Revelation 2:1-3:22 – Letters To The Churches

I. Introduction.

A. Translation considerations. Text and Comments. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) translation was chosen for this article, and has been pasted from Bible Gateway. Comments will be chosen from sources that will be identified when they are used.

B. Terms. Repetition will be used.

II. Verse Examinations.

A. Chapter 1 selected verses.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

a. 1:1 The revelation. [ MacArthur Study Bible] The Gr. word from which the Eng. word “apocalypse” comes lit. means “to uncover, or to reveal.”

(1) {Mine} The whole Book of Revelation is “a revelation” (singular) of Christ, and “not a book of revelations,” (plural). [ MacArthur Study Bible. “apocalypse” relates to an “uncovering or revelation,” as opposed to “a happening,”].

(2) {Mine} The path of the revelation is from “God the Father,” to “God the Son,” via “Angel,” to “John the apostle, to seven churches.”

b. 1:3 The blessing. [ MacArthur Study Bible. This is the only biblical book that comes with a blessing for the one who listens to it being read and explained and then responds in obedience. {Mine} It is clear that many people who claim to be believers in Christ are ignorant of the facts of the Book of Revelation.]

c. 1:3. The reality of imminency. “for the time is near.” [Walvord Commentary note. “For the time is near.” The Greek word for “time” here is “kairos,” which means a season of time in contrast to the term “hour,” which means time on a calendar or clock. The next great event on God’s prophetic calendar, the imminent return of Christ to rapture His church, is near from the standpoint of prophetic revelation and could occur at any moment.] {Mine. It is important to remember the term, “imminency,” when we consider the seven churches of Revelation 2-3.}

d. 1:4. The distribution. “John to the seven churches that are in Asia.”

(1) 1:11. Instructions to John. “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” [Mine. Notice the names of the recipient churches that are included in this verse. Notice that the church at Rome is not named, even as being an “info-addressee.”] { MacArthur Study Bible. “book” is a Gr. word that refers to a scroll made of parchment formed from papyrus.}

(2) 1:19. The order of things to be written. “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” [ MacArthur Study Bible. This verse provides a simple outline for the entire book: “the things which you have seen” refers to the vision John has just seen (chap. 1); “the things which are” denotes the letters to the churches (chaps. 2, 3); and “the things which will take place after this” refers to the revelation of future history (chaps. 4–22).]

B. Looking back. [Mine. The instruction from Christ to the churches was for the churches to study “the revelation.” However, that instruction has largely fallen on deaf ears. Consider the reasons that pastors have given for not teaching the book of Revelation, or the other books of prophecy that give scriptural support for a Revelation teaching. If anyone finds it difficult to understand the Book of Revelation, please allow me to recommend the following resoruces: The Ryrie Study Bible, Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D.; “Things To Come,” J.Dwight Pentecost, Th. D.;” “The Coming Kingdom,” Andrew M. Woods, J.D., Th.M., Ph.D.; The books of John. F. Walvoord, Th. D., in the commentaries of Daniel, Matthew, 1&2 Thessalonians, and Revelation.]

