I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)
The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)

B. Text of Rev 3:1-6

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: ‘I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”’” (Revelation 3:1–6, NLT)

The Letter to the Church in Sardis (3:1-6)

“Letters to the Churches of Sardis and Philadelphia” Bamberg Apocalypse Bible

C. Background and History of the City of Sardis

Sardis was an important and wealthy city located on the trade route which ran east to west through Lydia (which Sardis was the capital of). Much of the city’s wealth came from its textile manufacturing, dye making, and jewelry trade. The city practiced pagan worship, maintained mystery religions, and had secret religious societies. Similar to the city of Ephesus, Sardis had large temple to the Greek goddess, Artemus. The temple was 160 feet by 300 feet with columns 48 feet high. (Walvoord, Revelation, 78; Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 446).

II. CORRESPONDENT (3:1a)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: ‘I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.’” (Rev 3:1, NLT)

Here is another mention of the “sevenfold Spirit of God” which most people believe is a reference to the Holy Spirit (R. M. Mulholland, Revelation, 444-445).

A. Nomina Sacra Support for Holy Spirit Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Vision of the Son of Man
Letters to the Seven Churches
John Taken to Heaven to See the 24 Elders (Rev 4:1-6a)
John Take to Heaven to See 4 Living Beings (Rev 4:6b-11)
The One Worthy to Open the Scroll (Rev 5:1-7)

B. Text of Rev 5:8-14

“8And when the Lamb took the scroll the four living beings and twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (which are the prayers of the saints).9They were singing a new song:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slaughtered and in your blood you bought for God every nation, language, people, and ethnicity.10and he made you all kings and priests of our God and they will reign on earth.’

11Then I looked and I heard noise from many angels around the throne, from the living beings, and from the elders. The number of those around the throne were myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. 12The loud voice was singing:

‘The Lamb which was slaughtered is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.’

13I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea singing: ‘Praise, value, honor, and power to the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.’ 14Next the four living beings said ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 Why The Lamb Is Worthy to Open the Scroll (Rev 5:8-14)

“St. John Altarpiece” by Hans Memling (1433-1494)

C. General Remarks

“With this awe-inspiring introduction, the groundwork is laid for the unfolding revelation beginning in chapter 6, when the scene shifts once again from heaven to earth” (Walvoord, Revelation, 115).

“The scene of chapter 5 can be considered prophetic of future events in which the church of Jesus Christ will be with Him in heaven. Those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and who have entered into the blessings of His redemptive work will be numbered among the tens of thousands pictured as giving their worship and praise to the Savior. That which John saw in prophetic vision will be the future experience of raptured believers as they wait with Christ in heaven for the consummation events of the age and the establishment of His kingdom” (Walvoord, Revelation, 116).

II. THE SCROLL AND NEW SONG (5:8-10)

A. The Lamb Takes the Scroll (v. 8) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1)
Jesus’s Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2-3)
John Taken to Heaven and Sees the Throne Room with Four Living Beings and Twenty-Four Elders (Rev 4)

B. Text of Rev 5:1-7

“1Then I saw in the right hand of the one sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and outside that had been sealed with seven seals. 2Next I saw a strong angel who was announcing in a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and loosen its seals?’ 3But, no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll nor see it. 4As a result I was crying greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and to see it. 5One of the elders said to me: ‘Do not cry. Behold! The lion of the tribe of Judah—the root of David—has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ 6Then I saw a lamb standing as if it was slaughtered in the midst of the throne and the four living beings and in the midst of the elders. The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits God sent out to all the earth. 7The lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.” (Rev 5:1-7)

The One Worthy To Open the Scroll (Rev 5:1-7)

 “John’s Vision of Heaven” by Matthias Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks about Rev 5:1-7

Revelation 5 is “one of the most decisive moments in all scripture. What John has heard is the announcement of the lion. What he then sees is the lamb. He is to hold what he has heard in his head while gazing at what he now sees; and he is to hold what he is seeing in his head as he reflects on what he has heard” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 53).

