The Spirit has something to say, and it's worth your time to listen.
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Revelation 2 (ESV)
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
‘The words of him
who holds the seven stars in his right hand,
who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
2 “ ‘I know
and your patient endurance,
you cannot bear with those who are evil,
but have tested those
who call themselves apostles and are not,
and found them to be false.
3 I know
you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake,
and you have not grown weary.
4 But I have this against you,
that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
and do the works you did at first.
If not, I will
come to you
and remove your lampstand from its place,
unless you repent.
6 Yet this you have:
you hate the works of the Nicolaitans,
which I also hate.
7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who conquers
I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9 “ ‘I know
and your poverty
(but you are rich)
and the slander of those
who say that they are Jews and are not,
but are a synagogue of Satan.
10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer.
Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison,
that you may be tested,
and for ten days you will have tribulation.
and I will give you the crown of life.
11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
13 “ ‘I know where you dwell,
where Satan’s throne is.
you hold fast my name,
and you did not deny my faith
even in the days of Antipas
my faithful witness,
who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
14 But I have a few things against you:
you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam,
who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel,
so that they might
eat food sacrificed to idols
and practice sexual immorality.
15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
16 Therefore repent.
I will come to you soon
and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who conquers
I will give some of the hidden manna,
and I will give him a white stone,
with a new name written on the stone
that no one knows
except the one who receives it.’
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
‘The words of the Son of God,
who has eyes like a flame of fire,
and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19 “ ‘I know your works,
and patient endurance,
and that your latter works exceed the first.
20 But I have this against you,
that you tolerate that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess
and is teaching and seducing my servants
to practice sexual immorality
and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
21 I gave her
time to repent,
but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed,
and those who commit adultery with her
I will throw into great tribulation,
unless they repent of her works,
23 and I will strike her children dead.
And all the churches will know that
I am he who searches mind and heart,
and I will give to each of you according to your works.
24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira,
who do not hold this teaching,
who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan,
to you I say,
I do not lay on you any other burden.
25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.
26 The one
and who keeps my works until the end,
I will give authority over the nations,
27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron,
as when earthen pots are broken in pieces,
even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Revelation 2 Summary
These seven letters to the churches that are in chapter 2 and 3 set the pattern for the rest of the Apocalypse (Revelation) in a couple of ways.
First of all, it shows that the Church is Christ's highest priority on earth and that He will preserve it through whatever lies ahead. Second, each of these seven short epistles promises a prize for those who overcome the world (v7, 11, 17, 26-28).
Knowing that Christ holds the Church in such high regard, and that it's only through the Church that you can overcome and claim the promised victory should cause you to hold the Church in the highest regard in your life as well.
Although each of these epistles are addressed to a particular regional church, these messages have application for you as well. Each letter also includes the phrase whoever has ears, let them hear (v7, 11, 17, 29). All of the commendations given can apply to you as well, as do the warnings.
We don't have the time to go through all of the sins Jesus convicts these churches of, but we'll spend a short moment His warning to the Ephesians, where He tells them that they have forsaken their first love (v4). By the time John receives the Apocalypse, the Ephesian church is almost 40 years old, so it's well into its second generation.
As is so often the case, the second (and following) generation(s) do not have the same zeal for serving the Lord. Jesus doesn't promise swift and sudden punishment will fall upon churches in this condition, rather, He tells them that He will just unceremoniously remove their lamp since it's no longer emitting light.
Jesus has promised that the gates of hell will not overcome His Church (Matt. 16:18), but He doesn't extend that promise to every particular congregation. The best way you can keep your own congregation's lamp burning brightly is by keeping your love and zeal for Christ strong in your own life.
AAA Prayer :
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God, who's Spirit calls out and blesses His Church;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (v11, 17, 29)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: