What Does Revelation have to do with Church Now?

Why are some Christians so greatly interested in chasing fads and so little interested in effectual truth?

Revelation, as most evangelicals understand it, is about the last days and the judgment of evil, and, for the most part it is. “However,” (a BIG “however,” and a “however” most of us do not like to hear and will rarely study or teach on is this. We rather desire to read into the Bible what we want it to say instead of doing an honest, carful, biblical eschatological study or the simple approach of exegetical eschatology. Then we camp on our hill and tend to die on it in our pride, bringing foolishness to ourselves and the Kingdom of God. Let’s not do that.  

We need to see that Revelation is also about how we are called to lead and manage HIS CHURCH! It really is not just about end times, it is so much more. End Times is an aspect, but not the focus. We forget it is a letter to seven churches who were struggling, dealing with disloyalty from within and persecution from without and End Times was the “hook” to get them to refocus at the big picture to look too God and church right.

For example in Revelation 17, the question we need to ask is, are we being a “harlot” with His Church? Not, who could be the harlot that may come? Consider that prostitution is a form of adultery—not just in the sexual sense, but being disloyal to God so we are committing adultery to Him. It is unfaithfulness, and thus corruption and disintegration of our life, faith, and then the family because of the breakdown of the Church resulting in the breakdown of society (Is. 57:3; Jer. 3:8-9; Hos. 2:4). This is about who you pledge your life to. Is it to your own pride? Or, is it to His Church and the glorification of Christ? Or, do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world? Are you so concerned with your way of doing things that His Way is pushed aside or skewed? If so, perhaps you are the “harlot,” or at least acting like it. Consider the struggles of these seven churches and the struggles in your life and church. You may have some prayer and repenting to do! I know I have had to do so!

What does Revelation 3: 7-13 mean to us now?

When we feel weak, we still have His strength, and our faith and resolve to continue to grow our faith will become a mighty pillar that others can look to for encouragement and as an example. We are His example to others; even at our lowest, we can excel for His highest. Let us understand what He has done for us so we can do our best to be faithful even in times of pressures, waiting, and uncertainty.

As with the Church of Philadelphia, each of us personally, and collectively as a local church, has a special provision in His heart. He deeply cares for us and wants us to take the opportunities He gives and make the most of them. Jesus has the authority to open up opportunities in ministry and service as well as exhibit His Fruit and character. In addition, Christ gives us the ability and gifting to accomplish that to which He calls us. Our Lord is genuine and true; there is no other god, deity, or object in all of creation or time that can match or copy Him. He is our authentic God, worthy to be adored and trusted. Our true God cannot be conjured up or manufactured. He is the “real deal.” All others are fabrications that are false, worthless, and meaningless. They only satisfy the lusts of sinful people who do not care what was truly revealed and done for us.

When God opens a door for you, the only one who can shut it is you! Do not allow your trepidations and past experiences rule how you will proceed in your life and call. We are not responsible for how others treat us. We are only responsible for being our best for His glory, to produce Fruit, and to be contagious for the faith. We cannot do that if we wallow in self-pity. Yes, we need times to rest and lick our wounds, but we are not to make a prison out of it, cutting ourselves off from His call and His best!

Questions to Ponder:

1. What would a church of “brotherly love” look like to you? How does it make you feel to know that Jesus has a special provision in His heart for your church?

2. Are you, or have you been worn out and in need of encouragement and hope? What can your Christian community do to help you? How do you find hope in the fact that even though your strength is depleted and no options may be visible to you, you are still in the hands of God?

3. What has Jesus given to your church in the way of opportunities and the empowerment to pursue them? What have you done to take advantage of them? How does taking the open door He gives you bring you joy and pleasure?

4. Many churches have given up and have closed; they have failed to persevere in Christ. What are some of the hardships that your church could face that might cause them to fail? What can be done to make sure your church continues to persevere and seek to please Him?

