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Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation Study 3

Revelation 2.1-11 ‘Churches I Know’ Pt 1


This week’s study looks at the first two of the seven churches that are found in ch 2 & 3, Ephesus and Smyrna. The Lord is reviewing the churches and is giving a report on their state and spiritual progress. There are good and bad comments on each of them in these two chapters.



The capital of the Roman province of Asia [modern west Turkey], commercial centre with the Temple of Diana, it was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city is mentioned in Acts, 1 Cor, Ephesians, 1&2 Tim and of course Revelation.


The review opens with an identification of the Reviewer, as the ‘One who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands’. From the previous chapter this is clearly Jesus. This is a challenging opening in that he states that ‘He knows them’ a warning and a comfort, and it also shows an understanding of them.


  • They had deeds or actions that were done for the Lord
  • They were hard working and persevering people
  • They did not tolerate or accept wicked men, or people
  • They tested the ‘new’ apostles [or apostate ones] and found them to be false, they were testing their teaching against the then known words of God
  • They persevered and endured hardship, opposition for the Lord
  • They did not grow weary, an enduring faith
  • They stood firm against the Nicolaitans. [They were believed to be a sect or party of evil influence, in early Christianity, especially in the 7 churches of Asia. Their doctrine was similar to that of Balaam, "who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication" (Revelation 2:14, 15). Their practices were strongly condemned by John, who praised the church in Ephesus for "hating their works" (Revelation 2:6), and blamed the church in Pergamum for accepting in some measure their teaching (Revelation 2:15). Except that reference is probably also linked to their influence in the church at Thyatira also, where their leader was "the woman Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess" (Revelation 2:20; compare Revelation 2:14), no further direct information regarding them is given in Scripture.] Note also the strength of the condemnation of this sect, they were hated by the Ephesian church but also hated by the Lord!


But after such an accolade of encouragement there comes the concerns, or the


  • They had lost their first love, its initial vitality. An initial vitality but without deep knowledge, but has it become a deeper knowledge without the vitality.
  • They had fallen away in complacency
  • They were not carrying out their worship and service as they did at first, probably due to the external influences and compromise they were accepting. Service is no substitute for love for Christ.
  • They needed to repent, this shows the seriousness of their falling away.


  • They will lose their lampstand, their witness in the city or area. The closure of the church as it was not properly functioning.


  • If you have ears that pay attention to the words of encouragement and condemnation, and put the wrongs right, they will be blessed
  • If they change their attitude, they will be victorious in the Lord’s name and work
  • They will be in Paradise, Heaven, and have the right or authority to eat from the tree of life. This was the tree that Adam and Eve were stopped from eating and the cause of their exclusion from the Garden of Eden, as having sinned they were not entitled to eat from this tree. Read Genesis 3. Here it shows a complete redemption and forgiveness from Christ, a pureness of life and a holiness that was eternal.



Smyrna [modern day Izmir] was a prosperous city on the Asia coast about 40 miles north of Ephesus, it was mentioned in Acts, 2 Tim and Revelation. Paul did not visit it while he was at Ephesus, so it probably grew from the witness in Ephesus, but was seen as a persecuted church, this came from both Gentiles and Jews.


The Reviewer is introduced in a different way to that of the previous church, here it is the ‘First and the Last,’ ‘who Died and came to Life again.’ This repeats some of the words from the previous chapter, when John had the authority of Christ explained to him, so he would have no doubt about the truth of the visions he would have. Again there is the establishing of the fact the, ‘He knows them.’ What did He know in their case?


  • They were persecuted by the Jewish and Gentile populations.
  • They felt they were poor, downtrodden in the city; perhaps there was economic persecution by the Jews and Gentiles, opposed to their living faith.
  • They were not spiritually poor; it was a contrast to their economic state, as they were seen as rich in the Lord.
  • The people, who claim to be Jews and should know the truth, were unjustly slandering them!


  • Christ identified the slanderers as false Jews. He knew all about them!
  • They were not even part of a true synagogue, but were members of a Satanic centre of worship to the Devil. They were hiding behind a defeated leader not a risen Messiah.
  • They are promised that they must endure persecution, but God again says to them, ‘Do not be afraid!’
  • Some of them, notice this, not all, will be put in prison for their faith- stand firm, because God is in control.
  • There will be limited persecution for ten days, this shows a finite period when there will be a concentration of persecution, but wait, there will come the eleventh day, when there will be release by the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Some will face death, but stand firm in your trust in Christ, remember he was identified as the one who died and is alive, the conqueror of death and destruction caused by sin. When facing death for the faith, what a glorious trust they can have in the one who also faced death and defeated it. He had been there and come through it victorious, so can they! No wonder He is introduced as the victor in v 10.


  • Faithfulness in extreme situations will be rewarded by a heavenly crown
  • Death is not defeat but a glorious victory
  • If they listen to these words, there will be a final encouragement for them, they will be victorious, death will have no hold on them, it will not hurt them.
  • They will not face the second death, the destination of those who oppose the gospel, who try to silence the message of hope, and who live in their sin and would seem to enjoy it. Their ultimate end would be the final and second death, as seen in Rev 19, a death that no believer in Christ will face, as their names are recorded in the ‘Book of Life’.

It is worth note that Smyrna was one of the two churches which had no condemnation levelled against their witness.




Page last updated: Saturday 16th April 2016 4:38 PM
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