Revelation 1-3 A Peek into Heaven

TMS 1 John 3:18 True Love Loves Truly
1 John 3:18 “My little children,
let us not love in word or in tongue,
but in deed and in truth.”

Observations: 3:18 It's easy to say “I love you” but following through on those words is a lot more difficult. Many say they love Jesus, but how many are actually loyal to Him, and exclusively His? Our love toward others must not be lip service to the concept, but demonstrated in our deeds as well. When was the last time you sacrificed something you wanted to do in order to serve someone else spiritually or materially? When did you last step out of your comfort zone and risk rejection and ridicule to reprove or rebuke a sinning believer? How about sharing your faith or witnessing to your Lord Jesus so they wouldn't spend an eternity separated from Him?
Application: True love loves truly (according to the truth), whether convenient, comfortable, or welcome.
Prayer: Lord, thanks for loving me, and modeling the love You desire me to have towards others; please help me draw on Your strength and grace to love as You've loved me. Amen.

Revelation 1-3 John gets a trip outside of time to see God's purposes for the earth and believers. He writes of what he saw and heard, and what will be, to encourage believers to be loyal to Christ. This post focuses on the message Jesus revealed to John to give to seven churches in Asia. The accompanying charts under Digging Deeper provide some interesting ways of interpreting the communication to the literal churches.

Revelation 1 A Peek into Heaven
1:1 This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things which must happen soon, which He sent and made known by His angel to His servant, John, 2 who testified to God’s word, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, about everything that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand.
4 John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from God, who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and washed us from our sins by His blood; 6 and He made us to be a Kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen. 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
9 I John, your brother and partner with you in oppression, the Kingdom, and steadfastness in Christ Jesus, was on the isle that is called Patmos because of God’s Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet... 11 saying, "What you see, write in a book and send to the seven assemblies: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." 12 I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. Having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. 13 And among the lampstands was One like a Son of Man, clothed with a robe reaching down to His feet, and with a golden sash around His chest. 14 His head and His hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters. 16 He had seven stars in His right hand. Out of His mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.
17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me, saying, "Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades. 19 Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter; 20 the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies.

Observations: 1:1-3 John introduces the book with a statement of its contents and origin. It is revelation of what must take place (because it is God's plan) concerning Jesus Christ. John sees these things happening. Envision the events of time as occurring linearly on a table, from one end to the other. God is outside of time, seeing the end from the beginning, and everything in between, all at once. As an infinite, transcendent being, He is outside of time. Most questions about what God knows and does are raised by time-bound humans who can't see (or think) beyond their own finite perspective. John gets to view aspects of our reality from God's perspective, as they unfold sequentially from the human perspective. At the end of the book he sees the heavenly Jerusalem descending on a new earth. Obviously this is yet future from our time-bound perspective, but is already a reality from God's point of view.
Blessing is promised to the ones who read or hear, and keep or hold on to the words of this book. That means there will be things to do or obey, which if followed will result in blessing, and which, if ignored, will result in lack of blessing. The certainty of the return of the Lord Jesus the Messiah, to reward His faithful servants, and set up the rule of His Millennial Kingdom, should serve as motivation to be faithful until He returns. The Judgment is certain, John has already seen it.
1:4-8 John writes the seven assemblies/churches in Asia, wishing them the covenantal blessings of grace and peace from God, who is described in past, present, and future aspects, and from the seven Spirits before His throne, and from Jesus the Messiah, who is, among other things: the faithful witness (to God's will/revelation), the firstborn from the dead (which means there are more to come), and the ruler of the kings of the earth (these three descriptions might match the time designations of the Father). John ascribes glory to Jesus, who loves the readers, and washed them from their sins by His own blood, so that they could be priests to God. Jesus is coming with clouds (as promised in Matthew 24:30; 26:64) and every eye will see Him (which obviously hasn't happened yet, nor has the mourning). He is the Alpha and Omega (beginning of the alphabet and the end, encompassing all that is in between). He was, is, and is to come, matching the description of the Father (1:4), and sharing the title of the Almighty. Trinitarianism anyone?
1:9-16 John describes himself as a fellow-sharer/partaker with his readers in the affliction (he was exiled to Patmos), Kingdom (used 7 times in the book), and steadfast endurance (used 7 times in the book). His exile was due to his adherence to God's word and proclaiming the testimony/witness about Jesus the Messiah. He was the only apostle to not be martyred. He was “in the Spirit” probably as in praying in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and heard a voice telling him to write what he sees and send it to the churches noted. They are in Asia, listed in a clockwise order (see map). When John looked, he saw seven golden lampstands, which stood for the seven churches (1:20). In the midst of the lampstands was One like the Son of Man in His glory. The seven stars in His hand are messengers or angels (same word since angels frequently delivered messages) of the churches. Considering this is a scene in heaven, the likely interpretation is that these are angelic beings, like guardian angels for the churches. Although because of the symbolism, of the lampstands being churches (that give God's light to those around them as Israel was supposed to do in the OT as symbolized by the lampstand in the Tabernacle and Temple), the stars might be emblematic or a symbolic “personification” of the message. They will show up again in the next two chapters.
Out of the mouth of Jesus proceeded a two-edged sword (the judging word of God - Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 2:12).
1:17-20 John does what any of us would do when confronted with the glory of God, and Jesus touched him (to revive and strengthen him), and elaborates on His identity and John's task. Jesus affirms that He is the Beginning and End (for whom all exists - Colossians 1:16), who was alive, dead, and alive again, permanently. He has the keys (power over) to Death and Hades (and all contained therein). He gives John the outline for what he is to write:
  • what he has seen (this chapter);
  • what is (the letters to the seven churches in the next two chapters);
  • what will be (in the future).
Jesus then provides the interpretation of the stars and lampstands as noted above.
Application: Jesus is in His glory, but has yet to come back to set up His kingdom and rule, but He will. In the meantime, He has expectations for those who believe in Him, that they would persevere and serve God as priests, offering Him what is pleasing in His sight.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Exalted One, who died to cleanse me from my sin, and enable me to serve You; may I be faithful to accomplish the tasks for which You have me on earth. Amen.

