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7 off the Nicolattans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God.
8 And to the angel of the church at Smyrna write, These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead aid is>
9 alive. I know thy affliction and poverty, (but tbou art rich,) and the reviling of those who say they are Jews
10 and are not, but a synagogue of Satan. Fear none of
Their doctrines and lives were equally corrupt. They allowed the most abominable lewdness and adulteries, as well as sacrificing to idols; all which they placed among things indifferent, and pleaded for as branches of Christian liberty.
V. 7. He that hath an ear, let him hear—Every man, whoever can hear at nil, ought carefully to haar this. What the Spirit saith—In these great and precious promises, to the chttrchet—And in them to every one that overcometh: that goeth on from faith to faith, and by faith to full victory over the world, and the flesh, and the devil.
In these seven letters twelve promises are contained, which are an ext«aot of all the promises of God. Some of I hem are not expressly mentioned again* in this book, as the hidden mauna, the inscription of rAe name of the 2?ew Jerttsalem, the sitting upon the throne. Some resemble what is afterwards mentioned, as the hidden name, (oh. xix. 12,) the ruling the nations, (ch. xix. 15,) the morning star, (ch. xxii. jG.) And some are expressly mentioned, as the tree of life, (ch. xxii. 3.) Freedom from the second death, (ch.xx. 6,) the name in the book of life, (ch. xx. 12, xxi. 27,) the remaining in the temple of God, (ch. jvii. 15j the inscription of the name of God and of the Lamb, (ch. xiv. ,1, xxii, 4,) la these promises sometimas the enjoyment of the highest goods, sometime* deliverance from the greatest evils, is mentioned. And each implies the other, so that where either part is expressed, the whole .is to be understood. That pert is expressed which has most resemblance to the virtues or works of him that was spoken to in the letter preceding. To eat of the tree of life—The fi rat thing promised in these letters, is the last and highest in the accomplishment, ch. Kxii. 2, 14, 19. The tree of l(fe and the.water of life go together, ch. X-xii. 1, s, both implying, the living.with God eternally: in the jiaraiise of my Goet —The word paradise means a garden of pleasure. In the eartbly paradise there was one tree of life: there ore no other trees in the paradise of God.
V. 9. These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead and is a/fce— How directly does this description tend to confirm him against ithe fear eaf death! ver. 10, 11. Even with the comfort wherewith St. John himself was comforted,.ch. i. 17, 18, shall the angel of this church be comforted.
V. 9. / know tby affliction and poverty—A poor prerogative in the -eyes erf the world! The angel at Philadelphia likewise had in their sight but* Utile strength- And yet these two were the most honourable of all, in the eyes mt the Cord. But thou art rich—In faith and love, of more value than all the kingdoms of the earth. Who say they are Jews—-God1! own people, and are. not—They are not Jews Inwardly,-not circumcised in heart; but a synagogue tf Satan—Who, like them, was a liar and a murderer, from the beginniug.
V. 10. The first and last words of this verse are particularly directed to the minister; whence we may gather, that his suffering and the affliction of the church were at the same time, and of the same continuance, fear mane of these things wAich thou art about to suffer—Probably by means of the false Jews. Behold—This intimates the nearness of the affliction. Perhaps 'the ten days began, on the very day that the Revelation -was read at Smyrna, or aft least, very soon after. The devil—Who seta all persecutors to work; *•* those things which thou art about to suffer; behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have affliction ten days: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of
11 life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: He that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death.
V& And to the angel of the church at Pergamos write, These things saith he who hath the sharp two-edged sword.
IS I know where thou dwellest, where the throne of Satan is; and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, in the days wherein Antipas wets my faithful witness, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, that thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat
15 things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. In like manner thou also hast them that hold the doctrine of
16 the Nicolaitans, which I hate. Repent therefore; if not, I come to thee, and will fight against them with the sword
these more particularly: is about to cast some of you—'Christians nt Smyrna; where, in the first ages, the blood of many martyrs was <rhed: into prison, that ye may be tried—To your unspeakable advantage, 1 Pet. iv. n, 14. And ye shall have affliction—Either-in your own persons, or by sympathizing with your brethren: ten days—(Literally taken) in the end of Domitian's persecution, which was stopped by the edict of the emperor Nerva. Be thou faithful —Our Lord does not say, tttl I come, (as in the other letters,) but unto death) -,-Signifying that the angel of the'cburcli should quickly after serf I his testimony with his blood: fiftyyearsbefore the martyrdom of Polycarp,for whom some have mistaken him. Und I mill give thee the crown of life—The peculiar reward of them who are faithful mito death.