C. Looking forward. [Mine. Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3, point to situations that have existed within churches, from the time that the revelation was given to the Apostle John, until today. Such church conditions will continue until the day that Christ comes to catch up His born again believers and takes them to Heaven with Him. Following the rapture (1 Thes 4:16-17), the anti-Christ will make his presence known to the world; his motives will be revealed when he signs a peace treaty with Israel, at which time the Tribulation begins. Mid-way through the seven-year tribulation, the anti-Christ will break his treaty with the Jews, then, the Great Tribulation begins. Revelation Chapter 6 shows the seal judgments which Christ will send to earth; those judgments will include the anti-Christ and his deceptive influence, and persecution upon those on the earth. Christ will use the force of seal, trumpet and bowl judgments to draw unsaved Jews and Gentiles, who were left behind from the rapture, to saving faith in Christ. The judgments of The Tribulation will be severe, becoming much more severe as the judgments follow, one after the other. Israel will see their demise as being imminent, meaning that it can happen at any moment. It will be when Jews call upon Christ to save them from utter destruction and annihilation, that Christ and his raptured believers will return from heaven to earth, at the end of the Tribulation, at the Campaign of Armageddon (also known as the Battle of Armageddon (Rev 19:11-21; Zech 14:1-5; Matt 24:29-31). After Christ is victorious in this battle (Armageddon), the Great Tribulation will end, and the 1000 year millennial reign of Christ will begin (We will continue this timeline in following articles). After Revelation Chapter 3, the church is mentioned no more. The church will have served her purpose. With the church having been removed from the earth, God will then begin to deal with Israel, through the judgments that He will force upon the earth. God’s judgments will be experienced by everyone on the earth, from Revelation Chapter 6 until Revelation Chapter 20. It is important to know that it is God whom is in total control of the events of the Tribulation, and the Great Tribulation. It is the purpose of God that, by using His judgments of the seven-year Tribulation, Jews whom will be left behind from the rapture, may call on Christ to save them. It is also important to remember that the judgments of the tribulation period are God’s judgments that He forces on the earth, and on all who are on the earth, and “are not” judgments of accident, or are judgments that are under the control of Satan and/or the anti-Christ, mankind, or nature.

D. All that is written in the above paragraph, D., is the reason that the Book of Revelation, “must be read, and everyone must heed the things which are written in it,” (Rev 1:3). Because the letters of the Revelation were sent to churches, it is incumbent upon church pastors to ensure that the words of Revelation are made known to the members of each church (Rev 1:4).

E. The events of the Tribulation “will happen!” Many pastors are telling their congregations that “it is all an allegory.” Yet, the Book of Revelation is very clear as to its teaching having a literal meaning. Many pastors are also telling their congregations that Christians will have to go through the Tribulation, or some parts of it. Everyone needs to understand the love that exists between “Christ and His bride, the Church:” Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” No loving husband would put his bride in the midst of such judgments as those that will come upon the earth during The Tribulation.

F. Here is a word to remember: “imminency.” The Tribulation “will happen.” The “imminency” of The Tribulation can not be shoved aside. For something to be “imminent” means that its happening can occur “at any moment.” Imminency is the meaning of Rev 1:3, “for the time is near.”

III. Article Background.

A. This article is a discussion about the Revelation of Jesus Christ, that He gave to the Apostle John, to be written by the Apostle to the seven churches in Asia. It is important to know that the Book of Revelation is “a revelation,” in singular form, and not “the Book of Revelations,” in plural form.

B. Imminency is a term that must be understood in the discussion of the churches that are shown in the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3.

C. The churches of Rev 2-3 are common in behavior among many congregations that have come into existence ever since the first church was established in Jerusalem, in A.D. 33. Because of the teaching of imminency (Rev 1:3), Christ could have returned to earth for the rapture, to take His born again saints to Heaven with Him, at any time after he ascended to Heaven. No one knows when Christ will return to catch up His bride, the church, but “the fullness of the Gentiles,” as is discuscussed in Romans 11:25, must be considered, with such fullness being determined by God.

IV. Recipient Churches.

A. The following is a brief description of the churches of Rev 2-3.

Ephesus. Rev 2:1-7. Loveless… Smyrna. Rev 2:8-11. Persecuted… Pergamum. Rev 2:12-17. Compromised… Thyatira. Rev 2:18-29. Compromised… Sardis. Rev 3:1-6 Dead… Philadelphia. Rev 3:7-13. Missionary… Laodecia. Rev 3:14-22. Man-centered.

B. Lesson verses. Revelation 2:1-3:22.

C. Key verse. Revelation 3:10 (NASB)

1. Verse. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

2. My note. The verse was written to the Church in Philadelphia. However, the promise to that church is a promise to believers of all times. The promise relates to the pre-tribulation rapture of all born again believers in Christ (John 14:2,3,6; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 1 Thes 4:13-18).

