Part 3 - the Seven Epistles to the Assemblies in Rev. 2 and 3

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EV 2:1-3:22{
Rev. 1:1919Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; (Revelation 1:19) tells us the book of Revelation has three divisions and reads as follows: "Write the things which thou past seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter [or after these things]." These divisions are chapter one, chapters two and three, and chapters four through twenty-two. Rev. one gives the things John had seen and which he describes in that same chapter. Rev. two and three consist of seven epistles written to seven assemblies then existing and located in Asia Minor. Rev. 4 through 22 give the things that will take place "after these things"—that is, after the things concerning the assembly as covered in Rev. 2 and 3.
In this section of this paper, we shall, with the Lord's help, focus on what is covered in the second division of the book alluded to above—that is, Rev. 2 and 3. In these chapters, beginning with Ephesus and going on through Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, the seven local assemblies in Asia Minor are addressed. They were seven actual assemblies existing at the time in what is known today as Turkey.
These epistles bear three distinct characters. First, each one addresses the outward and inward conditions prevailing in the assembly to which it is addressed. Second, they have their moral voices for our own hearts and consciences in the day in which we live. They give the progressive stages in the moral decline our own souls may take if we are not watchful. Third, together, the seven epistles give us the assembly's moral history from the end of the first century to the end of its earthly sojourn at the rapture.
As to the structure and components of these epistles, each one opens with an address to the angel of the assembly to which it is written and closes with a word of encouragement to the overcomer in its midst, as well as a word of admonition to hear what the Spirit says to all the assemblies. Between its opening and its closing, the Lord commends what He can and outlines the moral conditions prevailing in the assembly He is addressing and prescribes what is needed in view of those conditions. The "angel" of a given assembly is, doubtless, a personification for the assembly itself and, perhaps, for any responsible individual in its midst. The "overcomer" is one who rises above the moral conditions prevailing in that assembly. In every way then, these epistles hold great interest for our hearts and are most instructive as we consider their moral content.
Chapter 2, Verses 1-7: Ephesus EV 2:1-7{Some 30 Years Before the Revelation Was Written, Ephesus Was an Assembly, Whose Moral and Spiritual State Had Been Such That It Could Be Entrusted With the Very Highest of All Assembly Truth. a Short Two Years Later Though, Paul Feels It Necessary to Charge Timothy With Seeing That No Other Doctrine Is Taught There. (See 1 Tim. 1:3-43As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (1 Timothy 1:3‑4).) Then, Some Two Years After That, He Acknowledges the Tears That Timothy Was Shedding in That Very Locality. (See 2 Tim. 1:3-53I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:3‑5).) It Would Appear Then That Decline Had Set in Early and Had Progressed Rapidly Among Those in Ephesus.
To begin with then, the Lord presents Himself to the angel of the assembly at Ephesus as holding the seven stars, which are the seven angels of the seven assemblies, in His right hand and walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, which are the seven assemblies themselves. (See the imagery of Rev. 1:12-13, 1612And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:12‑13)
16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (Revelation 1:16)
, and 20.) He is the One Whose authority is still recognized as supreme among those who bear responsibility in the assemblies. (The right hand is the hand of power.) Here, He is not seen as the Head of His body, but the Judge among those who are His light bearers in this world. 
Outwardly, everything in Ephesus is still being conducted in a righteous and orderly manner. Although evil has found its way into its midst, it is discerned and dealt with in an upright way. False apostles are uncloaked; and the practice of Nicolaitanism, which the Lord hates, is hated by the assembly as well.
Nevertheless, the Lord, Who knows the hearts of His people, discerns a thing not readily detected outwardly. (What a word for us!) The assembly's first love for Him has cooled, and He knows and feels it. Accordingly, He warns it to remember what its love for Him had been at the beginning and to repent and do the first works-that is, those works done out of a burning love for Himself. Otherwise, He will come to it and take away its candlestick out of its place... manifestly, a thing He has now done.
The promise given to the overcomer then is a most precious one indeed. He will be given to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Christ, who is both the Head and Center of the creation of God (as Adam had been of the former one) and Who is the Giver of eternal life, will Himself be the overcomers eternal portion. (Cf. Gen. 2:7-97And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:7‑9) and 3:22-4 with 2 Cor. 5:14-2114For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑21).)
