Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the fifth seal

 


A Bible study


Revelation 6:9-11

GNV

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were killed for the word of God, and for the testimony which they maintained.

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Lord, which art holy and true! dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them, that dwell on the earth?

11 And long white robes were given unto every one, and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season until their fellow servants, and their brethren that should be killed even as they were, were fulfilled.


Thoughts

Much trouble – tribulation – is happening right now and will most certainly happen in the future, but we must remember that much suffering and tribulation lies in our past also. 

Paulicians

Waldenses in France

Lollards

Scottish Covenanters

Reformation martyrs under Henry VIII and his descendants

Anabaptists of the 16th and 17th century

Nate Saint and other martyrs of the Ecuadoran Mission

Christians around the world in our day, of whom the world is not worthy.

Hebrews 11

35 The women received their dead raised to life: others also were racked, and would not be delivered, that they might receive a better resurrection.

36 And others have been tried by mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover by bonds, and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned, they were hewn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword, they wandered up and down in sheep’s skins, and in goats’ skins, being destitute, afflicted,  and tormented:

38 Whom the world was not worthy of: they wandered in wildernesses and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth.


Related Scriptures

Revelation 12:11

11 But they overcame him by that blood of that Lamb, and by that word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 14:13

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, The dead which die in the Lord, are fully blessed. Even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


Letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

And unto the Angel of the Church of the Smyrnians write, These things saith he that is first and last, which was dead and is alive.

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.

10 Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, it shall come to pass, that 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 the death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

11 Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.


History related to the Fifth Seal

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 712-713

Chapter 6:9-11.    The Fifth Seal

“There were Ten Imperial Persecutions of the Church, from Nero, A.D. 64, to Diocletian, A.D. 305. The vision may also be a prophetic hint of the Papal Persecutions of the Middle Ages, and perhaps also of the Persecutions of the Tribulation Period of the Last Days.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: The Ten Primitive Persecutions

The First Persecution, under Nero:

“This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

“To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.”

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

HT: Meg, The Antipas Chronicles

The Annals (Latin: Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68″ (Wikipedia). John received and wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81–96 A.D.) Tacitus wrote The Annals in 109 A.D. The Annals address events of the first of the “Ten Primitive Persecutions” – Nero’s – and recount his efforts to shift the blame from himself to Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The following excerpt shows how the world viewed us in Tacitus’ day. Is this how it sees us now?
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“But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. . .

“Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

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Colosseum Innen Rom - Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum In Rome – Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Mark Cartwright

Under Domitian [14 September 81 – 18 September 96], dramas were also held in the Colosseum but with a bloodthirsty realism. . . [It] was also the scene of many executions during the lunch-time lull (when the majority of spectators went for lunch), particularly the killing of Christian martyrs. Seen as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of Pagan Rome and the divinity of the Emperor, Christians were. . . killed in a myriad of cruelly inventive ways.

The Martyrdom Of Polycarp, or The Letter Of The Smyrnaeans

Early Christian Writings – ©Peter Kirby

[Polycarp, A.D. 69 – 155]

“13:3  Immediately then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him. As they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said: ‘Leave me as I am; for He that has granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, even without the security which you seek from the nails.’

“14:1  So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;

“14:2  ‘I bless You because You have granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of Your Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Your presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You did prepare and reveal it beforehand, and have accomplished it, You that art the faithful and true God.

“14:3  For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through Whom, with Him and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and ever and for the ages to come. Amen.’

“15:1  When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire.”

Diocletian

[20 November 284 – 1 May 305 A.D.]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Donald L. Wasson

“Aside from the continued problems with finance and border security, Diocletian was concerned with the continuing growth of Christianity, a religion that appealed to the both the poor and the rich. The Christians had shown themselves to be a thorn in the side of an emperor since the days of Nero. The problem grew worse as their numbers increased. Diocletian wanted stability and that meant a return to the more traditional gods of Rome, but Christianity prevented this. To most of the emperors who preceded Diocletian, Christians offended the pax deorum or ‘peace of the gods.’ Similarly, since the days of Emperor Augustus, there existed the imperial cult – the deification of the emperor – and Jews and Christians refused to consider any emperor a god.