V. 11. The second death—The lake of fire, the portion of the fearful, who cla aot overcome, ch. xxi. 8.
V. 12. The sword—With which I will cut off the impenitent, ver. Id'.
V. 13. Where the throne of Satan is—Pergamos was above measure given to idolatry: so Satan hadhis throne and full residence there. Thou holdest fast my name—-Openly and resolutely confessing me before men : in the days H)Aer«m Antipas—Martyred under Domitian : was my faithful witness—Happy is he, to whom Jesus, the faithful and true witness, giveth such a testimony'!'
V. 14. But thou hast there—Whom thou ougbtest to have immediately cast out from the flock: them that hold the doctrine of Balaam—Doctrine nearly resembling his i who taught Balak—And the rest of the Moahites, to cast a stumbling block before the sons of Israel—They are generally termed the chilWen, bat here the sons xtf Israel, in opposition to the daughters of Moah, by whom Bafoam'enticed them to fornication and idolatry: To eat things sacrificed to idols—which in'so idolatrous a city as Pergamos, was in the highest degree hurtful to Christianity: and to commit fornication—Which was constantly joined with tire idol-Worship of the heathens.
V. 15. In like manner, thou also—As well as the angel at'Ephesus: hast them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans—And thou sufferest them to remain in the flock. .
V. 16. If not, I come to thet—Yiho ttilt not wholly escape, when I puniab
17 of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that over comes will I give of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which none knoweth but he that reciveth it,, , i
18 And to the angel of the church at Thyatira write, These things saith the Son of God, who hath eyes as a
19 flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass. I know thy love and faith, and thy service and patience, and thy last
SO works more than the first. But I have against thee, that thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, and teacheth and seduceth my servants to
them: and will fight with them—Not with the Nieolaitans, who are mentioned only by the by; but the followers of Balaam, With the sword of my mouth—With my just and fierce displeasure. Balaam himself was first withstood by the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn, Numb. xxii. 23, and afterwards slain with the sword, Numb, xxxi 8. , :J
V. 17. To him that overcometh—And eafeth not' of those sacrifices; will I give of the hidden manna —Described John vi. The new name answers to this: it is now hid with Christ in God. The Jewish mauna was kept in the ancient ark of the covenant. The heavenly ark of the covenant appears under the trumpet of the seventh angel, ch. xi. 19, where also the hidden manna is mentioned again. It seems properly to mean, the full, glorious, everlasting fruition of God. And I will give him a white stone—The ancients, on many occasions, gave their votes in judgment by small stones: by black they condemned; by white ones they acquitted. Sometimes also they wrote on small, smooth stones. Here may be an allusion to both. And a new name—So Jacob, after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Wouldst thou know, what thy new name will be? The way to this is plain: overcome. Till then all thy inquiries Are vain. Thou wilt then read it on the white stone.
V. 19. And to the angel of the church at Thyatira—Where the faithful were but a little flock; These things saith the Son of God—See how great he is, who appeared like a Son of man ,' ch. i. 18. Who hath eyes as it flame of fire— Searching the reins and the heart, ver. 23, and his feet like fine brass—Denoting his immense strength. Job comprizes both these, his wisdom to discern whatever is amiss, and his power to avenge it, in one sentence, ch. xlii. 3, ATs thought is hidden from him, and he can do all things.
V. 19. I know thy love—How different a character is this,' from' that of the angel of the church at Ephesus? The latter could not bear the wicked, and hated the works of the Nicolaitans; but had left his first love and first works. The former retained his first love, and had more and more works, but did for the wicked, did not withstand them with becoming vehemence. Mixed cha. meters both: yet the latter not the former, is reproved for his fall, and commanded to repent. And faith, and thy service, and patience—Eve is shewn* exercised and improved, by serving God and our neighbour: so is faith by patience and good works.
V. 20. But thou sufferest that woman Jezebel—Who ought not to teach at all, (I Tim. ii, 12,) to teach and seduce my servants—At Pergamos were many followers of Balaam; at Tbyatira, one grand deceiver. Many of the ancients have delivered, that this was the wife of the pastor himself. Jezebel of old led the people of God to open idolatry. This Jezebel (fitly called by ber name, from the resemblance between their works) led them to partake in the idolatry of the heathens This she seems to have done by first enticing them to fornication, just as Balaam did: whereas at Pergamos they were first enticed to idolatry, and afterwards to fornication.
fcommit fornication, and to eat tilings sacrificed to idols.
21 And 1 gave her time to repent of her fornication; but she
22 will not repent. Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her, into great affliction,
23 unless they repent of her works. And 1 will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he who searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will
24 give you, every one, according to your works. But I say to you, the rest that are at Thyatira* as many as do not hold this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speakj 1 will lay upon you no other burden,
25 But what ye havej hold fast till I come. And he that
26 overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him
27 will I give power over the nations, (And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel,) as I also have received from my
28 Father. And I will give him the morning star. He
V. 21. And f gave her time to repent—So great is the power of Christ: hut she Will not repent—So though repentance is the gift of God, roan may refuse it: God will not compel.
