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[* NOTE. “Believers and Their Judgment” is here included by way of an ‘Introduction’ to the following author’s tract. – Ed.]

 

 

 

BELIEVERS AND THEIR JUDGMENT

 

BY R. GOVETT.

 

 

The extreme severity of discipline maintained by many of the opponents of this truth bears silent testimony against them.

 

 

The Church is the nursery for the Kingdom.  The disciples’ exclusion of an offending brother from communion with the Church, and putting him into the world again, is a silent witness of the Lord’s future exclusion from the [Millennial] Kingdom.  The sins which ought to exclude from the Church will exclude, as the Apostle tells us, from the Kingdom: 1 Cor. 5., 6.  The two chapters touch each other; so close also is their real connexion.

 

 

Does the disciple then, for even a mistaken opinion, thrust out his fellow [regenerate] believer from the Church into the world?  Oh then, much more shall the Lord exclude from the Kingdom for open and flagrant sin, against which even natural conscience bears testimony!

 

 

All the results of this great doctrine it is impossible to foresee.  But some important ones may be traced.

 

 

If its opponents maintain their hold on the doctrine of the Millennium it will drive them to strange extremities.

 

 

The present attitude of most assailants is this:-

 

 

1. ‘We admit, that there will be rewards

 

 

2. ‘We confess, that the believer sins, and as a consequence receives chastisement.  But it is only in this life

 

 

3. Some go further, and allow that offending believers will suffer loss at Christ’s coming.  ‘But it will not amount to exclusion from the Kingdom’.

 

 

But the outcry against the doctrine is so sharp, that those who admit so much will find themselves in a very awkward position.

 

 

Impartial Christians aroused at the stir, and learning the state of the case, will say to such: ‘What! are you crying out that this man is subverting the truth, and unfit for communion, while you are holding the very principle he affirms, and differ only in the extent to which it shall be pushed?  Christ, You admit, will call believers before His judgment-seat.  You think that negation of reward alone will ensue.  He, that in extreme cases, positive punishment will be awarded.  Is that all the difference about which this loud hue and cry is raised?  You agree in the principle, you differ about its extent.  If he, then, be a burglar, you are guilty of petty larceny

 

 

Such assailants, too, will be looked on with suspicion by the stouter-hearted opponents of the doctrine, as almost traitors to the truth.

 

 

Most then will take up the ground - ‘Chastisement, but only in this life

 

 

Your proofs, friend?

 

 

‘“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin 1 John 1: 7.  Ours is no half-Saviour

 

 

But you admit, that, in spite of Jesus’ atonement, the chastisements of God descend on the offending believer in this life.  It is no bar then to their falling on him in the next ‘age’.*  What Scriptures are there which assert, that chastisements shall not befall an offending disciple when our Lord appears?  No such passages are forthcoming.

 

[* See Luke 20: 35; 1 Tim. 6: 18-, 19. cf. 2 Tim. 4: 14; 2 Thess. 2: 6, 7, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 4: 3-8, etc.]

 

Proofs to the contrary are many and plain.  Take those from a single Gospel: Matt. 5: 22-30; 7: 21-27; 10: 32, 33, 39; 16: 25; 18: 7-9, 21-35; 24: 45-51; 25: 1-30.

 

 

This will be felt then to be not very tenable ground.  The reasons why chastisement must end with this life, will be very hard to find, very hard to establish.  Many believers have died out of the communion of Churches from which they have been justly excluded for [wilful or deliberate] sin.*  Will they be accounted worthy of a place in the [Lord’s Millennial] Kingdom, who were put out as unworthy of a place in the Church

 

[* See Heb. 10: 26-31.]

 

 

Lastly, you admit, friend, that there will be rewards for the saints’ good deeds, at Jesus’ appearing.  There must then be punishment for their evil deeds, if the coming day, be “the day of justice” (“judgment”).  Shall we give account only of our right expenditure as stewards? or of thriftless and extravagant expenditure also?  We may wish it otherwise: but is it not written - that each will “receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be GOOD or BAD2 Cor. 5: 10.  “He that doeth WRONG shall RECEIVE FOR THE WRONG WHICH HE HATH DONE, AND THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONSCol. 3: 25.

 

 

Those [regenerate believers] then who will be quit of this doctrine at all hazards will scarcely feel any position a safe one, but that which asserts: (1) That there is no precept given to the elect of God; (2) And, by consequence, that they never sin, nor ever receive chastisement.

 

 

This awful position of unbelief I shall not here assail.  My only object is to show the main bearings of the controversy, and to urge believers to look into the matter prayerfully, submitting themselves to the Word of God.  To Father, Son, and [Holy] Spirit, be all glory!  Amen.

 

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

1

CHRIST’S JUDGMENT OF HIS SAINTS

AT HIS RETURN

 

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The study of our Lord’s words to the Seven Churches of Asia seems of especial moment in these last days; specially in relation to the claim which is set up on behalf of ‘the Church  that “it is to be treated, in the coming Day of judgment, on the sole principle of mercy - escaping all judgment

 

 

Let us, then, turn our eye to the Lord’s words to the Seven Churches.  First comes the epistle to

 

EPHESUS.

 

 

The point of Old Testament history on which this epistle is moulded is - ADAM AND EVE IN EDEN.

 

 

I.  The first division of the epistle is - THE TITLES OF THE SPEAKER, as taken from the descriptive vision which precedes.  These rule the two following divisions.

 

 

1.  He “holds the seven stars in His right hand  It is no longer one man and one woman.  But seven Assemblies and seven Leaders are raised up by the Second Adam, who is also the Lord God, to whom the rulers of the churches, and the churches themselves are responsible.

 

 

2.  “He walks amidst the seven lamps of gold

 

 

The one lamp-stand in the Tabernacle of the desert with its seven subordinate lamps, has become seven independent lamps in different states, and needing different treatment.  The Tabernacle is removed from earth to the heaven.  The Saviour walks among the seven candlesticks.  This refers to what we read in Genesis 3. After the disobedience of our first parents, “they heard the sound (not ‘voice’) of the Lord God walking in the Garden (as a man) in the cool of the day.  And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden  But the angels do not hide now; nor would the lamp-stands avail to hide them.  The stars tell of the evening come.  The Walker still the Lord God; but He is also the risen man, and High Priest in resurrection of the Holiest above.  He is the Judge, who now dispenses encouragement, warning, and rebuke.

 

 

II.  The second division sets before us – “The things that ARE  The state of the churches; not ‘of the Church

 

 

The Saviour knows the work of the Chief Pastor, and of the Church entrusted to him.  “Thy candlestick  He treats first of what is good.  He finds seven grounds of praise.  (1) Labour and (2) patience.  (3) “Thou canst not bear evil men; (4) thou hast tried those who say they are apostle, and are not so, and hast found them liars; (5) and thou hast patience, and (6) hast borne for My name’s sake, and (7) hast not been weary The angel is far better than Eve; he is not deceived by Satan or his emissaries.  He has laboured for Christ, whom he owns as both the Son of God, and Son of man.

 

 

But he has left his first love.  This is a second Fall, and that a fall from the God of all goodness.  He is called on at once to ‘Repent or his lamp may be put out of the sanctuary.

 

 

(8) There is, however an eighth praise; he hates the works of the Nicolaitans, as also does Christ.

 

 

III.  We have now arrived at the third or last division - the Spirit’s word to the Churches.  “The things that are about to take place after these things - after “the things that Are

 

 

Here we have a word of encouragement, not to the angel alone, but to every one in the Church; for all are professedly at war with Satan.  “To him that overcometh will I give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”  This is not Eve taking, against leave, fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong; but the Lord of earth and heaven, to whom belongs the Paradise of God, bestowing on each enterer of the New Eden in the millennial day, fruit of the tree of life.  It is a literal tree; as literal as that of Eden.  But, after the Flood, it is no more found on earth - though the dove of Noah, by the olive leaf it bore, told of the time of peace to come.

