BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 5: Revelation 3:1-6

Summary of passage:  Jesus speaks to the church of Sardis, saying their deeds are not complete and they need to repent.  Otherwise, Jesus will come like a thief.  There are a few faithful in Sardis who will walk with him dressed in white and earn eternity with the Father.


11a)  He knew their deeds and sins.  He commanded them to strengthen the good within, obey his laws, and repent of sins.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I need to keep striving especially when I sin, following Him and his will for my life.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The righteous and encouragement for the life after.

Conclusions:  11b and 12 are similar and similar to ones we’ve answered before.

End Notes:  Sardis was a city on the decline from its former days of glory in the sixth and seventh century BC but was still wealthy and sat on major trade routes of the day.  Like the other cities, Sardis was a known place of immorality and pagan worship.  Sardis seemed to have been known as a city of decadence and loose living even in the ancient world.  It sat on high cliffs and sported a huge citadel.  It had the fourth largest temple to Artemis in the Roman world.  In the fourth century AD, it built the largest synagogue in the ancient world.

Note the use of the number seven–the number of completeness in the Bible.  Jesus is wholly God (the 7 spirits) and wholly man in the form of churches.  From Revelation 1:20 we know the 7 stars represent the churches.

As with all the churches, Jesus knows their deeds–as he knows ours.

Note Jesus did not tell them to stand strong against persecution or false doctrines so we can assume the church didn’t face a lot of that.  What they did face was no heart.  They talked the talk with no walk.  They did not live out the Spirit.

Jesus tells them to do more; what they are doing is not enough.  They are half-assing life it seems. He wants them as they were when they first heard the Word–passionate, joyful, and eager for Him.  Outwardly, they were alive; but inwardly they were dead.

He will come like the thief if they do not.  This is either judgment or the rapture before the judgment.

Note Jesus points out the remnant and encourages them.  In Pergamum (Revelation 2:14) and in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20) there were a few bad among the good; in Sardis it was the reverse–a few good among the bad.

In ancient times, people could not approach pagan gods in dirty clothes.  White was the color of purity (as it is today like a wedding dress) and for the Romans the color of triumph.  Clothed in white symbolized a believer’s triumph over sin and evil and God’s righteousness upon him.  This also could refer to our glorified bodies upon resurrection.

The opposite?  Black and dirty.

The ultimate reward:  walk with Jesus.

In ancient times, names would be blotted out upon death or upon conviction of a crime.  In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs’ names would be blotted out as well by the following pharaoh if they were disliked, effectively eliminating their existence to future generations.  Indeed, this is what happened to Tutankhamen and why his tomb was found virtually intact:  he was forgotten!  Tomb robbers quit looking for him.  But God will never quit looking for us!  How amazing!

God will never blot out our names once we are His.  And Jesus will acknowledge and accept us!  What grace!

Sardis Christians were apathetic and overconfident in their faith and semi-good works.  Jesus admonishes them and says, “No!”

What is the Book of Life?  The Book of Life is a real book that Jesus will open on Judgment Day (Revelation 20:12).  It contains all the names of those saved.  Those names not written will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

Can a name ever be erased from the Book of Life?  Perhaps.  There are five instances in the Bible that speak to this.

Exodus 32:32:  Moses said to the Lord: But now, please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

Exodus 32:33:  The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.”

Psalm 69:28:  May they  be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

Here in our passage in Revelation 3:5:  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and his angels.

Further in Revelation 22:19:  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree (some translations have “book” here) of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Here, the Greek word for “share” means “section.”  Hence, some commentators compare this to a hotel reservation.  You have a room reserved but until you actually check in, it is not officially yours.  Hence, every person born is in the book; but only if they accept Jesus (check in) will their name be officially written in the Book of Life.

Hence, conclusions are mixed for we just don’t know.  Some scholars say once a Christian you will be saved and forgiven no matter what you do.  Others say if you are a Christian and renounce Jesus and his teachings then your name will be blotted out and you will go to hell.  Some say these people’s names were never written in the book to begin with, which is in line with Rev 3:5 which promises names will never be blotted out.

For me, I just worry about myself and my actions.  I can’t control others.  Am I walking God’s way?  Do I accept Jesus as my Savior?  Then I have nothing to worry about;  I know where I’m going.

Romans kept registrars of its citizens and criminals names were blotted out, signifying a loss of citizenship.  The analogy would not have been lost on the first century Christians:  not a good thing to have your name blotted out–it meant death to your lifestyle, rights, privileges, etc.

