Enter subtitle here
...a cross section of ecclesial life as viewed by Christ. The key thought with which each begins is "I know thy works." And we notice the emphasis upon "works," so belittled in Protestantism. All is known, noted and permanently recorded. Mainly they are urgent warnings. To five of the seven, he has to say "repent, or else." Things were not good in the ecclesias. They never have been. Only a very few will be saved. We must take both warning and encouragement from this, and we must constantly compare ourselves, not with each other, but with the perfect standard of the Word.
Bro Growcott - A review of The Apocalypse
Thy first love
The accepted in the day of judgment say, "When did we those things for which we are being commended?" The rejected say, "When did we have an opportunity to do more than we did?"
The only safe and acceptable frame of mind is that which strains every effort to render the best possible account of time and talents, but with a clear recognition of the deceptiveness of the flesh and the ever-present danger of failure if the efforts are relaxed. Any other course is gambling with eternity. Any other counsel is the mind of the serpent. If we could be doing more, and we are not doing it, how can we hope to be among the few chosen when myriads are swept away like a drop in the bucket?
What distinguishes us from those myriads, that we should live forever, and they should die? Is God a respecter of persons or have we that one thing they lack - an entire, consuming devotion for the things of God? It won't come overnight. It won't just happen to us while we sleep. It can only come as the result of purposeful and sustained application and effort.
Do we, in moments of leisure or relaxation, turn to natural pleasures or to the Word of God? Here is the test of what is the deep undercurrent of our natures, and whether it will carry us to life or death. Do we do God's service as burdensome, necessary work, longing for a vacation from it; or is it a constant pleasure because of our great love for the One we are serving and our desire to be near Him and approved of Him?
There is the message to Ephesus. Let us look at it - Revelation 2. If we just read verses 2 and 3, what verdict would we give of Ephesus? Works, labour, patience, canst not bear evil, hast tried and exposed false professors of the truth; hast borne and hast not fainted. What more could be asked? What more could be done? They had fought the fight and kept the faith. Surely they could say with assurance, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown."
But what do we find? Thou hast left thy first love - thou art fallen. Repent or I will come quickly and remove thy candlestick.
The outer shell of works and labour and patience continued, but the original inner love was gone. They worked and endured and had patience faithfully, but just as a matter of duty, and were doubtless glad to get away from it all occasionally when they felt they had legitimate excuse to do so. They were conscious of their own patience and self-sacrifice. They performed the service of God as a necessary burden, faithfully done, but without the spontaneous pleasure and enthusiasm of love.
This does not please God. If, after all God has done and revealed and promised for the future, men are not sufficiently enlightened and spiritually motivated to discern that the only real pleasure and satisfaction and relaxation is in Him and in His service, then He does not want their labours as a matter of burdensome duty, no matter how faithfully or patiently they are performed. We cannot give God anything. Even the service He requires is but the provision that His love has made for us to discover and enjoy the highest form of pleasure He has conceived and made possible.
Bro Growcott - Self Examination.
Existing before the opening, and extending into the period of the First seal. Christians fallen from their first love and works - Rev. ii. 4,5. Ignatius A.D. 107.
1 Unto the angel of the ecclesia of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
This is an intimation that the good thing commended in the early career of this ecclesia had ceased to be characteristic of it. It is not that as a matter of sentiment their enthusiasm had cooled with the progress of time and trial, which is natural enough; but that the fruits -- the "works" that spring from faith -- had abated from a weariness in well-doing against which Paul had warned the believers.
That this is what is meant is evident from the counsel with which the reproof is associated. "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works." They had stopped doing the first works, which was "leaving their first love."
"Love" and "works" are synonymous in the vocabulary of the Spirit. A sentimental love, unaccompanied by obedience, is not accepted. "This is the love of God," says John, "that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:1), which is equivalent to the declaration of Christ, "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14).
The Ephesian believers had slackened in their obedience. In this they had left their first love. Herein is our warning. If an ecclesia under apostolic superintendence could so far degenerate from the apostolic standard of conformity to the law of Christ, what may not our danger be who have no living apostle to recall us to our duty?
Against this danger there is only one secure defence, and that is, holding daily interviews with the Spirit in the reading of "what it saith" in its appointed channels of utterance, the writings of the holy men of old who were moved by it. By this, as Peter intended in the writing of his epistles (2 Pet. 1:15; 3:1, 2), we shall be enabled to have "these things always in remembrance."
Bro Roberts - Unprofitable questions
SMYRNEAN STATE From A.D. 96.