“However, part of the problem also stemmed from Diocletian’s ego. He began to consider himself a living god, demanding people prostrate themselves before him and kiss the hem of his robe. He wore a jeweled diadem and sat upon a magnificent, elevated throne. In 297 CE he demanded that all soldiers and members of the administration sacrifice to the gods; those who would not were immediately forced to resign. Next, in 303 CE he ordered the destruction of all churches and Christian texts. All of these edicts were encouraged by Galerius. However, throughout this Great Persecution the Christians refused to yield and sacrifice to the Roman gods. Leading members of the clergy were arrested and ordered to sacrifice or die and a bishop in Nicomedia who refused was beheaded. Finally, any Christian who refused was tortured and killed. At long last, the persecution came to an end in 305 CE.”


Commentaries

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

“Observe, (1.) Even the spirits of just men made perfect retain a proper resentment of the wrong they have sustained by their cruel enemies; and though they die in charity, praying, as Christ did, that God would forgive them, yet they are desirous that, for the honour of God, and Christ, and the gospel, and for the terror and conviction of others, God will take a just revenge upon the sin of persecution, even while he pardons and saves the persecutors. (2.) They commit their cause to him to whom vengeance belongeth, and leave it in his hand; they are not for avenging themselves, but leave all to God. (3.) There will be joy in heaven at the destruction of the implacable enemies of Christ and Christianity, as well as at the conversion of other sinners. When Babylon falls, it will be said, Rejoice over her, O thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, ch. 18:20 .3. He observed the kind return that was made to this cry (v. 11), both what was given to them and what was said to them. (1.) What was given to them—white robes, the robes of victory and of honour; their present happiness was an abundant recompence of their past sufferings. (2.) What was said to them—that they should be satisfied, and easy in themselves, for it would not be long ere the number of their fellow-sufferers would be fulfilled. This is a language rather suited to the imperfect state of the saints in this world than to the perfection of their state in heaven; there is no impatience, no uneasiness, no need of admonition; but in this world there is great need of patience. Observe, [1.] There is a number of Christians, known to God, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, set apart to be God’s witnesses. [2.] As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted martyred servants of Christ. [3.] When this number is fulfilled, God will take a just and glorious revenge upon their cruel persecutors; he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, and to those that are troubled full and uninterrupted rest.”

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007, pp. 146-147

“So severe were Diocletian’s edicts of extermination that his reign has come to be known as the Era of the Martyrs. Churches were razed, libraries of sacred books were burned, and believers were tortured to death. Prior persecutions had been local and spasmodic – generally inconsequential against the spread of the Christian faith. Diocletian’s war against the Church is the outstanding exemplar of pagan fear and hatred of the true Faith.* At least two conclusions are implied by this text. First, the chronological sequence of the seal prophecies appropriately targets Diocletian’s persecution. Second, the message of the fifth seal also focuses more generally on suffering and martyrdom, a phenomenon which occurred in various locations and with various intensities throughout the entire earlier period of the seals, as well as after Diocletian until Constantine became sole emperor. The completion of the number of martyrs mentioned in verse 11 was to await yet another era foretold in Revelation 13. The symbolic “Beast,” an apostate church, was to conduct a war against the true faith which would dwarf the persecutions of the pagan Emperors. . .” 

* “Eusebius believed that the tragedy was God’s judgment against excesses of the Church.” 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:14-22, Laodicea


Mark 4:24

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.


A Bible study


Revelation 3:14-22

gnv

14 And unto the Angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write, These things saith Amen, the faithful and true witness, that beginning [origin, source]∗ of the creatures of God.

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou werest cold or hot.

16 Therefore because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, it will come to pass, that I shall spew thee out of my mouth.

17 For thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not how thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried by the fire, that thou mayest be made rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that thy filthy nakedness do not appear: and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and amend.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock, If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and sit with my Father in his throne.

22 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.

