REVELATION 5 – The Lamb upon the Throne

John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) during his exile to Patmos (AD 96), including this chapter on the Lamb receiving the scroll in the throne room. Note that Revelation chapters 4 and 5 is one thought, one vision.

Scripture

Revelation 5:1-14

1  Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4  and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

5  And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6  And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7  And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

8  And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9  And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

11  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12  saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14  And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. John shifts his attention from the worship of him on the throne (chapter 5) to a scroll. What does John record to indicate the importance of this scroll?
  2. Why would John weep so much? Why could this scroll be so important?
  3. An elder announces that there is one worthy to open the scroll. Note what John records about the Lamb. What do we learn about the worth of the Lamb from each of these attributes?
  • Lion of Judah:
  • Line of David:
  • Amidst Throne:
  • Seven Horns:
  • Seven Eyes:
  • Takes the Scroll from God:
  • A Lamb that is Slain, yet standing in Heaven:
  1. Note at the response of those around the throne – who does what? What do you learn about Him from the worship of the Lamb?

Personal Reflection questions

  1. Christ is recognized as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, yet he is worshipped as the Lamb who was slain.
  • How would this way of the Lamb have comforted the persecuted church in the first century?
  • How would this way of the Lamb have challenged the expectation of the persecuted church for deliverance from the Roman persecutors?
  1. Consider Philippians 2:5-10 that speaks of Christ’s example of meekness and obedience. How does this way of the Lamb challenge your response in conflict and hardship today?  Do you have examples of how the way of the Lamb have resulted in godly outcomes to difficult times?

Prayer and Worship

In prayer declare 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 today:

“But I know [His] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

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REVELATION 4 – A Throne set in Heaven

In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this chapter of the throne set in Heaven, the nature and character of the One seated the throne, and the response of those around this throne.

Scripture

Revelations 4:1-11

1  After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2  At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

3  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5  From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,

6  and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7  the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9  And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Observation and reflection questions

Notes: After recording the seven letters to the congregations (chapters 2-3) John saw a vision: of a throne in heaven, of Him on the throne, and of the response of those around the throne. “jasper” probably refers to a diamond-like stone (refer to Revelation 21:11) while “carnelian” is a deep red stone.

  1. John writes the same command twice in verses 1 and 2 – did you notice it? What does he call the reader to do, and why?
  2. Record what you learn from John’s vision about:

(a) the throne (verse 2)

(b) the One who sits on the throne (verses 3-5)

(c) the response of those around the throne (verses 6-11)

  1. What do you learn from the character and nature of “the one seated on the throne” by each of these descriptions?
  • Like the biggest and clearest jasper (think diamond) and carnelian (verse 3)
  • Encircled by a rainbow (verse 3; hint: think Noah, Genesis 9:15)
  • With many righteous rulers on the thrones around His throne (verse 4; hint: think of these representing the church through the ages)
  • With flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder” (verse 5; hint: this phrase appears another three times in Revelation (8:5; 11:19; 16:18), each time before God’s judgment is poured out on rebellious people)
  • With “seven torches” lighting evening before the throne (verse 5; hint: seven implies perfection – so what could perfect light imply here?)
  1. What could these responses to the One on the Throne mean or imply?
  • Before the throne was “a sea of glass, like crystal” (verse 6; hint: sea in Jewish writing usually refers to uncertainty, danger, and elsewhere chaos among the nations – see Psalm 93 below)
  • Four living creatures covered with eyes (verses 6-8; hint: could more eyes observe and take in more beauty and glory…?)
  • The four living creatures creaming “Holy!… Almighty!… [Ever-Living!]” (verses 7-8; hint: consider the mightiest domestic animal, mightiest wild animal, mightiest creature on earth, mightiest bird in flight, mightiest angelic being (Isaiah 6), yet what is their response to Him on the Throne…?)
  • The 24 rulers casting their crowns, prostrating themselves before Him on the Throne in Heaven (verses 10-11; hint – what is implied in the church falling down before God?)

