The letters to seven churches
The seven churches in Asia, to which John Apostle directed his letters, they represent seven periods of the development of Christ's Church. It is believed, among others, that these churches happened the addressees of letters because of the name of cities in which they were. They were localities of inferior meaning, but their names were meaningful and reflected the character of the experiences of every one from seven periods of Church during the Gospel age.
During these periods it lasted so-called High Calling, that is took place the choice of the Church of Christ, 144 000 members of his Bride. The participants of this calling were subjected to various trials, with the aim of development of the suitable character and the proving of their usefulness to the future service. That service will be work of the Restitution of mankind under rules of the Lord Christ. To balance the fiery character of these tests, letter to every period ends some promise connected with the future glory of the divine immortal nature. (1 Pet. 1:4.) It was promise of the eternal life in heaven, in the distinction from the eternal life of all people restored to the earthly paradise. Apostle Paul wrote, that prize of High Calling, the Lord will award all winners in the decisive moment of his second presence, in Greek, "tee epiphaneia tees parousias." (2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Thess. 2:8)
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Throughout Gospel Age, the people of God did not know when their Lord will come. It was only at last period, Laodicea church, that the believers understood the object, manner and the time of Christ second presence. Our Lord, Jesus Christ knocked to the door of this church twice, explaining by the Truth in due season all matters connected with his return. First announcement of the Truth took place in USA (1874–1914) and then there was proclaimed the dawn of the second presence of Christ (1874) together with the beginning the seventh thousand of years from the fall of man. The second announcement, in Poland (1967–1981), it disclosed the moment of the shutting of the door of the High Calling (1977) and time of rewarding of the whole Church in epiphaneia (1980/81).
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The church of Ephesus
(1) To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: (2) I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false; (3) and thou hast patience and didst bear for my name's sake, and hast not grown weary.
The word Ephesus means first, desirable. Ephesus covers the period during the lives of the apostles. The first phase of the church reached to about the death of John, the last of them. During this period our Lord "holds the seven stars in his right hand." The messengers of the Church – apostles, Paul, Peter, John, etc. – were so powerfully led and kept in the grasp of our Lord Jesus during this epoch that we accept their teachings as his, believing that their words were really his words. This stage of the Church is commended for its faithful, patient labor and for its discernment of Truth and true teachers. (Acts 20:28-30; 1 Cor. 11:19)
The Apostles have the gift of discernment of spirits, as in the cases of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1), Simon (Acts 8:1) and Elymas (Acts 13:8). Besides them, some ones from among the first church was given gift of the supernatural power of discerning of spirits, which after Apostles’ death ceased. (1 Cor. 12:9.) After those gifted ones fell asleep, the enemy, without hindrance, came and sowed tares among the wheat; and then the command was not to pull them up, but to let both grow together until the harvest.
There is only "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:14) and through them only the voice of God came. From the beginning however, there were ambitious, false teachers who "vainly puffed up" (Col. 2:18) and Apostles were unmasking them. Apostolic succession is a grievous error, therefore self-styled "Apostolic Bishops" are false apostles. Beginning some time before the year 325 A.D. this doctrine of apostolic succession had been growing. Bishops claimed to be successors of the apostles, and spoke claiming the same divine authority; calling great church councils and deciding what was and was not orthodox.
(4) But I have [this] against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. (5) Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.
In the first stage of the Church, in the days of our Lord and the apostles, there was great love manifested for Jesus, God, and the great plan of salvation. For a little while during the first century, gradually much of that love and zeal became less and less. Some at first found the truth of God very precious and sweet, but finally persecution arose and opposition, and they found out how much it would cost, and some have lost their first love. In such conditions growing lukewarm, people of God were becoming gradually more and more subjected to ambitious leaders, and finally they were drifting into the great system of error called "Babylon."
(6) But this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Nicolans, in Greek, has the same meaning as Balaam, in Hebrew; and means a conqueror or lord of the people. In the Ephesus, and also in the Pergamum periods, there were those who loved to lord it over the Lord's heritage. It was the old contention – who should be greatest in the kingdom? Those whom God makes leaders will be the last to boast of it.
