(Notes of Addresses)
SECOND ADDRESS: Revelation II. 18—III. 6.
In the addresses to the seven churches we have a prophetic view of the church as a responsible witness in the world before she is taken to heaven.
In Ephesus there was great zeal, patience, etc., but first love was gone. The Lord had to warn her that if she did not answer to His grace, the candlestick would be removed. Ephesus did not repent, and so we find that at the end of the church’s history the Lord spues the professing system out of His mouth (iii, 16).
In Pergamos there was no persecution, but evil was inside the assembly. Decay was more rapid when the persecution was ended. The Lord has much to find fault with. The church has settled down—‘‘dwells’’—where Satan’s throne is, Satan being the god and prince of this world. The church forgot her pilgrim character. The truth of the Lord’s Person is here attacked. But some stood true, and the Lord first graciously owns what He can—‘‘thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith.”
Satan adopts new methods, for the result of persecution had only been to increase the number of converts. Wicked men came in to corrupt the temple of God. Having failed to root up the seed, they come and rest in the branches. Balaam and Balak tried to bring the curse of God upon Israel instead of blessing. But they failed, so they corrupted Israel, and thus brought down God’s judgment on His people.
The church has leaned to the world for support and protection. She has formed alliance with the world, and has never recovered her pilgrim character.
It is just as much fornication with the world if we seek the support and favour of unconverted people in the Lord’s work as when State and Church are in alliance.
In the Ephesian church the Nicolaitanes were outside, here in Pergamos they are inside.
Teaching evil as a truth is worse than doing it. Some in the assembly did this. The Lord appeals to them. He presents Himself in all His love to them. ‘‘Hidden manna” is the Lord Himself. In Israel’s case the golden pot that had manna was to be a reminder to them of the food the Lord had given. We are invited to feed upon Christ here and look back in the Gospels upon His life and walk. Our hearts are to be delighted with Him. We are to feast upon Him who was always God’s unbroken delight when here.
“A new name written which no man knoweth,” etc., is a secret term of communion and enjoyment which is promised in a special way to the overcomer.
The ‘‘white stone” is the mark of His approval to be won. There is a special reward if we seek to please Him in spite of all our difficulties here.
Thyatira shows the introduction of Romanism into the church. The Lord is shown as Judge.
Verse 18 tells of the Lord’s holiness, and how He detects all evil in the assembly.
This is the first Epistle where the Lord’s coming is spoken of (‘‘Till I come”), and the first where a remnant is mentioned. It is also more individual than the first three.
Here is Pergamos fully developed into Romanism—Jezebel. The mass was evil, but a remnant feared the Lord and thought upon His name. The church once persecuted now becomes the persecutor. First they were poor and despised; now they are idolaters, worshippers of demons, and in alliance with the world. There was no recovery; they went from bad to worse.
Verse 23 speaks of ‘‘all the churches”; this does not justify rival denominations or varied “churches,”? aid gatherings of persons under different rules. The assembly in a town is one; if in a province, then we have the plural.
In verse 24 the remnant is addressed. They were shocked at the immorality and walked in holiness. They were not called to put things right, but to ‘‘hold fast till I come.” The Lord Himself is their reward, ‘‘the morning star.”
A great deal of the evil in Romanism was due to the Pope’s effort to govern the world, which was filled with violence. It seemed reasonable that the church should rule, but this was never intended. ‘‘My kingdom is not of this world.” Later on the overcomer will be given power over the nations. Then His saints will come to reign with Him, He will be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe. The world will know that the Father loves us as He loves His Son.
The church of Sardis is a contrast with Thyatira. Everything here is respectable, decent and correct. But in verse 1 there is a solemn evil: they have a name to live but are dead. Protestantism is here.
The Lord here speaks as the One who has the seven stars. Authority in the assembly is His only. It neither belongs to the rulers of the country nor to the congregation.
The Lord reminds them that He is the One in whom there is all sufficiency. They had a religious reputation but did not live up to it. It is a solemn thing for us all individually. It is dangerous to have a reputation for. devotion, and yet not to live up to it.
Protestant leaders get up nowadays and say things never said before but by infidels. The Lord says ‘‘remember,” or He will come as an unwelcome visitor—as a thief. He does not come as a thief to His saints, but He does to the world and to those mere professors who refuse to watch.
There are three things said in these Epistles about the Lord’s coming :—
It is a wonderful thing to be a Christian in these last days and to wait for God’s Son from heaven. God has called us out, and we never know what moment may usher us into His presence. This should exercise our consciences and be always in our hearts. It should affect us in the assembly and in all our responsibilities.
The Lord promises in verses 4 and 6 that those who have grieved over the worldliness and have separated from it on earth shall walk with Him in heaven. Our walk should now be undefiled, unaffected by the low condition of things here. We should not be dragged down. It is for us to have Christ in our hearts now. He still calls us to walk with Him. The day is coming when we shall walk with Him in white.
G. F. C.