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

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