*The beginning of the creation of God (η αρχη της κτισεως του τεουhē archē tēs ktiseōs tou theou). Not the first of creatures as the Arians held and Unitarians do now, but the originating source of creation through whom God works (Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:18, a passage probably known to the Laodiceans, John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2, as is made clear by Revelation 1:18; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:13). 

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament


Thoughts

May the Lord not count us in their number, but among the noble-minded Bereans and faithful Philadelphians!


History

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Laodicea

“The city of this name mentioned in Scripture lay on the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, about 40 miles east of Ephesus (Revelation 3:14), on the banks of the Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis and then Rhoas, but afterwards Laodicea, from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II, [Seleucid] king of Syria, who rebuilt it. It was one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. At a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity (Colossians 2:1; 4:15; Revelation 1:11, etc.). It is now a deserted place, called by the Turks Eski-hissar or ‘old castle.'”

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

LAODICEA

“. . . Little is known of the early history of Christianity there; Timothy, Mark and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) seem to have been the first to introduce it. However, Laodicea was early the chief bishopric of Phrygia, and about 166 A.D. Sagaris, its bishop, was martyred. In 1071 the city was taken by the Seljuks; in 1119 it was recovered to the Christians by [Byzantine Emperor] John Comnenus, and in the 13th century it fell finally into the hands of the Turks. . .”

E.J. Banks

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Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, Zondervan, p. 699

“. . .  The city lay on one of the great Asian trade routes, and this ensured its great commercial prosperity. Laodicea was a leading banking center. In 51 B.C. Cicero, en route for his Cilician province, cashed drafts there. It was no doubt the rich banking firms which, in A.D. 60, financed the reconstruction of the city after the great earthquake which prostrated it. Laodicea refused the Senate’s earthquake relief. She was ‘rich and increased with goods’ and had ‘need of nothing’ (Revelation 3:17). The Lycus valley produced a glossy black wool, the source of black cloaks and carpets, for which the city was famous. Laodicea was also the home of a medical school, and the manufacturer of collyrium, a famous eye-salve. The scornful imagery of the apocalyptic letter to Laodicea is obviously based on these activities. It also has reference to the emetic qualities of the soda-laden warm water from nearby Hierapolis, whose thermal springs ran into the Meander. Laodicea’s water supply also came from Hierapolis, and Sir William Ramsay suggests that its vulnerability, together with the city’s exposed position, and its easy wealth caused the growth in the community of that spirit of compromise and worldly-mindedness castigated in the Revelation. Under Diocletian [Roman Emperor, A.D. 284-305], Laodicea, still prosperous, was made the chief city of Phrygia – Wikipedia. (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary)”

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Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Laodice’a

“. . . We have good reason for believing that when, in writing from Rome to the Christians of Colossae, he [Paul] sent a greeting to those of Laodicea, he had not personally visited either place. But the preaching of the gospel at Ephesus (Acts 18:19; Acts 19:41) must inevitably have resulted in the formation of churches in the neighboring cities, especially where Jews were settled; and there were Jews in Laodicea. In subsequent times it became a Christian city of eminence, the see of bishop and a meeting-place of councils. The Mohammedan invaders destroyed it, and it is now a scene of utter desolation, as was prophesied in (Revelation 3:14-22) and the extensive ruins near Denislu justify all that we read of Laodicea in Greek and Roman writers. Another biblical subject of interest is connected with Laodicea. From (Colossians 4:16) it appears that St. Paul wrote a letter to this place when he wrote the letter to Colossae. Ussher’s view is that it was the same as the Epistle to the Ephesians, which was a circular letter sent to Laodicea among other places. The apocryphal Epistola ad Laodicenses is a late and clumsy forgery.


Commentary

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, pp. 96-97

15. The Laodiceans were spiritually neither cold nor hot. 16. Because you are . . . neither hot nor cold—am about to spit you out. The analogy of hot and cold is best understood of the medicinal hot springs at Hieropolis and the cold, pure water of Colossae. The point is not that the ‘spiritual temperature’ of the Laodiceans is medium. Though they excelled in the material arts and commerce, spiritually they lacked any utilitarian value. Their works were barren. . .”

 


Interesting!

