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church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen,
the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
land town, it grew more potent than the cities on the coast, and became one of the largest towns in Phrygia, as its present ruins prove. It was terribly ravaged in the wars between the Turks and Romans, and afterwards by the Tartars. It was a place of consequence at the time of the writing of the Apocalypse. The Christians there were represented as being infected with pride, and also as having lost the love that they ought to bear to Christ. It is probable that the prosperity of their city, and the increase of its wealth, had lifted them up. The site is now utterly desolate. Not a trace of a house, church or mosque. T Angel of the church. — See the notes on ii. 1, 8, 12, 18; iii. 1, 7. T The Amen. — The word amen imports truth and certainty. Hence, the phrase, “verily, verily, I say unto you,” which we meet with so frequently in the gospels, (where the Greek for verily is Amen,) signifies, truly, - a solemn affirmation of the truth of the declaration. As a substantive, the word occurs with the article but once, “the Amen,” viz., in the verse before us. We suspect that in some Greek copies it is also preserved in Rev. i. 18, as Schmidt, in his Greek Concordance, gives the article as being found in that place. The amen signifies, the true, the certain. See Spear's Titles of Christ, under that word. T The faithful and true. — This is the exact sense of the amen, and follows in apposition. The amen, i. e., the faithful and true. * Witness. – Jesus was prečminently a witness, and so he often described himself. The evangelist John called the Baptist a witness; John i. 8, 15, 32, 34. Jesus is described himself as a witness; John iii. 11, 44; iv. 44; v. 31, 32, 33, 36, 37; vii. 7; viii. 13, 14, 18; x. 25; xiii. 21; xv. 26, 27; xviii. 23, 37. This is abundantly sufficient to show the style of John. He speaks of Christ very fre
quently as a witness, and his preaching is represented as the bearing of testimony, or bearing record. This is to be reckoned among the instances which show a similarity between the style of the Apocalypse and that of the undisputed writings of John. TI Beginning of the creation of God. — We have already learned that Jesus was the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end;” i. 8. He is now called “the beginning of the creation of God.” Does this mean that Jesus was the beginning in the order of time 2 or the head, or chief, of all God's works in point of honor and degree ? The phrase “beginning of the creation,” is used adverbially for the time of the commencement of the works of creation. “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female ;” Mark x. 6; xiii. 19. The apostle John seems to have had the idea that Jesus existed before all created things, and was the agent of the Father in the creation, and acted for him; and hence was the chief, or prince of the creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made;” John i. 1–3. Here is a manifest reference to the beginning of the creation; for it was of the creation that John was speaking, Jesus was the chief, or the head of this creation. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made ;” 3. Look now at the first Epistle of John. Here we have the same train of thought; and, as in the gospel, it breaks out at the very opening. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life.”
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 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 preeminently 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. * 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. Trnolus, 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. T 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 mon1 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. to i. He is scarcely described to either
two of the churches under the same o 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 so 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 freovercometh, shall not be hurt of the second death.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is : and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain
xxxi. 9: “The Lord's fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.” They suffered the second death, then, – an utter, total death, – at the time of the entire overthrow and extinction of their nation. “He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death;” i. e., he that is faithful through all tribulations, shall not be involved in the general calamity which is about to fall on the Jews, and on all the enemies of Christ. Let the reader examine the following passages, and he will see that the terms “fire and brimstone” are terms frequently employed by the sacred writers to describe the judgments of God in the present life; Gen. xix. 24; Deut. xxix. 23; Job xviii. 15; Psa. xi. 6; Isa. xxx. 33; xxxiv. 9, 10; Ezek. xxxviii. 22; Luke xvii. 29. For further remarks on the second death, see our comments on Rev. xx. 6, 14; and xxi. 8.
EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH IN PERG AMOS.
