MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT

The Seven Churches of Revelation

The Woman of the Med.
The Seven Churches of Asia
City of Ephesus
Paul and the Prostitute of Babylon
Message to the Church at Ephesus
Message to the Church at Smyrna
Message to the Church at Pergamum
Message to the Church at Thyatira
Message to the Church at Sardis
Message to the Church at Philadelphia
Message to the Church at Laodicea

The Woman of the Med.Roman Empire

The Roman Empire spread rapidly, and by 100 AD, the Mediterranean Sea had become a Roman Lake.  In spite of the persecution of Christians by Roman Evil Kings, Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire.  The Roman Empire became the first Gentile Client Nation to God.  By 70 AD, when the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the Jewish Client Nation under the Mosaic Law was history.  The "Times of the Gentiles" had arrived.

A close look at the geography of the Roman Empire reveals some vivid symbolism.  The Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea represent the head and body of a woman.  Now, lakes, rivers, and bays, in general, symbolize the female while land masses, such as peninsulas symbolize the male.  However, the Black Sea and Mediterranean symbol of the female is quite vivid.  The Black Sea represents the woman's head, and the Bosporus represents her throat.

Med Girl Med Girl Med Girl

The symbol of the woman in the midst of the Roman Empire obviously has some special significance.  The significance also transcends the Roman Empire because the woman was there before and after the Empire.  The symbol of a woman in geography is a reminder of Marriage Culture, which is the seed of society and foundation of the culture.  Now, the woman also symbolizes the congregation of believers.  Israel was the divorced wife of Jehovah, and the Church is the Bride of Christ.  Thus, the woman of the Med. is a reminder that the Church had its beginnings around the Mediterranean Sea.  God stamped the women into the geography of the Mediterranean to represent the beginning of the Church in the fullness of time.

The Seven Churches of AsiaSeven Churches of Revelation

After Satan inspired the Imperial Ruler in the role of the Evil King, Pontius Pilate, to crucify the Lord Jesus Christ, the followers of Christ were also persecuted.  For 300 years, the Evil Kings of Rome tried to destroy Christians.  The phrase of Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20), was demonstrated in Roman history with the deaths of thousands of Christians, many of whom were crucified.  Satan inspired Roman Evil Kings to destroy the Church, but the more they tried, the more they failed.

The Church also faced other attacks from within and without.  The prevailing paganism of the Roman Empire was a lethal enemy of the Church.  And the cults of the Prostitute of Babylon were other enemies.  The Hellenistic Jews opposed the Church, as did apostates, such as the Judaizers, who sought to mix Christianity with keeping the Mosaic Law.  However, the biggest enemy of the Church was the apathy from within that led many converts to neglect their faith and become losers in the Angelic Conflict.

Seven churches in Asia Minor, which is currently the nation of Turkey, became the battlefield in the Spiritual War between the Church and the Cosmic System of Satan.  The locations of the seven churches are shown on the map of the Roman Empire.  It was Satan's Cosmic System that inspired the attacks on the Church from the Roman Evil Kings as well as the attacks from the Prostitute of Babylon.  The Lord allowed the counterattacks upon the seven churches of Asia Minor in order to record them in the scripture to help future generations of Christians, who would face the same problems.  Letters to the seven churches are recorded in the book of Revelation.

The greatest prosperity of the Roman Empire in Pax Romana under the Antonine Caesars (96 - 192 AD) resulted from the Spiritual Maturity of Christians in the seven churches of Revelation.  John wrote messages to the seven churches in Revelation in 96 AD.  The faith of the Christians in these churches defeated the demons of the Roman Empire so that the Empire and its citizens could be blessed by association.

While John was on the island of Patmos in 96 AD, he was told what to write in the last epistle of the Church Age and the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11).  The Epistle of Revelation completes the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and covers all future events in the history of the world.  The messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Chapters 2-3 are for the Church Age and deal specifically with the situation in the Roman Empire in 96 AD.  Chapters 4-19 deal with the Tribulation, Chapter 20 deals with the Millennium and Great White Throne Judgment, and Chapter 21-22:5 deal with Heaven (the new Heaven and new Earth).

Dispensations

John heard the sound of a signaling trumpet and saw the Lord Jesus Christ standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands and holding seven stars in His hand (Revelation 1:12-16).  Here the symbolism is the key to understanding.  The seven lampstands represent the seven churches (Revelation 1:20).  The lampstand, as understood from the Tabernacle, is a symbol of Christ, our Light (1 John 1:7).  The Christian has Light in contrast to the darkness of Satan's Cosmos Diabolicus.  The number, 7, stands for the completion of a category.  The category of seven churches in Revelation is representative of all churches.  Note:  There is only one Church, which is also known as the Body of Christ; but there are many local churches where believers assemble.  Gold represents the deity of Christ.  And the seven stars represent the pastors of the seven churches.  The pastors are called in the Greek a[ggelo" (angelos), which means messenger in this context and not angel.  The messengers of the churches are the pastors.  And the two-edged sword represents the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

City of Ephesus

Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.  With a population of 250,000, it was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire.  Located along the major trade routes to the east with a large harbor at the mouth of the Cayster River, the metropolis of Ephesus was a wealthy center of commerce.  The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  The city was a famous tourist destination that attracted Roman elite such as Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra.  Ephesus was also prominent for worship of the Evil Kings of Rome.  A temple was erected to the Roma, the goddess of Rome, and to Julius Caesar in 29 BC.  Statuary was dedicated to Augustus in the Temple of Artemis.  Nero rebuilt the stadium at Ephesus.  A great altar and temple were erected to Domitian (81-96 AD) on Curetes Street.

Ephesus had a dark side.  The Temple of Diana (Artemis) was the center for prostitution and a place of asylum for criminals.  The private chambers of the Temple of Diana were for prostitution.  There were numerous priests and priestesses of Diana.  The priestesses, who served as prostitutes, were the Prostitute of Babylon.  An image of Diana in the temple supposedly fell from heaven (Acts 19:35).  Merchants gathered to sell charms and amulets along with magic spells in Ephesian Letters for protection on journeys.  The Ephesian Letters were the books, or scrolls, which were burned during some of Paul's revivals on his Third Missionary Journey (Acts 19:19).