Revelation 2-3 Each of the letters follows a pattern of evaluation, and commendation or condemnation of the church and those in it. Jesus says (through the Spirit) that He knows the works of the believers, and evaluates them. He knows the conditions under which they live, and takes everything into account. Those sinning are urged to repent and a promise of blessing is held out to those who become overcomers. A promise of judgment is held out to those who don't repent. This judgment of believers is for rewards or punishment. It is not about faith in Jesus' death for them (the justification aspect of salvation), but their sanctification and glorification. Jesus issued His calls to discipleship to those who had ears to hear, meaning those who were willing to listen. Each message ends with the same call. See the Chart here, and under Digging Deeper.
When a king in the Ancient Near East would return from conquering new territories, he could reward his faithful servants with rulership (power), priesthood (pleasure - the best food, music, and architecture), and riches, land, or possessions. These are similar to the basic motivations of power, pleasure and possessions, with which we are created and by which we are tempted (compare the temptation of Eve with that of Christ - see comments on 1 John 2:16). When our Lord returns and sets up His Kingdom, He will reward faithful saints in a similar manner.

Revelation 2 Overcome for Glory and Blessing
2:1 To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things": 2 "I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you can’t tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false. 3 You have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God."
8 To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: "The First and the Last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things": 9 "I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won’t be harmed by the second death."
12 To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: "He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things": 13 "I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. You hold firmly to My name, and didn’t deny My faith in the days of Antipas My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise. 16 Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it."
18 To the angel of the assembly in Thyatira write: "The Son of God, who has His eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished brass, says these things": 19 "I know your works, your love, faith, service, patient endurance, and that your last works are more than the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces My servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of her works. 23 I will kill her children with Death, and all the assemblies will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24 But to you I say, to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as don’t have this teaching, who don’t know what some call ‘the deep things of Satan,’ to you I say, I am not putting any other burden on you. 25 Nevertheless, hold that which you have firmly until I come. 26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps My works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. 27 He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of My Father: 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies."

