Revelation 1-5 -21

Revelation:  Chapter 1-

Author: John the Apostle

Date: 95 AD- also a time of persecution for Christians and emperor worship was prominent.

Location:  Isle of Patmos, a Roman Penal Colony, where John is exiled for his activities as a Christian missionary.

It is the only prophetic book in the New Testament.

Official title of this book is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

1-2: The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place . ( For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he does-John 5:20) He made it known by sending His angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw, that is the word of God , and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

This tells us how this revelation which means ‘unveiling or disclosure’ takes place. God gave it to his son the Lord Jesus who gave it to an angel who gave it to John who wrote down what he saw and heard. Let me remind you of what Peter said- ‘ no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ ( 2Peter 1: 20-21)

In verse 3- we are told of a special blessing for those who read( teach/study) the words of prophecy, those who hear it and those who take it to heart ( heed it).

Next we see to whom the letter is addressed and John identifies himself as the one who it is from. It is to the seven churches in Asia Minor- these churches would be listed in verse 11.  These churches also served as post offices- they would receive the letter from John, make copies and send them to other outlying churches.

Notice also when John issues the greeting of ‘grace and peace’ it is also from – our Triune God, the Holy Trinity. God the Father is described as the one Who is- present tense; who was-past tense; and who is to come- future tense.  In other words immortal, pre-existent, and never ending.  There is no time in eternity past He did not exist.  Go back to the beginning of earth and He already was and had always been. He is in the present and is coming again in the future. The Seven Spirits before His throne represent the Holy Spirit. The number seven is a special number in the Bible and refers to the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power and ministries to the believer.  Remember the temple and earlier the tabernacle were built after a pattern and copy of that which is in heaven. The Lampstand with its seven lamps was the most beautiful piece of furniture in the tabernacle. Made of solid gold with three branches on each side of the main stem. The top of the stem was fashioned like an open almond blossom. It was an exquisite piece of work, the result of skilled goldsmiths. The seven lamps were set there- filled with oil and lighted to reveal the glory of the lampstand and to illuminate the objects of worship in the tabernacle. The lampstand symbolizes the Lord Jesus, the 7 lamps represent the Holy Spirit who reveals the glory and beauty of the Lord Jesus.  The seven attributes of the Holy Spirit are listed in Isaiah 11:2- Spirit of the Lord, Wisdom,Understanding,Counsel,Might, Knowledge, and the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord.

The number seven speaks of completeness. The number 7 has to do with God’s covenant with Israel.

For instance, the Sabbath, circumcision, worship all hinged on around the seventh day. All through the Bible we see the number seven.. they encompassed Jericho seven times, Naaman was instructed to dip in the Jordan River seven times; there were seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in Joseph’s time; Nebuchanezzar was insane for seven years…and the list goes on. Seven is a key number.

John also sends this greeting from the Lord Jesus from His throne in Heaven where He currently rules and reigns with His Father and serves as our High Priest and intercessor. ( So this is from the Holy Trinity- God the Father ( who is, who was and who is to come; the seven spirits represent the God the Holy Spirit and the Faithful witness, firstborn of the dead and ruler of princes is God the Son.)

John describes Him as ‘ faithful witness, firstborn from the dead, and ruler of the kings of earth.’ Let’s look at the significance of these three phrases:

Faithful witness refers to Jesus as a true Prophet. His resurrection and ascension witnessed by over 500 witnesses is a historical fact. Fact? We rely on historians to sort the evidence and tell us what is fact, what is legend and what is myth. Historians are much like scientists who view history through their own microscope of : manuscript evidence, archaeology, eye witness accounts, the quality and quantity of eye witnesses, confirmation from other sources. Sir Thomas Arnold, chair of modern history at Oxford, and considered as one the most noted historians who wrote the definitive history of Rome, stated: “ As a historian who weighs evidence to find the truth, I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proven better and more fully than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” When Christ arose and spent 40 days in a resurrected body and then visibly ascended into heaven- he allowed over 500 people to witness these events. Why? As Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15-if Christ be not risen our faith is in vain. The resurrection was the convincing truth that Jesus was who He said He was. Jesus knew the resurrection testified to the truth of who he was – so He provided sufficient evidence so we would know without doubt His word and God’s word was truth. He is the way, the TRUTH and the life.

Firstborn of the dead- refers to the resurrection. He is the first to rise from the dead in a glorified, resurrection body, never to die again. ( Lazarus was raised from the dead- brought back to life, but not in a glorified, imperishable body- he would die again)

Ruler of the kings of earth- speaks of His ultimate physical position during the millennium reign. And He is given a name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father .

Now let’s look closely at what John tells us about Jesus and what He has done for us: vs. 5b & 6 =

He Loves US. ( present tense- ongoing- never ending)

He Has Freed Us. ( past tense- done, accomplished one sacrifice for all for all times)

He has made us to be a kingdom of priests. ( who we are )

In John 15, Jesus tells us we are his friends.

Let me tell you why Jesus is my best friend and your best friend.

First of all, He is the true definition of a friend. He knows everything about us and still loves us- unconditionally and eternally. His love is everlasting. He will never leave us or forsake us. He gave His life for us. He loves us and our greatest need is to be loved. Did you know that is mankind’s greatest need? – to be loved and to love someone.  We were created to be lovers.  We were made in God’s image- and God is love. In fact, the Bible tells us the reason we love Him, is because He first loved us. There is no greater message in the Bible that John 3:16- which is all about the love of God. For God so loved the world, HE gave…loving= giving.

