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Pukon_the_Treen

Revelations

I know what the fundies think about the book of revelations, but how do more liberal (and sane) Christians deal with it?  I've just read it through and to me it seems most likely to be a heavily allegorical criticism of the Romans and a promise that their empire will fall; is that fair?

If this is what it is, why include it in the bible at all; after all the bible is supposed to be timeless and the Roman Empire has quite obviously fallen?  It is quite an attention-grabbing frenzied ambiguous roller-coaster of a book that works well as a shocking climax to the bible (leaves you anticipating the sequel), but is it really the word of God; most of it is pretty hysterical?
david_geoffrey

Interesting question Pukon. As a sane  Smilie_PDT  (not sure if I am liberal, in some respects I might be but not as much as Andy for instance) Christian, I shall cast my opinion.

Like everything else in the bible you have to look at the context and the style of literature - which in this case is Apocalyptic (or revelationary). Very popular in Judaism at this time, pointing to a glorious future when current problems are forgotten. The writing uses symbols and imagary to paint a verbal picture of what this will be like, bits of Daniel and Zechariah are the same.

How should we read this then - the view you have put forward is the Preterist one I believe, that everything in the book was prophetic about things that have now already happened as it was all refering to Roman occupation being overthrown. There is certainly an element of this, the letters that start the book to the seven churches are fixed in a specific time and place - and in chapter 4 we get a description of God on his throne - implying that although you are under the cosh (Dominition's persecution in the 90's?) then God is ultimately in charge. But there is more to it I think..

The Futurist view, which is held by our more excitable brothers (mainly in the US?), says that it is all yet to come. This is dangerous in my opinion as it leads to people watching for the signs and wonders - and thinking "have we started the end times yet? - in which case what is next?" and worse "what can we do to help God along?". Instead of caring for the present and therefore helping people less fortunate than oneself, one can end up thinking what does it matter. Well Jesus says that we should not look for when the end times come so this approach seems both selfish and irreligious to me. Interestingly enough St Gregory of Nysasus (sp?) thought much the same in the 4thC as he argued against its inclusion in the canon as it might be misused! Nothing new under the sun

So that leaves the either the Idealist view, which is presumably the liberal one in that it is all just symbolic; or the Historicist (which is my sane viewpoint) which means that it describe the events between the resurrection and the second coming - i.e. we are in the "end times" now - the Kingdom has been ushered in, yet it is not yet perfected. The "now and not yet" theology. This actually can encompass all three of the above views in some part, without them dominating. So it descibes our world (after all no one can deny that the four horseman of the apocalyse seem to be all too alive and kicking) yet describes a better world to come. The people who look for a timeline in Revelation miss the fact that most of the events are not neccessarily sequential. It does not leave us trying to guess when it is happening and yet we still have a part to play in expanding the Kingdom through evangelism and help to the poor and suffering (not neccessarily linked nor in that order)

I have to admit that this is what I have been taught when we have studied the book, it is not a viewpoint that I would neccessarily have come up with, by simply reading the book. But it certainly helped me in understanding the book at least in part and I now happily sign up to the Historicist viewpoint - this does make we wonder if Gregory might not have been right, but there we go - I also believe that the Bible is all there to guide us - no one said it would all be easy though!
Paul

The Apocalypse is best understood in a liturgical context, which should be obvious to those who have ever attended the Catholic Mass or Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Yes, it does contain prophecies, some of which have already come to pass and some that are still to come, but understood in that context alone there is something missing, I believe.

These are worth listening to for those who are interested in finding out more.

I might try and expand on that tomorrow.
david_geoffrey

Hi Paul

I'm not sure if I have time to listen to those, but I would be interested in more thoughts on that theme. It is not something that I have even heard expressed before so thanks for that anyway

DG
david_geoffrey

Oh Pukon - just a little point - I always used to call it the book of Revelations too, but it is actually singular.
Lexilogio

I consider that the book of Revelation was largely allegorical about the Roman Empire. There are some prophecies, but I think it is no more literal about the apocalpse than Nostradamus.

No one knows when the end will come. That is for God.