 

 

2. SMYRNA.

 

 

Here is a new reference to the Old Testament.  We have a fresh view of CAIN and ABEL.

 

 

I.  The titles of Christ come first.  “These things saith the First and the Last (the divine name of the Son of God) who become dead (as Jesus, Son of man) and came to life again,”  On this turns the exhortation to be firm under persecution; and the concluding promise.

 

 

II.  “The things that ARE  The Saviour does not speak of the “works” of this angel.  He was so persecuted that he was not able to work, as in peaceful times he would.  “I know thy (1) Trouble and (2) Poverty (but thou art rich).”  Here is the contrast to Laodicea, not persecuted, and falsely boasting of the riches of earth, which cannot profit in the Day of the Lord.

 

 

The Angel was assailed by Jews, who boasted themselves as the only people of God.  But, like Cain, they were liars.  They blasphemed the Son of God; and were become “the synagogue of Satan

 

 

The question was the same as in the days of Abel.  How may God the Holy be approached?  Cain drew near without the blood and fat of Atonement - and was rejected.  Abel drew near through the satisfaction of a substitute.  And to Abel and his sacrifice God had respect.  “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew by hanging on a tree.  Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey Him

 

 

The Jews take counsel to slay those visibly accepted by God.  But they are put off for a while from their purpose, by the counsel of Gamaliel, not to fight against God.

 

 

God’s displeasure at the false Jews and their sacrifices was shown in that day.  “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure

 

 

They slew this Abel.  And “when the king heard thereof he was wroth; and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city

 

 

The angel was not to fear the persecution unto death raised by the devil.  He might have his heel bruised.  But in resurrection would be his reward.  “He that loseth his life (soul) for My sake, shall find it

 

 

III.  The overcomer of the fear of the First Death shall not be hurt by the Second Death.  Here we have an evident reference to millennial reward.  “Blessed and holy is he that bath part in the First Resurrection; over such the Second Death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ (Christ therefore is God), and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Christ therefore is also the Son of man).

 

 

3. PERGAMOS.

 

 

I.  “And to the angel of the Church in Pergamos write; These things saith He who hath the sharp sword with two edges.

 

 

II.  “I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is: and (1) thou holdest fast My name, and (2) deniedst not the faith in Me; even in the days (in which) Antipas was My witness, My faithful one, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

 

 

“But I have against thee a few things, that thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol-meats, and to fornicate.

 

 

“So hast THOU also those that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans in like manner.

 

 

“Repent, therefore; but if not, I am coming to thee quickly, and will war against them with the sword of My mouth.

 

 

III.  “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.

 

 

1.  “To him that overcometh will I give of the manna that is hidden.

 

 

2.  “And I will give him a white pebble, and on the pebble a new name written, which none knoweth, save he that receiveth it

 

 

This epistle, like the rest, is divided into three parts; according to the intimation in the first chapter.  After the vision of the Saviour as the High Priest, we have. -

 

 

“Write therefore -

 

 

(1) The things which thou hast seen

 

 

(2)  “And the things which Are

 

 

(3)  “And the things which are about to be, after these things

 

 

(1) The first of these divisions takes up some characteristic of the Saviour, which tells His attitude toward the Churches.

 

 

(2) The second part regards the spiritual state of each church at the time of writing.  Here comes in the Saviour’s approval or blame of each church; and encouragements or warnings suited thereto.

 

 

(3) The third respects the promises of the Lord Jesus to the overcomers of each church; to be fulfilled in the coming day of the thousand years.

 

 

The portion of Old Testament history here glanced at, is the temptation of Israel by the Moabite women, and the vengeance enacted on their sin by Phinehas: Numbers 25.

 

 

1.  The attribute of the Saviour presented is His being the Avenger of idolatry and fornication in the churches: 1Thess. 4: 1-8.

 

 

A conspicuous example of these sins was offered before the eyes of Israel.  “Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.  And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.  And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel

 

 

God commanded justice to be done on this breach of the covenant.  Phinehas, observing a flagrant example of these sins, “rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hands and slew the guilty pair.

 

 

The Old Testament worthy was at first unarmed, but rose up, and took the spear of vengeance.  Christ always bears with Him, as the Risen One, THE SWORD and He beareth it not in vain: though not at present does He smite, because it is the day of mercy.

 

 

There is a second reference to Balaam’s going with the princes of Moab before they came to call him.  “The angel of the Lord (therefore) stood in the way for an adversary against him.  And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn, in his hand  The turning aside of the ass saved the life of the prophet.  “Unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive

 

 

Pergamos was the place of Satan’s throne.  There was found the worship of the Serpent.  No wonder, therefore, that there was there also the martyrdom of the servant of God.

 

 

In the coming day of Satan’s ejection out of heaven, he will give his throne to the False Christ.  The Dragon gave the Wild Beast risen from the Pit his power and his throne, and great authority.  “They worshipped the Dragon, because he gave power to the Wild BeastRev. 13: 3, 4.  “And it was given to him to make war on the saints, and to overcome them

 

 

In the church in Pergamos were those who held the doctrine of Balaam.  Balaam answers to the False Prophet, who is the adviser and upholder of the False Christ.  Balaak was taught to ensnare Israel by “the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of PeorNum. 31: 16.  Here Satan in person promotes the deceit.

 

 

Among those in communion at Pergamos were also some who held Nicolaitan doctrine, one nearly the same, I suppose, with the Balaamite teaching.

 

 

The angel of the Church is not taught to avenge these sins as the Judge.  Christ is Phinehas the Avenger.  This will. be, as soon as He rises up from His seat as the High Priest.

 

 

“And I will war against them with the sword of My mouth  The sword of Christ, then, is no mere shadow. God sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, with a thousand of each tribe to fight against the Moabites, and they overcame them.  In Revelation 14. we have the 144,000 redeemed from among men (not the 144,000 of Israel in chapter 7.) who follow the Lamb, when His kingdom is come.

 

 

In the expedition of Israel, Balaam, the false prophet, was slain, but not one of the 12,000, the special host sent against the Midianites.

 

 

III.  In the third part of the epistle, we have the Spirit’s word of encouragement for those who resisted the devil’s lures of meats sacrificed to idols.  “To him that overcometh will I give of the hidden manna.”  God fed Israel in the wilderness with manna, when their provisions, after coming out of Eaypt, were spent.  Day by day the food was spread abroad for them, around the camp, to be gathered according to their needs.

 

 

But beside the manna spread before the eyes of all, there was a golden jar, - full of the manna, laid up before the Lord, and hidden from the Light of Israel.  It was to be kept before the Lord in the ark, that the nation, when arrived at the land, might see the new kind of bread wherewith Jehovah fed the tribes in the wilderness: Ex. 16: 32.  That was typical of something yet to be granted to the overcomers of the Churches.  The white pebble with a name engraven thereon seems a reference to the onyxes of the High Priest, engraven with the twelve names of the tribes.  But this future priestly reward of Christ is superior to that in the dress of the old High Priest.  It is a special reward to each Christian conqueror, who shall be brought into contact with temptations like those palmed off on Israel, while they abode in Shittim.  The name engraved should be a special name known to none save Christ and the receiver.  The covenant of an eternal priesthood made with Phinehas was a great honour; but how much greater the glory of the overcomer of the Church, whom the Lord Jesus shall thus recompense!

 

 

4. THYATIRA.

 

 

I.  “And unto the angel of the Church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet are like white brass.

 

 

II.  “I know thy works, and love, and faith, and service, and thy patience, and thy last works to be more than the first.

 

 

“But I have it against thee, that thou allowest thy wife Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, and she teaches and deceives My servants to commit fornication, and to eat idol-meats.

 

 

“And I gave her time, that she might repent, and she will not repent of her fornication.

 

 

“Behold I cast her into a bed, and those that commit adultery with her into great affliction, except they repent of her works.  And her children I will slay with pestilence.

 

 

“And all the Churches shall know that I am He that searcheth reins and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

 

 

“But to yon I say, the remnant in Thyatira, as many as hold not this doctrine who have not known the DEPTHS of Satan (as they call them), I lay on you no other burthen than ‘What ve hold, hold fast until I open*

 

* I read … the more difficult, and yet well-supported reading.

 

 

III.  “And he that overcometh, and keepeth to the end My works, I will to him give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a sceptre of iron, as earthen vessels are broken; as I also received from My Father.  And I will give him the morning star.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches

 

 

At this fourth epistle begins a new division of the Seven Churches.  It is marked by the [Holy] Spirit’s word to the Churches coming last: Christ’s promise to the overcomer preceding it.

 

 

I.  The point of Old Testament history which gives it form is Jehu’s vengeance on Jezebel: 2 Kings 9.  Jesus the son of God, a greater than Jehu the son of Nimshi, is now the Avenger.  The eyes of Jehu would naturally be keen.  Those of Christ are “as a flame of fire  Jehu, on entering the gate of Jezreel, “lifted up his face to the window, and said ‘Who is on my side?  Who?’  And there looked out to him, two or three eunuchs.  And he said – ‘Throw her down!’ And they threw her down; and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses, and he trod her underfootThe Avenger’s feet as of brass will tread down the foe.

 

 

II.  We advance then to “the things that ARE  The Lord Jesus has much to say on behalf of the Angel’s [Messenger’s] tempers and conduct.  But there is one flagrant fault.  He did not restrain his wife in her evil ways, and so was himself in part responsible for them.  It was only for his wife that he could be thus blamed. He was no magistrate of the world, to visit men and women with punishment for their evil deeds.  As Moses was in peril, because he gave way to his wife’s refusal to allow the circumcision of his son, and as Eli was severely chastised for his want of fatherly restraint of his sons, so was the angel of Thyatira guilty, in not restraining his wife.  He was, no doubt, a mild and perhaps timid man, while she was a woman of impetuous passions and strong will.  He allowed her at length to take her own course.  The Saviour notices his patience, which was no doubt sorely tried.

 

 

She affected to be inspired; and her teaching was ‘depths’ of Satanic wickedness.  The doctrine reprobated in Pergamos has now proceeded to action; both in regard of eating idol-meats and of fornication, which last is here put first.

 

 

The Saviour gave her time to repent: but many despise the riches of God’s goodness and forbearance, and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God is designed to lead the offender to repent.  But her heart was hardened against the claims of God, and she would not repent.  Many regard the patience of God as proving that He does not care for iniquity, and will not punish [disobedience in His redeemed people].

 

 

The Lord Jesus then declares what He is about to do.  He would cast her and her paramours into great affliction.  Jehu’s first stroke of vengeance fell on Joram, he fell dead by an arrow in his heart.  “Then said Jehu to Bidkar, his captain, ‘Take up, and cast him into the portion of the field of Naboth, the Jezreelite: for remember how that when thou and I rode together after Ahab his father, the Lord laid this burthen on him. ‘Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, saith the Lord ; and I will requite thee in this plot, saith the Lord

 

 

Here are three points taken up in the Epistle, (1) the casting into the field of Naboth in death, (2) the word of Christ to the remnant – “I will lay on you no other burthen than ‘That which ye have, hold fast till I open.’”  That word will be noticed further on.

 

 

(3)  “I will kill her children with pestilence” is another reference to the history.  After the slaughter of Joram and Jezebel, Jehu demands the heads of Ahab’s sons, - and they are piled in two heaps at the gate of Jezreel. The Lord has many ways of cutting off His foes.  Pestilence should be instructed to destroy the children of the New Testament Jezebel.

 

 

Then comes a most important passage, establishing the Saviour’s coming judgment of His disciples.  “All the Churches shall know, that I an? He that searcheth, reins and hearts” - a Divine attribute.

 

 

In these words our Lord testifies His intimate knowledge of all the internal movements of the souls of His people.  This is necessary to a perfect judgment in the Day of the Lord; and it is intimated in the Saviour’s eyes being as a flame of fire; while His feet as of brass, speak of His power to avenge evil: Micah 4: 13.

 

 

“AND I WILL GIVE TO EACH OF YOU ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS  This, then, is the complete overturning of the doctrine, that Christ cannot judge ‘the Church because the Church stands on grace.  Great indeed are its privileges, but privilege does not take away responsibility - it rather increases it. It is a judgment of individuals, not the judgment of a corporation generally.  “Each of you  So only can the coming Day of Judgment be “the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to each according to his works

 

 

Then comes our Lord’s address to the remnant in Thyatira, who followed the teaching of the chief pastor.  They held not the awful doctrine of his wife, nor had they wrought like sinful deeds.  The followers of Jezebel called the doctrine - ‘depths’ - Jesus owns them so to be; but they are ‘depths not of God, but of Satan.

 

 

“I lay upon you no other burthen, ‘but that which ye have, hold last till I open’”.

 

 

This was great encouragement.  They were not to be regarded as those against whom Christ was coming as Avenger.  Their standing is alluded to in same chapter.  “And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said unto him, ‘Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramoth-Gilead, and when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat [Judgment of Jehovah], the son of Nimshi, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber, then take the box of oil and pour it on his head and say, - ‘Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel.’ Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.”  “And he opened the door and fled

 

 

Now Christ is the son of the prophets, commissioned by the Father to execute all judgment in the day to come.

 

 

“Even as I received of My Father

 

 

The remnant were not called to anoint Christ; but Christ, the Anointed of the Father, would open to them the door of escape, before the Avenger should go forth on his career against the foes.  “They blew with the trumpets, saying, ‘Jehu is king.’”  But the, young prophet had fled.  Christ must open the door for the remnant, before the wrath is poured out.  “The dead in Christ shall first rise; then we who are alive and remain, shall be caught away together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord into air; and so be ever with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with, these words  We have not, like Israel, to “flee and tarry not but shall be borne away by angels from the wrath, before it descends on the earth.

 

 

III.  Then comes the promise to ‘the overcomer  It is here further said, “And keepeth to the end My works  That word is condemnatory of ‘the works’ of Jezebel.  “To him will I give” - in the millennium, - There is also a reference to the making Jehu king over Israel.  It is not then true that all believers of the Church will reign with Christ.

 

 

Then we have the principle to be carried out in the millennial day.  “He shall rule them with sceptre of iron, as earthen vessels are shivered This alludes to the reign of Jehu - the slaying of Abab’s sons, and the cutting off of the worshippers of Baal, with the slaying of forty-two of Ahaziah’s brethren.

 

 

“Even as I received of My Father  An allusion to Psalm 2.where the Risen Christ is anointed as king of Zion.  “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with rod of iron: thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel

 

 

“And I will give him the Morning star

 

 

Here is an allusion to another of the Psalms which testifies of the Saviour’s [millennial] kingship.  Verse 3 is given by     the Septuagint -  as, “From the womb I begat thee before the Morning star  This I think refers to the Saviour’s resurrection from [‘Hades’ and] the tomb, before the morning star had risen on the first day of the week.

 

 

He had risen before the earliest of the women arrived at the tomb.  This seems to show, that the Septuagint rendering is better than the Authorised Version.

 

 

Also I find at the close of the Apocalypse - “I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and Morning star.”  In Psalm 2. we have our Lord’s relation to David, his kingship of the [this] earth.  In the 110th. Psalm we have His relation to heaven, as “the Son of God

 

 

SARDIS.

 

 

I.  “And unto the angel of the Church in Sardis, write: These things saith He who hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.

 

 

II.  “I know thy works; that thou hast the name that thou livest, and art dead.

 

 

“Become watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, which were ready to die: for I have not found thy works fulfilled before My God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, keep it, and repent.

 

 

“If therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will arrive over thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I arrive over thee.

 

 

“But thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not defiled their raiment; and they shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.

 

 

III.  “He that overcometh shall (1) thus be clothed in white; and (2) I will not blot his name out of the Book of life; and (3) I will confess his name before My Father and before his angels:

 

 

“He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying unto the Churches

 

 

The references to the historical parts of Scripture in this epistle are, I think, three.