(7) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
It was characteristic of this period that "they forsook all and followed Him." They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. They sold what they had and gave to those in want. Though often deprived of the bread of this present life, they not only had the Living Bread, but had the promise of "the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." It will be remembered that all the trees in Eden were trees of life, but that the one in the midst of the Garden was then a forbidden tree, the disobedient eating of which brought death upon Adam and all his race. That tree in the midst of Paradise was called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"; and our Lord's promise is that the overcomers of the Gospel Age shall have full liberty to partake of that tree under most blessed and satisfactory conditions, when the knowledge will be of benefit to them under Divine approval, and will not then bring a curse.
The church of Smyrna
(8) And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived [again] (9) I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they art not, but are a synagogue of Satan
Smyrna means bitter. Myrrh and Marah are kindred words. This stage of the Christian Church was the period of most bitter persecution, under the Roman Emperors from Nero to Diocletian.
Our Lord and the apostles set forth clearly how and why natural Israel, as a nation, was broken off from inheritance under Mosaic covenant. The Apostle, pointing out at the promise as an olive root, describes all Israelites as branches, growing up out of that root. He said, that many of the natural branches were broken off, the vast majority, and that only a remnant at the first advent of our Lord were accepted by him as members of the new house of sons. (John 1:12.) This remnant possessed the faith of Abraham and these only became the Israelites indeed. What does it mean? The Scriptures says "that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ" (Gal. 2:16), because it is impossible for imperfect man to meet requirements of the God's Law. Natural Israelites, who rejected Divine way of justifying by faith in blood of Christ, they angrily opposed and persecuted of the Israelites indeed.
During the entire Gospel age, within the nominal house of spiritual Israel of so-called Christianity, there also were numerous untrue "Jews" and they still are there. They are clinging to errors and false philosophies, and are presenting their void imaginations as the unfathomed mysteries and deep wisdom. That class constantly opposed the Truth and cruelly persecuted saints of God.
(10) Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to 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 the crown of life.
Thus the Lord informed his faithful servants of this period that theirs would be a time of great persecution. Pagan Rome, here symbolized as the Devil, has been the most devilish of all earthly governments, when viewed in the light of its bloody persecutions. The ten symbolic days refer to the last and most severe persecution under the Roman Emperors – that of the reign of Diocletian, A.D. 303-313. Those who have read the history of this period can understand the depths of the words, "that ye may be tried." Some of the most sublime pictures of Christian endurance that the world has ever seen were enacted during the Smyrna period of the Church. The call was for faithfulness unto death; the promise was that the overcomers should "not be hurt of the Second Death," but should receive the Crown of Life – immortality.
A crown of life, being promised for winners, it is life on the highest level of existence; inherent life; everlasting life; immortality. "The crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him." (Jas. 1:12.) "When the chief Shepherd shall appear you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away." (1 Pet. 5:4)
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(11) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Every scripture where the second death is mentioned refers to a class of willful sinners, who love sin and hate righteousness in spite of knowledge and ability. Our Lord said about a fate of such deliberate sinners, as follows: "Whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (during Gospel age), nor in that which is to come (time of Millennium of Christ)." (Matt. 12:32)
The present is the judgment day of all who stand on trial for life, with the alternative of second death before them. Notwithstanding discipline and experience, if any still choose to live after the flesh, the Apostle's warning is that such shall die (Rom. 8:13) and he refers to the second death.
The church of Pergamum
(12) and to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword: (13) I know where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's throne is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Pergamos means an earthly elevation. During this period, while the nominal Church was growing popular, the true Christians were tested and proved by the introduction and development of Pagan and Papal ideas. The Pagan priests, unwilling to lose their positions of honor and influence amongst the people, sought to bend their ideas to fit the new religion. Thus while nominally professing Christianity, they brought many of their former ideas with them into the Christian Church.
In that time, many of the true followers of the Master in the churches denounced an attempts to disobey the direct command of Jesus, "Call no man father." (Matt. 23:9.) Of course, they received the predicted persecution. (2 Tim. 1:12.) This class in Pergamum is commended by our Lord under the symbol of "Anti-pas, my faithful martyr." In the Greek, anti means against, and papas signifies father. In this stage of the development of the Church those who sought to be popular received the emoluments of the Church; but the promise to the overcomers is that of pleasure and honor that shall be eternal.
