Revelation 2

What is Now

Following the First Section of the Revelation, which contained John’s testimony regarding what he had seen when the Lord appeared to him, the next two chapters describe the letters that John was told to write to the seven churches. The Letters to the Seven Churches form the Second Section of the Revelation concerning what is now and relate to the events of John’s own lifetime.

Included in the Letters to the Seven Churches is an invitation to whoever has ears to hear, which refers to anyone today who has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Accordingly, the Letters to the Seven Churches are still intended to be read today and continue to apply to what is now. This is made evident in the contents of the Letters themselves, which describe the circumstances faced by the early churches and that are still present today. These include hardships, afflictions, poverty, slander, persecution, imprisonment, martyrdom, and deception by false teachers and false apostles.

Along with the above conditions, the churches themselves are depicted as being hard working, persevering, and full of faith, or as having lost their first love, lukewarm, and dead. Although all the above was written for the early churches, these are the same events and circumstances that have occurred throughout church history and that continue to exist today. Accordingly, the Letters to the Seven Churches still describe what is now and serve as the Lord’s message to the churches today.

Those Who Are Victorious

In addition to instructing the churches concerning what is now, each of the Letters to the Seven Churches contain a special promises to those who are victorious, which refers to those who maintain their testimony to the point of death. The use of the word victorious to describe those who are killed for their faith corresponds with the eternal perspective from which the Revelation is written, which considers gaining eternal life a victory regardless of the cost on earth. For example, in the letter to the church in Smyrna we read the following.  

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious[1] will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Rev. 2:8-11

In this letter, the local church is warned and instructed concerning the persecution that was about to come upon them, and those who remain faithful to the point of death are told they will be given life as their victors crown. In this example, and throughout the Revelation, to be given life refers to the Eternal Life that the victorious ones will receive, as opposed the Second Death and the Lake of Fire where the unrighteous will be cast on the Day of Judgment.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
Rev. 20:14

As mentioned earlier, although this letter was written to the church in Smyrna, it can also be taken to heart by anyone today who has ears to hear.

Footnotes:
[1] The original word that is translated as victorious in this verse is also translated as those who conquer or overcome in other Bible translations.

Revelation Chapter 1
Revelation Chapter 3

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