 

 

1. Moses, the seventy elders, and Joshua at Horeb: Ex. 24. and 32.

 

 

2. King, Saul and David: 1 Sam. 24. and 26.

 

 

3. Gethsemane.

 

 

This epistle is, like the others, divided into three main parts.

 

 

I. The titles of Christ in their bearing on Sardis or “What thou sawest” - tell of the past.  But here is an exception.

 

 

II.  “The things that Are” - the present state of the Church.

 

 

III.  “The things that shall be after these things” -  the Future rewards.

 

 

1.  Christ’s titles are - 1.  His possession of the Seven Spirits of God.  This refers to chapter 5: 6, 7.  “And I saw in the midst of the throne, and of the four Living Creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And he came, and took the book out of the hand of the sitter on the throne

 

 

2.  ‘His holding the seven stars  This is taken from the description of our Lord as seen by John: Rev. 1: 16. To it is immediately subjoined the notice of the sharp two-edged sword.  Does not that tell of judgment of the church officers?  “Become not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive greater judgmentJames 3: 1.

 

 

II.  We have now to consider “the things that Are

 

 

The angel had the name of life; but was dead, as being inactive, and as destitute of the right spirit.  He did not fulfil the duties laid on him.  He was not awake to the changes about to ensue on Christ’s return; and the recompense according to works, which would then ensue.

 

 

He was to become watchful: to cast off indolence.  Parts of the service of Christ were ready to cease, because of his laxity.  He had left out of view the hope of the Church.  Watchfulness is first taught by our Lord in the Gospels.  The Saviour speaks of the taking of one disciple to Himself, and of the leaving another to the Great Tribulation coming upon Israel and the earth.  He appends the command - “Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord is coming

 

 

Then comes the history of the disciples’ failure to watch on the eve of our Lord’s betrayal.  “Tarry ye here, and watch with Me  When He returns and finds them asleep, He rebukes Peter, and anew calls for watchfulness and prayer.  But when He returns, after prayer to His Father, He finds them a second time asleep.  He goes away the third time, and when He comes again to them, nothing can be done; for the Betrayer and his band are upon them: Matt. 26.

 

 

“Remember therefore how thou hast received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent

 

 

In our day many will not even accept the doctrine of the Lord’s sudden and secret return.  They are warned, but unready.  In the Saviour’s epistles, eight times is given the warning to the Churches to repent!

 

 

“If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will arrive over thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I shall arrive over thee

 

 

Christ will have left the throne of God, descending into the air.  But the angel and the majority are not aware of it.  They are treated as the world, because of their unwatchfulness both in respect of doctrine and practice.  And the unwatchful world, caught asleep and then waked for a moment, cry, “Peace and safety till they compose themselves anew to slumber, and judgment is upon them which they cannot escape.  “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand  There is, therefore, no ‘rapture of the Church’ at Christ’s descent; but only the ascent of the watchful ones, and that because of their watchfulness.  It is seen here that the Presence of the Lord in air is at first a secret one.  (There are also more raptures than one).

 

 

I.  This is illustrated for us by the Old Testament.  The covenant at Horeb has been made, and seventy-two have ascended and feasted in the visible Presence of Jehovah.  The Lord calls Moses to ascend Mount Sinai. Before he takes leave of the seventy, he commands them: “Tarry ye here for us (me and Joshua) until we come again to you

 

 

But their patience fails; for Moses’ stay is prolonged beyond their expectation.  They return again to their tents in the midst of the tribes, from whence they had been called up.  Aaron is then compelled to make the idol which is to precede them, as their god and deliverer.  And, while they are in the midst of their feast, Moses and Joshua are upon them, and vengeance overtakes them, all unprepared.

 

 

II.  A second illustration is found in the history of King Saul and David.  Saul seeks for David to slay him.  He is caught, unprepared and unwatchful, by David twice.  (1) Once David and his men are around him in the day-time, while he is asleep in the cave of Engedi, and David cuts off his skirt, in proof of his having been fully in his power.

 

 

(2)  The second time David and his friend stand over the sleeping monarch by night, and they carry away his spear and water-bottle.  They call, and let him know how easily they could have despatched him.

 

 

“Watch therefore says Christ to His disciples, “and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to be set before the Son of man

 

 

The Saviour next addresses Himself to the remnant in Sardis.  They had not defiled their garments, as have the worldly; and “they shall walk with Him in white because they are worthy

 

 

We have, in the seventh chapter, the vision of a great multitude in white raiment before the throne, and before the Lamb.  And we are told of the manner in which they have cleansed their robes.  They are priests, serving God in the heavenly temple day and night.  And the Lamb, a greater Leader than Moses, shall lead them on, from the temple to the City of God, whence flow the founts of the river of life: Gen. 22: 1.  Also in Rev. 14. we have the second 144,000-first-fruits, redeemed from the earth, who are honoured to follow the Lamb in the Day of His Kingdom, whithersoever He may go.

 

 

III.  Then follows the, promise to the overcomer.  (1) White raiment will be awarded to the conquerors of the Churches.  (2) Their names shall not be blotted out of the Book of life.  But those overcome, like the angel, will not be so rewarded.  If the spirit is dead, like that of the worldly, they will not be worthy of a place in the Book of life, and will be removed from it, while the Day of Recompense according to works lasts.  Life therefore must show itself, not in leaf alone, but in fruits also.

 

 

(3)  “And I will confess his name before My Father, and His angels  And if Christ so confesses any, he will enter on millennial reward.

 

 

After the Day of reward “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord :” Rom. 5.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA.

 

 

I.  “And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, write; These things saith the Holy One, the True, who holdeth the key of David, who openeth, and none shall shut; shutteth, and none openeth;

 

 

II.  “I know thy works: Behold, I have set before thee an opened door, which none can shut, because thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.  Behold, I make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but lie; behold, I will make them to arrive and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

 

 

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee out of the hour of the Temptation that is about to come upon all the world, to try the dwellers upon the earth.

 

 

“I am coming quickly: hold fast what thou hast, that none take thy crown.

 

 

III.  “He that overcometh (1) I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more: and I (2) will write upon him the name of My God, (3) and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of the heaven from My God, (4) and (I will write on him) My new name.

 

 

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches

 

 

The references in this epistle to Old Testament types are, I believe, (1) Moses and Joshua; (2) David and his foes.

 

 

I.  The Saviour’s names are. three.  “He that is the HolY One who therefore calls for holiness in His disciples.

 

 

“Be ye holy, for I am Holy

 

 

“He that is true - and therefore is opposed to the false and insincere.

 

 

“Who hath the key of David

 

 

It is not said – “the key of the house of David

 

 

It seems to refer to the deliverances granted by Jehovah to David, in the midst of the troubles and perils that befell him, after his anointing.  Again and again he seemed to be shut up to capture by his foes.  But the Lord opened to him the door.  He is sought for at his own house by messengers sent from King Saul to slay him.  Michael detains the messengers till he has escaped.

 

 

Saul is pursuing, him, and is on one side of the mountain, while David is on the other.  But Saul is called away most opportunely, to repel an invasion of the Philistines.  Many other escapes the Lord granted him.  Christ opened, and man and Satan were unable to shut the door.

 

 

When Christ shuts the door Satan cannot enter.  Both these things we see in the Apocalypse.  While the dragon attempts to devour the Child (Rev. 12.) he is yet caught up, beyond the devil’s power, to the throne of God. When Satan attempts to prevent his entrance on that refuge, and delivers battle, he is defeated, and the door on high is shut against him.  He can no more enter the heaven.

 

 

Saul attempted to shut up David’s door into the kingdom, first by craft, and then by force.

 

 

II.  ‘The things that are

 

 

“Behold, I have set before thee an open door, which none can shut

 

 

The open door is not here, I think, one of service, but rather of escape, and of entrance into the millennial Glory.  So, as soon as notices of the Seven Churches are ended, we read: “After these things, I saw, and behold a door was opened in heaven, and there was the first voice which I heard as of a trumpet, speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must take place after these things.’”  Compare 1: 19 (the third division of the book).  At once John is in the Spirit; and sees the throne of judgment being set in heaven (Greek).