Personal Reflection questions

  1. The first recipients of John’s Revelation were severely suffering congregations, being tried for their faith by an egotistical ruler (Cesar Domitian) and tempted by their perverse societies. What would this vision of God seated on his heavenly throne have meant to them? (consider the throne, him who sat on it and the response).
  2. How does this vision of the heavenly throne, the nature and character of God, as well as the response around the throne (a) comfort and (b) challenge you personally?

Prayer and Worship

Read Psalm 93 to note the similarity with Revelation 4, and respond in prayer and praise of our God who reigns!

Psalm 93:1-5

1  The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2  Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

3  The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

4  Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! 5  Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

beholdthethrone-22

 

 

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation), including seven letters to seven congregations in Asia minor (Revelation 2-3; see the map below).  The Table below summarizes the messages to these congregations, highlighting Jesus praise (commendation), reproof (condemnation), exhortation (counsel) and promised reward to the overcomer (compensation).

Table summarizing Revelation 2-3

Church Character Commendation Condemnation Counsel Compensation
Ephesus Loveless Patiently enduring persecution, hate deeds of false teachers Left your first love Repent, do again your 1st works Eat of Tree of Life
Smyrna Persecuted Rich in faith and good works in spite of tribulation and hypocrites NONE Be faithful unto death Receive crown of life, not be hurt of second death
Pergamos Compromising Held firm to Jesus’ name and did not deny the faith Tolerance of Nicolaitanes, Balaamism, compromise,idolatry, and immorality Repent Receive hidden manna, white stone, new name
Thyatira Tolerance Love, faith, patience, and good works Tolerance of Jezebel,idolatry, immorality Hold fast what you already have Power over nations, Morning Star
Sardis Dead A few are not defiled Dead works Watch, strengthen what remains, hold fast, repent White raiment, keep name in Book of Life
Philadelphia Faithful Kept the Word and not denied Jesus NONE Hold fast to the faith Pillar in temple, keep from hour of temptation Have name of God
Laodicea Lukewarm NONE Lukewarm, spiritually poor, blind, and naked Secure gold tried in fire, white raiment, eyesalve, be zealous, repent Sit with Christ on His throne and eat with H

 

Personal reflection questions

Considering the table above, prayerfully consider what Jesus would (1) write to your personally  or (2) to your congregation, would he write a letter such as the seven in Revelation 2-3:

1.a) Which of these commendations (or praises) could be said of you personally?  Why would you say so?

1.b) Which of these condemnations (or rebukes) convict your own heart? Why do you say so?

1.c) What will you do in response to this conviction?

2.a) Which of these commendations (or praises) could be said of your congregation as a whole?  Why would you say so?

2.b) Which of these condemnations (or rebukes) would be most for your congregation as a whole? Why do you say so?

2.c) In response to your answer above (2.b) what could you do to reform your congregation in response to your convictions above?

Prayer

Pray as the Lord leads you (a) for yourself and (b) for your congregation, and pray that you may be a bright light for Christ in your community.

 

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – LAODICEA

In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this letter to the church in Laodicea below.

Scripture

Revelations 3:14-22

14  “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15  “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

19  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

Observation questions

Notes: Laodicea was situated in the valley of the Lycus, near Colosse and Hierapolis. Paul mentions these three churches in the letter to the Colossians, hinted that it was planted by Ephaphras (Colossians 4:12-13). The site of the ancient city is uninhabited today, but excavations reveals its exuberant wealth through trade, banking and much sought-after wool and pharmacological industries, its complex water supply systems through open and closed aqueducts (leaving it lukewarm), and its pagan worship culture of Apollos, Artemis and the Roman Imperial Cult (i.e. worship of Rome and its Caesars). So wealthy and arrogant was this city in the first century that that the inhabitants refused imperial help after an earthquake destroyed a big part of Laodicea, and promptly rebuilt it themselves.