Our own brief lives will end, and no matter how prepared we think we are, it will be sooner than most of us expect in the end. So we should always be prepared to meet our Maker.
david_geoffrey

It is pertinent that the Google ad at the bottom of this thread is this (or was this)

Quote:
2008: God's Final Witness
End-time destruction beginning in 2008 leads to America's fall.
www.the-end.com


And on this site you get this sort of stuff talking about a book called "God's Final Witness" which is sadly lapped up by too many people.
Quote:
From now until the latter part of 2008, many prophecies are going to begin to be fulfilled, especially the Seven Thunders of the Book of Revelation, which the apostle John saw but was restricted from recording. Those thunders are revealed in this book, as well as detailed accounts of the final three and one-half years of man's self-rule on earth, which are recorded in the account of the Seventh Seal of Revelation.

Some of these prophecies concern the demise of the United States over the next year, which will be followed by man's final world war. This last war will be the result of clashing religions and the governments they sway. Billions will die! This time will far exceed even the very worst times in all human history.

As these events unfold, the world will increasingly become aware of the authenticity of the words in this book and realize that Ronald Weinland has been sent by God as His end-time prophet.

This book is primarily directed to the people of the three major religions of the world (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), whose roots are in the God of Abraham. Ronald Weinland has been sent to all three.


**Edited**
Guest

Re: Revelations

Pukon_the_Treen wrote:
I know what the fundies think about the book of revelations, but how do more liberal (and sane) Christians deal with it?  I've just read it through and to me it seems most likely to be a heavily allegorical criticism of the Romans and a promise that their empire will fall; is that fair?

If this is what it is, why include it in the bible at all; after all the bible is supposed to be timeless and the Roman Empire has quite obviously fallen?  It is quite an attention-grabbing frenzied ambiguous roller-coaster of a book that works well as a shocking climax to the bible (leaves you anticipating the sequel), but is it really the word of God; most of it is pretty hysterical?


In the first instance PTT the fundies are sane but sanity has nothing to do with Revelation and it's interpretation, and neither has being a fundamentalist. What made you think interpretation of Revelation relied on either being sane or whether a fundamentalist. I fear your reasoning is corrupted by unfounded misconceptions...  :wink:

The book of Revelation clearly teaches that those who have ears will listen to what the Spirit says both when reading through the book and also during these last times. I feel the truth shows that it is only hidden from those being lost. So anyones interpretation would be too difficult for you to understand...

Love TLW.xx Smilie_PDT
Silver

I look at Revelation as I look at any book in the bible and ask myself where the writer got his information from? Certainly not from Jesus. Certainly not from anyone who knew Jesus. Are we supposed to believe that sixty years after Jesus, god decides to reveal everything to an obscure man so he can warn future generations? Why didn't Jesus himself tell us this information?

There are passages in Revelation that do make you wonder whether the man was hallucinating on magic mushrooms as some claim, or was he just unbalanced at times, with an imagination that ran riot?

Some in the church accepted it and others rejected it:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Revelation


Book of Revelation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
chadivarus

Quote:
I feel the truth shows that it is only hidden from those being lost. So anyones interpretation would be too difficult for you to understand...


I dont always agree with TLW but I think this is a valid point.

I am unaware of any major celestial catasthophies during Roman times. Many of the disasters did not occur then.

Philips suggests that John wrote it during a vision and did not feel it right to edit the greek( which is weird) or construction afterwards,
Paul

david_geoffrey wrote:
Hi Paul

I'm not sure if I have time to listen to those, but I would be interested in more thoughts on that theme. It is not something that I have even heard expressed before so thanks for that anyway

DG



If you look at the Apocalypse it's full of liturgical references. It starts by saying that St. John was in the spirit on the Lord's day. Then there are the seven golden lampstands, the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia minor, the lamb of God who appears to be slain (I think lamb of God is mentioned about twenty times in the Apocalypse), the altar, the seven vials which when poured out its contents turn into blood, the incense, the holy holy holy etc.. What we see is an unveiling of the heavenly liturgy. The Tenple in Jerusalem was a figure of this, and so is the Mass. When we go to Mass we go to heaven.
JMC

From a commentary on the book of Revelation found in the Orthodox Study Bible, which draws upon patristic understanding of the Book of Revelation, particularly its relation to the Liturgy (as Paul mentions above).