5. How do you deal with anxiety and disappointments? What can you do to look to Christ for perseverance? How can you prevent sufferings and past experiences from ruling you? How can deepening your walk with Christ help you understand that you can do it, He will help you to persevere?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:10-13

When others come against us, they are coming in opposition to Him. He knows about this, and will respond in His time. We may not feel it is the right timing, but we do not see all the interwoven circumstances, His grace, or His persistence. He wants us to trust Him and have the determination to press on with our faith and obedience. The Jews were giving this church a hard time, and they were worn out from it. However, Jesus was saying Do not fret or worry; I will take care of it. He will take care of you, too!

· Keep you from. The meaning here is that Christ will deliver and protect those who are faithful and righteous, who claim Him as Lord. Many commentators have taken sides with this verse saying Christians will be spared from the Tribulation. This is reading into the text what is not there. Keep does not mean to remove or prevent; it means to preserve (John 17:15; 1 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 7:3).

· The hour of trial. This is a way to say the “Apocalypse,” or times of extreme hardship, trials, suffering, and/or being tested. This phrase denotes a widespread, universal (as throughout the Roman Empire) suffering as opposed to a local persecution. This can also refer to the “Great Tribulation” and/or the “Great Judgment” (Rev. 2:9-10).

· To test those means we are purified and refined when we go through the consequences and essence of life. These have a purpose; nothing happens to us without a reason that is meant to teach and grow us (Job 23:10; Psalm 12:6; Prov. 17:3; Isa. 43:2; Jer. 11:4; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:4-28; Mark 13:19; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Pet. 1:5; 4:13; 5:1; Rev. 13:5-10).

· I am coming soon was a phrase used by the early church as a yearning for the Second Coming of Christ, that He could come sooner. Here, Jesus is saying hold on to your patience. This infers that Christ’s return is imminent, not necessarily in timing, but in His actual presence amongst us. Whatever we face, it is only for a season and then it will be over! Our hope is our relationship with Him and in His imminent return, not in what is going on around us (James 5:9: Rev. 1:1; 22:7, 12, 20).

· Crown means victory; we have triumph in Christ no matter what happens around us.

· Him who overcomes/one who conquers means ‘be faithful, ‘ referring to the winning of an athletic event or military campaign. The application for us is to persevere in the face of adversity, and so be better for it. (Rev. 2:7).

· Pillar refers to the faithful people of God who are stable and can support others. Pillars hold up large buildings. We, as the faithful, hold up Christ (as in glorifying Him), and we hold up others (as equipping and encouraging them). There is a “play on words” here because of the earthquakes (Ex. 24:4; Isa. 56:5; 1 Cor. 3:16; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5).

· Temple refers to the inner sanctum where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, rather than the whole of the temple building. This is where the presence of God dwelt (Lev 26:11-13; Rev. 4:6-8).

· Name of my God. This refers to the seal of God’s ownership, as names meant not only possessions, but also who possessed you and that person’s character (Rev. 14:1; 21:2, 10; 22:4).
· New Jerusalem refers to the city and its eminence in Jewish culture and faith. Being faithful is the key that opens to us the door to life in the New Jerusalem (Psalm 87:5-6; John 13:34; 16:33; Gal. 4:26; Phil. 1; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:1-22:5).
· Coming down is used figuratively to contrast where God rules from above and we, as humanity, live below. Also, it could be a possible reference to the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:7-9

· Church in Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia means “loyalty and devotion,” which we translate from the Greek word as “brotherly love.” This was the city’s way to reverence its gods, Artemis, Helios, Zeus, Dionysus, and Aphrodite, and the Roman emperors Attalus II and Eumenes II (220-130 B.C.) who were brothers. The city was devastated by frequent earthquakes and was destroyed in 17A.D., then rebuilt. However, it then had a smaller population than the other cities. This city is now called Alashehir. It was a city of some importance from John’s time through the Middle Ages because of its commercial centers and trade roads leading in and out, and was considered the gateway to Asia Minor.