Revelation 5:6 provides “one of the most beautiful mixed metaphors in all the Bible—the lion (5:5) is a lamb! The direction of the transformation is very important; the final stage is the lamb, not the lion. The paragraph of 5:6-10 tells how the lion of Judah has conquered, not through military power (though that will come) but through paschal sacrifice.” (Osborne, Revelation, 254).

“We are still looking, through John’s eyes, at the heavenly throne room, and it is not simply one long round endless, repetitive praise. This is the throne room of God the creator, and his world is not merely a tableau, a living picture to be enjoyed. It is a project. It is going somewhere. There is work to be done.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 51)

II. A SCROLL IN THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD (5:1-5)

A. A Scroll with Seven Seals (v. 1) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1)
Letters to the Seven Churches (Rev 2-3)
John Taken to Heaven To See the Twenty-Four Elders (4:1-6b)

B. Text of Rev 4:6b-11

“6bin the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living beings full of eyes in front and in back. 7The first living being was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man’s face, and the fourth was like an eagle flying through the air. 8Each one of the four living beings had six wings and were covered with eyes around and within. During the day and during the night they never stopped singing:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. The one who was, is, and is still to come.’
9Whenever the living beings give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10the twenty-four elders fall down in front of the one who sits on the throne and they worship the one who lives forever and ever. These twenty-four elders lay their crowns in front of the throne saying:
11‘You are worthy—our Lord and God—to receive honor, glory, and power because you created everything. By your will everything exists and was created.’” (Rev 4:6b-11) 1

John Taken to Heaven to See 24 Elders (R

Bamberg Apocalypse Bible (AD 1000)

II. THE FOUR LIVING BEINGS (4:6b-9) Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Studies

B. Revelation 4:1-6a

“1After this I looked, and behold! There was a door open in heaven, and the first noise which I heard was like a trumpet sound to me saying: ‘Come up here and I will show you what is necessary to happen after this. 2Immediately I was in the spirit and behold! A throne was standing in heaven and there was someone sitting on the throne. 3The one sitting on the throne was like jasper and sardius in appearance. An emerald-colored rainbow was around the throne. 4Around the throne I saw twenty-four thrones. On those twenty-four thrones were elders wearing white clothes and golden crowns on their heads. 5Coming from the throne was lightening, noise, and thunder. There were seven lamps of fire burning in front of the throne which is the seven-fold Spirit of God. 6aIn front of the throne was something like a sea of glass resembling crystal.” (Rev 4:1-6a)

John Taken to Heaven to See 24 Elders (Rev 4:1-6a)

“The Four and Twenty-Four Elders” by John Henry Stock (1853-1930)

C. General Remarks about Rev 4:1-6a

“’Heaven’ and ‘earth’, as I have often said, are not, in biblical theology, separated by a great gulf, as they are in much popular imagination. ‘Heaven’, God’s sphere of reality, is right here, close beside us, intersecting with our ordinary reality. It is not so much like a door opening high up in the sky, far away. It is more like a door opening right in front of us where before we could only see this room, this field, this street. Suddenly, there is an opening leading into a different world – and an invitation to ‘come up’ and see what’s going on.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 42-43)

“The view that the book of Revelation beginning with 4:1 is future, from the standpoint of the twenty-first century, is a broad conclusion growing out of the lack of correspondence of these prophecies to anything that has been fulfilled.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 97)

II. THE TRIP TO HEAVEN (4:1) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Previous Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:18-29

“18Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:
19I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.
20But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

22Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

24But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you 25except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. 26To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. 28They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

29Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 2:18–29, NLT)

The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)

“The City of Thyatira” by Robert Walsh (1772-1852) and Thomas Allom (1804-1972)

C. History and Background of the City of Thyatira

Thyatira was a small thriving agricultural town. It was known for its purple dye. No one knows exactly how the church began in Thyatira. However, in Acts 16 Paul shares the gospel with a woman named Lydia who was a merchant of “expensive purple cloth” and was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). Lydia was in Philippi when she met Paul, and she might have returned to Thyatira and helped to start the church there (Walvoord, Revelation, 69-70).