Private Tour – Laodicea

Laodicea today

“The present-day visitor to Laodicea finds a large area littered with broken marble, tops of stone masonry walls, and here and there public buildings: two theaters, a large stadium, nearby it a water tower, an odeon, and the nymphaeum which was excavated in 1961-1963. In the side of the hill just as one approaches Laodicea one can also see the truncated conduits that were part of the water supply system for the city. Much, much more is obviously right under foot.”

Ancient medicines

“One of the principles of medicine at that time was that compound diseases required compound medicines. One of the compounds used for strengthening the ears was made from the spice nard (spikenard? an aromatic plant). Galen says that it was originally made only In Laodicea. . . Galen also described a medicine for the eyes made of Phrygian stone. Aristotle spoke of it as a Phrygian powder. Ramsay tries to explain what kind of medicine it was by saying it was not an ointment but a cylindrical collyrium that could be powdered and then spread on the part affected. The term used by John in Revelation is the same that Galen uses to describe the preparation of the Phrygian stone.  Would not these medicinal concoctions be a reason why John cautions the Laodiceans to buy ‘ointment for your eyes so that you may see’ (Rev. 3:18)?”

[Bausch and Lomb makes collyrium eyewash for personal use. Collyrium is also used in an emergency to flush foreign bodies and chemicals from the eye.]


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Laodicea is in the neighboring province of Phrygia, spelled LAODIKEIA. 


Laodicea temple: Rjdeadly


Hieraoplis. Hot thermal springs have medicinal value. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

 


Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:7-13, Philadelphia


Φιλαδέλφεια

“the city of him who loves his brother”



Revelation 3:7-13

gnv

And write unto the Angel of the Church which is of Philadelphia, These things saith he that is Holy, and True, which hath the key of David, which openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.

8 I 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.

9 Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which call themselves Jews, and are not, but do lie: behold, I say, I will make them that they shall come and worship before thy feet, and shall know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, therefore I will deliver thee from the hour of tentation [temptation], which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come shortly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12 Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the Name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new Name.

13 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 


Rosa gallica purpuro-violacea magna, a painted engraving of a rose by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840).

The Church at Philadelphia –

the church of the city of him who loves his brother –

Pleasing Jesus,

hearing His commendation,

and receiving His certain and blessed promises.

Hallelujah! 


History

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or ‘inkwells’; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. A.D. was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, ‘the city of God,’ but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of ‘Little Athens’ because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. . . As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. . .

E. J. Bank


Commentary

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“Christ addresses the church of Philadelphia as the One whose words are from ‘him who is holy and true’ (7a). ‘Who is like you – majestic in holiness?’ (Exod 15:11) ‘There is no one holy like the LORD’ (1 Sam 2:2). ‘He who is holy and true’ is a clear affirmation of the Deity of Jesus. The absolute holiness of Christ indicates that He is set apart as God from all imperfection and moral evil. As holy, His authority is unblemished and His promises sure. 

“Jesus walks among the churches as one who holds the keys to David’s theocratic kingdom. The concept is covenant-oriented. Jesus is the true Davidic king and the fulfillment of the theocratic kingship by which God rules over the hearts of believing men. He absolutely controls their destiny regardless of Satan’s opposing forces which have invaded the evil world, even at times Christ’s church, as at Philadelphia. 

“Because Christ holds the keys, the same keys He delegated to Peter and the Apostles (Matt 16:19; 18:18), He opened the door of opportunity to His church to be Christ’s servant and messenger to the world. As Pergamum is the gateway to Phrygia, so every local church placed by Christ has neighboring peoples who need the Gospel. Philadelphia was not a strong church but, in the face of opposition and with the enablement of the Spirit of God, they had remained faithful. They had not denied their Lord. There is no higher calling of the church of Jesus Christ in any circumstance than to obey the Word of God. With obedience there is ultimate victory and vindication.

“Christ is coming soon! Though the original readers in the Philadelphia church didn’t live to witness that event, their next moment of consciousness beyond death will witness Christ in his glory and introduce them into the blessed age to come (1 Cor 15:18-23; 1 Thess 4:15). Then they with us will be made perfect (Heb 11:39), and we will be crowned with life and immortality, for ‘our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:20).”