 

 

This opened door is alluded to in chapter 2: 25.

 

 

“Hold fast till I open  The son of the prophet, in the history of Jehu, could open the door of the inner chamber, and flee.  But the door into the heaven can only be opened by the Saviour.  And even then He must lift up the favoured servant to Himself.

 

 

Here we have the contrast to Sardis; the unwatchful is left on earth to the Day of Great Trouble.  At this door of Christ’s opening the two witness-prophets enter, after they have been slain by the Wild Beast, and ascend before the eyes of enemies.

 

 

The Saviour’s reasons for setting before the angel this open door are three, and are a reward for three kinds of good conduct.

 

 

“Because (1) thou hast a little strength, and (2) hast kept My word, and (3) hast not denied My name

 

 

“Thou hast a little strength  How it was manifested by the angel is not specified.  But how David in his day put forth his strength we are told.  One of the cities of Israel, Keilah by name, was robbed by the Philistines. The Lord directs him to go and rescue it: 1 Sam. 23.  His men think it foolish: but he asks God again, and the word is: “Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand  See here the superiority of David over Saul.  (1) He is not carried away by the wishes of his men; he goes in the face of danger, trusting the word of the Lord.

 

 

(2) David ‘kept the word of the Lord  The prophet Gad bid him leave Mizpah of Moab, and go into the land of Judah.  He does so; and takes up his abode at Adullam.

 

 

(2) ‘He denied not the name of Jehovah.’  Though he fled to the Philistines from the pursuit of Saul, he did not turn over to the gods of the Philistines.  He could say to Saul’s face: “If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let Him receive an offering; but if it be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’”  Saul, on the other hand, turns to the witch, to learn what is to befall him.

 

 

“Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but lie

 

 

“Behold, I will make them arrive and bow down before thy feet, and know that I have loved THEE

 

 

Here are two ‘Beholds  (1) The first sets forth the false pretensions of those who profess to be God’s people.

 

 

(2) The second ‘Behold’ declares how they shall confess the superiority of him whom they have despised; and they shall learn the secret of his superiority in the love of Christ who has exalted him.

 

 

The two ‘beholds’ seem further to notice the interval that would take place between the contempt of these pretenders manifested towards a servant of Christ, and the time when they should, in their trouble, seek aid and blessing from one whom, in their folly, they had despised.

 

 

1.  Thus was it with Joseph and his brethren, They hated him, because of the dreams, which foretold his elevation above them.  They despised him, when sent on his father’s errand of kindness to them; they said: “Behold, this dreamer cometh and they sold him.

 

 

But their time of trouble came, after Joseph’s exaltation as lord of Egpt had arrived, and they were obliged to take the necessaries of life from their brother.  “Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth  They bring him a present, as to a superior.  “Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?  And they answered, ‘Thy servant (slave) our father is in good health; he is yet alive.’  And they bowed themselves, and made obeisance

 

 

2.  When David is driven out by news of Absalom’s intended invasion - in sorrow he ascends the Mount of Olives, weeping with head covered and feet bare, Shimei of the house of Saul, curses and insults him as a bloodthirsty man, whom God would drive out from his kingdom, setting his rebel son above him.  He also threw stones at him, and dust.

 

 

But when God ceased to chastise, Shimei “falls down before the king and begs pardon for his misdemeanour: 2 Sam. 19.  The Lord had loved David, and restored him to his kingdom and city.

 

 

3.  So Daniel, devoted to death by the command of Nebuchadnezzar, after his discovery to the king of the lost dream, - bows down before him: Dan. 2.  And of Daniel we read, that the angel says – “0 Daniel, a man greatly beloved

 

 

But the angel of Philadelphia will be raised to a yet greater elevation, and manifestation of the Saviour’s love. He will be taken out from the earth in resurrection, before the days of vengeance arrive.  He will be honoured to ascend to heaven, like Enoch and Elijah, yea, like the Saviour Himself.  It is Christ’s love to him that will effect this; and that is better than his love to Christ.

 

 

10. “Because thou hast kept the of My patience, I also will keep thee out of the hour of the temptation that is about to come on the whole habitable earth, to try the dwellers on the earth

 

 

It is not allowable to assume, that this promise, which hinges on an especial excellence in the angel of Philadelphia commended by our Lord, is true of ‘the whole Church and therefore, that the whole Church will be taken out of the earth before that temptation seizes on the world.  What would be said, if any were to assume that Laodicea was the picture of the whole Church?  Philadelphia is the most commended of all the seven, Laodicea is about to be rejected; being indeed the worst of the number.

 

 

Two senses may be given to “the word of My patience  They are closely allied.  The kingdom has for well nigh two thousand years been promised to Christ, yet He has never yet received it.  As He is patiently waiting (Heb. 10: 13), so are His disciples patiently to wait.  But most have forgotten the coming [millennial] kingdom of Christ, or deny it; consequently, they are pursuing after the world’s wealth, pleasures, power, rewards.

 

 

That the word – “My Patience” - applies primarily to Christ is confirmed by the twice previously occurring, “thy patience spoken of the angels of Ephesus, and of Thyatira.

 

 

The result of such patience of the disciple would be his blest escape out of the earth, before the last form of temptation falls on the habitable earth.  This, then, is the result of the walk of the Christian according to the mind of God.  It is the being “accounted worthy to escape  Luke 21: 36.

 

 

The promise here is not, that the angel should be sustained in the temptation, so as not to fall; but his being delivered out of its range.  The temptation is to attack “the whole habitable earth therefore he must be taken out from the earth altogether.  Israel’s escape is into the desert, the uninhabitable part of the earth, fed there by miracle: Rev. 12.  This temptation is to try the moral character of the men, who in spirit dwell on earth, and refuse to be called “pilgrims and sojourners” on it.

 

 

1. Moses and Joshua, by their patient tarrying on the Mount, were kept out of the temptation to the worship of the Calf which overcame the tribes.

 

 

2. The seventy elders were, by God’s mercy, set on a higher level than the rest of Israel.  But, becoming impatient, they broke through the word of Moses, to wait on him till lie came back to them.  The consequence was, that Aaron, their leader, became the chief mover in the breach of the nation’s covenant to serve Jehovah alone.

 

 

3. David, by his flight, escaped the temptation which, through Absalom, assailed the men of Jerusalem, and the tribes of Israel.

 

 

“I am coming quickly

 

 

The “Behold - which precedes this sentence in the Received Text, is to be expunged.  The Secret Descents of Christ, and the Secret Rapture of the waiting ones are in question: 2 Thess. 2: 1; 1 Thess. 4: 17.

 

 

When Christ says – ‘He is coming quickly’ we must understand Him to leave out of view the two thousand years of ‘the Things that Are  As soon as they are completed, the prophetic part of the Apocalypse will proceed with great and increasing rapidity.

 

 

“Hold fast that thou hast, that none take thy crown.”

 

 

This is very instructive.  How totally opposed it is to the doctrine, that ‘the Church’ is to be treated in the coming Day, on the principle of grace alone!  The best angel of the best church is to take heed to keep his present moral and spiritual position, lest he lose reward!  It looks onward to the reign of the Millennial Day with Christ.  This sentiment is in close accord with the history of Saul, promoted to be king over Israel. Samuel commanded him to wait till he saw him again.  Impatient Saul offers sacrifice: 1 Sam. 13.  Samuel tells him – “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart, and the Lord hath. commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee

 

 

2. A second command is given him, to which he is disobedient, through listening to the people.  Hereupon Samuel says – “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He also hath rejected thee from being king “The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou1 Sam. 15.

 

 

III.  We are come now to the third and last division of the epistle, - the reward to the conqueror.

 

 

“Him that orercometh will I make, a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out

 

 

The first reference is to the twelve pillars representing each a tribe of Israel, which Moses reared in front of Mount Horeb, on the dav of making the covenant: Ex. 24.  What became of them, when the covenant was broken by the Calf, we are not told.  But they have disappeared.  The “overcomer” shall never be removed.

