The apostle John was directed to write to every one of the seven churches, to write to the ministers of churches, each according to their present state and circumstances.
I. To the Church in Ephesus (v. 1-7).
“…Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write…”
Mind you Church ministers are sometimes referred to as ‘angels’ because they are the messengers of God to mankind.
“…These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…”
Two important revelations;
- Christ holds the seven stars in his right hand
- Christ walks amidst the seven golden candlesticks just as he promised, “…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20).
If he’s amidst of the churches he’s also able to know;
- our works, and our labours, and our patience for him
- those who are true or false labourers too.
Christ keeps an account of every day’s work his servants do for him, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and if we’re stars in Christ’s hand we need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all.
Another revelation is true believers have this ability in them, discernment;
– to be able to try spirits, especially to try those that say they are apostles when they are not, and to not be afraid to deem them liars when they find them so (ref. verse 2).
– they also have ears to hear “what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” and most importantly,
– they hate “the deeds of the Nicolaitans” which is hypocrisy and heresy!
The Nicolaitans were a loose sect who sheltered themselves under the name of Christianity but were doing evil deeds and practices. They held hateful doctrines, hateful to Christ and to all true Christians. An indifference of spirit between truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not pleasing to Christ.
II. To the church in Smyrna
“….These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 KJV
He takes notice of the improvement they had made in their spiritual lives.
“…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
I’m glad he said it, one day we shall all die, and a crown of life awaits those faithful unto death, those poor in materials but rich in spirituals; poor in spirit but rich in grace.
Sometimes your outward poverty is key for your spiritual riches, don’t you despise it. “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord , which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:10
Many who are rich in the things of this world are most likely poor in spiritual things. Some who are poor outwardly are inwardly rich, rich in faith and in good works, rich in hope and rich in God. Spiritual riches are usually the reward of great diligence; the diligent hand makes rich. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be better borne; and when God’s people are impoverished, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up for them in spiritual riches, which are much more satisfying and enduring.
“…I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty…”
Like I always say, those who will be faithful to Christ must expect to go through many tribulations, do not turn them away for Jesus Christ takes particular notice of all your troubles.
When in afflictions, he is also afflicted with you, and he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble you.
“…I know the blasphemy of those that say they are Jews, but are not…”
He knows all those who pretends to be somewhat when they’re nothing.
Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He has said it that is able to do it; and he has undertaken that he will do it. They shall have the reward from his own hand, and none of their enemies shall be able to wrest it out of his hand, or to pull it from their heads.
A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, who are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself in fidelity to Christ. The life laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with another and a much better life that shall be eternal.
III. To the the church in Pergamos
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;  I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is : and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:12-17
Christ takes notice of the trials and difficulties this church encountered.
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is…(vs 13).
God knows under which circumstances you serve Him in. This church thrived where Satan’s seat was, so he takes notice of all the temptations and discouragements which they encountered, and makes gracious allowances for them. This people dwelt where Satan’s seat was, where his orders were from. His circuit is throughout the world, his seat is in some places that are infamous for wickedness, error, and cruelty; and the seat of persecution, his command centre is Satan’s seat.
He commends their steadfastness
“… and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” (vs 13).
Our faith will have a great influence upon our faithfulness. Those who let go the true faith won’t last; they will be discouraged and drawn away from their steadfastness.
He reproves them for their sinful failures (v. 14)
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
There were some who taught that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and that fornication was no sin; they, by an impure worship, drew men into impure practices, as Balaam did the Israelites.
Corrupt doctrines and a corrupt worship often lead to a corrupt conversation.
To continue in communion with persons of corrupt principles and practices is displeasing to God, draws a guilt and blemish upon the whole society: they become partakers of other men’s sins. Though the church, as such, has no power to punish the persons of men, either for heresy or immorality, with corporal penalties, yet it has power to exclude them from its communion; and, if it do not so, Christ, the head and lawgiver of the church, will be displeased with it.
He calls them to repentance
“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Revelation 2:16
IV. The church in Thyatira, (vs 18-29).
“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” Revelation 2:19 KJV
Christ commended their charity, their service, their ministration, their faith, their patience and their growing fruitfulness, that they were growing wiser and better.
It should be your desire as a christian that your last works become your best works, that you may be better and better every day, and become best at last.