Secondly- He freed us. He released us from the captivity of sin. He loved us – he loosed us. We had been enslaved by sin by one who is a thief who came to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to set us free  from our sins and give us life and life abundantly.  He freed us from this captivity, forgave us of all our sins, gave us eternal life and placed His Spirit within us- giving us a new nature.

Third- He has made us a kingdom of priests.(He loved us, He loosed us, and He lifted us.) We are royal ambassadors who represent God on this earth, but as priests we also represent men before God. We are intercessors. We speak on behalf of sinful men before God and speak to sinful men on behalf of God. What a tremendous privilege. Think about it- we have the privilege of knowing the true and living God and the One whom He has sent. Paul said knowing Him was more important than anything else in life.

In verse 7, John tells us how it will be when the Lord Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. “ Look, He is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples (kindred –KJV) of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be. AMEN”

Clouds- Hebrews 12:1 “ we are surrounded with such a great cloud of witnesses..”

I Thess 3:13 and Jude 14 state that Christ will return to earth with a multitude of saints. Revelations tells us we will be dressed in spotless white robes – so it will appear as clouds descending from the sky.

In 560 BC, Daniel described “ one like the Son of man coming with clouds of heaven.” ( Daniel 7:13-14)

Every eye will see Him.  This let’s us know this is His second coming – not the rapture. At the rapture, not every eye will see him and he does not come all the way to earth but we will meet Him in the air according to I Thess 4. Even those who pierced him refers to all who have rejected him.  It also means they will “ see him” for who he really is, they will understand who He is. They will mourn and wail because they have rejected him.

When Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago we are told in the gospel of John – he came unto his own and they rejected him. For hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the Jews knew the prophecies concerning the long-awaited Messiah and King.  He would be both a conquering King and a suffering Messiah.

When Jesus came to earth and presented his credentials as the suffering Messiah, as a fulfillment of prophecies the religious leaders rejected Him.  For those who cared to investigate- there was no lack of evidence to show that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.(He made the blind to see, the lame to walk, cleansed the lepers and raised the dead. Remember when John the Baptist was in prison, he sent messengers to ask the Lord was He truly the Messiah? {Luke 7} Jesus said tell him what you have witnessed.) The majority of the religious leaders rejected Him, because he did not fit their image and his talk of their sins and attitude and pride blinded them to the real truth of who they were and who he was. (In fact, after Lazarus was resurrected in front of so many witnesses-Jesus became such a threat to the ruling Pharisees,  the Chief Priest decided that both Jesus and Lazarus must die.)

Unfortunately many people today are making the same tragic mistake. If they would examine the evidence, it is overwhelming that the Lord Jesus is who He says He is. But their minds have been blinded by the god of this world.

In verse 8, Jesus declares, “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and is to come, the Almighty.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.  We communicate in the English language with words made from these 26 letters. He says I Am everything from A to Z. He is called the Word of God and everything that God has to say to us He has said to us through the Lord Jesus- He is the last word of God.

The phrase- ‘ who is and who was and who is to come’  speaks of his eternal existence- he has always existed before any specific point in time and will continue to exist after time gives away to eternity. Then added to these attributes is the title:  The Almighty.  This literally means the omnipotent all powerful one.

Remember what Muhammed Ali used to say of himself- I am the greatest.  He is no longer the greatest is he?  There is no limit to Christ’s power- not only was every thing created by him, in Him all things hold together.

VS 9-11:

Now John will begin to tell us what happened on this particular Sunday on the volcanic isle of Patmos, a rocky penal colony in Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey, about 50 miles from Ephesus, where John had been pastoring. He tells us he was exiled to this penal colony because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Like martyrs today who are imprisoned or worse in foreign countries because of they teach the word of God and the proclaim the testimony of Jesus.

Verse 10 begins the revelation.  “ On the Lord’s day ( Sunday) I was in the Spirit and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..”  When John is using adjectives to describe what he is seeing and hearing, he will use the word ‘like’.  In other cases he will describe things he actually sees, hears and I believe sometimes smells.

Notice the phrase ‘ in the Spirit.’ This refers to John being filled with the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit. Remember, no prophecy of scripture ever originated in the mind of man, but men spoke from God as they were inspired and filled with the Spirit- making what they recorded- infallible, inerrant and inspired.

John hears a loud voice, which he describes as sounding like a trumpet. In general, trumpets in the Bible signify exceptionally important messages from God.

Here are John’s instructions:  “ Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches : to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

Why these seven churches? Remember the number ‘7’stands for completeness.  As we will see in the chapters to follow these churches had the same problems typical of church problems everywhere then and down thru the ages. ( there is nothing new under the sun)

The order in which the churches are given is also believed to parallel the changing condition of the church as a whole down through the centuries of time from the time of Christ until He returns. It is a historical perspective of the church in advance. Something only God can give. We can identify the period of time we are living in now by the overall condition of the church in our day.  As we will see- we are living in the last days in the days of the seventh church mentioned, the church of Laodicea.

VS 12- 16:When John hears this loud voice that sounded like a trumpet, he turned around to see the voice speaking to him and as he turns he describes what he sees.

John sees seven golden lampstands.  Seven= perfect number symbolizing completeness, the number of God.

Standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands was a person- like the son of man.

John describes this person’s clothing and appearance.

Dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet.

A golden sash around his chest.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow.

His eyes were like blazing fire.

His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace.

His voice was like the sound of rushing water – ( water fall)

In his right hand he held seven stars. ( Number seven again.)

