"The Book of Revelation, An Eschatological Study of the Endtimes", by Chad J. McCoy
The Church of Thyatira
"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come. 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations-
27 'He will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will dash them to pieces like pottery'-
just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Once again, Jesus identifies himself and commends the church for what they're doing right. Thyatira seems to have a handle on good deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance. These are all great qualities to have, but we know from looking at the other churches that it's not enough if you are failing in other areas. All commandments must be obeyed, not just the big ones.
Again, as with the church in Pergamum, not all believers here are unrighteous. Those who are not complete in Christ, however, are coming up short for one reason: They are tolerating a woman named Jezebel.
This Jezebel is a woman who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches what she calls deep-secrets. Jesus says there is nothing to these secrets, they are nothing but the evil practices of Satan.
But by calling herself a prophetess, she misleads many sincere Christians who think she is speaking to them the words of God. She is causing them to commit the sin of eating food sacrificed to idols, and to perform sexual immorality.
Once again, this sounds like the teaching of Balaam. I wonder about the customs back then. What is it that makes it easy for these Christians to be mislead into believing that sexual immorality is acceptable?
Perhaps because there was so much of that type of thing going on back then among all of the pagan religions, that that kind of behavior was considered socially acceptable, and they didn't realize that God found it evil.
If this is indeed the case, then you begin to understand why it was so important that Christians not just take the word of anyone that came around, claiming to be teachers of the Lord. They were to search the scriptures to make sure that the things they were being told were actually true. The idea of making sure not to cause other believers to sin by taking advantage of the freedoms one finds in Christ, can also be understood, such as the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
If a man had been in a pagan religion all of his life, that practiced eating food sacrificed to idols, and was converted to Christianity, he would obviously have a problem with eating that kind of food. He had just come out of that kind of lifestyle, and to participate in it now would seem wrong. He would not understand for a while, or maybe not ever, that being a Christian gave one the freedom to eat such food, because an idol is nothing. To him, an idol was something, and might always be something evil.
Jesus says that there are those in Thyatira that are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings. In other words, they are allowing her to co-exist with them.
Exodus 22:18 shows that God has strong feelings about allowing evil to co-exist with his people: "Do not allow a sorceress to live.
Jesus says that those in Thyatira that are holding to her teachings, he will cause to suffer intensely unless they repent.
Jesus says to the rest of the church of Thyatira, that he knows that they are doing more than they did at first. Evidently, they were not doing all that they should have done at one time, but are now doing better. He tells them that he will not impose any other burden on them. They are simply to hold on to what they have until he returns.
We see here the mercy of God.
1st Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
It appears as if this church is not able to bear much, because Jesus tells them that they will have no other burden put on them, but they should just hold on to what they have until he returns.
The two lessons I believe we can learn from the message to the church of Thyatira is that sin is not even to be tolerated, and that if we are faithful to God to the best of our ability, God will be faithful to not put more on us than we can bear.
The Church of Sardis
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Up to this point, Jesus has began his message to the churches with an introduction explaining who he is, and then listing the good things that the church is doing before telling them what they need to work on.
This pattern changes with the church in Sardis, because there is very little good that the Lord sees going on here. He says that they have a good public relations department, but have nothing of substance. The church of Sardis is known throughout the region as being strong, righteous, and godly. Jesus calls their bluff in telling them that he knows what they're doing, and flat out tells them that they are dead.
He tells them they are asleep and weak. These are not good characteristics for a church to have: dead, asleep, weak, incomplete. Jesus tells them to wake up and strengthen the little bit of good that remains in them, because even that is about to die.
This church has completely forgotten what they come together for. They are told to remember what they once had received and heard. Once they do remember, they need to obey it, and turn from the evil they are doing.
The people here in Sardis are only calling themselves Christians. In reality they have lost all resemblance to Christ. What you have here is a gathering of backsliders, people who once believed, but now have turned their backs on what they once knew.
We are warned of the dangers of this in the story of Lot's wife. Two angels met with Lot and told him to take his family and flee from the city: Genesis 19:17: As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
Then, in Genesis 19:26: But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Remember the words of Jesus, in Luke 9:62 : Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
There is a remnant left in the Sardis church that Jesus says have not soiled their clothes. With them, he has no quarrel, but if the others do not turn from their wicked ways, he will come as a thief in the night to them. This means that these people are so out of touch with Christ, that they won't have any inkling at all, not the slightest hint of when his return will be. It will be so unexpected to them that it will be as a thief who, suddenly and without warning breaks into their houses in the middle of the night.
What lesson can we take from the Sardis church? Well, for one thing, we see that the Lord is still willing to take them back, even after they have removed their hand from the plow. That is good to know, that the Lord will never reject a sincere soul, no matter his condition. The other lesson to be learned here, is that the idea of "once-saved, always saved" is wrong. Once you become a believer, you must continue to walk in righteousness.
It might be interesting to compare this church with the Smyrnans. The church of Smyrna was persecuted and downtrodden and sickly and poor. Yet they were close to God.
There is absolutely no mention of persecution, or hard times, or trouble whatsoever with the church of Sardis. And they are the farthest from God. Perhaps too comfortable, they needed a Savior the least, and with all the things to keep them busy throughout the day, the Lord got put last on the priority list until they paid him no attention at all.
The Church of Philadelphia
"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars-I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
This church is a lot like the church in Thyatira, but without the problems they had. This church has only a little strength, and Jesus tells them just to hold on to what they have.
In another way, they are like the church of Smyrna, because they also have to deal with those who call themselves Christians, but are actually of the church of Satan.
Jesus tells them that he knows of their good deeds, of their obedience, and of their refusal to deny him. Not only have they endured, they have done so patiently.
The Lord says he has rewarded them by putting before them an open door that no one can shut. In other words, they will be able to accomplish anything they set out to do.
He also says that he will make those who are of the church of Satan fall down at their feet and acknowledge the one true God in their presence.
He also promises that he will keep them from the hour of trial that will be coming upon the whole world. This last reward is given for their patient endurance.
Now what exactly is the hour of trial that will come upon the whole earth to test the hearts of men? Can it be the Tribulation Judgements that he is speaking of here?
That doesn't seem likely, because this is a promise to all Christians, as we will see later on in the Book of Revelation. This is supposed to be a gift just for them, for their patient endurance. Besides, the Tribulation Judgements won't happen in their lifetime, so that would be like promising us we won't have to fear breathing vacuum when the dome over Martian Colony One cracks. We're nowhere close to establishing a colony on Mars, so I won't be worried about it anyway.
I would think it more likely that God had decided to spare them from the terrible things the rest of the early church had to endure, like the tortures, and being lit on fire, and sawed in two, and fed to the lions, and so forth.
Philadelphia was a city that had been destroyed many times by earthquakes. Perhaps God meant that he would be sparing them from more of the same.
In the big scheme of things, though, does it matter to us if we can't figure out exactly what was meant by this statement? No. We know that God was going to keep them from having to go through some sort of unpleasantness, and that is good to know. I'm sure the Philadelpians were encouraged by it.
It is clear that they had secured the Lord's favor. Remember, they weren't a spiritual powerhouse. They only had a little strength, but they were faithful in little, therefore they will be made stewards of much.
Luke 16:10: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much
Therefore, we have the lesson from the Philadelphians: Be trustworthy in all things, even the little things, and you will secure much favor with God.
The Church of Laodicea
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
This church is in a unique position: Lukewarmness. The Laodicean chur