Fun Fact:  Sardis is the first church Jesus has nothing good to say.

The Color White:  White makes its appearance 5 times in the book of Revelation:  Reve 3:4-5, 3:18, 4:4, 6:11, 19:14.  All symbolizing spiritual purity.

Map of Sardis:

Conclusions to Lesson 5:  Works alone do not guarantee us a relationship with God.  He knows everything we do and He knows our hearts.  Are you going through the motions?  Or are you going all out for Jesus?

Righteousness is a gift from God.  Jesus is a gift.  White robes are a gift.  All we do is accept with believing faith.

All the cities John listed were in order of the route a messenger would have taken, starting with Ephesus (see map above) and circling back clockwise.  All are in modern day Turkey.  None of these churches survive today.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 4: Revelation 2:18-29

Summary of passage: Jesus says the church in Thyatira is improving but they are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings, which lead to sexual immorality and idol worship. Jesus intends to make those who commit adultery with her suffer and will kill her children. Those who haven’t followed her Jesus encourages to hold fast to him. If they do, he will give them authority over nations and the morning star.


9)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Jesus says he will give authority over the nations and he will be the one to dash them to pieces (judge them).  He will also give believers the morning star (himself).  Imbed the truth in my heart and do my best to not be influenced by outsiders and let him be in control.

10)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Jesus’ will for us is to follow him, obeying all of his commands, and to go and make disciples of others for his kingdom.  He rewards us with eternal life with the Father.  It means everything to me.

Conclusions:  Extension of yesterday with emphasis that Jesus is our one, true reward–what we live for, strive for, and serve for.  He is our everything.

End Notes:  See yesterday’s analysis HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 3: Revelation 2:18-29

Summary of passage:  Jesus says the church in Thyatira is improving but they are tolerating Jezebel and her teachings, which lead to sexual immorality and idol worship.  Jesus intends to make those who commit adultery with her suffer and will kill her children.  Those who haven’t followed her Jesus encourages to hold fast to him.  If they do, he will give them authority over nations and the morning star.


6)  The Lord commended their improvement in deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance of him.

7a)  Thyatira and Pergamum both were susceptible to false teachings and prophets, sexual immorality, and idol worship.

b)  She was impudent, shameless, evil, wicked, ruthless, unrepentant, murderer, a thief, and a bully.  She abused her power to gain what she wanted.  She pushed her religion upon everyone.  She was a false prophetess.  She almost brought down God’s people (see End Notes for her history).

c)  She will suffer and her children will be struck dead.

8 )  Personal question.  My answer:  Jesus is just (punishing according to deed).  It challenges me to do right always, to know I will be judged by Jesus, even in the little things.  To remember Jesus is not just the “warm and fuzzy” Jesus some churches portray him as; he’s also the final judger of deeds and a healthy fear would be good to imbed in my soul.

Conclusions:  The questions themselves weren’t challenging; the commentary and meaning behind it all especially in relation to the other churches was.  I would encourage all of you to take your time here.  Read more than the passage.  Really study what Jesus is saying here.  Imbed it in your soul.  Read commentaries.  Ask questions.  Investigate.  I promise you will be rewarded if you do.

That being said, be cautious of commentaries especially ones online.  One commentary I read said the children of Jezebel was the Roman Catholic Church and the commentator went on to chastise the church.  Obviously, Catholicism did not exist in the first century so this interpretation is extreme.

Use common sense and prayer.  If something is way out there, don’t believe it.  If it doesn’t line up with your beliefs of what is right or what the bible says, then disregard it.  Remember, gathering ideas is a good thing; but we also cannot know God’s ways.  Man’s interpretations and analysis is not God’s.  But we can learn from those around us.  Hence, our time sharing our answers in BSF!

With practice and God’s guidance you will be able to decipher the good versus the junk out there and you will grow in unbelievable ways.

End Notes:  Jezebel’s name is synonymous with evil.  She was a princess of the Phoenicians and was married to Ahab, king of Israel for political reasons.  She worshipped Baal and brought her religion with her (hence God forbid the marriage of foreigners).  She convinced Arab to build a temple to Baal in the capital of Jerusalem and set out to exterminate the worship of the One, True God.  She installed 850 priests of Baal and slaughtered God’s prophets.

