 1948 State of Israel, and the division of Arab lands has clearly farther to go, and will lead into the prophetic land of Israel and the Reign of God on earth, as per the ‘Lord’s Prayer’!
(b) The word “was”, is probably misleading. The nearest ‘Strongs’ can give is “which”, with two numbers (1722) and (3739) in the Interlinear, Darby; Youngs Literal; have inserted “was” in italics, indicating their own uncertainty. The PshittA translation by Victor Alexander indicates past and present tense, but does not name Antipas! It is almost certain that the text refers to a yet future event, as Antipas is not referred to in history thus far. As Dr. Bullinger points out in his Commentary “the naming of the person long before his personal manifestation is not without precedent”, (1Kings 13:2) & (Isa. 44:1, 45:1). It is very probably that when Antipas is martyed many will believe the Scriptures.
However, the NIV (study Bible), mentions the "tradition" of Antipas who was "roasted to death in a copper kettle". There is no Encyclopaedic reference to this event, although Wikipedia refers to this "Christian tradition".
It is interesting to note that it can be taken both ways, i.e. as past or to be filled full. The writers conviction is that its fulfilment is yet future.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of (a)Balaam who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel (b)to eat things sacrificed to Idols, and to commit fornication.
(a) Balaam; who consorted with divination of all kinds, was forced by the Almighty to do His bidding for Israel, when he had been commissioned by Balak to curse them by Satan's power. Three times he blessed Israel, and also prophesied their ultimate survival and conquest at the end of an Age. The reference to Balaam's effect (stumbling block) is Num. 25:1-3, with its result in the rest of the chapter. Therefore, although Balaam was used of Jehovah, he was of Satan, and the subsequent result was of Satan, in the plague on Israel. Balaam was a Hittite chieftain, and therefore possibly influenced by Nephilim!
(b) These sins were central to Israel's failures. Satan again attempting to repeat his earlier successes.
So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the (a)Nicolaitanes, in like manner.
(a) See all comments V.6.
(a)Repent; or if I come unto thee quickly, and will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
(a) The Church of England have as usual, translated this verse in their usual ethos of works for this Age, (ie. of Grace) whereas the corrected shows that the Lord is saying that unless they reject the Nicolaitanes and their teaching, He would have to deal with it on His return with dire consequences. The reference to Balaam (V. 14) with all those implications, show that similar conditions will prevail, and that purity of teaching and action must be maintained for the example to all creation, and the attempted winning of Israel, in the 70th week, with the help of Christ's Spirit, the "hidden manna", shown in the next verse, and as Chapter one.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches/Ecclesia. To him that Overcometh will I give of the (a)hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a (b)new name written, which no one knoweth except him that receiveth it.
(a) The ones that Overcome (the terrible Satanic persecution, pressures and temptations) at that time receive the "hidden manna", (Jn. 6:58), (i.e. true feeding which is only in Christ), (the Manna of the 40 years wilderness sojourn fed the body, Ex. 16:35), the "hidden Manna", is to sustain them here as they "Overcome". They receive a "victory stone", on which is a new name.
(b) This new name is that of the new true Israel, the "new wine skins", the Bride of Christ, (Isa. 62:2-4, 65:15 & Acts 15:17). This "new name" will be the opposite to the "Mark of the Beast", and relates to the "True Israel", "the Bride of Christ", (Jeshuran, see V.11 (c)).
And unto the angel of the Church in (a)Thyatira write; These things saith the (c)Son of God, Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine (b)brass.
(a) Thyatira; another centre of pagan worship (i.e. Apollo and Artemis).
(b) Brass; prepared for treading down in judgement of the Satanic forces, and his human servants.
(c) The speaker confirmed as The risen Christ. This is the first direct naming of the speaker, (the Son of God).
I know thy (a)works, and love, and service, and (b)faith and thy patience, and thy (a)works, and the last (a)works to be more than the first.
(a) The emphasis here on works, shows that in the "Day of the Lord" (Isa. 66:18), the Lord has commissioned the 7 Churches Ecclesia (Jews) to do the work given originally to the Patriarchs, and latterly to Israel at Pentecost, and removed from them at Acts 28:28.
(b) “Faith"; Comp. App. 150 11 1; "Divinely implanted principle".
Not withstanding I have against thee, because thou sufferest the woman (a)Jezabel which callest herself a prophetess, and she teacheth and (b)seduceth My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
(a) Jezebel lived circa. BC 820, (1Kings 16:30-34, 21:25, 2Kings 9:22-30, Jer. 4:30 & Nah. 3:4). Clearly she did not act during John's life, but will in the future, in principle or fact. She was the daughter of murderers, one of kings, and one of children (Josephus C. Apron 1.18, Ant. 8.13.1), she raised Baal/Satan; with all corruption above the True God Jehovah, requiring Israel to worship Baal/Satan. This is always the objective of Satan, and his servants.