Introduction and Benediction

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

1:1 Revelation or "Apocalypse" (Gr. apokalypsis) literally means to unconceal, unveil or reveal. It was used anciently to refer to a coded message which must get through without getting into the wrong hands. God Himself is the ultimate source of all revelation (Dan. 2:28, 29, 45), but it is the Son, Jesus Christ - Who revealed Himself to the prophets of the OT before He became flesh, and now is made flesh - who mediates this unveiling (John 1:18; 8:26,40; 15:15; 17:8). This revelation is not only of the age to come, but of certain things from the past and of the present age as well. Things which must tell us this is not a haphazard presentation. Shortly take place describes God's time, which is always imminent.

1:2 The word of God refers to the Son of God. Testimony of Jesus means John's testimony concerning Jesus (John 21:24), not Jesus testifying of Himself. Bore witness (Gr. martyreo, a verb) and testimony (Gr. martyria, a noun) are forms of the word from which we obtain the word "martyr". Persecution is the consequence of witnessing. The martyrs (Heb. 12:1) are those who testify or bear witness, sealing their testimony with their blood in death.

1:3 A blessing is promised to those who read and hear this prophecy (Luke 11:28). This is the first of seven beatitudes of the Revelation. Blessed hear are both the reader and the hearers (the assembled faithful). provided they head what is said - for faith and works are inseparable. Time (Gr. kairos) here means an eschatalogical "decisive moment", a time of judgment, the time when all is fulfilled.
JMC

Greeting to the Seven Churches
 
4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.




1:4-6 Historical records maintain that St. John dwelt in Ephesus and was bishop there. The Seven Churches were located near Ephesus along a major roadway. The number seven signifies fullness, suggesting the entire Church is also in view.

The doxology in these three verses is trinitarian, involving the Father (vv. 4-6), the Spirit (v. 4), and the Son (vv.5, 6). This initial greeting (lit. "the Existing, the Was, and the Coming") may express the Father, the one who is (Ex.3:14); the Son, who was (John 1:1); and the Holy Spirit who is to come (Acts 2) at Pentecost and shall always be present. Or it may simply denote the character of God, who is eternally present and exercises lordship throughout history (Heb 13:8). God reveals the meaning of the present in light of the past and of the age to come. This title may be a paraphrase of the OT name for God, I AM (Ex. 3:14)

The seven spirits of God most likely refers to the Holy Spirit, and His several gifts (seven being a number of fullness), as this phrase is included in the blessing with the Father and the Son (Re. 3:1). Alternately the term could refer to the seven archangels who, according to Jewish tradition, stand before the throne of God (Ezek. 9:2; Tob. 12:15).


1:5 Jesus Christ is presented as the Risen Saviour, Lord of all (Zech. 12:10), giving hope to the early Christians that the Church will not always be dominated by a cruel state. Instead of washed (v.5) many Greek texts read "freed". The term witness, used only twice in the entire NT (also Rev. 3:14), refers to Christ, the authentic witness of all divine revelation; all that God has revealed is summed up in His life, witness, Passion ,Resurrection, and exaltation. He has inaugurated the new age, for He is firstborn from the dead in His humanity, and has achieved a universal sovereignty by His death, Resurrection, and revelation of His kingdom for the world's salvation.

1:6 Those joined to the body of Christ comprise the messianic royal priesthood promised of old (Ex. 19:5,6; Is.61:5; 1 Pet.2:9). This priestly ministry is to offer the world back to God in sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, as in the Eucharist (lit. 'thanksgiving') of the Church. The universe thus becomes hallowed, transfigured, and sacramental. Amen is a Semitic word. It signifies ratification: an acknowledgement of something trustworthy.
JMC

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."


1:8 Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, along with Beginning and End, testify to the eternalness of God, who is the origin and destiny of all things. Its attribution to the Son proves His divinity. History - and all of creation - begins and is completed in the Creator (Is. 44:6). Almighty (Gr. Pantokrator) is used throughout the OT (LXX translation), and is found ten times in the New Testament - nine of which are in Revelation.
The inscription which adorns the central dome of a properly adorned Orthodox temple bears the words of this verse; the fresco depicts the Lord Jesus, since He is the One who shows us the Father, and since He has used the title "Alpha and Omega" for Himslef (also Rev. 22:13)
bnabernard

That all sounds very much like Davids son Absolam.


bernard (hug)
JMC

Vision and Commission of Christ
 
9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia:  to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,


1:9 Patmos was a small rocky island 40 miles off the west coast of modern Turkey, 50 miles south of Ephesus, to which the Romans exiled criminals. John's teaching must have been considered a seditious threat to the public interest for him to have been sent there.