Paul and the Prostitute of Babylon

Paul led a group of disciples to separate from the Jewish synagogue in Ephesus to form a church there.  During the two years Paul spent in Ephesus on his Third Missionary Journey, all of the province of Asia was evangelized (Acts 19:1-10).  His ministry was so successful that the silversmiths and merchants who thrived because of the Temple of Diana feared for their livelihood and ran Paul out of town (Acts 19:23-20:1).  Paul had been doing fine until he decided the he would go back to Jerusalem to offer a vow after he had gone to Macedonia and Achaia (Greece).  Afterward, he intended to go to Rome.
Now after these things were finished, Paul resolved in his human spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." (Acts 19:21)
Paul had been obeying the Holy Spirit, but he had a wild idea that he wanted to take the Nazirite vow.  He wanted to do this as an act of consecration.  He resolved in his own mind that this human good, which the Holy Spirit did not order would be compatible with his Spiritual life.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Over the course of time as Paul worked out the details, he decided he would collect an offering and take it personally to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-27).  Then he could offer the vow in the Temple while he was there.  This is the second clue.  Money was involved.  Paul's idea of becoming a Nazirite was not obedience to God.  It was from the Prostitute of Babylon, who sponsored religion in the heathen temples.  Furthermore, going to Jerusalem was contrary to the will of God, which was for Paul to go to Rome.  Consequently, the Prostitute of Babylon in the form of Demetrius and the local silversmith trade union of Diana stirred up a riot against Paul and ran him out of town.
Paul was blind-sided by the Prostitute of Babylon in Ephesus.
Paul's Third Missionary JourneyPaul continued his Third Missionary Journey (ref. illustration) to Macedonia and as far as the borders of Illyricum (Romans 15:19), but he stopped short of taking the high ground in Rome.  It was God's will for Paul to be the pastor at Rome, but Paul took a detour.  He went to Corinth and then left for Jerusalem to offer his Nazirite vow.  He had to return through Macedonia overland, but he set sail from Philippi for Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-6).  Paul was going down.  He minimized his stops along the way as he made haste to get to Jerusalem.  His Christian friends could see his mistake, but he refused to see or listen.  Paul received three very strong warnings not to go to Jerusalem.
  1. The disciples at Tyre warned Paul (Acts 21:4)
  2. Agabus, the prophet, warned Paul (Acts 21:8-11)
  3. Paul's traveling companions and the residents of Caesarea warned Paul (Acts 21:12-14).
Spiritual LifeWhat happened to Paul?  Was he in reversionism?  No, Paul was using the same paradigm that he had been using all along in Spiritual Warfare.  He was trying to obey the Holy Spirit tactically; however, his strategy was obviously flawed.  The Lord allowed Paul to get himself in this situation for a very good reason.  Paul needed a promotion.  He had not yet reached Spiritual Maturity.  Even though the Lord had blessed his ministry, and Paul had special gifts of the Holy Spirit, like healing, he had not yet received the grace promotion to Spiritual Maturity.

What happened for the next four years in his life is living proof that Paul was being promoted to Spiritual Maturity.  Paul had been in Spiritual Warfare and he was about to enter the Suffering of no-man's land to qualify for Spiritual Maturity. The stages of Spiritual growth in the Spiritual Life are:

  1. Salvation
  2. Separation from the World - Leaving Egypt; Outer Court of Tabernacle - use of Rebound; learning basic doctrine.
  3. Spiritual Growth - intake of Bible Doctrine; Holy Place - wilderness wanderings - Grace Orientation, Doctrinal Orientation, Faith-Rest
  4. Spiritual Warfare - crossing the Jordan, taking the high ground, resisting Satan - Personal Sense of Destiny (Walking in the Light)
  5. Suffering - Categorical Punishment (Momentum Testing); Providential Preventative Suffering

  6. a.  System Testing
    b.  People Testing
    c.  Thought Testing
    d.  Disaster Testing
  7. Spiritual Maturity - Spiritual Self-Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy, Spiritual Maturity - Holy of Holies - Personal Love for God, Impersonal Love for all mankind, +H
  8. Spiritual Rapport - Removal of scar tissue of the soul; execution of Spiritual Life; Divine Good production; crowns; fulness of blessing from Christ - Occupation with Christ
  9. Dying Grace
The Lord had hardened Paul's heart.  After leaving Ephesus for Jerusalem, Paul faced the same problem as Elijah when he fled from Jezebel after the great victory over the prophets of Baal.  Paul had great Spiritual victories in Ephesus where the power of the Prostitute of Babylon was greatly weakened.  However, like Elijah, Paul needed Spiritual promotion to handle the subtle power of the unseen enemy of the Prostitute of Babylon.

When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he was welcomed by James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church, and the elders.  The Jerusalem church was full of legalism.  They were trying to be spiritual by keeping the Law.  Paul was not deceived by this.  He had already written the Epistle to the Galatians in which he made it very clear that the Church is not under the Law.  James and the elders had also heard of Paul's teaching, which they distorted with half-truths (Acts 21:20-21).  Half-truths are the sign of a Satanic counterattack.  And that was exactly what was happening.  Satan was cross examining Paul.  The legalists were full of public relations gimmicks, but they were shipwreck from grace.  They said that Paul had been teaching people to forsake the Law of Moses.  This was a half-truth.  Paul taught that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, but that the Law apart from spirituality was legalism.

The Jerusalem legalists gave Paul some strong advice in order get the other members of the congregation to accept him.  They said that Paul needed to demonstrate to the congregation that he was keeping the Law.  They had four men who were taking the Nazirite vow, which was the most famous of the vows of the Mosaic Law (Numbers 6:1-21).  The Nazirite vow required:

  1. 7 days of peace offerings.
  2. Letting the hair grow, and it was shaved off at the end of 7 days.
  3. The shaved hair was offered on the fire of the peace offering..
They told Paul that he should pay the expenses of the other men taking the vow and also take the vow.  Note, money was involved again.

Paul knew better than this.  He saw through the hypocrisy and the legalism.  Why did he go along with it?  The answer is that Paul wanted the prestige of taking the highest vow in the Mosaic Law.  This was like a Doctor of Theology degree. It was a mark of distinction.  Of course, it was also wrong.  Here is a very important point.  Christians under the power of the Prostitute of Babylon will bow to peer pressure.  Paul wanted the degree.  He wanted the prestige, and he was willing to go along with the Jerusalem legalism to get it.  Paul's values were still those of a person in Spiritual childhood.  He wanted the praise of man.  He listened to the Jerusalem legalists and flunked People Testing.

When Paul began making his sacrifices in Jerusalem, the Jews started a riot and tried to kill him (Acts 21:27-31).  He was rescued by Roman soldiers.  Then in a hearing before the Sanhedrin, the Roman soldiers had to rescue Paul again (Acts 23:1-11).  In all the pressure of personal attacks from the Jews, Paul kept his head about him and passed Thought Testing.  Note:  The Sanhedrin, which was led by the Jewish High Priest, was a counterattack from the Evil King.  When the Jews conspired to assassinate Paul, the Romans transferred him to Caesarea where he was held by the Roman Procurator of Judaea, Felix, in the the Praetorium (Governor's Mansion).

Paul was brought in to speak to Felix and his wife Drusilla about faith in Christ.  Drusilla, who was the Jewish daughter of Herod Agrippa I, was the most beautiful woman in the land.  She had been married to Azizus, king of Edessa (Emesa) but left her husband and married Felix.  Felix was a former slave, who was known for rioting in cruelty and licentiousness.  In this scenario, Felix was the Evil King, and Drusilla was the Prostitute of Babylon.  When Paul gave them the Gospel, the Holy Spirit made it clear in common grace.  However, it appears that both of them rejected it (Acts 24:24-25).  Drusilla and her son later died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, where 79 stands for hardness of the heart.

Felix procrastinated in making a decision about Paul.  He held Paul and summoned him from time to time hoping that Paul would give him money.

At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. (Acts 24:26, NAS)
Here's money again.  Felix wanted a bribe, since he knew Paul was wealthy.  But Paul refused to deal with money.  Surely Paul was smart enough to know he could bribe his way out of this.  But the only way Paul will get a promotion from God is for God to do the work in grace.  Grace is the free gift of God.  Money is the coin of the realm in the devil's world.  Both the Prostitute of Babylon and the Evil King thrive on the love of money, which is the root of all evil.