The White Horse. Roman people in peace, and prosperous. Paganism declining. Nominal Christianity on the increase with blasphemy. The Ephesian ethics assuming the Smyrnean phases - Rev. ii. 9 Justin, 165; Polycarp, 167; Martyrs of Lyons and Irenaeus, 177.
8 And unto the angel of the ecclesia in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The second death will be second death in relation to the experience of those who undergo it. It will be the second time they have died. Though the substance of which they are made may be new, old memories will be associated with it, rendering them the very persons that lived in a former state. This is illustrated to us every day in the new substance we take as food going to build up old memories.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1898
PERGAMIAN STATE - From A.D. 185.
The Red Horse. Civil wars and bloodshed - Rev. vi. 4. The Smyrnean State becoming Pergamian. Holders of the doctrine of Balaam and the Nikolaitanes - Rev. ii. 14,15. Celsus objected, that Christians were now so split into sects, that only the name remained to them in common. Tertullian. Pantaenus, Clemens Alexandrinus; and first Divinity school at Alexandria in Egypt.
12 And to the angel of the ecclesia in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
The satan was the contentious party which say they are Jews and appear so outwardly but they are heretics to be rejected. In the days of Antipas the Satan became powerful having sought political and worldly advantage. Eventually clothed with power and honour the Catholic church became the enemy and persecutor of Antipas the seed of the woman who fled 1260 years into the far reaches of the habitable to escape death.
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
The Yahweh-Name in prophecy comprehends the things concerning the Christ in his birth, life, sufferings, resurrection, and glory. To understand the Yahweh-Name, as exhibited in the writings of the prophets, is to "know the joyful sound" -- to believe "the gospel of the Deity which he had promised before by the prophets in the holy scriptures," concerning his Son the Christ, made of the seed of David according to flesh, and constituted son of Deity in power according to spirit of holiness (Rom. i. 1-4): and to understand the same name historically and doctrinally expounded, as it is in the New Testament, is to understand "the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity, and the name of Jesus Anointed" of the Spirit (Acts viii. 12).
In the teaching of Jesus "the name," "the gospel," and "the kingdom of the Deity," are interchangeably used. Thus in Matt. xix. 29, he says, that every one who forsaketh any thing "for my name's sake shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit aion-life;"
The Name is expressive of a personal existence "among men." In its first sojourn here, though it was the Deity's Name, it was a name of no reputation; it was without rule, being the name of a servant, of a humiliated, oppressed, and afflicted man, absolutely obedient to the will of the Deity, even unto the death of the cross. Wherefore "God also," says Paul, in Phil. ii. 9, "hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of heavenlies and of earthlies, and of subterraneans; and every tongue confess that Jesus Anointed is Lord to the glory of Deity the Father."
Eureka - The Name
The "coming man" appeared A.D. 306, in the character of a worshipper of the sun, named Constantine. This pagan aspirant, ambitious of the supreme and sole dominion of the Roman Habitable, then ruled by six emperors, came to an understanding with "the Christian Hierarchy" of the Satan, which, for the sake of distinguishing it from the real christian community, may be styled "catholic."
Constantine and the Catholics made common cause to remove "what withholdeth" by force of arms, that their own Satanism might be enthroned. After a conflict of six or seven years, they succeeded in planting the Cross, the symbol of the New Power, upon the Capitol in Rome.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
The points of his character were covetousness, perverseness, presumptuousness, unrighteousness, beguiler of unstable Israelites, apostasy from the right way. Where such attributes of character meet in a class of persons, they are said in the New Testament to be "following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor;" and Balaam becomes the representative of the class. Eureka.
Thus, in the days of the apostles, there were "false teachers" in the Christian congregations, whose motives, teaching, and practices, were analogous to Balaam's. They were "grievous wolves," wasters of the people, "speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." They taught that belief of the gospel, and being baptized, was not enough; but that, in addition to this, it was necessary also to be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, or men could not be saved.
They appended this dogma to the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus, in order to popularize his doctrine, and make it palatable to the Jews. Paul styles it "another gospel; which (truly) is not another, but a perversion thereof." He says that they who preached it were "accursed" that they sought to bring believers into bondage; and that, desiring to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrained their victims to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ (Acts xv. 1-5: xx. 29,30; Gal. i. 6,7: ii. 4: v. 10: vi. 12).
They proceeded from bad to worse. They inculcated a distinction of meats and drink; the observance of holy days, new moons, and sabbaths; and a voluntary humility in neglecting the body, and worshipping of angels. They not only commanded to abstain from meats, but they also forbad to marry; and corrupted the minds of their dupes with fables, endless genealogies, and doctrines of demons (Col. ii. 16,18,22,23; 1 Tim. i. 4: iv. 1,3).
