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?


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.



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.


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 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.


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.


How leaders can grow in teaching grace

Leaders lead people into the discovery of the truth – about God, the world, their purpose and themselves.  It is therefore critical for leaders to wait on the Lord for direction and instruction.

Look at this short inspirational video by Andre Kruger on growing in the prophetic anointing. For more on his teachings and to obtain a copy of his book Increasing Heaven’s Flow in 40 days go to


Matthew 16:13-21

13  Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


Context: Caesarea Philippi was located at the base of Mt Hermon, next to a natural spring that gushed from the mountain – a place of pagan worship and rituals.  In the city was a statue with temple of the Greek god Pan (see excavation site below).  The city was rebuilt and renamed in 3BC by Philip II, son of Herod the Great, renamed the city Caesarea Philippi in honour of Caesar Augustus (14AD) and later he pressed his own coins with his face on in 30AD – considered an act of idolatry by the Jews.   Thus, in Jesus’ day this city was renowned for animistic pagan worship at the natural spring, Greek worship of Pan, Roman emperor worship of Caesar and even veneration of Philip himself.   

Current excavation site of Philippi Caesarea with artist rendition of how it probably looked in the days of Jesus. Note the various pagan temples – especially the temple of Pan at the mouth of the cave – the source of ancient the Jordan River.
The Greek god Pan – half-man, half-goat, playing the flute. Several images and inscriptions of this god was found in Philippi Caesarea.


  1. Considering the background knowledge of the city mentioned above, what depth does it add to Jesus posing the question of his identity in this specific city?
  2. What did Jesus do that lead to Peter’s revelation of Jesus’ identity?
  3. Unpack Peter’s confession of Jesus (verse 16) – what do the parts of the confession mean?
  4. What did Jesus say about the source of Peter’s revelation?
  5. Jesus said that “on this rock I will build my church”. What does that “rock” refer to? [hint: ‘Peter’ means little stone or small rock, so it does not refer to Peter himself, but it is a clever play of words!]
  6. Directly after Peter’s confession of Jesus, Jesus said things to Peter (verse 18-19). What did Jesus do with these sayings? What can we learn from that? [hint: identity]

Personal reflection and application:

While walking with his disciples Jesus was an anointed and skillful teacher who knew that true revelation and conviction is deep and personal revelation that comes from the Father, and therefore requires reflection and discovery – and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  For that reason Jesus skillfully used questions, parables, illustrations and his surroundings in his teachings – relying and creating space for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and convict hearts.

  1. In which ways have you experienced the revelation and conviction of the Holy Spirit (a) when you listened to a message, (b) when you did Bible Study alone, and (c) when you taught someone else. Write down what you discovered.
  2. How do you tend to teach or explain things? Are you prone to state and explain everything you know, or are you prone to ask leading questions or use illustrations?
  3. In the study How do leaders grow in apostolic grace the application involved the preparation of a 10 minutes teaching on the Kingdom of God. Review your teaching in the light of today’s devotional study.  How will you adjust your teaching? Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into truth!


Earnestly desire and ask the Lord for help to grow in His anointing to teach and lead people in truth and personal conviction.  Ask for the grace of the teacher!

Note: Images sourced from Wikipedia – public domain.