Historically, Ephesus corresponds to the assembly at the end of the first century. When compared with the moral and spiritual stature of that same assembly three or four decades before, the decline is remarkable. As can be seen by reading Paul's epistle to them, they were, at that time, in a state suited to the receiving of ministry that has no equal anywhere else in the Scriptures. By this time though, the assembly as represented by them had left its first love; and that was the beginning of the assembly's decline ever since.
Verses 8-11: Smyrna EV 2:8-11{in Addressing the Angel of the Assembly in Smyrna However, the Lord Assumes Quite a Different Character. He Is the First and the Last and the One Who Was Dead and Is Alive Again. (See the Imagery of Rev. 1:17-1817And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:17‑18).) in Revealing Himself Thus to the Assembly, He Is Addressing Himself According to the Trials That Are About to Come Upon It. He Is the Divine One, the One Who Has Ever Been and Who Will Ever Be, and, Having Become a Man, the One Who Has Gone Through the Extremity of Satan's Power and Has Come up Out of It in Victory.
That assembly's lot is one of tribulation, persecution, and poverty. What is more, it is troubled by some, whether Jews or Gentiles, who claim they hold the place of being God's people by right of inheritance. Furthermore, the devil is about to bring upon them a period of severe, but measured persecution. Nevertheless, He urges it not to fear; but to be faithful unto death if need be, even as He had been. Having gained the victory over death Himself, He would give it a crown of life.
The overcomer will not be hurt of the second death, a sweet and precious promise to one who is about to face death at the hands of vicious and violent men. (See Rev. 20:14-1514And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14‑15).)
Historically, Smyrna corresponds to the assembly in the second and third centuries. During these two centuries, several campaigns of persecution were mounted against the Christians. Of course, Christians had been persecuted almost from the very beginning of Christianity. Nevertheless, having been written toward the end of the first century, these epistles look on ahead to those of the two succeeding centuries. ("Ye shall have tribulation ten days.")
In view of the assembly's departure from its first love then, these persecutions were allowed in order to drive the hearts of the Lord's people back to Himself. Accordingly, they resulted in fruit for the Lord's glory, honor, and pleasure (See John 15:1818If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18).). There was a fresh renewal of His people's lost fervor toward Himself, a restored sense of their heavenly calling, and a corresponding adjustment in their testimony. Not only did Satan fail in his attempt to stamp out Christianity, but his efforts actually accomplished the reverse. The faith of the Christians was thereby strengthened and their numbers increased. Christianity flourished!
Verses 12-17: Pergamos EV 2:12-17{This Time, the Lord Presents Himself to the Angel of the Assembly in Pergamos As Having a Sharp Two-Edged Sword Proceeding Out of His Mouth. (See the Imagery of Rev. 1:1616And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (Revelation 1:16); Also Heb. 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).) Whether in Matters of Doctrine, Practice, or State of Soul, It Is by the Word of God That We Are to Discern and Correct Even the Minutest of Irregularities.
Of necessity, the assembly had always been in the world, where Satan's throne is set; but until now, the world has been kept out of the assembly. In Pergamos, however, both Satan and the world have now found their way into the bosom of the assembly itself. Nevertheless, despite the conditions prevailing there, the Lord commends it for its faithfulness in holding fast His name and not denying His faith. He also recalls the faithfulness of Antipas, His faithful martyr, who had been slain among them, where, solemnly, Satan dwells.
Nonetheless, there are some in its midst who hold the doctrine of Balaam and, accordingly, have introduced spiritual fornication into the assembly in the form of idolatry. In an effort to increase the number of their converts, heathen unbelievers have been brought in with their idols and idolatrous practices and holy days, which latter two have been called by Christian names. Adding Judaism to these elements then, the result is an unholy admixture of Judaism, paganism, and Christianity. (For the principle, Cf. 2 Kings 17:28-4128Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. 29Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. 34Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. 37And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 38And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. 39But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. 40Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. 41So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. (2 Kings 17:28‑41).)
Not surprisingly therefore, there are also those in its midst, Nicolaitans, who set themselves apart as possessing a superior level of spirituality, but whose practices are corrupt. There had been such in Ephesus too; but in Ephesus, their evil, which had been detected and judged, had been practiced only and not taught as a doctrine. In Pergamos however, having been tolerated over a period of time, the practice has now become a thing accepted and openly taught as a doctrine. Therefore, He warns that, if it does not repent, He will come suddenly and fight against those men with the sword that proceeds out of His mouth.
