Pergamum Revelation 2:12-17

September 26th, 2016

Letters to the Church: Pergamum

Revelation 2:12-17

Pergamum (v. 12a)

·        Located about 10 miles inland from the Mediterranean

·        Contained an ancient citadel and fortress

·        Atop the citadel was the temple to “Zeus the Savior”

o   Also known as the throne of the city

·        It also contained the temple to “Aesculapius the Savior

o   The Greek god of healing

o   Which included a hospital

o   And a doctrine of personal salvation


A Vision of Jesus (v. 12b)

·        Jesus describes Himself as having a “sharp two-edged sword”

o   A reference to His role as conqueror (see 1:16; 2:16)


“I know…” (v. 13)

·        Jesus assures the Church that He understands their circumstances

·        They dwell where “Satan’s throne” is

o   Possibly a reference to the temple to Zeus or Aesculapius

·        Yet, they remain true to their faith in Christ

o   With some (Antipas) even dying as a result


“But I have this against you…” (v. 14-16)

·        Yet, Jesus reprimands the Church for a few things

·        They have some in their midst who have fallen under false teaching

o   Balaam (see Num. 22-24; 31:15-16)

§  Eating food sacrificed to idols & engaging in sexual immorality

o   The Nicolatians

§  Possibly a form of Gnosticism

      Salvation through secret knowledge

§  And/or a group of false Apostles

·        Jesus’ concern is not just with Orthodoxy, but with Orthopraxy

o   Orthodoxy: Right belief

o   Orthopraxy: Right practice


The Call to Conquer (v. 17)

·        Jesus promises that those who overcome by persevering in their faith in Him will receive:

o   Hidden manna: God’s provision (see Ex. 16:32-34)

o   White stone: May be a reference to the stone used in a vote of acquittal (see Acts 26:10)

§  Or a reference to an invitation to the Jesus’ banquet (see 19:9)

§  Or to being a stone in the Temple of God (see 3:12)

      White marble was only found in temples in Pergamum

o   New name: Either a reference to believer’s new identity in Christ

§  Or the name of Jesus Himself (see 3:12; 14:1; 19:12; 22:4)

So What?

·        Are we known for our orthodoxy & orthopraxy?

·        Is our identity found in Christ?


Meditation Verse: Revelation 2:17

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Letters to the Church Smyrna

September 19th, 2016

Letters to the Church: Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

Smyrna (v. 8a)

·        A major city in Asia Minor

o   Ismir, the third largest city in modern Turkey, is built on the rubble of ancient Smyrna

·        Contains a protected harbor and was built upon the slopes of Mount Pagus

·        Contained temples to Cybele, Apollo, Aesculapius, Aphrodite, and Zeus

·        It was the center of Imperial worship for all Asia


A Vision of Jesus (v. 8b)

·        Jesus describes Himself as “the First and the Last” (see Rev. 1:8, 21:6; 22:13)

o   A reference to His eternal nature

o   Which stands against the temporality of the Church’s suffering

·        He is the one who ‘has become dead’ and lives again

o   A reference to His ultimate victory

o   One in which the Church will share (v. 11b)


“I know…” (v. 9)

·        Jesus commends the Smyrnan Christians for their:

o   Endurance under persecution

o   Perspective in their poverty

§  Because they are rich in Christ

o   Fortitude while being slandered

·        “Synagogue of Satan”

o   Possibly a reference to the “Curse of the Minim” (c. 90 AD), which expelled Jewish Christians from synagogues


Encouragement (v. 10)

·        This letter has no correction

·        But rather, an encouragement to continue to endure under the growing hardships the Church will face

o   Including imprisonment

o   And even death

§  Gladiator games

§  Martyrdom of Polycarp (Feb. 23, AD 155)


The Call to Conquer (v. 11)

·        Those who endure such tribulation will experience need not fear death

o   Because Jesus has conquered it


So What?

·        Are we known for our faithful endurance? Have we ever really experienced tribulation?

Meditation Verse: Revelation 2:11

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Letters to the Church: Ephesus Revelation 2:1-7

September 12th, 2016

Letters to the Church: Ephesus

Revelation 2:1-7

Ephesus (v. 1a)

·         City on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea

·         Center for commerce

·         Center for the Imperial Cult and the Temple of Artemis

·         Center for the spread of the Gospel in Asia Minor (see Acts 18-20; Ephesians)

o   Also closest city to Patmos, the island where John wrote Revelation (Rev. 1:9)


A Vision of Jesus (v. 1b)

·         Jesus is portrayed as being holding the churches in His right hand and walking among them

o   A symbol of both His power and His presence


“I know…” (v. 2-3)

·         Jesus commends the Ephesians for:

o   Their hard work

o   Their patient endurance

o   Their impatience for evil

o   Their sound doctrine

§  Especially by testing those who would claim to be in authority

·         The Nicolaitans (v. 6)

·         Would Jesus commend us for these things?


“This I have against you…” (v. 4-5)

·         The Ephesians have lost sight of their first love

o   This may be a reference to love for:

§  God Himself

§  One another

§  The Lost

·         They are called to return to the basics

·         They lost their focus

o   Have we?


The Call to Conquer (v. 7)

·         The Ephesians are called to conquer* through truth, unity & love

o   Conquer: a play on the name ‘Nicolaitan’

§  Not conquering people

§  Conquering lies, division and apathy


So What?

·         How are we doing as a church? Have we lost our focus on loving God, each other, and the lost? Are we defined by truth, unity and love?

Meditation Verse: Revelation 2:4-5a

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Chasing the Wind: The End of the Matter Ecclesiastes 11&12

September 7th, 2016

Chasing the Wind: The End of the Matter

Ecclesiastes 11 & 12

Invest Wisely (11:1-8)

·        Solomon commends us to divest our interests (v. 1-2, 6)

o   Both financially and otherwise

·        Because life is unpredictable & uncontrollable at times

o   Like the rain and the wind (v. 3-4)

o   Like how a child is formed in the womb (v. 5a)

o   Mysterious and perhaps unknowable

·        But these reflect the way God works in the world (v. 5b)

o   Thus, we should invest in eternal things

·        We should not waste time worrying about what might happen (v. 4)

o   But rather deal with things as they are

·        Thus, we should live life to the fullest (v. 7-8a)

o   While remaining aware of the risks (v. 8b)


On Aging, Death & Contentment (11:9-12:7)

·        Solomon encourages us to enjoy life while we can

o   To make the most of opportunities (v. 9a)

·        While remaining aware of our standing before God (v. 9b)

o   Thus, we ought to live with eternity in mind (v. 10a)

§  In a way that pleases God

§  And gives freedom from stress

·        He reminds us that our youth is fleeting (v. 10b-12:7)

o   Using various illusions to the process of aging (loss of eyesight, hearing, teeth, strength, sexual desire)

·        These are the reflections of an aged man who lives with regrets

o   His advice: Make God honoring choices now, so you have nothing to regret later


The End of the Matter (12:8-14)

·        Solomon concludes by repeated his call of hebel (vanity)

·        He reflects on his own desire to share wisdom (v. 9-10)

·        Claiming that wisdom is meant to move us forward (goads), and anchor us (nails) (v. 11)

o   While coming from God alone (one Shepherd)

·        But even wisdom has its limits and should be pursued in measure (v. 12)

·        What is not hebel, what has real meaning is God alone (v. 13)

o   Thus we should revere and love Him

o   And live with eternity in mind (v. 14)


So What?

·        Are we living wisely by making the most of opportunities and investing in eternity?

·        Are we finding our life’s meaning in God alone?

Meditation Verse: Ecclesiastes 12:13

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