In the end, she died as she deserved–thrown out a window and driven over by a chariot.  Her body was left to be ravaged by the dogs, fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy (1 Kings 21).

Thyatira was the most insignificant of the 7 cities.  It was the smallest and no persecution or suffering of Christians is even recorded in history occurring in this city.

Map of Thyatira

Still, it was a city of trade and Acts 16:14-15 mentions Lydia who traded in cloth, a good Thyratira specialized in.

To say “son of” something meant to the Jews you had the nature of that something.  Here, Jesus purposely uses “Son of God” to emphasize his deity to the people.  Revelation 1:14 and 1:15 is repeated here as well when Jesus describes himself with “eyes like blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze.”

Again, fire is judgment here and bronze is pure and steadfast.

Jesus picks this insignificant church in the ancient world to show that no one is insignificant in his eyes.  He cares for all and watches all.  He praises their love, faith, service, and perseverance–4 qualities that mark a good Christian.

Praises BUT…

The people were following a woman who was leading them astray, a false prophetess whom Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:11.  Whether her name was actually Jezebel or not, scholars are unsure.  Some even speculate she was the pastor’s wife as the Greek words could be indicative of that translation.

What is important here is the significance of the name; every Jewish person would have known immediately who Jezebel was and how evil she was in the eyes of the Lord.

Her sin was leading others to sin (Mark 9:42).  In the ancient world and beyond into Medieval times, a craftsman had to be a member of a trade guild in order to prosper and gain work.  Here, in ancient times, trade guilds were closely associated with the pagan gods which would entail sexual immorality and the eating of foods in the people’s worship ceremonies.

Note “my” servants.  We are all Jesus’s.

“Deep secrets” of Satan referred to the Gnostics who all claimed they knew such things.

Giving her time to repent is Jesus’s great mercy and love.  We are all given time to repent, but the time is limited.

The sin was also tolerating Jezebel.  The people needed to throw her out and now before she could corrupt others.

“Adultery” here is also spiritual adultery.  The people were betraying Jesus when they followed pagan ways.

The NIV uses “bed of suffering”, which is much closer to another translation of “sickbed.”  We know from 1 Corinthians 11:30 that God does use sickness as a method of judgment.  The word used here for “bed” in Greek is a banqueting couch.

“Suffer intensely” is also rendered “great tribulation” in some translations, which brings up THE Great Tribulation.  “Striking her children dead” and the mention of the tribulation here has some scholars saying all this is for future generations–meaning us.

Jesus still hopes for repentance “unless they repent of their ways”.  He uses punishments as a push towards him.  He never loses hope until the last second.

“Heart and minds” in Greek is “heart and kidneys.”  The heart was the source of intellect; the kidneys emotions.  God wants both.

Hold on until Jesus comes.  We are to hold fast to him until the End.

Jesus is encouraging the faithful:  “overcome and do my will to the end.”  We are to focus on Jesus despite all the immoral crap around us in the world.  If we do, we are promised the ultimate reward:  the morning Star, which is Jesus himself (Revelation 22:16).  Morning star could also be knowledge of God’s ways (2 Peter 1:19).  I happen to think it’s both–we get Jesus and knowledge all at once!

The iron scepter is a reminder that Jesus shall vanquish the unfaithful.  He alone is to worry.

Scholars debate when as always–either the millennium rule or the final rule or rule from heaven.

The Greek word here translated “rule” means to shepherd.

Again, Jesus tells us this message is for all including us.  A warning to unrepentant sinners; a ray of hope for those holding on to him.

Fun Fact:  This is the first and only time Jesus calls himself the Son of God in the book of Revelation.  Why?  Because this church is heavily engaged in idolatry.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 5, Day 2: Revelation 2:12-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus praises the church in Pergamum for its fidelity to him even in the face of  persecution and the death of Antipas.  He condemns them, however, for some following the teaching of Balaam and Nicolaitans and tells them to repent.  Jesus says those who overcome will receive manna and a white stone with a new name written on it.


3)  They remained true to his name and did not renounce their faith even under persecution and the death of Antipas. (See explanation of Antipas in End Notes).

4a)  Balaam was the false prophet hired by Balak to curse the Israelites which God would not allow him to do.  It is believed it was Balaam’s idea to subvert the Israelites by using women and sex and causing them to sin and idol worship.  (We studied this extensively last year).

b) Part personal question.  My answer:  “The sword of his mouth” i.e. the Word of God. Knowing God’s word has shown me what God says is right and wrong not what society says is right and wrong.  It is the ultimate moral code, the one we will be judged upon, infallible and pure.  It has corrected my thinking in terms of gay marriage, sex before marriage, capital punishment, etc.