Observations: 2:1-7 The church at Ephesus had a lot going for it. It was the best taught church in the New Testament (see introduction to Ephesians). Both Paul and John ministered there. As a result they knew the truth, and repulsed the onslaught of false teachers seeking to undermine it. They persevered and endured persecution for the name/glory of the Lord, and didn't give up. Yet there was a fault Christ found in them, which would result in loss of their light/glory if they didn't repent and overcome it. The condemnation was that they left or abandoned their first or priority love. Too many preachers/pastors who have been busy doing “ministry” at the expense of abiding in the Vine, have erroneously taught that this passage means the Ephesians had stopped loving Jesus. This is classic projectionism (thinking everyone has your problem). In Ephesians 1 Paul writes that the believers are to be blameless in their love for each other, and then throughout the book (at least eight times) exhorts them to love each other (not the Lord; cf John 13:34-35). If the believers at Ephesus did not repent and love each other as Jesus wanted, they would lose their witness/light. Notice that the corrective is to repent and do works, not believe, to gain forgiveness, so the issue is not justification by faith, but rather sanctification (as is the case in most NT admonitions).
An additional commendation (sandwich rebuke) is given for their hatred of the works of the Nicolaitans. No one knows with certainty who these are or what were their deeds (they show up again in 2:15 as distinct from, not similar to, the doctrine of Balaam), but the etymology or derivation of the word yields two options. Nikao means “victory” or “to conquer” and laos means “people” or “laity.” So it could mean “victory of the people” or “conquer the people or laity.” The former would refer to some anti-authoritarian anti-nominalism (anti-law), which would result in recognizing no Biblical authority or restraints on a believer's behavior. The latter would result in just the opposite, the imposition of a leadership hierarchy on the people as would surface as a distinction between the laity and “clergy,” with abuses of authority. Both were real problems then, and today, as people have trouble submitting to others, and power corrupts. Either flaw should be avoided, but neither might be the issue Christ addressed. A third option is that they were followers of Nicolas, a deacon in Acts 6:5, of whom nothing else is known. Those who overcame or were victorious (same word as “niko”) over the flaw of failing to love their brothers and sisters in Christ, and became blameless in love (Ephesians 1:4 KJV/NKJV) would be rewarded with the right to eat/partake of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. Christ's desire is that believers be victorious overcomers, and only those are rewarded. Eating of the tree of life cannot be equivalent to getting one's sins forgiven, since it is a reward based upon works. The tree first appeared in Genesis 1:26, sin deprived man from eating of it (Genesis 3:22) so they would not eat of it and live (in a glorified state) forever; and only glorified saints will have access to it again in Revelation 22:14, to use the leaves for the healing of the nations over which they rule. The understanding of “live” in Genesis 3:22 and “life” is not mere continuous existence (for that is the destiny of all human and angelic life forms) but that of having glory and exercising dominion (as discussed in comments on Genesis 3 and Deuteronomy 30:19 “choose life that you may live”). To equate “life” with forgiveness of sins, or to say that all believers are “overcomers” is to twist, torture, maim, and kill the context of the passages where the words are found (as well as doing similar harm to justification by faith).
2:8-11 Smyrna was about 40 miles north of Ephesus, the seat of Roman Emperor worship in Asia. Christ knows their works, affliction and poverty (although in His eyes they are rich). They apparently had much opposition from the Jews who really belong to the synagogue of Satan. Jesus has no words of reproof for them, but instead warns them not to be afraid of the persecution which they'll suffer. Satan will use his agents to throw them in prison, and afflict them, even to martyrdom. “Ten days” is probably a symbol for completeness, which would result in death. Those who remain faithful and not deny their loyalty to Christ will receive the crown of life. Crown is a reward (1 Corinthians 9:25; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8); life is dominion. They would rule in Christ's kingdom. Those who overcome and are victorious through the trials would not be harmed by the second death (see comments on Revelation 20). The second death is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). The portion (inheritance) of the unfaithful is burned up in the lake of fire (see Revelation 21:8). Interpreting this any other traditional way necessitates being victorious and overcoming all sin in order to have one's sins forgiven, an impossible position to defend Biblically. Equally impossible is the common but erroneous view that only those who are victorious are those who are born again, which negates faith and grace. These are passages about rewards or inheritance for the holy and victorious. The lack of harm from the second death counterbalances the physical death the martyrs would experience.

