Part One: Judgment (chapters 1-2)

Chapter I
Opening Message

Revelation 1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ: which God gave Him. This expression is the true title to the book. It is a communication or unfolding of the details of future things by our Lord Jesus Christ. These opening statements are startling: (1) God gave Jesus Christ this apocalypse, or “revelation.” (2) It was that He might show it unto His servants (literally bondservants). (3) Jesus Christ communicated it “by his angel.” (4) It was “His servant John” to whom it was communicated (5) John faithfully “bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.”

We have, first, God; then Jesus Christ; then, His angel; then, His servant John, and finally Christ’s servants,—to whom the Revelation comes. Furthermore, we note that John bears witness to two things:

(1) “the word of God,” and (2) “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” “The word of God” is evidently God’s word to Christ in which He communicated to Him this apocalypse, or revelation; and “the testimony of Jesus Christ” is our Lord’s faithful communication of what God gave Him to tell us.

First, there can be no doubt, that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Father, in Hebrews 1:8, addresses Him as God, saying, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Our Lord claimed worship, and plainly says that “all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). And in a comparison of Revelation 1:8 with 22:13, all doubt vanishes.

But, secondly, we must remember and believe Christ’s own words in Matthew 24:36: “Of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.” Compare Mark 13:32, and also His parting words after the resurrection, in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority.”1

Again, in Hebrews 10:12, 13, “He … sat down on the right hand of God, henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.” The word here used means, “to await from the hand of another.” Taken in connection with the preceding verses, it indicates a state of constant expectancy: certain of the event, but leaving the time in the hands of the Father. When our Lord came to earth, we read (Philippians 2:7) He “emptied himself.” He left His glory, His wisdom, and His power, absolutely in the hands of the Father. This did not subtract an iota from His Deity, but placed Him where He could say to the Father (Psalm 22:9, 10), “Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb.” So He spoke on earth, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing.” Now, of course, our Lord has entered into His glory, and all authority has been committed unto Him in heaven and on earth.

Nevertheless, these plain words are before us as we enter upon The Revelation: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him.” This revelation must have been communicated to Him after His ascension to heaven, by the Father who has “set within his own authority” times and seasons. We believe:

1. That the times and seasons are yet within the Father’s authority—of course by the glad consent of the Son.

2. That the book of The Revelation contains the details of the carrying out of the divine decree that all Christ’s enemies should be put under His feet—all things, save the Father, subjected unto Him (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

3. That the Father has not revealed “the day and the hour,” so that we are waiting and watching and expecting, along with our Lord, the Father’s giving Him His Kingdom, which He “went into a far country, to receive … and to return” (Luke 19:12).

Our Lord said in Gethsemane, “Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53, 54). He left it to the Father to grant Him, as He pleased, weakness, shame and suffering, or resurrection, power, and glory. And this was perfect obedience!

Christ will, of course, occupy the eternal throne, for He is God, yet it will be “the Throne of God and of the Lamb,” an infinitely beautiful and gracious arrangement. For our Lord will not retire from us into the Godhead, although He is and will continue to be, “God blessed forever”: but He will be a man, and as such will reign on “the Throne of God and of the Lamb” forever!

To show unto his servants (literally bondservants). This revelation is written not exclusively to the Church, but to all willing subjects of Christ. This will include the spared remnant of Israel, also those among the nations that attach themselves to them in the awful time of trouble; in fact, all companies of God’s saints. Although written “for the churches” (Revelation 22:16), the book of The Revelation is not addressed to the Church, the assembly of God, the Body of Christ, as such, as are Paul’s Epistles. The Revelation is a prophecy, testified to the churches, for their information as to “the things that are to come,” and for warning and correction.

No wonder, then, that those not subject to Christ should find difficulty with the book of The Revelation! It is a remarkable fact, that although our Lord Jesus said in the upper room, “No longer do I call you servants; … but I have called you friends”; and although Paul tells the church saints, in Galatians 4:7, “Ye are no longer bondservants, but full-age sons:”—nevertheless all the apostles in their writings call themselves bondservants of Jesus Christ! If we are having difficulty with this blessed closing book of God’s holy Word, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ as His servants. The book was written to bondservants.

The things which must shortly come to pass. “The things,”—this is definite. It describes events. Do not then look for vague “symbols.” “Must come to pass”— here is certainty, necessity. Man dreams of “development,” “progress,” “achievement.” God says, “The rulers of this world are coming to nought” (1 Corinthians 2:6). Believe God; doubt man. Satan is the prince of this world and the God of this age. He deceiveth the whole world. Let us not be deceived. The things we are about to study in The Revelation “must come to pass,” and, “shortly.”

“Shortly” surely indicates imminence. We have the same Greek expression in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Greek: en tachei). He is not yet bruised, but we are expecting it! The same phrase is used in Revelation 22:6, “The things which must shortly come to pass.” This shuts out the “historical” interpretation of the book,—that is, making the seals, trumpets, vials, etc., apply to the events of the past church centuries. In fact, the strictly prophetic part of The Revelation does not begin till the churches are out of the scene,—that is, after chapter 4. I firmly believe that unless we reject utterly the idea that this part of The Revelation has been “gradually fulfilling itself” in the present age, we shall miss the meaning of the book. Remember Paul’s explanation of the doctrine of the Jewish remnant in Romans 9:27, 28, “The Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.” The present dispensation must not in any sense be confused with God’s future dealing with the Jewish remnant after the true Church has been taken to heaven. Strictly speaking, the true Church has nothing to do with the present age, any more than it has to do with this world. Judgment for her is past; her citi- zenship is in heaven; she is one with Christ; she is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and may be caught up at any moment. Although she is informed in Revelation about “the things which must shortly come to pass” on earth, she will not be in them; even as Enoch was taught of the Lord’s coming and judgment (Jude 14), but yet was not to pass through it; and as Abraham was taught concerning the destruction of Sodom, while he himself dwelt on the mountain away from the place of judgment.

It is absolutely necessary for us to distinguish, as members of the Body of Christ, between what is said about us (in the epistles), and what is told to us, as friends, by our Lord, in The Revelation.

“Shortly,” moreover, not only means imminency, but also rapidity of execution when action once begins. “Things which in their entirety must soon come to pass”—in God’s speedy time, although He seems to delay; for the same Greek expression is translated “speedily” in Luke 18:7, 8.

He sent and signified (them) by his angel unto his servant John; who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw. The manner of the communication of The Revelation to John by Jesus Christ is remarkable. He “sent and signified by his angel.”2 This angelic agency of course does not refer to the title and introduction (1:l-8); nor to the great personal vision of Christ (1:9-20); nor to the messages to the seven churches (chapters 2, 3). Also the thrice repeated “I come quickly,” and the “I Jesus have sent mine angel,” are spoken directly by the Lord. Indeed chapter 22:6-10, and again 10-20 may well have been spoken by the Lord Himself; while the closing verse, like the opening of the book, is the Spirit-inspired utterance of the apostle. Like 1:4-7 it is more apostolic than seer-like in form, and so, more intimate to our hearts.

The manner of angelic communication to John, like other phases of inspiration, is beyond our faculties. Much, indeed, like John, Daniel “heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision” (Daniel 8:16).

The Revelation concerning, as it does, governmental matters on earth, which are in angelic hands until the Millennium, is committed largely to direct angelic ministry.

John speaks of “all things that he saw.” Speculation upon inspiration is vain. God tells us it was “in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1). John, in The Revelation writes much as Daniel wrote. Both deal with God’s government of this world. We may know the whole is authoritative. We shall find here “what the Spirit saith to the churches,” and also the awful tribulation time itself, the Holy Spirit reminding us by His especial witness, that all is taking place according to God (Revelation 14:13); and, at the end, Jesus Himself speaking, attesting all (22:16), although it had been testified by His angel: “I Jesus have sent mine angel.”

Blessed is he that readeth. This is directly contrary to the attitude toward The Revelation which very many Christians have. A special blessing is pronounced on the readers of this book, also on they that hear the words of the prophecy. Living oracles give and support life (John 6:63). Note that it is the words that are to be read and heard. God is especially particular concerning this one prophetic book of the New Testament, as we shall note at its close (22, verses 7, 9, 10, 18, 19). Doubtless the public reading and hearing of this book of The Revelation to the assembled saints is especially in view. “Give heed to reading,” is Paul’s command to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:13); and this was public reading. It ought to be practiced everywhere.3

And keep the things that are written therein. Now the sense of the word “keep” is its primary one of “watching over,” “guarding as a treasure,” as well as its secondary one, “to give heed to.” We cannot “keep” a prophecy as men might “observe” a law. The prophecy will be fulfilled, whether we pay attention to it or not. But there is divine blessing if we give heed to it and jealously guard its very words!

For the time is at hand. No dates are set for this “time of patient grace,” this “day of salvation,” the “acceptable year of the Lord,” in which the Church finds herself. And although from Revelation 4 onward, the Church is to be on high, we must remember that the whole book of The Revelation is included by our Lord in 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches.” “The time is at hand” should be in the heart of every believer, every day! “Prophecy annihilates time, and all intervening and even opposing circumstances, and sets one down on the threshold of accomplishment,” (W. Scott). The first use of the Greek word translated “at hand” should instruct us. Compare Matthew 24:32, 33, “nigh,” “near.” The words are repeated in Revelation 22:10, which see. In John 11:54, 55 you have “near,” of place; and “at hand,” of time; and note in this latter verse that the Jews were getting ready for the event! Despite all the arguments of those who have said, “My Lord delayeth his coming,” the only attitude of obedience is, to “watch”: for we know not the day nor the hour! They are no friends, but deadly foes, who put this and that “event” between the believer and his Lord’s coming.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace. First, regarding the writer of this book: it was John, the beloved disciple. There is no real doubt that John the apostle was the writer.

Fausset well says, “John—the apostle: for none but he (supposing the writer an honest man), would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole survivor and representative of the apostles, and eye witness of the Lord, he needed no designation but his name, to be recognized by his readers.”

John writes as a Seer more than as an Apostle in Revelation. There is no speaking with personal apostolic authority (except in this salutation of 1:4-7; and the benediction of 22:21) as Paul in his epistles, and Peter, and John himself elsewhere. Instead of speaking authoritatively in the Spirit, we find John falling at the feet of the glorified Son of God in this chapter. He is hearing His voice as Judge, and seeing visions of Him as such, for the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, whether it be in the present house of God on earth, the churches; or toward the elect nation, Israel; or toward the earth’s peoples and nations. John in The Revelation is merely the writer. Twelve times in this book he is told to write. Therefore we need to give the more earnest heed to The Revelation. There are those who seek to evade (to their own sorrow) the authority with which Paul was invested. But there is no way of evading the direct words and actions of the divinely-appointed Judge, Christ Himself, here at the end of God’s Book.

The “seven churches” indicate representative assemblies, both as to history, and as to spiritual state. Other important assemblies (like the Colossians within a few miles of Philadelphia and Laodicea), are not mentioned, although doubtless John was familiar with all of them and had labored among them. Let us, therefore, at once take these seven churches as representing all the assemblies of the Church’s history; even as Paul writes to seven cities of the Church’s calling (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians).4

Note the blessed announcement to us, “Grace … and peace.” As our Lord so lovingly speaks at the close (22:16), “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches.” Let us see that we keep the sweet taste of grace and peace as we read of the bitter things that are coming upon the earth. If at any point throughout the terrible things which you read in these Revelation chapters, you cannot stop and look up with perfect confidence saying, “I am under grace, and God has announced peace to me,” then you are falling into unbelief. Flee to the eighth of Romans, and to the second of Ephesians, where you belong! Your Lord will have His servant John write many things for you which are not about you. Paul is your apostle. Any of you who are believers are not appointed unto wrath—any kind or degree of wrath. Israel and the nations will experience wrath; but you, who are in Christ, are already glorified (Romans 8:29, 30)!

From him who is and who was and who is to come. This is the Eternal One, the self-existent Source of all being, and the One to whom all moral beings are responsible. How different this name of God from Paul’s greetings: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father,” for Paul’s task was to set forth our sonship and its blessed privileges. Or, as John himself writes (1 John 1:3, 4): “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: and these things we write, that our joy may be made full.”

The Revelation is not dealing with the unutterably glorious standing of the Church as the Body of Christ and of the saints as full-grown sons of God, and of our heavenly calling and walk. These things are not to be forgotten for a moment by the believer who reads The Revelation. The Revelation is “obviously distinct from the other parts of the New Testament, in that God is reverting a great deal to the principles on which He had acted in Old Testament times.”

It is at once manifest that God is spoken of here as “the Administrator of the world,”—indeed, of all creation; and the third and second Persons of the Deity are likewise connected here with government, rather than salvation. It is of the highest importance to see this.

We read, consequently, of the Holy Spirit, not as “the one Spirit” dwelling in all the members of the one body, but, from the seven Spirits that are before his throne.

There is, of course, but one blessed Spirit: yet He is spoken of here as seven-fold; for He is the executive person of the Godhead, and acting in The Revelation in a purely governmental way. In this character His place is “before the throne of God” in heaven, as we read in Revelation 4:5: “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Now if we turn to Isaiah 11, we find that upon our Lord’s return as King, upon the throne of David, the Spirit rests upon Him in His governmental offices in exactly a seven-fold way: first, as to His Deity—“the Spirit of Jehovah”; second, of wisdom; third, of understanding; fourth, counsel; fifth, might; sixth, knowledge; seventh, “the fear of Jehovah” (begetting that fear). And also in Zechariah 3:9 and 4:6, 10, we again read of the governmental operation of the Spirit of God: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts” … “these seven shall rejoice, … the eyes of Jehovah, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”

We find our Lord Jesus Christ, although the second person of the Trinity, mentioned last, in Revelation 1:5, for God desires immediately to emphasize certain things concerning Him; and it is He who is to rule on earth.

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. He was that, first, when He was on earth, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:13, “Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;” or, as our Lord says in John 7:7, “The world … me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil.” But He is evermore the witness to the truth, as we shall see in His searching messages to the seven churches, covering the present time, as well as when He afterwards carries out faithfully what is written in the seven-sealed book of judgment on the world.5

Next He is called the firstborn of the dead. Others who were raised, like Lazarus, were brought back into this earthly life merely to die again; Christ, into “newness of life,” in eternal victory over death. The Greek word for firstborn (prototokos) is a most important one to lay to heart, indicating, as it does, the fact of His divine personal dignity and precedence. This is the explanation of the same word in Colossians 1:15, “the firstborn of all creation”; which does not for a moment mean that our Lord was a creature, but that He is the head, object and heir of all creation. The very next verse declares that “all things have been created through him, and unto him”! And inasmuch as the book of The Revelation is to reveal all things actually subjected to Him, we must connect Psalm 89:26, 27, 37, with our Lord. God the Father speaks of Christ thus: “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father … I also will make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth”;—just as the very words, “the faithful witness” are found in verse 37 of this great Psalm!

This leads us to the third designation of Christ in Revelation 1:5: the ruler of the kings of the earth. Ruler, not prince: our Lord is not one of the princes of the earth, but the ruler of them all, as will be brought forth in The Revelation.

This characterizes the whole book of The Revelation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not seen in His work of redemption—that is Romans; nor in His office as High Priest and Advocate on high—that is Hebrews and 1 John; but the first great question in The Revelation is, Who shall rule,Satan and man? or God by Christ? Keep this in mind through all our study.

But ere we enter upon Christ’s stern offices of judgment, John is given to speak a most tender word to our very hearts: Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood. Remember,—do not forget!—the words of John 13:1: “having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” Jude, after a brief story of the apostasy of Christendom, stands at the portal to The Revelation and speaks, as we are about to enter this great book, “beloved … keep yourselves in the love of God.” Note in Revelation 1:5 that the loving is in the present tense, and the loosing in the past (aorist). The loosing was done once for all at Calvary; the loving goes on forever!

And he made us to be a Kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father. Notice again that John does not here speak of us as the Body of Christ, and members one of another—which of course we are—but as a kingdom. It is unfortunate that the old version here calls us “kings.” The word in the Greek is in the singular number, “kingdom.” The reference to us as a kingdom is entirely consistent with the whole book of Revelation. We must connect this passage with Revelation 5:9, 10, where the four living ones and the four and twenty elders sing a new song concerning Christ, who has just taken over the seven-sealed book: “Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them … unto our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon the earth.” Both these passages, of course, look forward to the millennial reign of chapter 20, after which the earth will pass away.

Notice that we have been made priests unto Christ’s God and Father, for Christ is the heir, and we inherit through and in Him. It is intensely interesting, and solemnly instructive also, that we are not only a kingdom, but priests. Of course, all believers have this priestly function now, as in Ephesians 2:18: “through him (Christ) we have our access in one Spirit unto the Father”; and we are today those to whom God looks to pray “for all men; for kings and all that are in high place” (1 Timothy 2:1, 2), as well as for one another, for all saints, and for the salvation of others. We are also to be offering up “a sacrifice of praise to God continually,” through our Great High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 13:15). But The Revelation looks forward to the exercise of royal priesthood! When our Lord Jesus shall return to earth to reign, the full Melchizedek priesthood will come in: “He shall be a priest upon his throne”—and we with Him!