N.T. Wright provides some helpful background information on the city of Thyatira. The trade unions were known for smelting copper and bronze (maybe where the description of Jesus is chosen in Rev 2:18). More importantly, the local patron deity of the area and of the bronze trade was “Apollo Tyrimnaeus” who appeared on local coins together with the “son of God”, who was the Roman emperor.

The local trade unions (woolworkers, linen workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leatherworkers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave dealers, and bronze smiths) regularly held meetings and ceremonies that included idol worship as a way to invoke divine favor onto the trade work. This put Christians in a difficult place if they expected to find work (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 25; Metzger, Breaking the Code, 36).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA (2:18) Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1:1-8)
John’s Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1:9-20)
The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)

B. Text of Rev 2:12-17

“12Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword. 13I know where you live. It is where Satan’s throne is. However, you hold on to my name and do not disown my faith in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness. He was killed among you where Satan lives. 14But, I have a few things against you. Namely, that you have people adhering to the teaching of Balaam, who taught/told Balak to throw enticement to sin before the people of Israel, namely to eat food offered to idols and to commit sexual sin. 15In this manner, you have people holding to the same teaching as the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore, repent! If not, I will come to you quickly and I will wage war against you (namely, the Nicolaitans and Balaamites) with the sword of my mouth. 17The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: I will give to the one who overcomes manna which is hidden and I will give a white amulet. On the amulet is written the new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Rev 2:12-17) 1

St. Antipas of Pergamum

St. Gregory of Agrigentum and St. Antipas of Pergamum

Church of Pergamum

“Church of St. Antipas of Pergamum” by Shakko/Wikipedia

C. History and Background of the City of Pergamum

The city of Pergamum had a long history of idol and goddess worship. There were four deities the residents of Pergamum worshipped: Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios. Zeus was seen as the “savior-god” and Athena was seen as the “victory-bearing” goddess. Each of those were a testimony to the Greek spirit and influence. Dionysos was the god of the royal family. Asklepios was more of an animal god associated with serpents, people would feed a living serpent in the temple (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 179). Worship of the emperor of Rome was very strong and active in Pergamum. Thomas writes, “Caesar-worship was the most intense here [Pergamum]. In other cities a Christian might be in danger on only one day a year when a pinch of incense had to be burned in worship to the emperor. In Pergamum, however, Christians were in danger every day of the year for the same reason” (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 180).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE CHURCH IN PERGAMUM (2:12)

“Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: ‘This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword.’” (Rev 2:12) 2

Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:8-11

“8Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives. 9I know about your oppression and poverty, but you are rich. I also know about the people who claim to be Jews but are not, instead they are part of the synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil is about to throw some of you into prison in order to tempt you and you will experience oppression for ten days. Have faith until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: ‘The one who overcomes will not be harmed by the second death.” (Rev 2:8-11) 1

John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna

Bamberg Apocalypse Bible: “The Letter to the Church in Ephesus and Smyrna” (AD 1,000)

C. History and Background of the City of Smyrna

Among the seven cities that John sent letters to, Smyrna is the only city that still exists today (now called Izmir which is Turkey’s third largest city with seven hundred thousand [Walvoord, Revelation, 59-60]). The city of Smyrna was about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. Besides Ephesus, Smyrna was the wealthiest city in the area because of its seaport. It was also known for its science and learning.

Walvoord points out that the word “Smyrna” comes from the word “myrrh” which was a sweet perfume used in embalming dead bodies (Pss 45:8). It was also a holy anointing oil used in tabernacle worship in the Old Testament (Exod 30:23). It is mentioned by the bridegroom in the Song of Solomon (Song of Sol 3:6) and the heavenly bridegroom in the Psalms (Pss 45:8). The “protecting deity of Smyrna was a local adaptation of Cybele, which was known as the Sybeline Mother. Greeks identified her with Nemesis which was the Greek goddess of retributive justice. The city also created a temple to the goddess Roma (195 BC) (Osborne, Revelation, 127).

