Page images
PDF
EPUB

him hear what the Spirit saith | unto the churches; He that the full establishment of his kingdom, thinking multitude; they would not at the end of the Mosaic law.

discern its import; it was for those It is not supposed that all the who had ears to hear, – i. e., ears Christians were then personally pres- that were open to hear. Such were ent before the Son of God. He was called upon particularly to take notice not personally present himself on earth of what was said. Dr. Campbell at that time. It was not an outward, says “that Jesus Christ never emrisible, tangible crown which the ploys the words, “He that hath ears faithful Christians were to receive; to hear,' &c., in the introduction or but it was then to be made manifest conclusion of any plain moral instructo the world, by the establishment of tions, but always after some parable, the gospel and the overthrow of the or prophetic declarations figuratively Jewish nation and religion, that the expressed.” Dis. II., part iii., sec. 5. Christians were right ; that they had | What the Spirit saith. — John spoke labored in a just cause; that they had by the spirit. The spirit of the risen fought a good fight; that their stead. Son of God was with him to guide fastness was not in vain. This was him into all truth; Rev. i. 10. This a crown, full of brilliant gems. They spirit was “the spirit of truth,” had been cast down and trodden "whom the world cannot receive, under foot. Their enemies had tri- because it seeth him not, neither umphed over them. They desired no knoweth him ;" John xiv. 17. T Overother crown than to be fully vindi- cometh. The style here, as we have cated before the world, — their course had occasion to show before, is pecu. approved, — their doctrine establish- liarly that of the apostle John; 1 ed, — the faith they had kept made tri- Epis. v. 4,5. | Second death. - This umphant. That was a crown indeed! phrase occurs nowhere except in the

What a bright halo of glory has book of Revelation ; see ii. 11; xx. encircled the head of Paul (to make 6, 14; xxi. 8; and these are all the him the representative of many others) instances of its occurrence. And ever since the appearing and king- what is the “second death ?” We dom of the Lord Jesus. He has shall give a direct answer, in the lanbeen honored, and forever will be guage of Scripture. Rev. xx. 14: honored, by the church of God. His “ And death and hell were cast into name has been written on her ban- the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND ners in letters of light. Although so

DEATH." And again, in Rev. xxi. 8: great a persecutor before his conver- “But the fearful and unbelieving, sion, although born out of due time, &c., : shall have their part in yet he has been associated with Jesus the lake which burneth with fire and the apostles in the affections of and brimstone, WHICH IS THE SECOND the church universal. His crown was

DEATH."

Here we feel confident, that not personal aggrandizement, for that to be cast into the lake of fire and his soul did not desire ; but it was the brimstone was the second death. The high satisfaction of standing vindi- revelator, at the time he mentioned cated before the world as having kept the “ second death,” in the case the true faith, as having defended a before us, had been speaking of the righteous cause, as having fought a rebellious and persecuting Jews, "the good fight, as having labored for the synagogue of Satan.” That the advantage of the world.

Jews as a nation were cast into the 11. He that hath an ear.- - This lake of fire when their city was shows that what the revelator had destroyed the second time, will be uttered was worthy of deep con- evident to every one who will read sideration. It was not for the un-| Ezek. xxii. 18—22. See also Isa.

.

overcometh, shall not be hurt of 13 I know thy works, and the second death.

where thou dwellest, even where 12 And to the angel of the Satan's seat is : and thou holdchurch in Pergamos write ; est fast my name, and hast not These things saith he which denied my faith, even in those hath the sharp sword with two days wherein Antipas was my edges;

faithful martyr, who was slain

The pecu

xxxi. 9: “The Lord's fire is in Zion, retains the name of Bergamo, Bergaand his furnace in Jerusalem.” They mah, or Bergma. | He which hath the suffered the second death, then, - - an sword with two edges. - This is a referutter, total death, - at the time of the ence to the Son of man; see i. 16; entire overthrow and extinction of and to the notes on that text we refer their nation. “ He that overcometh, the reader. shall not be hurt of the second death ;" 13. I know thy works. - This was i. e., he that is faithful through all said to the whole seven of the tribulations, shall not be involved in churches. | Where thou dwellest. the general calamity which is about The place is specially referred to, as to fall on the Jews, and on all the if for some reason it was worthy of enemies of Christ. Let the reader particular observation. examine the following passages, and liarity is brought out in the next he will see that the terms “fire and words. Where Satan's seat is. brimstone" are terms frequently em- That is, his location, his place of influployed by the sacred writers to de- ence and power. There had been a scribe the judgments of God in the great opposition to Christianity there. present life; Gen. xix. 24; Deut. It was a place of great heathen xxix. 23; Job xviii. 15; Psa. xi. 6; strength. The immense library was Isa. xxx. 33 ; xxxiv. 9, 10; Ezek. there, which perhaps brought together xxxviii. 22 ; Luke xvii. 29. For the heathen and Jewish scholars from further remarks on the second death, all parts of Asia, Greece, and the see our comments on Rev. xx. 6, 14; more western parts of the world. and xxi. 8.