12. Angel. — See the notes on ii. 1 and 8. T Pergamos. – This place is mentioned but twice in the Scriptures; Rev. i. 11; ii. 12. It was a celebrated city of antiquity, the most important place in Mysia, and the most northerly of the places that contained the seven apocalyptical churches. It probably existed eight or ten centuries before Christ. It was famed for its library, which yielded only to that of Alexandria in extent and value, and it is said to have contained upwards of two hundred thousand volumes. It was the birth-place of the celebrated Galen, and in its vicinity there was a famous temple of AEsculapius. The modern town
retains the name of Bergamo, Bergamah, or Bergma. T He which hath the snoord nith two edges. – This is a reference to the Son of man; see i. 16; and to the notes on that text we refer the reader. 13. I know thy norks. – This was said to the whole seven of the churches. I Where thou drcellest. — The place is specially referred to, as if for some reason it was worthy of particular observation. The pecu. liarity is brought out in the next words. I Where Satan's seat is. – That is, his location, his place of influence and power. There had been a great opposition to Christianity there. It was a place of great heathen strength. The immense library was there, which perhaps brought together the heathen and Jewish scholars from all parts of Asia, Greece, and the more western parts of the world. This would tend to give character and strength to the opposition to Christianity. The word Satan has much the same general use in the Scriptures as diabolos, or devil. In the case before us it is used for the adversaries collectively at Pergamos. Peter was the Satan when he opposed his master; Matt. xvi. 23; Mark viii. 33. In one case Satan seems to signify a disease; Luke xiii. 16. But when Paul says, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” Rom. xvi. 20, he refers undoubtedly to the human adversaries of Christianity. The word seems also to bear the same sense in 1 Thess. ii. 18: “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” We do not suppose Paul meant among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to
eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and
that some invisible, intangible, malicious agent had power enough over him to succeed for a length of time in hindering him against his will from doing his duty. We shall define Satan's seat then to be the place of a powerful and wicked opposition to Christianity. And yet the church as a body stood fast. Hast not denied my faith. — They did not abandon the name of Christ, and they held fast his faith, even in those terrible days when Antipas was slain. Dr. Hammond tells us that Antipas was cotemporary with the apostles; that he was bishop of the church of Pergamos, and that in his very old age he fed and ruled the flock in all godliness. He was a faithful martyr, and was slain where Satan dwelt. It is certain from the text that he was a Christian, that he was faithful even unto death, and that he was slain at Pergamos as a witness of Jesus. The character bestowed upon this church was, in general, very honorable to them. 14. But I have a fen, things against thee.—Notwithstanding the praise which had been bestowed upon them, there were some things among them that were wrong. They had not divorced themselves from those who held the error of Balaam. And what was that ? Balaam taught Balak, king of the Moabites, “to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel.” See Numb. xxxi. 16: “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord, in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.” Balaam was not in all
things faithful. He led the children of Israel somewhat into idolatry and uncleanness. There were men like him in the church at Pergamos, who were willing to compromise with their heathen neighbors, for the gratification of their lusts. Persons of this description are mentioned by Peter, 2 Epis. ii. 10–15, and Jude 4. 15. Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. – This church differed from the church at Ephesus. The latter hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, but the church at Pergamos had those among them who held the doctrines of that sect. Who these were, and what were their faults, will be seen by the notes on ver. 6. 16. Repent. —This is a word of wide import. It signifies not only to change the mind, not only to have Sorrow for past misdeeds or neglects, but to reform the life. Thus the church at Ephesus was called on to “repent, and do the first works,” ver. 5; i. e., reform their lives, and get back again to duty and faithfulness. * Come unto thee quickly. — See what is said on this topic in the notes on i. 1, 3. It is remarkable how particular the Son of man was to show that his coming in judgment was not distant. See, also, Matt.xvi. 27, 28; Mark viii. 38; ix. 1; Luke ix. 26, 27. ‘I Snoord of my mouth. — This is a reference to what is said i. 16; “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” This two-edged sword was the word of God. The word of God is repeatedly represented by a sword. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” said Paul, Eph. vi. 17. The author of the epistle to