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church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith,
and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first : 20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a
belonged to Thyatira. The modern name of it is Akhissar. Smith and Dwight, the American missionaries at Armenia, state that its aspect is poor and mean, that it has of late been built up of wood, and that it probably has not more than five thousand inhabitants, of whom fifteen hundred may be Greeks. Mr. Elliott, in his Travels, gives a more favorable account, and represents the inhabitants to be nearly double the number given above. Perhaps, says McCulloch, the truth may lie between these conflicting statements. T Son of God. — This is the only instance of this phrase in the Apocalypse. We find the expression in all the New Testament; but no writer employs it so often as John ; see Gos. i. 34; iii. 18; v. 25; ix. 35; x. 36; xi. 4; xix. 7; xx. 31; 1 Epis. iii. 8; iv. 15; v. 5, 10, 13, 20. By the use of this phrase in the case before us, we are distinctly told that the glorious personage mentioned in chapter i. as being “like the Son of man,” was the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare i. 14, 15, with ii. 18. This will verify the fact completely. In both cases his eyes are said to be as flames of fire, and his feet as fine brass. 19. I know thy norks. – It will be seen that norks are twice referred to in this verse. We think the sense of the verse is this: “I know thy works in general, - thy charity, thine administering to others, thy faith, thy patience,—these are thy works. * And the last more than the first.— Two seasons are here referred to, viz., the season before, and the season during, tribulation. In the last, the church at Thyatira appeared to more advantage than in the first. This
was an excellent commendation, and was the reverse of what was said to the church at Ephesus, verses 4, 5. Still the church at Thyatira was not perfect. Their last state, on the whole, was better than the first, but it was not wholly without fault. 20. That woman Jezebel. — The Jezebel, by way of distinction, was the wife of Ahab, mentioned in the 1st and 2d books of Kings. She led her husband into idolatry, slew the prophets of the true God, entertained the prophets of Baal, in great numbers, at her own table, and at last came to a miserable death. She was a woman of great impurities. The name Jezebel occurs only once in the Apocalypse. It is not probable there was a person at Thyatira by that name; but it is used metaphorically, either for some corrupt woman who had so great an influence in the church that she could not be expelled, or for a body of false teachers. As the Jezebel mentioned by the revelator is said to have claimed to be “a prophetess,” she was probably some influential female, called by that name, because her character and influence were like those of Jezebel of olden time, exceedingly bad. She seduced God's servants to commit fornication, which may be understood literally or metaphorically, for unfaithfulness to God, and impurity in the matter of faith. T Eat things sacrificed unto idols. – Among other vices she seduced God's servants to eat things sacrificed unto idols. This has been before mentioned as one of the errors of Balaam; see ver, 14. When the early Christians became convinced that it was the purpose of God to receive the Gentiles into the
prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great
tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and
church, the first among the duties impressed upon them seems to have been, that they should “abstain from meats offered to idols;” Acts xv. 20, 29. This prohibition was not given, probably, because the church sup
osed the food was in itself rendered injurious, but because the reception and constant use of it would lessen the horror of idolatry, which all the holy men of old had sedulously sought to preserve in God's people. The hope of redeeming the world from idolatry was vested in them. Every barrier, therefore, to the ingress of that species of false religion was kept up. The influence of the Gentiles, at their admission into the church, was feared on these accounts. They were required, therefore, as a matter of great importance, that they should not eat the food that had been connected with idolatrous sacrifices; see Acts xxi. 25. Paul did not regard the eating of this food as vicious in itself, but the influence of it was decidedly bad; see the whole eighth chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians; see also same Epis. X., 19, 28. The influence of Jezebel, then, was decidedly heathenish. The fornication mentioned was perhaps that which was metaphorically so called; for when the Jews worshipped the idols of the heathen, they were said to go a whoring after other gods; Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16; Lev. xx. 5, 6; Deut. xxxi. 16; Psa. lxxiii. 27; Ezek. vi. 9. We are inclined to think this is the sense in which fornication is to be understood in the case before us,
being coupled as it is with eating “things sacrificed unto idols.” 21. She repented not. — She was forborne with, but she reformed not her life; and she deserved, therefore, severe punishment. 22. Will cast her into a bed. — A bed of affliction is intended, as the parallellism shows, to wit, “ into great tribulation.” The style of the metaphor is kept up. Fornication was used metaphorically for heathenish practices, and casting into a bed is put for being thrown into great tribulation. Nothing would save her from this but a thorough reformation of life. 23. And I noill kill her children writh death. — Children seems here put for followers. To kill with death is a Hebraism, signifying utter, thorough death. Her name shall rot; her fol. lowers shall die; and her punishment shall be so signal and remarkable that “all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Such was to be her fate. T According to her n'orks. – This is the principle on which divine retribution is inflicted, as we shall take occasion to show in another place, if our limits will allow ; see, for our present purpose, Psa. lxii. 12; Jer. 1.29; Hos. xii. 2; Matt, xvi. 27; Rom. ii. 6; 2 Cor. xi. 15; Rev. xx. 12. Thus we see that the principle referred to is recognized both in the Old Testament and the New. 24. This doctrine. —Wiz., the doc