And out of  his mouth came a sharp double edged sword. ( the word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than a two edged sword. The sword of the spirit- the word of God)

His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Can any one look directly at a bright sun?

Let us look at each of these:

Seven Golden Lampstands = these symbolize the seven churches. The lampstand and its seven lamps were the light in the tabernacle. It purpose was to illuminate the articles of worship in the tabernacle area. The lampstand was a picture of the Messiah as the light of the world who came to illuminate mankind to the true meaning of the things of God.  “ In Him ( Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men.” The church is then to be the light of the world. Its purpose to spread light of the gospel into a dark and needy world.

These then represent the church down thru the ages and the Lord Jesus is standing in the midst of them. For whenever two or three are gathered in His name, he shall be in the midst. He is to be in the midst of our church exercising his protection and judgment.

His clothing, as John describes it, would be recognized by the churches in John’s day as the clothing of a priest and a judge. He performs the role of priest with the believers, His children. But He also is forced to be a judge of sin and all who reject His offer of forgiveness.  His white hair symbolizes his purity, maturity and wisdom. His flaming eyes sear the man who would stand before Him in unrighteousness. It also represents His piercing vision that allows Him to see the heart and mind of man.

His feet are described as bronze glowing in a furnace.  In the Bible, bronze is always a symbol of judgment. The Old Testament of sacrifice and the implements used in the offerings were all made of bronze as God had instructed the children of Israel many centuries ago.

In his right hand were seven stars..what do they represent?  Let’s let the Lord Himself tell us what they mean – in verse 20 he tells us- the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. Angels are messengers sent by God, here it refers to the pastors of the seven churches.

Out of his mouth comes the word of God which is described in Hebrews 4 as a doubled edged sword dividing the soul asunder.  In Ephesians 6- we are told the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

Then His face was like the sun in all its brilliance.  Can one look at a brilliant blazing noon day sun?  No.

So we have a description of what John actually saw that Sunday when he was in the Spirit.

Next we see his reaction to this sight.  He fell at His feet as though dead.

Then the Lord places his right hand of fellowship on John and the Revelation of Jesus Christ is about to begin:  “Fear Not” then the Lord Jesus gives four reason for John not to be afraid

1.   I am the first and the last. Speaks of His Diety- His eternal existence. He is first because there were none before Him- He is the last,because none come after Him.

2.   I am the Living One and was dead. This speaks of His redemptive death and resurrection. He died for our sins and was resurrected to show that we are forgiven.

3.   Behold I am alive for evermore. This is His present state. He is alive and at the right hand of God both judging, protecting and interceding for us.

4.   And have the keys to death and hades. The keys speak of authority and power. Jesus has power over death and the grave.


1:19:  This verse gives the order and division of the book of Revelation. “ Write what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

·     What you have seen- up to this point John has seen the glorified Lord Jesus.

·     What is now- the things pertaining to the church from that time until present( Chapters 2-3)

·     What will take place later- the things that will take place in the future after the rapture of the church  ( Chapters 4-22)


Chapters 2-3 :  The Seven Churches

These chapters contain the seven letters to the seven churches.  We will note that after Chapter 3- the church is not present- is not mentioned. I believe it is not mentioned because it has been raptured.

The letters to the church are addressed to the ‘angel’, the pastor.

The letters commend the church for their works but also there is condemnation rebuke.. Two churches have no condemnation- Smyrna and Philadelphia.

One church- Laodicea, has no commendation.

All end with the same warning- let him who has ears hear what the Spirit says..

What do these letters mean?

They have a threefold meaning.

1.   There was a direct message to those specific churches and individual believers in John’s day.

2.   There was a message to all churches for all times and for individuals.

3.   These churches represent seven periods of church history down thru the ages, so that by looking at the dominant characteristics of the church we can conclude where we are in church history. The common conclusion is: We are the church of Laodicea. The last church in the chronology before the rapture.



One thing to keep in mind as we read these messages to the 7 churches is that the Lord Jesus has intimate knowledge of their thoughts, attitudes and affections.

Ephesus was an important city in the Roman Empire. It possessed an excellent harbor in those days, a banking center, the Temple of Diana and was both a commercial center and tourist attraction. It was also a wicked city, as the Temple of Diana was a temple of prostitution- it was the Las Vegas of its day.

The church at Ephesus was extremely well taught, having had Paul, Apollos, Timothy and John as pastors.

Jesus describes Himself as the One who holds the seven stars in His Right Hand. The seven stars referred to the pastors of the seven churches. This reference to holding them in His hand denotes they are both protected and held accountable.

First comes the Lord’s commendation for their good works.

1.   I know your deeds, your works. Remember Paul taught them Ephesians 2:8-10. This church did good works.

2.   Your hard work ( NIV) labor(KJV)- these words refer to the weariness, the fatigue that comes from hard work, labor.

3.   I know your patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and enables the believer to continue and persevere in difficulities.

4.   Jesus knew how they could not bear that which is evil; did not tolerate wicked men.

5.   Tested everyone who came into their church claming to be a disciple, an apostle. Knew the truth and held believers or those claiming to be apostles accountable to the truth.

6.   Endured hardships. Paid a price for believing, teaching and preaching Christ in such a secular city as Ephesus.

7.   Did not grow weary, did not faint. They kept on keeping on..did not quit.


Seven words of praise from the Lord Jesus for a job well done- for their work and labors and maturity.

Now comes the word of condemnation.

‘Nevertheless, I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.’

