To the church in Ephesus
“The words uttered where not alone for John on the Isle of Patmos, they were not for the churches alone, but through these churches was to come the inspired message for the people, to have its powerful impression in every age to the close of this earth´s history.”
Ephesus: There is general agreement that the period thus represented spans the apostolic age, and may, accordingly, be dated approximately from A.D. 31 to A.D. 100.
Rev 2:1. To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”
It is Christ who holds the seven stars or angels in his right hand. It is Christ who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands representing the seven churches in Asia Minor, and the church through the ages of history from the first century to the Second Coming of Christ. Christ´s presence is with his people always. Matt 28:20. Lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. Amen.
“Christ walks in the midst of his churches through the length and breadth of the earth. He looks with intense interest to see whether his people are in such a condition spiritually that they can advance his kingdom. He is present in every assembly of the church. He knows hearts he can fil with the holy oil, that they may impart it to others. Those who faithfully carry forward the work of Christ, representing in word and deed the character of God, fulfil the Lord´s purpose for them, and Christ takes pleasure in them.
Rev 2:2. I know your works and your labor and your endurance, and you are not able to bear evil people. And you tested the ones saying that they are apostles, and they are not, and found them liars.
Who are the apostles that are liars in the New Testament?
John 8:44. (The Devil). He is a liar and the father of it.
John 8:55. Yet you have not known him, but I know him. And if you say, “I do not know him,” (God the Father). I shall be a liar like you. (Jesus speaking to the Jews in verse 48).
1 John 1:10. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 2:4. He who says, “I know him,” and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:22. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:20. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.
1 John 5:10. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of his Son.
The Devil is a liar. If you say you know God but do not know him, you are a liar. If we say we have not sinned, we are a liar. If we do not keep the commandments of God, we are a liar. If we deny Christ, we are a liar. If we hate our brother, we are a liar. If we do not believe in God, we are a liar.
Rev 2:3.4. You have endured and you have borne patiently on account of my name and did not become weary. But I have against you, that you have left your first love.
What is the first love which is άγαπη in the Greek?
Jude 21. Keep yourself in the love of God.
2 John 6. This is love, that we walk after his commandments.
1 John 2:5. But whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.
1 John 2:15. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed n us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know him.
1 John 3:16. By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:17. But whoever has this world´s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1 John 4:7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who is born of God, knows God.
1 John 4:8. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:9. In this the love of God is manifested towards us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
1 John 4:16. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.
1 John 4:17. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.
1 John 4:18. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 5:3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
Love is related to the love of God, walking in his commandments, do not fear, boldness in the day of judgment, abides in God. It is related to God has sent his only Son into the world, knowing God, born of God, helping one in need, laying our lives down for the brethren, God´s children, not loving the world and keeping God´s word.
Rev 2:5. Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent and do the first works, but if not, I am coming to you swiftly and I will remove your lampstand out of its place, if you do not repent.
Works are related to love, which the Ephesian church ceased to practice. They ceased to practice the same works as Christ did when he was on earth. These included the preaching of the Gospel, visiting people from door to door like the disciples did two and two. It is the healing, helping people to understand the Gospel. These things the Ephesian church ceased to do.
“I will remove your lampstand out of its place.”
A lampstand is a symbol of the local church Rev 1:2. Therefore, Christ will remove the church as a means of saving people to God´s kingdom. They do not exist as a church in God´s eyes. Even if they assemble each week in the weekly gathering according to tradition, to sing hymns, hear sermons and pray to God. This church does not exist in God´s eyes unless they repent of their deeds and witness to other people as Christ did.
Rev 2:6. But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Who are the Nicolaitans?
The Bible does not reveal very much about this group of people. Ellen G. White writes about these people: “The doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by believing we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned.”
This doctrine of the Nicolaitans is in agreement with the rest of the context in Rev 2:1-7.
Rev 2:2. Those who are evil. Those who say they are apostles and are not. They are liars. They do not know God or keep his commandments.
Rev 2:4. They have left their first love. This includes the love for God, Christ, the ten commandments and the word from the scriptures. It involves laying down our lives for the brethren and not following the world.
Rev 2:7. The one having an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one overcoming I will give him to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God.
Facts about the tree of life.
Gen 2:9. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 3:22-24. Then the Lord God said, “Behold the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever – – -.” Therefore, the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
“When the tide of iniquity overspread the world, and the wickedness of men determined their destruction by a flood of waters, the hand that had planted Eden withdrew it from the earth. But in the final restitution, when there shall be a new heaven and new earth, it is to be restored more gloriously adorned than at the beginning.”