· Holy and true refers to the deity of Christ, meaning that God is the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25; Hab 3:2-3; Mark 1:24; Rev. 6:10; 15:4; 19:11).

· Key of David is one title of Jesus Christ as the Messiah from the line of David. Key means the person who holds the authority of the house, connecting it with David, and denotes His authority to open and shut all things and that He is in command of His Kingdom. It also means that only Christ is authorized and able to lead and save us. Jesus uses this image to encourage them, that even though they have been excluded from the synagogue and from their friends and family, they are not excluded from Him! They are special and the real heirs to David (Isaiah 22:22; Hab. 3:2-3; Matt. 16:19).

· What he opens has two meanings. Our opportunities would be one; the other is His opening the door to the Kingdom in contrast to the Jews who shut it (Matt. 23:13; 1 Thess. 2:15).

· Little strength. This church has remained faithful throughout all of the devastating persecutions, but they are worn out, and need encouragement and hope.

· Synagogue of Satan means being apostate, opposing Christ, and refusing to heed the precepts of God’s Word and call; it means doing the opposite, which is one’s own will and agenda. A Synagogue was a place of worship, a place for learning and studying, and a place for community activities. Jesus refers to the local Synagogue, which, as with the Church of Smyrna, was very antagonistic to the Christians (John 8:39-44; 2 Cor. 11:14-15; Rev. 2:9-10).

· Claim to be Jews. These Jews were claiming that all the nations would eventually bow down to them because they were the real children of God by lineage and history versus the Christians, who were His real people by faith. To be His people means we accept His election by faith; thus by faith, as demonstrated by obedience, we are His children. This is compared to someone who just goes to a church, or says he or she is a Jew or Christian but never takes his or her faith seriously or for real. We either belong to Christ or to Satan; there is no middle ground (Psalm 72:10-11; Prov. 14:19; Isa. 49:23; 60:11-14; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 2:28-29)!

· Fall down at your feet refers to reverence and a posture of worship and of great respect and awe. Here, it means that Christians will be at Christ’s feet (Isa. 45:14; 60:14; Acts 10:25; Phil. 2:10; Rev 1:17).

· Acknowledge that I have loved you means that since Jesus loves you, you should not care who else does or does not. Also, the opponents of Christianity will be judged, so we are not to concern ourselves with those who oppress us; they will get what they deserve! We, who are His faithful, have received our place in His kingdom; the pretenders will not have a place (John 17:23).

Our bad experiences can be like a prison, keeping us within the bars we have made from fear, anxiety, and stress. Such a prison prevents our being stretched or experiencing any growth from learning, therefore preventing us from taking what we have been through and making it sweet and productive. Having persevered in the past helps us persevere in the future. The church at Philadelphia was able to do so, so we can, too. The key is to hold on even when we do not see any handles to grasp. When we hold on to Him, and Him alone, Christ will reward and keep us, and we will be victorious!

Revelation 3:7-13

Introduction

The Church of Philadelphia

“The church of brotherly love.” Jesus had a special provision in His heart for this church, even though they were weak in their standing and resources, and tried by persecutions from a demented culture and the apostate Jews that surrounded them. Jesus encouraged them to persevere, and told them that they could do it. Christ plainly tells us that when He gives us opportunities, He also gives us the empowerment to pursue them; therefore, He wants us to take advantage of them. What Jesus does not want from us is apathy or complacency, laziness caused by burnout, or anxiety caused by our failures. We are not to allow suffering or past experiences rule us. He does not want us to neglect Him because we are afraid of others or of what He might call us to do. He will never call us to do anything that we are not capable of doing with excellence, or to go anywhere we would hate to go. Our gifting means that we will desire to be used and even thrive in it. Our service to Him will be a joy and a pleasure, even when times are dark.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is Holy and true! That means He is untouched by sin and always comes through for those who are in sin. He also has the ability and right to judge our sin. He is not required to forgive us because of duty; however, He forgives us anyway. This is the love and grace that He gives us.