To him that overcomes then, the Lord will give to eat of the hidden manna and will give him a white stone with a new name known only to him who receives it. The overcomer in Pergamos is one who, like the Lord when here on earth, has taken a low and humble place in the midst of high and lofty pretensions and has suffered for it. With such a one, He will identify and share the enjoyment known in fellowship only to co-sufferers and give him a secret sense of His own delight and approval, even that which He knows with His Father. It would be a sweet fellowship known only to one who had been granted that favor.
Historically, Pergamos corresponds to the assembly in the fourth century. It was then that Constantine professedly converted to Christianity. He stopped the persecution and elevated the Christians to a privileged class. He bestowed large homes and vast parcels of land upon Christians and even appointed many of them to high offices in his government. Christianity was not merely tolerated, but became the favored religion of the day, which was a deathblow to the assembly's heavenly testimony in this world.
Verses 18-29: Thyatira EV 2:18-19{in Addressing the Angel of the Assembly at Thyatira, the Lord Identifies Himself As the Son of God, Whose Eyes Are Like a Flame of Fire and His Feet Like Fine Brass. (See the Imagery of Rev. 1:14-1514His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (Revelation 1:14‑15).) the Angel of That Assembly Has Allowed a Certain Woman, Whom the Lord Calls "Jezebel," but Who Calls Herself "a Prophetess," to Teach and Seduce His Servants to Commit Spiritual Fornication. Having Already Given Her Space to Repent, He Knows She Has Not Done so. Therefore, Unless She and Those Who Commit Adultery With Her Do Repent, He Will Cast Them Together Into a Bed and Into Great Tribulation and Will Kill Her Children With Death. All the Assemblies Will Know Then That He Is the One Who Searches the Reins and Hearts of Men. He Gives to Everyone According to His Works. Everything Is Found Out, and Nothing Is Overlooked.
As to the faithful ones in that place though, He places no further burden upon them. They are not, as others have sought in vain to do, to bring about reform in that wicked system. Rather, they are simply to continue steadfastly faithful to the light they already possess till He comes.
The Lord's promise to the overcomer in that system then, whose aim has always been the exercise of worldly power over the nations of men, is particularly suitable. That promise is that He will give the overcomer just such authority when He Himself exercises His own right to do so. In the meantime, He gives him the hope of the morning Star, which is that which appears in the skies just before the dawn of a new day. That day will be the bright and glorious millennial day, and the morning Star the Lord Himself coming for the assembly just before that day begins. In that day, that power will be absolute and palpable in the overcomers hand. To the believer in that system with its worldly and carnal ambitions, but who awaits with quiet patience its fulfillment, such a promise must be exceedingly precious and encouraging.
Historically, Thyratira corresponds to the assembly from the fourth century on to the present time. Morally, she grew out of Pergamos, which paved the way for her; and she dominated Europe almost without relief until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was then that the light of the gospel was re-ignited in what is commonly called "the reformation movement" (See Sardis in the next chapter.). Till then, she ruled over kings and nations with both military and ecclesiastical might under the title of "The Holy Roman Empire." She will continue on beyond the rapture until she is definitively judged. (See Matt. 13:3333Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33); Rev. 2:25-8; 14:8; 16:198And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (Revelation 14:8)
19And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (Revelation 16:19)
; and chs. 17-18.)
Chapter 3, Verses 1-6: Sardis EV 3:1-6{the Lord Addresses the Angel of the Assembly at Sardis As the One Who Holds the Seven Stars in His Hand. (See the Imagery of Chapter 1:16, 20.) This Time, He Does Not Say, As He Did When Addressing the Angel of the Assembly at Ephesus, "in His Right Hand." This Omission Is Not Without Significance. the Right Hand Is the Hand of Power and Authority; and While the Angel in Sardis Still Acknowledges Its Connection With Him, It No Longer Acknowledges His Authority Over It.
Nevertheless, despite its spirit of independence, He is still the One Who "holds the seven Spirits of God." All fullness resides in Him; and whether the angel recognizes it or not, He is the only source of spiritual supply for what the assembly really needs. Where there is faith, this is a most precious and encouraging assurance indeed.
The assembly there has a name that it lives; but spiritually, it is lifeless and without vigor. (Many there do not even possess divine life at all.) What it does have though is ready to perish; and so, He warns it to remember how it had received and heard and repent. It had received the Word of God with divinely-given faith; but beyond that, it hadn't given it its proper place in its heart. If it doesn't watch therefore, He will come upon it the way a thief comes upon his victim—that is, in an hour it doesn't expect him.
