Archive | January, 2015

The Revelation of John: Chapter Three

31 Jan

I have been doing some posts on various prophecies, but in the recent weeks my mind has not been very active on the subject. That is until I started reading the Book of Revelation again. So, I have decided to do a series of posts on that book. I will also be comparing it to other books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I will also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

[I am sorry this took so long]

Revelation Three

This chapter is the message to Sardis, Philadelphia, and the Laodiceans. Again I give only a summary of each city, though I will also give a comparison of the seven cities at the end. Again note that in verses 1, 7, and 14 the word angel was changed to servant by Joseph Smith. Also, in verse one, the seven spirits were changed to the seven servants.

Sardis is the one city that gets the greatest condemnation. Christ tells them that they were once alive but are now dead, meaning they have fallen into great error. He tells the servant to keep a watch over those who are dieing but are not yet dead. This is a city that is in dire circumstances. But Christ does offer some hope to the servant when he says in verse four “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” So not all the city was wicked, but the vast majority were and they were being called to repentance.

In contrast, Philadelphia is the city that is commended the most. In the message to this city that is not a single word of rebuke or chastisement. they are praised for keeping the words of Christ and not denying his name. They are promised that that wicked would one day be made to acknowledge them as righteous servants of Christ.  It is also to Philadelphia that we read the first allusions to the prophecies that about to be given. “Him that overcomethI will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” These things will be mentioned again, and for the saints of Philadelphia the later explanation would have a greater meaning because of this promise.

Now, Sardis is the most condemned and Philadelphia the most commended. Laodicea is the one that is right in the middle “because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Apparently they were not very wicked, but they also did not really do anything. It was like they were going through the motions without actually engaging in the gospel. They were not tempted by any great wickedness, but neither were they moved to any great acts of righteousness either. They simply were.

After having gone through each message let us look at those things that were commended by Christ.

  1. Rejecting Evil
  2. Trying the doctrine to detect false teachers
  3. Remaining faithful, even unto death

Let us also look at those things that are condemned

  1. Not spreading the gospel
  2. Claiming license to sin through God’s grace
  3. Following false teachers (those who claim authority from God that don’t have any)
  4. Not being actively engaged in the work of the gospel

I first take note that the three in the first list have an almost exact opposite in the second.

  1. Rejecting evil vs. Claiming license to sin through God’s grace
  2. Trying the doctrine to detect false teachers vs. Following false teachers
  3. Remaining faithful, even unto death vs. Not being actively engaged in the work of the gospel / Not spreading the gospel.

As I said in my last post, I have seen all these things, even within the LDS church. Many have followed the false teachers of the Ordain Women movement or other such factions that have arisen from time to time. Many accept evil, claiming the love of God, when they oppose the church on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. I think the most common, however, is for people to simply be lukewarm members. They uphold the teachings of the church but refuse to engage in any effort to spread the gospel or defend those teachings against others.

As I said in my last post, I wonder what Christ would say to us today if He were to inspire a similar letter.

See also chapter one and two

The Revelation of John; Chapter Two

15 Jan

I have been doing some posts on various prophecies, but in the recent weeks my mind has not been very active on the subject. That is until I started reading the Book of Revelation again. So, I have decided to do a series of posts on that book. I will also be comparing it to other books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I will also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

Revelation Two

In chapter two of the Revelation we read the first message given to the seven churches. Actually, this chapter is the message sent to four of the seven; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira. I am going to summarize all that is said, as none of it is actual prophecy, but I can’t do an analysis of the book without at least mentioning some things contained in this chapter. First note that in verses 1, 8, 12 and 18 the KJV uses the word angel, but the JST changes this to servant.

Ephesus is generally commended for their faithfulness in rejecting evil and trying all those who claim authority from God to detect the false teachers. They are chastised briefly for leaving their ‘first love.’ This seems very odd, and so I looked at the footnotes and was directed to D&C section 4. This section speaks of missionary work, which makes me believe that Ephesus, though faithful in their lives, had stopped sharing the gospel with others and Christ was telling them to get back to work.

Smyrna is given a message of comfort. It seems they were going through severe persecution, and they are told that they would suffer in prison and possibly with their lives. While this is familiar to the stories of those early Christians I find it interesting that Smyrna needed some specific comfort. I am not familiar with the history of this city, but I understand that Polycarp, an early Christian leader, was likely the Bishop when this Revelation was sent (the servant of the church) and would later die a martyrs death.