(14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
Thus gradually the Church was led into error, evil practises, and away from God. This is what is meant in verse 14 by the allusion to Balaam and Balak. It will be remembered that Balaam, who had been a prophet of God, instructed the king Balak how to tempt Israel to sin, and thus brought about what he could not accomplish by his own powers. (Num. 23; 24; 31:16.) So these Pagan priests taught the Church to indulge in spiritual fornication.
Our Lord foretold that some of his followers would imitate Balaam and, for earthly advantage, put a stumbling-block in the path of the brethren. In Gospel Age the harlotry and false worship are on a higher level than that which stumbled fleshly Israel, nevertheless such a services of today's Baalams can be easily seen. They include: the blasphemous doctrines of eternal torment, theory of the endless existence of sin and sinners, the fiction of the short line from the death-bed to heaven, the homage given to pagan rites, ceremonies, festivals; so-called christianization by establishing prayers to the dead, sacred places, days, and persons, the saying the rosary; union with earthly powers and with those who do such things, etc. Some in the ministry are willing to preach doctrines, in which they do not believe (respecting eternal torment, etc.) for the sake of salary and the maintenance of their positions and friendship of wealthy Balaks.
(15) So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans in like manner. (16) Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Nicholas means a conqueror of the people, therefore "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" seems to be the theory of lordship or headship in the Church. The strife as to who should be greatest existed amongst many of the patriarchs – fathers – of the prominent churches. At their councils there was a bitter fight for supremacy. The tendency was toward an earthly head, and of course many coveted the honor. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome were the most prominent. The first two dropped out of the conflict, but the strife continued for several hundred years between Constantinople and Rome. It was settled only by a division of the Church: the Eastern, or Greek Church, accepting the Patriarch of Constantinople for its head; and the Western, or Papal Church, acknowledging the Bishop – Pope or Father – of Rome.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, noticed in the Ephesus message, found its development in this age; and has been a burden to the church ever since. In the church of Rome the laity or people are as much the subjects of the Pope, both in spiritual and temporal things, as any of earth's conquerors ever dreamed of demanding.
(17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna...
The Golden Pot of Manna represented immortality as being one of the possessions of the Christ of God. Manna was the bread which came down from heaven as a life-sustainer for Israel. It represented the living bread, supplied to the world by God through Christ. But as the Israelites needed to gather this supply of manna daily or else want and starve, so it will be necessary for the world ever to seek supplies of life and grace if they would live everlastingly. But to those who become Christ's joint-heirs, members of the Anointed Body, God makes a special offer of a peculiar sort of manna, the same and yet different from that given to others – "the hidden manna." One peculiarity of this pot of manna was that it was incorruptible; hence it well illustrates the immortal, incorruptible condition promised to all members of the "Seed" – which is the Church. The manna or life-support fed to Israel was not incorruptible, and must therefore be gathered daily. So all the obedient of mankind who shall by and by be recognized as Israelites indeed, will be provided with life everlasting, but conditional, supplied and renewed life; while the "little flock," who under present unfavorable conditions are faithful "overcomers," will be given an incorruptible portion – immortality. T122,123
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(17) ... and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.
In ancient times the Greeks and the Romans had a custom of noting and perpetuating friendship by means of a white stone. This stone was divided into halves, and each person inscribed his name on the flat surface, after which the parts of the stone were exchanged. The production of either half was sufficient to insure friendly aid, even from the descendants of those who first divided the stone. A similar custom was sometimes observed by a king, who would break a white stone into two parts, one of which he would retain and the other part give to a special ambassador. That part could be sent to the king at any time and would insure aid. Thus the divided stone became a mark of identification. Rev. 2:17 seems to refer to this ancient custom. The white stone signifies a precious token of the Lord's love, and the new name written in the stone suggests the Bridegroom's name. The statement indicates a special acquaintance with the great King of kings, secret between himself and the individual. The overcomers are not to be recognized merely as a class – the Bride class – but each will have the personal favor of the Lord. Of this no one will know save himself and the King. There is an individual and personal relationship between the Lord and the overcomers, who may be said to receive the mark of identification –the antitypical white stone – now, in this life.