unto the rest in Thyatira, As
many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden: 25 But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 (And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers :) even as I
trine of Jezebel, which she had taught. They had suffered her to teach her errors, ver. 20, by which she had seduced God's servants to spiritual fornication, and led them to eat things sacrificed to idols. Upon those in Thyatira who had not this doctrine, God would put no other burden than that which he had already enjoined upon them, viz., that of rooting the influence of Jezebel out of the church. * Depths of Satan, as they speak. — They, of course, did not acknowledge them to be depths of Satan; but they called them depths, i. e., profound matters. The Greek word for depths is not of very frequent occurrence in the New Testament. It may be found, Matt. xiii. 5; Mark iv. 5; Luke v. 4; Rom. viii. 39; xi. 33. In 1 Cor. ii. 10, it is put for “the deep things of God.” See also 2 Cor. viii. 2; Eph. iii. 18. The heathen boasted much of their deep mysteries, which were connected with their idolatrous practices, and to this boasting it seems probable the revelator refers. 25. But that nihich ye have already. — Viz., those things which had been commended in them, - their works, their charity, their service, faith and patience; ver, 19. They were directed to hold these fast until the coming of the Son of man. I Till I come. — This is the language Christ employed to denote his coming at the destruction of Jerusalem; John xxi. 22, 23. “The time was not far distant when they might expect this.” —(Prof. Stuart.) See also the long and valuable note of Dr. Hammond on this place, who defines the end, (ver. 26) and the coming, (ver. 25,)
as referring to the coming of Christ for the destruction of the Jews, and the judging of the nations according to their works. 26. He that overcometh, to him mill I give poner over the nations.—You shall go out and propagate the gospel, and reign spiritually in the hearts of men. 27. Rod of iron. — The power of the gospel shall break them in pieces, like a potter's vessel. This is evidently a quotation from the 2d Psalm, where it is said of Jesus that he shall break the nations with a rod of iron, (or iron sceptre,) and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel; and hence it is said in Revelation, “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.” I Even as I received of my Father. —Is not this a direct reference to the authority given him in that Psalm ? Wherein does Jesus rule the nations and dash them in pieces? Not as an earthly monarch, but as a spiritual ruler. How are the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ Ž In what sense is Jesus to reign forever and ever? Not as an outward prince. He reigned when in his flesh, in all his humility; he reigned even on the cross; yes, when dying, he reigned with greater power than at any other time. His followers shall reign with him; the saints shall judge the world, and overturn the ancient order of things, until Jesus shall be everywhere acknowledged. 28. The morning-star. — To get the sense here, observe that the Son of God was encouraging the faithful
received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning-star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
ND unto the angel of the church in Sardis write ; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and
Christians at Thyatira with the promise that they should share the glories and honors belonging to himself. He shared the glories and honors of the Father, and they should share the glories and honors of the Son. Jesus said, when on earth, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was ;” John xvii. 5. This primitive glory might be called the glory of the morning-stars, because it was when the foundations of the earth were laid, that “the morning-stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy;” Job xxxviii. 6, 7. The same f glory was to be shared by Christ's faithful followers. “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world;” John xvii. 24. “And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one;” Idem. 22. Hence Jesus promised to his followers, that they should reign with him in his kingdom, and like him sway the nations with an iron sceptre. Their glory should be like his glory. Daniel, whose style the revelator closely imitates, had said, “They that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever;” xii. 3. In chap. i. 16, it had been said of the Son of man, “his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” The Christians were called “the light of the world;” Matt. v. 14. Jesus, being prečminently the light of the church, called himself “the bright and morning-star;” Rev.
xxii. 16. But even this glory he was willing to share with his followers. “I will give him that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end,” i.e., unto the time when I come, “the morning-star.” “He shall share my full glory, the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I will clothe him with radiance like that of the morning-star.” 29. He that hath an ear. — See the notes on verses 7, 11, 17.