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Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“An Open Door, which None Can Shut”, 3:8

“God had warned the churches of Ephesus and Sardis against boasting of their influential standing. Here, He cautions the Church in Philadelphia not to be discouraged because they are a nobody; for God is not dependent on worldly prestige.”

“Kept from Trial”, 3:10

“The Church in Smyrna had been told that they were to Suffer Persecution (2:10). Here, to the Church in Philadelphia, the promise is to Keep them from Suffering (3:10). Both Faithful Churches, God does not deal with all in the same way, but with each as He Himself knows best, beyond our understanding till we reach the other shore.”

 


Greek study for Revelation 3:10

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 3

StudyLight.org

Verse 10

Patience (υπομενηςhupomenēs). “Endurance” as in Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12 as also in 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Thou didst keep (ετηρησαςetērēsas) – I also will keep (καγω τηρησωkagō tērēsō). Aorist active indicative and future active corresponding to each other. For a like play on the tenses of this verb by Christ see John 17:6 (τετηρηκανtetērēkan), John 17:11 (τηρησονtērēson), John 17:12 (ετηρουνetēroun). From the hour of trial (εκ της ωρας του πειρασμουek tēs hōras tou peirasmou). This use of εκek after τηρεωtēreō in John 17:15, αποapo in James 1:27. Trial brings temptation often (James 1:2, James 1:13). Jesus endured (Hebrews 12:1.) and he will help them. There is still a church in Philadelphia in spite of the Turks. Which is to come (της μελλουσης ερχεσταιtēs mellousēs erchesthai). Agreeing with ωραςhōras (feminine), not with πειρασμουpeirasmou (masculine). Upon the whole world (επι της εποικουμενης οληςepi tēs epoikoumenēs holēs). The inhabited earth (γηςgēs) as in Revelation 12:9; Luke 2:1; Acts 16:6, etc.), not the physical earth, but the world of men as explained by the next clause. To try (πειρασαιpeirasai). First aorist active infinitive of purpose from πειραζωpeirazō probably to tempt (cf. the demons in 9:1-21), not merely to afflict (Revelation 2:10). That dwell upon the earth (τους κατοικουντας επι της γηςtous katoikountas epi tēs gēs). Present active articular participle of κατοικεωkatoikeō explaining “the whole world” just before.


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Philadelphia is a little south of the center of the province.


Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.


 

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon's Message Board.

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.

 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:1-6, Sardis

 



Revelation 3:1-6

gnv

1 And write unto the Angel of the Church which is at Sardis, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, I know thy works: for thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead.

2 Be awake, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou wilt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Notwithstanding thou hast a few names yet in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, shall be clothed in white array, and I will not put out his Name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels.

6 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.

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Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


Thoughts

The message to the Angel of the Church at Sartis contains a statement that leads to a troubling question: Can someone who is born again, in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells, have their name blotted out of the Book of Life? Here is help to answer this:

A problem has arisen in the minds of some. If the Lord states that He will not blot out the name of the overcomer from the book of life, does this not mean that other names can be blotted out of the book of life? In other words, does this verse not teach that it is possible for one who has really been born again to lose his salvation?. . . The problem will disappear when we realize the principle of Scriptural interpretation that no obscure passage should ever be quoted in contradiction to a clear line of Scriptural teaching for which there are plain statements and great masses of teaching.

Life in the Scripture is eternal life. Salvation is eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). This is the only kind of life and salvation the Scriptures know anything about. 

REVELATION: An Expository Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan, 1971

I’m grateful for light on this passage. The message to Sardis not only contains this difficulty but it is sad, or rather, somber. Do you agree that it is? May the Lord help us to live in the light of eternity and to let go of this world which is passing away!