They had lost that loving feeling. They had lost that intense, enthusiastic devotion to the person of Christ.  This was not only their first love- it was their best love. The whole teaching of the Bible rests on two commandments- to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Strange that this should occur in a church that had experienced such powerful Biblical preaching and teaching. But deep teaching and learning that does not produce a greater love for the Lord is unprofitable. (I Cor.13)

This is a dangerous pattern that can develop in a church or an individual or both. It can occur in a marriage also.  When love for the Savior, which is our motivation for Christian living and good works, wanes- then the works become not a labor of love, but a burden. Just as when the first love goes out of a marriage- the mates are no longer doing for one another out of love, but a sense of duty.   What is the remedy?

Remember and Repent.

Remember the height from which you have fallen. Remember where you once were in your relationship with Jesus. Remember how in your days of falling in love- all you wanted to do was to be in the presence of the one you loved.

Repent. Repent means to change directions. Go back and do the things you first did. Repent is not just a message for the lost- it is for the believer who has sin in his/her life- unconfessed sin, tolerated sin, sin that has hardened their hearts and made them fall from the height of first, best love. Turn back- run into His arms and ask Him to forgive you. Do the first works- repentance, worship- which involves intimate time spent with the Lord. Furthermore, the Lord warns of what can happen if they do not remember and repent and return to their first love- He will remove the lampstand. What is the lampstand- the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. The light of the church.  One of the duties of the priest was to tend to the lamps to make sure the wicks were trimmed, the lamps filled with oil. In this case, the Lord is saying if you no longer are providing light- the Lord, Our High Priest will take action –even to removing the lampstand, His Own Presence.

The Lord also adds one other word of favor- they hate the practice of the Nicolaitans. Who were they?   A group within the church that had worked out a compromise with the pagan society they lived in. They taught a believer had spiritual liberty to commit sins because they did not affect his/her spirit.

Jesus then ends this first letter with a caution to the hearers of His message.

“Let he who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church. It is the Holy Spirit who is our teacher.

To him who overcomes refers to the genuine believers- for the only way we can overcome is by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death.

The reward for the overcomer?  Will eat from the tree of life- which is in heaven and provides an abundant life that eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has entered into the hearts of men. When we eat from the tree of life- we will really be living the life, God has always intended for us to live!


The next letter beginning in Revelation 2: 8 is to the church at Smyrna.  A letter in which there is no condemnation- no rebuke. Also notice in each letter, Jesus refers to Himself with different descriptions which was fitting for each church. Because the believers at Smyrna were suffering persecution, suffering and death- Jesus refers to Himself as the one who had conquered death; “ who died and came to life.” Because He had conquered death they will too.

In verse 9 & 10, Jesus commends the believers. I know your tribulations- your afflictions. These believers were suffering even to death, martyrdom and prison for the sake of the Lord. They refused to acknowledge the Roman emperor as Lord. They were in poverty, although the Lord said your are wealthy- rich in spiritual possessions. Interesting that later on when we read the letter to the church at Laodicea, the opposite is said of them-you think you are rich, but you are poor and don’t know it. Jesus encourages them to be faithful unto death and He would personally give them a reward, a crown of life.

Now note in verse 11, the ending to this letter repeats the warning to those who have an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says. The Lord is our Shepherd and if we are His sheep, we hear His voice. Then the Lord adds this truth- he who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.

What is the second death?  The ‘ second death’ is eternal separation from God in torment in hell, as we will see in Revelation 20 at the Great White Throne judgment. If you have been born twice you will die only once. ( If you happen to be alive at the time of the rapture, you will not even die once.) If you have only been born once, you will die twice. The first death being physical death, the second being the death of the soul and the spirit and it is eternal separation from God. No believer will have to undergo the second death.


The third letter in verses 2:12-17 goes to the church at Pergamum. All three of these cities, Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum were royal cities of great commerce, politics and  religion. Pergamum possessed one  of the greatest libraries of the pagan world with over 200,000 volumes.

Jesus refers to Himself in this letter as the one whose words are like a sharp, two-edged sword.  His emphasis is on the Word of God, because Pergamum was a religious center, a center for false, pagan religions. The only way to deal with man’s need and man’s sin is with the Word of God.

Jesus commends the church at Pergamum for remaining true to Him while living in a city, he describes as the:  “ throne of Satan.”  He described it in that manner, because at the time Pergamum was the center for emperor worship with a temple built for the exclusive worship of Caesar. In other words, this city was one of satan’s headquarters on earth.

Who was Antipas?(vs.14)  Church history tells us of an early martyr, called Antipas, who was brought before a statue of Caesar and told to swear that Caesar was god. But Antipas boldly replied there was no Lord but Jesus. After refusing, Antipas was put inside a brass bull which was heated until he roasted to death.

His rebuke to this church deals with two doctrines or teachings that were promoting compromise.  The doctrine of Balaam involved sexual immorality. The misuse of sex has always been one of the most powerful tools of the enemy. He has used the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye to ensnare many. The doctrine of Nicolaitans was a teaching that rationalized that sin did not harm the spirit which was good, but only the body which was evil. Thus giving reason to indulging in sins of the body. Compromise that comes by perverted rationalization. People like teaching that allows them to sin without dire consequences.

Jesus urges believers to repent. No sin can be committed in body or mind without affecting the believer’s fellowship with the Lord. It must be confessed and forsaken.

In His closing instruction to those who have spiritual hearing, the Lord speaks of hidden manna and a white stone with a name on it. Whereas, hidden manna refers to the Lord Jesus Himself, who is the manna from heaven, the true bread of life that sustains the spiritual life of the believer.  The white stone with a new name written on it known only to him who receives it.  I do not know what this means- it could be a new name for me or a new name for the Lord known only to me. The white stone with a name on it was used in those days as an admission to a victory banquet. The name on the stone would be the name of the victor.