This would tend to give character and strength to the opposition to

Christianity. The word Satan has 12. Angel. - See the notes on ii. much the same general use in the 1 and 8. | Pergamos. - This place Scriptures as diabolos, or devil. In is mentioned but twice in the Scrip- the case before us it is used for the tures; Rev. i. 11; ii. 12. It was a adversaries collectively at Pergamos. celebrated city of antiquity, the most Peter was the Satan when he opposed important place in Mysia, and the his master; Matt. xvi. 23; Mark vili. most northerly of the places that 33. In one case Satan seems to sigcontained the seven apocalyptical nify a disease; Luke xiii. 16. But churches. It probably existed eight when Paul says, “The God of peace or ten centuries before Christ. It was shall bruise Satan under your feet famed for its library, which yielded shortly,” Rom. xvi. 20, he refers only to that of Alexandria in extent undoubtedly to the human adversaries and value, and it is said to have con- of Christianity: The word seems tained upwards of two hundred thou- also to bear the same sense in 1 sand volumes. It was the birth-place Thess. ii. 18 : “ Wherefore we would of the celebrated Galen, and in its have come unto you, even I Paul, vicinity there was a famous temple once and again ; but Satan hindered of Æsculapius. The modern town us.” We do not suppose Paul meant

EPISTLE

TO THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS.

among you, where Satan dwell- eat things sacrificed unto idols, eth.

and to commit fornication. 14 But I have a few things 15 So hast thou also them against thee, because thou hast that hold the doctrine of the there them that hold the doc- Nicolaitanes, which thing I trine of Balaam, who taught hate. Balak to cast a stumbling-block 16 Repent; or else I will before the children of Israel, to come unto thee quickly, and

that some invisible, intangible, mali- things faithful. He led the children cious agent had power enough over of Israel somewhat into idolatry and him to succeed for a length of time uncleanness. There were men like in hindering him against his will him in the church at Pergamos, who from doing his duty. We shall define were willing to compromise with Satan's seat then to be the place of a their heathen neighbors, for the gratpowerful and wicked opposition to ification of their lusts. Persons of Christianity. And yet the church as this description are mentioned by a body stood fast. T Hast not denied Peter, 2 Epis. ii. 10–15, and Jude 4. my faith. — They did not abandon the 15. Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. – name of Christ, and they held fast his This church differed from the church faith, even in those terrible days when at Ephesus. The latter hated the Antipas was slain. Dr. Hammond deeds of the Nicolaitanes, but the tells us that Antipas was cotemporary church at Pergamos had those among with the apostles; that he was bishop them who held the doctrines of that of the church of Pergamos, and that sect. Who these were, and what in his very old age he fed and ruled were their faults, will be seen by the the flock in all godliness. He was a notes on ver. 6. faithful martyr, and was slain where 16. Repent. — This is a word of Satan dwelt.' It is certain from the wide import. It signifies not only to text that he was a Christian, that he change the mind, not only to have was faithful even unto death, and sorrow for past misdeeds or neglects, that he was slain at Pergamos as a but to reform the life. Thus the witness of Jesus. The character church at Ephesus was called on to bestowed upon this church was, in repent, and do the first works,” ver. general, very honorable to them. 5; i. e., reform their lives, and get

14. But I have a few things back again to duty and faithfulness. against thee. — Notwithstanding the Come unto thee quickly. See what praise which had been bestowed is said on this topic in the notes on upon them, there were some things i. 1, 3. It is remarkable how particamong them that were wrong. They ular the Son of man was to show had not divorced themselves from that his coming in judgment was not those who held the error of Balaam. distant. See, also, Matt. xvi. 27, 28; And what was that? Balaam taught Mark viii. 38; ix. 1; Luke ix. 26, 27. Balak, king of the Moabites, “to cast | Sword of my mouth. - This is a a stumbling-block before the children reference to what is said i. 16; "out of Israel." See Numb. xxxi. 16 : of his mouth went a sharp two-edged “Behold, these caused the children of sword.” This two-edged sword was Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, the word of God. The word of God to commit trespass against the Lord, is repeatedly represented by a sword. in the matter of Peor, and there was “ The sword of the Spirit, which is the a plague among the congregation of word of God,” said Paul, Eph. vi. the Lord.” Balaam was not in all 17. The author of the epistle to

will fight against them with the of the hidden manna, and will sword of my mouth.

give him a white stone, and in 17 He that hath an ear, let the stone a new name written, him hear what the Spirit saith which no man knoweth, saving unto the churches: To him that he that receiveth it. overcometh will I give to eat 18 And unto the angel of the

ear.

the Hebrews employs a comparison let. It was a sign of worth and instead of a metaphor. " For the purity. The figure perhaps was word of God is quick, and power- drawn from the breast-plate of the ful, and sharper than any two-edged high priest, which had four rows of sword, piercing even to the dividing precious stones, three in each row, asunder of soul and spirit, and of the and on each stone was engraved the joints and marrow, and is a discerner name of one of the tribes. In this of the thoughts and intents of the way Aaron bore the names of the heart;" Heb. iv. 12. The word of children of Israel in the breast-plate God being the sword, is said to be the of judgment upon his heart, when he sword of the mouth. By that word went in before the Lord. He thus they would be condemned, if they did presented them justified in God's not reform.