History

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“. . . Sardis was famous for arts and crafts, and was the first center to mint gold and silver coinage. So wealthy were the Lydian kings, that  Croesus became a legend for riches, and it was said that the sands of the Pactolus were golden. Croesus also became a legend for pride and presumptuous arrogance, when his attack on Persia led to the fall of Sardis and the eclipse of his kingdom. The capture of the great citadel by surprise attack by Cyrus and his Persians in 549 B.C., and three centuries later by the Romans, may have provided the imagery for John’s warning in Revelation 3:3. The great earthquake of 17 A.D. ruined Sardis physically and financially. The Romans contributed 10,000,000 sesterces in relief, an indication of the damage done, but the city never recovered.”

 

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“Sardis is of special interest to the student of Herodotus and Xenophon, for there Artaphernes, the brother of Darius, lived, and from there Xerxes invaded Greece and Cyrus marched against his brother Artaxerxes. . . It was moreover one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor, and until 549 BC, the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It stood on the northern slope of Mt. Tmolus; its acropolis occupied one of the spurs of the mountain. At the base flowed the river Pactolus which served as a moat, rendering the city practically impregnable. Through the failure to watch, however, the acropolis had been successfully scaled in 549 BC by a Median soldier, and in 218 by a Cretan (compare Revelation 3:2,3). Because of its strength during the Persian period, the satraps here made their homes. However, the city was burned by the Ionians in 501 BC, but it was quickly rebuilt and regained its importance. In 334 BC it surrendered to Alexander the Great who gave it independence, but its period of independence was brief, for 12 years later in 322 BC it was taken by Antigonus. In 301 BC, it fell into the possession of the Seleucidan kings who made it the residence of their governor. It became free again in 190 BC, when it formed a part of the empire of Pergamos, and later of the Roman province of Asia. In 17 AD, when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the Roman emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the people and rebuilt the city, and in his honor the citizens of that and of neighboring towns erected a large monument, but Sardis never recovered its former importance (compare Revelation 3:12). Again in 295 AD, after the Roman province of Asia was broken up, Sardis became the capital of Lydia, and during the early Christian age it was the home of a bishop. The city continued to flourish until 1402, when it was so completely destroyed by Tamerlane that it was never rebuilt. Among the ruins there now stands a small village called Sert, a corruption of its ancient name . . .”

E. J. Banks


Commentary

IVP New Testament Commentaries

The Message to Sardis

“. . . The message to Sardis lists no specific enemies, internal or external. There is no name calling – no liars, no Balaam or Jezebel, no deep secrets of Satan, no synagogue of Satan, no throne of Satan. Consequently, of all the congregations in Asia, we know least about Sardis and its problems. Yet no other message is more damaging or more urgent than this one. . .

“[Sardis’s] greatest days were behind it, but. . . was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry. Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78). A sermon of Melito, a Christian bishop at Sardis, entitled On the Passover (see Hawthorne 1975:147-75), testifies to a spirited, sometimes bitter, debate with this Jewish community in the second century. Yet as far as we are told, the problem of the congregation in John’s time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself. . .

You are dead (v. 1) is a dramatic way of saying “you are spiritually asleep” (compare Eph 5:14), for the angel is then told, Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die (v. 2). The call to awake, and to remember, obey and repent (v. 3) assumes the real possibility of change. Yet the milder-sounding words that follow, I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (v. 2), are deliberately understated, implying that the angel’s works are unacceptable to God, and therefore a failure (Beckwith 1922: 474; compare Dan 5:27, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”). . .

“The message to Sardis reveals nothing definite about the church’s predicament beyond the fact that it is about to die. Only the metaphorical reference to those few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes (v. 4) offers a possible clue. They are promised that they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy (v. 4), a promise immediately reinforced by a word to those who ‘overcome,’ who will, like them, be dressed in white, whose names will not be blotted from the book of life, but rather acknowledged before my Father and his angels (v. 5; compare Mt 10:32-33 par. Lk 12:8-9). At Sardis, clearly, the few who had not soiled their garments were the ‘overcomers.’

“. . . It is likely that the problem at Sardis was a strong tendency to compromise Christian faith for the sake of conformity to social and cultural standards set by Asian society and the Roman Empire. This spirit of compromise was linked not to one particular faction in the Christian community (as at Pergamum and Thyatira) but to the majority. The ones who had not soiled their clothes had become marginalized. They were the small faction. This explains the severe tone of the message, but it is impossible to be more specific as to the exact nature of the compromises made at Sardis.”


Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.


Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copywrite Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon's Message Board - https://bleon1.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/sardis-a-dead-church-with-a-name/

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copyright: Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon’s Message Board.

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:18-29 – Thyatira

 



Revelation 2:18-29

gnv

18  And unto the Angel of the Church which is at Thyatira write, These things saith the Son of God, which hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass.

19 I know thy works and thy love, and service and faith, and thy patience, and thy works, and that they are more at the last, than at the first.

20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to deceive my servants, to make them commit fornication and to eat meat sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit fornication with her, into great affliction, except they repent them of their works.

23 And I will kill her children with death, and all the Churches shall know that I am he which search the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according unto your works.

24 And unto you I say, the rest of them of Thyatira, As many as have not this learning, neither have known the deepness of Satan (as they speak) I will put upon you none other burden,

25 But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.

26 For he that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over nations.

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken:

28 Even as I received of my Father, so will I give him the morning Star.

29 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.


Thoughts

I’ve tried to find solid information relating to the message to “the Angel of the church which is at Thyatira.” Please forgive any repetition of significant facts.

The letter to this assembly is the longest of the seven. In it, the Lord condemns a woman who claims to be a prophetess and whom He calls “Jezebel”. The original Jezebel was the foreign-born queen of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who destroyed the true prophets of the Lord, had Naboth denounced, condemned, and stoned, and was in the end herself destroyed. The name of Jezebel is forever linked with idolatry and murder.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897)

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. . . passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship. . .”

The deadly alliance of Ahab and Jezebel

1 Kings 16

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did worse in the sight of the Lord than all that were before him. 31 For was it a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, except he took Jezebel also the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians to wife, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him? 32 Also he reared up an altar to Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove, and Ahab proceeded, and did provoke the Lord God of Israel more than all the kings of Israel that were before him. 34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his eldest son, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

 1 Kings 21

Then Jezebel his wife came unto him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money, or if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: but he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. Then Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Up, eat bread, and be of good cheer, I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. . . 25 (But there was none like Ahab, who did sell himself to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife provoked. 26 For he did exceeding abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.)

Jezebel’s words were smooth, “Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread?” But under her tongue was poison.

This was her justly deserved end:

2 Kings 9:30-37

30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. 31 And as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, which slew his master? 32 And he lift up his eyes to the window, and said, Who is on my side, who? Then two or three of her Eunuchs looked unto him. 33 And he said, Cast her down: and they cast her down, and he sprinkled of her blood upon the wall, and upon the horses, and he trode her under foot. 34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Visit now yonder cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a King’s daughter. 35 And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her, than the skull and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the field of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.37 And the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the ground in the field of Jezreel, so that none shall say, This is Jezebel.

 


See the source image

Artist’s conception of a true prophet of the Lord, Elijah the Tishbite, whom Jezebel tried but failed to kill.


Study helps for the message to Thyatira

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965, p. 69

“Thyatira was a city in the province of Asia, on the boundary of Lydia and Mysia. Thyatira has no illustrious history, and is scarcely mentioned by ancient writers. Coinage suggests that, lying as it did on a great highway linking two river valleys, Thyatira was  a garrison town over long centuries. . . The city was a center of commerce, and the records preserve references to more trade-guilds than those listed for any other Asian city. Lydia, whom Paul met in Philippi, was a Thyatiran seller of “turkey red,” the product of the madder root (Acts 16:14). It is curious to find another woman, nicknamed after the princess who sealed Ahab’s trading partnership with the Phoenicians, leading a party of compromise in the Thyatiran church (Revelation 2:20, 21). Necessity for guild membership in a trading community must have strengthened temptation to compromise. Thyatira played no significant role in the later history of the church.”

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Matthew Henry’s Commentary

“. . . Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them . . .”

