The Bible's Book of Revelation
Part 1
Letters to the Seven Churches


Exploring the
Prophecies of Scripture

"This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he in turn could tell his servants about the things which are now very soon to take place. The Lord sent his angel to make these events known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw, and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they hold fast to all that it says -- because the Time is close."

Revelations 1:1-3

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Subjects covered in this paper are listed below. If you wish to go directly to any specific item, please click on the following headings.

Prolouge to the Book of Revelations
Letter to the Seven Churches
A Line of Kings and Priests
Those Who Pierced Him Will See Him
The Seven Stars
The Angels of the Seven Churches
The Seven Golden Lampstands
The Secret of the Seven Stars
The Letter to Ephesus
The Letter to Smyrna
The Letter to Pergamum
The Letter to Thyatira
The Letter to Sardis
The Letter to Philadelphia
The Letter to Laodicea
You Have Less Love Now
The Nicolatain Heresy
The Tree of Life
The Synagogue of Satan
The Second Death
Followers of Balaam
A White Stone with a New Name On It
Jezebel
The Secrets of Satan
The Iron Sceptre -- Authority Over the Pagans
The Morning Star
Wake Up! Revive What Little You Have Left
The Book of Life
White Robes
Safety From the Time of Trial
Pillars in the Sanctuary of God
The Key of David
Those Lukewarm I Will Spit Out of My Mouth
Buy Gold Tested in the Fire
God Reproves & Disciplines Those He Loves
I Am Standing at the Door Knocking
I Will Share My Throne
God Shows John the Future
What the Throne Looks Like
A Voice Like a Trumpet
A Rainbow All Around the Throne
The Four Holy Animals
The Lion, the Bull, the Human Face and the Flying Eagle
The Song of the Four Animals
Eyes Even on the Inside
The Seven Eyes are the Seven Spirits of God
The 24 Elders
The Sea of Glass
The Scroll With Seven Seals
The Lamb that was Sacrificed
The Seven Horns and Seven Eyes
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
The 24 Harps
The Golden Bowl of Incense Made from the Prayers of the Saints

The Hymn of the Elders
Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand Angels

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Couching a vast flood of prophecies in a numerology of sevens, the Book of Revelation addresses the scattered Christian Churches which had begun springing up across the world in the first century A.D.

At first glance, only seven specific churches dotting the western landscape of Asia Minor (now Turkey) seem to be addressed. But that observation gives way rapidly to an underlying, and infinitely larger quantity whose hidden breadth is quickly explained to John by Jesus, Himself.

A universal interpretation, the explanation given to John resulted in the book's inclusion in the Bible as a message for all Christians on earth -- a message that would stay current for all time.

The seven churches, Jesus explained, have a secret meaning and that meaning is a set of lampstands which are identical to, and match perfectly seven golden lampstands in heaven which surround the throne of God.

In Christ's right hand He holds seven stars. These are the angels that govern Christianity's seven churches.

Surrounding Him in heaven are seven golden lampstands. The seven lampstands, Jesus revealed, are the churches themselves.

There can be no doubt that the seven churches of Asia secretly stand for all the Christian churches spreading across the world. The numerology incorporates the number seven in its full symbolic sense: perfection and completion in the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

Designed by God, John indicates that the Book of Revelation is a letter that emanates from three sources. From God; from the angels that guard the seven churches; and from Jesus Christ.

And even though the seven angels participated in the letter's flow into the world, they also stand in the direct path of its injunctions, its blessings and its warnings.

These are sobering dictates, and they are meant to be listened to by every Christian citizen on earth. 'Do not be complacent in your faith', they tell us. 'Take stock of yourself', they say.' See where you stand in God's eyes'. 'Look closely at your life and measure it against Jesus and His Gospel'. Heaven is not a guarantee. It is an offer that requires action. Not just action yesterday, but now -- today, tomorrow and forever.

God's words scream 'change'. Repentance and contrition echo all across revelations pages and righteous behavior booms relentlessly from every line.