No wonder, then, that John utters the adoring words, to him be the glory and the dominion unto the ages of the ages. Amen. He speaks thus of Christ, who is God. Otherwise the words are blasphemy. It is deeply solemn to note that the first of the many ascriptions of praise in this wonderful book of The Revelation is given to Christ, who “loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood.” Let us be forever rejoicing in it. Also the first use of God’s great particular designation of eternity, “unto the ages of the ages,” is in thus ascribing eternal glory and dominion to Christ.6

And now we come to what we may properly call the first great TEXT of the book of The Revelation: Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

We call it a text, or theme, because all preceding our Lord’s glorious advent to this earth in chapter 19 leads up to that event. Next, He reigns on earth 1000 years. And, after the last judgment, the New Creation is seen, and we have in 21:5, the second great TEXT: “Behold, I make all things new.” But note that in the last chapter of The Revelation, our Lord will three times emphasize His personal coming as the object of all thought and hope: “Behold, I come quickly!” “Behold, I come quickly!” “Yea: I come quickly!” (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20).

Those who understand the place our Lord’s personal return to this earth holds in Scripture, find The Revelation unfolding itself to them. To others it is merely a “book of symbols”—vague, objectless.

Now it is not the rapture of the Church, when we shall be “caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air,” that is seen in Revelation 1:7, although doubtless that rapture is involved and included. It is rather the public revelation, or epiphany to the whole world that is referred to, because that event brings in the kingdom toward which The Revelation looks.

The Greek word, “parousia,” beginning with Matthew 24:3, is used sixteen times in the New Testament as a general term for Christ’s presence as against His absence now in heaven. “Parousia” is the opposite of “apousia,” (absence). Both Greek words appear in Philippians 2:12,—“not in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence (apousia).” Compare the same word in 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10.

However, the term “parousia,” applied to our Lord’s coming, covers His arrival in the upper air, His taking the Church up thither, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13- 18; our each appearing before His bema, or awarding-seat there (1 Corinthians 3:12, 15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and the marriage of the Lamb of Revelation 19:6-10. During this period we are spoken of as “tabernacling in the heavens” (Revelation 13:6).

During this time we shall find chapters 6 to 16 under fulfilment, including The Great Tribulation, which will cover the last three and a half years before our Lord’s public coming spoken of in Revelation 1:7.

This public manifestation is called in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “the manifestation of his coming”: literally, the epiphany (epiphaneia) of His parousia,—so vividly translated by Rotherham: “the forthshining of His arrival.” Our Lord arrives in the upper air first, taking up His saints; then, after the terrible events on earth culminating in The Great Tribulation, we read in Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (the revelation of Himself to the spared remnant of Israel according to Zechariah 12:10); and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This is the great, manifested coming of Revelation 19:11-16.

This public manifestation is that phase of our Lord’s coming with which The Revelation deals. The rapture of the Church is secret, instantaneous, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Furthermore, the Lord must have come for His saints in order to come with them. For we read in Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested (this is public), then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.”

It is of the very first importance that we distinguish the rapture of the saints from their manifestation at Christ’s revelation. To be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord and the joy of His presence is certainly different from “the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance” (II Thessalonians 1:7, 8).

“Behold, he cometh” is the one vivid point, the common expectation. It is motion from a place to a place. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven.” He is now the Man, glorified, at the right hand of the Father. “From thence he shall come.”

Now, this advent, or arrival, of Revelation 1:7, is an exact fulfilment of the promise given the disciples in Acts 1:11: “This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.” There, in verse 9, “as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” He went up with a visible, tangible body. He went up in their sight, a cloud covered Him from vision. Exactly thus will He be manifested.

But note quickly that this coming with clouds of Revelation 1:7 is not describing the rapture of the Church essentially. We are, indeed, to be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, but He is the Lord from heaven, and we, “accepted in the Beloved,” being one with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies, are not connected with clouds or earth; therefore the rapture will take us as heavenly ones into the presence of our heavenly Lord, into the midst of the clouds with which He will afterwards come, and we with Him.

Every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him—that is, the whole earth and especially the Jewish nation. Zechariah’s prophecy (12:10), and John’s words (John 19:37), prove this. See also Matthew 24:30.

“Every eye” shall see His public manifestation as Son of man, beheld from the earth’s surface. It is not the rapture of the Church, when “we shall see him even as he is,” and “be like him” (1 John 3:2). There is no mourning there! It is, however, the exact fulfilment of Matthew 24:27, 29, 30: there is the darkening of the sun, moon and stars, just before; then the sudden bursting on the scene “as lightning” of the arrival, the presence (parousia) of Christ, His holy angels, and all His saints! “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

First, black night—the withdrawal of all creature light; next, the sudden appearance of the Son of man, but, as “the sign,” for He must be seen by the remnant of Israel and the “sign” is this vision of Himself, when “they look on him whom they pierced.” Then comes the most utter “mourning of sorrow” ever known on earth, for this nation who crucified Him.

We must remember that it is back to the Mount of Olives, whence He went away, that He will come. Just before His feet “stand upon” that mountain (Zechariah 14:4, 5), He will make Himself seen in His glory, yea, in His love, to Israel, beleaguered by the hostile nations of earth. Read Zechariah 14:1, 2. Jerusalem will be taken—half made captives, the residue spared. Then comes Christ: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” “And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with thee.” There must be, however, a little space for this mourning (Zechariah 12:10—13:1). It is at that time that “a nation shall be born in a day.” Israel, like Thomas, must see before they believe, but they shall see! So the weeping of the spared of Israel will be penitential grief over this Messiah whom in their blindness they pierced. But the fountain “for sin and for uncleanness” will at that time be opened to them (Zechariah 13:1), and they will cry, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him” (Isaiah 25:9).

But what about the tribes of the earth?7 Their mourning will be because of utter loss, despair and terror. “And men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty” (Isaiah 2:19); for “the day of the Lord” shall come upon them “as a thief,” “suddenly as a snare” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; Luke 21:34, 35). That day is “the death knell of the world’s gayeties and pleasures, the turning of their confidence to consternation, the conversion of their songs to shrieks of horror and despair.”

Even so, Amen. Here we have the Greek word “nai,” which means “entire assent,” “yea!” and the Hebrew “Amen,” which means, “be it done.” Both words are found in 2 Corinthians 1:20, and also in the next to the last verse of The Revelation. In Revelation 1:7 they are in the apostle’s mouth, and should be in the mouth of every believer, Jew or Gentile, as a response to the prophecy of our Lord’s coming. In Revelation 22:20 the “nai” meaning “yes,” “yes indeed,” “truly,” is in the mouth of Christ; the response, “Amen,” meaning, “let it be so,” “I consent from my heart,” is in the mouth of His apostle, representing us all!

And now we come to Revelation 1:8, where God sets His own seal upon this book of The Revelation; and we beg deep consideration of this great verse. God as the great I AM is attesting this last book in a most unusual and solemn way.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. It is evident that God speaks here as God. Our Lord Jesus Christ takes the same titles in Revelation 22:13: for He is the second person of the deity. Yet it is fit- ting that here in chapter one, after the announcement of our Lord’s coming, and of the general contents of The Revelation (in view of the character each Person of the Trinity takes), there should be a solemn seal upon all by God as GOD. It is fitting also that this seal should cover the revelation made of Himself to men in connection with earth in all the former Scriptures.8

Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, call attention instantly away from every creature-claim—God is all! The expression “From aleph to tau (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet), was used by the Hebrew rabbis to signify completely, entirely. Men dream of “evolution”—that is, a beginning without God. It is Satan’s lie in toto. They also dream of “development,” that is, “progress” without God;—even prating of “eternal advancement,” though they “die like gnats.” God, the I Am, declares Himself to be the Alpha and the Omega: not a beginning and an end, but the only One: “the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth … I, Jehovah, the first and with the last” … “I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God” … “from the time that it was, there am I.” Take a tonic for spiritual anaemia from the forties of Isaiah!

“The Lord God.” Here we have two names of God from the Old Testament. Adonai is the title of absolute authority, as “Lord of lords, the great God,” in Deuteronomy 10:17; or Micah 4:13, “the Lord of the whole earth”; or, Lord also of heaven’s hosts, Isaiah 10:33. God’s children know and acknowledge His lordship.

Then “God.” This is “El” or “Elohim”: the mighty One, beginning with Genesis 1:1.

Then we have the Jehovah name of self-existence: “who is and who was and who is to come.” See Exodus 3:13-15.9 But it is not mere self-existence that is seen here: it is God in absolute present existence,—“who is”; but looking back to His former revelations of Himself and His purposes,—“who was”; and also able, and ready, and about to, make good all in the future that He has been and spoken in the past,—“who is to come.”

It is striking that when the dispensation changes and God, after the trumpet of the seventh angel, takes His “great power,” manifestly to reign, the twenty-four elders worship God as the One “who art and who wast” (11:17): for at that moment they have entered into eternity, so to speak; they are with God, and God at last begins to rule in public righteousness, which, of course, will be forever. So the words “who is to come” are no longer needed.

“The Almighty.” There is nothing more profitable than to meditate upon the names and titles of Deity. Although the name Jehovah seems to have been known and called upon even before the flood (Genesis 4:26), even the patriarchs did not understand its meaning as Jehovah revealed it for Israel. It was by the name Almighty He asked Abram and the patriarchs to walk (Genesis 17:1): “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Exactly the same counsel is given by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17—7:1. All power is in God, not in the creature.10

It is necessary for us to become thoroughly acquainted with God’s introduction of Himself in this book of The Revelation, for it characterizes Him throughout the book. The little son of a presiding judge might sit in a court room, and when the judge enters, delightedly exclaim, “That’s my father!” but he would have no desire to in- terrupt the proceedings! Indeed, he would glory in the pronouncements of his father as judge; and in the judge just because he was his father.

So with the saints: they are willing, yea, they rejoice, that judgment should begin even at the house of God, as it indeed does do in the seven churches.

And now we come to the first of the three great visions of Christ in the book of The Revelation: the first is as the risen, glorified Son of God judging during the present age the spiritual state of the assemblies—“churches” —on earth, as His light-bearers. The second is as the Lamb in heaven “as it had been slain” taking the book of government and judgment from the hand of God on the throne. The third is as the King of kings and Lord of lords returning to earth in the Great Day of Wrath to establish the millennial kingdom. May God especially help us, for we are on holy ground here:

I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.

I John. These words are used in 22:8. Compare “I, Daniel,” Daniel 8:15, 9:2, 10:2. As Daniel was known throughout the Babylonian and Persian empires, among both Jews and Gentiles, and took this for granted, so John, the last of the apostles and well-known of all Christians, takes for granted the intimate knowledge of himself and affection for himself that history and tradition assert, especially in the very region to which the Church epistles were addressed.11

Your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus. Again we remark that John writes The Revelation not as an apostle exercising authority, but as a Seer, unfolding that unveiling of the future which Christ gave him. How humble and loving is his attitude. There is absolutely no “ecclesiastical dignity” here! Note the order: trouble and trial—tribulation—first; then the kingdom assured to us, and then the patient waiting for that kingdom’s manifestation. Compare Acts 14:22: “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God;” 2 Thessalonians 1:4, 5: “your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure … to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” (Note here it is not The Great Tribulation, but the ordinary trials of Christians.) We are in Christ as to our risen life, standing and fellowship; but that life becomes the life “of Jesus when manifested in our body; and is hated of the world; so that we are “delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11).12

Was in the isle that is called Patmos. Where The Revelation was written, we cannot say. Irenaeus says in Ephesus, but the visions were received on a small, rocky, barren island in the Aegean Sea, fifty or more miles from Ephesus, probably in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, A.D. 81-96, who had banished John thither.

For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. The “word of God” is the larger term setting forth that insisting upon God’s claims on men and warnings to them to which all the prophets bear witness. The testimony of Jesus is the gospel, John’s peculiar message being that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God”—dying, rising, interceding and about to return as Lord over all. “Art thou a king, then?” asked Pilate of Christ. For saying “yes” our Lord was crucified. For witnessing the same, His apostles and martyrs suffered. It is striking that John mentions the kingdom (“tribulation, kingdom and patience”) in verse nine. The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right!

I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. Now, first, as to the “Lord’s day.” It was the first day of the week, in which, although banished, John had spiritual fellowship with the believers who gathered on that day to remember the Lord (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, John 20:19-26). The words do not mean “the day of the Lord,” in the sense of His advent and 1000 years’ reign, as some teach. First, the adjective form is the same as in the words “the Lord’s supper” in 1 Corinthians 11:20; and, second, it is too early in the book to refer to “the great and terrible day of the Lord”; and third, the church age is directly addressed in the letters to the seven churches in 1:19: “the things which are.”13

“I became in the Spirit.” The reading “was in the Spirit,” as if denoting simply a devotional state or even a conscious “communion of the Holy Ghost,” is impossible here, as also in 4:2.14

And I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. Compare 4:1, where the same voice speaks again after the same manner. “It is important to apprehend that the general object of this book is the revelation of the relations of God, as ruler, with the world, viewed as intro- ducing into it Jesus as heir. It will be seen how much of difficulty this removes” (Darby). It is the same blessed person who said, “Come unto me,” and who took young children in His arms; upon whose loving bosom John himself leaned his head at the supper; but the circumstances are absolutely different. The trumpet accompanied divine manifestations and commands—Exodus 19:13, 16, 19. It emphasized authority, whether for solemnity, alarm, or gladness—Numbers 10:1-10; Leviticus 25:9; Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15: 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We must recognize the lordship of Christ. Note that it is Christ’s voice in Revelation 1:10, “as of a trumpet.”

Saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Note that the book is to be sent to each church individually. There was then no “synod,” “convention,” “conference,” or “diocese” of Asia! What follows, then, belongs to this church age, represented by these assemblies. The churches addressed were then existent. We have not therefore come to the part of the book which deals either with Israel or the earth or the Day of the Lord. Our Lord indeed will be speaking to these churches with trumpet authority; yet it will be “what the Spirit saith to the churches,” and it will be “as many as I love, I reprove and chasten.”

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. The Lord spake behind His servant. John was evidently wrapped in thoughts of communion, of that “fellowship … with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” which he constantly had, and desired all saints to share (1 John 1:3, 4). But the Lord has other plans for His servant on this Lord’s day! Note that it is the voice he turns to see. Our Lord is ever the Word of God.

I saw seven golden candlesticks (literally, lamp-stands). John is about to learn how the Lord judged of that which bore His name on the earth. There are seven—not seven in one, as with Israel (Exodus 25:31-40). Each church is independently responsible to the Lord although all are governed by Him and addressed by the one Spirit. “The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light. The light is the Lord’s, not the Church’s; from Him she receives it.” Moreover, the candlesticks are of gold, which in scripture types stands for the glory of God, which the churches were set to maintain.15

In this wondrous vision of the glorified Lord in the midst of the candlesticks, the churches, mark how all the description sets forth His Judgeship, which is His character until the New Creation comes, in chapter 21.

And in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man. How infinitely precious to the heart is His appearance as connected with us, although glorified with the glory which He had “with the Father before the world was!” Yet Paul never calls Christ “son of man”: He takes that name only when He claims what is due Him on earth.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot. This is the robe of the priest and of the judge. Also, it is the aspect of the priest, not in priestly services, but in judging character. It was the high priest’s business to see that the candlestick was “kept in order” in the old sanctuary through the night,—“from evening to morning” Leviticus 24:3, 4.

These candlesticks (Revelation 1:12), all bear light, for they are the churches or assemblies of saints still recognized by the Lord, and consequently still having the right to the oil of the Holy Spirit, and to Christ as light. Nevertheless, our Lord’s attitude is in the dignity of priestly judgment rather than as Intercessor, or even using the “snuffers,” with which the high priest kept bright the lamps of the Jewish candlestick. Here in The Revelation He is judging each church’s use of its light,—that is, dealing with the churches according to their responsibility to burn brightly, rather than seeing to it from His side that they do thus burn.

Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The correct rendering of Isaiah 11:5, is, “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.” Our Lord in The Revelation scene is girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The girdle at the loins means service. When Christ returns to reign, as in Isaiah 11, it will be both in majesty and in service: therefore the double girdle. But in The Revelation He is not serving, but stands as a priestly judge: therefore the girdle at the waist only; and it is of gold, setting forth His divine glory. Contrast John 13:4, 5. Jesus “girded … to wash the disciples’ feet.” This is the same Lord, for He keeps cleansing us yet, but in an entirely different office than portrayed in The Revelation.

And his head and his hair were white as white wool, … white as snow. Here is the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 22. Notice Daniel says that the Ancient of Days sat on the throne, and also that the Ancient of Days came. As we find in Revelation 5:6, 7, “in the midst of the throne … a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, … he came,” and took the book, etc. All must honor the Son even as they honor the Father.

White,—the color of deathlessness and of eternity as well as of holiness. John seems to have been given to see His head and hair and eyes at first with some withholding of the forthshining of His brightness, in order that he might distinguish them.

His eyes were as a flame of fire. Not yet a flame of fire, as in 19:12, in the great and terrible day, for it is yet the dispensation of grace; but they are none the less searching.

His feet like unto glowing brass,16 as if they had been made fiery in a furnace (literal translation). The only metal I ever looked upon which absolutely dazzled my sight was a piece of fine brass. Brass is a composite metal, produced through fire.