 

 

As the result of the angel’s present steadfastness, in the day of requital, Christ will give him a foremost place.

 

 

Another reference is to the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, of molten brass, with nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work for the capitals: 1 Kings 5.  They were the chief and admired work of Hiram, the builder under Solomon.

 

 

But because of Israel’s sin, the Chaldeans came, broke them in pieces, and carried away the brass to Babylon.

 

 

Under the Gospel we read of “James, Cephas, and John who were thought to be pillars” - and who owned Paul at Jerusalem as an apostle no less than themselves.  That epistle to the Galatians wherein they are named, is a witness also of Peter’s want of steadfastness, and of Paul’s rebuke of him.  So we must look to our steps, lest we stager and fall.

 

 

(2)  “And I will write on him the name of my God

 

 

This is the contrast to - any whose names shall be blotted out of the Book of Life,- and not confessed before the Father and His angels by Christ.

 

 

It is observable, how the Saviour continually keeps the subordinate place: Three times in succession He speaks of “My God though He is Lord of all.

 

 

“And the name of the City of my God, the New Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from MY God

 

 

‘The temple’ holds the earliest place in the Apocalypse.

 

 

“The Great Multitude” of the ransomed out of all the nations are “before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple7: 15.

 

 

The Lamb their leader conducts them thence onward to the city - where flows the fount of the water of life - the eternal abode of the saved.

 

 

“And I will write upon him My new name

 

 

Does this new name of our Lord mean the one which is given Him in the first chapter?

 

 

“Jesus Christ - (1) the faithful Witness, (2) the First begotten of the dead, and (3) the Prince of the Kings of the earth The last of three titles respects our Lord when He descends from heaven with His armies - to put down the assembled kings of the earth.  f it be not, the new name has yet to be revealed.  On that occasion it is added, that He had a name written, that none knew but Himself.

 

 

This tells us something of the glory which shall ever abide with those whom Christ is pleased to honour at His appearing and [millennial] kingdom.  “The Princes of this age are coming to nought but to us who believe and obey, God has given a wisdom, appointed before the world for our glory, - “which none of the princes of this age knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory

 

 

LAODICEA.

 

 

I.  “Unto the angel of the Church in Laodicea write: These things saith the (1) Amen (2) the Faithful and True Witness, (3) the Beginning of the Creation of God.

 

 

II.  “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot, I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art luke-warm, and neither hot nor cold; I am about to spue thee out of my mouth.

 

 

“Because thou sayest – ‘I am rich, and have become rich, and have need of nothing,’ and knowest not’ that thou art the wretched, and the pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked - I counsel thee to buy of me (1) gold, refined out of the fire, that thou mayest become rich, and (2) white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not manifested, (3) and eye-salve, to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.

 

 

“I rebuke and chasten as many as I love; become zealous therefore and repent.

 

 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any hear My voice, and open the door, I will enter in to him, and sup with him, and he shall sup with Me.

 

 

III.  “He that overcometh, to him will I give to sit with me on My throne, as I also overcame, and took My seat with my Father on His throne.

 

 

“He that hath an ear, let him bear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches

 

 

I have not been able to discover any clearly parallel historic passage to this in the Old Testament.  The nearest approach to the picture seems to me to be the Pharisees in our Lord’s day.  Them He called, “blind some nine times.  “Woe unto you, ye blind guides  “Thou blind Pharisee  To them He spoke the parable of the Wedding Garment - which shows the necessity of the Saviour’s righteousness, in order to having part in the millennial glory.  But they refused it, and trusted in their own.

 

 

1. The Saviour’s first title is “the Amen  All the promises of God are in Him, Yea, and in Him, Amen.  “I am He that is alive, and I became dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen  He was the truth of God before creation.

 

 

2. The second title is – “The Faithful and True Witness   This is manifested in His testimonies to the seven churches.  His praise and blame may both alike be, accepted: His threats and His promises will surely be fulfilled.

 

 

3.  “The beginning of the Creation of God

 

 

Does not this prove Him to be a creature, and not possessed of Godhead?

 

 

But Christ was not the first created of the creatures of heaven or of earth.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and was God.  The same was in the beginning with God

 

 

The only true way of looking at the difficulty is, I believe, to regard our Lord as speaking of the new creation, or resurrection, which is the very foundation of Christianity.  Then it falls in fully with the rest of the epistle. “The Lord said unto Me – ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.’”  That was the word of the Father to His Risen Son.  “Grace and peace from Jesus Christ - who is the faithful Witness, and the First begotten of the dead

 

 

The Saviour was appointed, as Paul attested, “that He, as the Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from among the deadActs 26.  Those raised before Him went back again to the tomb.  He has come forth, no more to be touched by death.  “Declared to be the Son of God, by the power, - according to the spirit of holiness, - of the select resurrection from among the dead Rom. 1. (Greek).

 

 

As risen, He is the High Priest of the temple above - which belongs not to the Old Creation, but to the New, as Paul says – “But Christ having come forward as High Priest of the good things to come, entered in through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creationHeb. 9.

 

 

This view is much confirmed by the addition – “the creation of God  In this book of Revelation the old is put aside, as superseded by the new.

 

 

“Of God” makes the difference in this passage.

 

 

Eden was the Paradise of Adam, and the old creation.  But sin entered, and it was removed from earth.  The Second Adam came, to bring in a new  Paradise; and He gave the penitent robber the first promise of a place in the Paradise of departed spirits [i.e., disembodied souls].  “Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be, with Me in Paaradise But the Saviour was not to tarry there.  He is risen, and He speaks to John of the New Paradise for the risen, from among the dead.  “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.” 2: 7.  “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city22: 14.

 

 

The old Temple and city of Jerusalem are set aside.  “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God  “I will write on him the name of the city of My God, New Jerasalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God

 

 

“Behold, ‘the Tabernacle of God’ is with men” in the new earth: 21: 3.  The priests of the Old Testament are set aside in favour of the New ones.  “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection … they shall be priests of God and of Christ

 

 

David and Solomon introduced ‘harps’ into the worship of Jehovah.  “All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps for the service of the, house of God1 Chron. 25.  But those harps were made by men’s hands, and of the old creation.  The Apocalypse tells of “harps of God  “I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the Wild Beast, and over his image, and his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of GodRev. 15: 2.

 

 

And the kingdom of David over the Old Creation retires from its former pre-eminence; for, at the seventh trump, comes “the Kingdom of God

 

 

The whole of this epistle is the setting up the glories of the world of resurrection above the similar things now to be found; but soon to be superseded in favour of the things abiding and eternal.  The old earth of Adam will pass away.  But the promises of grace will abide.  The good things to come brought in by the Second Adam will belong to God’s elect.  And the gift named in the address to Laodicea is a setting up of the new and eternal above the old, against the temporary goods on this side death.

 

 

15.  “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot

 

 

After coming to Christ and receiving forgiveness, the Saviour expects fervent love; and values His ransomed according thereto.  So said He to the Pharisee, His host: “A certain creditor had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred denarii: and the other fifty.  And when they had no (money) to pay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love Him mostLuke 7.

 

 

The angel was not an enemy of Christ, nor a zealous friend, in spite of his obligations to the Lord.  He thought more of himself and this present evil age, than of Christ and His promises.  Is not this characteristic of multitudes of Christians now?

 

 

With such half-heartedness the Lord Jesus is displeased.  “So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spue thee out of My mouth  Of enemies we read in the second Psalm, that they are to be broken with sceptre of iron.  But the lukewarm are as distasteful to Christ as water neither hot nor cold.  This is the last word to the last of the Seven Churches.