3. The following commentary note comes from the MacArthur Study Bible.

3:10 keep you from the hour of trial. Christ’s description—an event still future that for a short time severely tests the whole world—must refer to the time of tribulation, the 7-year period before Christ’s earthly kingdom is consummated, featuring the unleashing of divine wrath in judgments expressed as seals, trumpets, and bowls. This period is described in detail throughout chaps. 6–19. The latter half is called “the Great Tribulation” (7:14; Matt. 24:21) and is identified as to time in 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. The verb “to keep” is followed by a preposition whose normal meaning is “from” or “out of”—this phrase, “keep . . . from” supports the pre-tribulational rapture of the church (see notes on John 14:1–3; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:13–17). This period is the same as Daniel’s 70th week (see notes on Dan. 9:24–27) and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (see notes on Jer. 30:7).

V. Tribulation Occupants’ Differences.

A. Earth dwellers.

1. Rev 3:10, “to test those who dwell on the earth.”

2. Revelation 6:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

3. Revelation 8:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

4. Revelation 11:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

5. Revelation 13:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

6. Revelation 13:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

7. Revelation 17:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.

B. Earth dwellers versus believers in Christ.

1. Earth dwellers are those whom will be left behind from the rapture of the Church; they chose earth over heaven, by refusing to believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior. During the Tribulation, earth dwellers will continue to defy God; they will have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ, but most will remain in their states of unbelief. Consider the account of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. The rich man, whom is in Hades (the place of the unsaved dead, prior to the lake of fire), makes a request concerning his family whom is still alive, but are surely also headed for Hades upon their deaths: “v. 30. if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” v.31. But, the response to the rich man is: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” The earth dwellers whom continue to defy God during the Tribulation will have much of the mindset of the family of the rich man in Luke 16, even as the conditions of the Tribulation become increasingly more severe.

2. All born again believers in Christ have a heavenly citizenship that exists from the time of their new-birth.

Philippians 3:20-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

3. Nothing stands between us and the time that Christ will come in the air (rapture) to take His born again believers to Heaven with Him, both Jew and Gentile (John 14:2,3,6); “it can happen at any time.” After the rapture takes place, those whom will be left behind from the rapture, Jew and Gentile, will face the deception and persecution of the anti-Christ, as well as the the other judgments of God during the seven-year tribulation. God will bring the anti-Christ into power, and will bring about all of the other judgments of the Tribulation, in order that unbelieving Israel may be brought to saving faith in Christ (Matt 23:39; Zech 12:10).


Author: Equipping

The Church is the Church, and Israel is Israel. The Church did not replace Israel, and is not spiritual Israel. In the New Testament, “church” and “Israel” are mentioned as being separate entities. In the New Testament “church” is mentioned 112 times; Israel is mentioned 79 times; both are mentioned as being separate entities The Kingdom “has not yet come,” and will not come until the Jewish bloodline of Israel accepts God’s chosen king (Deuteronomy 17:15), which will take place at the end of the Tribulation when the nation of Israel faces decimation and calls on Messiah, Christ, in faith, to save them (Zechariah 12:10). Individual salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22), and comes through Christ (John 14:6). Things are discussed in this website that relate to God’s creation, from “eternity to eternity,” and all that is addressed within those parameters. Consider Isaiah 43:13, “Even from eternity I am He, And there is no one who can rescue from My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” The Moody Study Bible adds a comment: “God is the ruler of all, and there is nothing that can stand against Him. His will is irresistible. The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds this thought: “No one can reverse what God puts into action or thwart His plans.” The articles that are found in this site may relate to anything that is found in the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation22.21, as well as anything else that may relate to the Bible.

2 thoughts on “Revelation 2:1-3:22 – Letters To The Churches”

    1. No those things have not happened. The antichrist must make a covenant with Israel, at which time the tribulation will begin, as is shown in Rev 6-19. Those things that you mention are brought about by God through “The Lamb,” (Christ), and through God’s angels. Please read my articles very carefully. You might want to go back to the following link, and work forward. Take your time, I address many issues that are often ommitted from many sermons. You mighht also look at my list of references.


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