However something not so direct was amiss with this church, and it got them reproved for it;
“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” Revelation 2:20-21
- some wicked seducers were among them; the church’s fault was that they allowed wicked people to take advantage of them. Jezebel was a persecutor of the prophets of the Lord, and a great patroness of idolaters and false prophets.
The sin of these seducers was that they attempted to draw the servants of God into fornication, and to offer sacrifices to idols; they called themselves prophets, and so would claim a superior authority and regard to the ministers of the church. Two things aggravated the sin of these seducers; they made use of the name of God to oppose the truth of his doctrine and worship and they abused the patience of God to harden themselves in their wickedness.
“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” Revelation 2:21
Repentance is necessary to prevent a sinner’s ruin. Note however, repentance requires time, a course of time, and time convenient; it is a great work, and a work of time, and where God gives space for repentance, he expects fruits meet for repentance. Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction. “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23
V. The Church in Sardis
“…This message is sent to you by the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars. “I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead.”” Revelation 3:1 TLB
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead, vs 1
When God looks at us he’s happy seeing us holy just as he’s holy. 1 Peter 1:15 says, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” It does not empress him at all to say, Lord I’m trying! But the calling is, “be ye holy; for I am holy.”
The problem with this church was pretence; they had a reputation as a live and active church but their works were not perfect before God, they were spiritually dead.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, vs 2
True believers should always be on the lookout to see if their works are perfect before God. If that’s the case then hold on but if somehow is otherwise then repent. He said, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.”
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4
It’s always the case, like in Sodom and Gomorrah; God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the future to look back upon and fear. But at the same time the Lord rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a good man.
A few names even, in any church which have not defiled their garments will be saved and walk in white: for they are worthy, but the rest God will turn them into heaps same like he did it to Sodom and Gomorrah.
VI. The Church in Philadelphia
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Revelation 3:8-9
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, vs 8
What a tremendous promise from “…he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” Revelation 3:7
I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it!
First, he has the key to heaven itself, that which David had, “he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.”
In John 13:12-16 He says,
“…Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”
“…for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name...” vs 8
What he expect of you is not too much; it’s something that both you and me can afford to do even when we have the least of strength- for we can pray. The other thing we can do for him is to still keep his word. Proverbs 30:7 says, “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not…” – spare a little strength you have so you can keep his word and magnify his name.
Deuteronomy 10:12 -13 says, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord , and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie, vs 9
Pretenders’ true membership is in the synagogue of Satan.
VII. The church of Laodicea
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
Jesus identifies Himself as: “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” These titles emphasize the Lord’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and power to bring all things to their proper completion – He is the “Amen.”
Sometimes we ask ourselves; what happened to this early church, how come it dwindled? Here is the answer, Jesus said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Jesus would expect us to be hot. Remember how he approached this fig tree expecting fruit; “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet . And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.” Mark 11:13-14
As a result of your ambivalence to spiritual things, Jesus would have nothing to do with you. He would spit you out!
Another problem I find with some believers is what we sometimes say is is confession of faith, but then wonder where’s the faith. You often hear someone say ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But then you ask, don’t you realise how wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked you are? You may confess a hundred times but one thing you can’t do is hide “the shame of thy nakedness” it’ll always show who you really are. Mind you God hate pretenders!
Revelation 3:17-18 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
Anyway, the church at Laodicea had become apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things to come in and choke the word in them, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him, to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). The Lord Jesus issues the same call to you who say you follow Him today.
But with apathy comes spiritual blindness; they claimed to be rich, blessed and self-sufficient but we’re not rich in God. Probably they were rich in material things, like most apostles, prophets and pastors are these days. But, spiritually, the Laodiceans were in a wretched, pitiful condition, made all the worse in that they could not see their need. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites. Their material wealth had no eternal benefit, so Jesus commands them to come to Him for true, spiritual riches (see Isaiah 55:1-2). Only Christ can supply an everlasting inheritance, clothe us in righteousness, and heal our spiritual blindness. So Jesus calls the Laodicean church to repent of their sin:
“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” (Revelation 3:18).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:19-20
Christ’s desire is to fellowship with His lukewarm church, but Christ Himself has been locked out. So He knocks, seeking someone to open the door. If they would repent, Jesus would come in and take His rightful place in the church.