This city was known for its ancient guilds: potters, tanners, weavers, robe makers and dye industry. Remember Lydia of Thyratira, the seller of purple who was a convert of Paul’s,came from here.

Note the description the Lord uses in His letter to this church: eyes are like blazing fire- speaks of his piercing appraisal of the heart, and feet like burnished bronze speak of judgment.

Commendations are for: their works, their love and faith, their service or ministry and their patience or perseverance.  Also their works continue to grow and are increasing.

Rebuke is for their tolerance of a woman teacher in their midst who has brought pagan practices into their midst. As a false teacher, she misleads the Lord’s servants. Her teaching includes permissible sexual immorality and acceptance of food offered to idols. * Have you noticed how often we see sexual immorality appear as one of the sins?  The human sexual drive is one of the strongest drives of mankind and as such, the devil has used it successfully to bring down many a believer.

The Lord is long suffering and gave her time to repent.  In verse 23, when He speaks of striking her children dead, the Lord is referring to the second death, eternal separation from God which is the destination of unbelievers. It is the duty of each generation of Christians to lead the next generation of Christians to the Lord- teaching His Ways and Truths.

The danger of a false teacher and false teaching is the deadly affect it can have on the generations to come. Jesus tells us He will repay each of us according to our deeds- be not deceived, God is not mocked – whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.


Chapter 3.


Sardis was the capital of Lydia and one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor. It was the center of worship for the nature goddess, Cybele. There were temples to Cybele and Apollo.  It was a carpet center, the first city to mint coins and home at one time of the world’s wealthiest man, Croesus.

There is not much of a commendation for this church:  the Lord says I know your works. So there are works or deeds. In verse 4, the Lord recognizes there are a “few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.”

His rebuke is they are living on their past reputation, their name- but are in fact a spiritually dead church. They are like a person walking in their sleep in a stupor of compromise and carnality, having been conformed by the world. He tells them to repent and wake up for he will come like a thief in the night.  Interesting that the city of Sardis was destroyed in an earthquake during the reign of Tiberius.

Like a house that was not built on a solid foundation- they came down. They had a form of godliness but do not know their true condition. Like a beautiful old church building that once was alive with worship but now has only a few members going through the rituals.  When trouble comes- they do not know how to trust the Lord.

To those who walk with Him they will overcome and be dressed in white and their names will never be blotted out from the book of life. ( we will discuss this book of life later on).


Was about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. It was heavily damaged in the earthquake that destroyed Sardis.  Tiberius Caesar, who was a great builder of cities, rebuilt it. Philadelphia was at the center of a great vineyard district. Wine was big business. When the hurricanes destroyed Biloxi, the first thing built back was the casinos. Wine, gambling & sin are big and profitable businesses.

Jesus describes Himself in this letter as the One who has the key of David- this is a reference to His right as ruler of the universe. He speaks of opening doors no one can shut and shutting doors no one can open.  This is an illustration of the sovereignty of our Lord. He opens the scriptures to you and me which are the power of God unto salvation. He opens the way to the kingdom and no one can shut that door. But when He closes that door- no man can open the way to the kingdom. Jesus is the door- He is the way and no man comes to the Father, that is into the kingdom except by Him.

The church at Philadephia was a bible-believing, evangelistic church. They were mission minded with a zeal for reaching the lost world. Thus the Lord was faithful to open doors of opportunity for them.  He encourages them to hold fast then gives the greatest promise of all the promises to the seven churches.

He tells them He will keep them from the hour of trial coming to the ‘whole world’- a reference to the Great Tribulation to come. Jesus encourages them to hold fast. He also speaks prophetically of what will occur in the future – the coming down of the New Jerusalem out of heaven.

There is no rebuke for this church.


Laodicea was an extremely wealthy city- a banking center about 40 miles east of Ephesus. It was also home to a medical center and school noted for a healing eye ointment.

It  was a city of pleasure with a huge race track and three lavish theaters, one of which covered an area approximately the size of a football field. It was a city of compromise.

The Lord says I know your works- and describes them as lukewarm- neither hot nor cold. In His strongest rebuke to any church- Jesus says you make me sick to my stomach. Nauseous to the point I want to spit you out of my mouth. Ever taste something so vile- your reaction is to spit it out of your mouth?  This is how the behavior of this church and this church age affects the Lord.

Something becomes lukewarm when it is away from the source too long that made it hot. This church had drifted from the Word of God, which the disciples on the road to Emmaus said after their encounter with the Resurrected Lord made their hearts burn within them. Does the Word of God make your heart burn with passion and zeal within you?

This church located in a wealthy, abundant society perhaps exhibited their wealth and abundance in their buildings. Their claim to fame was their material possessions, their material wealth- they said we are rich and have need of nothing. Self-satisfied, self-sufficient with every possible need met.

Then Jesus lets them know how deceived they are- for a compromised, carnal, lukewarm church or believer is always deceived. He tells the church and us as believers we do not realize our true spiritual condition. Like Samson, this church and believers have forgotten it was the presence of the Lord that was their source of strength and well-being. When it left, like Samson,  one does not even realize it was gone. Replacing it were the lies and deceptions of the enemy who convinced us we were doing just great.  A deceived church or believer convinces themselves they are doing great because they are using the world in which they live as their standard of measure and not the Lord and His teachings.

