Revelation of John 2* Epistles to the churches in Asia, with warnings andencouragements, To the church at Ephesus; (1-7) at Smyrna;(8-11) at Pergamos; (12-17) and at Thyatira. (18-29)1-7 These churches were in such different states as to purityof doctrine and the power of godliness, that the words of Christto them will always suit the cases of other churches, andprofessors. Christ knows and observes their state; though inheaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches on earth,observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The churchof Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps anaccount of every hour's work his servants do for him, and theirlabour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enoughthat we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and theremust be waiting patience. And though we must show all meeknessto all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. Thesin Christ charged this church with, is, not the having left andforsaken the object of love, but having lost the fervent degreeof it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with hispeople, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him.Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking theirfirst love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness,and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves andothers; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. Theymust repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinfuldeclining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They mustendeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, andseriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch asdiligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. Ifthe presence of Christ's grace and Spirit is slighted, we mayexpect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention ismade of what was good among them. Indifference as to truth anderror, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but itis not so; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian lifeis a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. Wemust never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shallhave a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shallderive from Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection andconfirmation in holiness and happiness, not in the earthlyparadise, but in the heavenly. This is a figurative expression,taken from the account of the garden of Eden, denoting the pure,satisfactory, and eternal joys of heaven; and the lookingforward to them in this world, by faith, communion with Christ,and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take yourwrestling life here, and expect and look for a quiet lifehereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promisesquietness and complete freedom from conflict here. 8-11 Our Lord Jesus is the First, for by him were all thingsmade; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. Heis the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First andLast, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother andFriend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourableamidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviesttribulation, like the church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as tothis world, are poor as to the next; and some who are pooroutwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, richin privileges, rich in gifts, rich in hope. Where there isspiritual plenty, outward poverty may be well borne; and whenGod's people are made poor as to this life, for the sake ofChrist and a good conscience, he makes all up to them inspiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear noneof these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it,furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be totry them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of thereward; "I will give thee:" they shall have the reward fromChrist's own hand. Also, how suitable it is; "a crown of life:"the life worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause,shall be rewarded with a much better life, which shall beeternal. The second death is unspeakably worse than the firstdeath, both in the agonies of it, and as it is eternal death: itis indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a man is keptfrom the second death and wrath to come, he may patiently endurewhatever he meets with in this world. 12-17 The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin andsinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need notfear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported withoutsteady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages andopportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, sohe notices our temptations and discouragements from the samecauses. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had notdenied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way soas to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, butreproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrineand Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evilpractices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies ofmen, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together,should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to thosethat overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit ofChrist, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support.This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is thename of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in thebeliever's soul, this new name and its real import areunderstood by him. 18-29 Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to bewrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes,which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing orallowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them.Here is praise of the ministry and people of Thyatira, by Onewho knew the principles from which they acted. They grew wiserand better. All Christians should earnestly desire that theirlast works may be their best works. Yet this church connived atsome wicked seducers. God is known by the judgments he executes;and by this upon seducers, he shows his certain knowledge of thehearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper.Encouragement is given to those who kept themselves pure andundefiled. It is dangerous to despise the mystery of God, and asdangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. Let us beware ofthe depths of Satan, of which those who know the least are themost happy. How tender Christ is of his faithful servants! Helays nothing upon his servants but what is for their good. Thereis promise of an ample reward to the persevering, victoriousbeliever; also knowledge and wisdom, suitable to their power anddominion. Christ brings day with him into the soul, the light ofgrace and of glory, in the presence and enjoyment of him theirLord and Saviour. After every victory let us follow up ouradvantage against the enemy, that we may overcome and keep theworks of Christ to the end.
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