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The Church at Thyratira (Q&A) June 11, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in False Doctrine, False Teachers, Judgment, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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  1. What is the emphasis in verse 18 made by the eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass? There seems to be a two-fold emphasis. 1) As verse 23 points out, Christ searches the minds and the hearts. 2) There is an emphasis on judgment being the result of this searching. See 1:15 as well as Ezekiel 40:3. This picture of brass being a part of God’s/Christ’s glory is also found in Ezekiel 1:7 and Daniel 10:6.

  2. Compare the situation in Thyratira with what we know of Pergamos? In Pergamos, the false doctrine was held within the church. In Thyratira it was openly taught as the truth. Like in the previous three churches, there was some measure of persecution but probably not on the level of that in Pergamos and Smyrna.

  3. Was this church as a whole apostate? Did they have some positive spiritual qualities (compare verse 19 with verses 24-25)? What picture does this give us of the church at Thyratira? Not everyone in the church had departed from the truth but the leadership had and many had followed the leadership.

  4. How does this rebuke contrast with that of Pergamos or even Ephesus (Compare verses 21-23 with verses 5 and 16)? They have already been warned and only a last ditch repentance will save them from the judgment of God. As in Pergamos only a part of the church is involved in this false doctrine/living. In Thyratira it seems like the problem has reached the higher levels of leadership and in Pergamos that may not have been the problem.

  5. Contrast the reaction of the Ephesians to false apostles and that of Thyratira to this false prophetess? In Ephesus they were tested. In Thyratira she was given permission to teach her false doctrine.

  6. Compare the situation of this church and the kingdom of Israel in the time of Jezebel? How does this shed light on what was going on in the church at Thyatira (verses 20-23)? This seems to indicate a total apostasy with perhaps only a seemingly weak minority holding fast to the truth. The coming judgment is also comparable to the picture portrayed by Jezebel’s history.

  7. What significance does the phrase hold fast have for true believers (see 2:13-15 and 3:11)? If someone does not hold fast to the faith, what does that indicate? They perhaps were not saved to begin with.

  8. What is the blessing to be received by those who overcome according to verses 26-27 (compare with 12:5 and 19:15)? How about that in verse 28 (compare with 22:16)? They will with Christ sit in judgment on His opponents (see also 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). The morning star is Christ Himself.




Questions concerning Sardis (updated with answers) June 6, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Faith, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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  1. What is the emphasis in verse 1 made by the seven Spirits and the seven stars (the angels/messengers) of the churches? There is a message to be heard and it is imprtant for this church to hear it.

  2. What was wrong with this church? Their repurtation did not match the reality of their lives. We do not know if they had doctrinal problems or if they were just nominal in their Christianity. It is interesting that they are the first of the five churches who are not in some way connected with hardship (as indicated by words like “patience”).

  3. Was this church as a whole apostate (verses 2-5)? What picture does this give us of the church at Sardis? Most of the church was probably not saved. They named the name of Christ but He was not the reality of their faith and lives.

  4. How does this rebuke contrast with those of Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyratira?  Like Ephesus they were commanded to remember:  in Ephesus – their first love, in Sardis – the first message, the message of the gospel. In both cases they are to repent. He also emphasizes the speed with which judgment comes even more so than in Ephesus and Pergamos.

  5. What is the significance of being watchful and the connection with the unsoiled garments (Compare with Revelation 7:14; 16:15; and 19:8)?  It seems that the mostly unsaved church was being called to repentance that was evidenced by the lives of the few believers within that church.

Questions concerning the Church at Pergamos (with answers in italics) June 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in False Doctrine, Judgment, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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My apologies to those who looked for and could not find the questions. They were posted but I managed to make them difficult to find. I plan to post the questions for Thyratira and Sardis later this week. I’ll make it two separate posts so they will be more easily found. 



What is the emphasis in verse 12 made by the sharp two-edged sword? Words of rebuke and possible judgment. See 1:16 and 19:15-21.

Compare the situation in Pergamos with what we know of Smyrna and Ephesus? Intense persecution was also a reality. Some of what they had gone to Smyrna would soon go through. They were also facing some of the same false doctrine being faced in Ephesus.

How does this rebuke contrast with that of the Ephesians (Compare verse 1 with verse 12, verse 6 with verse 15, and verse 5 with verse 16)? The rebuke to Ephesus was for the whole church but the rebuke in Pergamos centered on those holding fast to a false doctrine.

What are the results of the two false doctrines held in Pergamos (see also verse 6)? False doctrine produces false living.

Compare the situation of this church and the children of Israel in the land of Moab (where Balak was ruler)? How does this shed light on what was going on in the church at Pergamos? It seems that some were living lives of license as a result of the false doctrine. Rather than teaching them to lure others into sin, John seems to be identifying the results of the teaching of Balaam with the results of the false teaching in Pergamos.

What significance does the hidden manna have for the believers in Pergamos (see John 4:32 and 6, the discourse on the bread of life)? What is the common element of the hidden manna and the white stone? The bread of life is a spiritual bread. It is something that the world cannot comprehend. In the same way the white stone indicates that the world does not recognize who the true believers of God are.

The Church at Smyrna (answers) May 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Hell, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering.
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We did not get to the church at Pergamos but I felt we really got a good picture of the suffering that the church of Smyrna endured, the reasons for that suffering, and the encouragement that John/Jesus gave them. 

The answers are in italics. There was some great discussion last night and  we spent a good bit of time discussing the second death which is not reflected in the notes below. We will be coming back to that when we look at Revelation 19 but the short answer is that the second death is the lake of fire and not Hades or Hell.

There were also a number of great insights made on the tree of life and how to interpret that phrase both literally and symbolically.

