Revelation 2:1-7 Part 1

Listen to the Word of God to Jeremiah at chapter 23:


16)  Thus saith Yahveh of Hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they teach you vanity; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Yahveh.

17)  They say continually unto them that despise me, Yahveh hath said, Ye shall have peace; and unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, no evil shall come upon you.

18)  For who hath stood in the council of Yahveh, that he should perceive and hear his word? Who hath marked my word, and heard it?

19)  Behold, the tempest of Yahveh, even his wrath, is gone forth, yea, a whirling tempest: it shall burst upon the head of the wicked.

20)  The anger of Yahveh shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall understand it perfectly.

21)  I sent not these prophets, yet they ran: I spake not unto them, yet they prophesied.

22)  But if they had stood in my council, then had they caused my people to hear my words, and had turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.


“If they had stood in My council”……..   The apostle John is facing the incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended and enthroned Jesus Christ; and He is receiving words directly from Him to write to the Churches.  That’s the definition – the Biblical definition – of a prophet.  One who has stood in the council of Almighty God and received words directly from Him.

That will be very important, not only as we look into chapters two and three, but also as we are trained to spot self-proclaimed ministers, prophets and apostles in our time.

Also, an issue of some weighty relevance for us is that of covenant succession.  Since, as we heard last Lord’s Day, the covenant with Israel is about to be deconstructed and granted to God’s elect in all nations, tribes and tongues in Christ Jesus, we have to recognize that it (the covenant) is of the same nature and substance as it always was.  In the newer Scripture it is call a “new covenant” because Israel, with all its forms and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah, is about to be terminated; and the whole creation is now included under the Headship of the newly enthroned Christ.  All the “old” foreshadowings are now gone (and will quickly be completely destroyed).  Therefore it is called a “new” covenant.  This Greek word “new” here in our text is not one of another kind, but one of the same kind, having a different form – or administration.

Anyway, the substance of the covenant made in the Godhead before the creation, remains essentially the same.  As it was in the garden, and as it was at Sinai, and as it was in the historical literature of Scripture, and as it was in the Psalms and Proverbs, and as it was in the prophets, so it was after Jesus’ parousia, and as it is now.

The messages to the Churches clearly substantiate that fact.  God says to the people who He has marked out for Himself that they are to be faithful to Him and obey Him. Should that be the case, then blessings from God will continue to issue forth from Him.  But should the people be unfaithful to Him and disobey Him, then there will be sanctions.  Please note that just a superficial reading of the messages to the Churches confirms that covenantal succession.  God the Son is now incarnate God the Son.  He is the enthroned Almighty God – Prince of Peace (as prophesied in Isaiah), and He is Head of His Church.  And the Church must be faithful to the One Who has died for it.  All of the Father’s elect, all over the world, will come to Him and are being united to the Christ – the new holy temple of God.  And the Church is the earthly, visible representation of that union in Him.

That’s what the messages for the Churches are all about.  And they’re all very similar, aren’t they?  He says to them, in essence, “I Am the One Who holds the entire creation in His Hand, and I Am the One in the midst of the lampstands – holding the Churches together; for they are all one in Me.  Be faithful to Me; overcome and be victorious; the temple on the mountain in Jerusalem is about to be no more, for I Am the Royal High Priest; I Am the new holy temple”.

When we gather for worship on the first day of the week, we gather IN CHRIST the new holy temple.  Congregants gather with His “mark” on their bodies, and therefore are in covenant with Him.  We gather under the terms of His covenant, for we gather IN Him.  He IS the temple in which we congregate.  And that covenant, as the messages to the Churches indicate, is the same as it was.  Be FAITHFUL to Me and be victorious.  And here are the “sanctions” should you not be faithful to Me.  You’re gathering with My covenant mark on your bodies; and you’re gathering in Me, your new Holy Temple.  Therefore you must be faithful to Me.

Now, as said last Lord’s Day, according to chapters two and three, the Churches in the nations have incredible pressures.  Not only from judaizers pursuing  them from without, and judaizers also within; and not only from Rome and its “Caesar worship” and its pantheon of male and female idols…….but also from the free-reigning satanic world order, which had not yet been brought under covenant restraint!  Remember please what we said last Lord’s Day, that our Lord’s parousia not only was the terminal point of the covenant with Israel; but it also was the inauguration of the covenant with Gentile nations, tribes and tongues!   As the one was being terminated, the other was being instituted.  Although at the writing of these messages to the Churches, there were already numbers of Gentiles in the Churches to which these letters were written, there had not yet occurred a “binding” of Satan with respect to God’s elect people in the nations.  That’s important to the understanding of these messages.  The Churches exist, at this writing, in an unbound, free-reigning satanic world order.  All of it, of course, in the hand of the everlasting King of Kings.