Still, even in Sardis, there are some that have divine life and have not become personally defiled by what surrounds them. They will therefore walk with Him in white, because they are worthy. The overcomer then will walk with Him in white raiment, and He will not blot his name out of the book of life, but He will confess His name before His Father and before His angels.
Historically, Sardis corresponds to the assembly after "The Reformation Movement" had lost its initial freshness and vitality. It is therefore that which grew out of what had originally broken away from Thyratira, when the truth of justification by faith was first recovered. At its inception, the Reformation was a fresh and mighty work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and could only be said to be "a divine work." Gradually however, earthly ways and cold ritualism set in; and it became largely formal, perfunctory and even political.
Although Sardis was not characterized by Thyatira's corruption, it had given up what it once stood for; hence, the charge that it had a name that it lived, but was dead. Today, it is what is called "mainstream Protestantism" and is last seen when it embraces that idolatry that will hold all Europe and the western world in its grip. (See Rev. 16:1515Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15).) There are however some among them whose hearts are devoted to the Lord and whose lives reflect a holy zeal for Him and His interests. They are the overcomers.
Verses 7-13: Philadelphia EV 3:7-13{in Addressing the Angel of the Assembly at Philadelphia, the Lord Doesn't Draw on the Imagery of Rev. 1 at All. Instead, He Presents Himself According to What He Is Intrinsically—That Is, Holy and True. As Such Then, It Gives Him Pleasure When He Finds Such Moral Features in His Own, Which Features Are Fruits of His Grace. (That Is His Standard for Them.)
He is also sovereign, opening and shutting as He wills and no man frustrating His will. Accordingly, He has set before the assembly in Philadelphia an opened door, and no man can shut it. Otherwise, there would be no opened door there at all. All is and must be from Him and nothing from man.
As regards strength though, the assembly at Philadelphia has but little of it. If it is strength that Christ can acknowledge however, then it is the fruit of His grace alone. He therefore commends the assembly on one hand, for having kept His Word and, on the other, for having not denied His name. In Pergamos, the danger had been not one of denying His name, but rather, one of denying His faith. On the other hand, in Sardis, the danger was one of not keeping His Word once it had been received. In Philadelphia though, the assembly has both kept His Word and not denied His name; hence, His commendation.
Now then, the Word He refers to as "My Word" is the Word of God; but in particular, it is the Word of God as it attracts the heart and attaches it to the person of Christ Himself and, especially, as Head of His body. (Cf. Col. 2:1919And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. (Colossians 2:19) and 3:11, 16.) As to "His name," a man's name is all that he is whose name it is. Therefore, the name of Christ is tantamount to the person of Christ Himself. It is everything that He is. (See Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20).)
Still, this little company is, no doubt, held in contempt by that which answers to "the synagogue of Satan," first seen morally in Smyrna. Nevertheless, He will make those of that exalted body to come and do homage before its feet and to know that He had loved it. Unlike that great ecclesiastical system, it had been willing to await with humble patience the appointed time of His reigning, rather than vainly hastening it on by reigning without Him (See 1 Cor. 4:88Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. (1 Corinthians 4:8); Rev. 2:26-7; and 20:1-6.). Accordingly, He urges the angel of the assembly at Philadelphia to hold fast that which it has and not to let any man take its crown.
The promise to the overcomer then is exceedingly precious indeed. It bears reading in its entirety: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name" [Rev. 3:1212Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)].
How personal is the overcomers portion! The Lord gives him to know and enjoy the blessedness of the relationship He had Himself known and enjoyed with His own God. If the overcomer has had but little strength in the day of weakness, He will be a pillar in the temple of His God. If he has had to go out from the systems of men and from his beloved brethren who remain in those systems, in that day, he will go out from them no more. Instead, he will enjoy heavenly fellowship with all his brethren for all eternity. Finally, having a part in that heavenly city throughout the coming millennial day, he will have a part in it in the eternal state as well. (See ch. 21:1-2.)
Historically, Philadelphia corresponds to a work of God among His people during the first quarter of the nineteenth century and will be maintained until the assembly's rapture. 