sight; Exod. xxviii. 29, 30. God 17. He that hath an See threatened the Jews who showed signs the remarks on verses 7 and 11 of of idolatry, that he would destroy this chapter. | Hidden manna. — The them, “and blot out their name from manna was that food from heaven by under heaven;" Deut. ix. 14. Here which the children of Israel were sus- are the opposites. Those who fortained in their forty years' journey sook the true God, and turned to idolthrough the wilderness. It was a atry, were to have their names blotted favorite custom of the apostle John to out; while those who were faithful to represent the gospel under the figure the end, and kept themselves free of food. He learned it of his Master. and uncontaminated by the idolatry Jesus called himself the bread of God, by which they were surrounded, that came down from heaven to give should have a new name, a more life to the world. It was the same honored name, which, like the names style of metaphor to represent the of the tribes on the breast-plate of gospel by manna, - hidden, not visi- judgment, should be engraved on a ble manna. This may have refer- stone, white as a sign of purity and ence to the manna being kept in a honor. And this name should be a pot in the temple; or it may mean pass-word to glory and distinction. spiritual manna, such as is not visible None should know it, except him to the outward sense of sight. In who received it. It could not, therever. 7 we read that he who overcame fore, be counterfeited ; and it was a should weat of the tree of life, which sure security to the individual who is in the midst of the paradise of possessed it that his honors should God.” The hidden manna is another never be lost. metaphor to describe the same thing. The intention was, to signify that the EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA. Christians who were faithful under 18. Thyatıra. — This was a considthe trials described in the Apocalypse, erable city, not a great distance from should be entitled to, and should Pergamos, and in the way from the enjoy, the highest delights of the gos- latter place to Sardis. It is menpel. T White stone. — This was a tioned in Acts xvi. 14, where we are mark of honor. The stone here told that the pious Lydia, who rereferred to was a beautiful white tab- Iceived Paul and Silas at Philippi,

church in Thyatira write; These and thy patience, and thy works; things saith the Son of God, and the last to be more than the who hath his eyes like unto a first : flame of fire, and his feet are 20 Notwithstanding, I have like fine brass ;

a few things against thee, be19 I know thy works, and cause thou sufferest that woman charity, and service, and faith, Jezebel, which calleth herself a belonged to Thyatira. The modern was an excellent commendation, and name of it is Akhissar. Smith and was the reverse of what was said to Dwight, the American missionaries the church at Ephesus, verses 4, 5. at Armenia, state that its aspect is still the church at Thyatira was not poor and mean, that it has of late perfect. Their last state, on the been built up of wood, and that it whole, was better than the first, but it probably has not more than five was not wholly without fault. thousand inhabitants, of whom fifteen 20. That woman Jezebel. - The Jezhundred may be Greeks. Mr. Elli- ebel, by way of distinction, was the ott, in his Travels, gives a more wife of Ahab, mentioned in the 1st favorable account, and represents the and 2d books of Kings. She led inhabitants to be nearly double the her husband into idolatry, slew the number given above. Perhaps, says prophets of the true God, entertained McCulloch, the truth may lie between the prophets of Baal, in great num. these conflicting statements. |Son bers, at her own table, and at last of God. - This is the only instance came to a miserable death. She was of this phrase in the Apocalypse. a woman of great impurities. The We find the expression in all the New name Jezebel occurs only once in the Testament; but no writer employs it Apocalypse. It is not probable there so often as John ; see Gos. i. 34; iii. was a person at Thyatira by that 18; v. 25; ix. 35; X. 36; xi. 4 ; xix. name; but it is used metaphorically, 7; xx. 31 ; 1 Epis. iii. 8; iv. 15; v. either for some corrupt woman who 5, 10, 13, 20. By the use of this had so great an influence in the phrase in the case before us, we are church that she could not be expelled, distinctly told that the glorious per- or for a body of false teachers. As sonage mentioned in chapter i. as the Jezebel mentioned by the revebeing “like the Son of man," was lator is said to have claimed to be “a the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare i. prophetess,” she was probably some 14, 15, with ii. 18. This will verify influential female, called by that the fact completely. In both cases name, because her character and his eyes are said to be as flames of influence were like those of Jezebel fire, and his feet as fine brass. of olden time, exceedingly bad. She

19. I know thy works. It will be seduced God's servants to commit seen that works are twice referred to fornication, which may be understood in this verse. We think the sense literally or metaphorically, for unof the verse is this: “I know thy faithfulness to God, and impurity in works in general, — thy charity, thine the matter of faith. | Eat things administering to others, thy faith, sacrificed unto idols. Among other thy patience, these are thy works. vices she seduced God's servants to 1 And the last more than the first. - eat things sacrificed unto idols. This Two seasons are here referred to, has been before mentioned as one of viz., the season before, and the season the errors of Balaam; see ver. 14. during, tribulation. In the last, the When the early Christians became church at Thyatira appeared to more convinced that it was the purpose of advantage than in the first. This God to receive the Gentiles into the

« PreviousContinue »