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him."
Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has his portion in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

2:12-17 Pergamum, about fifty five miles from Smyrna was where Satan kept his summer palace, and had more pagan temples than Jesus had disciples. Being a believer there must have been difficult not just because of the persecution, but because of the pervasive pressure to compromise. Christ commends their works and loyalty to the faith and His name, even when Antipas was martyred (we know nothing else about him). However, Jesus did have a few things against them. They had some who held to the teaching of Balaam, who when unable to curse the Israelites, taught Balak to derail God's people by enticing them into sensual pagan worship (see Genesis 22 for the difference between Yahweh and pagan worship). Participation in pagan idol worship usually involved feasting and sex, as one acted out the request for fertility. Many temples have excavated large numbers of chambers designed to house temple prostitutes of both sexes. In addition, there were some who held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans (see comments above, and in this context the meaning of “no restraints” would be a close fit). Jesus warns that if they don't repent, He will judge them with the “sword of His mouth” which was the word that said the immoral wouldn't have an inheritance in the kingdom (see comments on 1Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5, etc.). Instead of food offered to idols (the eating of which would give the strength of the God), the Messiah would give the hidden/secret manna (the miracle food which sustained Israel in the wilderness), and a white stone with a secret name on it. There are lots of conjectures about the meaning of the stone, many revolving around a white stone used for acquittal in a vote, but that view doesn't take into account the “name having been written on it" (perfect tense). An interpretation which comes close to fitting the context is the use of a stone with a special mark used to admit the possessor to an entertainment event like a play or concert. The counterpoint to pleasure of pagan sex would be the pleasure of entrance into the courts of the God in whose presence is fullness of joy (cx the unfaithful priests in Ezek 44, a key chapter to know in order to understand Revelation, see comments there).
2:18-29 Thyatira was forty miles south-east of Pergamum, and a center of commerce. Christ knows their works: their love, faith, service, and endurance. They had grown in usefulness to their Master, and were doing more as they matured than at the beginning (a great pattern that isn't always true today). Unfortunately, Jesus finds fault with their toleration (Gasp! Isn't open-mindedness a virtue? Not when sin is involved). It isn't enough to be busy serving the Lord and others, Christ demands purity of His Bride, the church. The assembly was allowing a woman, Jezebel, a false prophetess, probably energized by Satan to gain a following, to lead others astray. She taught and seduced Christ's servants to participate in sensual pagan worship just like at Pergamum above. God graciously gave time for repentance but because of her refusal, will afflict her and those who join with her with disease or sickness (cf 1Cor 11:30-31). When those who are the fruit of her evil are smitten and die, then all the churches will fear, and know that the Lord Jesus evaluates their minds and hearts and will give to each believer according to their deeds (cf 2Cor 5:10 comments). Those who haven't indulged in the “deep things of Satan” (probably the false esoteric knowledge the prophetess promoted as a means to power and success in life) have no other burden except to hold fast to the position they had achieved by their good works listed above, until Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. Those who remain victorious and keep doing Christ's works until the end will be given authority over the nations, to rule as the Messiah does (Ps 2). They will also get the morning star, a reference to partaking in the glory of the Messiah (Malachi 4:2; 2Pt 1:19; Rev 22:16).
Application: Those who desire the blessing and glory that comes from being faithful to Christ, must overcome the challenges and temptations of sin, to live victoriously now, and in the future.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, search my heart and thoughts, and expose my sin, so I can repent of it now, and not miss out on the eternal delights of Your blessings in the future. Thanks. Amen.

Revelation 3 Losers and Winners
3:1 "And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: "He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things: "I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won’t pay attention, I will come as a thief, and you won’t know what hour I will come upon you. 4 Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.
7 To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: 8 I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn’t deny my name. 9 Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and bow before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.
14 To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Head of God’s creation, says these things: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing’; and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. 21 He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies."

