I. The Cities, Jesus, His Commendations
A. The Cities
1. V. 12-Pergamos- Political capital of the Roman Province of Asia, like the Washington D.C. of Asia. Center for culture and education, having one of the great libraries of the ancient world, with more than 200,000 volumes.
a. Extremely religious (idolatrous) city. Temples to the Greek and Roman gods; three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman Emperor.
b. A center for the worship of the deity known as Asclepios. Represented by a serpent, Asclepios was the god of healing and knowledge. There was a medical school at his temple. Because of the famous temple to the Roman god of healing, sick and diseased people from all over the Roman Empire flocked to Pergamos for relief.
c. Barclay- “Sufferers were allowed to spend the night in the darkness of the temple. In the temple there were tame snakes. In the night the sufferer might be touched by one of these tame and harmless snakes as it glided over the ground on which he lay. The touch of the snake was held to be the touch of the god himself, and the touch was held to bring health and healing.”
2. V. 18- Thyatira- Commercial center, many trade guilds: woolworkers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leatherworkers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers and bronze-smiths. One had to join a trade guild/union to be successful in their career.
1. V. 12b-Sharp two-edged sword- Describes the word of God. Referenced in Rev. 1:16
a. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
b. Living and powerful- Powerful to bring truth into confusion, light into darkness
c. Dividing between soul and spirit- Soul and spirit are not the same. Soul deals with the emotions, desires, and reasoning of man. “Spirit” deals with the Holy Spirit.
d. Dividing between joints and marrow- A one cell thick membrane that is porous divides bone and marrow. The smallest of separations, yet separate and different.
e. Discern thoughts and intentions- The word of God reaches into the most private part of a man, his thoughts and intentions. The Word of God cuts into the deepest part of man and reveals to him his true self.
2. V. 18b- Eyes like a flame of fire-Jesus sees all things clearly. (See 1:14)
3. V. 18b- His feet like fine brass-Brass usually refers to judgment. (See 1:15)
C. His Commendations
1. V. 13- I know your works-Jesus said this to each church. He sees our works of faith.
a. and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is- A stronghold of Satanic influence
b. hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith- kept the faith in a dark place
c. Antipas-Nothing known about him, but he kept his testimony unto death.
2. V. 19- the last are more than the first. They excelled & increased in the faith & service.
a. The church at Ephesus had gone backwards in good works; Thyatira was advancing.
b. Example- More community service, more ministry to the saints, benevolence, etc.
II. Jesus’ Rebukes, Warnings, Promises
1. V. 14- doctrine of Balaam- Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24, 31.
a. Hired by Balak, a Moabite king, to curse Israel, & wanted to, but God restrained him
b. Instead, he instructed Balak to send young women into the camp to seduce the men, and cause them to commit fornication and idolatry, which brought God’s judgment.
c. The rebuke wasn’t that they fell into sexual sin, but that they tolerated the teaching that condoned it or allowed for it. They were passive and didn’t stop this teaching.
2. V. 15- Morris- Victorinus of Pettau- (First commentator of Revelation) refers to the Nicolaitans as ‘false and troublesome men, who, as ministers under the name of Nicolaus, had made for themselves a heresy, to the effect that what had been offered to idols might be exorcised and eaten, & that whoever should have committed fornication might receive peace on the eighth day.
3. V. 20- you allow that woman Jezebel…to teach and seduce-Probably a symbolic name.
a. She claimed to be a Christian prophetess but taught and seduced some in the church.
b. to lead astray, cause to wander. Teaching that led to departing from truth.
c. Thyatira was a city of commerce with many trade unions. Social dinners would include meat sacrificed to idols, sometimes followed by sexual immoralities.
d. To be a successful tradesman in Thyatira may have required going with the flow of society. To reject these dinners meant that you might suffer in business.
e. Jezebel probably taught that it was pragmatic to go with the flow in order to prosper.
f. Many early heresies claimed that the body could sin, as long as the soul was pure.
g. If a prophetess in the church taught such things were ok, and the leaders didn’t correct it, this would give license to some Christians to sin in these ways.
h. NOTE- This is a challenge for us. How do we “be in the world but not of the world”?
1. V. 16- Jesus first warned the leaders who allowed this teaching. They needed to repent and stop this teaching. If they didn’t Jesus would fight against those teachers Himself.
a. NOTE- Jesus wasn’t rebuking those who struggled with sexual sin. When we struggle with any sin, we are agreeing with God that He is right and we are wrong.
b. Jesus was rebuking this church for allowing wrong teaching about immorality.
2. Vs. 21- Jesus had spoken to Jezebel, and was being patient, but she was unwilling.
3. Vs. 22, 23- Physical punishment & death was coming to her and her children (followers).
a. NOTE- She wasn’t one that “just struggled” with sexual sin; she taught it, promoted it, defended it, and seduced people into it. They would get what they deserved.
b. When Jesus steps in to correct these wrongs, it shows that the leaders are not doing their job. The church loses respect for the leaders, but the fear of God increases.
1. V. 17-Overcomes- Those who would stop and not partake of this false teaching.
a. Hidden manna- spiritual nourishment not known by those who live in sin.
b. White stone- when a man was pronounced “not guilty”, he was given a white stone.
c. New name- in antiquity, a name had meaning. Ours will describe us as God sees us.
2. Vs. 24, 25- Those who didn’t follow this “secret” teaching were charged only with persevering in the faith.
a. Vs. 26, 27- The faithful overcomers will rule with Jesus. (See Psalm 2)
b. Vs. 28, 29- Morning star- Jesus Himself is the reward for the overcomers. (Rev. 22:16)