As the reformation was the fruit of the Spirit's mighty acting in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, I have no doubt but what that which answers to Philadelphia was also the fruit of the Spirit's mighty acting in the nineteenth century. In the early part of that century, the Spirit of God began a fresh work among the Lord's people. He resumed gathering souls to Christ and to His name, even as He had done at the very beginning of the assembly's history. At the same time, He began restoring to them "the whole counsel of God," much of which had long been lost or forgotten (Acts 20:2727For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)). Accordingly, there was a happy season of power, great joy, and rejoicing, as well as a remarkable increase in numbers.
Now then, there is most assuredly such a thing as what might be called "Philadelphian ground." In view of the failure that has come in in the meanwhile though, any corporate pretension to being it would be presumptuous indeed. (See the historical section under Laodicea below.) The most any company can say is that it believes it is on that ground; but it cannot claim categorically to be on it.
Similarly, an individual, even if he is on that ground, cannot claim to be "a Philadelphian." He can say only that he'd like to be one; but he cannot claim to be one. What the Lord is looking for is not merely ecclesiastical position, as important as that is, but rather, reality of heart and those moral features that answer to His own. It is a man's moral character that makes him what he is and not the ecclesiastical position he occupies. The Lord therefore is the One Who will determine who is and who is not "a Philadelphian.”
Verses 14-22: Laodicea EV 3:14-22{in This Last of Seven Epistles, Even As in the Previous One, the Lord Does Not Address the Angel of the Assembly at Laodicea by Drawing on the Imagery of Rev. 1. Instead, He Addresses It As Being the One Who Is "the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God." He Is Everything the Angel of the Laodiceans Should Be, but Is Not. As "the Amen," He Is the One, in Whom, All God's Counsel Is to Be and Will Be Made Good. As "the Faithful and True Witness," He Is the Antithesis of What the Angel of the Laodiceans Is in This World. As "the Beginning of the Creation of God," He Is in Resurrection the Head of That New, Eternal Creation, Where All Is of God and Where, Unlike in the First Creation Under Adam, Nothing Will Ever Fail. (See Again Rev. 2:77He 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. (Revelation 2:7); 2 Cor. 5:14-2114For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑21).)
If the assembly at Ephesus sets before us the assembly's departure from its first love, then this is where that departure must inevitably lead; and it is where it has led. The assembly at Laodicea has become lukewarm and, therefore, what is noxious to the Lord. Accordingly, He is about to spew it out of His mouth. Oblivious to its real condition before Him though, it is lifted up with pride and self-complacency. Therefore, He tells it what its condition really is before Him and counsels it to come to Him for what its condition requires. Nevertheless, He assures it that it is whom He loves that He rebukes and chastens.
Because of the state of the assembly at Laodicea, there is nothing for it on a collective basis, but only on an individual one. Therefore, because He is standing outside, He knocks at each individual heart's door to be let in. If any man opens the door, He will come in and will sup with that man and that man with Him. Sweet fellowship! This is the very thing the Lord craves and the heart that is restored needs.
To the overcomer, He promises he will grant him to sit with Him on His throne, even as He sits with His Father on His throne. In His millennial kingdom then, the overcomer will be publicly associated with the Lord in His rule over the nations.
Historically, Laodicea corresponds to the assembly from about the middle of the nineteenth century and continues on down to the assembly's rapture. It has often been observed that Sardis grew out of what remained of the reformation movement, which had originally broken away from Thyatira, and that Philadelphia has emerged out of Sardis and that Laodicea has grown out of Philadelphia.
Notwithstanding the great and gracious working of the Spirit of God in Philadelphia, pride eventually came in to spoil the happy conditions enjoyed there. (See the historical section under Philadelphia above.) Accordingly, the coming in of this element necessitated the Lord's chastening hand; hence, Laodicea, which is, as much as anything else, a moral state. Of course, Satan has been all too ready to seize upon these failures and to exploit them to the Lord's further dishonor and to the shame and detriment of His people.
Summary the Book of Revelation Was Written Toward the Very End of the First Century. Each of the Assemblies Addressed Actually Existed at the Time They Were Addressed. the Moral and Spiritual Conditions As Described in Their Respective Epistles Actually Existed Too. Furthermore, Although We Are Living so Long After They Existed, We Too Are to Hear What the Spirit Says to Them. Often, the Individual Christian's Moral and Spiritual State Follows the Same General Pattern of Decline That Theirs Did. Finally, the Moral and Spiritual Decline Traced in These Assemblies Also Describes the History of the Assembly Itself Down Through the Intervening 20 Centuries.
D. K. Graham 6/19/06
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