  1. Complete the Revelation seriestable below by answering these questions:
  • How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
  • What does Christ commend in this congregation?
  • What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
  • What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
  • What does Christ warn this congregation of?
  • What does Christ promiseto this congregation?
  1. How would you describe Jesus’ tone in this message?
  • Considering verse 19; why is Jesus so stern with this congregation?
  1. Consider Jesus’ words in verses 15-16
  • What does a church look like that is “neither hot nor cold”?
  • Can you discern Jesus’righteous judgment in these verses?
  • Can you discern Jesus’mercy in these verses?
  • How does these two verse make you feel, and why?
  1. Consider Jesus’ accusation in verse 17, and summarize the attitude of the church.
  • How did the spirit of the church in Laodicea compare to that of the city?
  • In which way do you think this church was poor, blind, and naked”? How does such a church look?
  1. Consider Jesus’ exhortations in verses 18 and 20: how could one be restored from such a pitiful state as the Laodiceans practically?
  2. What is Jesus calling this church to “overcome”?

Reflection questions

Evidently the wealth and arrogance of the Laodiceans have tainted the humble dependence of this church, dimming the light of the gospel in this city.

  1. In which way have you seen how material affluence have ruined sincere worship and intimate relationship with God?
  • What was the actual issue which came with earthly richess which Jesus condemned? (Hint: what does Jesus counsel this “materially prosperous” church to do? Verse 18)
  1. What does the accusation “you are lukewarm – I want to spit you out of My mouth!” make you feel? Why?
  • How should you respond from these stern words?

Prayer

Thank the Lord that he “reproves and discipline the one he loves.”  Is there any passivity or apathy that have crept into your heart?  Then confess it and repent of it now.

Respond to the Lord’s invitation of intimacy (verse 20) invite him into your life to feast with you!

 

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – PHILADELPHIA

In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this message to the church in Philadelphia below.

Scripture

Revelations 3:7-13

7  “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “HE WHO HAS THE KEY OF DAVID, HE WHO OPENS AND NO ONE SHUTS, AND SHUTS AND NO ONE OPENS”: 8  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10  Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

11  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

Observation questions

Notes: The town of Philadelphia (translated “brotherly love”, today Alasehir in Trukey) was a small town in the hills 30 miles southeast of Sardis. Although the town was prosperous due to its trade (being the gateway to central Asia) and wine production, trade route and had healthy trade the town remained small due to frequent earthquakes, prompting citizens to live outside its walls. Jesus revelation as One having “the Key of David” phrase is a quotation from Isaiah 22:20-23, where the key of the house of David was given to Eliakim, indicating entrustment of authority.

  1. Complete the Revelation seriestable below by answering these questions (2:18-29):
  • How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
  • What does Christ commend in this congregation?
  • What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
  • What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
  • What does Christ warn this congregation of?
  • What does Christ promiseto this congregation?
  1. Consider how Jesus reveals Himself to this church. Why would he introduce himself as “Holy / True / the One holding the Key of David”?
  2. What does it mean that Jesus “place(s) before them an open door…”?
  3. Look at verse 8. Why does Jesus place before them an “open door…”?  What do you learn about patience and faithful endurance?
  4. Consider how this church suffered (including earthquakes, persecution alluded to in verse 8). How does God comfort this church? What does that mean?
  5. What is Jesus calling this church to “overcome”?
  6. Considering the context of this town, why would it be comforting that Jesus promises to make the overcomer to be placed as a “pillar in the temple of God” forever?

Reflection questions

  1. The church in Philadelphia was suffering from the frequent earthquakes along with the people in the city. In addition, they suffered harsh, constant persecution from the people they were ministering to. Yet they did not leave the town, but rather remained as a faithful witnesses to Christ’s loving grace in a town which did not receive them.
  • In which way can you identify with the temptation to pack up your things and run away, yet you patiently endured hardship and remained faithful to where God called you? What was the outcome?
  • As reward to faithful endurance Jesus promised unprecedented grace and opportunities to witness. Could you relate to this during times of hardship? Share!?
  • Note that Jesus rewards this congregation’s faithful endurance in this life (v8, 10), and the life to come (v12). In which way does the latter reward inspire you to remain faithful amidst hardship?
  1. Considering your current challenges, what does Jesus call you to hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (v11)?

