Revelation: Messages to Four of the Seven Churches

How well does God know what we have done?

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Psalm 139:2–4 You see every time I sit or stand. No matter how distant I might think I am, you still know my thoughts. You see everywhere I walk and know when I lie down to rest. You know everything about who I am and what I do. Lord, I can’t say a word that you haven’t heard before it leaves my tongue.
Revelation 2:1–2 To the messenger of the church at Ephesus, write: He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven gold lampstands, says, I know what you have done, how hard you have worked and persevered, how you kept yourself from evil. You questioned those who claimed to be God’s messengers of truth and recognized their lies.
King James
Psalm 139:2–4 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Revelation 2:1–2 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

When living in a sinful world, how do we “keep ourselves from evil”?

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Amos 3:3 If two people can’t agree on the direction they should go, how can they walk together?
1 Corinthians 5:10–11 I didn’t mean you had to avoid all contact with promiscuous, greedy, cheating, or idolatrous people, because then you’d have to live somewhere outside of this world. I was saying you shouldn’t be hanging out with such people. Don’t be going out to eat and having fun with the abusive drunkard.
Revelation 2:2 I know what you have done, how hard you have worked and persevered, how you kept yourself from evil. You questioned those who claimed to be God’s messengers of truth and recognized their lies.
King James
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
1 Corinthians 5:10–11 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

How did the Ephesians recognize what was true and what was false?

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John 16:13 “But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own authority but will say only what he hears. He will reveal to you things to come.”
Acts 17:11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. Not only were they eager listeners, but they searched the Scriptures daily to see if everything Paul and Silas taught was true.
Revelation 2:3 For my sake you carried a heavy burden and kept pressing on, refusing to quit.
King James
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Revelation 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

What motivated the Ephesians to persevere?

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Luke 9:62 “After a man puts his hand to the plow,” Jesus said, “he is not fit for the Kingdom of God if he keeps looking back.”
Philippians 3:13–14 Friends, I haven’t figured everything out yet, but I know one thing: the past needs to be forgotten so I can focus on doing better in the future. I focus entirely on the heavenly reward that comes in following Jesus Christ.
Revelation 2:3 For my sake you carried a heavy burden and kept pressing on, refusing to quit.
King James
Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Philippians 3:13–14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Revelation 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

What must happen for people to lose their passion for Christ?

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Matthew 14:29–30 “Come!” Jesus said. So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. When he felt the strong wind and saw the high waves, he was frightened and began to sink. “Sir, save me!”
Revelation 2:4 I do have one complaint, however. You have abandoned the great passion you had for me in the beginning.
King James
Matthew 14:29–30 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

If our passion has faded, how is it restored? How will we be affected if we allow that condition to continue?

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Matthew 5:15–16 “People do not light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. It is placed on a stand to give light to everyone in the house. In the same way, you should let your kindness shine before men so they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”
Revelation 2:4–5 I do have one complaint, however. You have abandoned the great passion you had for me in the beginning. Look up, and see how far you have fallen. Turn back to me and do the work you were called to do, or I will soon come and remove your lampstand.
King James
Matthew 5:15–16 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Revelation 2:4–5 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

How might we associate the Nicolaitans with society today?

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Revelation 2:6 To your credit, you hate the Nicolaitans, who use religion for personal gain. I hate them too.
King James
Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

What are the rewards for letting our light shine? The liability for not doing so?

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Revelation 2:7 If you have an ear to hear, you should listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. The victorious will eat of the Tree of Life and live in the Garden of God.
King James
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

What distinguishes poverty from prosperity?

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Revelation 2:8–9 To the messenger of the church at Smyrna, write: He who is the first and the last, who died and now lives, says, I know what you’ve done and all the hard times you’ve been through. I’ve seen your poverty, although you have so much. I’ve heard the insults from those who say they are Jews, but they aren’t God’s people at all. They are of Satan’s assembly.
King James
Revelation 2:8–9 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

What is the difference between “Jews” and “God’s people”?

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John 8:44 “You come from your father, the devil, and your desires are like his. From the beginning, he was a murderer and opposed the truth, because truth was not in his nature. When he lies, he speaks from his heart, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Romans 2:29 We belong to God when we are like-minded with him, when our spirit agrees with his Spirit, not when we are recognized for our teaching credentials.
Revelation 2:9 I know what you’ve done and all the hard times you’ve been through. I’ve seen your poverty, although you have so much. I’ve heard the insults from those who say they are Jews, but they aren’t God’s people at all. They are of Satan’s assembly.
King James
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

When threatened with death, why would people not recant their faith in Christ? What might happen to those who do?

