Tuesday 02 September 2014

Bible Book:

“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (v. 7, 11)

Revelation 2:1-11 Tuesday 2 September 2014


These are the first two individual mini-letters written to thechurches named in Revelation 1:11. There are two more in chapter 2and three in chapter 3. Comparing them all shows that they followthe same style, and convey a message from Jesus Christ. In eachcase the opening words highlight one aspect of the writer's visionof Christ in glory which is found in Revelation 1:12-20. Then Christ states hisreasons for praising and/or rebuking that church. Finally there isa promise to those who remain faithful regarding their place in thelife to come; in each case the form appears to be tailored to thatspecific church's situation.

The book of Revelation is written in a style referred to as'apocalyptic' which, in common with much modern fantasy writing,uses symbolic characters and objects to tell its story. Somesymbols require minimal interpretation, such as "the tree of life"(v. 7) because they are found elsewhere in the Bible (Genesis 2:9; 3:24) or the "seven golden lampstands" (v. 1)which are explained in the last verse of chapter 1 as being theseven churches. Other symbols invite an intelligent guess: the"second death" (v. 11) probably expresses the idea that we allsuffer a first earthly death and those subsequently judged by Godsuffer final death afterwards.

Those who "claim to be apostles but are not" (v. 2) and who aresubsequently called the Nicolaitans in verse 6 are probablyGnostics, people who denied that the human Jesus was truly divine.In contrast to these heretics at Ephesus, the church's opponents atSmyrna appear to be a Jewish synagogue; in opposing Christ thewriter suggests they have so forsaken God as to become "a synagogueof Satan" (v. 9).

To Ponder

  • The text printed above these notes, which comes at the end ofeach of these mini-letters, calls to mind the way Jesus often endedhis parables with, "Let anyone with ears listen!" (Matthew 13:9). Why do you think "You neverlisten" is often a valid complaint today? How might we listenbetter to the words of Scripture?
  • What usually works best for you: straight talking or usingwords to paint pictures? Think about this, both in terms of how youprefer to hear and how you prefer to share an idea with someoneelse.
  • Christ's criticism of the Ephesian Christians is that they haveabandoned the love they had at first (verse 4). Why might thishappen to a follower of Jesus?
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