Jesus says to those who are lukewarm- you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you( He is the Wonderful Counselor) to buy from me gold refined in fire so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover you shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Jesus does not want his church or a believer to stay in this condition- so as the Great Physician he writes us a RX.

What is the meaning of gold tested by fire?  Peter tells us this testing or trials are designed by God to test your faith to see if it is strong, pure, and the real thing.  To the Lord our faith is of greater worth than gold, for without faith it is impossible to please Him. Therefore tests, fires to purify that faith are what the Lord prescribes for believers in this Laodicean condition. If one becomes lukewarm, because of their abundance of possessions- what must the Lord burn up in the testing fires- are those things we trust in place of Him. When we place our trust in Him instead of our possessions and wealthy we become rich.

The Lord encourages the lukewarm believer to obtain white clothes to cover our shameful nakedness.  White clothes speak of righteousness- the righteousness that comes from Christ not our self-righteousness.  We are told when we confess our sins and turn from them, He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Lord prescribes salve to open our eyes to see the One who is Truth. Open the eyes of our heart Lord, that we might “see”  the hope to which we are called, the glorious inheritance of the saints and the incomparable great power that is in us who believe.

There is hope for the church and believer in this state of luke-warmness. But it will require a test of fire to burn away the dross- a time of repentance to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,  and then our eyes will be opened to see what we should have never taken our eyes off of- the Lord Jesus. Certainly there has been an economic fire storm that has shaken us all…we have seen our riches burn up like dry kindling.

In verse 19- the Lord tells the lukewarm believer, the lukewarm church- those I love I will rebuke and discipline. So be earnest – which means- get serious! And repent.

Now here we are at the church of Laodicea, the last church of the seven churches, the last days of the church in the chronological order of the churches. A lukewarm church that does not even realize for the most part its serious spiritual condition.

Notice where the Lord is- He is outside the church knocking at the door and calling out to us- and He says to the individual believer and to the church- if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and fellowship with you. Like Samson, has the Lord departed and we do not even know He is outside the Church?

The English painter, Holman Hunter, painted his famous picture of the Lord Jesus standing and knocking at the door. If you look carefully you will see there is no handle at the outside of the door. It is a picture of the human heart, and the handle to the door is on the inside.

Prophetically these seven churches represent the church down thru the ages:

Ephesus- represents the Apostolic Age from 33AD-100 AD. Moved from love to legalism.

Smyrna- represents the period of severe persecution from 100AD –  312 AD. Over 5 million estimated believers died rather than pledge allegiance to Ceasar. No-rebuke

Pergamum- represents the church merged with government. 330 AD- 590. Emperor Constantine bans persecution of Christians and Christianity becomes the official religion of  Rome. The beginning of an impure relationship of the church with government.

Thyratira- represents the church during the dark ages 590- 1517 AD. The Church fabricated a system, like Jezebel that bound people to image worship, superstitions and priest who sold blessings.

Sardis- represents the church during the period of Reformation. 1517-1750. Martin Luther leads to the forming of the Protestant church, but more importantly moves the church back to essential doctrine- that we are justified by faith not works.

Philadelphia- represents the church during the missionary era 1750- 1925. The great missionary era  with the China Inland mission, the Student movement, the Wales revival, the formation of the Salvation Army occurred during this period. Great evangelistic preaching by such men of God as : Wesley, Edwards, Finney, Spurgeon, and D.L. Moody.  There are still some strains of this movement today.

Laodicea- represents the church age from 1925 until the Rapture. In this period, we have seen a re-writing of history; a scientific movement which questioned the inerrancy of the Bible, creation, the miracles and all things supernatural. It is the period of compromise – the lukewarm believer and the lukewarm church. The dying of some of the main line denominations who once accepted the inerrancy of the scripture but have compromised with the pressures of conformity of an increasingly secular society…which does not want the God of the Bible to dictate what is right and wrong. The Church of today is the church of  the lukewarm- the church of material wealth but spiritual poverty.

So the warnings are clear and the dangers are there for us to learn from:

*Danger of losing our first love.

*Danger that comes from the fear of persecution. A fear that shuts our mouth.

*Danger of doctrinal compromise. A slippery slope.

*Danger of moral compromise. Rationalization that we should go along to get along.

*Danger of spiritual deadness. Living on past reputation.

*Danger of lukewarmness. Having a form of godliness but do not know what serious condition they are in.

He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says.



Verse 1 sets the stage for the third part of what John was told by the Lord to write about- “ write therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.” (Rev. 1:19)  John wrote about what he had seen- the glorified Lord; what is now- the seven churches and their conditions; and now John will be shown and faithfully record what will take place later- that is in the future up to the end of the world as we know it.   Here John records that although he was physically on the Isle of Patmos, he looked and saw a door standing open and heard a voice saying ‘come up here.  Verse 2, John begins to describe what took place immediately- he was in the Spirit and before the throne in heaven.  Notice John is describing what he both ‘saw and heard’. The door that leads to heaven is the Lord Jesus who told us: “ I am the door, by me if any man shall enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” ( John 10:9) .  He also told us: “ I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me.” ( John 14) This door by the way is always open and will be until the return of the Lord to earth to set up His kingdom. The door that was closed in Chapter 3- was the door to the heart of the unbeliever – upon which Jesus knocked and asked to enter.