In addition to that deity worship, worship of the Roman Emperor was also very common. In AD 26 Smyrna beat out ten other cities for the honor of building a temple to honor the emperor Tiberias (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Under Domitian (AD 81-96), every year each citizen had to burn incense on Caesar’s altar in order to receive a certificate. Failure to receive a certificate meant death if someone found out. About sixty years after Domitian, the famous bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp (the disciple of John), was burned alive for refusing to call Caesar “Lord” (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Who and how the church started in Smyrna is a mystery. It could be from Paul’s three-year stay in Ephesus, which was nearby (Walvoord, Revelation, 60; Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 158-160).

II. JESUS ADDRESSES THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA (2:8)

“Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives.” (Rev 2:8) 2

This brief verse emphasis two aspects of Christ’s deity: eternality and resurrection.

A. Christ’s Eternality and Sovereignty
Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:1-7

“1Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: This is the message of the one holding the seven stars in his right hand, of the one walking among the seven golden lampstands. 2I know your good deeds, work, and steadfastness. I also know that you do not allow evil, for you tested those who say to themselves that they are apostles (but are not) and you found them to be liars. 3You have perseverance and endured difficulty in my name while not getting tired. 4But, I have this against you: you abandoned your first love. 5Therefore, remember where you have fallen, express remorse, and do the things you did at first. But, if not, I will come to you and I will remove your lampstand from its place if you don’t repent. 6But, you have this: you hate the work of the Nicolaitans whom I also hate. 7The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: ‘To the one who overcomes I will give the privileged to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna

Bamberg Apocalypse: “John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna” (AD 1000)

C. History and Background of the City of Ephesus

Ephesus was a thriving city at the time of John’s letter (95 AD) that had a population of about 250,000 people (Osborne, Revelation, 108) to 500,000 people (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 434). In terms of commercial work, it was the largest city in the Roman province of Asia (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 128). The city was accessible by both sea and land with well built highways connecting it to other cities (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 128-129). There was no military installment there. Instead, the city was known for its athletic games that it held annually (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 129). Religious life revolved around the Greek goddess, Artemis (see Acts 19:24, 27, 28, 34, 35). Artemis had a 425 foot long and 220 foot wide temple that is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 129).

The city of Ephesus is mentioned several times throughout the New Testament:

  • Paul ended his second missionary journey to Ephesus in AD 52 (Acts 18:19-21)
  • Paul left Priscilla and Aquilla in Ephesus (Acts 18:26)
  • Paul returned to the city of Ephesus in his third missionary journey (Acts 20:31)
  • Paul left Timothy in charge of the church after one of his visits (1 Tim 1:3)

Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of Revelation

B. Text of Revelation 1:9-20

9I, John—your brother and partner in oppression, royal reign, and expectation of Jesus—was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard a great noise behind me like a trumpet sound 11saying: “Write into a book what you see. Then, send it to the seven churches. Send it to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12I turned to see the voice which was speaking to me, and when I turned I saw seven gold lampstands. 13In the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man clothed in a robe, wearing a gold belt around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool and snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. 15His feet were like fine bronze as if they had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of lots of water. 16He was holding seven stars in his right hand, a sharp double-edged sword was coming out of his mouth, and his outward appearance was shining like the sun in his glory. 17When I saw him I fell at his feet like I was dead, but he put his right hand on me saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One. I was dead—but look—now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and Hades! 19Then, write what you have seen, both what is happening and what is about to happen after this. 20This is the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Rev 1:9-20) 1

John's Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1:9-20)

Bamberg Apocalypse: “The Son of Man and the Seven Lampstands” (1000 AD)

II. A VOICE TELLS JOHN TO WRITE REVELATION (1:9-11)

A. The Identity and Location of John (v. 9)

“I, John—your brother and partner in oppression, royal reign, and expectation of Jesus—was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” ( Rev 1:9) 2

John claiming to be exiled to Patmos matches what we know about first century life. Additionally, the islands of Pontia, Gyara, and Seriphus were places that people were exiled to (Charles, Revelation of St. John, 21). Furthermore, the island of Patmos was one of three populated islands (Leros, Lipsos, and Patmos). In other words, Patmos was not a “Gilligan’s Island” type of deal. It had people, a culture, and a ruler.

LEADERSHIP MOMENT – Punishment for Godliness Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own