His voice as the voice of many waters. Here is resistlessness, the effect of the multitude of the attributes of deity! It is not the trumpet sound, calling to attention, so much as the infinitude of the voice. Read Psalm 29.

He had in his right hand seven stars. In the midst of the overwhelming glory of Christ’s presence the seven stars are thrust upon John’s attention. “In his right hand”—the place of power and authority, as well as possession.

Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. This is His word, the word of God at Christ’s mouth: living, active (Hebrews 4:12). It is peculiarly through this word, spoken by the Spirit, that He will judge and administer among the churches.

His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Now the Seer is given to look fully upon the face of the glory of Christ, and we read, “when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead.” So also Isaiah (Isaiah 6); Moses and Aaron, often; Joshua (Joshua 5); Job (Job 42), and all to whom it was given to view God’s glory. Let all who deny the Deity of Christ behold His beloved disciple at His feet “as one dead,”— at one sight of Him glorified. It is also to be noted that having seen Christ thus, John is no more afraid,— not even of the throne in heaven!

And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not;—the same grace yesterday, today and forever! He is the One who evermore speaks to His own, “It is I; be not afraid.”

Now follows a three-fold utterance that should banish all our fears forever:

1. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. These are the words of God! Or the Jews were right, “He blasphemeth” (John 10:33-38; 8:58, 59). Again in
Revelation 22:13:—He is the Eternal One, the Self-Existent One. He is God, though He is man.

2. And I became dead, and behold, I am alive unto the ages of the ages (literal translation). Peter writes, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” For forty days after His resurrection He had been with the disciples, not yet glorified, even eating and drinking with them, again and again (Acts 10:40, 41). To know by His own word from out that glory in which He now stood that the One whom John had seen dead and pierced was alive forevermore,—“this same Jesus,”—would be comfort unutterable to His apostle’s heart! He speaks first as the deity. Secondly of His death as a divinely ordained event,—“I became dead”; and thirdly of His humanity for all eternity! “Alive” is used in the New Testament only of those in the body. It is supremely important that we hear our Lord announcing His being alive in His risen body, “unto the ages of the ages,” whether as “the Lamb” in heaven, “the King” coming in the Day of Wrath, “Christ” reigning with His saints, Him who sits on the Great White Throne (John 5:22, 27), or the Lamb “on the throne of God and of the Lamb” forevermore!

3. And I have the keys of death and of Hades. Death held the bodies and Hades the spirits of men in Old Testament times. Since Christ’s resurrection death briefly holds the bodies, though Hades17 does not hold the spirits, of God’s saints.

Christ’s words should banish fear. One who has the keys of all is speaking, commissioning “his servant John” with His tender hand still laid upon him, but in the character of the eternally Living One now alive unto all the ages, and having the keys!

Our Lord has a character, an office, to maintain, of which many Christians think lightly, or not at all. He is the One ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead; for God “will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). It will not do to forget this, or we will lose that fear of God which is “the beginning of wisdom.” We have been commanded to “have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28, 29). We are indeed in a dispensation of grace, God “not reckoning trespasses,” and gladly accepting all who believe. But God has seen fit to give this revelation, this apocalypse, to Jesus Christ, that He might show it unto His servants, and if you or I neglect or slight this one great prophetic book of the New Testament, who can say where we will end? Unitarianism, Universalism, and no-hellism are rolling like tidal waves over the land. “Blessed is he that readeth” The Revelation, and keeps its every word inviolate!

Write therefore. You see it is in view of this vision of the glorified Christ, the Son of God, of Revelation 1, and of those declarations concerning Himself which we have just been considering, that John is to write: “Write therefore.” Judgment, like salvation, is connected solely with the person of Christ. I beseech you, study The Revelation with this before you: God is bringing again the firstborn into the earth, and that as the Heir (Hebrews 1:2, 6). It will be vain to become occupied with “sevens,” “hundred-forty-four-thousands,” “six-sixty-sixes,” the restoration of the Roman Empire, the person of the Antichrist, the two wild beasts, the “millennium,” or even the new Jerusalem; unless, along with God the Father, who has subjected all things unto Him, Christ is ever before our eyes! No doubt, having put down all enemies, “then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him” (1 Corinthians 15). That does not mean that the throne of God and of the Lamb will cease, for it will be forever and ever and ever!

We now have our Lord’s own outline of the book of The Revelation. Let no one misunderstand it (for it is very simple and plain); nor dare dispute it; nor think to substitute for it his own vain thoughts!

The Lord’s outline: 1. The things which thou sawest—that is, the vision which we have just beheld of Christ Himself. 2. The things which are (are on). 3. The things which shall come to pass after these things (literal translation). This last has but one possible meaning,—those things which succeed in time the things that are now on, or the Church things.

We shall have occasion to recur from time to time to this divine division of the contents of this book.18

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. A mystery (Greek, musterion) denotes not what is beyond our understanding, but simply what must be revealed to be understood: it signifies a hitherto hidden truth, veiled perhaps, under a symbol, but now revealed. “The correlative of mystery is revelation.”

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches. We have seen that these seven churches were chosen by the Lord to represent assemblies of the whole church age. Seven is completeness: they represent all the assemblies and they are fully in Christ’s control. Not only is He “head over all things to the church, which is his body,” the real Church, but also all local assemblies, and whether faithful or not, they lie in His direct and exclusive ownership and dominion.

There has been much discussion of the meaning of the angels of the churches. “Angel” (Greek, aggelos) signifies “a messenger”; “apostle” (Greek, apostolos), “one sent forth.” Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23) calls Titus and those travelling with him “the apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ,” (literal translation).

In the sense of our Lord’s words, “their angels do always behold the face of my Father” (Matthew 18:11), the meaning is evident. Their representatives (in this instance, actual heavenly beings) are called “angels.”

Stars in Scripture stand for those having authority and leadership; also for teachers, both faithful (Daniel 12:3), and false (Jude 13). Inasmuch as the name “angel” is our Lord’s interpretation of the symbol star, the name “angel” cannot be itself another emblem. It must be the actual name applied by the Lord to certain persons definitely responsible for the state of the churches addressed. Now the Greek word aggelos, translated “angel,” is used of men, in Luke 7:24—“the messengers (aggeloi) of John.” In 7:19 we read of these same men, “John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to the Lord … and … they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying,” etc. That is, they were the representatives of John, just as in the same chapter (verse 27) the same word (aggelos) is used concerning John himself, in his relationship to Christ: “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face.”

Again, in James 2:25, the word aggelos is used to describe the spies who came to Rahab: “she received the messengers” (aggeloi) etc.; just as we read of “the angels of God” meeting Jacob in Genesis 32:1; and, in the third verse, of Jacob himself sending “messengers” (the same Hebrew word both times—malahchim). Indeed, this word is used by Moses in Numbers 20:14, “And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom,” while in verse 16 of the same chapter we read, “He heard our voice, and sent an angel,” the Hebrew word being the same. Again, in Judges 6 the angel of the Lord is mentioned seven times, and the angels, or messengers, Gideon sends, twice—the same word. Sennacherib’s representatives are called “messengers” in Isaiah 37:9, 14; and in the same chapter, verse 36, we read of the “angel of the Lord”—the same word.

Now we know from Daniel 12 that Michael the archangel stands for the nation of Israel. There is no hint, however, that angelic beings bear any such relationship to or responsibility for, the assemblies of God in this dispensation. Indeed, the very contrary is implied in Colossians 2:19. Christ is the only Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit the only Administrator of her affairs on earth. But men are held responsible. Paul (Acts 20:28) said to the Ephesian elders (and Christ begins with the Ephesus assembly in The Revelation): “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops”—(episkopoi, that is, over-watchers). Peter also: “The elders … I exhort … tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the overmatching willingly … neither as lording it over God’s heritage, but making yourselves examples to the flock” (literal translation).

We read in 2 Corinthians 8:19 and 23, of those sent forth with Titus, that they were the messengers (Greek, apostoloi, apostles) of the churches; they were “the glory of Christ,” while in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, concerning Satan and his ministers, that they fashion themselves into apostles of Christ: “for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.”

Therefore the angels of these churches (Revelation 2 and 3), are those appointed by the Lord, and this appointment brought about by the Holy Spirit, to represent and be held responsible by Christ for the condition of each assembly. Such “angels” may or may not be recognized or appointed by men: they are often despised by men. But they deal with the Lord directly concerning the assembly which each represents. They are capable of receiving personal, spiritual communications from Christ concerning the assembly, and are responsible to Him alone to carry out His directions.

We shall see in these seven epistles that the invasion of overlording ecclesiasticism made no difference in the relationship of the “angel” of any church to Christ. He was still able to address the church through the angel, despite Balaamites and even the woman Jezebel, and all obstacles.

As Hengstenberg says, “They were called ‘angels of the churches’ because they were sent of God to the churches to be guarding them.” He compares Matthew 18:10, concerning the “little ones”: “in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Thus, so long as it has its lampstand at all, the “angel,” or spiritual representative of an assembly, is a “star” in the Lord’s hand.19

Now, in this dispensation, the Church is God’s house.20 1 Timothy 3:14.

Now there are in general three forms of iniquity judged in The Revelation.

First, there are the common sins of “mankind” which take the forms of idolatry, lust and violence. They are distinctly seen in Revelation 9:20, 21 (compare the two great commandments of the law given to Israel, Mark 12:33).

Second, there is the awful atheistic blasphemy of the wild beast of Revelation 13, sustained by Satanic power.

But, third, there is that which makes possible the first, and provokes into being the second—that is, the corrupt ecclesiasticism or clerisy of an apostate church. This, of course, precedes the other two.

Man awaits the permission of religion to indulge himself in the sin he loves. There is too little consideration given this awful fact. Even in professedly Christian institutions of “learning,” a course in “comparative religions” is calmly prescribed! Now God declares that “the things the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God”; and also that Satan is “the god of this age,” and “the prince of this world”; and that we true believers “are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

That the devil hates the Church of God with a deadly enmity goes without saying, for the saints confess and serve the Lord Jesus Christ under whose feet the God of peace will shortly bruise Satan.

Real believers, moreover, have been raised up with Christ and made to sit in the heavenlies with Him, being united to the lowly One who now is “far above all power and dominion”; and whom Satan so fears that he will flee, if resisted in faith by saints subject to God. It is that bringing on the scene of the direct power of the Lord Jesus through the Holy Ghost (the Christian’s proper warfare, Ephesians 6:10-14), which the enemy so dreads and against which he is so desperately malignant.21

Therefore we will be foolish indeed not to look for the history of Satanic opposition in this account of the churches. And we may expect the professing church to be tempted along the same old lines,—first, of pride and self-assertion; secondly of fleshly indulgence, lust and license; thirdly of that hateful ruse called idolatry by which man seeks to hide from himself by “religious” rites his real spiritual state, while he indulges his evil propensities.

Let us study these seven messages in view of the several parts of each.

Chapter II
The Seven Letters

Revelation 2, 3

About one-eighth of the book of Revelation is taken up with these seven messages. The true student of God’s word learns to give most attention to what God most emphasizes. Therefore we beg the reader not to pass lightly over these seven solemn messages from the Lord Himself concerning our own days, nor to be in undue haste to get over into the distinctly prophetic and more spectacular part of The Revelation, beginning at chapter four.

Some one truly says, “There is always a tendency in the human heart to become occupied with the dispensation in which we are not.”

The things that are, the messages to the churches, search us out in a most peculiar way. “Most interpreters pass over this portion of the book slightly.” (Alford)

“In his latter days, Bengel strongly recommended to those about him careful meditation in these messages to the churches. He said, ‘Scarcely anything is so fitted to affect and purify us.’” (Hengsten-berg)

I. Ephesus
First Love Left

THE ADDRESS: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.

This address is general, including all churches: for it was at Ephesus that believers were by Paul entirely separated from connection with Judaism (Acts 19:8, 10). Moreover, Christ is seen judicially walking about (Greek, peripateo) among them.

Ephesus had a great beginning! (Read Acts 19.) Paul, and Timothy, and all truth (Acts 20:20; 1 Timothy 1:3).

But now the Lord must declare to her her present state in His eyes.

CONDITION KNOWN: I know thy works. This word, “I know” is repeated seven times, once to each church. It is inexpressibly solemn, and we cannot avoid the truth that the Lord is directly cognizant of every detail about every assembly of His on earth.

COMMENDATION: Now, there was much to commend in Ephesus. It would be a flawless church in the eyes of many! Thy toil and patience. They were a working church, and they went steadily on. Patience is mentioned twice: in connection, first, with service; and second, with suffering. Thou canst not bear evil men. There was holiness there—a precious character! To permit men known to be bad to be in fellowship or even in office, is common today, but is treachery to Christ—whom the Church represents. Further, it is deadly wrong instead of kindness, to the unsaved and evil, to have them in “fellowship.” Some day they will curse you for such unfaithfulness!

Didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false. “Ministerial courtesy” had no place at Ephesus! Plain scripture tests are given. The saints have “an anointing from the Holy One.” They may know, if they will, false teachers, those who are “abiding not in the teaching of Christ.” We are not to receive them into our house, and we are to give them no greeting (2 John 10); much less are we to suffer them to preach and teach in our assemblies. Ephesus had both the discernment and the spiritual energy to reject those whom she “found false.”

Thou hast patience and didst bear for My name’s sake, and hast not grown weary. To suffer steadily is harder than to serve sturdily. Not growing weary was certainly a mark of vigorous life.

CONDEMNATION: But I have against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Note, the word is “leave” not “lose.” To love lies in the power of the will, otherwise it would not be commanded. Now the love of Christ and the Church is that of bridegroom and bride. You cannot judge by what you see in the lukewarm churches today of the intense devotion to Christ’s Person into which such assemblies as Ephesus were brought by the Holy Ghost. You may see it in the martyr days, sometimes today on the mission field, and in supremely devoted souls like Samuel Rutherford, Fletcher of Madeley, Madame Guyon, Brainerd, Payson, McCheyne, and Cookman. We regard such cases of devotion as unusual; no, we should say they are normal. Christ has immeasurable love, and that continually, for every redeemed one; and love yearns for love.

Consider newly-married people. Their life is one continuous story of affection-delight in one another. Service is not service, but gladness, for such a bride. Two New England girls worked in a textile factory. Mary went away on a visit of several months. Returning, and meeting her friend on the street, she asked her,

“Maggie, are you working at the same old factory?” “I’m not working at all,” burst out Maggie: “I’m married!”

Doubtless such a one was busier with her housework than ever she had been at the factory! But she toiled unconscious of the work as such—it was for him. She parted from him with an embrace as he went to work in the morning, and she prepared the evening meal ever looking out at door or window for his coming. As he neared home, she went to meet him. All her labor was a mere circumstance, swallowed up in her devotion to her husband.

But days, weeks, months pass, and she becomes occupied with the details of her housekeeping, of her own life. She prepares just as good meals, keeps the house in as good, perhaps even better, order; but she has gradually changed her habit of watching for her husband at night, or going eagerly to meet him. She calls, “Goodbye” from somewhere upstairs in the morning, instead of holding him fast every moment she can.

Now this was Ephesus; and this was the departure from first love: while Christ, the Bridegroom, has love in all its freshness, and will evermore have, for the Church. It was Ephesus, leaving that devoted pouring out of response to His love that grieved His very heart!

This is the beginning of that decline which ends in Laodicea, and Laodicea’s awful state: “I have need of nothing,” yet loathsome, in poverty, wretchedness, misery, blindness, nakedness! Men that question the very virgin birth, and the deity of Christ, and His physical resurrection, are suffered today! The “Christian religion” has taken the place of personal devotion to the Bridegroom.

LOVING COUNSEL: Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent.

“Fallen”! With all their earnestness and activity, the leaving of their first intense love made them a fallen assembly! “Remember—repent—do first works!” Recalling, even with severe effort and anguish, our moments of greatest devotion to our Lord, the hours when we felt most deeply His tender love, and our own response—to remember such times—this is our first task. Thus His love, His goodness, will lead us to repentance. Repentance is not mere sorrow (though godly sorrow works repentance—2 Corinthians 7:10); but repentance is a changed state of soul. It is “the judgment we have passed, in God’s presence, under grace, upon ourselves and all we have done and have been.” In this case especially it will be “the goodness of God that leadeth us to repentance.” Christ’s unvarying, undiminished affection for us, even through our coldness and neglect, will break us up. If not, nothing will!

And do the first works. Instantly let us say, this is not a call to “Christian service” or “renewed activity.” Ephesus had toil, patience, intolerance toward evil, patience in suffering,—everything. But the “first works” are the goings forth of affection to Christ, freely, devotedly, as in our first love. It is the story of the bride of the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 5:2-16). Her slowness caused His withdrawal, and it caused her much trouble; but it brought her at last to cry, “My beloved is the chiefest among ten thousand; he is altogether lovely!” “First works” with her, were, finding again Him whom her soul loved! Most Christians—yes, real Christians—let Christ go, when He “makes as if He would go further.” This, those walking to Emmaus did not: “They constrained him, saying, Abide with us.” And He went in with them. In Laodicea we shall find Him standing without. Astonishing! Outside of the Church when His place is in their midst!

