The book of Revelation is an interesting book. It is often rarely preached out of it, because of the severity of the judgment and tribulation. For many, it is not that happy of a book. For believers, it should be an encouraging book. It should be a book of hope to them who believe. The church was going through some major times of severe persecution during this day, and the Holy Spirit led John to write the book of Revelation. John is responsible for writing the Gospel of John, the 3 epistles, and the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is a book of prophecy about what is to come. It is a book that discusses eschatology in detail. However, the theme of the book is still the exaltation of Jesus. After all, this is the theme of the entire Word of God. John received the vision of Jesus and the instruction to write this book while he was on the isle of Patmos. He writes to 7 churches. When the Bible speaks to churches, we take it as Him speaking to the believers. So, this is for us today, the church of Jesus Christ.
Church: A local assembly of believers who worship together.
I. The Church at Ephesus
- The church at Ephesus was a great church. It was founded by the Apostle Paul during his third missionary journey in Acts 19. The word, Ephesus comes from the Greek word meaning, desirable. If an identification with the history of of the church is to be made, Ephesus would represent the apostolic era of the first century church.
- What it was doing right: The church at Ephesus was a great church. It was a hard working, patient, and would weed out false prophets.
- What it was doing wrong: They left their first love. They had left their reason and motivation for doing what they were doing. It flowed out of their deep love for God, but now, they had lost that love.
- What is next: They need to repent and turn back to where they were.
- Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Let me just say hear, if you love God, you will not have to be forced to serve Him! It is a byproduct of serving Him. Your motivation should be a love for Jesus!
- Are you serving God out of duty or out of love?
- When you love Him with all of your heart, you will want to serve Him with your hands!
- Ephesus lost their first love. They lost their motivation for ministry!
II. The Church at Smyrna
- The word Smyrna comes from the Greek word, myrrh. It is an aromatic substance that comes from a thorny tree that must be crushed in order to release its aroma and fragrance. The Word implies and intense time of persecution and tribulation that this church endured! This city was rich, but Christians were very poor!
- What it is doing right: They were praised for their works, enduring persecution (tribulation), and their enduring poverty. They were poor, and were being persecuted from many people, even those who seem to be religious. They had nothing in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God, they were rich, because they had Jesus in them.
- What the church was doing wrong: Jesus does not mention anything that the church was doing wrong. They were staying faithful in the midst of the persecution.
- What is next: They are challenged to remain faithful and endure and not to fear even to the point of death. Suffering is coming, but do not fear, endure until the end. The phrase, do not fear literally means stop being afraid! Jesus has promises a crown of life if they endure. God’s best comes to those who wait.
- Smyrna stayed faithful during the persecutions that came their way. Are you staying faithful, or bowing out because of popularity, etc?
III. The Church at Pergamos
- The church at Pergamos. This word means marriage. It signifies the spiritual adultery in which this local church engaged.
- What it was doing right: They stayed true to God. One member of their church, Antipas was even martyred in front of the church.
- What it was doing wrong: This was a typical church that compromised. They allowed the doctrine of Balaam to come into the church. This doctrine was found first in Numbers 22. We see that Balaam tried to destroy Israel using King Balak. They desired that Israel would marry people who did not worship God so that they would begin worshipping idols. They also followed the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes which God says that he hates. This was a doctrine of leadership. It literally means to conquer the people. We have little to no record of exactly where this originated from. Some believe that it originated with Nicolas who was ordained as one of the first deacons. Some think this is an hierachial type of leadership, some think this implies immorality. Although, it could be all of these things, God hates it.
- What is next: Repent. This is the turning away from. Repent or they would be judged according to the Word of God!
- Pergamos allowed the philosophies of this world to influence their behavior.
IV. The Church at Thyatira
- The church at Thyatira.
- What it was doing right: Love, service, faith, patience, works, and humility.
- What it was doing wrong: They were an apostate church. This word means going away from their original position. They allowed this through a woman named Jezebel. She would seduce servants in the church and commit immorality with them. She was granted the option of repenting, and she repented not.
- What is next: Some believers were exercising their faith and obedience to God in these days. They did not partake of this doctrine. They are encouraged to stay faithful and endure during these difficult days. Judgment is coming to those who go into an apostate.
- Thyatira allowed sin to creep into the church that was not being dealt with.
These letters are an opportunity for us to see where we are falling short of God’s expectations for our daily walk. They also are a promise to us that if we repent of our sin, He will bless and reward us. If you are not saved, the blessing and hope is not for you, all you have right now is the judgment of God. You can change that today by placing your faith in Jesus!
We will look at the remaining 3 churches mentioned in Revelation chapter 3 soon!