Laodicea is lukewarm and God intends to spit it out of His mouth. Sardis, reputed to be alive, is dead; and the little that has not already succumbed is dying fast. Thyatira is gobbling down false prophecy. Pergamum is being seduced by worldly doctrines. And Ephesus has fallen out of love.

"Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lampstand from its place." The warnings involve angels and churches and people alike. No one is immune.

This is one in a series of three examinations we will take of the Book of Revelation, and it covers the first part of the book -- the letters to the Seven Churches.


A LETTER TO SEVEN CHURCHES

"From John, to the seven churches of Asia:"

"grace and peace to you
from him who is, who was, and who is to come,
from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. "


"He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power forever and ever. Amen."

"It is he who is coming on the clouds, and everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him".

"This is the truth. Amen. 'I am the Alpha and the Omega' says the Lord God, 'who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty'."

Standing on the island of Patmos, 'on the day of the Lord', the Spirit of God possessed John and he heard a voice behind him 'shouting like a trumpet.'

"Write down all that you see", said the voice, "in a book -- and send it to the seven churches -- to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

John turned around to see who it was that had spoken to him and as he turned he saw standing there "seven golden lamp-stands and, surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of man, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a golden girdle.

His head and his hair were white as white wool or as snow, his eyes like a burning flame, his feet like burnished bronze when it has been refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of the ocean.

In his right hand he was holding seven stars,
out of his mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged,
and his face was like the sun shining with all its force.


When I saw him, I fell in a dead faint at his feet, but he touched me with his right hand and said,

'Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld.


Now write down all that you see of present, happenings and things that are still to come.


THE SECRET OF THE SEVEN STARS

"The secret of the seven stars you have seen in my right hand, and of the seven golden lamp-stands is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches themselves. "


1. EPHESUS

'Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, "Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden lamp-stands:

I know all about you: how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. I know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired.

Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.

It is in your favour, nevertheless, that you loathe as I do what the Nicolatians are doing.

If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life set in God's paradise."

2. SMYRNA

'Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, "Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again:

I know the trials you have had, and how poor you are -- though you are rich -- and the slanderous accusations that have been made by the people who profess to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan.

Do not be afraid of the sufferings that are coming to you: I tell you, the devil is going to send some of you to prison to test you, and you must face an ordeal for ten days. Even if you have to die, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life for your prize.

lf anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: for those who prove victorious there is nothing to be afraid of in the second death."


3. PERGAMUM

'Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum and say, "Here is the message ; of the one who has the sharp sword, double-edged:

I know where you live, in the place where Satan is enthroned, and that you still hold firmly to my name, and did not disown your faith in me even when my faithful witness, Antipas, was killed in your own town, where Satan lives.'

Nevertheless, I have one or two complaints to make: some of you are followers of Balaam, who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites so that they committed adultery by eating food that has been sacrificed to idols;

and among you, too, there are some as bad who accept what the Nicolatians teach.

You must repent, or I shall soon come to you and attack these people with the sword out of my mouth. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches:

to those who prove victorious I will give the 'hidden manna and a white stone -- a stone with a new name written on it, known only to the man who receives it."


4. THYATIRA

'Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira and say, "Here is the message of the Son of God who has eyes like a burning flame and feet like burnished bronze:

I know all about you and how charitable you are; I know your faith and devotion and how much you put up with, and I know how you are still making progress.

Nevertheless, I have a complaint to make: you are encouraging the woman Jezebel who claims to be a prophetess, and by her teaching she is luring my servants away to commit the adultery of eating food which has been sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to reform but she is not willing to change her adulterous life. Now I am consigning her to bed, and all her partners in adultery to troubles that will test them severely, unless they repent of their practices; and I will see that her children die, so that all the churches realize that it is I who search heart and loins and give each one of you what your behavior deserves.

But on the rest of you in Thyatira, all of you who have not accepted this teaching: or learned the secrets of Satan, as they are called, I am not laying any special duty; but hold firmly on to what you already have until I come.

To those who prove victorious, and keep working for me until the end, I will give the authority over the pagans which I myself have been given by my Father, to rule them with an iron sceptre and shatter them like earthenware.

