Revelation Part II
The 7 churches of Asia Minor (laying a foundation)
Synopsis of Bible Study 07/13/11
Delivered by Bishop Walker III
Remember that the book of Revelations is progressive. We are still seeing it unfold day by day. When we are looking at history, church history in particular, we have to look at the events that happened and see them in particular. We call them dispensation or periods (chunks) of time where God is revealing certain things to the body of Christ.
The 7 churches of Asia Minor and their descriptions
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
- Ephesus – Means first or desirable. It was kind of known as the influential capital of the city Asia Minor. It was also known to be huge metropolis or place of commerce. Looking at this church is like seeing the church (as a body) in its purest apostolic state that a church could be in. When we say apostolic we mean that when the Disciples became Apostles after Jesus ascended and established the churches, we see the Holy Spirit descending on the people where they gathered just as it did in Acts 2:1-4. As a result, they began to speak in tongues and lots of gifts began to manifest in the early church. This was the church that was first and desirable. Acts 2:1-4 where says 1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- Smyrna – Myrrh or sweet smelling savor. This was a poverty church that survived martyrdom. To be a martyr was to be someone who died for the cause. This church was also a powerful trading spot. It had a sea harbor. If you were to look for it today it would be found around Izmir Turkey. They were known for making Myrrh which was a healing ointment for the dead. Myrrh was made by crushing and bleeding a plant at the same time. Myrrh tasted bitter, but smelled sweet (also called a sweet smelling savor).
- Pergamum – Means Height or Elevation. This was a church mixed with lots of mixed church doctrines. It was built on a 1000 ft hill. This made it easy for them to defend themselves from their enemies.
- Thyatira – Means Savor or labor or sacrifice of contrition . It was known as the false church that followed the seductive prophetesses. Consisted of poor folk who were willing to sacrifice. God honored them for being willing to labor. They produced instruments of Brass and bronze. They also produced dyed cloth in scarlet and purple. What’s interesting about this is there was the entrepreneurial woman in Acts 16:12-14 . It says 12And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. – This scripture tells us of a lady at a prayer meeting. The women were praying and this woman was an entrepreneur. She did very well, because she sold scarlet and purple cloth and linen at the church. When she heard Peter and Paul preach about Jesus, she got saved and went home and got her whole household saved.
- Sardis – This means Song of Joy or that which remains. It was known as the dead church that fell asleep.
- Philadelphia – Church of brotherly love. Known for variety of temples and worship centers they had.
- Laodicea – A just people or people being judged. They were known as the lukewarm church. It was a hub for the Roman Water System. It was strategically located.
What is more important was where these church wasn’t located
- None of these churches were in the land of Israel. They were not associated with Israel either. AD90 is about the time.
- Jerusalem had been wiped out and the temple was destroyed. God is not dealing with Israel as nation anymore. At this time he is dealing with them as a church.
- Historically, everyone thought Jesus would come back only for the Jews.
- When God delivered the children from Egypt, they were his chosen people. When Paul writes in Romans 11:24-25: 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.- Here is saying that some people are still operating under the old system. , Romans 10:12: 12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him., Galatians 3:28: 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. – Things have shifted now. When you look from the New Testament, through the Apostolic Age, up until now, you have to know that God didn’t intend sexism, racism, or classism to ever be part of the church. Salvation was not just for the Jew, it was to the Gentiles too. Whosever will, let them come.
- When we say the church, we are not talking about physical building. They were places where they gathered to worship. AD 29-33 was the time period of Jesus’ ministry. Somewhere in there he speaks what Matthew records in verse 13.
- About the Parables:
- We have these 7 parables listed in Matthew 13. Parables were earthly stories that with spiritual meanings that were used by Jesus in his teachings.
- You have the Parable of Sower, the Parable of the Mustard seed, the Parable of the Leaven, the prophecy of Parables, the Parable of the Hidden Treasures, the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, and the Parable of the Dragnet. The reason you have to study these 7 parables, written around AD90, 60yrs after Jesus walked this earth, you can line up what Jesus was referring to in these parables with the 7 churches of Asia Minor. For ex: The first parable was talking about the first church (Ephesus), the second parable was talking about the second church (Smyrna), and etc… In the parables, Jesus talks the churches to come in these parables, because he knew what they would become.