This mark is the sealing of the Holy Spirit by which the Lord identifies the overcomers. While this is said to be a part of the final reward of the Church, yet from the very beginning of our experience we have this personal acquaintance with the Lord. The full seal of the Holy Spirit will be given in the Resurrection, when we receive the new body. Then we shall have the complete knowledge of the name by which we shall be known to the Lord and He to us forever. R5113
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The church of Thyatira
(18) And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like unto burnished brass: (19) I know thy works, and thy love and faith and ministry and patience, and that thy last works are more than the first.
Thyatira seems to mean "the sweet perfume of sacrifice." It was the period of Papal persecution. The virgin Church was enduring the hardships of the wilderness; while the apostate Church sat on the throne of her royal paramour.
The message is sent by Him "who hath eyes like a flame of fire," to watch over his faithful ones as they wandered through the dark valleys or hid in the darker caves of earth; and "feet of hard brass," to walk by their side as they scaled the rugged mountains or wandered footsore and weary, seeking a place to plant the seeds of Truth. The message contains an allusion to a faithful old Prophet who fled for his life into the wilderness from the wrath of the idolatrous wife of a king. The picture is from the history of the Prophet Elijah. (1 Kings 18; 19.)
(20) But I have [this] against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
The history of Elijah, and his relations with Ahab and Jezebel, is one of these prophetic pictures, seen not in vision, but in real characters. Jezebel, as the nourisher and protector of the prophets of Baal, is the type of the Papal Church, the mother of abominations. (1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 9:22.) Ahab, her husband, the king of Israel, represents the kings or kingdoms of Europe who committed spiritual fornication with the "mother church."
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That woman Jezebel is type of the enemy of the saints, persecutor of the Church. She is the same what great whore, drunk with the blood of God's people, that is the apostate church of Rome. (Rev. 17:1-6.) Even though Jezebel’s husband was king, she in fact wielded his power for her own aims. The drought lasting three and a half years was evidently a type of the "time, times and a half" of papal supremacy (539–1799) – 1260 years of the spiritual famine, "not of bread nor of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11)
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(21) And I gave her time that she should repent; and she willeth not to repent of her fornication. (22) Behold, I cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of her works. (23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your works.
Her time for repentance has been since the light of the Reformation dawned upon her. This time (gr. chronos), according to the biblical method “each day for a year,” ended in the spring of 1878. Luther's 95 theses were placed on the doors of the church in Wittenberg in October 31, 1517. Dating the beginning of this "time" from the spring of 1518, allowing the intervening months for the light to spread, 360 years bring us to the spring of 1878. In this year, our Lord said to the nominal Gospel church, as shown by the parallels, "Your house is left unto you desolate."
In the years 1977 – 1981 took place a political union of false churches with ten secular rulers of socialism. It was the last spiritual adultery committed through the Roman Catholic church and her Protestant daughters. Pictorial illustration of that adultery is showed in Rev. 17, where Roman whore (Jezebel) is sitting on the ten-horned red beast. In the spring of 1981 began biblical time of the great tribulation, in which these adultureous systems, both ecclesiastical and secular will be completely destroyed.
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(24) But to you I say, to the rest that are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, who know not the deep things of Satan, as they are wont to say; I cast upon you none other burden. (25) Nevertheless that which ye have, hold fast till I come.
The divine purpose of the choice of the class of the Church of Christ and the Restitution of the mankind is clearly presented in the Scripture. To execute this purpose, the Lord God in his infinite wisdom had caused that only true followers of Christ could to understand his Plan. For the world and whole nominal Christianity, this plan stayed the secret as much as to the present-day events of the great tribulation, which are beginning to open human eyes and ears on the Divine intervention. To this time, the God permitted so that Satan used his machinations and led mankind to darkness. One of Satan's ways it was the grafting of a various errors of paganism onto the Christian soil. Another way of him it was an inspiring of his ambitious and blinded servants, that they were giving free rein to their imaginations, and then their inventions called "the great mysteries of the faith." In Catholic theology, "a mystery of the faith" is called an article of faith or doctrine which defies man's ability to grasp it fully, something that transcends reason.