Felix was succeeded, probably in the autumn of 60 AD6, by Porcius Festus, who wanted to do the Jews a political favor and turn Paul over to them.  But Paul, after two years in Roman custody (Acts 24:27; 25:9-11), appealed to Caesar, and Festus agreed to send him to Rome.  However, before Paul left, King Herod Agrippa II and Bernice came to hear Paul speak (Acts 25:13, 23).  Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I and the Jewish ruler of northern and northeastern Palestine.  Bernice was his sister with whom he was probably in an incestuous relationship.  She had married Polemon, King of Cilicia, but soon left him and returned to her brother.  She later became the mistress of Vespasian and his son Titus.  Bernice was also the sister of Drusilla and perhaps the second most beautiful woman in the land.

Paul's message to Agrippa II and Bernice (Acts 26) was a testimony before a Jewish Evil King and the Prostitute of Babylon.  Agrippa II and Bernice did not repent after hearing the Gospel.  They were empowered by Satan and were not about to give up their power to identify with the death of the Cross.
Paul's Journey to Rome
For two years Paul had been facing persecution from the Roman Government system.  He was removed from a successful ministry in Ephesus and was now under System Testing.  Paul was all alone in his suffering while all those who tried to help him were nowhere near this stage of Spiritual growth.  On the way to Rome, Paul was shipwrecked on Malta.  This was Disaster Testing.  After staying on Malta for 3 months, Paul continued his voyage to Rome, where he arrived in 61 AD.  In Rome Paul was allowed to live in his own rented house with a soldier guarding him, but he was free to receive visitors and preach until he was released after two full years (Acts 28:16, 30-31) in 63 AD.

Paul ministered in Rome from his rented house in what amounted to a house church.  He ministered only to small groups, which was quite different from the large crowds he had in Ephesus.  Paul's case came up for review after two years.  It is doubtful that he appeared before Nero.  He was either heard or had his case reviewed by a lesser official.  And it is doubtful that there were any accusers against him.  Whether Paul said anything about fiery judgment is not recorded, but the next year after Paul's defense before the Roman magistrates, Rome burned.  Nero blamed the fire on Christians, and Paul was one of those who was executed in the persecution.  Paul was probably executed in the Spring of 68 AD, and Nero poisoned himself later that year.  The Jews of Israel rebelled against Rome in 66 AD and were destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.  Thus, Paul's impact upon Roman and Jewish history can be seen.

From Rome Paul wrote the epistles that demonstrate his promotion to Spiritual Maturity.

Philippians 3:7-8
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I now consider as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I conclude all things to be loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for the sake of whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and conclude them excrement that I may gain Christ,
In Philippians, which was written from Rome in 63 AD, Paul revealed that his strategic objective was Christ and only Christ.  This was unlike his desire for self-promotion and human good, which had taken him to Jerusalem.  The objective of gaining Christ is the objective of reaching Spiritual Maturity and its fulfillment in Spiritual Rapport.
Philippians 3:9-11
9 {and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the Law, but that acquired through faith in Christ, that Righteousness from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, having become like Him with reference to His death; 11 If somehow (as an heir of God) I may attain (my eternal inheritance) at the point of the exit-resurrection from the dead.}
The word for Righteousness is the Greek dikaiosuvnh (dikaiosune), which means righteousness raised to a higher power, or capacity-righteousness.  The sune ending raises the word to a higher power.  It is a word for God's righteous integrity.  It is the Righteousness of God that the demands the Justice of God.  Verses 9-11 are a parenthesis in which Paul recounts his advance to Spiritual Maturity.  Paul has received divine "Righteousness from God on the basis of faith (Bible Doctrine)."  Bear in mind that the canon of scripture had not yet been completed, and Paul was developing this doctrine as he went along.

Paul expressed the attitude of Spiritual Self-Esteem in verse 10 in his personal love for God and his acceptance of Providential Preventative Suffering.  And he expressed the attitude of Spiritual Autonomy in his cognitive self-confidence in the doctrine of the Resurrection, and he expressed his Personal Sense of Destiny as he looked forward to receiving his rewards after the "exit-resurrection" (Rapture) (verse 11).

Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already received it, or have already become complete (Spiritual Rapport), but I keep on pursuing (Spiritual Rapport) that I may attain it, for which I also was overtaken by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not evaluate myself to have attained (Spiritual Rapport); but one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and constantly advancing toward the front (Spiritual Rapport), 14 I keep advancing toward the objective for the decoration of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In verses 12-14, Paul picked up his description of gaining Christ after the parenthesis.  Paul's was clearly focused on the next objective of the Spiritual Life after achieving Spiritual Maturity, and that was Spiritual Rapport.  Spiritual Maturity is the beginning of the adult phase of the Spiritual Life.  Spiritual Rapport requires pressing on to remove scar tissue of the soul in order to receive the "fulness of blessing from Christ" (Romans 15:29).
Therefore, as many as are Spiritually mature, let us keep on thinking this; and if you think differently on some point, even this God will reveal to you; (Philippians 3:15)
At the time of writing Philippians Paul had reached Spiritual Maturity.  In verse 15, the word "mature" is the Greek tevleio" (teleios), which refers to Spiritual Maturity.  Paul was already thinking as a believer in Spiritual Maturity.  Later, Paul achieved Spiritual Rapport and the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8).  But, as when he received his promotion to Spiritual Maturity, his congregation dwindled again.  In dying grace, only Luke was with him (2 Timothy 4:9-11).Seven Churches of Revelation

Message to the Church at Ephesus

The Ephesian Church was the most advanced of the churches in 96 AD.  It had benefited from Bible Doctrine taught by Paul and John.  The Epistle to the Ephesians is an example of the kind of doctrine that Paul taught the congregation.  By 96 AD the second generation of believers were strong in the faith and would not tolerate evil men or false apostles.  However, the Lord Jesus Christ informed them that they had some tragic flaws that must be corrected in order for them to become winners.  The term, winner, refers to Christians who accomplish the Spiritual objective.  They succeed and conquer in the Spiritual war of their day.
‘But I have this against you, that you have forsaken your first Love. (Revelation 2:4)
The problem that threatened to make the Ephesians casualties in the Spiritual life was that they had "left their first love."  The first love of the Ephesians is a metaphor like "the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:18).  The first love is the love of a virgin for her new husband.  When she forsakes that love, she may commit adultery.  This is the same problem the Corinthians had (ref. 2 Corinthians 11:2, Solution to Prostitute of Babylon).  The Ephesians have been counterattacked by the Prostitute of Babylon and no longer love the Lord Jesus Christ because of the scar tissue of their souls.  The Ephesians have not yet reached Spiritual Rapport.

The warning is that the Lord will remove the lampstand of the Ephesians unless they repent.  Repent means to change the mind.  The Ephesians have to change their mind about their false love and turn to the true Love of Christ or else they will lose their lampstand.  The lampstand symbolizes the Light in the Church.  This is the Spiritual Light from God, which is the solution to darkness in the soul and body as explained by the example of Adam and the woman in the Garden.

The one having an ear, hear what the Spirit communicates to the churches.  To the winner I will give him to eat from the source of the Tree of Life, which keeps on being in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
The reward for the winner believer is that he will be allowed to eat from the Tree of Life in Heaven.  The word, "winner," is the present active participle of the Greek nikavw (nikao), which means victor, conqueror, winner.  The winner is the believer who advances to Spiritual Rapport and wins the battle against the Cosmic System.  The Ephesians who become winners will be able to eat of a special tree in Heaven (Revelation 22:2).  Thus, some believers in Resurrection bodies will be allowed to eat in Heaven.  "Paradise" is a transliteration of the Greek paravdeiso" (Paradeisos), which has the root meaning of garden or park as derived from an Old Persian word for an enclosure.  Thus, the winner believer in the Eternal State will be allowed access to the Tree of Life in the Garden of God.