PROPHESIED ACTION: I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. The words “I come to thee,” correspond to the judicial, personal visit of the Lord to Sodom ere its destruction (Genesis 18). These words do not signify operations by the Spirit, but an act of Christ, who is head over all things to the Church, and who is judging over each assembly. The fatal visit would not be recognized by the church, but it would definitely occur. After the Judge’s visit there would be no more assembly there in Christ’s eyes. The Spirit would be withdrawn, and darkness and desolation follow. So it happened at Ephesus, and, alas, to how many thousands of other careless “Christian” assemblies in the centuries since! No longer a lampstand!

This “coming” is not His coming again at the rapture, to receive His own; but His special, necessary, judicial action toward an assembly persisting, after much light, and blessing, in neglect of Himself. Alas, the lampstand removed! The priceless privilege of setting forth such a Christ before a dying world, gone forever. I have before me a picture of the Ephesus of today—a ruined archway, a Moslem dwelling, and a forbidding castle, ‘midst desolate hills. No lampstand for Christ where once Paul labored three years, night and day with tears!

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. What Nicolaitanism was, let us consider under Pergamum, the third church. We only stop to note the tender consideration of Christ: He cannot refrain from noting Ephesus’ common feeling with Him in the matter of a certain terrible evil. “This thou hast”: if we have the least jealousy of love for our blessed Lord, He notes it. Let this comfort us.

CALL TO HEAR: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. This is most solemn. Evidently not all the Ephesus assembly is meant; but only those who had gotten life by hearing—hearing the voice of the Son of God (John 5:25); for “belief (faith) cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).22

Moreover, those who can discern when the Spirit is speaking—being born of the Spirit and led by the Spirit (all God’s real saints being “not in the flesh but in the Spirit,” though they do not always walk by the Spirit, sad to say)—know the Spirit’s voice in the Scriptures. They are not Sadducees,—“Modernists.” To such, even Christ’s servants, are the messages of The Revelation really addressed. These only have “an ear.”23

In emphasizing this, let us note how to Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, “he that hath an ear” is addressed to the whole assembly; while after Jezebel is admitted as a prophetess (Thyatira), “he that hath an ear” comes still more privately, at the very end of the letter.

PROMISE TO OVERCOMER: To him that over-cometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. There are those who overcome, and there are those who are overcome. These latter are lost (2 Peter 2:20). They give up Christ’s words (1 Corinthians 15:2, Colossians 1:23, Mark 8:38). We note two classes—and only two—in Revelation 21:7, 8. The tree of life (not a symbol, but a reality) is seen in Revelation 22:2. When the first Adam sinned, we were shut out from the Garden (Genesis 3:22-24) lest we should “live forever” in this sinful state. This tree, under divine wisdom, sustained humanity in physical immortality, i.e., invulnerability to bodily dissolution. Now, in the last Adam, we already have eternal life as to our spirits (John 3:6); but we look forward to bodily immortality and incorruptibility; for redemption of the body is part of our salvation in Christ: 1 Corinthians 1:30.24

II. Smyrna
The Church in Suffering

ADDRESS: These things saith the first and the last, who became dead, and lived (literal translation). How fitting a title! The church at Smyrna was troubled, poor, and blasphemed by false Jews, and some were to be martyred. But Christ speaks as having endured the same thing and risen triumphant over all, even death itself!

CONDITION KNOWN: I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty. How blessed that Christ keeps saying, “I know”; no matter what the troubles and the poverty. He had no place to lay His head. But thou art rich—spiritual riches: they had the “gold refined by fire” which wretched Laodicea so woefully lacked. Riches in grace come when patience has its “perfect work” in trial (James 1:2, 4).

And the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue25 of Satan. Terrible words! Satan early entrenched himself against Christ and His gospel in Judaism,—”those who pretended to have the legitimate, hereditary claim to be God’s people.” They were the not Jews who were Jews “outwardly” (Romans 2:28, Matthew 3:9). In John 8:44, our Lord said to the Messiah-rejectors of His day, “Ye are of your father the devil.” Believers today need to be faithfully warned regarding their attitude to the Jews: (a) not to join at all in that Gentile envy and hate lying at the root of “anti-semitism”; and (b) not to give special place to Jews, even Jewish believers, as such; but (c) to glorify God for the “remnant according to the election of grace,” among them, now being saved; and (d) to remember that the most of the nation is to be cut off as apostate before the Millennium sets in; (e) to believe that God’s words in Romans 3:22, 23, and 10:12 are true today: “There is no distinction … for all have sinned”; and, “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all … that call upon him.” Jewish sinners, Irish sinners, American sinners, Hottentot sinners, Hindu sinners, English sinners, Scotch sinners: no difference at all! Just sinners, all!

But alas, the early Church speedily became Judaized. There is great appeal in a visible temple, gorgeous ritual, an accredited priesthood ready to assume responsibility for you in divine things. And when all this was yoked to such a mighty past history as had the Jewish nation; and,—most potent of all, the possession of the Old Testament oracles, which all Christians accepted as inspired of God,—the influence of these lying Jews may easily be imagined! Especially so (and alas!), because of the wealth Judaism could, and did display, to make contemptible the “little flock” of Christ!

These false Jews are called liars twice by the Lord,—once as to their claims, and once as to their character (Romans 2:9 and 3:9). They were liars because they denied the truth of the absolute deity of Christ; because they perpetuated the lie that Christ did not rise, but that His disciples stole His body away; because, further, they said that His miracles had been wrought by Satanic agency; because also they rejected all the mighty works wrought after Pentecost in the Name, Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord stamps their very claim to be Jews as a lie. He only is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is inward, not outward in the flesh (Romans 2:28, 29). There are not many Jews in God’s sight. You have seen very few! Most of the so-called Jews are “chaff and dross,” and the “liberal” Jew is worst of all. The fact that some preachers make up so easily with liberal Rabbis labels both!

Yes, Judaism is more acceptable to the flesh than faith in an unseen Lord; an earthly “religion” is more attractive to a carnal heart than a heavenly walk!

Christ, whom these Jews at Smyrna had rejected, calls their opposition to His Church, also their daring to sub- stitute their synagogue for the assembly that owned His Name, one simple, awful word—blasphemy. And so it is today!26

LOVING COUNSEL: Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer. Count up Christ’s “fear nots”: they include everything. The world is always in fear—of disease, of disaster, of death. God’s saints should not be so. The Captain suffered: so shall the soldiers; but (unlike Mohammed’s deluded followers) fullness of joy awaits them.

      “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!

      The clouds ye so much dread

      Are big with mercy, and shall break

      In blessing on your head.”

Therefore fear not! Remember Hebrews 2:14, 15. The devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried. But, “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). The binder shall be bound (Revelation 20:1-3). Do not stumble because the adversary is still permitted to oppose you. He opposed your Lord, but only brought out your Lord’s supreme choice of holiness and His Father’s will. “The trial of your faith worketh patience.”

Ye shall have a tribulation of ten days. Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life. How good it is to know that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.” Every trial is measured by the heart of infinite love in a hand of infinite care!

The early Church did indeed have just ten great persecutions under the Roman emperors, beginning with Nero and ending with Diocletian, whose last persecution, and probably the most terrible of all, was just ten years long! Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Severus, Maximum, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, and Diocletian, were the ten principal Pagan persecutors. However, there was constant, though not always general, trouble until Constantine’s edict of toleration.

“Faithful unto death.” This means to the point of martyrdom: It does not mean “holding out to the end” of our lives, according to the old expression. In that sense, many who have failed have been saved—1 Corinthians 11:30, 32. The crown of life is “the special prize promised to the faithful.” James 1:12 shows this crown of life to be a special mark of approval after a saint’s enduring the Lord’s prescribed trials through love to Him.

CALL TO HEAR: He that hath an ear. Not all would hear in the days of terrible trial, so they needed the words of their loving Lord. Like Israel, “they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.” It is our profound conviction that not only in Russia and Germany but in other countries there are terrible days of trial directly ahead for the Church of God. It is our proper portion—all the day (of grace) long are we to be killed, counted as sheep for slaughter. There- fore, remember the exhortation of Peter (who at the first, fled and denied, but later was crucified for his Lord): “Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind,” or “thought,” “intent,” “resolution” (1 Peter 4:1), that is, with the same “expectation,” when necessary.

He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. There is a double negative in the Greek—“not at all be injured.” The saints may have to bow their heads to those who execute the first death—who “kill the body”; but over these, we read, “the second death hath no authority” (Revelation 20:6). No real believer is coming into judgment. See John 5:24, R. V. Believers’ works will be examined, but not as sin: that is gone forever, borne on the cross! Hebrews 9:28: “so Christ … shall appear … apart from sin.”

It is striking to notice that the name Smyrna is simply the Ionic Greek for myrrh, a fragrant gum in common use. So, “perfumed with myrrh.” Note Song of Solomon 3:6 and 1:13 with Matthew 2:11; Psalm 45:8; and, especially myrrh as used at our Lord’s burial—John 19: 39. The Smyrnan church represents the martyrs, and the fragrance of their affection fills the whole house of God, even today! Have you read, “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”? The Bible and Foxe’s book were all John Bunyan had! I beg you, read the story of the martyrs. You will need it.

III. Pergamum
Idolatry and Clerisy Arising

ADDRESS: He that hath the sharp two-edged sword. The sword is Christ’s word in its stern, judging character. Therefore in Pergamum let us expect evil to be dealt with. In Ephesus, first love was left; in Smyrna came chastening—the fires of Satan’s opposition: if perchance there might be recovery; but it proved unavailing. The Pergamum period may well be looked upon as beginning with Constantine’s “embracing Christianity”27 in 313 A.D., when the Church settled down in the world. The enemy’s plan now was to favor the faith he had fought and defile what he could not destroy. The Christian “religion” became that of the Empire that had slain the Lord!

CONDITION KNOWN: I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is. The Devil is not yet “in hell,” nor even shut up in the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3); but he is the prince of this world, the god of this age. He walks up and down in the earth (Job 1:7), where he yet has his capital and also his throne28 whence he directs the principalities, the powers, the world rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. (Compare Ephesians 6:12.) When Israel was owned of God, when the Jerusalem temple stood, Satan’s great opposing city was Babylon, on the Euphrates. See notes on Revelation 17 and 18. “Pergamos (properly called Pergamum), was a sort of a union of a pagan cathedral city, a university town, and a royal residence,” says Blakesley. The title, “chief temple-keepers of Asia” was held by its inhabitants, showing “the supreme importance of Pergamos to heathendom.” When the Babylonian cult of the Magians was driven out of Babylon, they found a haven at Pergamum, and Pergamum’s king, Attalus III (B.C. 133), willed his kingdom and title into the hands of the Romans (Justin p. 364, Strabo). The title of the Magian high priest was, “Chief Bridge Builder,” meaning the one who spans the gap between mortals and Satan and his hosts. In Latin, this title was written, Pontifex Maximus.29

COMMENDATION: And thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth. Five of these seven cities “contended for the privilege of worshipping the emperor,” and that Pergamum was the most prominent in this; yet the church there as a whole held fast Christ’s name as the deity, and His work alone as the object of faith, and that even amid most terrible persecution. Antipas’ name was dear to Christ, as is the name of each who suffers for His sake. Let us see in this scene anew the absolute present enmity of this world toward Christ!

CONDEMNATION: I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam … idols … fornication. So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans in like manner.30 Over against the faithfulness of the martyrs of Smyrna and Pergamum, stands the beginning of actual tolerated evil. “Thou canst not bear evil men” was written of Ephesus, but of no other church. You know the history of Balaam, the mysterious prophet of Numbers 22, 23, 24, who, prevented from cursing God’s nation Israel, counselled the king of Moab to entice Israel into Moab’s heathen idolatry, with its obscenities and abominations (Numbers 25), bringing death by plague on twenty-four thousand Israelites! Satan, failing to overthrow the church by persecution in Smyrna days, snares the Pergamum church into idolatry and fornication. To “eat things sacrificed to idols,” in the sense of Revelation 2:14, is to engage in idolatrous worship, feasting in the idol’s temple. Outside, “in the shambles,” saints could buy whatever they pleased, even though it had been previously offered to idols (1 Corinthians 10:25). In Pergamum, however, they sought to “drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons,” and thus “provoke the Lord to jealousy” (verses 21, 22). “Idolatry” is here to be taken literally, as is “fornication.” It is astounding how early was the invasion of idolatry into the Church, and the defense of it, even by some so-called “church fathers”!

Idolatry was always accompanied with utter fleshly license and often nameless abominations, just as with Israel at Sinai and in Canaan,—just as is religious idolatry today, both Romish and that of heathen countries.

Those who would make the idolatry and fornication of this “teaching of Balaam” mere worldliness, should be more careful in their study of church history, and more observant of what idolatry has brought to every nation (see notes on chapter 13).

2 Peter 2:10-15, 18, 19, and Jude 4-11, show how literal is to be our interpretation of our Lord’s words to Pergamum concerning the teaching of Balaam! All through the Church centuries, we find such as the Mormons of today, or the “House of David” associating with Christ’s Name the very abominations He denounces.

Now, as to the Nicolaitans, their works Ephesus had, but hated; Pergamum had not their works only, but also their teaching. Moral energy is waning. “Ye that love Jehovah, hate evil.” Literally, in Revelation 2:15, it reads, “Thus you are having—you!” The emphatic expression indicates the astonished, indignant, grief of the Lord.

Again, regarding the Nicolaitans: who were they?

1. The old writers tried to connect them with Nicolas of Antioch,—but unsuccessfully.

2. There is really no known record, except in The Revelation, of any sect by this name in the early Church.

3. It is not the manner of Scripture to compel its readers to obtain wisdom for its interpretation from outside history. Therefore, if we do not find a direct Bible allusion, as in the case of Balaam, we may look for the meaning in the structure of the word, as, for instance, in the name Melchizedek, “king of righteousness,” from the meaning of his name; and “king of peace,” from the city (Salem) he rules.

4. We would in this way find “Nicolaitan” derived from nikao, to conquer; and laos, people; and the meaning, rulers of the laity, indicating that dire clerisy which very early sprang up. A priestly caste was formed, corresponding to the priests and Levites in Judaism.

5. That no notice should be taken by the Lord of this particular evil, which, beginning in Ephesus, ripens so fully in Thyatira, the next church, would be almost inconceivable. It is not the Lord’s manner to denounce evil fruits without having remarked upon the tree.

6. Inasmuch, also, as the Lord selected these seven churches to represent all the assemblies of the church dispensation, He would scarcely choose an assembly in which two “teachings” of practically the same moral corruption, existed.

LOVING COUNSEL: Repent therefore. This call is directed to the whole assembly, as if recovery were yet possible for the whole. The deeper the evil, however, the more difficult the self-judgment!

PREDICTED ACTION: Or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. This “coming,” like that of verse 5, is not our Lord’s second advent, but His entering personally and that quickly, upon their affairs judicially: affairs which otherwise would continue unchanged under the ever-present, although grieved and vexed, Spirit. “War … with the sword of my mouth,” brings to mind at once the angel of the Lord standing with his sword drawn against the mad prophet, Balaam, in Israel’s days! The targets of Christ’s sword would be chiefly those practicing these evils,—“against them.” The exact way in which Christ would use the sword of His Word against these corrupters, He does not explain. However, we know Christ’s words to the Jews, “if I had not come and spoken unto them … but now they have no excuse for their sin.” And we know that Paul and his company were “a sweet savor of Christ unto God, … in them that perish … a savor from the death unto death” (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16), as well as the opposite to those being saved. Doubtless faithful preachers minister death to as many as they save—perhaps many more.

CALL TO HEAR: The Spirit is still speaking, and “to the churches,” that is, to all of them throughout this church age: let him hear!

PROMISE TO OVERCOMERS: The hidden manna. “Hidden” is a reference, perhaps, to the wilderness manna preserved for a memorial in the ark of the covenant (Exodus 16:32, 34; Hebrews 9:4). There was an especial reason for the Lord’s setting before the mind of these Pergamean believers that secret and blessed relationship into which the heavenly saints are brought by the Spirit while on earth, and, more wondrously, at Christ’s coming; because of the hidden things taught and gloried in by the Babylonian system of idolatry, and the “mysteries”31 taught its initiates, there at Pergamum, “where Satan’s throne was.”

A white stone and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it, was promised. Christ is infinite in His excellences; and each member of His Body sets forth what no other member could. Also there is a personal character in all trials, through which the overcomer (that is, the true believer), will be brought to know the Lord in a peculiar way shared by no other. Dean Alford beautifully comments:

“These very terms (a new name written) seem to require that it should be the recipient’s own name,—a new name, however; a revelation of his everlasting title, as a son of God, to glory in Christ, but consisting of, and revealed in, those personal marks and signs of God’s peculiar adoption of himself, which he and none else is acquainted with. If the heart ‘knoweth its own bitter- ness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy,’ (Proverbs 14:10), then the deep, secret dealings of God with each of us during those times by which our sonship is assured and our spiritual strife carried on to victory, can, when revealed to us in the other blessed state, be known thoroughly to ourselves only.”

IV. Thyatira
The Papacy in Power

ADDRESS: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire. Here we have Christ in the most searching and terrible aspect of any He assumes toward the churches. He is “the Son of God,” the Deity. He is also the Son of man, but His eyes as “a flame of fire” search this church—the holy jealousy of infinite love. We remember the words of the Song (8:6):

“Love is strong as death; Jealousy is hard as Sheol; The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, A very flame of Jah.”