CHAPTER III. EPISTLE TO The CHURCH in SARDIS.
1. Angel. — The angel of the church was its minister, or presiding officer. See the notes on ii. 1, 8, 12, 18. Paul was an angel of God; Gal. iv. 14. *I Sardis. – In the Scriptures we find Sardis mentioned only by the revelator; i. 11; iii. 1, 4. It was an ancient city of Lydia, the capital of the monarch of the country. It was situated at the foot of Mt. Trmolus, on the river Pactolus, which run through the place. It was a city of great wealth, Croesus the rich being one of the Lydian kings; and the influences which were exerted here were almost altogether unfavorable to the prosperity of Christianity. A miserable village called Sart is now found on the site of this once famous city. The seat of royalty, of wealth, of human greatness, we ought not to be surprised to learn that the gospel declined more rapidly here than in either of the seven churches. ‘I Seven spirits of God. — We have largely considered this form of expression under ch. i. 4, to which we refer. It is not designed to represent God as septiform; but the figure is drawn from the customs of ancient mon
the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that
are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard,
archs, who kept seven confidential ministers or agents continually near their persons. T Seven stars. — The Son of God held the seven stars in his right hand. See the notes on i. 16. This description is intended to show that it is the same glorious personage who addresses this church that had addressed John, as described in chap. i. He is scarcely described to either two of the churches under the same similitude; but yet the description is such to every one, that it is evident the same personage was intended in all the cases. "I I know thy norks. – I know what thou hast done, and what thou art doing; I know fully thy character. T Livest and art dead. — Thou hast the credit of having life, but thou art dead. This was a deeper abasement than was ascribed to either of the other of the seven churches. This church maintained the form of religion, and professed to adhere to Christ, but its spiritual life was nearly extinct. Life and death are used by the sacred writers metaphorically. There is no figure more common in the Scriptures. We meet with it in the account of the transgression of our first parents, and it is continued, with more or less frequency, through the entire Bible. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth;” 1 Tim. v. 6. See, also, John xi. 25, 26; 1 John iii. 14; Jude 12. The fact here stated is so generally known, that we need not make further references. The church in Sardis had a name to live, i.e., it professed to have spiritual life, and perhaps was regarded by the world as possessing it; but in the sight of Him who “knew what was in man,” there was little or no life in that church. It was dead. The church at Ephesus was
charged by the revelator as having
lost its first love. To this Paul seems to refer, when he says to the same church, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead;” Eph. vi. 14. This is the same figure; but the church at Ephesus was not so thoroughly paralyzed as that at Sardis. 2. Strengthen the things which remain. — As though he had said, “Your case is not utterly desperate. You may yet recover from your fallen state. Be watchful, -strengthen the things that remain, and those that are ready to die. I have not found thy works what they ought to have been in the sight of God; but thou mayest with diligence recover thy former estate.” 3. How thou hast received and heard. — That is, remember the manner in which thou hast received and heard the gospel; remember what advantages thou hast enjoyed; the effect which the preaching of the gospel had upon thee, when first thou didst hear it. T Hold fast. — Hold fast that which remains. Let thy Christian character no further die. Hold fast to the profession of thy faith, and let thy works honor the name of Christ. "I Repent. — Repentance is put here for a change of habits, a reformation of life. Too many suppose that repentance is an act to be performed once for all, in a man's life, – a change of views and feelings. But we are persuaded it signifies here a reformation of life, – a turning away from what had been condemned in the church in Sardis, and a change to newness of life. * As a thief. — But if thou wilt not watch, I will come in judgment upon thee; thou shalt be recompensed according to thy works. The comparison, to come “as a thief,” was one which our Lord and his apostles fre