1:10 In the Spirit may mean John received the revelation in a visionary ecstasy (Ezek 3:12), but could also mean that he was in worship ("in Spirit and in truth") of the Lord. The Lord's Day here is the one of the earliest references to the Christian day for Sunday. The Didache (c. 80[size=85]A.D.[/size]) and St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 108[size=85]A.D.[/size]) show this name was used very early for the day when Christians gathered to celebrate the Resurrection in the Eucharist. As a fulfillment of the first day of the week of old creation, Sunday becomes the "eight day", the "first day of the new creation". The loud voice, as of a trumpet is a traditional, eschatalogical, apocalyptic introduction describing an appearance of the Lord (Ex. 19:16, 19; Matt 24:31; 1 Thess 4:16)

1:11-12 The glorified Christ introduces himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, thus identifying Himself with God the Father. His position amidst the seven lampstands signifies His presence in the Church. The seven golden lampstands -- a fusion of the great Menorah of the temple, with its seven lamps (Ex. 25:31-37; Zech 4:2; Heb 9:2) and the golden candlesticks of Solomon's temple (1 Kin 7:49) -- represent the fullness of God's presence. Also symbolized are the seven Asian churches which receive the letters of Ch. 2 and 3. The reference to the lampstands offers further evidence (see also "in the Spirit") that John was in the church in a liturgical setting.
bnabernard

So now Jesus is not God he is like a lampstand?

bernard (hug)
JMC

13 ...and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

1:13-16 One like the Son of Man (v.13) recalls Daniel's messianic figure (Dan 7:13, repeated by Stephen at his martyrdom, Acts 7:56). Christ called Himself Son of Man (Mat 24:30-44) for He is the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. Additional parallels to this description may be seen in both the Old and New Testaments (Ezk 43:2; Dan 10:6; Mat 17:2;Heb 4:12). We also see Christ vested in high-priestly garments (Ex 28:4; 29:5; Lev 16:4).
Further, Christ is here described as God, His hair being like that of Daniel's vision of God as the "Ancient of Days" (Dan 7:9; also Enoch 46:1). His eyes signify knowledge; His feet, permanence and stability; His voice, authority or teaching; His right hand power; His two-edged sword, complete discernment. This imagery continues throughout Revelation to affirm the preexistence and eternal divinity of the Son of Man. Thus, in Christ man (v.14) and God (vv.15,16) are united.

1:15 Daniel 2:31-45 indicates this mysterious metal foundation not only provides stability but has the ability to crush all opposition as well. These images are contrasted with the feet of clay found in Dan 2:33,44: The kingdoms of this world are not permanent, nor ultimately triumphant.

1:16 The Lord holds the stars which represent the angels of the seven churches (1:20), and hence the whole Church. For Christ is Lord of the Church. In His just judgment, the sword he wields is the word of God, which cuts effortlessly to the very marrow and heart of humanity (2:16; Is 11:4; Eph 6:17). The brilliance of His face recalls the Uncreated Light seen by St. John radiating from the Saviour at the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor.
JMC

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

In verse 18 Jesus presented Himself as the resurrected One and the One with authority over the state of death and the place of the dead (cf. Ps. 9:13; 107:13; Isa. 38:10; Matt. 16:18; John 5:28).

v 19 provides an inspired outline of the Book of Revelation. Some of what John was to record he had already seen, namely, the Man standing among the seven golden lampstands with the seven stars in His hand (vv. 12-16). Some had to do with present conditions in the churches as exemplified by the seven churches (chs. 2—3). Some had to do with revelations about the times after conditions represented by the seven churches ended (chs. 4—22).63