5)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Those who are victorious will gain heaven as their reward. It encourages me to keep working for Him even when I am so utterly discouraged I want to quit.  There is a plan for me; I just have to believe it.

Conclusions:  Thoroughly enjoyed this lesson.  It kept to the passage and the personal questions were applicable. There is so much here packed into 5 verses.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Antipas was the first martyr of Western Asia.  Precious little is known of him.  Some say he is the same Antipas as Saint Antipas (who may not have even existed either).  You can read HERE and HERE on him.

Antipas means “against all”.  The name Antipas is a shortened form of Antipater, one of Alexander’s successful generals (c. 397-319 B.C).  Many men and even women (Antipatris) in the Greek world were named after him.  Great in-depth article on Antipas and Pergamum HERE

Pergamum was the Roman capital for the Asiatic region under Rome’s control.  It had been the capital for more than 300 years.  It was a city noted for learning and knowledge, boasting one of the biggest libraries in the ancient world.  The city of Pergamum was a headquarters for several pagan cults and emperor worship began here (having three temples to the emperors and numerous other temples to Roman gods and goddesses) and spread, possibly the meaning behind “where Satan has his throne.”

Pergamum built the first temple to Caesar Augustus 50 years prior to John’s writing.  It had a huge temple to the Roman God, Asclepius, the God of healing, and people from all over the Empire would travel here in hopes of being healed.

Map of Pergamum:

In Revelation 1:16, John introduces the double-edged sword coming from Jesus’ mouth and repeats the idea here.  This would become a popular image as the writer of Hebrews uses this as well (Hebrews 4:12).  It stands for the Word.  Jesus is holding the Word here as His weapon.

The people did not deny Jesus’ faith.  Key point.  His faith, not our faith.

Notice Antipas and Jesus are both called “faithful witness.” (Revelation 1:5)  The word witness here used to be translated martyr and here the NIV is right.  The original Greek word (martus) meant witness.  Only in the first century AD did the word begin to take on the meaning of martyr in the English sense.

Nothing is known about Antipas except what is recorded here.  History forgot him.  But Jesus didn’t.

Balaam (his story is in Numbers 22-24 and again in chapter 31) encouraged sexual immorality and idolatry.  In the ancient world, there was no concept of sexual immorality except with the Jews.  The Romans married but were not faithful.  If they wanted to sleep around, they did.  And they saw nothing wrong with that.  These are people who had sex in temples remember.  It was their culture.  It wasn’t until the spread of Christianity that God’s way became the standard.

Here we see the Nicolaitans again (Revelation 2:6).  Again, not much is known of the Nicolaitans.  Some scholars say they were followers of Nicholas who was ordained by the apostles and who believed in revelry, adultery, and indulgence to the extreme. Other scholars say they were more gnostics who believed a physical body was intrinsically evil and denied the fact a pure, omnipotent God would take such a form. Hence, some claimed Jesus was a phantom or that God left Jesus before he was crucified. The Greek root words of Nicolaitan means “to conquer the people.”

Best explanation of Nicolaitans HERE.  Best brief account HERE

God’s people here allowed these practices to continue.  They were complicit in the sin, doing nothing to stop it.  Hence, Jesus’ rebuke.

5 of the 7 churches are commanded to repent or face judgment using the Word.

Hidden manna is God’s perfect provision–Jesus (John 6:41, 51).

In the Roman world, a white stone was known as tessera and it was a form of currency if you will. It was used as tickets to banquets, signs of honor and friendship, and even as a sign of acquittal in court.  Stones were also used in voting methods.  Citizens or those eligible to vote were given two stones:  a white one and a black one.  A white one meant “yes” and a black one meant “no.”  Citizens would drop only one stone when they voted.  This method was mainly for enacting laws.

Interesting historical note:  these stones were used to vote for the Nicene Creed.

Another interesting historical note:  this is where the colors also became associated with good and evil in the secular world (besides the use in the Bible).

Further interest:  This system of using black and white balls was carried over to the modern world for electing new members to clubs, fraternities, and guilds.  This is also where the term “blackballing” comes from albeit the meaning of the word has changed in modern times.  Cool short summaries HERE and HERE.