Even though the church in Philadelphia had little left to give, they still gave. When most people would have given up and churches would have closed, they persevered. They recognized His holiness and wanted to continue to please Him in their spiritual formation and service, even though they did not know how, where, or even if they could. Jesus was with them, as He is with us today, saying yes you can, and I will help you! This church has persevered all through the centuries, experiencing devastating earthquakes, disasters, invasions, and famine, and is still there to this day! Imagine what Christ can do for us when we do not give in to fear or give up because of our situation!

The Church of Philadelphia, as with the other six churches, was surrounded by countless gods and goddess, all worshiped and adored even though they were all made up in the minds of people to suit their own agendas and needs. (Only Christ is true and can satisfy – 1 Cor. 8:5-6; Rev. 6:10.) They were burnt-out, weakened by all their bad experiences, and wondering what was next. Like the Church of Smyrna, they too were expelled from the Jewish community and synagogue, cut off from their friends, family, and all networking and business opportunities, which were their livelihood. This left them open for more persecution from the Romans. Even with their strength depleted and no options visible, they were still in the hands of God who had a plan and was presenting them with new chances and prospects to thrive, all for their betterment and His glory.

The Four Main Views of Revelation 2: 1-7

Preterist view: Sees this passage as addressing actual historical churches.

Futurist view: Believes as the Preterist and Historicist, too. Many theologians of all these views hold that they are historical and point to all churches, and that there is no hidden meaning in these chapters.

Idealist view: Sees these churches as symbolic with no specific reference in history, place, or time, but rather as a template for church history and the seven ages of the Church. Both Idealists and Historicists see Ephesus as the Apostolic Age to 100 A.D.; Smyrna is the church under persecution 100 to 300 A.D.; Pergamum is the church after Constantine and the Dark Ages of corruption 313 to 500 A.D., false teaching, and carnality. Thyatira is the Middle Ages of the power of the Papacy and corruption, 500 to 1500. Sardis is the Reformation 1500 to 1700 (Reformed denominations attack this position because Sardis is described as actually being dead). Philadelphia is the church with evangelism and missionary movements,1700 to the present. Laodicea represents the liberal churches from 1900 to the End of Days.

Historicist view: Sees this passage as parallels to all churches, which every church that ever was or will be will fall in one of those seven “categories.”

Questions to Ponder:

1. How would you appraise your church from this letter? What is your church doing right as listed here, and what is it doing wrong?

2. This church of Ephesus is being praised for its good and is also threatened with judgment if they do not start to love. Why would Jesus use such strong language with them?

3. Why do you suppose this church had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ugly that happens when a key component of doing Church is left out?

4. Why would someone think that are “improving” Christianity by teaching people to compromise their faith so they can join in the culture?

5. What happens when we run our churches to please ourselves or for our comforts and ideas? Do you believe that if we refuse love then we are refusing Christ and we will be judged for it?

6. What is the condition of your church? What can you do to implement the prime purpose of glorifying Christ as a purpose statement or active slogan that is understood and applied?

7. What can you do to carefully and seriously examine your own church so you are all doing your best for His highest? What would it take to make the needed improvements? How would the people in your church handle some examination?

© 1992-2009, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

What does Revelation 2: 1-7 mean to me?

Revelation was written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). The principle purpose for the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise. He restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

God’s purpose for John in Revelation is not that he be condescending or judgmental. Rather, it is so he could offer hope and encouragement to the Church. At the same time, it points out the issues and problems so we can address them and move from our ways to His Ways. If we just sit and point fingers at problems, ignore them, rationalize they are OK, or worry we might offend people and do nothing about fixing them, we do the Church, God, and ourselves a disservice. We are called to know what we are doing and His precepts so we can be better for His glory. Let’s take a hard look at our church and see where we are with what He has called us to, and have the courage and fortitude to fix what we are not doing right so we can seek being our best for His glory.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. We are to allow the flow of the Spirit, and to be Sprit-led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13)!