Prayer

Thank God for His grace with is sufficient for you, and make this declaration with Paul from your heart:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…. 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:28-39]

 

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – SARDIS

While exiled to the island of Patmos (AD 94-96), Jesus instructed the apostle John to record messages to the seven churches in Asia, including the letter to the church in Sardis below.

Scripture

Revelations 3:1-6

1  “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3  Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

4  You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5  He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

 Observation questions

NotesSardis was an impregnable fortress overlooking the Hermus valley, the proud capitol of Lydia with very proud and secure residents, but in 281 BC skilled mountain climbers launched a night attack “as a thief in the night” and took the city because they were not “watchful”. The hill on which Sardis stood prevented growth, and by the end of the first century Sardis was in slow but steady decay.  In this city was a temple to Cybele (“the mother of the gods”) where worshipers had to be “clothed in [clean], white garments”, yet her feasts were characterised by the vilest orgies.

  1. Complete the Revelation seriestable below by answering these questions (2:18-29):
  • How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
  • What does Christ commend in this congregation?
  • What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
  • What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
  • What does Christ warn this congregation of?
  • What does Christ promiseto this congregation?
  1. Considering the problems addressed in this church, why would Jesus reveal Himself as He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars”?
  2. Jesus accuses this congregation that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Describe in your own words what a church looks like that looks “alive” but it is actually “dead”.
  3. What does Jesus call this church to “overcome”?
  4. What does Jesus call the church to do in response to their lifelessness? [i.e. how to they turn the situation around?] Explain what it could mean in practice.

Reflection questions

  1. Sardis enjoyed a good reputation but did not deserve a good reputation.
  • Considering the statement above, what is the relationship between one’s character and one’s reputation? And how does integrity relate to character and reputation?
  • Whom do you know that has excellent integrity: i.e. his or her character and reputation is one and the same?
  • What do you fear people might discover about your life that might tarnish your reputation?
  • Where is the greatest risk for shame in your life (i.e. where is your character found lacking most?)
  • When one is said to have integrity, there is no difference between one’s reputation (what they say of me) and one’s character (the person I truly am when no-one is around). Considering this truth, what is the simplest thing one can do to become a person of integrity?
  1. Consider the gravity of the accusation(s) in this letter to Sardis. What hope does Christ’s message in this letter give you? Why?

Application and Prayer

Reflect on your own life as a Christ-follower.  How much of your good works, acts of worship, fellowship and personal devotion are “alive” and how much are “dead works”? i.e. how much is in relationship and how much is in ritual?

Ask the Resurrection Lord to breath his Spirit of Life into you, that you may truly be alive in Him. [see Genesis 2:17 with John 20:22; Ezekiel 37:1-10]

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION – THYATIRA

The book of Revelation was written by John the Apostle who was exiled by emperor Domitian to the island of Patmos (AD 94-96).  There the Lord gave John instructions to write letters to the persecuted churches in Asia – the one below to the church in Thyatira.

Scripture

Revelations 2:18-29

18  “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  19  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

20  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24  “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  25  But hold fast what you have till I come. 26  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27  ‘HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON; THEY SHALL BE DASHED TO PIECES LIKE THE POTTER’S VESSELS’—as I also have received from My Father; 28  and I will give him the morning star. 29  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

 Observation questions

NotesThyatira (present-day Akhisar in Turkey) was situated between two valleys and therefore an important military stronghold and hub for traders. The city was renowned for its strong trade guilds (ancient Grecko-Roman “worker unions”) each with its patron gods being honoured at the regular feasts. Jezebel was Queen of Israel who lead Israel astray into idolatry, immorality and cultic worship during the reign of her husband Ahab (refer to 1 Kings 16:31, 18:4,19 and 2 Kings 9:22).  She used seduction, manipulation and intimidation to gain power over people. She and her children were executed by Ahab’s successor, Jehu.  