.... The world hates the truth and its advocates and friends to this day, as every one who is of the truth knows by experience; and because, "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father," whose the truth is.
Now who does not know, that it is the world in whom the clergy live, and move, and have their daily bread? Is it not the lust of the eyes and the pride of life that build their temples? Is it not the pride of life that rents their pews, and fills them with flowery cones of purple and fine linen? Is it not the lust of itching ears that heaps to themselves pulpit-fabulists, who rebuke sins afar off they have no mind for; and wink at, or can not see, the pious wickedness that festers within their doors?
The clergy are paid, and fed, and clothed, and honored by the world. The world invites them to its feasts; makes them priests and chaplains to its fleets and armies, and public institutions; it makes them princes in lawn, and rulers in the state. These are evidences of its love for the clergy; and it has ever been that "the world loves its own;" and they who, like Balaam, love the wages of unrighteousness, it will surfeit with favours and rewards. -
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Hence the Spirit had a controversy with them as well as with the heathen populace, priests, and civil, and imperial rulers. He will not permit His name, His faith, and His faithful and true ones to be disregarded, denied, tormented, and destroyed with impunity.
... no one provokes me without punishment, is the Spirit's maxim with respect to his holy things.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
The Hidden Manna.
'...the apocalyptic Manna is representative of the last Adam, whom Paul styles "a life-imparting spirit;" and to eat from this manna, is to be the subject of incorruptibility of body and life, which together constitute "immortality," in the thousand years' Aion; which deathlessness is imparted by the Spirit which raised up Jesus from among the dead.
Now Dr. Thomas in Eureka, p. 309, deals with this symbol. He translates the passage from the Greek thus, "The Manna which hath been concealed." Now when the congregation of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Sin, as described in Exodus 16, the people were hungry. Being now in the second month of their pilgrimage from Egypt the novelty of their experience was beginning to wear off, and they began to think about the discomfort and loss of their new experiences as contrasted with the "flesh pots and bread of Egypt." To satisfy their needs God gave them "bread from heaven;" "Man did eat angels' food." This was "Manna." "At even," said God, "ye shall eat meat" and quails were sent-"and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread," "and ye shall know that I, Yahweh, am your Elohim."
Now the narrative in Exodus says that as God promised so it was fulfilled. The "meat" arrived at even, and in the morning the "dew lay round about the host, and when the dew was gone up there was left small round things, as hoar frost on the ground." Of this the people gathered and ate.
Now Dr. Thomas calls attention to four things:
1. -That Israel saw the glory of the Eternal before they received either flesh or bread.
2. -That they received bread first, that is, at even.
3. -That they received bread the succeeding morning so that there was an intervening night.
4. -That they beheld the glory and received the food in the wilderness, and forty years before
they reached the Promised Land.
The New Testament lays great stress upon the fact that the pilgrimage of national Israel was symbolical in every detail recorded to the pilgrimage of the Israel after the Spirit. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10: 1-10 speaks of many of these events of the wilderness journey, and concludes,
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples or types: and they are recorded for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come."
That being so, the Manna and the accompanying circumstances of its bestowal are "shadows of things to come." Further as the Spirit in Hebrews 9: 4 reveals a pot of the manna was gathered and put in the Ark in the Holiest place, and while all other of the manna became corrupt after the first-or second-day, this pot remained pure and good.
Here the question arises, What is the spiritual significance of the physical fact of the gift of manna to the Israelites:
There must be such a significance if there is to be any meaning in the promise of Christ in the Revelation. It is evident that the spiritual must be on the same line as the natural, so that we may conclude thus:
1. -The manna was for the sustenance or continuance of life in the natural state, and was itself a figure of mortality in that itself "bred worms and stank."
2. -The manna was given in the morning following a night of darkness.
3. -The night of darkness was preceded by the gift of flesh, and the consequent shedding of blood.
The spiritual application demands therefore:
1. -That the manna shall be "from above," which shall be given to the faithful saints.
2. -That it shall have the property of giving and sustaining life.
3. -That this property shall not be arrested by time as in the case of the scattered manna, but shall have the properties of the "hidden manna," and shall neither possess nor give corruption.
4. -That while the manna of a day merely continued or prevailed for a day, the concealed manna shall sustain and prevail for ever. "Angel's food," "Food of mighty ones,"
5. -That it be given in the morning following the night of long darkness.