Observations: 3:1-6 Drawing on another aspect of the portrait in chapter 1, Christ instructs John to write to the angel or messenger of the church at Sardis, thirty miles south-east of Thyatira, and about a hundred miles inland from Ephesus. Sardis had a reputation for rich and luxuriant living (home of Croesus, the proverbial uber rich man). Christ knows their works and they stink. They have a reputation for being alive, but are in fact dead (like many “big name” churches today resting on their former glories). Jesus tells them to wake up out of their stupor (cf Eph 5:14) and strengthen whatever vestiges they have of the faith, because He has found no works perfected or brought to completion. They need revival, being brought back to life, by remembering the truth they had heard and discarded rather than applied. There are no words of commendation (even Jesus who knows all, couldn't find anything positive to say about the church). They need to go back to the word of God and obey it, changing their thinking about life and their deeds (repentance). If they don't pay attention He will come like a thief, and they will suffer loss. There were a few at Sardis, who did not defile themselves as the rest of the church did (and were probably the fodder for much gossip). The holy ones will walk with Christ in His future Kingdom clothed in white (cf Rev 19:8), for they are worthy. Unsanctified believers are not worthy of blessing and reward. However, those who listen, repent, obey and overcome, will be also arrayed in white, and will not have their name blotted out of the book of life, but Jesus will acknowledge them before the Father when the glory is distributed. The Book of Life was a register of all those citizens who could vote or participate in the rulership of a city-state (see how life is used for ruling or glory). The names of all believers are entered in the Book of Life (Rev 20:15) but those whose names are crossed out lose the right to rule. This is the fate toward which the spiritual sluggards of Sardis were headed, unless they repented and became victorious in overcoming defiling sin.
3:7-13 Philadelphia was about 27 miles south-east of Sardis and receives commendation from Christ, who is holy and true, and holds the key of David (see Isaiah 22:22 and the Davidic Covenant 2Sam 7), the right to rule on the David throne in the Messianic Kingdom. He has set before them an open door (entrance to possession in the Kingdom) which no one could shut (prevent them from entering as the Jews sought to do). Even though the believers had little strength or power, they had kept Christ's word, and didn't deny His name (weren't unfaithful), despite the persecution of the Jews who really belonged to the synagogue of Satan. Christ will make them bow before the faithful believers (which might imply the bad guys are around in the future). Jesus has loved the faithful because they were loyal to Him, keeping His command to endure. Therefore, He will keep them from (ek = “out of” or “away from”) the hour of testing/trial that will come upon all those that dwell on the earth. This means that some believers will escape this universal trial. Some see in this a reference to the Rapture, which does explain the words, but raises a difficulty summarized in the question “why just these believers?” An answer can seen in the chart under Digging Deeper, where each church is thought to represent an type of church, or successive church periods (one problem with this last view is that it could make the last church exist when all believers had been removed from the earth, which isn't an insurmountable problem). Anyway, the certain application for the initial readers is for them to hold fast to what they have so they don't lose their crown/reward, a distinct possibility, otherwise they wouldn't be warned against it. The one who is victorious and overcomes the difficulties of being faithful to Christ will become a pillar (permanent fixture) in the house of God (see the faithful and blessed priests in Ezek 44). Christ will write on the faithful the name of God, just like the High Priest had Yahweh's name on him (Ex 28:36-38). There is no condemnation of this church which was totally pleasing in Christ's sight.
3:14-22 Laodicea, forty miles south-east of Philadelphia and forty miles east of Ephesus, is the lukewarm church. They think they have no needs because their wealth insulates them from dependence upon God. Christ know their works, and they are totally lacking. They think they're rich, but are wretched and poor. He counsels them to pay the cost to buy from Christ, by their effort and obedience, what will remedy their situation. They don't perceive accurately, and are naked (no glory suits for these bad believers - 2 Corinthians 5). Yet Christ still loves them, even though he reproves and disciplines them. He exhorts them to be zealous and repent of their self-sufficiency and sin, and enter into fellowship with Him. Verse 20 is an invitation for intimacy, based upon them heeding His voice and opening their lives to Him. Then He will dine with them (a metaphor for not just fellowship but empowerment). Those who respond and are victorious, he will grant to sit on His throne (rule with Him), just as His right to rule was a function of overcoming the obstacles to do the Father's will, and as a result He sits/rules with the Father. Those who have ears to hear and obey should do so. It's eternally worth it.
Application: Our participation in the blessings of Christ are dependence upon our dependent obedience, otherwise we lose.
Prayer: Jesus, thanks for coming into my life and having a relationship with me; may I be zealous to maintain it, and enjoy Your company now and forevermore. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God shares His glory with Jesus so He can share it with us.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus evaluates the works of all believers and rewards them accordingly or disciplines those who are unfaithful.

Us in a nutshell: Believers must overcome the trials of persecution and temptations of their flesh, so they live in victory, and will share in Christ's victory in the future. Losers will continue to lose.

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