 

 

“I am about to spue thee out of My mouth

 

 

Does that word bespeak – ‘Nothing but grace to the Church.’?  The very contrary.  This is judgment according to desert.  But the Saviour, in His very first address to His disciples, foretold this.  “Ye are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt shall have become foolish (Greek) wherewith shall it be salted?  Thenceforth, it is good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men

 

 

The salt has, in our day, lost its taste, and become foolish.  Its usefulness and its wisdom were, to retain, every word of the Master’s; and to allow no other doctrine but His.  But now the traditions of the elders have put out much of Christ’s truth; as for instance, the sprinkling of infants has thrust aside the immersion of believers. Converted men live by the sword, and by taking of oaths.  Some Christians rule the world, instead of being subject to rulers.  Women preach.  Men cannot be made ministers of the Gospel in the National Church without taking oaths, which Christ and His apostles forbid.  The Ten Commandments of Moses are to be the Christian’s rule of life, instead of Christ’s words.  And that, though the Father said: “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him

 

 

Salt, while it keeps its saltness, is so valuable as to be stored within the house.  But if it lose its taste, it is cast out of the house, and rejected even by men.  So, when the men inside the ruler’s house mocked Christ’s word, intimating that He was about to raise the damsel, they were all put outside; and none but seven were witnesses of the Saviour’s first act of raising the dead: Matt. 9: 25.  Israel shall be restored, according to the promises of the prophets.  But there is no restoration of the Church.  The Field, once reaped, is never to be sown again.

 

 

17.  “Because thou sayest, ‘I am rich; and have become rich, and have need of nothing.’”

 

 

The Lord Jesus is contrasting Christians satisfied with the present age and its wealth, with His teaching about the wealth that lasts for ever.  How many professed and true Christians are devoting all their energies to getting rich? although the Saviour warned against wealth, as shutting out from the millennial kingdom: Matt. 19; Luke 12: 21.  “Woe unto youdisciples20) that are rich!  For ye are receiving your consolation Luke 6: 24 (Greek).  The Laodicean angel’s words discover his heart, and are cited by the Lord.  He boasts of what Christ had forbidden to disciples; he makes efforts to obtain what, when won, will shut him out of the [Millennial] Kingdom.  “Demas bath forsaken Me, having loved this present age  Those set on gaining the prize of our heavenly calling will not be satisfied with the tinsel of earth.  Those set on gaining this world are blind to the things of God, the hopes set before the Christian.  He who is content with things of the earth needs those things that are necessary to the glory of the age to come.

 

 

“And knowest not that thou art the wretched, and the pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked

 

 

His choice was foolish in God’s sight, and one day he would feel it, and be wretched.  What said the Most High to the selfish rich man?  “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: and then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward GodLuke 12.

 

 

Some might envy the angel and his wealth.  But in the eyes of those taught by Christ, he was only an object of pity.  How would he fare in the coming day of recompense according to works?

 

 

“And (1) poor, and (2) blind, and (3) naked

 

 

Christ could say of the angel of Smyrna - that though poor, he was rich in the sight of God; for great was his reward as the sufferer for Christ.  But he who gets his reward here, will be poor in the day to come.  As Paul says: “Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If at least after having been clothed [with our resurrection body] we shall not be found naked” [of good works]: 2 Cor. 5: 3 (Greek).”  “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of GodMatt. 19: 23.

 

 

“I counsel thee to buy of Me (1) gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich, and (2) white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and (3) eye salve, to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see

 

 

There was but one way of recovery from so pitiable a state, the turning to Christ, to receive out of His fulness. The flesh is emptiness.  He was to buy of Christ, by pleading His promises.

 

 

The Saviour’s riches have passed through the fire of death into the eternity of the world of resurrection.  The riches of this earth cannot be taken away by the wealthy, at their death.  “Ye were not redeemed by corruptible things such as silver and gold, from vain conduct received by tradition from your fathers.  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot  How startling to a man, reckoning as the world does, to find “silver and gold” regarded as ‘corruptible things and “the blood of a lamb” considered as the incorruptible ransom!

 

 

The white raiment of Christ’s bestowal is His righteousness, without which wedding-garment the intruder must be cast out from the banquet-hall into the darkness outside.

 

 

Without this a man is not clothed before God; and when left behind in the Day of Great Trouble he must be exposed to the ridicule of men: Rev. 16: 15.  “Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame  The meaning of his being left by Christ, when His watchful fellow-servants are removed from the Day of Temptation, would be apparent even to the unbeliever.

 

 

The eye-salve needed by the blind, and bestowed by Christ to the enjoyment of sight, is a reference, I believe, to His anointing the eyes of the man born blind with clay, and the bathing in the waters of Siloam, to the obtaining of sight.  Laodicea had overlooked the realities of the eternal world [millennial age] while engrossed by the shadows of this age.

 

 

Not till the eyes of the soul are opened, does man perceive how the earth is a vain shadow, which is to pass away in the coming day.

 

 

“I rebuke and chasten as many as I love: be zealous therefore, and repent

 

 

Satan flatters and deceives as many as he seeks to destroy.  The Lord Jesus rebukes the evil which He finds.  He spoke thus severely, not with the view of destroying, but as the effect of His love; in sorrow rather than anger.

 

 

A call to repentance of the sins pointed out, follows.

 

 

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any one shall hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he (shall sup) with Me.”

 

 

The Saviour, long neglected, is about to leave.  There is no entrance for Him into a heart blocked up by the flesh.  It is His last appeal; but if only one listen, it shall be well for him.

 

 

Christ calls now; that His people may open the door of their hearts to Him.  He will one day open a door on high to the obedient.  Is there in this a notice that the Lord’s Supper was but rarely, or not at all celebrated in Laodicea?  Certainly the promise seems to respect that word – “Write, blessed are they who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb Rev. 19.

 

 

III.  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also (‘I’ emphatic) overcame, and have taken My seat with My Father on His throne

 

 

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches

 

 

Christ is not yet seated on His own [millennial] throne.  For that He is waiting.  But, before He is anointed on the holy Mount of Zion, the Father has given Him a place at His Right Hand on His throne.

 

 

Thus, at the close, we have Philadelphia, the best church, with which the Saviour finds no fault, set beside Laodicea, to which He gives no praise.  And the contrasted words spoken to the two Churches tell us the different results to the two.  Philadelphia shall not be in The Trouble, because of watchfulness.  Laodicea shall be rejected both by God and man; a subject of rebuke even to the world.  It is found on earth with like offenders, even at the last of the seven plagues, at which Satan is mustering his forces against Christ: Rev. 16.

 

 

To Thyatira’s remnant the Lord would open the door of escape.  Sardis would be ignorant of the Saviour’s descent, as truly as the world.  Those that have drank of the spirit of earth will, in the coming day, be treated as the world.

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

Let its now take a look at the OPENING CHAPTER of the Apocalypse: Rev. 1.

 

 

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show unto His servants (slaves) the things which must quickly come to pass.”

 

 

Observe - it is not, ‘The Son of God here is showing to the Church His bride, her heavenly inheritance  but a discovery is given to His servants (‘slaves’) of what is coming to pass; and how faithfully they are to listen and observe the directions given.  The same title, ‘servant’ (slave) is given even to the Apostle John, who is honoured to write the Book.

 

 

The things which were shortly to come to pass have not yet been fulfilled.  The well nigh two thousand years since this was written are not counted, - they belong to “the things that ARE  But whenever the prophetic part begins to be fulfilled, they will place with all rapidity.

 

“He sent by His angel and represented it unto His servant John

 

 

The Saviour set forth the Apocalypse mainly by signs addressed to the eye of John.

 

 

“Who bore witness (1) of the Word of God, and (2) of the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever things He saw

 

 

By ‘the Word of God’ is meant the Old Testament: 1 Sam. 9: 27; Isa. 40: 8.  Hence the frequent allusions to the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament.  By “the testimony of Jesus Christ” is meant, the New Testament; and especially the Saviour’s addresses to the Seven Churches.*

 

* The changes of reading in the text of the Apocalypse, are mainly taken from Tregelles.

 

 

“All that He saw  The last word adds a note of explanation, showing that the word “represented means signs addressed to the eye.

