Revelation 2

In the previous chapter, John was told to write down what he had seen, what is now, and what will take place later. From this, we can divide the Revelation into three corresponding sections to help us in our study of the book. Under this breakdown, Chapter 1 forms Section One of the Revelation as it records what John had seen when the Lord appeared to him among the seven lampstands. In Chapters 2 and 3, we will read John’s Letters to the Seven Churches, which forms the Second Section of the Revelation concerning what is now.

The Letter to the church in Ephesus

The first letter sent by John is addressed to the Church in Ephesus.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Rev. 2:1-3

In this letter, the Church in Ephesus is described as being hard working, persevering, and intolerant of wicked people. However, this church is also described as having forsaken their first love and is instructed to repent.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Rev. 2:4-6

When we look at the above letter, we see that the description of the Church at Ephesus could be applied to many segments of the church today. This will also be true of the letters written to the remaining Six Churches. In this way, the contents of the Letters to the Seven Churches still describe what is now and what will soon take place.

The letter to the Church in Ephesus ends with the following instruction to, whoever has ears, which is the Scriptures way of addressing anyone today who is willing to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. This same phrase will be used in each of the Seven Letters and carries with it the implication that, although almost everyone has ears, not everyone will “hear” what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev. 2:7

In this passage, those who are victorious are told that they will be given the right to eat from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God, which is a promise of life in eternity. In this, case to be victorious refers to being faithful to the point of death, as can be seen in the following passage where the same word is us to describe the Lord’s death on the cross.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Rev. 3:21

When the Lord is described as being victorious, it is a reference to His sacrifice on the cross where He defeated sin and death. Thus, the message to the one who is victorious refers to all those who will defeat Satan by remaining faithful to the point of death just as the Lord did. In the original, the word victorious (Strong’s 3528; nikao) means to conquer, overcome, prevail, or triumph. As a result, some translations use the word overcome or triumph in place of the word victorious, as exampled in the following passage where this word is again used to describe those who will be faithful to the point of death.

They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Rev. 12:11

The above passage points out an important principle found in the Book of the Revelation concerning life and death; namely, that life and death in this world can not be compared to life or death in eternity. Under this principle, to loose your life in this world is considered to be a great victory, while to gain your life in this world, only to loose it in eternity is considered a great loss. Accordingly, when we read of life and death in the Revelation, it is most often referring to eternal life or death.

The Letter to the Church in Smyrna

“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. Rev. 2:8-10

The letter to the Church in Smyrna contains a description of the events and circumstances facing the local church, and includes a warning that some of them would soon experience persecution. As with the Church in Ephesus, the instructions found in this letter could also be applied to any church suffering similar circumstances today. In this way John’s letter to the Church in Smyrna has a dual application to the church of the First-Century and the church of our own time.

In addition to the above similarities, the letter to the Church in Smyrna also ends with a special promise to the martyrs, which is, again, addressed to those who have ears to hear.   

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 will not be hurt at all by the second death. Rev. 2:10-11


As mentioned above, the application of the word victorious refers to those who are faithful even to the point of death and who will receive the victor’s crown. The Second Death refers to those who will be cast into Hell.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
Rev. 20.19

Those who are obedient to the point of death will gain the ultimate victory over sin, the flesh, and the devil and will not be hurt at all by the Second Death.

The Letter to the Church in Pergamum

To the Church in Pergamum “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
Rev. 2:12-13

The letter to the Church in Pergamum begins with praise for their faithfulness despite living where Satan lives and has his throne. From this we learn of the territorial nature of the demonic beings who rule over regions and nations. This is further demonstrated in the following passage where we read of the chief prince who ruled over Meshek and Tubal.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. Ezek. 38:2

As mentioned in Chapter 1, the church at Pergamum, along with the other Six Churches, were all located in what is now modern-day Turkey. Likewise, Meshek and Tubal, which are mentioned in the above passage, were also located in the same region. Thus, in this passage, the chief prince known as Gog is described as ruling over the same area where Satan lives and has his throne. This would make Gog a description of Satan himself, or an agent of Satan. In addition, we discover in Daniel that Michael the archangel is also referred to as a chief prince.

But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Dan. 10:13

From this verse, we learn that angels are described as princes, and that within their hierarchy, the most powerful angels are referred to as chief princes. When added to our above conclusion, this would mean that Satan was one of the chief princes or angels of God before his fall. We will read more about the chief prince known as Gog in future chapters of the Revelation.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Rev. 2:14-16

In the above rebuke, we find that the church in Pergamum had among them false teachers who promoted sexual immorality. This is another example where the contents of the Letters to the Seven Churches address an issue that is still affecting the church today and, therefore, continues to fit the description of what is now. As in the earlier letters, the letter to the church in Pergamum ends with a special promise for the one who is victorious, which, again, refers to those who will maintain their testimony to the point of death.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17

As we mentioned in the previous letter, the phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear”, is used in each of the Letters to the Seven Churches and is always followed by instructions concerning those who will suffer for their faith. The only other use of this phrase in the Revelation can be found in the following verses where the context continues to be the martyrdom of God’s people.

Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. Rev. 13:9-10

When we find this phrase being used repeatedly in the context of the martyrs, the implication is that not everyone will have the “ears to hear” what the Lord is saying concerning the future martyrdom of the church. This is most certainly the case in the Western Church, where the Book of the Revelation is mostly ignored or interpreted in a way that negates the above reality.

The Letter to the Church in Thyatira

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ Rev. 2:18-25

From these instructions, we learn that Church in Thyatira faced similar circumstances concerning sexual immorality as the Church in Pergamum . As with that church, the believers in Thyatira are told to repent of any association with those whose doctrines lead to sexual immorality and who will be struck by the Lord Himself if they don’t repent.

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 2:26-28

In these passages, the martyrs are told that they will rule over the nations with an iron scepter. As we will see in later chapters, this is a reference to a future event known as the Reign of Christ on Earth, which is also referred to as a time when the Lord will rule over the nations with a rod of iron. We will read more about the Reign of Christ on Earth in future chapters, but for now, the only items included in our Order of Events of the Last Days remain the Return of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead.

Order of Events of the Last Days:
1. The Return of Christ

2. The Resurrection of the Dead

Revelation Chapter 1
Revelation Chapter 3


Questions or comments may be sent to: RevelationStudyGuide@gmail.com
Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: the Order of Events of the Last Days. Available on Amazon.