In v 20, Jesus interpreted the meaning of some of the symbolic things John had seen. They were mysteries, revelations previously unclear until the Lord interpreted them. The seven stars represented the messengers of the seven churches, perhaps their angelic guardians or the pastors of these churches, or elders who may have come to Patmos to visit John and carried Revelation back with them to their respective congregations. The Greek word angeloi (“angels”) frequently refers to human messengers (e.g., Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; 2 Cor. 8:23; James 2:25).[17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

In verse 18 Jesus presented Himself as the resurrected One and the One with authority over the state of death and the place of the dead (cf. Ps. 9:13; 107:13; Isa. 38:10; Matt. 16:18; John 5:28).

v 19 provides an inspired outline of the Book of Revelation. Some of what John was to record he had already seen, namely, the Man standing among the seven golden lampstands with the seven stars in His hand (vv. 12-16). Some had to do with present conditions in the churches as exemplified by the seven churches (chs. 2—3). Some had to do with revelations about the times after conditions represented by the seven churches ended (chs. 4—22).63

In v 20, Jesus interpreted the meaning of some of the symbolic things John had seen. They were mysteries, revelations previously unclear until the Lord interpreted them. The seven stars represented the messengers of the seven churches, perhaps their angelic guardians or the pastors of these churches, or elders who may have come to Patmos to visit John and carried Revelation back with them to their respective congregations. The Greek word angeloi (“angels”) frequently refers to human messengers (e.g., Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; 2 Cor. 8:23; James 2:25).
JMC

Chapter 2

The Loveless Church
1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’


2:1 The letters to the seven churches all follow a standard format: (1) John is commanded to write to the angel of the church (2) A short introduction of Christ with a descriptive title follows. (3) The status of the church is summarized, beginning with Jesus saying "I know," with praise or rebuke. (4) Exhortations are given. (5) The message concludes with "He who has ears, let him hear..." and a special promise to him who "overcomes"
Ephesus, the provincial capital (Gr. Metropolis) for Asia Minor, was a populous, prosperous city located on important trade routes. Besides the official cults of Artemis (Diana) and the emperor, various occult practices flourished there (Acts 19). The church had been founded by Paul about 53-56A.D, and according to tradition, both the Apostle John and the Virgin Mary (whom Christ had committed to John's care) lived in Ephesus.


2:2-5 The Ephesian church had preserved in orthodox faith and moral uprightness, but had left her first love, meaning love for God and each other. False Apostles were a serious problem in the early Church (Cor. 11:13-23), and Paul warned they would ravage the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:29). However, in the early 2nd century St. Ignatius of Antioch praised the Ephesians for their continuing resistance to heresy (Ign. Eph. 6:2; 9:1). The lampstand is probably the Ephesian church's honour as the metropolitan church of Asia.

2:6 The Nicolations were an early gnostic sect that tolerated idolatory and encouraged fornication. Some of the Church Fathers held the sect's founder to be an apostate Nicolas, one of the original seven deacons (Acts 6:5)

2:7 The message of the Spirit to the churches is explicitly a message to all Christians. In Hebrew, "conquering" and "saving" are synonymous: salvation is victory. He who overcomes does to by participating in Christ's victory over death, which is salvation. In contrast to members of the false Nicolation sect, "overcomers" remain faithful to Christ until the end, in spite of all obstacles. Further, they fulfill the original destiny of man by partaking of the tree of life (Gen 2:9). To eat of this tree is to receive eternal life (see Rev 2: 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7; 2 Cor 4:7-18). The fruit of the tree is the spiritual fruit of 1 Cor 10:3, the "medicine of immortality". Tree of life is also an allusion to the Cross, upon which all Christians must be co-crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), partaking in the death of Christ in order to participate in His resurrection. The paradise of God is Heaven (Luk 23:43; 2Cor 12:2-4), the city of God, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-22:5), contrasted to the original earthly paradise.
JMC

Quote:
-Revelation 2:8-11
8"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.


2:8 Smyrna (Izmir in modern Turkey) was, like Ephesus, a beautiful and prosperous city, maintaining a strong allegiance with Rome. A large and influential Jewish population actively opposed Christianity there. St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was one of the first of the early heirarchs to be martyred. He was burned to death on a pyre, confessing he had served Christ faithfully "for 86 years". Therefore Polycarp was probably a youth in Smyrna when John addressed the letter to the church there. St. Ignatius of Antioch also wrote to Smyrnans - and to Polycarp as well.