  1. Complete the Revelation series table below by answering these questions (2:18-29):
  • How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
  • What does Christ commend in this congregation?
  • What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
  • What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
  • What does Christ warn this congregation of?
  • What does Christ promise to this congregation?
  1. Considering the severe tone and content of the letter, why would Jesus introduce himself as the One “who has eyes like a flame of fire, [with] feet like fine brass”?  What does He mean to say to the church in Thyatira with this self-revelation? (verse 19)
  1. Noting how Jesus praised this church, how would you describe this church?
  2. With reference to “Jezebel … a prophet” (verse 20):
  • Would you say there was a woman in the congregation with that name, or is it used symbolically? Why?
  • Referring to the notes above on the practice of the trade guilds, as well as Jezebel (the wife of Ahab), what do you think was going in this church, which Jesus condemns?

Reflection questions

  1. What inspires you about Jesus’ praise of Thyatira? Why?
  2. How does Jesus’ warning to Thyatira make you feel? Why?
  3. Jesus condemns a prophetess whom He calls Jezebel for leading the church into idolatry and immorality.
  • Why did Jezebel have power of over the people? [hint: Jesus reveals himself of one who searches hearts in this letter…]
  • How do you discern prophesy to be true or false? Do you have a personal example of being lead into deception for a while?
  • How do you guard against compromising on your godly morals in a immoral society?
  1. What hope does Christ’s message in this letter give you?

Application and Prayer

Pray with David that God would test and purify your heart (to cleanse your desires and motives), and help you with discernment and perseverance in godly character.

Psalm 139:23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

Search_heart

The letters to the church in Revelation – Ephesus

While on the island of Patmos for his refusal to worship the emperor Domitian, John saw visions he recorded for the churches in his day in Asia minor.  Today we study the words Jesus gave him to write to the church in Ephesus.

Scripture

Revelation 1:19-20; 2:1-7

19  Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.  20  As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

1  To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2  I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

4  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6  Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Observation questions

 

Notes: Ephesus was an important city with a big trade industry (big sea port), cultural center with the first formal university, a big theater, buzzing with religious tourism. The “angel of the church” could be translated “messenger to the church” or pastor/ elder / leader. The Nicolaitans refers to a sect or group of people within the church who derived their name from their behavior: conquerors (“Nico”) of the common people (“laity”) and is thought of as people within the church who lead by fear and oppression instead of love.

  1. Note how Jesus reveals Himself to this persecuted congregation (2:1; compare with 1:20).
    • How would the fact that he holds the “angels of the seven churches in his right hand” comfort the church? (See revelations 1: 20)
    • How would the fact that Jesus “walks among the golden lampstands” comfort this persecuted church?
  2. Complete the Revelations series table below by answering these questions (2:1-7):
    • How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
    • What does Christ commend in this congregation?
    • What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
    • What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
    • What does Christ promise to this congregation?
    • What does Christ warn this congregation?

Reflection questions

  1. Jesus knows this church – their affliction, activities and affections. How would this comfort the persecuted congregation?  How does it make you feel that Jesus knows everything about you?
  2. Would you say they are mature or immature? Why?
  3. How does (a) your congregation’s and (b) your personal life compare to the activities commended by God in this congregation?
  4. What does God hate that you also hate? What does God hate which you tolerate?
  5. How does (a) your congregation’s and (b) your personal affection or passion compare with this congregation?
  6. What are the “works” you first did when you were born again and your heart was set alight by God? What do you still do, and what do you not do anymore?

Application and Prayer

Talk to your accountability friend about your heart – it’s affections, anxieties and aspirations. Pray together that God aligns your heart with his and restore your joyful passion, as David did.

Joy_salvation