The church has been the main theme of Revelation up to Chapter 4.  Starting with this chapter, the church isn’t seen on earth again until Chapter 19, when the church returns with Christ to set up His kingdom. ( I would remind you the church is not a name but a definition of those who have trusted Christ- true believers, saved by grace thru faith- not works. But saved to do good works.(eph 2:8-10)

So how did the church get to heaven? Paul tells us in 1Thess. 4:17 and  I Cor 15: 51.52. these verses refer to a mystery, which has come to be known as The Rapture. When the Lord comes to earth to get His bride and we are caught up in the air..with the dead in Christ rising first and those who are alive caught up with them in the air.  The loud command in I Thess 4-might very well be ‘come up here.”

The church- that is the true believers will not go through the Great Tribulation. In I Thessalonians 1:10, we read, “ and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” Also in Revelation 3:10, Jesus tells us : “ since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep  you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on earth.” To me this is clear- the believer, will not go thru God’s judgment, no more than Noah and his family had to go thru the flood.

This interest in the second coming of Christ and when it will occur has always been of interest to believers.  After all-this is our destiny, our future- this is the long awaited day when the bride groom comes to take his bride home.  His apostles who were with Him for over three years had three burning questions:

·     When would the temple be destroyed?

·     What would be the sign of His coming?

·     What would be the sign of the end of the age?


In answer to their questions Jesus gave a reply in a parable and historical allegory in Matthew 24.

The parable involved the fig tree and its first leaves. Jesus said as the fig leaves were an indication of the nearness of summer in Israel, so would the accumulation of certain signs on earth and in the skies be a signal of God’s judgments upon the generation which saw all the signs begin to appear. He said no one would know the exact day or hour of His coming- but we would know which generation would see Him. I believe this chapter is written to the Jews who will be left behind during the tribulation. Many will be saved and the Word of God will be precious to them.. it will also be a book of instruction so they will know what is happening as many will be saved during this period. Notice in verse 15- Jesus says ‘ let the reader understand’.  He also makes specific geographical references to Judea.

In Matthew 24, Jesus also references the flood and Noah and in Luke 17, He also refers to Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah.  So we see a pattern. First God sends a prophetic warning, then God removes His people ( Noah and family, Lot and family), then judgment falls- flood and fire and sulfur that rained down.

We are living in the time of prophetic warning.  We, as His people, are to warn others. God will judge us, His refining fire will remove the dross from our lives, as He opens our eyes to see what is taking place.

Following this pattern- the next phase will be the removal of His people. (Rapture)

Then the judgment- which will be the Great Tribulation.

So since the Rapture will occur prior to the last great judgment of God, we can observe increasing signs that this period of judgment is near.

Look at signs predicted that are being fulfilled:

1.   The return of the dispersed Jews to Israel to become a nation in 1948.

2.   The Jews recapture the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967 war.

3.   The rise of Russia as a powerful nation and enemy of Israel.

4.   The Arab confederation against the state of Israel. (Iran)

5.   The rise of military and economic power of China. ( Army of 200 million)

6.   The revival of the old Roman Empire- European Common Market.

7.   Increase of wars, earthquakes and famines.

8.   Coming of plagues.

9.   The departure of many Christian churches from the historic truths of the Bible.

10.    Move toward one-world government and one-world religion.

11.    The decline of the USA as a major power.

12.    The increase in lawlessness and the decline of the family.


There is nothing else that needs to occur, as far as fulfilled prophecy, for the rapture to take place. Everything is sitting on ready, the clock is counting down to the moment it will take place –  all eyes are on Israel, God’s prophetic time clock.

Back to John who is now receiving a view of heaven, the very throne room. The Throne of Sovereign God which has been a throne of grace- but will soon become a throne of judgment.

John now attempts to describe the indescribable.. God in all His Glory. John cannot distinguish a form of any person- he is overwhelmed with the brilliance of the reflection of His Glory.

Appearance of jasper- a many colored stone that was a stone identified in the High Priest breastplate. ( remember the tabernacle and temple were built after a pattern in heaven.) The predominant color in a jasper stone was purple.

The sardine stone or carnelian (NIV) was a stone discovered in Sardis. Its dominant color was a fiery red.

The overall appearance was that of a rainbow- resembling an emerald. The rainbow reminds us of God’s promise and covenant after the flood to never destroy the earth by flood again. Green is the color of earth.

The 24 elders are  believed to represent the church. Not sure…what I do know is these are believers for they are dressed in white with crowns of gold. Angels do not have crowns…but believers receive crowns of life and white robes or righteousness and we also rule and reign with Him.

In verse 5- from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Just as thunder and lightning precede a storm, John describes the beginnings of a storm of judgment brewing in heaven and about to strike earth and its inhabitants.  John sees the seven lamps blazing before the throne. What are these lamps?  Remember in Chapter 1, the Lord Jesus told us the seven lampstands represented the churches- the church is in heaven.  ( further proof of the rapture.) The seven spirits of God are the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in heaven. In 2 Thessalonians, we read:  “ For the secret power of the lawlessness is already at work; but the one who holds it back will continue to do so until HE is taken out of the way.” The Holy Spirit is the restrainer of evil until the restrainer is taken out of the way.

Then John describes what he sees before the throne saying it “ looked like a sea of glass”  .  Remember the tabernacle and later the temple were built after a pattern in heaven. In Solomon’s temple there was built a sea of cast metal that held the reservoir of water used for the priests’ ritual cleansing. This corresponed to the bronze basin in the tabernacle that served the same purpose .

Next John describes four living creatures, similar to the ones in Ezekiel and Isaiah. Let’s take note of  John’s description and what these four unusual creatures represent:

·     The first was like a lion.

·     The second like a calf, or ox.

·     The third had the face of a man.

·     The fourth was like a flying eagle.