2:9 The Smyrnan church was poor, perhaps because of the persecution, but spiritually rich - the opposite of Laodicea. The jews of the synagogue of satan may be (1) Jews in name only (Rom 2:28,29) and compromising in their beliefs (John 8:31-47); or (2) Jews who refused to embrace the Messiah and His Church (Rom 2:28; Gal 6:15)

2:10,11 The persecution would be completed in ten days (i.e. a limited time) and some would undergo martyrdom. Christ encourages faithfulness to the end. The crown of life, an allusion to the wreath awarded to a victor in the arena (Phil 3:14; 2Tim 2:5; 1Pet 5:4), is the reward of eternal life granted to those who conquer in Christ. The second death indicates eternal damnation, the "lake of fire", wherein sinners will receive their reward of final and lasting estrangement from God (20:6, 14, 15; 21:8)
JMC

12"To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
     These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. 14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.


Pergamum (modern Bergama) lay about 55 miles north of Smyrna inland a few miles from the Aegean coast. The meaning of the name “Pergamum” is “citadel.” The town was noteworthy for three reasons. It was a center for many pagan religious cults, and emperor worship was more intense there than in any other surrounding city.Second, it boasted a university with a large library. Third, it was the leader and center of the production of parchment.

Meaning of Pergamos:

Πέργαμος Pergamos (Pergamus or Pergamum), the city by that name, height or elevation

Possibly from πύργος purgos tower, fortified structure

Possibly from πέραν peran, beyond, on the other side + γάμος gamos, marriage.

“It is interesting that Pergamum was a city to which Rome had given the rare power of capital punishment (ius gladii), which was symbolized by the sword. The Christians in Pergamum were thus reminded that though they lived under the rule of an almost unlimited imperium, they were citizens of another kingdom—that of him who needs no other sword than that of his mouth….”

Pergamos was home to many pagan temples, including the Aesculapium, which was a complex of buildings devoted to the god of healing.

“Antipas is said to have been a dentist and a physician, but the Aesculapiades [healers] suspected that he was propagating Christianity secretly and they accused him of disloyalty to Caesar. He was condemned to death and was shut up in a brazen (or copper) bull, which was then heated until it was red-hot.”

Balaam told Balak that he could overcome the Israelites if he would involve them in Moabite religious feasts that included sacred prostitution (Num. 25). This would render them unfaithful to God and consequently subject to His discipline.

Some believers in Pergamos thought it was permissible to participate in pagan feasts and the sexual immorality that accompanied them.

The Nicolaitans regarded these sins as acceptable under the pretense of Christian liberty (v 6).

2:17 Hidden manna is an allusion to the bread of heaven (or the bread of the angels), the bread of the Almighty (Ex 16:4; Ps 78:24,25; John 6:31-35, 48-51). To eat it is to partake of the Messianic banquet in the Kingdom (Luke 22:28-30), the Eucharist of the age to come. In sharp contrast to communion with the pagan cult, it restores our original communion with God. The white stones upon which a new name is inscribed indicates a new identity with Christ. Unlike pagan amulets inscribed with mysterious formulae, the new name of Christ is received by His faithful at thaei baptismal rebirth.
JMC

Quote:
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, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20But 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. 21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22Behold, 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, 23and 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. 24But 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. 25Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27and 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. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'


Meaning of Thyatira: Θυάτειρα Thuateira Of uncertain derivation; a colony of Macedonia Greeks, situated between Sardis and Pergamos on the river Lycus; its inhabitants gained their living by traffic and the art of dyeing in purple. Church tradition indicates that Thyatira may also mean “odor of affliction”.

Thyatira was an important center of the wool trade. A guild of wool workers is mentioned in an inscription, and others name several dyers and fullers in and around Thyatira, as well as the neighboring cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae

2:22,23 Those who commit adultery are those who accept the teaching of the false prophetess; her children are her followers.

2:28 The morning star is Christ himself (Rev 22:16). He is the daysprin from on high (Luke 1:78; 2Pet 1:19), the true Light which enlightens all who come into the world (John 1:9). The phrase may also refer to eternal life and a share in the reign of Christ.

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