And his feet are like unto burnished brass. They stand to judge in Thyatira according to His own glorious holiness. For there sin is tolerated. And not only so; but an authority permitted that supplants Christ!

CONDITION AND COMMENDATION: I know thy works, and thy love and faith and ministry and patience, and that thy last works are more than the first. We have come with Thyatira to the papal period of church history, and before our Lord brings this hateful system before us, mark how He cherishes such devotion (and it was, here and there, very great), as marked this dark time. Notice that “love” here comes before “faith,” as if it were only those in whom intense love for the Saviour burned, who had faith to outlast those days. Then “ministry,”—and we remember with tender hearts the amazing, self-denying lives of many who, having not much light, yet loved: i.e., Bernard of Clairveaux, Mechtilde of Helffde. How well the reader of church history remembers their patient endurance and increasing works!

CONDEMNATION: I have against thee that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel (literally, “thy wife,” as Jezebel to Ahab). This reference in the local assembly, was undoubtedly to a literal woman whom the Lord calls by the hated name of the seducing queen of Israel of long ago.32

Who calleth herself a prophetess. Now to do this was to take the place of the Spirit, who indeed spake “not from Himself,” but “what He heard” from the Lord in glory. This is exactly Romanism. The Word of God teaches that “pastors and teachers” are given to the Church: that is, she must herself BE taught! Rome’s doctrine is that the Church is the teacher. “The Church is your mother,” “You must hearken to her,” “She alone knows the voice of God,” etc., etc. THIS IS NOT TRUE. It is the denial of all divine truth. Rome holds no doctrine unleavened with error.

The same rebuke Christ gives Thyatira applies to all who turn to human authority, rather than opening the ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. You may be thinking of “Christian Scientists,” and their “Mother Church”; of the Mormons, with Joseph Smith and Brig-ham Young. But the Lord may be thinking of you, devoted as you are to “Doctor So-and-So,” or to “my church.” An old Puritan preacher used to say, “I want to hear but two things: First, does God speak? Second, what does God say?” Unless we have this attitude, we place ourselves in Thyatira.

“Thou sufferest the woman Jezebel”: here was the cause of blame. Whether from sympathy with the evil, or lack of moral fibre to resist it, it is all the same: they suffered it. Today the so-called Protestant is as weak as, weaker often, than the Romanist, because he suffers some “great” denomination to hold him in its clutches, though he knows sects are directly contrary to the Word of God (1 Corinthians 1:11-13). “Be loyal to your denomination” is mere whip-cracking over you. Their shallow pretentious “educational” systems; vast anti-Scriptural debt-incurring “church” building plans; their huge, bossed organizations, and ecclesiastical wire-pulling, keep their votaries in spiritual babyhood. “Our standards” are more to them than direct Bible study. The “Federation of Churches” (??) conceived and controlled by “modernism,” (which is Tom Paine infidelity in a pulpit coat33), is “suffered,” despite the methods by which it procures godly but simple-hearted speakers to place on its platforms beside its trusted “modernist” deceivers. (Thank God, some have revolted from this self-appointed “Federation.” If you would know the real “Federation,” read Col. Sanctuary’s “Tainted Contacts.”)

Now you may say that in speaking thus we are departing from exposing the direct evils the woman Jezebel brought into Thyatira—idolatry and fornication. True: and we shall note those evils; but we have spoken as we have lest any one might think that in escaping these particular sins he had not suffered any “Jezebel” system.

And she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication! This, of course, in Thyatira’s case, was literal, and in Rome’s case is literal. The confessional teaches children to discover and speak of the lowest abominations of the human heart; the result of which is to familiarize them with such things, stifle conscience, and finally open the flood gates to indulgence of the flesh, especially with Rome’s Babylonian priests, with whom to sin, is, by their teaching, no sin.34

In the face of the revealed corruptness of the history of the confessional, and its results in Catholic lands, the Vatican’s plea against the terrible evil of divorce, is seen to be a “play to the galleries.” The papal decree “Ne Temere” (warning against adultery!) of Pope Pius Tenth, in which honest marriages, blessed by God and by years of marital uprightness, happiness, and fruitful-ness, are declared to be nothing more than adultery because between a Catholic and a Protestant, shows up real Jezebel deceitfulness.

Next, as to idolatry: note the order is changed from Balaam’s teaching, verse 14, where entering upon the idol worship was first, and the licentiousness followed. In Thyatira, fornication is first, then idolatry. I quote from McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia:

“Images were unknown in the worship of primitive Christians, who abstained from worship of images because they thought it unlawful in itself to make any images of deity. By the steady pressure of the heathen ideas and habits upon Christianity, emblems such as the dove, the fish, the anchor, vine, lamb, etc., formed the first step; then, paintings representing great Biblical events, saints, martyrs, which were placed in the vestibule of the church. Yet this practice was unfavorably regarded by the synods of the fourth century. When, however, in the same century, Christianity was proclaimed (by Con-stantine) the religion of the state, the use of painting, sculpture and jewelry became general for the decoration of the churches, resulting in the adoption of a regular system of symbolic religious images. The teachers of the church became gradually more accommodating in their relations with the heathen, allowing them to retain their old usages, while conforming to the outward forms of Christianity. Thus the worship of images became so general that it had to be repeatedly checked by laws. In the sixth century, it had grown into a great abuse, especially in the East, where images were made the object of a special adoration: they were kissed, lamps were burned before them, incense was offered to them,—in short, they were treated in every respect as the heathen were wont to treat the images of their gods. The same arguments now used by the Romanists to defend image worship were rejected by Christians of the first three centuries when used in defense of image worship. The heathen said. We do not worship the images themselves, but those whom they represent. To this Lactantius (third century A.D.) answers, ‘You worship them; for, if you believe them to be in heaven; why do you not raise your eyes up to heaven? Why do you look at the images, and not up where you believe them to be?’ Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic (13th century), declared, ‘A picture, considered in itself, is worthy of no veneration, but if we consider it as an image of Christ, it may be allowable to make an internal distinction between the image and its subject, and adoration and service are as well due to it as to Christ.’ Bonaventura the Franciscan, said, ‘Since all veneration shown to the image of Christ is shown to Christ himself, then the image of Christ is also entitled to be prayed to.’ Bellarmine: Rome’s principal authority in dogmatic theology (1542-1621), writes, ‘The images of Christ and the saints are to be adored, not only in a figurative manner, but quite positively, so that the prayers are directly addressed to them, and not merely as representatives of the original.’” De Imaginibus.

Idolatry, the worship of images, is a primary teaching of Romanism. “Jezebel” then, which truth-enlightened men acknowledge to stand for Romanism, introduces un-cleanness through the confessional first; then the adoration of images, and thus a proceeding ever deeper into idolatrous superstition; for idol-worship ever degrades its devotees (see Revelation 13 and 17).

I gave her time that she should repent; and she will-eth not to repent of (literally, out of) her fornication. The chief hold, after all, of false religion, is the liberty it gives to the lusts which the heart loves. Repentance, which is God’s way out, the human heart hates.35

Behold, I cast her into a bed. “Will change her bed of whoredom into a bed of anguish: so most commentators.” (Alford) The Lord often deals thus with wicked leaders; He was even more abrupt and condign with Ahab’s wife (2 Kings 9:30-37). (He will yet deal effectually with the female leaders “suffered” in our own day, who center attention upon themselves, and pose more and more as prophetesses, using all sorts of meretricious showmanship to hold the poor people spellbound.)

And them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of her works. Here is a most terrible threat! We know of The Great Tribulation; and I cannot avoid the conclusion that this warning points to it. For we read in Revelation 17 that the Babylonian harlot is to be hated and made desolate by the Beast and his ten kings (Revelation 17:16).

Please note at once that these last four churches look toward the end—that is, to the closing of church testimony to give way to the kingdom. Thyatira, impenitent, is threatened with the tribulation; Sardis, with Christ’s coming as a thief—that is, (after the true Church has been raptured) they will be “caught” like the world—1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; Philadelphia, faithful though weak, has the promise of the Rapture, to escape all the trouble of the awful “hour” that is coming; while Laodicea is spued out as lukewarm, irrecoverable—ending the history of the Church as Christ’s earthly witness.36

And I will kill her children with death. Jezebel’s punishment is distinct from that of her proper adherents (not those who suffer her, but those who are begotten of her). “There is a transition from literal to spiritual fornication, as appears in these verses” (Fausset). Some commentators believe that the whole passage refers to “spiritual fornication,” that is, union with the world. Others, and I can but agree with them, insist that a prominent, gifted, strong-willed, evil woman was permitted in Thyatira (as such are often today “suffered”). Her “children” are evidently those whom she seduced subtly into the wickedness described, and who clung to her. These the Lord threatens to kill with death, which seems to me spiritual, eternal—“except they repent of her works.” The “death” was to be so evident that all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts.37

Note, “all the churches,” not these seven representative ones merely. How dull our spiritual perception, not to understand why candlesticks have been removed, and personal judgment executed, before our very eyes! David’s child by Uriah’s wife was publicly smitten and slain by Jehovah (2 Samuel 12). The “angel” of the Thyatiran church was good, personally; but he “suffered” his wife to teach and practice fornication,—even to bearing adulterous seed. These would be slain by the Lord: and the woman herself be fittingly dealt with. And she would become a warning, as did both Lot’s wife and Jezebel. But the evil would go on into a system, to be judged finally (Revelation 17) as a great whore that corrupted the earth!

And I will give unto each one of you according to your works. Here is judgment, certainly—whether to Jezebel herself, to her children, or to those real servants of the Lord who suffered her either in Thyatira, or now, as a system: to each, a just dealing. None of Christ’s own will be lost; but responsibility in church life on earth is solemn: for the Church represents Christ.

To you I say (the godly ones who will really hear) to the rest that are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, who know not the deep things of Satan, as they are wont to say. The Magians from Babylon continually spoke of their “deep things,” their “inner knowledge,” just as the Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, and “Unity” devotees do today (simply ancient Gnosticism revived!). The Lord sees through all the enemy’s delusions and “mysteries”; they are not “deep” to Him. His real saints are simple-hearted (blessed simpleness!). It is no sign of spirituality to be familiar with Satanic psychic or demonic “depths.”

I cast upon you none other burden,—quoted from the decision of the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:28, 29). “This act of simple obedience (keeping from idolatry and fornication) and no deep matters beyond their reach, was what the Lord required of them.”

LOVING COUNSEL: Nevertheless that which ye have, hold fast38 till I come. How easy to let truth and devotion slip in Jezebel surroundings! Christ’s sure and imminent personal coming again is the tonic for faith! “Hold the fort, for I am coming!” We shall see that from Thyatira on, our Lord’s return, and not the recovery of the Church to her first estate, much less the conversion of the world, is the only object of hope.

PROMISE TO OVERCOMERS: And he that overcorneth, and he that keepeth my works unto the end. “It is not enough to deny Jezebel in doctrine and works, but ‘he that keepeth unto the end my works’ is crowned at the end: ‘my works,’ evidently in contrast to the works of Jezebel, verse 23. Her works were unholy; His works, holy.”—Scott. To him will I give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father. Here is the first definite view in The Revelation of the coming millennial kingdom to be established by the Lord at His return to the earth (Revelation 19:15; 20:4-6). The papacy has ever grasped at “temporal power.” She wants to rule the world now, before Christ comes—thus proving herself false; not a church, but Babylon. God’s saints, with their Lord, await expectantly the Father’s time (Hebrews 10:13, Psalm 2:7, 8). Those who learn Christ’s patience become trained and fit to rule. Recall, “He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32); although man despises this path (Luke 22:25, 30).

And I will give him the morning star. When the Millennium comes, it will be broad day—the Sun will have risen, with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2, 3)—but now it is night. And, although we know “neither the day nor the hour” of our Lord’s coming, yet into the heart of the faithful believer comes that wondrous expectancy of His coming, which John elsewhere describes as having our “hope set on him” (1 John 3:3). This is the experience of the believer who awakes out of sleep (Romans 13:11), who by the grace of God hears His voice when He says, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from among the dead (ones), and Christ shall shine upon thee” (Ephesians 5:13). To such, Christ becomes indeed the Morning Star, the harbinger of the glorious coming day, though the night be yet all around us. Just as the multitude lie physically asleep, while here and there one, watching all night, or risen very early, sees the blazing beauty of the morning star, so these spiritually awakened or aroused find Christ’s coming arising as the day-star in their hearts (2 Peter 1:19).

Nowhere in church history appears so intense a devotion to the person of Christ in a time of great deprivation of a free Bible and preaching, and the so-called “means of grace,” as in the dark ages Thyatira stands for. All around was night, in the world and in the Church; the threat of death was over all, but Christ was known, loved, served and sung. He was the only light; but He was enough!39

CALL TO HEAR: He that hath an ear, let him hear. Note the change in place now! Jezebel and her “children” will go on as they are (Rome’s motto is Semper Idem—”Always the Same”), but “the rest,” the remnant, will hear.

V. Sardis
Dead “Protestantism”

ADDRESS: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars. This is the designation of the Spirit as before the throne in heaven (Revelation 1:4, 5). We have noticed that it is not as the indwelling Comforter (although He is such to all believers), that He appears in Revelation. The Spirit is subordinate to the Son, as the Son to the Father, in the divine creative and redemptive arrangements, although all are equal in the fact of Deity. Christ now begins anew, as it were: He has the seven stars, as in Ephesus, but He has also the seven Spirits of God. There will be utter searching, which is here emphasized (Zechariah 4:6-10).

We have, in Sardis, what has often been called a new beginning. God leaves the Jezebel corruption and the ecclesiastical hierarchy behind, with Thyatira; and takes up what is known as “Christianity” since the Reformation.

CONDITION KNOWN: Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. Nothing could describe “Protestantism” more accurately! As over against Romish night and ignorance, she has enlightenment and outward activity: the great “state churches,” or “denominations,” with creeds and histories, costly churches and cathedrals, universities and seminaries, “boards,” bureaus of publication and propaganda, executors of organized activities, including home and foreign missions, even “lobby” men to “influence legislation” at court! You and I dare compare the Church with no other model than the Holy Spirit gave at Pentecost and in Paul’s day! And compared to that—it has a name, but is dead—not to speak of being “filled with the Holy Spirit,” “admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Pass through the churches of Christendom and ask one question: Are you born again? Are you a new creature in Christ Jesus? Like the Philistine-yoked Jews of Nehe-miah’s day: “I saw the Jews that had married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, of Moab: and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people” (Nehemiah 13:23, 24). So with church-membership of our day, yoked with the world by marriage, by lodge-fellowship, by narrow sectarian bigotry and crass ignorance of the Word of God and even of the gospel of salvation. “Thou art dead.” Awful state! Given to recover the truth at the Reformation in the most mighty operation of the Spirit of God since the days of the Apostles, Christendom has sunk into spiritual death!

LOVING COUNSEL: Be thou watchful, and establish the things that remain, which were ready to die: for I have found no works of thine perfected before my God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep it, and repent. Notice here first, “no works … perfected” Neither in doctrine nor in walk did the Reformation go back to the early days of the Church. In doctrine they did teach (thank God!) justification by faith apart from works. Luther’s “Commentary on Galatians” is in many respects the most vigorous utterance of faith since Paul. Yet the Reformers did not teach Paul’s doctrine of identification,—that the believer’s history, as connected with Adam, ended at Calvary: that he died to sin, federally, with Christ; and died to the law, which gave sin its power. All the Reformation creeds kept the believer under the law as a rule of life; and “the law made nothing perfect.” Whereas, Scripture speaks of a perfect conscience, through a perfect sacrifice; of faith being perfected; of being made perfect in love; of perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Of course, there is no perfection in the flesh, but Paul distinctly says concerning believers, “Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you”; and, “if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

Furthermore, the Reformed creeds did not get free from Rome40 as regards what they still called “sacraments,”—a Babylonish term. For sacramentum was the Latin word for a mystery of the pagan religion. “The grand distinguishing feature of the ancient Babylonian system was the Chaldean mysteries, that formed so essential a part of that system” (Hislop, p. 4). “Even in the prayer-book of the Church of England, the Lord’s Supper is called ‘these holy mysteries’! But such a term for it is unknown in the New Testament, and was subsequently introduced merely because the initiates (of Babylonish idolatry) fixed upon the Memorial Supper as the one thing in Christianity which they could most easily metamorphose into a Mystery, or Sacrament. Then, associating Baptism with the bath which preceded (pagan) initiation, they called it, also, a Mystery, or Sacrament,—though they often dropped all disguise, and spoke of it plainly as initiation.” (Pember)

Consequently neither is the walk perfected. Not knowing that they died with Christ and are risen ones, their walk is pitifully short of Paul’s: some, worldly and wholly shallow; some, even sincere souls, using man-made prayers by rote, and even man-made festival days, which belong to Paganism or Judaism; regarding really devoted souls as fanatics,—especially those who live in view of, and speak of, the imminent return of the Lord, as did constantly the early Christians!