Rev 2:8. And to the angel of in the Smyrna church write, “These things says the First and the Last, who became dead and lived.
The “First and the Last – who became dead and lived” refers to Christ. He died on the cross on Calvary and was resurrected on the third day. Matt 27:45-50. 28:1-6.
Rev 2:9. I know your works and the tribulation and the poverty, but you are rich, and the blasphemy of the ones saying Jews to themselves and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
What does the term mean, “Jews to themselves?”
Romans 2:28.29. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; a circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
This text is referring to a Christian Jew whose life has been transferred by the love of Jesus Christ our Savior.
The Jewish nation shall be not saved as a whole nation as promised to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:1-8. Why? Because in the parable of the wicked vinedressers in Matt 21:33-41, Christ taught that when the wicked vinedressers representing the Jewish leaders, will stone the landowner´s son representing Christ; he the landowner will destroy these wicked men? The landowner represents God. He will destroy these wicked men representing the Jewish leaders of the Jewish nation as a whole, because they rejected his Son. In matt 21:41 it says he will lease his vineyard out to other vinedressers who will render him the fruits in their seasons. The other vinedressers represent all persons individually, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, who give their lives to Christ.
So these Christians in Smyrna who say they are Christians but are not. Why? Because they are a synagogue of Satan.
What does the term Synagogue of Satan mean from the Bible?
First we need to find out what synagogues were used for.
Matt 4:23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
Mark 1:39. And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.
Luke 4:16.17. So he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he opened the book, he found the place where it was written:
Acts 18:4. He (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
If a synagogue was for the teaching of God´s word from the Bible, then a synagogue of Satan was used for the opposite teachings. Which kind of teachings?
Matt 4:3. Satan´s temptations. He demands worship.
Matt 4:6. Satan misinterprets the scriptures.
Matt 4:8.9. Satan gives material wealth to anyone who worships him.
1 Thess 2:18. Satan hinders Paul in witnessing to the Thessalonians believers.
2 Thess 2:9. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs and lying wonders.
Rev 12:9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the world.
Rev 12:17. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
A synagogue of Satan is related to the following: Satan demands worship; he misinterprets scripture; he gives material wealth; he hinders people in witnessing; he is the lawless one who does not obey God´s law. With signs and lying wonders Satan deceives the whole world and makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Rev 2:10. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Behold, indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you maybe tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.
What does “tribulation for ten days” mean?
Should it be taken as symbolic or literally?
Much of the language used in the book of Revelation is both symbolic and literal. The word ten which is δέκα in the Greek is only used in relation to the dragon nor the beast with ten horns. However, the rest of the Bible uses this word as a literal figure or in a roundabout figure and not symbolically. e.g.
Ecclesiastes 7:19. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city.
Isaiah 5:10. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath.
Amos 6:9. Then it shall come to pass, that if ten men remain in one house, they shall die.
Matthew 25:1. Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
So the tribulation for ten days can be both a roundabout figure or it can be taken literally as in the history of the church during the time of Smyrna. E.g. From A.D. 303-313 when under severe persecution the emperors Diocletion and his successor Galerius tried to wipe out Christianity from their empire.
Rev 2:11. The one having an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
What is the second death?
There are two kinds of death in the Bible with the exception of the resurrection of those who pierced Christ in Rev 1:7. These men will experience three deaths.
The first death
Ecclesiastes 9:5.6. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they share in anything done under the sun.
John 11:11-13. Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up – – -. However, Jesus spoke of his death. Verse 14. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (This is the first death on earth).
John 11:23.24. Jesus said to her (Martha), “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
When is this resurrection?
John 5:28.29. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come fourth–those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18. (This first resurrection occurs at the Second Coming of Christ). For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
The second death and the second resurrection
What happens after the second resurrection with those who have done evil?
Rev 20:5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
Rev 20:7.8. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison (on earth) and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.
Rev 20:9. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Jerusalem). And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. (This is the second death reserved for all those who have done evil and do not believe in God and his ten commandments. There is no burning hell. God does not delight in suffering. The fire from God is over and done within a short period of time)
 Ellen G. White, Ellen G. White Diary 1888, 779.3 (Washington D.C.: December 27, 1890).
 Francis D. Nichol, Edit., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Washington D.C.: Review & Herald Pub., Assoc., 1957), 752.
 Ellen G. White, Review & Herald, May 26, 1903.
 Ellen G. White, The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1912.
 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Assoc., 1958), 62.