6. -That the flesh which wets God's gift should be given in the beginning of the night before for the life of the people. This was done by the gift of God as expressed by John 3: 16.
"God...........gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
We, therefore, view the household of God as carrying out its pilgrimage in the dark night of Gentile darkness, "For the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people"-Isaiah 60:2.
Before the night began the flesh of Jesus was given that we might live. As Isaiah has prophesied-see 53: 7, "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter." Since that time the saints have been making their pilgrimage onward to the promised land-the Kingdom of God. Sustained by the Word of God and "growing up into Jesus in all things," they go on to the morning's dawn when the Lord will return from heaven and give immortality to his beloved. So Jesus said: "Whoso eateth my flesh.....I will raise him up at the last day." "He that eateth me shall live by me: this is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." Here, then, is a perfect and beautiful symbolism worked out on the basis of events that happened in the beginnings of the nation that God chose.
The Berean Christadelphian, June 1923
The White Pebble
The psephos was the pebble used by the ancients in voting, and which was thrown into the voting urn, or as we should say, into the ballot box. Hence it is used for the vote itself. But the voting by psephos, ballot, must be carefully distinguished from that by kuamos, or lot; the former being used in trials, the latter in the election of various officers. The psaphoi of condemnation or acquittal were sometimes distinguished by being respectively bored, or whole; but kuamoi never.
In Acts xxvi. 10, it is said of Paul speaking before Agrippa, "and when the saints were put to death, I paid down a pebble," rendered in the E.V. "I gave my voice against them." His was a pebble of condemnation. The nature of the vote was determined by the colour of the pebble; a white pebble denoted acquittal, a black one, condemnation. A psaphos was also a token given to the victors in the public games.
Third seal -From A.D. 217
The Black Horse. Distress - Rev. vi. 5. The Pergamium with all its evils merging into the worse Thyatiran. Christianity intensely nominal. The prophetess Jezebel and "the Satan" - Rev. ii. 20,24. The emperors Alexander, A.D. 222; and Philip, 244, nominal Christians. Origen; Cyprian; Felicissimus.
18 And unto the angel of the ecclesia in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the [an] end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Until an end
These appointments are to be observed "until an end" -- not until "the end," but "until an end." These two "ends" are a thousand years apart. Alluding to the one, Paul says "all in the Christ shall be made alive at his appearing;" and to the other, says, "afterwards the end." The appearing to make alive, is at the end of "the times of the Gentiles;" but the end afterwards he characterizes by "the delivering up of the Kingdom" of the Millennial Period to the Father when he shall have put down all enemies and destroyed death, which is the last of them. Hence, between "an end" and "the end" there is an important distinction; the former marks the beginning of the restoration of the Kingdom; and the latter, of its surrender to the Father, with a long interval of time between the two epochs.
The appointments to be observed are "until an end" indicated by the words of Jesus and Paul, saying, "This do in remembrance of me till I come." Faith, hope, baptism, and the Lord's supper, are appointments to be observed till he come. When he comes, those will be superseded by other appointments more suitable to the altered condition of the world. The new dispensation will bring with it new appointments; sacrifice will take the place of the Lord's supper; and the feast of tabernacles, the sowing in tears by the side of all waters.
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
They [clergy] scoff at the idea of some poor shoemaker, or mechanic, who may be a true believer, taking a position over the nations after the lapse of a few years, to govern them for God in place of Queen Victoria, and the Kings of the earth, who now possess the dominion....
the doctrine of the Eternal Spirit, that "the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him," and who show their love by doing whatsoever he commands them, shall have "dominion over the nations and govern them" with almighty power. This remnant that overcomes will have the honour of breaking up and abolishing forever the kingdom of the clergy with all its ignorance, superstitions, and blasphemies; for "the nations of those who are being saved shall walk in the light," which they, as the New Jerusalem, shall shed upon them (Apoc. xxi. 24).
Where the nations to be governed with an iron sceptre are, there is the dominion of the Saints; who in their resurrection-state, sing a new song saying to the Lamb, "Thou wast slain, and hast purchased us for God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation; and hast made us for our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth;" "with thee a thousand years" (Apoc. v. 9,10; xx. 4,6).
This promise to "the rest among the Thyatirans" is that in Daniel apocalyptically reproduced; that "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High Ones," whom all nations and rulers shall serve and obey (Dan. vii. 18,27)... that they might have "dominion over the nations;" and therefore, over Britain, France, Spain, Italy, and so forth, when Jesus Christ should come to raise them from the dead.