Note watchfulness, that hardest of spiritual tasks to a drowsy soul, is enjoined by the Lord that “the things that remain”—those few “fundamental” doctrines still known and preached, may not be wholly lost, but established. “Remember”: like Ephesus, they must go back to the beginning. Protestantism did receive, and did hear. In the Reformation days, all Europe was stirred concerning divine truth. People crowded halls for four or five hours at a time to listen to discourses and debates upon Scripture. Alas, the deadness, the ignorance, the coldness and the carelessness today! “Keep it and repent”: to recover truth once lost and especially the love of it, so as to hold the truth fast, is a deadly difficult task! Protestantism— Christendom—is giving it up.

PREDICTED ACTION: If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Notice three things: watchlessness, visitation, and ignorance. To the Sardis church, unheeding, the words, “I will come as a thief” meant, not our Lord’s second coming, but visitation in judgment like that to Ephesus in 2:5, and Pergamum in 2:16. The processes of divine judgment we cannot by any faculties given us discover; the only thing for us to do is to receive divine warning. Now a thief takes away secretly our property—what belongs to us: so would Christ come suddenly, secretly, and remove everything of value from the Sardis assembly. So He did, for that assembly is gone—the very place of it!

But there is a wider application: to Protestantism, with its “name to live, but dead,” Christ threatens that aspect of His coming which really belongs not to His saints but to the world. “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief … ye are all sons … of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5). To be overtaken, then, and judged as the world, is the doom of dead Protestantism, just as the tribulation was the destiny of Romanism in Thyatira.

PROMISE TO OVERCOMERS: But thou hast a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. Here we have the faithful remnant—“a few,”—like “the rest” in Thyatira. Faithful preachers know them in every assembly. They hearken. They are separate from the world. They pray, go to prayer meetings, work for their Lord, and love the Word.

Note that this remnant were not “defiled.” “They are not in contact with the spiritual death around them which is here counted defilement, as in the Old Testament was considered the touch of a dead body.” (Ottman.)

“With me in white.” Here it represents manifested victorious righteousness. Compare the white robes of Revelation 6:11; and that public association with Christ of Revelation 19:14. Note rejection of defilement constitutes “worthiness,” (Christ Himself of course being our only righteousness).

PROMISE TO OVERCOMER: He that over-cometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. These promises, of course, are all to be taken literally. “Thus” as befits Christ’s presence,—“with me in white,” they shall be arrayed and walk! Also, “in no wise blot out” releases from anxiety. “The Lord will deliver from every evil work, and will save … unto his heavenly kingdom” (I1 Timothy 4:18). As to “book of life,” see Revelation 20:12. “Will confess … before my Father and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5). What a day! As one very near to me said, after a meeting in which some had been urged not to be ashamed to confess Christ: “I am not ashamed to confess Christ, but my wonder is, how He can ever confess me!”

CALL TO HEAR: Again note that it is after the remnant has been addressed: for real saints only will truly give ear to the Lord by His Spirit,—in any age, but with peculiar difficulty when deadness holds most professors. He that hath an ear, LET HIM HEAR!

VI. Philadelphia
Awakened Saints of the Last Days

This name Philadelphia at once arouses our interest! It is the seventh (and last) occurrence of this Greek word in the New Testament. (The other passages are Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7, twice.) Hebrews 13:1 reads: “Let brotherly love (Greek, Philadelphia) continue.” Surely God speaks to us in this name, as we read the character of the saints at Philadelphia, their devotion to Christ,—His name and His word, and their consequent love for one another,—in circumstances such as theirs so precious and so necessary!

ADDRESS: He that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth. Christ remains holy, even if the church has left her first love, hearkened to Balaam, suffered Jezebel and her whoredoms, and has only a name to live, but is one with the world in the defilements of death. Christ still is true: though the church has listened to the enemy’s lies through the centuries! Ah, if it were not for CHRIST! The church has a history that is worse than Israel’s, which was worse than the heathen! (2 Chronicles 33:9). But the Lord is unchanged; He is true. The more you read church history the more you realize that absolutely everything depends on CHRIST HIMSELF!

And here we find Him opening this out to us. He said to John in 1:18, “I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Now He has the “key of David.” While those spoke of His salvation-power as Victor over Death and the unseen world—this announces His royal claims as Lord and Head of David’s House and looks toward the kingdom to be established on earth. Even now, when men, in their arrogance, and especially in ecclesiastical position, would “shut out” Christ’s servants (and do they not seek to do it?) it is a blessed thing to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David” as Paul commanded us (2 Timothy 2:8). Although He has not yet come to take the throne of His father David, He yet has all royal authority in heaven and on earth, and He will open before His faithful servants, doors which none shall shut! All is in His hands, which exceedingly comforts saints in this world’s “Vanity Fair”!

Also, mark, our Lord can shut: and then none opens. How He opened and shut for the apostles, in the early days! (Acts 16:6-10; 18:9, 10; 19:8-20; 1 Corinthians 16:8, 9). So, also, Christ may shut doors in lands where His gospel has been known and despised, and His saints slain,—as in Spain and France, and in those lands He gave over to the false prophet Mohammed.

So their Lord, whom they loved, had opened a door for these Philadelphians, which none could shut: no power of earth or hell! So they could go right on in the truth and in service, despite the devil, the world, and false professors!

CONDITION KNOWN: I know thy works (behold, I have given before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name. Here we have another spirit than that of Sardis,—yea, better even than Ephesus! Philadelphia lacked the energy of Ephesus of the early church days, but it had three precious things: first, a little power; second, obedience to Christ’s word; third, not denying His name.

As to “little,” see the same Greek word about Zacchaeus (Luke 19:3)—he was “little” of stature; and about the Lord’s company in general—a “little” flock (Luke 12:32). The Philadelphian assembly was unimportant in the world’s eyes, probably few in number, poor in property, and low in the social scale. Moreover, the spiritual power they had was feeble compared to Pentecost. But the Lord has nothing but commendation for them. They loved Christ. Jesus answered and said, “If a man love me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). Mark again the contrast with the indifference of Sardis toward the word they had received (as Protestantism in general); and also, contrast with Thyatira (Romanism), where Christ’s word had been supplanted by Jezebel’s. Here, in Philadelphia, instead of ecclesiasticism or indifferentism, we find a living response to the known word of the blessed Lord.

Also in a world that says of Christ, “He was a good man” “a great teacher,” etc.; and surrounded, as we are today, by other assemblies with merely “a name to live,” willing to have Christ’s Deity doubted or denied, His virgin birth assailed, His atoning death rejected, His bodily resurrection mocked at, His all-prevailing Highpriestly work in heaven disdained, His headship over all things to the Church despised, His second coming as Bridegroom of the Church and King of kings over all the earth ignored or decried,—amid all this, Christ was at home in Philadelphia, as in the household at Bethany! His person worshipped, delighted in; and His coming expectantly awaited!

Precious assembly! Our Lord’s words of greeting to them are personal, as their devotion to Him was personal! No wonder that they have special promises—Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Again those truly awful words, “synagogue of Satan”! “Salvation,” said Christ to the woman of Samaria, is “from the Jews” (John 4:22). But their sun had set. Again, (to Israel,) “I have loved you, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?” (Malachi 1:2). And again, “When he drew nigh, he saw the city (Jerusalem) and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known the things which belong unto peace!” (Luke 19:41, 42).

But now they had seen and hated both Christ and His Father, and their house was left to them desolate! Nay, they were “the synagogue of Satan.” If they had been like Nathanael, “Israelites indeed,” they would have believed on the Lord Jesus, and have proved themselves of “the election of grace” of Romans 11:5, and have been part of that assembly which, as Jews by falsehood only, they reviled. Doubtless their predicted coming and worshipping before the feet of the Philadelphian church had a local, historical meaning. We also know that the day will come when the saints will judge not the world only, but also angels (1 Corinthians 6:2), and this only because of Christ’s special love for the Church! (So also the persecuting Gentiles will be compelled to treat the godly remnant of Israel in the coming day! [Isaiah 66:14.])

SPECIAL PROMISES: Now, most wonderful, cheering song to the hearts of the faithful today is the Lord’s promise to deliver His true saints from The Great Tribulation! Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. As we saw in 1:9, “tribulation, kingdom, and patience” are connected in Jesus. Compare Acts 14:22. We who believe are in the kingdom,—by birth, by new creation, already. But both for our Lord, and for us, there is patient waiting for the kingdom’s setting up. And as for Him when on earth, so now for us, there is tribulation from Satan and the world. Patience (connected with saints seven times in The Revelation), is a prime virtue. Listen: the good ground hearers “bring forth fruit with patience”, “with patience we wait for that which we see not”; “strengthened with all power unto all patience and longsuffering”; “who through faith and patience inherit the promises”; “let us run with patience the race,” “let patience have its perfect work.” This Philadelphia assembly steadily, unfalteringly, lovingly endured, and waited for( Christ; as Christ waited and is yet waiting His Father’s time to give Him the throne long promised to Him, of His father David.

This is a beautiful, reciprocal promise of their Lord to them: Ye kept my patience, I will keep you out of the coming hour of trial. This “hour,” coming as it will, upon the whole earth, is seen in Revelation 13:7, 8, in the permitted frightful career of the Beast. Two things identify this hour: first, its extent; second, its object. It is to come upon all “the inhabited earth” (Greek, oikoumenee).41 It is to try the “earth-dwellers,” whether they will follow Satan’s Christ or not—since they have chosen earth where Satan is the prince and the god, as their “good things” (Luke 16:25). Fearful trial! Read Revelation 14:9-12, where the issue is finally pressed home—an issue involving eternity!

Now, our Lord promises to keep Philadelphian believers out of42 this coming hour.

Inasmuch as this verse (10) holds forth the great promise of being kept from The Great Tribulation, it behooves us to inquire most diligently about it.

1. What is the hour of trial, or temptation, of which our Lord speaks? There is no reasonable doubt that it must refer to The Great Tribulation of which Daniel wrote (12:1), and to which our Lord referred in Matthew 24:15-21. This “hour” extends to the whole inhabited earth,—so does that. See Revelation 13:7, 8. And this is an hour of trial—the earth-dwellers, having rejected, or neglected, the Lord of heaven, and heavenly things, are now to be given Satan’s Christ. A “strong delusion” will be sent by God; and all not God’s elect will believe “the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-11).

2. What is meant by being kept from that terrible “hour”?

        A. It cannot mean merely, preserved in and through it: for the remnant of Israel, God’s earthly people, will have that preservation (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1), whereas this is a promise given by a heavenly Christ to His heavenly saints.

        B. It is from a peculiar hour, or season, not merely from trial, but from the hour and scene of the trial, Christ’s faithful are to be kept.

        C. It is as direct a reward to His saints for their “keeping the word of his patience,” as was Christ’s own exaltation because of His patiently doing His Father’s will (Philippians 2:6-ll). The word “keep” used in this promise is the same word our Lord applies to “keeping the word of his patience,” which His faithful saints had done. It is, as we have said, beautifully reciprocal; but notice that Christ’s “keeping” in His action toward them, was to protect them from something.

        D. He says, “I will keep thee out of” or “away from” that dread hour.43

This hour, we read, is “about to come.” “While those ignorant of it are painting vain pictures of the happiness of earth, close at hand, to appear under the ordinary operation of the causes and agencies now at work, the student of prophecy knows that this expectation will never be realised; nay, that evil is about to expand itself to prodigious and overwhelming magnitude. The Lord, in vengeance for His truth rejected, is about to send on the earth an energy of delusion which seals all who receive it to utter damnation.” (Govett)

LOVING COUNSEL: I come quickly. From Thyatira on, the eyes of the saints are directed to the Lord’s return as the only hope, as it has really always been! To the faithful assembly at Philadelphia, the words were a thrill of cheer. One well says: “These words, ‘I come quickly,’ which in different senses and with varying references form the burden of this whole book (of Revelation) are here manifestly to be taken as an encouragement and comfort to the Philadelphian church, arising from the nearness of the Lord’s coming to reward her.”

Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take44 thy crown. “What thou hast” refers to spiritual possessions only,—to truth known, to progress in grace, to service to Christ already rendered. Intensely important this warning, that a crown may be won and lost through later watchlessness! “Take away from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.” I cannot agree with Alford that “it is not for himself that the robber would snatch away the crown, but merely to deprive the possessor.” Service to the Lord will be rewarded, but the Lord may have to go further back to confer the reward,—perhaps to the person who brought to Him this worker who lost his reward. Doubtless also 2 John 8 teaches us that in order to “receive a full reward and lose not the things which we have wrought,” we must be on our guard against wrong influences—we must “look to ourselves.”

“Thy crown.” All instructed believers know that the several crowns spoken of in the New Testament represent rewards for service, and not eternal life, which is a gift. Revelation 2:10; James 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Peter 5:4.

PROMISE TO OVERCOMER: I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more. “A little strength” on earth, (but true love to Christ) and now made a pillar! This is, to be established in honor forever in the very presence of God, whose presence is the essence of bliss to a holy creature. All saints are being built therein as living stones, Peter tells us. Pillars (like Boaz and Jachin) in Solomon’s temple, exhibited permanency, strength and beauty.

And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem.45 We see this fulfilled in Revelation 22:4.

And mine own new name. The meaning here, it seems to me, is opened out by the excellent note by Darby: “He who was hardly accounted to belong to the holy city (others had had the pretension to be the people of God, the city of God, by divine religious title on earth), has its heavenly name written on him, too, and Christ’s new name—the name not known to prophets and Jews according to the flesh, but which He has taken as dead to this world. Associated in Christ’s own patience, Christ confers upon him what fully associates him in His own blessing with God”!

Now who are the Philadelphians? We believe they are all Christ’s faithful through the dispensation. If these promises were made to such saints then, they cover all saints since. Philadelphia was a local assembly at the same time with Ephesus and Smyrna. Let us not forget in viewing these seven messages, in their prophetic succession, that all existed together. Remember also that all have existed through the dispensation, so that not only is the hope of the imminent coming of the Lord preserved to all, but the promises to the overcomers are for all the saints. For example, no saint shall be “hurt of the second death,”—not Smyrna saints only! Those in Christ are already new creations, their history in Adam having ended at Calvary (Romans 6); and they, made alive together with Christ, raised up with Him, made to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: but it is “not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that if he shall be manifested we shall be like him, for we shall see him even as he is.” We have, now, “newness of life” in Christ. But what His New Name is, or will be, remains yet to be revealed!

CALL TO HEAR: He that hath an ear, let him hear. The Spirit keeps speaking to all opened ears and willing hearts in all these wondrous, solemn messages. Are we really listening?

VII. Laodicea
The Last State—”Lukewarm”

The name comes from loos, people, and dikao, to rule: the rule of the people: “democracy,” in other words. (It is the exact opposite of Nicolaitan!) We come now to the sad and awful end of church testimony. That leaving of first love in Ephesus, comes now to being left by the Lord!

THE ADDRESS: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Nothing of His appearance among the churches in the vision of chapter 1 remains here. The Church has failed; Christ remains. “The Amen.” It is the language of the faithful God who brings things to pass as He has promised. See Isaiah 65:16; and 2 Corinthians 1:20. There we read “How many soever be the promises of God, in him (Christ), is the yea; (that is the possibility of their being fulfilled) wherefore also through him is the Amen, (the certainty and actuality, of their being fulfilled) unto the glory of God through us.” This is a great announcement, for in ourselves we are worse than failures, but in Christ all God’s plans are made good!

As the Faithful and True Witness, Christ is giving now this seventh one of the searching messages to His assemblies on earth: He will see all; He will withhold nothing profitable; He will warn with perfect fidelity; He will commend with absolute kindness. This is why we can delight in The Revelation. It is not only the word of God, but it is the testimony of Jesus. He speaks all with unswerving faithfulness. He is also the Head, because the Beginner, of all God’s creation. Here is a title far above all dispensational responsibilities of creatures, whether of Israel or of the Church—Christ speaks as Creator. This puts us all in the dust. It likewise gives our hearts hope. He who created all things can make good the high calling of the Church as His Body and Bride, despite the corporate failure of the Church’s testimony on this earth.

CONDITION KNOWN: Thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So, because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spew thee out of my mouth. To Philadelphia our Lord had spoken in personal fellowship, “I am he that is true.” To Laodicea, lukewarm, having no real heart for Him, He says, “I am the true witness”: solemn difference!

Thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Here we have, first, their spiritual state; second, their supreme self-confidence; third, their awful ignorance of their true condition; fourth, their imminent danger. The meaning of “hot” is seen in Romans 12:11, where the same Greek word is used—fervent (burning) in spirit. The word translated cold is used in Matthew 10:42, “a cup of cold water”; (“as cold waters to a thirsty soul,” Proverbs 25:25). Either a hot drink on a cold day, or a cool one on a hot day, is acceptable and refreshing; lukewarm is neither, and disgusts. These Laodiceans were lukewarm: chliaros—a Greek word used only this one time in the Bible. It is the last stage of the Church’s existence recognized by the Lord.

Note their proud, blind pretensions (although Christ is on the outside!): “I am rich”—become wealthy. Is not this a description of the professing church today? How they count up their numbers, the wealth and worldly importance of their “membership”; their great churches, cathedrals and universities; their worldly influence—even to the extent of having a lobby at the seat of government to “control legislation”! The Laodicean church would fain “reform” the world that crucified the Lord. It denounces as “pessimists” those who would show from Scripture that “evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse,” “the love of the many waxing cold,” “the rulers of the age coming to nought,” and Christ’s personal return the only hope either for the Church or for the nations.