To such truly devilish ideas or "the deep things of Satan" belongs so-called the Trinity, which "teaches," Father is his Son and, at the same time, Son is his Father. Beside that allegedly "greatest mystery of faith" there are others "mysteries", as blasphemous ceremonial of Mass, in which ordinary man has power, whenever he wish, to turn great heavenly Monarch Jesus Christ into wafer; as so-called theory of Hypostatic union, saying that the Jesus Christ was on the earth at the same time fully God and fully man, etc. To long list of alleged "deep things" must be included deceptive theories of so-called "Christian Science" and numerous pentecostal beliefs, being permeated with spiritualism and demonic powers. God's adversary, Satan reached his aim. Majority of the people felt very small in the face of these alleged mysteries of the faith, so they gave up of sober reasoning. They recognized their religious leaders as wiser and in such mental lethargy they let them to lead themselves.
(26) And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: (27) and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father:
The stone from Daniel's prophecy, cut out of the mountain without hands, which smote an image from Nebuchadnezzar dream, represents the true Church, the Kingdom of God (Dan. 2:43,44). During the Gospel age this "stone" was being formed, "cut out," carved and shaped for its future position and greatness – not by human hands, but by spirit of the truth, the invisible power of Jehovah. In 1981 (spring), the "stone" was entirely cut out, and then it smote the kingdoms of this world.
What kingdoms it were? It was the final stage of the papal power, pictured in the feet of the image with an iron and clay. In years 1977–1981 it was formed close political co-operation between ten socialist leaders (iron) and the Roman Catholic church (clay – imitation of a stone). In next years (1981–1984) that union broke up, what shattered the equilibrium of the world, which began to plunge inevitably into anarchy. Since 1984, the invisible king Cyrus began to reign, that is complete Christ, Head and Body. The same process of destruction of Gentile rules was pictured in the Revelation as the using of the rod of iron, which breaks these rules as the vessels of a potter. Not the people, but the governments being symbolized by the image. These despotic rules are to be destroyed so that the people may be freed. When the iron rod has accomplished the work of destruction, then will the hand that smote be turned to heal, and the people will return to the Lord, and he shall heal them.
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Christ's Millennial work will not consist simply in drawing men's hearts by love, through a knowledge of the truth; it will be more than that: it will be a ruling with an iron rod – with unbending justice, as well, over any disposed to be rebellious against the rules of righteousness then in force.
Many erroneously suppose that when Christ's Millennial Kingdom is inaugurated every one will be pleased with its ruling. But not so. Its regulations will be far more exacting than those of any previous government, and the liberties of the people will be restricted to a degree that will be galling indeed to many now clamoring for an increase of liberty. Liberty to deceive, to misrepresent, to overreach and to defraud others, will be entirely cut off. Liberty to abuse themselves or others in food or in drink, or in any way to corrupt good manners, will be totally denied to all. The only liberty that will be granted to any will be the true and glorious liberty of the sons of God – liberty to do good to themselves and others in any and in every way; but nothing will be allowed to injure or destroy in all that Holy Kingdom. That rule will consequently be felt by many to be a severe one, breaking up a rod of iron.
(28) and I will give him the morning star. (29) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
While possession of the morning star is said to be a part of the final reward, the Church of Christ, in the darkness of the Gospel age, from the very beginning walked in a path of light. Therefore, her was given a privilege, more than century ago, to see the dawn of the Millennial Day of Christ (1874). It was fulfilled then promise of the Scripture: "And we have the word of prophecy [made] more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.” (2 Pet. 1:19). In 1981, the Day of Christ came into the phase of manifestation (gr. epiphaneia), therefore entire world will soon to feel bright and warmth of the Sun of Righteousness. (Mal. 4:2.) In this manifestation of the second presence of Christ the whole Church became, with his Lord, the one great Sun, bringing the life for the mankind (Matt. 13:43), although until now it is yet obscured by the clouds of the great tribulation thickening over the world. In such a way, the members of the Church waited the fulfillment fully of the promise given the winners of the period Thyatira. that they would receive the morning star.
Added by: Andrzej