Message to the Church at Smyrna

Smyrna was a beautiful port city and commercial center with a population of 100,000 north of Ephesus.  Dating back to 3,000 BC, it was the oldest city on the Aegean coast.  It was called the "glory of Asia" because of its planned development, beautiful temples, and great harbor.  It became a center for the worship of Roman Evil Kings with the building of a temple to Tiberius in 26 AD.  The name, Smyrna, is derived from myrrh, the aromatic perfume used for embalming.  The word, Catholic, was first used by the church father, Ignatius in a letter to Smyrna.  The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 178 AD, but it was rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius.

Polycarp (69-155 AD) was the most famous pastor of the church at Smyrna.  In 96 AD, he was still in the church at Ephesus.  He was later burned at the stake when he refused to renounce his faith.

The Christians at Smyrna were persecuted by the Romans.  Many had their property seized because they would not recant their faith.  The Lord said:

I know your tribulation and your poverty; but you are rich.  Also I know the slander from those who allege themselves to be Jews and are not, but are from the congregation of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
Some lost their property due to the ten percenters.  These were non-Christians, often Jews, who received ten percent of the value of the property confiscated from Christians whom they had turned in.  The Lord reminded the Christians who lost their property that they would have riches in glory, however.
'Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Note, that the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have special persecution ten times.  Keep on being faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
The Christians at Smyrna were about to be thrown into prison by "the devil."  Thus, Satan was behind the persecution of Christians.  They would have "special persecution," which is the Greek qli'yi" (thlipsis), for strong persecution, stress, or tribulation.  They would be persecuted "ten times," were ten stands for the Laws of Establishment.  The persecutions would come from the government.  "Ten times" also referred to the ten great persecutions that occurred between Domician (81 - 96 AD) to Diocletian in 305 AD.

The Lord allowed the devil to persecute the Christians, who lived up to Paul's statement, "I am crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20).  Those who kept the faith unto death would receive the Crown of Life, which is the highest reward at the Review Tribunal of Christ for passing capacity for life testing.  Thus, even though the devil martyred the Christians, they were winners who would be decorated for all eternity.

Message to the Church at Pergamum

Pergamum was 40 miles northeast of Smyrna.  The name is from the Greek, pergos, which means tower.  A tower symbolizes a stronghold.  Towers were the strongholds of city walls.  The earliest city was built on a cone-shaped acropolis a thousand feet tall with steep, nearly perpendicular sides.  On one side there was a narrow passageway to the top.  The city was a fortress that was easily defended.  After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus, left his lieutenant, Philetaerus, in charge of Pergamum along with 9,000 talents of gold for war expenses.  But Philetaerus decided to keep the money and establish himself as ruler of the state of Pergamum.  When Lysimachus died in 292 BC, Philetaerus declared himself king of the new Attalid Kingdom, named in honor of his nephew.  Successive dynasties of Evil Kings of the kingdom were worshipped as gods.  King Attalus III (138-133 BC) left the kingdom to Rome upon his death, and Pergamum become the de facto capital of the Roman Province of Asia.

Pergamum had the second largest library in the world with 200,000 volumes.  It was second only to the library at Alexandria.  Mark Antony gave the library to Cleopatra after her library was burned by the army of Julius Caesar in 41 BC.  Rivalry between the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum led to the invention of parchment.  When the Ptolemies of Egypt prohibited export of papyrus to Pergamum, the Pergamenes invented parchment, which they called pergamene, from the Greek Pergamenos.  It was made from animal skin.  The best grade, called vellum, was made from calf skin.  The parchment was more flexible than papyrus, which made it possible to make books rather than scrolls.

Pergamum was known for worship of the Evil King and Prostitute of Babylon in various forms.  It was the center of Ecumenical Babylon in the Roman province of Asia.  There were temples in the city for the worship of Zeus, Dionysus, Athena, and Asklepios.  The city was also a center for worship of Roman Evil Kings as early as 29 BC when a temple was erected to Augustus and to Roma, the goddess of Rome.  Later temples were erected to Trajan and Caracalla.
Pergamon, Model, Staatliche Museen, Berlin; K. Cohen
In the model of Pergamon at the right, the Altar of Zeus is located at the right center.  To the right of the Altar of Zeus (outside the picture) was the agora, the market square.  The Temple of Athena is behind the theater, and the Temple of Trajan is at the top left.

Pergamon was known as the center of Aesklepios, the serpent, which represented Satan as the god of healing.  The temple of Aesklepios was full of snakes, which were considered sacred because of their power to renew themselves by shedding their skin.  Invalids flocked to the temple, where state-of-the-art medical treatment was available, such as herbal remedies, bathing, meditation, massage, and even dream analysis by priests or sleeping in rooms while awaiting healing demons.

Satan's Throne
Altar of Zeus, Model, K. Cohen
The message to the pastor at Pergamon begins with a reminder of the Lord's two-edged sword with which He will make war at the Second Advent against the enemies of Israel (Revelation 2:12, 16; 19:11-15, 21).  The "two-edged sword" that comes from the Lord's mouth will be used at the Second Advent, but the sword also symbolizes the great wars of history that represent the Second Advent, such as World Wars I and II.

Revelation 2:12-13
12 “And to the messenger (pastor-teacher) of the church in Pergamum write:  The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Satan's throne was a metaphor for the Altar of Zeus in Pergamon (or Pergamum).  A reconstruction of the altar in the Berlin Museum is shown in the photo.  Notice that the altar resembles a large throne.  There are 24 steps from the ground to the top of the altar, where 24 stands for Satan's strategic attack on Israel.  Satan's attack on Israel is his strategy in world history.  The Altar of Zeus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  It's history is even more of a wonder.

A German archaeologist, Carl Humann, began excavating the altar on September 9, 1878.  The altar was moved back to Germany and reconstructed.  Kaiser Wilhelm II celebrated its erection in Berlin in 1902.  German archeologists also excavated ancient Babylon in Iraq from 1899 to 1917.  They brought the Ishtar Gate back to Berlin.  Germany started World War I in 1914.  After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, a granite mausoleum based upon the design of the Pergamon Altar of Zeus was built for him and opened in 1929.10,11  Note that 1924 stands for Satan's strategic attack on Israel.

The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way from the excavations of ancient Babylon were reconstructed in Germany and temporarily accommodated in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum until 1929, when they were moved to the Pergamon Museum in east Berlin. They were first presented to the public in 1930 when the Pergamon Museum opened.9  In 1933 Adolph Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.  In 1934 he became dictator and ordered construction of the Tribune at Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg for his Nazi rallies.12,13  The architect, Albert Speer, used the Pergamon Altar as the model for the tribune.  The Führer's pulpit was in the center of the tribune, which was built from 1934 to 1937.  Adolph Hitler, the Evil King of Germany started World War II in 1939.  After the end of World War II, the Soviets took the Pergamon Altar to Leningrad in 1948 as spoils.  The Alter was later returned in 1958.14

Thus, Satan's throne in the form of the Pergamon Altar was moved from Pergamon to Berlin to herald the rise of the Evil Kings of Germany in World Wars I and II.  It was used as the plan for Lenin's tomb in 1929 to herald the rise of the Evil King of the Soviet Union.  And it was taken to Russia in 1948 to herald the beginning the Soviet attempt at world conquest.  It was returned to Berlin in 1958.  Both Lenin and Hitler were symbols of the coming Evil King of the Revived Roman Empire during the Tribulation.