“Need of nothing”: the loss of a sense of need, as the drowsiness that besets a freezing man, is fatal. People blindly go to hell in droves, in the Laodicean churches of these last days. With liars, blasphemers of the Lord, and teachers of pagan evolution in the pulpits, and the people “loving to have it so,” we would cry, as of old, “What will ye do in the end thereof?”

“The wretched one”—of all the seven! That is, of all possible church states represented by these seven, Laodicea is the worst off! Worse than Thyatira, than Romanism, this last lukewarmness.

“And poor,” alas! the poverty, in view of their possible riches in Christ and His Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit! The poverty of the Laodicean churches of this hour! Whole years, and no one born again! Whole denominations shrinking in numbers! “And miserable,” literally, proper objects of pity. “Blind,” looking at stones and towers and organs, and pews.

PREDICTED ACTION: I am about to spew thee out of my mouth. Darby says that “this threat is peremptory, not conditional: it brought irreconcilable rejection.” The book of Revelation indeed plainly shows that the Church, having failed, will give way to the kingdom, to the Lord’s personal appearing. But Christ does not say, “I will”; but, (mello) “I am about to.” He says, “I am ready to: I have it in my mind, implying graciously the possibility of the threat not being executed if only they repent at once. His dealings towards them will depend on theirs toward Him.” These words from Fausset more nearly express what the text sets forth.

LOVING COUNSEL: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich. Grace is ever free. We buy it “without money and without price,” although it cost Christ the fire of God’s judgment to get it for us. And white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest. White garments in the Bible, and especially in The Revelation, stand for manifested righteousness. If they would repent, and rely wholly upon Christ as the only righteousness of sinners, the world would see that instead of the shame of their nakedness. The world today sees the nakedness of the Laodicean church and has contempt for it, but the full shame of that nakedness will not be made manifest till the false church is rejected as Christ’s witness on earth, and hated as a harlot by the Beast and his ten kings (Revelation 17:16).

And eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. “The Holy Spirit’s unction, like the ancient’s eye-salve, first smarts with the conviction of sin, then heals.”

As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous, therefore, and repent. Astonishing love of the Savior! Loving even the lukewarm! Loving an assembly that has really no heart for Him! “I reprove”—Christ’s wounding is the faithful wounding of a friend. “The ear that hearkeneth to the reproof of life shall abide among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).

How many preachers love the saints enough to risk their resentment by obeying 2 Timothy 4:2: “reprove, rebuke”? I fear that we who preach are rarely as faithful in our love as our Lord!

“And chasten.” As long as one’s conscience feels the reproof of faithful preachers; as long as the Lord does not say, “He is joined to his idols, let him alone,” there is hope. “Be zealous, therefore, and repent.” I believe that “no word from God shall be void of power,” and that some Laodiceans, through the church centuries, have, by divine grace, become zealous and repented. Only a godly sorrow, working the seven-fold result of 2 Corinthians 7:11, avails in such a case.

LAST YEARNING PLEA: Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him,46 and he with me. Here we have Christ in all His tenderness, His unfathomable devotion! In these last words to the Church, the love of the Bridegroom makes Him forget wholly the work of the Judge. It is The Beloved, of the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 5:2).

This final plea of the Lord Jesus to the individual heart, where He has been shut out of the love and fellowship of the general company, should win every heart that UNDERSTANDS!

1. It is the plea of One who is meek and lowly of heart,—of a humility that is boundless and absolute. If we find ourselves shut out, where we have a right to be, we either rise to assert our rights, or leave in wrath. Not so Christ! After all the centuries, He still stands meekly knocking!

2. It is the plea of an active, yearning love. If the Lord Jesus did not love those who profess His name, even His lowliness would not keep Him at the door which is shut!

3. It is the plea of deepest concern. He knows what losing Him will mean,—what a Christless future will be. He was troubled over even Judas, who had already bargained to sell Him for the price of a common slave!

It is deeply instructive and touching to note the verb tenses here: it is literally, “Behold I have taken my stand at the door and am knocking”: the first denoting an attitude deliberately taken, and the second, an action continually going on.

While the whole assembly in the person of its angel is addressed, we all instinctively feel and know that the words are personal to us,—yes, to the innermost heart of each of us, of you, of me. For the pleading voice goes on, “If any man hear my voice and open the door.” Here we are face to face with three great facts: First, the awful fact that people can “belong” to an assembly of Christ’s, and yet not hear, never hear, Christ’s life-giving Voice; Second, the blessed fact that anyone may hearken who will; and, Third, the eternally solemn fact that the opening of the door is from our side, not from Christ’s.

It is the action of unbelief to abuse the glorious truth of electing grace by making fatalism of it, thus seeking to lay the burden of an evil heart’s unwillingness upon God. “How often would Ibut ye would not!”

“I will sup with him”: and what have we to give Him? What have we that He could wish, what that would give Him, delight,—the Lord of glory? He loves thee! It is as the Bridegroom of the Church that He speaks,—“who loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Of course His joy will be the first, and infinitely the greater! So He puts it first. Then, “he with Me.” Those who open the door to Christ are the happy ones of the earth!

“I sat down under his shadow with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting-house, And his banner over me was love.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, 4

Here, at the end of these seven church epistles, in this twentieth verse, we have the second of the two great truths of Paul’s gospel: (1) ye in Christ, and (2) Christ in you. Paul begins to develop this second truth in Galatians: “It was the good pleasure of God … to reveal his Son in me” (1:16); “It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me” (2:20); “My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (4:19); then in Ephesians 3:14-19, “that Christ may make his home down in your hearts”—a definite thing, as yet unaccomplished in the Ephesian believers to whom he wrote; and in Philippians 1:21, “for me to live is Christ”; and in Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”! In a real definite sense Christ is in every true believer. See Romans 8:9, 10; where we read that all of Christ’s own, because they have the indwelling Spirit, have Christ in them as their life (Colossians 3:3, 4). “Know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate” (2 Corinthians 13:5). But in Revelation 3:20 there is a personal call, like that of Ephesians 5:14: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.”

How our poor selfish hearts turn to the next verse—about the coming kingdom, and our reigning with Christ; and forget His present, tender pleading for real, inward fellowship with Him now!

PROMISE TO OVERCOMERS: He that over-cometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. Christ’s throne is the throne of His father David at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16; 1 Chronicles 29:3; Jeremiah 3:17; Luke 1:32; Acts 15:14-18). But our Lord’s royal inheritance by the Davidic covenant extends to His heavenly Bride, the Church, as Eve shared the dominion that God gave the first Adam. In his first epistle (first in divine order), Paul writes, “Concerning God’s Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3); and in his last epistle, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). We shall consider the millennial order in Revelation 20. Here, in 3:21, at the close of the unfaithful corporate testimony of the Church, we are again overwhelmed at this infinite grace of Christ. “The assembly whom Christ just before threatened to spew out of His mouth, is now offered a seat with Him on His throne.”—Fausset. Trench truly says, “The highest place is within the reach of the lowest; the faintest spark of grace may be fanned into the mightiest flame of love.” Let not the most wretched, defeated believer despair,—if only there be the least yearning for Christ. The most tender plea of all the seven is made to a lukewarm assembly. And the most distinct promise of actually sitting down with Christ upon His throne is given at the very close of the Church’s testimony. Note that our Lord speaks as one who Himself overcame, and is therefore now sit- ting upon His Father’s throne.47 As a Victor He calls to you and to me. It is only in sharing by faith His victory that any saint ever overcame! As Christ warned in the upper room, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He also triumphed over Satan and all his hosts at Calvary, and gives us the benefit (Colossians 2:14, 15; Hebrews 2:14, 15). “And this is the victory that over-cometh—even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

THE FINAL CALL TO HEAR: Saints of God beloved, let the world go by and give ear: “The time is short!” Your salvation is nearer than when you first believed: “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” The world is full of voices today, calling you to hearken to what man is, and has done, and will do, but be thou one of whom some day your Lord will gladly say: “He had an ear, and heard My Voice!”


      Art thou weary, sad, and lonely,

      All thy summer past?

      One remaineth, and One only—

      Hear His Voice at last.

      Voice that called thee all unheeded,

      Love that knocked in vain;

      Now, forsaken, dost thou need it?

      Hear that Voice again.

      “Open to Me, my beloved,

      I have waited long,

      Till the night fell on the glory,

      Silence on the song;

      “Till the brightness and the sweetness,

      And the smiles were fled,

      Till thy heart was worn and broken—

      Till thy love was dead.

      “Thou wouldst none of Me, beloved,

      Yet beloved wert thou;

      Thou didst scorn Me in the sunshine,

      Wilt thou have Me now?

      “Soul, for thee I left My glory,

      Bore the curse of God—

      Wept for thee with bitterest weeping,

      Agony and blood.

      “Soul, for thee I died dishonoured,

      As a felon dies;

      For thou wert the pearl all priceless

      In thy Saviour’s eyes.

      “Soul, for thee I rose victorious,

      Glad that thou wert free;

      Entered Heaven in triumph glorious— Heaven I won for thee.

      “Soul, from Heaven I speak to woo thee— Thee, the lost, the lone;

      Earth may fail thee, sin undo thee,

      All the more Mine own.

      “Sorrow, sin, and desolation,

      These thy claim to Me;

      Love that won thee full salvation,

      This My claim to thee.

      “Soul, I knock, I stand beseeching,

      Turn me not away;

      Heart that craves thee, love that needs thee— Wilt thou say Me nay?”

By V. M.

From Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso and Others published by Loizeaux Brothers, New York. Used by permission.

1 This word authority (often translated “power” in the old version) it the Greek word exousia, used first in Matthew 7:29, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes”; again, Matthew 21:23, “By what authority doest thou these things?” and again, Matthew 28:18, “All authority is given unto me,” etc. It is used 21 times in The Revelation, its last occurrence being in 22:14, “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right (exousia) to come to the tree of life,” etc. “Power (exousia) means authority to do a thing” (Liddell and Scott). That seems to me to be the primary meaning of this word in Scripture.

2 Many other angels are seen besides this revealing one whom our Lord calls “mine angel”: the whole “innumerable company” in 5:11 and 7:11; four in 7:1; “another,” 7:2; the seven trumpet angels in 8:2; “another” in 8:3; “another strong angel,” 10:1; six successive special angels in chapter 14; seven angels with the seven last plagues, chapters 15, 16; another heralding Babylon’s final destruction in 18:1-3; the “strong angel” who illustrates that destruction, 18:21; the “angel standing in the sun,” who invites the birds to Armageddon, 19:17; the angel that binds Satan, 20:1-3; and the scene of 21:9.

We know that after Satan is bound and the millennial kingdom brought in, the “inhabited earth” will not be “subjected to angels” (Hebrews 2:5). Therefore we do not find angels ruling after the binding of Satan. Of course, it is by angelic operation that the kingdom of the 1000 years is cleared of all those opposing it. See Matthew 13:40-43, remembering that it is “the end of the age,” not the “world,” seen there.

It is quite astonishing to study this direct interference by the Lord of hosts through the “angels of his power,” even in the preliminary judgments which precede this public manifestation, as well as at that manifestation, 2 Thessalonians 1:7. Even evil angels, like those “bound at the great river Euphrates,” are made use of. See also 9:1, for the “star” there is evidently a fallen angel.

How little do the “wise” of this “modern” age dream, in their “grasshopper-visions,” of these marvelous beings, the “mighty in strength.” One of them slew 185,000 men in one night in Hezekiah’s day!

3 Dean Alford, himself an English churchman, says: “If the words are to be understood as above, they form at least a solemn rebuke to the practice of the Church of England, which omits with one or two exceptions the whole of this book from her public reading. Not one word of the precious messages of the Spirit to the churches is ever heard in the public service of a church never weary of appealing to her scriptural liturgies. Surely it is high time that such an omission should be supplied.”

4 The teaching of some that the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 represent Jewish assemblies in tribulation times arises from Satanic delusion. It is always coupled with other fantastic and heretical dispensational doctrines (as Bullingerism with subtle denial of eternity of punishment). Govett well says, “These seven churches were prophetic of the things which ARE, not of the things that were to be.”

5 “He was the faithful witness because all things that He heard of the Father He faithfully made known to the disciples. Also because He taught the way of God in truth and cared not for man, nor regarded the person of men. Also, the truth which He taught in words, He confirmed by miracles. Also because the testimony to Himself on the part of the Father, He denied not, even in death. Lastly, because He will give true testimony of the works, good and bad, at the day of judgment.”—Richard of St. Vincent, 12th century.

6 This remarkable phrase, first used by Paul in Galatians 1:5 (Greek), occurs 21 times in Scripture, 14 of these being in The Revelation (including 14:11, where the definite article is omitted, because it is there introduced as connected with eternal judgment; whereas in 20:10 it is included, as denoting what has already been introduced).

7 We must read “earth,” instead of confining the term to the land of Israel. See all the occurrences of the Greek word ge„, beginning with the first verse of the Bible (Septuagint). Of some 260 occurrences of this word in the New Testament, none, perhaps, but Luke 21:23 indicates Palestine in anything like an absolute way, and this not really so in view of “Jerusalem” in verse 20, and “Judea” in verse 21; while in the same chapter, verses 25, 33, and 35, the meaning of ge„ is evidently the whole earth. Always when indicating Palestine, the word ge„ is modified,—as, “land of Judah,” “land of Israel,” Matthew 2:6, 20; “land of Canaan,” Acts 13:19. So also we see “land of Sodom,” “land of Egypt” (Acts 13:17).

8 We do not find the name Father in this great verse, for that name was revealed to and is held by the Church, which is not connected with earthly government, but is altogether heavenly in calling, character, and destiny.

9 Scofield has an excellent note on the name Jehovah. See his comment on Genesis 2:4, in his “Bible.”

10 Scofield’s note (Genesis 17:1) on the “Almighty God” is as weak and dangerous as his note on “Jehovah” is excellent. To be the “all-sufficient” One involves, indeed, almighty power. But such verses as Job 21:20; 37:23; Psalm 63:14; Isaiah 13:6 and Joel 1:15 do not easily reconcile with so limited a definition as “all-sufficient, the nourisher and satisfier of his people.” It is significant that Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:18, calls “the living God” of Hosea 1:10 “the Lord Almighty” (Greek, panto„krator): and it is also in connection with His tender attitude to them as “a Father, toward His “sons and daughters.” It is this word panto„krator that is used eight times in The Revelation. It is too bad that so excellent a commentator as Dr. Scofield should say, “The primary name El or Elohim sufficiently signifies all-mightiness.” It plainly does not; or God would not have used the more specific and most awe-inspiring Hebrew name, El Shaddai, Almighty, or its Greek equivalent, panto„krator. The other occurrences of “Almighty” in The Revelation are 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:15; 21:22. Present limitless power, the majesty of it, and the worship it deserves, accompany this name throughout Scripture, and especially in The Revelation.

After writing this note, I found to my horror, but I confess not to my surprise, the following: “In order to corroborate the doctrine (of sex in deity) just mentioned, certain Theosophists have invented a new derivation for the Hebrew Shaddai, which in our versions is correctly rendered ‘Almighty.’ They suppose it to be connected with a word shad, which signifies a woman’s breast. But such a derivation is impossible, and, so far as we are aware, has never been proposed by an unbiased scholar. More than one Christian scholar has taken up this Theosophical derivation of Shaddai, and explained the word as meaning first ‘full-breasted,’ and then ‘bountiful.’ The irreverent use of one of the grandest titles of the Most High should have checked them.” (Pember: THE CHURCH AND THE MYSTERIES. Page 413.) The Babylonian doctrine of “the motherhood of God,” source of all abominations, is what is subtly brought in here. The true derivation of Shaddai is Hebrew, yDv from root ddv to be strong, mighty: in adjective form used only of God (Gesenius). To miss this meaning of The Almighty is to endanger the consent of our hearts to His righteous judgments.

11 “The time of John’s death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history; and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120.” McClintock and Strong, quoting Lampe.

12 If we “learn Christ” and hear Him, as those that are taught in Him, it will be “as truth is in Jesus,” separating us utterly from the “manner of life” of this world, and therefore incurring their hatred. See Ephesians 4:20-23. The common loose quotation, “the truth as it is in Jesus,” wholly misses the truth!

13 Alford’s trenchant note (Gr. Test., in loc.) should dispose of all objections. Whatever originates in Germany (Wetstein) with “modern interpretation” and is spread in other lands needs to be thrice inspected!

14 “Not merely ‘I was,’ but I became in the Spirit, that is, in a state of spiritual ecstasy or trance, becoming thereby receptive of the vision or revelation to follow.” (Alford)

“‘I was,’ Greek, I came to be, I became, in the Spirit,—in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut out, and the inner and higher life and spirit being taken full possession of by God’s Spirit, so that an immediate communication with the invisible world is established.” (Fausset)

“‘I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’: ‘in the Spirit’ is a state into which he entered.” (Darby)

See also Winer. Dean Alford protests further: “They must be bold indeed who can render it, ‘I was transported by the Spirit into the day of the Lord’s coming,’ in the face of the absence of a single precedent in the universal usage of the early Church!”