And I will give him the Morning Star. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit; is saying to the churches."


5. SARDIS

'Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, "Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

I know all about you: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up; revive: what little you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly call perfect, and yet do you remember how eager you were when you first heard the message? Hold on to that. Repent. If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me.

There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes from being dirtied, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white. Those who prove victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes;

I shall not blot their names out of the book of life, but acknowledge their names in the presence of my Father and his angels. If anyone has ears to hear, let him it listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."


6. PHILADELPHIA

'Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, "Here is the message of the holy and faithful one who has the key of David, so that when he opens, nobody can close, and when he closes, nobody can open:

I know all about you; and now I have opened in front of you a door that nobody will be able to close -- and I know that though you are not very strong, you have kept my commandments and not disowned my name.

Now I am going to make the synagogue of Satan -- those who profess to be Jews, but are liars, because they are no such thing -- I will make them come and fall at your feet and admit that you are the people that I love.

Because you have kept my commandment to endure trials, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is going to come for the whole world, to test the people of the world. Soon I shall be with you: hold firmly to what you already have, and let nobody take your prize away from you.

Those who prove victorious I will make into pillars in the sanctuary of my God, and they will stay there for ever; I will inscribe on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God in heaven, and my own new name as well If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."


7. LAODICEA

'Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, "Here is the message of the Amen, the faithful, the true witness, the ultimate source of God's creation:

I know all about you: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself, 'I am rich, I have made a fortune, and have everything I want', never realizing that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too.

I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you really rich, and white robes to clothe you and cover your shameful nakedness, and eye ointment to put on your eyes so that you are able to see.

I am the one who reproves and disciplines all those he loves: so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him.

Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

Following these vastly important letters is a graphic prelude to the visions of prophecy (covered in Part 2) which give the Book of Revelations its essential character.



A VOICE LIKE A TRUMPET INVITES JOHN INTO HEAVEN

In the next part of John's vision he saw a door to heaven open and heared the same voice speaking to him, the voice like a trumpet. It called him to come up into the celestial palace:

"Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future".


THE THRONE OF GOD

The Spirit of God immediately possessed John. He was lifted up through the doorway and there he saw a throne standing in heaven. On it, God Himself was seated there. Trying to describe what he saw, John said that the Almightly "looked like a diamond and a ruby".

"There was a rainbow encircling the throne -- a rainbow that looked like an emerald", he said.

THE 24 ELDERS

All around the throne in a circle were 24 thrones, and on them John saw twenty-four elders sitting. They were dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads.

Flashes of lightning were coming from God's throne, and the sound of crashing thunder reverberated all around him.

In front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God. Between the throne and John was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal.

FOUR HOLY ANIMALS

In the center, grouped round the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind. The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle.

Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing this song:

"Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
he was, he is and he is to come".


Every time the animals glorified and honored and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives forever and ever.

They threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying,

'You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists'.


THE SCROLL WITH SEVEN SEALS

I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that had writing on back and front and was sealed with seven seals. then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, 'Is there anyone worthy to open the scroll and break the seals of it?' But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it.

THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH

I wept bitterly because there was nobody fit to open the scroll and read it, but one ofthe elders said to me, 'There is no need to cry: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it'.


THE LAMB THAT SEEMED TO HAVE BEEN SACRIFICED

Then I saw, standing between the throne with its four animals and the circle of the elders, a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits God has sent out all over the world.

The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when he took it, the four animals prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders;

each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense made of the prayers of the saints. They sang a new hymn:

'You are worthy to take the scroll and break the seals of it,
because you were sacrificed, and with your blood
you bought men for God of every race, language, people and nation
and made them a line of kings and priests,
to serve our God and to rule the world'.


In his vision, John heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting,

'The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing'.


Then John heard all the living things in creation -- everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying,

'To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honor, glory and power, forever and ever'.


And the four animals said, 'Amen';
and the elders prostrated themselves to worship."

Also See:


The Book of Revelation, Part 2, "Trumpets and Visions"

The Book of Revelation, Part 3, "The Wedding Feast of the Lamb"

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