They were covered with eyes both front and back. These creatures have six wings  and day and night they never stop saying: “ Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

The lion is known as the King of the Jungle. God said the tribe of Judah was like a lion and the king would come from the tribe of Judah. These four creatures also correspond to the four gospels. This figure corresponds to the Gospel of Matthew, where the Lord Jesus is presented as the King of the Jews and his heritage traced back to the tribe of Judah.

The second figure is like a calf or ox. A beast of burden. The animal that is domesticated and becomes the servant. This quality of our Lord is presented in the Gospel of Mark, where the lord is presented as the hard-working servant of the Father.

The third figure has the face of a man.  This correspond to the Gospel of Luke, where the Lord Jesus is most often referred to as the “ son of man” stressing His humanity.

The fourth creature is like a flying eagle. This represents the Lord Jesus in His diety in the Gospel of John emphasizing His origins in heaven and His complete oneness with God.

These four creatures are also thought to represent the animal world: lion- wild beasts; the ox or calf represent domesticated animals, the eagle represents the birds, and man represents the head of all creation. No fish? In Revelation 21, John tells us: “ then I saw a new heaven and a new earth and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was NO LONGER ANY SEA.” No sea – no fish.

And then we observe what takes place in heaven – the worship of the True and Living God. We shall worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.



Read Daniel 12: 1-4.  The Sealed Scrolls.  God ordered Daniel to seal up the scrolls of all His prophecies until the end of the age.

Now we are about to see the unsealing of those scrolls that will reveal all the judgments which will descend on the earth during the seven year period known as the Great Tribulation at the end of the age.

The sealing of a scroll was a custom used to prevent an unauthorized person from tampering with the contents of the scroll or reading the scroll. Only a “worthy” – that is qualified person could have the authority or power to unseal the scroll.

Notice the scroll has seven seals which speaks of completeness and perfection.

A mighty angle calls out in a loud voice- who is worthy- who has the authority to open the seals? No one in heaven or earth or under earth could open the scrolls or even look inside them, we are told.

John begins to weep because no one could open them. John was beside himself – upset that there was no one worthy to break open the seals. But one of the elders tells him – don’t weep the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has triumphed He is able to open the scrolls and the seven seals.  Our God is able. With Him nothing is impossible.

Then John saw the lamb.  Notice the Lord Jesus is depicted in this chapter as both lamb and lion…  which represents the dual roles He has played and will play. He came first as the lamb of God. In fact, those were the very words that John the Baptist used to point out Jesus to John and Andrew decades ago. John the Baptist told his two young disciples, as he pointed them to Jesus- ‘behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ He was the Passover Lamb. It had always been His destiny to take the place of the Passover Lamb and be slain for our sins in order to reconcile sinful man before a Holy God.

But He will return as a mighty victor- the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. A ruling king, who will rule with a rod of iron.

John describes His appearance: looking as if it had been slain refers to the scars of his sacrifice- the nail-pierced hands, the tremendous scar on his side from the spear, those on his brow where the crown of thorns ripped his forehead. Do you remember how God provided a sacrifice for Abraham- the ram’s horn was caught in the thicket of thorns.  His back which bears the stripes of his vicious scourging as he was striped for our iniquities.

Notice also John describes the Lamb’s appearance as having seven horns and seven eyes.  Seven represents completeness and perfection.  Horns in the OT always were a sign of power and eyes represent intelligence and knowledge.

Now look who held the scroll- the scroll is in the right hand of God. When the Lamb, the Lord Jesus had taken the scroll the elders and all of the heavenly host will sing a new song. Throughout the Bible, a new song represented a new act of divine deliverance or blessing.

Notice the elders were holding bowls of incense which represent the prayers of the people. The song is a song of praise for the One who is worthy to open the seals. It is also a ballad of the work of redemption of the Lord Jesus, the lamb who was slain. And with His shed blood, he has redeemed us… purchased men for God and made us to be a kingdom of priests who will rule and reign with Him on earth during His 1000 year reign.

Purchased or redeemed us to God with His blood. We all know this terminology. But to better understand it- let’s look at the process of redemption. Redeem means to regain, free or rescue by paying a price. In John’s day when a Jewish family was required to forfeit its land and possessions through some distress or misfortune, the property could not be permanently taken away from them. Their losses were listed on a scroll and sealed seven times. The conditions necessary to purchase back the land and possessions were written on the outside of the scroll.(did you notice this scroll had writing on the outside.) When a qualified redeemer, sometimes a family member or kinsman, could be found to meet the requirements and be willing to pay the price, the one to whom the property had been forfeited was obligated to return the possessions to the original owner.

The Lord Jesus was our Kinsman Redeemer. No one else was qualified to redeem us. When God created Adam and Eve,  He gave them dominion over the earth and everything in it.  Man was delegated sovereign over Planet Earth.

However, when Adam and Even sinned and obeyed satan while turning their back on God, man officially forfeited his authority to rule the world. At that point, the devil gained authority over earth. He is referred to as the prince of this world.

None of Adam’s descendants, none of his kinsman would qualify to pay the redemption price of a forfeited world.  Someone must be found who was worthy- who could pray the price. John’s tears represent the tears of all God’s people as they await for the One who can regain what was taken away. He has paid the price- and eviction day is coming for the prince of this world.  And that is what we are about to read about.

The elders are backed up by a chorus of millions of angels who join in to sing of the Lamb who is worthy- who was slain to receive power and wealthy and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.

The scrolls will reveal the series of judgments of God that will come during the tribulation.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14