Pergamos receives a stinging rebuke, but in good practice Christ first tells them what they are doing good. Even though they are where “Satan’s seat is” they have remembered Christ and his church. Even when Antipas (who is believed to be an earlier Bishop of Pergamos) was kill by the mobs the saints remained faithful. However, the rebuke that follows is still stinging. They have followed the doctrine of Balaam, the prophet who told Balac to tempt Israel into sin if he wanted to curse them (Numbers 22). The doctrine of Balaam is basically to sell out for money and earthly reward. The main sin of Pergamos, what they sold out on, was their allowance of sexual immorality. This is referred to as the Doctrine of Nicolaitans. This doctrine teaches, basically, that man can indulge in gratifying the carnal lusts because Christ has already saved us. Earlier in the chapter Ephesus is praised for rejecting the Nicolaitans, and now Pergamos is being condemned for holding to them.

Thyatira is the last for this chapter. Their message follows very closely that of Pergamos, starting with commending the good they do and then moving onto the chastisement. In this case, however, the chastisement centers around a single woman who claimed to be a prophet and lead many into fornication. The Lord is careful to distinguish between those who had been so seduced and those who had not, letting them know that the rebuke and warning was only for those who had engaged in the wickedness of this woman, identified as Jezebel. Now, when one considers that in the Old Testament the wife of King Ahab was Jezebel, and that it was primarily through her influence that the Northern Kingdom fell (she hated the prophet Elijah) one gets the sense that the name is being used figuratively. If so it could refer to a small faction within the church rather than a single person.

The messages to these cities are interesting to read, even if many of the references are not clear to us anymore. What are they commended for? What are they condemned for? These same things are present today, and not just in the world. I have heard many of them inside the LDS church. It makes one wonder just what Christ would say to us if such a letter were to be written today.

(I will talk more on this point in the next post, as there will only be three cities to summarize.)

See also chapter one

The Revelation of John; Chapter One

10 Jan

I have been doing some posts on various prophecies, but in the recent weeks my mind has not been very active on the subject. That is until I started reading the Book of Revelation again. So, I have decided to do a series of posts on that book. I will also be comparing it to other books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I will also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

Chapter One

This chapter is the introduction to the book. It explains that this was from Christ and commands John to write the book we now have. While it contains little int he way of direct prophecy, one needs to understand this chapter for the rest of the book to be fully understood.

Verses 1-8

These verses are the introduction to everything else. It tells us that the revelation is given by Christ through an Angel to John. The most significant passage is verse three, however. In the Bible is says “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” However, in the JST it changes this to “they who hear and understand the words of this prophecy” I find this interesting, as it shows us that a proper understanding is needed, which is what I am going to be striving for in these posts. I also make note of it because it ties in with the last few verses of the book, which are frequently misunderstood by the Christian world. These verses will be addressed much later, but I ask that you keep them in mind as you read Revelation.

Also note that there are fairly significant changes in the rest of these verses, which I would suggest every study. In the KJV verse seven states “he cometh with clouds” but the JST translation tells us “he cometh in the clouds with ten thousands of his saints in the kingdom.” This is speaking of the second coming. The clarification tells us that Christ will not be alone when He appears, but will be accompanied by a host of the faithful saints who have lived and died.

Also, in verse four the KJV says that the message is to the Seven churches, from the “seven Spirits which are before his throne” while the JST tells us that it is to “the seven servants who are over the seven churches” from “his angel from before his throne.” This change sets the stage for many other changes that are made. In the JST the word angel is almost always changed to servant. In the following comments I will stay with this, using servant instead of angel when quoting passages. If any other changes are made of significance I will give both the KVJ and the JST for comparison.

 

Verses 9-11

These verses explain the nature of the vision; John was on the Island of Patmos, and on the Lord’s Day (meaning the day of the week that Christ was resurrected, which we now call Sunday); and he was in the Spirit. The vision then unfolds as the angel appears to him and commands him to write what he sees in a book which is to be sent to the seven churches.

Verses 12-16
This is a description of the first thing that John saw in the vision. He sees Christ standing in the midst of seven candle sticks. In one hand Christ is holding seven stars. He is wearing white clothes and a golden belt. His hair is white, His eyes are like fire, His voice like the roaring of water, and His like brass. These physical descriptions seem more an attempt by John to describe the glory of Christ than literal descriptions. This is an impressive visage. To top it off He is described as having a two-edged sword in His mouth, which is a symbol of the power of His words (remember that in the armor of God the sword is the word).
Verse 17-20
In these last four verses Jesus identifies Himself and once again commands John to write what he sees and hears. Then, at the very end, He tells John the “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the servants of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
The symbolism of the stars as the servants and the candles as the churches is very important two the next two chapters.