Okay!  Let’s read the text again, Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapter two, verses one through seven:


1)  Write the message for the Church in Ephesus:  The One Who holds the seven stars in His hand, the One Who moves about in the midst of the seven golden lampstands says these things.

2)  I know your works, and your hardship, and your perseverance   and inability to bear evils, and putting those calling themselves apostles to the test and they aren’t and found them false,

3)  and you have perseverance and did endure through My Name and not wearied.

4)  But I have against you that you did suffer your first love.

5)  Be remembering therefore from whence you fell, and repent and do the first works; but if not, I Am coming to you and I will remove your lampstand out of its place should you not repent.

6)  But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nikolaitans which I too hate.

7)  Let the one having an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches: to the one overcoming I will give to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.


The apostle Paul had been to Ephesus at least twice, having passed through there from Athens on the way back to Antioch at the end of his second trip.  But he then returned to Ephesus during his third journey and spent about two and a half to three years there; he more than likely had a lot of contact with all the Churches in the region, since much time was spent in Asia Minor during all three trips.

But on Paul’s last return to Jerusalem (toward the end of the fifth decade of the first century), the apostle John had already departed Jerusalem for Asia Minor – specifically Ephesus (and the other Churches in the region). 

John had apparently been the leader of the Church in Jerusalem in the massive effort to provide instruction, worship, sustenance and extrication for the thousands of God’s people there.  He also wrote a Gospel during that time, and then at least three letters to the Churches while in Ephesus.  Those three letters, and the Gospel, we have in our Bibles.

When John departed Jerusalem to take up pastoral duties in the Churches in Asia Minor, we don’t know exactly.  Apparently he wasn’t in Ephesus when Paul was there; and he wasn’t in Jerusalem when Paul returned from that third trip (which ended in his near assassination and eventual imprisonment in Rome).  So my speculation is that John left Jerusalem and Israel on his way to Asia Minor in 59 or 60AD in anticipation of Christ’s Parousia.

My thought process is that everything that Jesus had told them in the Olivet discourse (Matt. 24) was nearing its culmination; the Church in Jerusalem was close to finishing its rescue and deliverance of all of God’s people there (the lost sheep of the house of Israel).  And, in addition to that, the Churches in the nations were all in a state of distress and persecution, all of which would become a lot worse.  So it seems to me that John (and others who were doing the work that Jesus had required of them) would have thought that it was time to get out of Israel and minister to God’s people in the nations before the “abomination of desolation”. 

And that’s not to say that the Spirit of Christ wasn’t leading him to do that which would eventually place him in Patmos where he would personally be confronted by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and receive, directly from His mouth, Revelation of Jesus Christ.  And that almost certainly means that this man was the last to “stand in the council” of Almighty God and receive prophecy from Him for the Churches.

I say “the last man”, for who, in the last two thousand years of Church history, can say that he has been taken up to the council chambers of God Almighty, was rendered “as dead” (as the prophets report), was touched and strengthened by our Lord, and then given words in his mouth to speak or to write?  Remember, that’s the definition of a prophet of God.  Since John there are none.

In the first part of his letter, John says to the Churches that Revelation of Jesus Christ is that which is to take place quickly, for the time is near.  And then John describes the appearance of the enthroned Jesus Christ.  Having found himself in the very council of incarnate God the Son (reminiscent of that which previous prophets also had experienced before the incarnation), John then receives direct prophecy from His mouth for the Churches.

And that’s where we find ourselves right now…..  chapter two.  And let me just confess to you right here at the beginning of this new chapter, that I still have nightmares and cold sweats about the translation.  I’ve struggled with it and gone back over it so many times; and even though it’s different from every extant translation in the English language, it’s what I have to give you.  In my opinion this is the way it ought to read.  And if my Berean brothers and sisters wish to “file-thirteen” this translation, then we’ll just have to start over and do something else.

It seems to me that the translations are not reasonable; they’re not logical; they’re not readable; one can’t exegete what they say, and all of the theologians just have to skip over the problems or “make up” something when they’re addressing the passage, because it’s just impossible to make any sense of it.

In addition, the translations, in my opinion, form an obvious disconnect between Almighty God the Son and the Churches which are to receive this letter.  The disconnect is formed so that what Jesus said isn’t received by the ones who are to obey!

I know that’s very strong; and I say these things with fear and trembling.  But that’s my opinion.  And if I’m shown a good, solid, Biblical exegesis for the way the extant translations read, and it has foundation in the prophetic Scripture, and it includes a logical connection to the ones who are to receive this letter, then I’ll repent and start over.