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Matthew 10:32–33 “If anyone publicly acknowledges me before men, I will publicly acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But anyone who denies me before men I will deny before my Father in Heaven.”
Revelation 2:10 Embrace your suffering with confidence, not fear. Look, the devil will test you with persecution and prison for ten days, but do not recant your faith when threatened with death, and I will give you the crown of life.
King James
Matthew 10:32–33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

What motivates Satan to test Christians?

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1 Peter 5:8 Watch out! Your adversary Satan is roaming the earth like a roaring lion, looking for those he might devour.
Revelation 2:10 Embrace your suffering with confidence, not fear. Look, the devil will test you with persecution and prison for ten days, but do not recant your faith when threatened with death, and I will give you the crown of life.
King James
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

What is the “second death”?

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Revelation 2:11 If you have an ear to hear, you should listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. The victorious will not be harmed by the second death.
King James
Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Who was Antipas? Why was he killed?

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Revelation 2:12–13 To the messenger of the church at Pergamum, write: He who has the sharp two-edged sword says, I know what you’ve done and where you live, in a city where Satan is at work. But you stood strong, identifying yourselves with me, never denying your faith, not even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was beside you when he was put to death in Satan’s presence.
King James
Revelation 2:12–13 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

If Balaam was a prophet, how could he deceive the people?

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Numbers 31:16 Look, with Balaam’s counsel these people caused the children of Israel’s disobedience at Peor, and a plague came upon God’s people.
Revelation 2:14 However, I do have a few complaints, because you have embraced the pursuit of fleshly pleasures like Balaam who taught Balak to deceive God’s people, enticing them to eat the food of idols and commit prostitution.
King James
Numbers 31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

What might be wrong with using religious teachings for personal profit?

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Matthew 21:13 He said to the people, “The scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a hangout for robbers.”
1 Timothy 5:17–18 Church leaders who do their jobs well are worthy of extra honor and support, especially those devoted to teaching and preaching, for Scripture says we should not muzzle the ox that threshes the grain.
Revelation 2:15–16 So you are like the Nicolaitans, who use their religious teachings for personal profit—a practice that I hate. Repent of this evil, or I will come quickly with the sword from my mouth.
King James
Matthew 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
1 Timothy 5:17–18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
Revelation 2:15–16 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

What “new name” might outsiders not understand?

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Revelation 2:17 If you have an ear to hear, you should listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. I will give the victorious the hidden food from above and a white stone engraved with a new name that no one else will understand.
King James
Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

What responsibilities do Christians have to help those in need?

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Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, you should let your kindness shine before men so they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”
Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will not have to worry about receiving. You will receive a full measure, packed down, shaken together, and spilling into your lap. The measure you give determines the measure you will receive.”
John 15:8 “When you bear much fruit, you glorify my Father and show that you are my disciples.”
Revelation 2:19 I know what you’ve done, how you’ve reached out to the lowly more than to the exalted—with love, trust, and patience seeking to help those in need.
King James
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Jezebel, who reigned over the northern tribes of Israel, was dead. How could she entice God’s servants nine centuries later?

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1 Kings 16:31 As if it were a trivial thing to sin like Nebat’s son Jeroboam, Ahab married Jezebel, the Sidonian king Ethbaal’s daughter, and worshiped and served Baal.
Revelation 2:20–21 Yet I do have a few complaints, because you allowed that woman Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, to teach, enticing my servants of commit prostitution and eat the food of idols. I gave her time to repent, but she has not.
King James
1 Kings 16:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
Revelation 2:20–21 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

What do our works have to do with God’s judgment?

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Revelation 2:22–23 Therefore, I will throw her and those who participate in her immorality onto a bed of great suffering if they don’t turn from their evil ways. When I kill her children, all the churches will know that I am fully aware of people’s thoughts and motives and will reward them according to all they have done.
King James
Revelation 2:22–23 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

What does “stand firmly in the faith” mean?

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Revelation 2:24–26 I will lay no further requirements upon those in Thyatira who have not embraced the false doctrine and Satan’s deep secrets except to stand firmly in your faith until I come. I will give authority over nations to the victorious, those who remain obedient until the end.
King James
Revelation 2:24–26 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

How might the authority of Christians differ from Christ when he walked on Earth?

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John 5:19–20 “I assure you,” Jesus said, “that the Son can do nothing by his own initiative but will only do what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son will do likewise, because the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does. The Father will reveal in the Son even greater works than you have seen, so you will be amazed.”
Revelation 2:27–29 They shall rule with an iron staff able to smash clay pots, the same authority that I received from my Father, and I will give them the morning star. If you have an ear to hear, you should listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
King James
John 5:19–20 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
Revelation 2:27–29 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.