Balaam and the Prostitute of Babylon

'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a baited trap before the sons of Israel, to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and to practice prostitution. (Revelation 2:14)
While Israel was camped at Shittim just prior to entering the Promised Land, Balaam taught Balak how to use the Prostitute of Babylon to seduce Israel (reference Balaam).  Temple prostitutes were sent into the camp of Israel.  They offered sacrifices to Baal and taught the men of the Army of Israel to eat the meat and fornicate.  The prostitutes in the Temple of Athena and other temples of Pergamon were the same as the Prostitute of Babylon.  Some of the members of the church in Pergamon were still involved in the idolatry of the Prostitute of Babylon, which involved practicing prostitution.  In verse 14 the Greek word porneuvw (porneuo) means to prostitute, or practice prostitution.

The Nicolaitans

Not only were the church members of Pergamon involved in the same idolatry with the Prostitute of Babylon as Balaam, they were also like the apostate Nikolaitans (also transliterated Nicolaitans and Nikolaitons).

'Just as you have also those who hold to the teaching of the Nikolaitons in the same manner. (Revelation 2:15)
The Nikolaitans were an apostate group like the Gnostics.  They believed the only way to be free from lust was to submit to sensual desire in order to conquer it.  They used religion as an excuse for pursuing the hedonistic pleasures of the Old Sin Nature.  The Nikolaitans were also enslaved to the Prostitute of Babylon.  Whereas, the Christians at Ephesus had rejected the Nikolaitan apostasy, the Christians at Pergamon fell for it.

Change Your Mind

The Christians at Pergamon were commanded to change their mind.

'Therefore, change your mind.  But if you do not, I am coming quickly; and I will war against them with the sword out from my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)
"Change your mind" is the Greek metanoevw (metanoeo), where metav (meta) means change and noevw (noeo) means the mind, or thinking.  The word is often translated, repent, which is fine as long as it is understood that the word has nothing to do with subjectivity, such as feeling sorrow or penance.  The change of mind is necessary toward Bible Doctrine.  The only way to advance to the high ground of the Spiritual life is to execute Bible Doctrine, which requires thinking doctrine.  The thinking of the Christians at Pergamon regarding the Prostitute of Babylon and the Nikolaitan apostasy must change.

The Christians at Pergamon were further reminded that time is short.  They need to change their mind, which means Rebound and get moving with Bible Doctrine, because the Lord is "coming quickly."  This obviously didn't mean immediately.  It meant that the next prophecy to be fulfilled in the Church Age will be the Rapture.  The reminder is that the Lord will execute the enemies of Israel at the Second Advent.  Just as He will use the sword that comes from his mouth at the Second Advent (Revelation 1:16; 19:15), He will also use the sword to protect the Christian and the Jew until then.

Blessings for the Winner

Special rewards in this life and for eternity will be given to those Christians who handle the counterattack at Pergamon with Bible Doctrine.

'He who has an ear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  To the winner, I will give him the hidden manna, and I will give him a white pebble, and upon the pebble a new title has been inscribed, which no one knows except  the person receiving it.' (Revelation 2:17)
Anyone with a single ear should listen to what the Holy Spirit is communicating to the churches of Asia.  Even though the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking, the Holy Spirit is communicating also because this refers to the execution of Bible Doctrine.  Blessings in time and eternity will be given to the winner-believer who passes the testing of the Pergamon church.  The blessings for the winner-believer are:
  1. "Hidden manna" - Faith (X-axis); Bible Doctrine - Just as manna was food to be eaten, Bible Doctrine is the sustenance of the Spiritual Life (John 4:32).  Bible Doctrine must be metabolized, which means it must be executed in the Spiritual Life.  The manna is hidden just as the mystery doctrine of the Church Age is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  2. "White pebble" - Love (Y-axis); a vote of confidence - Pebbles were used for voting (Acts 26:10).  A white pebble was for a yes vote and a black pebble was for a no vote.  The Lord will intercede for the believer in the fight against the devil.  The personal support of the Lord is from His Love.
  3. "New title" - a promotion from Authority (Z-axis) - The winner will receive a promotion with a new title, which will be engraved upon the white pebble.  This is an insignia of rank to be worn on the Resurrection Body.

Message to the Church at Thyatira

Although it was without natural defenses, Thyatira was strategically located in a long north-south valley that connected the Hermus and Caisus river valleys.  All trade between Pergamon and Smyrna passed through the city.  The city was a garrison town and an industrial center for manufacturing wool, clothing, purple dyes, leather, and brass works.  Lydia, the seller of purple fabrics, whom Paul evangelized in Philippi, was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14).  It is believed that the dyer's guild of Thyatira used the root of the madder plant to make purple dye in lieu of shellfish.17

In the message to the Christians at Thyatira, the Lord reminded them of his eyes like fire and feet like bronze.

"And to the messenger (pastor-teacher) of the church in Thyatira write:  'The Son of God says these things, He who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet resemble burnished bronze.'  (Revelation 2:18)
The eyes symbolize grace, but the Lord has fire in His eyes.  And His feet resemble burnished bronze.  Bronze symbolizes Judgment, like the Brazen Altar in the Tabernacle.  The Lord is standing ready to Judge His enemies.

The Christians at Thyatira had been executing Bible Doctrine and taking the high ground.

I know your deeds, even your love, faith, service, and endurance; furthermore, your last deeds are more than the first. (Revelation 2:19)
Their "deeds" were their Divine Good production.  They were advancing strategically toward the high ground with all axes aligned.  The Lord had seen their love (Y-axis), faith (X-axis), service (Time axis), and endurance (Z-axis).  They were making progress and accomplishing more as they advanced toward the high ground.

Jezebel

In spite of the good works of the Christians at Thyatira, however; they had a big problem.  They had been overtaken by Jezebel, who was the local Prostitute of Babylon.

'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they practice prostitution and eat things sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20)
The Church Age version of Jezebel was just like her predecessor, the wife of King Ahab and enemy of Elijah.  The Christians at Thyatira were reprimanded for tolerating Jezebel.  But aren't Christians supposed to love their neighbors?  Yes, but this is the Prostitute of Babylon.  The devil is behind Jezebel, and there can be no compromise.  The devil must be resisted, and Jezebel must be rejected.

The Jezebel at Thyatira had worked her way into the Church just as her predecessor had taken over the religion of Israel.  She had promoted herself to pastor-teacher.  There are no women with the Spiritual gift of pastor-teacher in the Church Age.  Women pastors are the Prostitute of Babylon.  The Jezebel of Thyatira is trying to run the Church just as the priestess of Ishtar ran the ziggurat of Babylon.  What Jezebel taught was prostitution and idolatry.  She led the Christians of Thyatira to practice prostitution, which is the Greek porneuvw (porneuo), meaning to practice sexual promiscuity or prostitution.