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The Final Prophecy of Jesus:

An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“26. To him who overcomes: as in each of the letters a promise is made to the overcomer. Here only, perhaps as a reflex on the preceding verse, it is expanded with an explanatory clause, and does my will to the end (cf. 1 John 5:4, 5). The promised reward follows in two parts: first, I will give authority over the nations . . . . The Savior quotes Psalm 2:9, which addresses the Messianic rule over the nations of the world.

Thou shalt crush them with a scepter of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. – Psalm 2:9

“The participation of the saints in the power of Christ’s throne is affirmed in the apocalyptic vision of Daniel 7:27: ‘Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.’ The theme is reiterated in Revelation 5:10 and 20:4, 6. It is also found on the lips of Jesus in Matt. 19:28 and from the pen of Paul in 1 Cor. 6:2-3.   27. Christ’s use of Psa. 2:9 in Revelation 2:27 implies the authority ascribed to him in the Psalm is, as stated in Daniel, given also to the victorious saints. To rule with an iron scepter denotes absolute authority to enforce the law, such as must be ascribed to Christ and to those who rule with him. Also implied is a condition where there is a plurality of nations and where moral perfection has not yet been realized. The promise belongs to the millennial age following the ‘the end’ and the Second Advent mentioned in verses 25 and 26. . .

28. The second reward promised to the overcomer is that Christ will also give him the morning star. The ‘morning star’ is identified in chapter 22:16 by Jesus, himself, where he says, ‘I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’ The Scriptural use of the figure is anticipated by Balaam’s prophecy in Num. 24:17, ‘A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.’ . . . Here the Old Testament text, has historically found a measure of fulfillment in David, takes on Messianic significance from the Davidic Covenant which promised a Son who would come to rule perpetually on David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:12-17). So Jesus identifies Himself as ‘the Root and Offspring of David.’ The saint who is called upon to rule need not fear for Christ will be with him. Christ in his physical presence will personally be seated on his throne as king and His indwelling Spirit will fully empower those who assist Him in that (see 1 Cor. 6:2). For the Thyatiran who had not adequately disciplined ‘Jezebel’ and her followers, there was a certain irony in this promise of the iron scepter to the overcomers. It stands as a testimony to the grace of God as revealed in the Gospel as accomplished in the person of the messenger, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Barnes’ New Testament Notes

Verse 24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira. . . he addresses now all the members of the church who were not involved in the charges already made. He does not say how large a portion of the church had escaped the contaminating influence of those opinions, but to that portion, whether great or small, he addresses only words of exhortation and comfort.

“As many as have not this doctrine. To all who have not embraced it, or been contaminated with it. It may be presumed that there was a considerable portion of the church which had not.

“And which have not known the depths of Satan. The deep art and designs of Satan. Deep things are those which are hidden from view—as of things which are far under-ground; and hence the word is used to denote mysteries, or profound designs and purposes. The allusion here is not to any trials or sufferings that Satan might bring upon any one, or to any temptations of which he might be the author, but to his profound art in inculcating error and leading men astray. . .

I will put upon you none other burden. That is, no other than that which you now experience from having these persons with you, and that which must attend the effort to purify the church. He had not approved their conduct for suffering these persons to remain in the church, and he threatens to punish all those who had become contaminated with these pernicious doctrines. He evidently designed to say that there was some token of his displeasure proper in the case, but he was not disposed to bring upon them any other expression of his displeasure than that which grew naturally and necessarily out of the fact that they had been tolerated among them, and those troubles and toils which must attend the effort to deliver the church from these errors. . . A kind Saviour says, that he would bring upon them no other, and no weightier burden, than must arise from his purpose to inflict appropriate vengeance on the guilty themselves. The trouble which would grow out of that would be a sufficient expression of his displeasure. This is, in fact, often now all that is necessary as a punishment on a church for harbouring the advocates of error and of sin. . .”

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

“Thyatira. . . stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. . . Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. . . Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

“Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds. . . Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. . . The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to Acts 19:10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.”

E. J. Banks


Artist’s conception of Paul and Silas at Lydia’s house in Phillipi.
Lydia was from Thyatira but came to the Lord in Phillipi!


Interesting!

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

John

“The ‘beloved disciple,’ was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.”