People’s names were carved on these stones, or more accurately, pebbles in the Greek.

Here, the white stone serves as the ticket to heaven, the “new name” probably the believer’s new name engraved on it.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 5: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage: John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets. He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).


13a)  Death, torture, death

b)  Death, torture, death

14a)  Because it is just the body that suffers, not the soul.  The soul is what lives on in heaven–which is what matters.  All believers in Christ go to heaven.  There is nothing to fear in Christ.

b)  Knowing there is something beyond this realm gives hope and faith in suffering.  Our suffering turns others towards Him as we are living examples of faith.  Jesus himself suffered as we are called to do as well.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We had this question last year as well.  I have not suffered anywhere remotely close to the first century Christians and living in the US has sheltered me from suffering physically.  I personally have not suffered in any life-impacting way.

Conclusions:  Not sure how any of these questions relate to the passage directly; they are extrapolations to Jesus.

End Notes:  See previous POST for commentary.

Conclusions to Lesson 4: We focused in on the first two letters John wrote to the churches of Ephesus and Smyrna.  We saw the major difference between the two is Ephesus was rebuked for turning from Christ; whereas, Smyrna was only encouraged and praised for its suffering for Christ.

A lot of repetition in questions from last year.  I suppose BSF asks these every year but it stands out to me this year.

I have also come to realize as I grow in Christ and as my knowledge grows these questions seem repetitive to me because I have answered them before and I know them.  I know more of the Bible and God’s Word and to me it’s easy because I do know it.  I’m trying to keep that in mind that BSF is appealing to all wherever their walk is with Christ so some questions will be repetitive and redundant to some of us but not others.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 4: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage:  John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets.  He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).


11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”  Jesus was, is, and will always be.  What is important about Jesus is just that:  he has always existed and he died for us.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

12a)  Jesus knows their afflictions, their poverty, those who are of the synagogue of Satan, and he knows of their future sufferings and persecutions.

b)  Poverty is just a state of being here on earth.  What matters is after death and if you have Jesus, you have all the wealth in the world.  Jesus made himself poor (by being human and sacrificing himself) so that we all may be rich in heaven.

Conclusions:  Emphasis on Jesus’ character and persevering in this world.  Great reminder for all of us as we trudge through our days.

End Notes:  Very, very similar to the letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Smyrna was a very wealthy city similar to Ephesus.  It was a great trade city and lay at the end of the river Hermus and was a port city.  It was big and beautiful and known for its trade in wine.

Smyrna had multiple temples to the Roman gods but eventually the people began to worship the Roman emperor.  Smyrna built the first temple to the goddess of Rome in 196 BC and was the first city to build a temple to a Roman emperor in 23 AD.  It was the Roman emperor Domitian who first demanded to be worshipped as a god.  It was also probably him who banished John to Patmos.

Christians refused to worship the emperor; hence, the persecution Jesus is speaking of here.  All they had to do was burn incense and say “Caesar is Lord” once a year and be upon their merry way.  They refused and faced death.  How many of us would?

Smyrna comes from the word myrrh–the same gift to Jesus at his birth and the perfume used to cover the smell of dead bodies.

MAP of Smyrna

Jesus again echoes his appearance to John in these words he chooses to identify himself with.

Just like in Ephesus, Jesus knows their works and their hardships.  One form of persecution is economic and Christians lost their jobs and livelihoods for their belief.  The word “poor” here in the Greek means abject poverty.  They were dirt, dirt poor.

History tells us there was a large Jewish population here hostile to Christians.  Paul wrote thus they were not considered Jews in Romans 2:28-9, thus were labeled “a synagogue of Satan.”

Jesus tells them they are rich.  Rich in their eyes.  Often we don’t see this either.  All that really matters is how Jesus sees us.

We will see in Revelation 3 how the Laodiceans were rich but poor.

Jesus tells them to not be afraid; the devil (in the Greek the word is diabolos meaning accuser or adversary) will test them but only for 10 days.  God will limit their trials.  Prison in ancient times was a holding place for death.  Not like it is today.

Scholars will debate the number 10 here.  Was it literally 10 days or was it 10 years or was it 10 emperors?  The Greek word for 10 days was not literal and an expression of speech–it meant a short period of time.  The important thing here is that the persecution was limited by God.

Note:  Daniel was tested for 10 days as we’ll read in Lesson 8 Day 2.