- About the Nicolaitans:
We will run into these people in Revelations Chapter 2, 14, and 15. The origin of the Nicolaitans is not exactly known. We do know that they were a sect that started in faith and then started teaching contrary towards to what they had been taught.
- The first school of thought says the Nicolaitans started following a Deacon named Nicolas. Acts 6:5 says 5And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: – This is a list of the 1st Century Deacons. This same school of thought says that Nicolas turned from the faith. His name means on who conquers people. This same school of thought explains that he took on the doctrines of Balaam or those of the Devil and taught Israel to eat food that was sacrificed to idols and to he taught them to sin by committing sexual immorality.
- Another train of thought is that is was not so much after Nicolas. The word Nicolas which suggests that they were encouraged to eat things sacrificed to idols. (tape).
- These false people led people into licentiousness. This is simply lewd behavior. Peter and Jude described this. 2 Peter 2:15 says 15Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 2 Peter 2:19 says 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. Jude 1:4 says 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. – He writes that certain men have gotten in and look just like you and I. Lewdness means to unrestrained by laws or general morality. This means having no boundaries.
A look at Each Church
Ephesus – Look at the time period AD time period which means the year of our Lord. Then look at the first 100yrs of church history and then the next 300, and the next 500yrs. These 7 churches represent time periods in history. We are talking about a literal church and literal things that were starting to unfold. When John writes about eh Ephesus prophecy (church), these were things that he was seeing right now. When we get to Smyrna, it represents what would happen in the next time period and so and so on until now.
- Ephesus – AD 33-100 –Revelation 2:1-7 says 1Unto the angel of the church 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; 2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember 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. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. – The stars mean angels or messengers. The lamp stand (candlestick) symbolizes God’s presence. Here we have a church who labors. They represent the first desirable. They did all these great things, but they left God. They were guilty of working for him, instead of with him. Ex- Just because you’re faithful and just because you are always present at church, doesn’t mean a thing. God can tell that you have moved. If you don’t repent he will remove the candlestick (remove his presence). Ever seen someone try to sing or preach with no candlestick? They will be trying their hardest, but God’s presence is not with them. When God removes his candlestick it means that God has fired you. God doesn’t save by works; he saves by faith lest any man would boast. This was a literal church, in a literal time period, but the implications permeate the church today.
- Smyrna– What does it mean? It means Myrrh. Remember Myrrh which was a healing ointment for the dead and was extracted by crushing and bleeding a plant at the same time. Revelation 2:8-10 says 8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9I 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. 10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.- Here God is saying, if you overcome this, you will escape a 2nd death. God will not exempt you from suffering. You might be the church according to its description that was meant to suffer. Remember that crushing causes a sweet smelling savor. It is through the crushing that you get the best glory to God.
- Pergamum– This is the time period where paganism first came into the church. It was about AD 300-500. Pergamum is known as the compromising church. Revelation 2:12-13 says 12And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13I 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. – Satan’s seat was where paganism was. Here God explains that they were the church positioned in Satan’s territory. They saw people killed for the cause, yet they remained faithful. God says he still held the fact that they had followers of Balaam in there with them.
Revelation 2:15-17 says 15So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. 16Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; 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 Sword of his mouth. This is the word. During this church’s time period, we have witchcraft and paganism coming in. Ex- You will have churches positioned in Satan’s territorial dominion. There are churches that must remain faithful in that city and not to let Nicalaitanes pull people out of the church. It is important to know that Satan is territorial. This mean Satan assigns himself to certain territories.
- Thyatira –Revelation 2:18-29 says 18And unto the angel of the church 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; 19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And 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. 28And I will give him the morning star.29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. – – This covers the period around the 1500s. We are talking about Papal Supremacy. This is Roman Catholicism. It is an Apostolic succession of the Pope and how all of that comes down through history. They (Popes) see themselves in Apostolic bloodline succeeding Peter.
We know about the spirit of Jezebel in the Old Testament. The Spirit of Jezebel uses seduction to promote power. It is a spirit that has to be seen. It is important to know that this spirit does not just affect women. This spirit exists in men too. The bible calls it a false prophetess. She knows the word, uses seductive sexual persuasion to gain power or position or promote his or her agenda. This spirit will not accept rebuke. It is a spirit of rebellion which is witchcraft.