(b) Why they will allow such is a mystery at present. However, it will happen, and have to be dealt with forcibly. Jezebel (BC 820) was the daughter of Ethbaal King of the Zidonians. She was a Phoenician, who were derived of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were derived of human and Nephilim stock, and as they do not appear to have been wiped out as per the order of Jehovah, there may yet be a Nephilim gene pool in the world today. If this is the case; it would go a long way to explaining the intense hatred of Israel that exists. It would also help to explain how easily the nations surrounding Israel are moved against the Jews, and the "One True God". The fact that Elijah must yet return to act on the behalf of Jehovah, and for the Jews, prior to Christ's return, also mitigates for a similar situation as that of Elijah's first time on Earth, when he fought against Jezebel and the priests of Baal/Satan, (1Kings 18:17-40), and where also Jezebel had brought Israel to the stage where they were following her/Satan's ways; which Elijah challenged (1 Kings 18:21). In this verse, she, or her principle are using the same approach to turn Israel against Jehovah, and His Truth. Also; in Zechariah 14:21, there is the statement that "the Canaanite shall no longer be in the house of Jehovah Zebaoth", after Christ's return; implying that He will complete their demise. In Encyclopaedia Britannica (VII, page 232), this idea is supported by the text, that Jesus is possibly a "Nazarite", because the specific vow of the Nazarites is against the Canaanites, and their religious pagan (worship of Satan) practices and teachings. A type of this principle is Samson.
Again the warning is not to succumb to Satan in any of his guises!
And I gave her (a)time in order that she might repent, and she is not willing to repent of her fornication.
(a)The forbearance of Jehovah is remarkable!
Behold, I do cast her into a bed, and them that commit (a)adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of her deeds.
(a) "Adultery"; the physical of this is tiny compared with the spiritual. The spiritual is certainly what is being referred to here as well as the physical. Jezebel who controlled the priests of Baal (of Satan), was and will be a very prominent agent of Satan, and will use the same ways and means she employed in the past, all of which greatly appeals to the fallen nature of men and women. The events in all media at the present time, are only a prelude and conditioning, compared to the terrible conditions that will prevail for the 7 Churches Ecclesia (groups).
And I will kill her (a)children with pestilence; and all the Churches (7 groups) (b)shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins, (d)minds/ and hearts: and I will give unto each of you (c)according to your works.
(a) The children of Jezebel. Almost certainly the principle of Jezebel, as well as Jezebel's own children, (followers) therefore many of them. As all these children are executed in judgement; and as they are known by Christ for their hearts and minds; there is the implication that they are doomed beyond redemption.
(b) They are also clearly used as an example to the other Churches (groups), as to the severe dealing by Christ with such wilful sin and idolatry, which He will enact in the Millennial.
(c) Works again confirmed as one of the criteria, at that time, as opposed to Grace at present!
(d) A reminder that the Almighty looks on the heart (and mind) not the outward appearance.
But unto you I say in Thyatira, as many as have not this (a)doctrine, and have not known the depths of Satan, as they say; I lay not upon you any other burden.(a) "Doctrine," i.e. teaching referred to in Vs. 20,21,22 and 23, which are clearly related to the historic Jezebel. Her control of the Satanic priesthood of Baal, which included the practice of female prostitutes and priestesses, and many other sexual perversion and deviant behaviour as the required form of obedience and worship to Baal/Satan, seem here to have been revived, (see Isa. 28:14-18). If this is so this verse relates to the statements in Rev. 14:4, regarding those 144,000 with Christ (The Lamb) in Rev. 14:1, and is a prerequisite to their ceremonial condition.
But that which ye have, hold fast (a)till I shall come.
(a) Clearly showing the closeness of Christ's return when these words apply.
And he that (a)Overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I (b)give power over the Gentiles.
(a) The Overcoming in this case, is not submitted to Jezebel's teaching, ways and force.
(b) One of the future roles of the Millennial Israel, as a "Kingdom of Priests," (Ex. 19:6 and Rev. 1:6). The fact of their rule over "The Gentiles", shows again the people referred to are Jews!
And (a)he shall rule them with a rod (a)sceptre, staff of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to (b)shivers: as I also have received of My Father.
(a) These overcoming Thyatirians and certainly all the Ecclesia that make up "Jeshuran", (upright); will be given ruling powers (sceptre) over nations in the Millennial. They will have authority to rule strictly (iron).
(b) "Shivers"; or small pieces. This certainly means the old ways of the nations will be forcibly destroyed, and the new standards of the Millennium will be set up.
And I will give him the (a)morning star.
(a) The morning star referred to in Balaam's 4th pronouncing, (Num. 24:17). This refers to Messiah, the Hebrew is "kokab" (Comp.) Rev. 22:16. Again confirming the Jewish context!
He that hath an (a)ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches/Ecclesia.
(a) V.29 clearly shows that all who are able to hear (understand) can know what is happening. This is completely the opposite to the way the Jewish Synagogues and leaders had become at Acts 28:28, which confirmed Isa. 6:9-10.