God purpose was to test, to purify, to make His people more like Jesus.  This would prove how rich they were.  Out of the seven cities, this is the only city still in existence today (now called Izmir in Turkey).

We can be tested today and have a heart and live a martyr’s life.  Sadly, many Christians don’t.

MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM EPHESUS:  There is no corrections here.  No rebukes.  Only encouragements and praise.  Smyrna is the first of just two churches (the other being the church of Philadelphia Rev 3:7) Jesus has only words of praise.

The Greek word for crown here means the one given to an athlete (not one a king wears).  Winners.  The crown of life.

The second death is hell or lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

This letter is about persevering through persecution.  In the Western world, we are not persecuted as the first century Christians were.  Still, in other places in the world, Christians do face life or death over their faith in Christ.  It is estimated more Christians died in twentieth century for their faith than any other time frame.  Pray for an end to persecution.

Other interesting links:  Brief history of Smyrna with photos HERE

Great explanation of Jesus’ message to Smyrna HERE

Most famous martyr of Smyrna is Polycarp, a student under John the Apostle.  His story is HERE and HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 3: Revelation 2:1-7

Summary of passage: John addressed the church in Ephesus and its angel (or messenger or priest or church). Jesus says he knows of the church’s hard work and how they have tested false prophets and endured hardships. Yet, they have abandoned him and need to repent or face the consequences. To those who hear him and overcome, they will receive the tree of life or the paradise of God.


7)  The people have forsaken Jesus.  They are not repenting of their sins.

8a)  By doing things Jesus wouldn’t do and going against his will.  By being selfish, prideful, sinful.  By kicking God out of the center of your life and putting another idol there instead.  By not loving others.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Walk in Jesus’ ways.  Know God’s word.  Obey Him.  Share the gospel.  Do what Jesus would do.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Repent means to turn away from sin and turn towards making changes in your life.  My words.  My actions.  My selfishness.

10a)  In Genesis, the tree is an actual tree that grew and bore fruit.  In Revelation, Jesus in our tree of life and in him lies our fruit.  Jesus is our life.  The tree in the Garden was man’s death.  Believing in Jesus gives us life.

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  All we must do is believe in Jesus to have life and live in Paradise with God.  It is hope defined.  To walk with God.  Forever.  There is no greater hope.

Conclusions:  I liked the comparison of the trees.  So simple.  Even for Adam and Eve it was simple.  I think that’s why we fail all the time.  It’s so simple it’s hard for us to believe it.  We always think there’s a catch.  But there’s not.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Period.

End Notes:  This is commentary on verses 4-7.  See Yesterday’s POST for commentary for verses 1-3.

Forsaken means abandon–a deliberate act.  The church hasn’t “lost” love.  It has turned away from it.

What “love” is this?  The love of Jesus or the love of people?  Probably both here.  We must do both. It’s easy to get caught up in the “doing” rather than the “loving”.

The first step is to always remember.  Then the next verb (an action of doing) is to repent–turn away from what you are doing and go a different path.  Then do the things you did at first (study God’s word, pray, evangelize, spend time with other Christians and others).

If they do not repent, Jesus will leave (“remove your lamp stand”).  Immediate judgment.

Not much is known of the Nicolaitans (mentioned again in Rev 2:15).  Some scholars say they were followers of Nicholas who was ordained by the apostles and who believed in revelry, adultery, and indulgence to the extreme.  Other scholars say they were more gnostics who believed a physical body was intrinsically evil and denied the fact a pure, omnipotent God would take such a form.  Hence, some claimed Jesus was a phantom or that God left Jesus before he was crucified.  The Greek root words of Nicolaitan means “to conquer the people.”

What’s important here is this:  Jesus HATED their practice.  The Son of Man who was pure love hates. That in and of itself should tell us they were sinful people to the extreme–enough to be mentioned twice by Jesus.  Not good.  Not good at all.

This message is for us (to all who have an ear) who will overcome sin and coldness and have his heart.  Reward?  Heaven.  The tree of life refers to Eden–Paradise.  Where God lives.  Paradise originally meant garden of delight.  Now it means where God lives.  God is paradise.  In eschatology and in Revelation paradise is where God and believers are restored to the perfect fellowship that existed before sin entered the world.

“He who has an ear let him hear”.  This appears in every letter (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).  A challenge to take to heart what Jesus is saying.

“To the one who overcomes”.  This appears in every letter (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).  A challenge to be victorious over evil.