V. 22. / mill cast her into a bed—into great affliction—and them that commit either carnal or spiritual adultery with her, unless they repent—She had her time before: of her works—Those to which she had enticed them, and which ahe had committed with them.
It is observable, the angel of the church at Tbyatira, was only blamed, for eujfering her. This fanlt ceased when God took vengeance on her. Therefore lie is not expressly exhorted to repent, though it is implied.
V. 23. And I will kill her children—Those which she hath borne in adultery, aiid them whom she hath seduced: with death—This expression denotes death by the plague, or by some manifest stroke of God's hand. Prohably the remarkable vengeance taken on her children, was the token of the certainty of all the rest. And all the churches—To which thou now writest, shall know, that I search the reins—The desires, and hearts—Thoughts.
V. 24. But I say to you who do not hold this doctrine—Of Jezebel: Who have no't known the depths of Satan—O happy ignorance! as they speak—They were continually boasting of the deep things which they tanght. Our Lord owns they were deep, even deep as hell; for they were the very depths of Satan. Were these the same of which Martin Luther speaks? It is well if there are not some of his countrymen, now in England, who know them too well! / will lay upon you no other burden—Than that you have already suffered from Jezebel and her adherents.
V. 25. What ye—Both the angel and the church have.
V. 26. My works—Those which I have commanded: To him will I give power over the nations—That is, I will give him to share with me in that glorious victory which the Father hath promised mc over all the nations who as jet resist me, Psalm ii. 8, 9.
V. 27. And he shall rule them—That is, shall share with me when I do this: with a rod of iron—rWith irresistable power, employed on those only, who will uot otherwise submit: who will hereby be dashedin pieces—Totally conquered.
V. 28. / will give him the morning star—Thou, O Jesus, art th* morning «tar. O give tbyself to me! Then will I desire no sun, only thee, who art the sun also. He whom this star enlightens, has always morning and no evening. The duties and promises here answer ,each other: the valiant con
VOL. II. A A
29 that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saitfr to the
CHAP. III. 1. And to the angel of the church at Sardis write, These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; 1 know thy works,
2 that thou hast a name that thou livest, but art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, which are ready to die; for I have not found thy works complete
3 before my God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If thou watch not, I will come as a thief, and thou shal-t not know
4 at what hour I will come upon thee. Yet thou hast a few names in Sardis, who have not defiled their garments z.
5 they are worthy. He that overcometh, he shall be clothed in white raiment, and they shall walk with me in white, and 1 will not blot his name out of the book of life, and 1 will confess his name, before my Father and before hi*
6 angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
7 And to the angel of the church at Philadelphia write, These things saith the Holy One, the True One, he that hath the key of David, he that openetb, and none shuttetfe,
uueror has power over the stubborn nations. And he that after having conquered his enemies, keeps the words of Christ to the end, shall have the morning star—an unspeakable brightness and peaceable dominion in him.
CHAP. III. Ver. 1. The seven spirits of God—The Holy Spirit, from whom alone all spiritual life and strength proceed: and the seven stars—Which are subordinate to him: thou hast a name that thou livest—A fair reputation, a goodly outside appearance. But that Spirit seeth through all things, and every empty appearance vanishes before him.
V. 2. The things which remain—In tby soul; knowledge of the truth, good desires, and convictions: which are ready to die—Wherever pride, indolence, or levity revives, all the fruits of the Spirit are ready to die.
V. 3. Remember how—Humbly, zealously, seriously, thou didst receive the grace of God once, and hear—His word; and hold fast—The grace thou hast received; and repent—According to the word thou hast heard.
V. 4. Yet thou hast a few names—That is, persons. But though few, they had not separated themselves from the rest: otherwise the angel of Sardis would not have had them. Yet it was no virtue of his, that they were unspotted; whereas it was his fanlt, that they were but few: who have not defiled their garments— Either by spotting themselves, or by partaking of other roen'ssins: They shall walk with me in white—In joy; in perfect holiness; in glory: they are worthy—A few good among many had, are doubly acceptable to God. O how much happier is this worthiness than that mentioned chap. xvi. 6.
V. 5. He shall be clothed in white raiment—The colour of victory, joy, and triumph: And I will not blot his name out of the booh of life—Like that of the angel of the church at Sardis: but he shall live for ever. / will confess his name—As one of my faithful servants and soldiers.
V. 7- The Holy One, the True One—Two great and glorious names. He that hath the key of David—A master of a family or a prince has one or more