First let me explain what I mean by a disconnect in the English translations between the King of Kings and His Church.  Back in chapter one verse one, we read this: “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show His servants that which is necessary to be done in quickness……”  The letter is to be written to His servants, those in the Churches. 

Verse three chapter one reads: “Blessed the one reading and the ones hearing the words of the prophecy and keeping things having been written in it, for the time is near.”  The ones receiving this letter of prophecy are those in the Churches who will read it and hear it…… probably in public worship.

Verse four reads: “John to the seven Churches, the ones in Asia…”  The letter is to the Churches!

Verse nine says: “I John, your brother and co-sharer in the affliction and kingdom and steadfastness in Jesus….”  John is brother and co-sharer of these things with those in the Churches.

In verse eleven Jesus says to John, ““write what you see in a scroll and send to the seven Churches”!

But look at what the English translations say in the second chapter:  “To the angel of the Church in Ephesus write………”, verse one.  “To the angel of the Church in Smyrna write…….”, verse eight.  “To the angel of the Church in Pergamum write…..”, verse twelve.  To the angel of the Church in Thyatira write…..”, verse eighteen.

To the “angel”?.............

In the English translations, Jesus says to the “angel” in Ephesus: “I know your works, and your toil and patience……..”?  He says to the “angel”: “repent and do the first works, or I’ll remove your candlestick”..............?

In the English translations, Jesus says to the “angel” in Smyrna: “I know your tribulation and your poverty”…………?  He says to the “angel”: “don’t be afraid of the things you’re about to suffer”………?  He says to the “angel” in Smyrna, “be faithful unto death, and I’ll give you the crown of life”……….?

The disconnect, you see, is between chapter one, which makes it clear that Jesus Christ is sending Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Churches,  but the English translations of chapter two indicate an “angel” as the one to whom the letter is sent!  It just makes no sense at all for these words of our Lord to be sent to an “angel”; and the commentators just gloss over it!  They just have nothing relevant to say about it.  Some just stick something in there that’s purely spurious; and others make it out to be rather mysterious – as if it fits in to the great “mystery” of the book!  And neither one of those approaches does it for me.  It’s rather obvious to me, just from the lack of verbiage about it, that nobody knows what to do with it!  Nothing substantive or explanatory is ever said about it.

Well, that bothers me.  It bothered me a lot!  As I pondered the disconnect, I searched the Scripture to find any other place in which God sent words to an “angel”.    There are some in which God sent words by an angel (most of them words of joy and exultation, such as the announcements of Jesus’ birth and His resurrection), but none in which He sent words to an angel.  That was odd.

So I went back to the commentaries again to see if there was some “hint” in any of them that I could use to explain the disconnect and the lack of supporting Revelation.  I couldn’t find any.  The commentators that I read offered nothing!  So I had to go back to the translation……. even though all of them said the same thing.  And as you can read in your printed texts, you see that I had to make some changes.

Now, there’s a place for the masculine Greek noun “aggelos”…. (translated “angel” in all extant English Bibles), especially when a message from God shows up for a particular purpose, and he shows up in a form that’s recognizable to men.  The most notable of those, as I mentioned earlier, is the message from God at the empty tomb of Jesus when the Word directly from the mouth of Almighty God appears in all the glory of God to the humans who were there at the tomb.  And when the message was received, the angelic form disappears.

But to send messages TO angels……seven of them (as the English translation of chapter two, and three, implies)?  I don’t think so – especially when the primary translation of the Greek word “aggelos” is “message”!  The secondary meaning of the noun is “angel”; the primary meaning is “message!  And the Greek word “aggelos” is either masculine or neuter, according to the context!

And, the subject of the sentence (all seven of the first sentences) is “you”.  Jesus is speaking directly to John, and the instruction is imperative.  It is a directive……”you write”.  It is prophetic utterance directly from the mouth of the King of Kings to the hearing of the apostle John, to write and be delivered “in a message” or, “by way of the message”, for the Church in Ephesus.  Therefore the translation: “write the message for the Church in Ephesus”.  “Write the message for the Church in Smyrna”.  Write the message for the Church in Pergamum”, and so forth for all seven Churches.

That completely clears up the disconnect between the clear instructions of Jesus Christ to John; and it eliminates the “mystery” of writing to “angels” about their trials and tribulations, and sufferings, and their excommunications and sanctions and deaths!

These are messages from Jesus Christ to the Churches.  This is a circulatory letter; and not only did it have a specific historic context for these seven Churches, it also did so for all the Churches in the nations at that time, since it was sent to all of them in order to prepare them for the greatest event in the reign of Christ the King.  And although the immediately imminent event of Christ’s parousia was the impelling reason for sending the letter, it must have a unique and phenomenal impact on today’s Churches as we read what our Lord required of those Churches.