Divine Discipline

And I gave her a period of time in order to change her mind (Rebound); however, she does not want to change her mind (Rebound) out from her prostitution. (Revelation 2:21)
Grace precedes Judgment.  Jezebel, who was an apostate Christian, was given time to Rebound, but she refused.  A person who rejects Rebound is a reversionist, who is going down.
Behold, I will throw her into a sick bed, and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation (severe suffering) unless they change their minds from her deeds (Rebound). (Revelation 2:22)
Throwing into bed means to strike with a lingering illness - medical discipline.  Jezebel, who had been fornicating in bed, would be thrown into a sick bed.  "Those committing adultery with her" refer to the people who are practicing idolatry with her.  Idolatry is spiritual adultery, and idolatry is often practiced with physical adultery.  Judah committed adultery in idolatry with wood and stone idols (Jeremiah 3:9; 2:27; 10:8; Isaiah 57:6).  Those practicing idolatry with Jezebel would be given "great tribulation," which could also be translated severe suffering.  The word, tribulation, is the Greek qli'yi" (thlipsis), which means stress, distress, affliction, oppression, tribulation.  It means distress that is brought on by outward circumstances.  The Christians at Thyatira were headed for intensified punishment unless they decided to Rebound from their sinful deeds with Jezebel.
'And I will execute her children (followers) by the death penalty; and all the churches will know that I am He who analyzes the kidneys and the hearts; and I will give to every one of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)
The followers of Jezebel would die the sin unto death, which may be administered in many different ways from illness to capital punishment.  This would be so horrible that all the other churches would hear about it.  This is one way the Lord gives adequate warning to other congregations who could be next.  Others will know that the Lord "analyzes," which is the Greek ejraunavw (eraunao), meaning to search, examine, investigate; to analyze, verify.  Thus, it means to analyze the doctrine in the believer's heart and his use of that doctrine.  This happens during the Verification Testing phase of the metabolization of Bible Doctrine.

The analysis of "the kidneys and the hearts" means that the Lord actively tests not only the believer's faith but his emotion as well.  The believer who passes the test will be given blessing, and the believer who fails the test will be given discipline according to his deeds.  The kidneys refer to the emotion, which can be amplified by the adrenaline from the glands of the kidneys.  There are good emotions and bad emotions.  Good emotions are in tune with God in Spiritual Rapport.  Bad emotions react to God.  The absence of thought on the cerebral cortex leaves a vacuum into which the emotions are sucked.  Similarly, the absence of faith leads to emotional revolt of the soul in which the heart is flooded with emotion rather than love from the Integrity Envelope.  When verification of Bible Doctrine in the heart fails, emotional revolt follows.  The Lord oversees this process.

Blessings for the Winner

Church Age believers who withstand the counterattack that faced the Christians at Thyatira will rule and reign with Christ in the Millennium.

Revelation 2:26-28
26 'Furthermore, the winner, even the one who keeps My assignments until the end (of life), to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 And he shall rule them with an iron scepter as vessels of clay are shattered, just as I also have received authority from My Father.  28 Furthermore, I will give him the order of  the Morning Star.
The Lord will promote the winner who is faithful in executing Bible Doctrine.  The winner will be given authority to rule nations (Revelation 3:21; 20:4; 2 Timothy 2:12).  Note, the word "nations" is the Greek e[qno" (ethnos), which means an ethnic group.  The size of the group, whether a city or country, is lost in generality.  So, it should not be assumed that the verse says a believer will rule more than one nation.  The Lord Jesus Christ will be the world ruler, and Christians will rule with Him (Psalm 2:7-8; Romans 15:12).  The Lord will rule with an iron rod (Revelation 12:5; 19:15; Psalm 2:9), and so will the winner.  Shattering a vessel of clay refers to cataclysmic judgment (Isaiah 30:14; Jeremiah 19:11), and it refers to capital punishment in the Millennium.

The winner believers of Thyatira will receive the order of the Morning Star, which is the highest decoration for Spiritual Warfare.  The order of the Morning Star corresponds to a crown in significance.  The reward takes its name after the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory at the Second Advent when He will return as conqueror (Revelation 22:16).  In the Millennium those with the Morning Star will rule and reign with Christ.  In the Eternal State the reward includes:

  1. The privilege of access to the Garden of God and eating from the Tree of Life (Revelation 2:7; 22:2).
  2. The new title of knighthood on the white pebble (Revelation 2:17).
  3. The pillar in the temple, for maximum historical impact (Revelation 3:12).

Message to the Church at Sardis

Sardis was located at the end of a major road that ran east through Philadelphia and across Asia Minor to Susa in Mesopotamia.   Sardis was once the capital of the rich kingdom of Lydia and became the first center to mint coins, which were made of gold from the nearby Pactolus River. The gold was collected from the river with sheepskins.  This was the origin of the "golden fleece."

The old city of Sardis was considered impregnable since it was built on a 650-foot tall acropolis of Mount Tmolus.  However, because of complaisance, the citadel fell twice -  in 549 BC to Cyrus of Persia, and again in 214 BC to Antiochus III.  When the city outgrew the acropolis, it was moved to the plain below.  After its destruction by Antiochus III, it was rebuilt and became part of the kingdom of Pergamum.  It came under Roman control in 133 BC, but, it was devastated by an great earthquake in 17 AD and never fully recovered.  In 96 AD, when John wrote Revelation, the population was estimated at 120,000.

”And to the messenger (pastor-teacher) of the church in Sardis write:  He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I have known your deeds, that you have a name, that you are alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)
The Lord's message to the Christians at Sardis began with a look at their deeds, i.e. their Spiritual accomplishments.  The Lord acknowledged that they were alive.  They had both physical life and Eternal Life.  However, they were Spiritually dead, which means they did not have the Filling of the Holy Spirit, and they needed to Rebound.
‘Wake up, and strengthen the things remaining that were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. (Revelation 3:2)
This was a wake up call from the Lord.  The Christians at Sardis were asleep Spiritually.  They were not executing Bible Doctrine.  They did not understand the issues on the Stage of Life.  They had been advancing Spiritually when they quit.  Consequently, there was unfinished business.  Their Spiritual projects were dying on the vine.  They needed to Rebound and shore up those projects that were about to fall.  They needed to weed and water their vines before they died.  They had not yet arrived in a state of completion in Spiritual Rapport.
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard, and keep it and change your mind (Rebound).  If, therefore, you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:3)
Since they are sleep walkers in the Spiritual life, the Lord would come upon them suddenly like a thief in the night.  The Lord would come like a thief to discipline them.

Winners in Whites

'But you have a few names (persons) in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and who will walk with Me in whites; for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
Soiled or spotted garments represent defilement from sin, such as from a root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).  Spotless garments did not mean that these believers had not sinned.  It meant they were using Rebound as a Problem Solving Device.  Such believers were awake Spiritually.  They were constantly on the alert.  When they sinned, they used Rebound.
'He who is a winner, therefore, shall be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will acknowledge his name before My Father, and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)
The winner believer will be adorned in white garments in the Resurrection Body.  White symbolizes sanctification and purity.  The winner, along with all other believers in Jesus Christ, will not have his name erased from the Book of Life.  Thus, he will have Eternal Life.  All believers will have Eternal Life, but the winner will also be presented in court before the Father and the convocation of Elect Angels.  Thus, winner believers will have a uniform of glory in their Resurrection Body for all eternity.  The white symbolizes sanctification from the blood of Christ (Revelation 7:14).

Message to the Church at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, which is Greek for brotherly love, was the youngest of the cities of the seven churches of Revelation.  It is thought to have been founded about 140 BC by King Attalus II  (159-138 BC), whose nickname was Philadelphos because he loved his brother, Eumenes II, King of Lydia.  The city was an outpost to guard a mountain pass between the Hermus and Meander river valleys.  It was located on two important roads, one from Smyrna to the East, another coming from Rome through Pergamum and Sardis.  The city became a Roman province when the king of Pergamum, bequeathed his kingdom, including Philadelphia, to Rome in 133 BC.