  1. In the message to Ephesus, Christ’s relationship to the local church is emphasized (see especially verses 1, 4-5). What is the emphasis of the message to the church at Smyrna (verses 8, 10c-11)? Victory over death (not just victory over persecution).
  2. Compare the Spirit’s message to Ephesus in verse 7 to that of Smyrna in verse 11. What is John/Jesus trying to do with these final words of encouragement to those who overcome? He is trying to encourage them in specific areas that are or should be of great concern to them. The tree of life in Paradise is the place where man can have unbroken fellowship with God. Escaping the second death is the fate of those in Christ who is the one who was dead and lives again. Is the tree of life a literal tree in Paradise or is this a symbol? I believe it is most likely literal based on other passages of Scripture. Can it be both? In this case, whether it is literal or not does not affect the meaning of the passage. If John/Jesus is using the literal tree of life in Genesis as a symbol or if there really is still a literal tree of life, the meaning of the passage is the same. See also Revelation 22:2,14 and Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24. What does this teach us about reading symbolism? Is it intended to hide a meaning that we are clever enough to understand or is it intended to be obvious and through its obviousness impact our understanding of the passage? Symbolism is normally intended to have an obvious meaning rather than a hidden meaning.
  3. Compare the situation in Smyrna described in verse 9 and the situation in Ephesus described in verses 3-4. How are their situations similar? Both are suffering persecution. How are their situations different? The persecution in Smyrna appears to be more intense or deadly than that in Ephesus. Whose physical condition is worse? Whose spiritual condition is worse? Smyrna had very poor physical circumstances but Ephesus which had comparatively better physical circumstances, had a very serious spiritual problem.
  4. Is it likely that the Jews described in verse 9 were ethnic Jews (Compare with John 8:38-45)? Yes. Some think this could be talking about false believers but it is likely that these are ethnic Jews who were involved in the persecution of the Christians.
  5. What is the near and eternal future of the church at Smyrna (verse 10)? A short period of imprisonment and death but they will come out victorious.
  6. The word “tested” in verses 2 and 10 are the same Greek word. How are they used differently? What is the result of the testing in both cases? In Ephesus the false prophets are being tested. In Smyrna the believers themselves are being tested. In both cases the test reveals whether they are genuine or not.
  7. What is the implication of the term “ten days”? It is a short time period (we do not know if it was a literal ten day period or not). This is meant to be a word of encouragement to the believers.
  8. There are two words for crown: one implies royal dignity or kingly authority while the other implies victory in a struggle. Which word would you guess John is using in verse 10 (see also James 1:12)? Victory in a struggle.

The Church at Ephesus (with Answers) May 21, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Ephesus, False Teachers, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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1. Of the many possible interpretations (taken from Robertson) for the seven (stars) angels in 1:16, 20, and 2:1, which do you think is most likely and why? The word “angel” literally means “messenger”.

The pastor of the church. It is unlikely that there were seven different messengers carrying this message but it is very likely that there was leadership in each of the seven churches addressed in this epistle/apocalypse.

2. Why is such importance given to Jesus connection with the seven stars (messengers) and the seven golden lamp stands (churches)? See Revelation 1:12-13,16,20, and 2:1. Why did Jesus not give a symbol that relates Himself to the whole body of Christ as He does later in the book in Revelation 19:7? What are the implications for the local church today?

Seven stars in His right hand – The emphasis seems to be on the word “messenger”. These messengers, whoever they might be, were responsible to make sure that the churches received the messages intended for the individual churches.

Walking in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands – The local churches themselves are of great importance to Christ. Jesus is Head of His Body but it is in the individual locations where we see Jesus dealing with the believers. There is coming a day when the whole body will be together but this is at the end of time. The local church in the New Testament is of great importance and it is there where God generally chooses to do His work in believers’ lives.

3. What characteristics in verses 2 and 3 does Jesus make clear that He is aware of and has seen?

Persecuted and doctrinally steadfast as described by the following words.

The words “labor” or “labored” are found in verses 2 & 3 as well as in 14:13 (“works” is also mentioned in this verse). Although this is not a synonym of “mourn” in 1:7, the word clearly has the connotation of great difficulty. Perhaps emotional exhaustion is involved (which would certainly be the case in persecution, which seems to be the context here). This word is used in connection with weariness in verse 3.

The word “patience” is another word indicating the difficulties in Ephesus due to persecution. See 1:9, 13:10, and 14:12.

A third word is translated two different ways, “bear” and “persevered”. It speaks of a heavy burden to be carried and is used first to refer negatively to false teachers and then positively to the persecution they were undergoing.

“Tested” refers to false apostles. See verse 6. Later the doctrine of the Nicolaitans will be addressed. Here it is the deeds that are condemned. False doctrine produces false deeds of one sort or another.

4. If a church is suffering persecution for Christ, is standing against false doctrine and teachers (see also verse 6), and is even patiently waiting for the coming of Christ, what can it mean that they have left their first love? What is the remedy? What is the penalty?

When one looks at 1 John 4:17-21 it is obvious that John equates the love of God with the love of the brethren and that these two loves are foundational to the Christian life and faith. The remedy is not to develop this love but rather to remember the love they started with and repent of the way they have become. If they do not do this, the church will be removed.

5. What connection does the Spirit in the book of Revelation have to the churches (hint: the number seven is important here)? Just as there are seven Spirits and seven churches, there are seven separate messages for the churches.

To be answered next week…Is the tree of life a literal tree in Paradise or is this a symbol? Can it be both? See also Revelation 22:2,14 and Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24. What does this teach us about reading symbolism? Is it intended to hide a meaning that we are clever enough to understand or is it intended to be obvious and through its obviousness impact our understanding of the passage?