Revelation chapter 2

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18And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20Notwithstanding 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. 21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23And 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. 24But 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. 25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And 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. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

What does Revelation chapter 2 mean?

In the first chapter of Revelation, John introduced his reason for writing: a direct command from Jesus Christ. He was instructed to record Jesus' words, aimed at each of seven churches in Asia Minor, and to faithfully record them. Each church is given a unique description of Jesus, a command, and a promise. Six of the churches are given specific praise—one is not. Five are given direct criticism—two are not. This chapter contains Christ's words to four of these seven: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. Chapter 3 will complete this series of messages.

The church in Ephesus is commended for hard work, and for weeding out false prophets, despite persecution. They are also praised for opposing the teachings of a particular sect, the Nicolaitans. Not much is known about this group. Some scholars believe they held to a doctrine of amorality, others that they felt that church leaders ought to "rule" over the laity. At the same time, the Ephesian church is criticized for being loveless. Their efforts are good, but they are slipping into coldness and religiosity, rather than Christian love (Revelation 2:1–7).

Smyrna's church suffered under especially brutal persecution. According to Jesus' words in this message, that experience is going to become worse before it gets better. A significant challenge for this congregation is a group of hostile Jewish leaders, referred to here as a "synagogue of Satan." Smyrna is praised for holding fast, despite this hardship. This is one of only two churches which Jesus does not criticize in some way in His messages (Revelation 2:8–11).

The name of the city Pergamum is related to terms used for marriage. Coincidentally, Jesus' criticism of this church focuses on their inappropriate connections to false teachings, such as those of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. They are praised for resisting persecution, holding to their faith even when under threat. Their situation was certainly dire, as Jesus refers to their location as "where Satan dwells" (Revelation 2:12–17).

Thyatira was a city deeply involved in worship of Apollo, a pagan deity of the sun and a child of Zeus. In this passage, Jesus is described in terms deliberately overshadowing Apollo's status and glory. This church is commended for their ever-growing participation in good works. However, they are strongly rebuked for "tolerating" sexual temptations and idolatry as promoted by a particular woman. This person is identified as "Jezebel," which might be a reference to the Old Testament queen of the same name. Since she refused to repent of sin, Jesus promises to bring fierce judgment on her and her followers (Revelation 2:18–29).
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