The city was located in a region of rich, volcanic soil.  The area became famous for wine making, and worship of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine.  There was a temple to Dionysius in Philadelphia.  Dionysius was worshipped through the same power as the Prostitute of Babylon. The city was also located on a fault line and suffered from numerous, and sometimes continuous, earthquakes.  The one in 17 AD devastated the city.

Key of David

"And to the messenger (pastor-teacher) of the church in Philadelphia write:  These things says the Holy One, the Truthful One, who has the Key of David:  who opens and no one shall shut, and who closes and no one opens. (Revelation 3:7)
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Holy One, which means consecrated or separated to God.  He is the Truthful One.  Bible Doctrine is true.  And He has the Key of David.  The Key of David can also be given to people.  The Key of the House of David was the gift associated with the promotion of Eliakim to Secretary of State under King Hezekiah of Judah.  This is what the LORD said when he promoted Eliakim:
'I will place the key of the house of David on his shoulder,
And when he opens no one will shut,
And when he shuts no one will open. (Isaiah 22:22)
The House of David was the King's palace, like the White House.  Eliakim was given the key to the palace; so he could lock
people out or let them in.  He could shut them up in prison or promote them.  As Secretary of State, Eliakim was second to the King and had power similar to a Prime Minister.

Thus, the Key of David, which belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, means that He will rule as the Son of David as King during the Millennium.  He will have the key to the royal palace, and He will open doors to let people enter or shut doors that no one else can open.  The open door in scripture is a sign of maximum historical impact.  Having the Key of David means the Lord Jesus Christ will be able to go into the royal palace and rule as the Son of David any time He pleases.  No one will be able to keep Him from His royal destiny.

Open Door

The Church at Philadelphia was the only one that was not reprimanded.  The Christians of the Church were obeying Bible Doctrine.  The Lord placed before them an "open door," which was an opportunity for historical impact (Revelation 3:8).

Synagogue of Satan

'Behold, I will cause those from the synagogue of Satan who allege that they themselves are Jews; yet, they are not, but liars.  Behold, I will cause that they will come and bow down before your feet; so they may know that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9)
The Christians at Philadelphia were persecuted by Hellenistic Jews who opposed the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  These Jews, who were deceived by Satan, were said to be from the synagogue of Satan.  They claimed to be Jews, but they were not.  Only believers are true Jews (Romans 2:28-29; 9:6).  For example Esau was never called a Jew even though his brother, Jacob, was.  However, the Lord would vindicate the Christians and bring their Jewish persecutors to bow down at their feet.  Bowing at the feet does not mean the Christians will be the object of worship.  It means they will receive due respect, which will happen, for sure, in the Millennium when Christian members of the Royal Family will have higher status than the Jews.

Historical Disaster

'Because you have kept the Word from the source of My endurance, I also will guard you from the hour of testing, which is destined to come upon the entire world to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The Christians at Philadelphia have "kept the Word," i.e. they have executed Bible Doctrine.  The Word of God was the source of the power, strength, and endurance of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity.  Consequently, the Philadelphia Christians would be guarded "from the hour of testing" that would come upon the "entire world."  This refers to the destruction of the Roman Empire, and later, to the Tribulation.  Although the Philadelphia Christians did not live long enough to face either one of these disasters, they symbolize those who will.

Crown

'I am coming quickly.  Hold on to what you have in order that no one takes away your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
The phrase, "I am coming quickly," refers to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Rapture.  After the Rapture, the Philadelphia Christians will receive their rewards at the Review Tribunal of Christ.  Since they have already attained Spiritual Maturity, they would qualify to receive crowns if they continued to execute Bible Doctrine.  Crowns of Life and Crowns of Righteousness will be given to Christians who reach Spiritual Rapport.

Rewards for the Winner

In addition to crowns, the winner believers from Philadelphia will receive additional rewards for faithful service in the Church Age.

'He who is a winner:  I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will never vanish away (from history) any more; and I will inscribe upon him:
    (1) the Title of My God, and
    (2) the name of the city of My God, which comes down out from Heaven from the source of My God, and
    (3) My new Title. (Revelation 3:12)
Pillars in the heathen temples had plaques of gold on which were inscribed the famous deeds of great kings.  The winner believer will have a pillar dedicated to him in the temple of God, which will be located on Earth in the Millennium.  The pillar, thus, represents maximum historical impact.  For example, there will be pillars commemorating the deeds of Christians who fought the Prostitute of Babylon in the recent Iraq War.  Winners will have a place in history that never vanishes.

The winner in his resurrection body will also have a new Title inscribed upon him as a son of the Father.  He will also have inscribed the name of the New Jerusalem, "which comes down out from Heaven from the source of God."  The New Jerusalem will be provided in Logistical Grace as a home for members of the Royal Family.  Winners will live in the Royal Palace with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The New Jerusalem will be in geosynchronous orbit above the Earth.  The winner will also have a new Title of Knighthood from the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Knights will have a higher rank than ordinary believers in resurrection bodies.

