Chapter two in Revelation covers four out of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. Today, I am going to cover in this post, four churches: the positive and the negative traits of each one. People have good and bad qualities. We do what is right sometimes and we do wrong. What can we learn from these churches today? Along with sharing positive and negative traits, admonitions were given to each church.
The Positive And The Negative In Ephesus
The positive qualities of the church in Ephesus are that they worked hard and persevered. Also, they did not tolerate wicked people. What are churches like today? Do you know of any that possess these qualities? These people tested those who said that they were apostles, yet they really were not. They were found to be false. In your life, in the group of believers and church that you are affiliated with, do you notice who is real and who is not? Many people pretend to be spiritual, yet they are not. Also, they don’t teach people truth. They tell people what they think they want to hear. In one of the Epistles in the New Testament, a verse states that some teach to tickle the ears of their followers. This is very similar!
Another great quality of the Ephesians is that they endured hardships for the name of Christ. They did not grow tired doing it either. Also, they were praised for hating the practices of the Nicolaitans. This was good, as the Angel writing to the Ephesians stated that he/she also hates the Nicolaitan practices.
Hating The Nicolaitan Teaching
In a different letter, you will see a church that embraced the Nicolaitan teaching. The Nicolaitan’s lived a life of hedonism. Their goal and main aim in life was to seek and do anything that brought them pleasure. I don’t believe that this is what God wants and expects from us as believers. It isn’t wrong to enjoy life, but to seek only pleasure and not honor God by living a life of sacrifice, is wrong. I think of certain churches today that teach us that God will give us anything we want, if we only give or do various other “spiritual” things.
The One Negative Trait-Forsaking The Love They First Had
Now, on to the negative characteristic of the church in Ephesus. They had forsaken the love that they first had for the Lord. So, if they were doing all of these other good, spiritual things like working hard, enduring hardships, not tolerating wickedness, testing the apostles and not embracing false teaching, then how and why did they have a negative characteristic of forsaking the love that they first had for the Lord?
Can We Do Good, Yet Not Love The Lord?
Can a person do all the good things they should, yet really not love the Lord? The answer is yes! We can look good on the outside and do spiritual things, but really lack love! Love is inside our heart but also radiates so that others can see. Loving people also is a product of loving the Lord. We can say that we love the Lord, do godly things and help people, but if we really don’t love them, it means nothing! (1 Corinthians 13)
Repent And Do What You Did At First:Love!
Ephesus then was told, “Do this instead: Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do what you first did! If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand!”
Listen to what the Spirit says to these churches!
The Positive And The Negative In Smyrna
The church in Smyrna went through difficult circumstances. They did have good spiritual qualities even in the midst of these hard times. However, they were encouraged to not be afraid of tough events coming soon. We can have a great walk with the Lord even though we are going through tough times. It certainly is not easy! Our faith tends to grow weak because we don’t understand what the Lord is doing. We hurt because we think that if the Lord truly loves us, “why would He allow us to have such difficult times?” I believe that in their difficulties, they still had a soft heart.
How Were They Rich?
The people in Smyrna were also poor. They were considered rich though! How were they rich? Their riches were in their giving because they were so generous! “Things” did not matter to them! They were grateful for what they were given. So then, they turned right around and gave to others! Other people may have never known that they really did not have much since they gave regularly. These people must have had humble, kind, thankful and giving hearts!
They Were Slandered
Those who claimed to be Jews but weren’t slandered the church at Smyrna. The people who slandered them really worshiped Satan, not the Lord God!
Do Not Be Afraid
The church in Smyrna was encouraged to not be afraid about what they were going to suffer soon! They were told that they will go to prison and suffer persecution for ten days. They were told to be faithful even if they are about to die. He will give you life as a crown. I’m not a fan of pain, personally and can’t say that I look forward to persecution, but the Lord will reward those who go through persecution.
Be Faithful And At Peace
This is hard to hear, that we should be faithful even if we are close to dying, isn’t it? There really is no fear when we know our Lord and Savior. We can have peace knowing where we will spend eternity.
Hear what the Spirit says: “the one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by their second death.”
The Positive And The Negative In Pergamum
Remember the one whose words of Him who had the sharp, double-edge sword (one of the Gold Lampstands)?
They Did Not Renounce Their Faith
I know where you live! (where Satan has his throne). So the people in Pergamum didn’t live in a good area, but they did remain true to Christ. They remained faithful, not renouncing His name even when Antipas was killed. That was in a terrible area where this passage states that Satan lives there! So they did not even renounce their faith. They were courageous and strong when it came to their faith.
Pergamum Lived For Pleasure. They Followed Balaam and The Nicolaitans
One of the two negative traits that I see in the church in Pergamum is that they held on to the teachings of Balaam, (Numbers 22-24) who taught King Balak to tease the Israelites to sin and eat the food that was offered to idols, as well as committing sexual immorality. They also followed the teaching of the Nicolaitans who practiced hedonism. Both traits, following the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, are similar as they both sought to live for pleasure and for themselves. The difference, according to the early church writings, was that Balaam would draw people away from God by luring them where the Nicolaitans influenced people into sin by authority and control. The end result of both was the same: People lived for themselves instead of God. God calls us, as the church, to give our allegiance and live our lives for God alone.
As a result, they were told strongly to repent, otherwise, Jesus, the Son of Man, will come to them with a sharp sword in His mouth and will fight against them.
Again, another time we hear “He who has ears, let them hear what the spirit says. To the one who is victorious, they will receive hidden manna. Also will give a person a white stone with a new name on it, known only by the one who receives it.”
The Positive And The Negative In Thyatira
The positive traits of the Thyatira church are that they loved, had faith, they served and they persevered. They practiced this more later than they did at first. So, they improved, they grew as a church and as individual believers!
But, the negative trait was that they tolerated Jezebel! She called herself a prophet! Does this happen in our time? Jezebel was evil; yet this church tolerated her. They allowed her and her characteristics to exist in and permeate their church. In other words, they did not correct people living in the way that Jezebel encouraged. She promoted food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality also. There is a lot of this in our culture today too! We really have to step up and let people know when they are living immoral lives; that they are not honoring God.
They Did Not Repent When They Had Time
Revelation 2 states that the Lord has given her (Jezebel followers) time but they will not repent. This happens today as well! Believers and unbelievers have every opportunity to repent, but they refuse. As a result, they will suffer. Then, I will strike her children dead and all the churches will know that I search hearts and minds and will repay for what you have done. They will have consequences for what they did!
The Lord writes to the rest of the church in Thyatira, specifically the ones who did not go along with the teaching of Jezebel and know Satan’s secrets. He will not give them any other burdens except to keep what they have until He comes.
Reward For Living A Victorious Life
To the one who is victorious and does His will to the end, I will give them authority over the nations! You will rule like I have received authority from my father! God will give them the morning star!
Whoever hears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Seven Churches!
These words were written to those who held the Seven Stars (Angels of the seven churches) and Seven Gold Lampstands (seven churches).
How Do We Apply This Today?
There are several lessons that we can learn from all of the churches in Revelation 2-3. Today, I wrote on just the first four churches.
Do These Things:
- Continue working hard for the Lord
- Endure hardships
- Love the Lord, don’t just do good things
- Listen to good teaching
- Walk with the Lord even in difficult times
- Be thankful
- Be faithful
- Be afraid
- Renounce your faith, regardless of where you are at, where you live.
- Follow the teachings of Balaam, the Nicolaitans and Jezebel. Their purpose in life was pleasure! They please themselves instead of living for the Lord.
The Lord rewards those who live victorious lives! Repent and Repent Soon!