15 “The candlestick of the Jewish sanctuary was the one only—its six branches set into the central stem,—and it spoke of Christ, not of the Church. The seven candlesticks (of The Revelation) are for lights, not in the sanctuary (where Christ alone is that), but in the world. And while there is a certain unity, as representing, doubtless, the whole Church, yet it is the Church seen, not in its dependent communion with Christ, but historically and externally, as ‘churches.’ Each lampstand is set upon its own base, stands in its own responsibility.” (Grant)

16 The Greek word here rendered “glowing brass” is the despair of scholars—chalcolibanus. Alford simply transliterates it, as some others also do. Gold would stand for the glory of God, silver for redemption. “His feet like unto glowing brass” indicates wrath-judgment upon sin by the holiness of God, by which route—Calvary—our Lord overcame. He stands here among the churches on earth. He is gracious, but He must judge according to the glory which He died to secure for God.

17 Hades is literally, “the unseen”: yet it is a place, with gates. It is in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40. It is the Hebrew sheol; as we see by comparing Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2:27. Men went down into it—Genesis 37:35, R. V. Spirits, not bodies, went there,—except in “the new thing” that God did in the judgment of Koran, Numbers 16:30-33, R. V. There was “a great gulf” there, fixed by God, separating His own from “the pit wherein was no water”: for Christ had covenanted to shed His blood for His “prisoners,”—which made them “prisoners of hope”; and God promised Christ He would “render double” unto them,—not only delivering them from the pit,—as was Lazarus, in Abraham’s bosom as a child of faith delivered,—but also bringing them up from the “stronghold,” in which they waited. See Zechariah 9:9, 11, 12. When Christ ascended, after the three days there in “the lower parts of the earth,” He led up His “captives,”—the Old Testament saints,—in His ascension (see Ephesians 4:8-10) so that they are now “spirits of just men made perfect,” in their proper place in heaven, awaiting the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection. It is blessed, and sad, to reflect upon the countless hosts waiting with eagerness our Lord’s coming: and the prattling ones who “do not believe in it,”—and the frightful terror awaiting them!

Note that our Lord’s words in Matthew 16:18 refer to the gates of a literal region,—in this earth’s center: into which gates the saints of the Church were never even to enter.

18 We shall remark again and again that the word “hereafter” is no real translation at all of the Greek phrase met a taut a which closes verse 19 and opens and closes 4:1. The phrase means, “after these things.”

19 Note that the lampstand (Greek: luchnia) which represents the churches, is an entirely different word from the “torches,” or “lamps,” of chapter 4:5, which is in Greek, lampas. The former are to hold a light, but the Spirit is light. Furthermore the lampstands of the churches were to lighten the darkness of this world; but the throne of God needs no illumination. The seven “torches of fire” in 4:5 are for searching, judging power, “sent forth into all the earth.”

20 The Church here is the assembly of God, the people, not the building! The Most High in this dispensation “dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” (Acts 7:48.) No building or location in Christendom is in itself holy above any other.

21 Satan is named eight times in The Revelation, five times in connection with the churches—six times if we include the name devil in Revelation 2:10.

22 One of the most solemn studies in. the whole Bible is that concerning the hearing ear. At the end of the forty years in the wilderness Moses tells Israel that although they had seen all the mighty miracles, Jehovah had not given them, as a nation, eyes to see and ears to hear! (Deuteronomy 29:4.) Neither did they hearken in the land to God’s messengers, the prophets; and Isaiah was commanded judicially to “make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see … hear … understand … turn … and be healed” (6:10). Jeremiah cries, “O foolish people, and without understanding; that have eyes, and see not: that have ears, and hear not.” The Lord Jesus preached openly at first, (Matthew 4:17, with 13:3): then He turned to parables, “because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand … for this people’s heart is waxed gross (literally, ‘grown fat’, from prosperity), and their ears are dull of hearing (literally, ‘hearing heavily,’ that is, sluggishly and imperfectly),and their eyes they have closed” (Hebrew, “smeared over”). “This citation (from Isaiah) gives no countenance to the fatalist view of the passage, but rests the whole blame on the hard-heartedness and unreadiness of the hearers, which is of itself the cause why the very preaching of the word is a means of further darkening and condemning them” (Alford).

Jehovah said to Ezekiel (12:2), “Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of the rebellious house, that have eyes to see, and see not, that have ears to hear, and hear not.” There is nothing more awful than to be hearkening to God’s words with an unopened or uncircumcised ear! Hearing without response brings the fatal delusion—the ability to forget, of James 1:22, 24. “They would not give ear” is God’s continual complaint through the prophets.

Our Lord even says to the disciples in the boat (Mark 8:17, 18), “Do ye not yet perceive, neither understand? have ye your heart hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?” Divine truth enters by the ear: and that act of the will which receives it, is called hearkening, which sometimes involves inclining the ear (from all else).

Now, seven times in the gospels, and eight times in The Revelation—seven times to these churches!—comes this eternally vital, open, yet private call to any opened ear: “He that hath an ear let him hear.”

Know you not that the most of the readers and hearers of the book of the Revelation will not really HEAR, in the sense in which the Lord means—a personal, separating word to “sink down into their ears”?

Seiss remarks, “Fishermen and taxgatherers, by listening to Jesus, presently find themselves in apostolic thrones, and ministering as priests, and rulers of the dispensation, wide as the world and lasting as time.”

23 I have again and again looked the New Testament through for it, but I can find no Sadducee saved! Can you?

24 One of the great proofs of the pagan ignorance of the Word of God that obtains everywhere in so-called Christendom, is the readiness of tens of thousands to listen to Eddyism, talking of “mortal mind”! The Bible never applies the word “mortal” to either spirit or soul, but to the body only. See for yourself. The Greek thneetos, mortal (liable to death), is used six times,—Romans 6:12; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 5:4; and the word for immortality (not liable to death,—Greek, athanasia), three times,—1 Corinthians 15:53, 54, and 1 Timothy 6:16; and incorruptibility—Greek, aphtharsia (not possible of corruption), eight times,—Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15: 42, 50, 53, 54; Ephesians 6:24; 2 Timothy 1:10; and Titus 2:7.

25 Contrast “synagogue,”—a gathering together, the Jewish thing—with “ecclesia,” the called-out-from, away-from, which is God’s word for the Church: “called out” from Judaism and all earthly religion, as well as from the world.

26 The ancient account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, in A.D. 168, eighty-six years after his conversion, is very definite, that the Jews “joined the heathen in clamoring for his being cast to the lions; and, when there was an obstacle to this, for his being burned alive; and with their own hands they carried logs to the pile: the Jews being most desperately forward, as is their custom, to render this service.”

Having lost earthly power under Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews felt nothing was left them but their religious preeminence, which meant their self-righteousness. Now, religious righteousness will do anything, as history fully reveals. For this, “the Jews … killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us (the apostles), … and are contrary to all men; … forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). The Jews are unchanged—except the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). If missionaries to the Jews would pursue Paul’s method of “provoking them to jealousy” by boasting of a Savior they had nationally rejected, instead of offering them the “Messiah” (which God is now not doing!) they would quickly find the same deadly enmity and persecution and violence which Paul suffered. When the opportunity offers, the majority of the Jews will go over openly to Antichrist, as we well know from Daniel 9:27, Isaiah 28:14, 15, and many other plain prophecies. We do well to have “great sorrow” for them as did Paul in Romans 9; to remember that nationally they are “beloved for the fathers’ sake”; and to labor to reach them. But it is folly to close our eyes to their blinded, deadly state! The nation that crucified Christ, stoned Stephen, and most bitterly hated and opposed the gospel of grace preached by Paul, remains unchanged. The fountain for sin and for uncleanness is not yet open for them nationally, nor will it be until “that day” of Zechariah 12:10 to 13:1, when, beleaguered by all the hostile nations of earth, and in despair, they at last “look upon him whom they pierced,” and fall into such mourning as has never been known! They will not believe until they see.

Today Laodicean lukewarmness admits Rabbis, Swamis, Unitarians, and “modern” Bible disbelievers—infidels—to its “religious platforms.” Nevertheless, “synagogue of Satan,” our Lord’s awful name for the Jews that opposed the gospel (that is, the deity, virgin birth, blood atonement and the physical resurrection of our Lord), still remains.

27 That this Roman Emperor was ever truly a believer one doubts. Fisher (History of the Christian Church) says: “He was never fully weaned from the cultus of Apollo. There were occasions on which he ordered the Pagan soothsayers to be consulted. That he did not receive baptism until the day before his death, was not due, however, to a lack of faith (1) but to the current belief, in which he shared, that the holy laver washed out the guilt of all previous sins.” (Faith in a “holy” vessel, and “water” is not trust in Christ’s blood.)

28 Observe carefully that the true reading is thronos, “throne,” not “seat.”

29 in the bloody conflict for the bishopric of Rome, Damasus, one of the Babylonian priests or Magians, in 366 A.D., secured the office, and finally was conceded from the emperor, the title Pontifex Maximus. According to Zosimus, Constantine had assumed the title in 325, as the heathen emperors before him had appropriated it, “because it contributed to exalt at once the imperial and the episcopal dignity, and served to justify the interference of the emperor in ecclesiastical counsels and in the nomination of bishops.” Gratian was the last emperor to whom the title was applied. The medals of Constantine and his successors, down to Gratian, and the inscriptions relating to them, gave them the title of Pontifex Maximus. Thus was Babylonianism, begun by Nimrod, perpetuated in that which had the name of the Church!

30 A good deal turns on the position of the last word homoids in the original. It seems to me that the peculiar emphasis in the first part of the sentence on Pergamum’s having, that is, permitting, these Nicolaitans, might be strong enough to attach this last adverb to the fact that she suffered them, rather than to what they taught. Otherwise, we must conclude that the Balaamites and the Nicolaitans taught and practiced the same things: viz. idolatry and license. Whereas, it seems probable that the name Nicolaitans, as we say elsewhere, holds its own interpretation:—laity-bossing clerisy.

31 See the subject of “mysteries” in Hislop’s “Two Babylons,” or Pember’s “Church Churches, and Mysteries.” (The latter securable second-hand only.)

32 This name “Jezebel,” applied to this Thyatiran, is proof again that God expects us to read from Scripture the deep meanings of the names He uses.

“Jehu answered, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22).

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name … saying, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people … and stone him to death.” (I Kings 21:5-10; 18:4, 13).

Whoredom, witchcraft, religious fasts,—and murdering Gad’s prophets,—this was Jezebel. Is not this also Rome! Jezebel also supported a horde of idolatrous priests of her own—Babylonians all. See Baal in “The Two Babylons,” Hislop, and “Great Prophecies,” Pember, pp. 138-139.

33 See “The Deadly Parallel,” G. W. Dowkontt, where Fosdick’s and Paine’s beliefs and teachings are compared, column by column, with Paine preferable!

34 I defy any sincere one to read McGavin’s “Protestant,” or “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome,” by Father Chiniquy (F. H. Revell & Co., New York), or the writings of Liguori, the Roman Catholic “theologian,” and deny that Rome teaches, as well as seduces, to fornication and immorality, in the confessional.

Hear the testimony of an earnest lad:

“When I had confessed all the sins I could remember, the priest began to ask me the strangest questions on matters about which my pen must be silent. I replied, ‘Father, I do not understand what you ask me.’

‘I question you on the sixth commandment’ (in the Bible, the seventh).

Thereupon he dragged my thoughts to regions which, thank God, had hitherto been unknown to me.

I answered him, ‘I do not understand you,’ or, ‘I have never done these things.’

Then skillfully shifting to some secondary matter, he would soon slyly and cunningly come back to his favorite subject, namely, sins of licentiousness.

His questions were so unclean that I blushed and felt sick with disgust and shame. I was so filled with indignation that, speaking loud enough to be heard by many, I told him: ‘Sir I am very wicked; I have seen, heard, and done many things which I regret; but I never was guilty of what you mention to me. My ears have never heard anything so wicked as what they have heard from your lips. Please do not ask me any more of these questions; do not teach me any evil that I do not already know.’”—“Fifty Years in the Church of Rome,” pp. 26-27.

35 Mr. H. A. Ironside well says, “Romanism is Christianity, Judaism, and Heathenism joined together; and the Lord abhors the vile combination. God gave her (Rome) space to repent, and she repented not. Go back to the days of Savanarola in Italy, Wickliffe and Cranmer in England, John Knox in Scotland, Martin Luther in Germany, Zwingle in Switzerland, Calvin in France—all those mighty reformers whom God raised up throughout the world to call Rome to repent of her iniquity, but she repented not. If she had had any desire to get right with Him, she would have repented in the 16th century.” Lectures on The Revelation.

36 Seiss well calls the attention of those who question whether the seven churches of The Revelation stand for the entire Church in its whole history, to the words of Victorinus, bishop of Petavium, martyred in 303 A. D., and the first church commentator on The Revelation known to us: “Paul first taught as that there are seven churches in the whole world, and that the seven churches are the one entire Church. Paul wrote ‘Ad Romanos, ad Corinthios, ad Galatas, ad Ephesios, ad Thessalonicenses, ad Phillipenses, ad Colossenses’; and John, obeying the same method, has not exceeded the number seven.”

37 Grotius well says, “Through the reins (Latin, renes) the desires become known; through the heart, the thoughts.”

38 “‘Hold fast’—aorist: more vivid and imperative than would be the present, setting forth the renewed, determined grasp of every intervening moment of the space prescribed until the time when ‘I shall come’: the aorist gives an uncertainty as to when the time shall be, which we cannot convey in our language.” (Alford)

39 Concerning this De Wette says, “Arriving at full conviction of the certainty of the coming of Christ.”

Luther: “Two degrees of the Christian life: in the first, faith rests upon outward evidences; in the second, on inward revelations of the Spirit.”

Jonathan Edwards: “When Christ was going to heaven, He comforted His disciples with the thought that after awhile He would come again and take them to Himself, that they might be with Him.”

And again: “I have sometimes a sense of the excellent fullness of Christ whereby He has appeared to me far above all, the chief of ten thousands. Once, as I rode out into the woods I had a view that for me was extraordinary of the glory of the Son of God. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought or conception—which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud.” And his seraphic wife thus testifies: “Mr. Sheldon came into the house about ten o’clock and said to me as he came in, ‘The Sun of Righteousness arose on my soul this morning before day’; upon which I said to him in reply, ‘That Sun has not set upon my soul all this night: I have dwelt with Him in heavenly mansions; the light of divine love has surrounded me; my soul has been lost in God and has almost left the body.’” (See Memoirs of Edwards, in his Complete Works.)

See Samuel Rutherford’s Letters, Finney’s Autobiography, especially his last meetings in Boston. See also the hymns that came out of the darkest papal times. These all had The Morning Star! (Appendix I.)

40 J. A. Froude, the historian, says, “Protestantism has made no converts to speak of in Europe since the sixteenth century. It shot up in two generations to its full stature, and became an established creed with defined boundaries, and it has come about that the old enemies have become friends in the presence of a common foe (anti-churchism and atheism). Catholics speak tenderly of Protestants as keeping alive the belief in creeds, and look forward to their return to the sheepfold, while the scarlet woman on the seven hills, ‘drunk with the blood of the saints,’ is now treated by Protestantism as an older sister, and a valued ally in the great warfare with infidelity. The points of difference are forgotten; the points of union are passively dwelt upon; the remnant of idolatry, which the more ardent European Protestants once abhorred and denounced, are now regarded as having been providentially preserved, as a means of making up the quarrel and bringing back the churches into communion.”

41 This word, oikoumenee, used fifteen times in the New Testament, seems to be set over against “the wilderness” … “where no man dwelleth. It is in the latter that God will miraculously preserve the remnant of Israel (see chapter 12).

42 The Greek preposition eh,” says Winer, “denotes procession out of the interior, the compass, the limits, of anything; and is the antithesis of eis (which means into, or into the midst of).”

43 We would add still further that it cannot have the sense of diathrough. Note the Septuagint of Jeremiah 30:7 has apo—“out of it,” in describing Jacob’s preservation in his time of trouble. This seems to be in the sense of removed from it, as the remnant will have a “place in the wilderness” to flee unto! The preposition ek used in Revelation 3:10, describes those who are not in the trouble, but kept away from it.

It is well to note that Noah s family was preserved through (dia) water; whereas Enoch was translated that he should not see death!

44 The Greek word for take generally indicates receiving, not seizing, as in 1 Corinthians 3:8, 14; and 4:7, three times; and 9:24. Of the twenty-three times it is used in The Revelation, twenty-one describe receiving.

45 Bengel says, “John in the gospel applies to the old city the Greek name Hierosolyma, but in the Apocalypse always to the holy city the Hebrew name, Hierousalem. The Hebrew name is the original and holier one; the Greek, the recent and more secular and political one.”

46 “The supper is the evening meal, it is the last taken before the morning breaks and the day dawns. It is long since the apostle said ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’: to sup with Christ before morning breaks is a foretaste of the coming glory—the antepast of heaven.”—Ottman.

47 Our Lord is not now on His own throne, the throne of David. He is at the Father’s right hand, on the Father’s throne, and is now the Great High Priest, leading the worship of His saints; and also our Advocate against the enemy. But He is there in an expectant attitude, as we read in, Hebrews 10:12, 13: “He, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God; henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.”