The scripture says he will kill her babies. Ex- This is mean figuratively. You will connect with this spirit and decide to birth this vision and God said he will kill it as soon as it is born, because the motivation of this vision was never right. This spirit exists even today. This is why the majority of great falls in Christian leadership has been sex. It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference is, this spirit wants you. This spirit applies to both genders. The craftiness is, you put stuff away and get closer and closer to God, and then the anxiety intensifies. This is why Satan don’t want you to worship because in worship you out of the flesh. If you really think about it, the majority of the struggle in this house (church) today is sex (not drugs, alcohol, and etc …). The only way you will overcome it is to know that Satan don’t want you, he wants you position.
- Sardius – Time period from the 1600s until 1700. Revelation 3:1-3 says 1And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. – Here God says he knows their works. God knew that there would be some people who wouldn’t defile themselves. He knew their works wasn’t perfect, but he knew they would strengthen those who remained in the faith and for these things, God said he would reward them.
- Philadelphia – Remember this is the church of brotherly love. Revelation 3:7-11 says 7And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.9Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and 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. 10Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. – This represents the time period of the 1800s. It is the time period which the bibles were being printed. God says he would strengthen them by his word and strengthen those who overcome.
- Laodicea – All those other churches (1-6) have come to pass. Those churches were literal churches during literal seasons of time that have come to pass. Laodicea is the 7th church, the end of time church. It represents the time period of the 1700s until Jesus Christ comes back. This church represents the presents the current time now. We are in the Laodicea time zone. Revelation 3:14 says 14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; – There will be no other time period after this. We are in this time period. In fact, we may be the generation that could see the coming of the Lord. No other time period could have said this, because the other time periods had to unfold first.
Revelation 3:15-21 says 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, 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, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. – God says here is a church, now a contemporary church. This is us.
God says he knew we wouldn’t be all the way in or out (lukewarm) and this makes him sick. He says as a result, he will vomit us out of his mouth. He says we believe it is alright to have one foot in the world and one in the church and you have made it ok. God says every time he sees us like this, it makes him sick. He says we think it is alright to be full of the Holy Ghost one day and full of liquor the next. He says we have made our sins convenient enough to accommodate it.
God says we don’t want to hear sermons about conviction, holiness, or living right. We think that this would be judging us. We don’t want to hear the real word of God. We want to hear people talk about positive living and how everyone should be happy. God says we don’t want to hear anything about repenting and turning away from your wicked ways. We just want a positive message that tells about the house or car we are going to get. We don’t want anyone to tell us that we are living in sin and that we ought to repent and turn from our wicked ways! If they do, we will leave that church and find somebody to accommodate our sin because we are lukewarm!
We don’t even recognize that we have jobs making more money than anyone in our family has made. We have bigger cars and bigger churches and we don’t even realize that because of our dysfunction of satisfying our lukewarmness, why we are always depressed. We can’t figure out how we are in this big house, yet no one in it is speaking to each other. You don’t realize why your children can’t stand you, because they see you shout in church and curse each other out on the way home! God says we don’t even realize how dysfunctional we really are. He says he is telling us what to do. We have big churches, but little Christians. He tried to tell us to buy gold from him that was tried. We thought the tangible stuff was where it was at. This was prophesied in AD90. We are in 2011. We think our stuff adds value to us, because we are a stuffy generation. We are a name brand generation. We are so consumed with stuff, that we are in so much debt. God said he tried to tell us if we buy gold from him that is tried, it has been through some things. Gold has been tried by fire and like it, if we would go through some things, we would start reappropriating things in life and you will start thanking God for the thing money can’t buy, instead of the things money can buy. Then you will start giving God glory for his mercy and grace. Know that your car will fade away, your house, and your bling bling will fade away. There will be no UHaul behind your hearse when you die. What shall it prophet a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Jesus says I love you so much, I could come at any moment. If he came tonight, some of us would be up the creek. He said that he loves us so much, that he stands at the door knocking. He knows the party is going on so loud, we don’t hear him. He says if we can turn the noise down and get all the seducing spirits out of our ear, maybe we will realize that the door. It is not in relationship or another drink. It is at the door. He says he is at the door knocking. He is not going to force his way in. If he comes like a thief, we won’t be ready. He just wants us to let him in and he will forget all things that we did. Like the thief on the cross, he says this day you can be with him in paradise. God is giving us time, this generation, time to get this thing right.