Revelation of John 2

* Epistles to the churches in Asia, with warnings and

encouragements, 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 purity

of doctrine and the power of godliness, that the words of Christ

to them will always suit the cases of other churches, and

professors. Christ knows and observes their state; though in

heaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches on earth,

observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The church

of Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps an

account of every hour's work his servants do for him, and their

labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enough

that we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and there

must be waiting patience. And though we must show all meekness

to all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. The

sin Christ charged this church with, is, not the having left and

forsaken the object of love, but having lost the fervent degree

of it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with his

people, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him.

Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking their

first love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness,

and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves and

others; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. They

must repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinful

declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They must

endeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, and

seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as

diligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. If

the presence of Christ's grace and Spirit is slighted, we may

expect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention is

made of what was good among them. Indifference as to truth and

error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it

is not so; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian life

is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. We

must never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shall

have a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shall

derive from Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection and

confirmation in holiness and happiness, not in the earthly

paradise, 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 looking

forward to them in this world, by faith, communion with Christ,

and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take your

wrestling life here, and expect and look for a quiet life

hereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promises

quietness and complete freedom from conflict here.
8-11 Our Lord Jesus is the First, for by him were all things

made; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. He

is the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First and

Last, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother and

Friend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourable

amidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviest

tribulation, like the church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as to

this world, are poor as to the next; and some who are poor

outwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, rich

in privileges, rich in gifts, rich in hope. Where there is

spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be well borne; and when

God's people are made poor as to this life, for the sake of

Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up to them in

spiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear none

of these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it,

furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be to

try them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of the

reward; "I will give thee:" they shall have the reward from

Christ'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 be

eternal. The second death is unspeakably worse than the first

death, both in the agonies of it, and as it is eternal death: it

is indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a man is kept

from the second death and wrath to come, he may patiently endure

whatever he meets with in this world.
12-17 The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and

sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not

fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without

steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and

opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so

he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same

causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not

denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so

as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but

reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine

and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil

practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of

men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together,

should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those

that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of

Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support.

This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the

name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the

believer's soul, this new name and its real import are

understood by him.
18-29 Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be

wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes,

which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or

allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them.

Here is praise of the ministry and people of Thyatira, by One

who knew the principles from which they acted. They grew wiser

and better. All Christians should earnestly desire that their

last works may be their best works. Yet this church connived at

some wicked seducers. God is known by the judgments he executes;

and by this upon seducers, he shows his certain knowledge of the

hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper.

Encouragement is given to those who kept themselves pure and

undefiled. It is dangerous to despise the mystery of God, and as

dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. Let us beware of

the depths of Satan, of which those who know the least are the

most happy. How tender Christ is of his faithful servants! He

lays nothing upon his servants but what is for their good. There

is promise of an ample reward to the persevering, victorious

believer; also knowledge and wisdom, suitable to their power and

dominion. Christ brings day with him into the soul, the light of

grace and of glory, in the presence and enjoyment of him their

Lord and Saviour. After every victory let us follow up our

advantage against the enemy, that we may overcome and keep the

works of Christ to the end.
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