Message to the Church at Laodicea

Laodicea is the Greek Laodivkeia (Laodikeia), from laos (the people) and dike (justice), which means justice of the people.  The city was founded around 261-253 BC by Antiochus II, a Seleucid king who ruled Syria after the death of Alexander the Great.  Antiochus named the city for his wife Laodice.  It subsequently became part of the kingdom of Pergamum and part of the Roman Empire.  It was located in the fertile Lycus valley on a flat-topped hill about 10 miles from Colossae and 6 miles from Hierapolis, which was famous for its hot springs and thermal baths.
"And to the messenger (pastor-teacher) of the church of Laodicea write:  The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Origin of the creation of God, says this: (Revelation 3:14)
The Lord Jesus Christ referred to Himself as the Amen as He began the message to the Christians at Laodicea.  Amen is a Hebrew word that means that which is sure and valid.  The Lord Jesus Christ in His incarnation acknowledged and obediently responded to the will of God for Him and became the reliable and true Witness of God.  By calling Himself the Amen, the Lord Jesus Christ put the Laodiceans on notice that they were about to hear the truth from the ultimate source of truth, the Lord Jesus Christ, the original creator of all things, "Origin of the creation of God."  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself in His Amen acknowledged the message to the Laodiceans to be His own evaluation, which made it accurate and valid.  The Laodicean Church was the only one about which He had nothing good to say.
'I know your modus vivendi (production), that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. (Revelation 3:15)
The Lord did the metrics on the members of the Church at Laodicea and concluded they were neither cold nor hot.  Their modus vivendi, function of life, was neither hot or cold in the Spiritual life.  The people of Laodicea understood these metrics because of the problem with their water.  Laodicea was the rich, banking center in Asia Minor.  It had everything except water.  Hierapolis to the north had hot water, and Colossae to the southeast had cold water from Mt. Cadmus.  But water for Laodicea had to be piped in from neighboring towns.  An ingenious method of piping in hot water was devised.  Holes were bored in stone blocks, and the blocks were cemented together to carry the hot, mineral water from a spring about 5 miles to the south.  However, by the time the hot water arrived in Laodicea it was lukewarm.  The cold water symbolized the unbeliever, and the hot water symbolized a believer who was executing the Spiritual Life.  The lukewarm Laodiceans were apathetic about the Christian life.
'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out from My mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
The Christians at Laodicea were called lukewarm, i.e. neither hot nor cold.  Notice the reversal of the sequence from "cold nor hot" (verse 15) to "hot nor cold" (verse 16).  This represents the beginning and end of a sequence.  There are Spiritual solutions for cold or hot.  Cold people can be evangelized, and hot ones can metabolize Bible Doctrine.  However, lukewarm believers are carnal.  They have sinned, lost the Filling of the Holy Spirit, and neglected to Rebound.  If they refuse to Rebound, there will be no solution for them.  Their end will be the sin that ends in death, which is described as being vomited out of the Lord's mouth.
'Because you say, "I am rich; I have become extremely wealthy; in fact, I have need of nothing," in fact, you do not realize that you are under stress, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, (Revelation 3:17)
Laodicea was a wealthy banking center.  It was the richest of the seven cities of Revelation.  When the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, the Laodiceans  refused the aid from Rome and rebuilt the city at their own expense.  They were self-sufficient and "had need of nothing."  The Laodiceans were wealthy believers whom God had prospered.  They were actually under the punishment of prosperity rather than adversity.  Prosperity can be punishment for those who lack the capacity to handle it.  The Laodiceans had a temperature problem.  They were lukewarm, which meant they had been hot, but had cooled off.  This was Fire Testing, which produced only slag and no gold, as illustrated by the list of their problems:
  1. Under stress (Greek talaivpwro", talaiporos) - means stressed out, anxiety, affliction, pressure; imploded (inviting outside pressure into the soul).  Stress means the inability to handle pressure, which may come from any axis, X, Y, Z, or Time.  Stress stems from lack of doctrinal thinking on the cerebral cortex, which leads to operation outside the Control Limits of the Soul.
  2. Miserable - means unhappy, without capacity for blessing, no true sense of appreciation; self-centered, eyes on the problem rather than the solution.  Misery is dissatisfaction based on bad values - not the silver and gold from Bible Doctrine.  Misery leads to a Frantic Search for Happiness.
  3. Poor - no Edification Complex of the Soul (ECS) with refined gold (metabolized Bible Doctrine).  Even if they had an ECS, it was covered with scar tissue of the soul.  No functional ECS means no core, foundation, roots, or good values.
  4. Blind - Black Out of the Soul; no faith application; inability to see the Stage of Life to have doctrine verified and recover from scar tissue - a Y-axis problem.
  5. Naked - no robe of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), which is the clothing of the ECS. This is failure to use Bible Doctrine as the X-axis standard.
The Solution

The solution requires realignment of the X, Y, and Z axes, which begins with Rebound.

'I counsel you to buy from Me gold which has been refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. (Revelation 3:18)
First, they needed to buy gold from the Lord and have it refined by Fire Testing.  This is metabolization of Bible Doctrine, which requires authority orientation, i.e. Z-axis alignment, which begins with Rebound.  Next they needed white garments to clothe themselves.  This refers to the Robe of Righteousness in the soul, which is analogous to the X-axis of faith.  The Laodiceans were known for wearing black clothes, which they made from black wool.  Black represents the darkness of Cosmos Diabolicus, which is often associated with the love of money.  Third, they needed eye salve to anoint their eyes so they could see.  This refers to recovery from their problem of blindness, which is a Y-axis problem of those with scar tissue of the soul.  A school of medicine near Laodicea produced an eye salve made from alum, which was called Phrygian powder.  The eye salve, which was touted as a cure for weak eyes, was exported throughout the Mediterranean.

Knocking at the Door Discipline

Since the Laodiceans would not listen to the Lord's warning, they were about to receive divine discipline.  When the divine solution is rejected, all the Lord can do to get the believer's attention is to discipline.  There is no hope for a person who does not respond to punishment.

'Those whom I love I reprimand and I punish.  Therefore, keep on being motivated and change your mind.  (Revelation 3:19)
The Laodiceans were advised to respond to their punishment and change their mind, i.e. Rebound.  Motivation for the Christian must come from the Love of Christ.
'Behold, I stand at the door and I keep on knocking; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter face-to-face with him; I will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)
The Lord knocks at the door of the soul of the reversionistic believer.  Knocking at the door refers to severe punishment that is designed to get the attention of the wayward reversionist, who has booted the Lord Jesus Christ out of his life.  The reversionist can open the door through Rebound, and the Lord will dine with him.  Dining with a person is a type of fellowship.  The Lord will restore to fellowship the one who Rebounds.

Note:  This verse does not apply to unbelievers.  It is not a Salvation message.  It is a very severe warning to believers who are in reversionism.  It is not a gentle tapping on the door.  It is loud banging.  Knocking at the door discipline is the punishment that gives people a taste of death with a severe warning that they are near death.  The punishment will be painful enough to get the attention of the wayward reversionist.

Rewards for the Winner

'The winner, I will give to him to sit down with Me on My throne, just as I also was victorious and I have sat with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:20)
The Lord Jesus Christ has sat with the Father on His throne.  This means to sit on a similar throne - not the same throne.  The winner will rule with Christ in the Millennium (Rev. 2:26-28; 5:10; 20:4, 6; Rom. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:12)

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References

1.  Satellite pictures:  Credit NASA.
2.  "New Testament Sites in Turkey," Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd., http://www.ctsp.co.il/LBS%20pages/LBS_Turkey_ix.htm
3.  "The Seven Cities of Revelation,"  Our Father Lutheran  Church, Centennial, CO.  http://www.ourfatherlutheran.net/biblehomelands/sevenchurches/revelation.htm
4.  "Ephesus,"  The Latter Rain, http://latter-rain.com/background/ephesus.htm
5.   Merrill Unger, R. K. Harrison ed. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, (Chicago:  Moody Press, Chicago, IL 60610), 1988, p. 563.
6.  Op. Cit., p. 423.
7.  Photo Credit:  Pergamon City Model, Staatliche Museen, Berlin;  Kathleen R. Cohen, San Jose State University, cohen@email.sjsu.edu
8.  Photo Credit:  Altar of Zeus, Model, Kathleen R. Cohen, San Jose State University, cohen@email.sjsu.edu
9.  "The History of the Collection," Pergamon Museum, Berlin, 1999. http://www.smb.spk-berlin.de/vam/e/g.html
10.  "Lenin Mausoleum,"  Lenin Mausoleum Foundation.  http://www.aha.ru/~mausoleu/m-hist_e.htm
11.  Even Stein.  Photo:  "Lenin's Tomb."
12.  "The Zeppelin Tribune," http://www.nuernberg.de/tourismus/rundgaenge/reichsparteitagsgelaende_e/e_z_tribuene.html
13.  "Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds," Museen der Stadt Nürnberg.  http://www.museen.nuernberg.de/english/reichsparteitag_e/pages/bauten_e.html
14.  S. M. Bilsel.  "Zeus in Exile:  Archeological Restitution as Politics of Memory,"  Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University, 2000.
15.  Larry Wood.  "Balaam and His Talking Donkey," September 2002.
16.  W. M. Ramsay.  St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, (London:  Hodder and Stoughton), 1907.  http://www.ccel.org/r/ramsay/paul_roman/paul_roman.txt
17.  E. J. Banks.  International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Bible Definitions, "Thyatira Definition," 2003. http://www.reference-guides.com/isbe/T/THYATIRA


Released March 30, 2004 - Revised Jan. 31, 2016

Author: Larry Wood
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