 

 

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things which are written, in it: for the season is nigh

 

 

This book of Scripture is practical, like the others; and both the reader and the hearers are to observe its intimations and commands.

 

 

This is the end of the first division of the chapter.

 

 

4. “John to the seven Churches (Assemblies) that are in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, (1) from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come;

 

 

(2) “And from the Seven Spirits which are before His throne;

 

 

(3) “And from Jesus Christ, (a) the Faithful Witness,

 

 

(b) “The First begotten of the dead,

 

 

(c) “And the Prince of the kings of the earth

 

 

How different this salutation from those of Paul’s epistles!  This salutation is given, in view of the Day of the Lord, and the recompense ‘according to works’ about to be bestowed.  Hence we have not – “from God Our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ

 

 

Not once in all the Book is God called, " Our Father.”  We have, instead, John saying - that Christ made us “priests to His God and Father  The Saviour, too, is found saying: “As I received from My Father  But nowhere is God called in it “Our Father

 

 

The Holy Spirit takes a new aspect.  It is not – ‘the Spirit descending on Jesus as a dove from heaven’ to dwell on the Son of God.  But He is represented as seven torches of fire burning before the throne of God in heaven.

 

 

But (blessed be God!) it is still - “Grace and Peace  Under Moses it was ‘Law and War  And the sword descended on the idolaters, slaying 3000: while, when the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost – “There were added to them about 3000 souls

 

 

In the Apocalypse we have God righteously expecting the answer of His servants to the great blessings and privileges of the Gospel; these are to be manifested in the holy lives of the disciples.  And warning is given during the day of mercy, that the disciples may flee from evil, and escape the indignation coming on transgressors.

 

 

In verse 5 we have three titles of Christ.

 

 

1. “The Faithful Witness As proved by His addresses to the Churches - owning all that is good in them, but also attesting their sins, exhorting, and threatening the disobedient.  As, the Faithful, He also accredits John, whom He appoints to be the writer of this book.

 

 

2.  “The First begotten of the dead  This is Our Lord’s own testimony to John (1: 17), before He writes the first message to the Churches.

 

 

Here is a reference to the second Psalm.  “Thou art My Son, this day hare I begotten thee  The Lord anoints Him king on His Holy Mountain of Zion.

 

 

And hereupon is founded a call to all kings of the earth to worship Him, or be cut off.

 

 

3. “The Prince of the Kings of the earth  We are kings of heaven.  This looks onward to the Saviour’s return in Revelation 19., to put down the rebellion of the kings of earth.  He comes [to this earth] as “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” with the sword of destruction [of His foes].

 

 

This testimony was peculiarly obnoxious to the Roman Emperor.

 

 

Then comes the joyful response of the Churches.

 

 

1. “Unto Him that loveth us  As the Risen Son of God.

 

 

2. “And washed us from our sins in His own blood  So only will any attain the [millennial] kingdom, or [by His grace] Eternal Life [in ‘a new heaven and new earth’].  These are in contrast with the unforgiven, who pierced Him to death, and who wail at His [second] coming.

 

 

3. “And made us a kingdom and priests to God and His Father  This is again a reference to the notice of the kingdom of the thousand years - though it also includes the eternal kingdom beyond it.

 

 

“To Him be glory and dominion for ever, Amen  Well may the saved say so, to Him to whom they owe all!

 

 

7. “Behold, He cometh with the clouds

 

 

This takes up the position of the nations of earth, when Christ as “Son of man receives the kingdomDan. 7: 13, 14.  “Every eye shall see Him  Of those left on earth.  The approved by God come with Christ from heaven, when He appears in His glory.  Cols. 3: 4.

 

 

“And they also who pierced Him to death  This gives the force of the preposition used; and turns back our eye to the crucifixion of Christ, and the thrust of the soldier’s spear: John 19: 33-37.  He was the Righteous Man, and the Paschal Lamb, whose bones were not broken, though orders were given to that effect.  Instead of that, He was pierced, as Jehovah foretold.

 

 

“And all the tribes of the Land shall wail, because of Him: even so, Amen

 

 

Here is a glance at the mourning of all Israel, when the Lord turns again their hearts: Zech. 12: 10.  Also a reference, I believe, to the awful crisis of the Sixth Seal.  It is not, indeed, “the Great Day of wrath” - that is then come; but it is the darkening of sun and moon before it (Joel.)  And in the next chapter we have the sealed Firstfruits of Israel seen on the earth; and the Great Multitude of the risen disciples of Christ are beheld in the temple on high: Rev. 7.  The two ‘Amens distinguish Israel on the one hand, and the Churches on the other: ver. 6, 7.

 

 

In verse 8 we have the Saviour’s testimony to His Godhead, after the notice of His death.  We who believe are saved by His resurrection.  His murder is before God the unrepented sin of the world.  “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, [of God] and coming on the clouds of the heavenMatt. 26.

 

 

In verse 9 John gives us his own true attitude, as the man of faith, in this dispensation, fitting him to be the writer of the Apocalypse.  He was exiled to the isle of Patmos by the emperor Domitian.  But the Apocalypse conveys blessed consolation to all who are expecting the return of Christ.  “In the world [or age] ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the worldJohn 16: 33.

 

 

John does not take here his title of ‘apostle but only the lowly one of ‘Brother

 

 

He, was companion of all the right-minded of the Churches in three things.

 

 

“In the (1) affliction, and in the (2) kingdom and (3) patience in Jesus  The whole of the dispensation is the time of the Church’s affliction.  All the occurrences of the Greek word for ‘affliction’ found in the Apocalypse, apply to the Church: chap. 2: 9, 10, 22.  Her trouble is ended, by the ascent on high, when Israel’s trouble is about to begin; and the firstfruits of the twelve tribes are sealed by an angel, before the tempests are let loose to produce havoc, by land and sea.

 

 

John was in “the kingdom” in mystery, patiently waiting for the kingdom of glory.  He was expecting another kingdom than that of Rome.  Because of this, testified both by the Old Testament and the New, he was persecuted and hated.  He was waiting in patience, taking no part in the world’s politics.  He was patient also Godward; not asking the Lord for vengeance on his foes.  “Ye have need of patience  Saul the king was required to wait seven days for Samuel’s coming, but broke the command; and his title to the kingdom over Israel was shaken to its foundations.  John’s patience was patience “in Jesus  It resulted from the principles taught by the Saviour.  It was patience, like that of the Saviour Himself.

 

 

“I was set in the island that is called Patmos

 

 

The Greek expression is peculiar.  It is literally, “I became  By it the apostle indicates very gently that the island was not his usual place of abode; but that the change came on him in the way of persecution.  Domitian had banished him to that barren isle, because of his testimony concerning the coming millennial kingdom; a testimony uplifted both by the Old Testament and the New.

 

 

“I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day

 

 

On the first day of the week, the apostle was in a trance, or ecstasy of inspiration, and received command to write to seven churches an account of what he saw.  The expression in the Greek concerning ‘the Lord’s day is of the same kind as that used concerning ‘the Lord’s Supper  It does not mean – ‘the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord for the churches come to an end before that Day begins.  Their essential witnessing is, “Now is the accepted time; now is the Day of Salvation  But that is no longer true, when the Day of wrath and destruction has set in.

 

 

12, 13. “And I turned to regard the voice which was speaking with me.  And when I had turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the candlesticks one like a son of man

 

 

If trouble came to John from the emperor, it was met by consolation from the King of Heaven.  A consolation, not for himself alone; but for all disciples of Christ.

 

 

John turns to see the Speaker.  The first object presenting itself on his so turning, was seven golden lamps. And in their midst - a Son of man.

 

 

“One like a Son of man, clothed in a garment reaching to the foot, and girded at the breasts with a golden girdle.

 

 

“Now His head and His hair were white as white wool, as snow;

 

 

“And His eyes were as a flame of fire;

 

 

“And His feet like white brass, as if glowing* in a furnace.

 

* The true reading, I think, is … referring to the brass.

 

 

“And His voice as the voice of many waters.

 

 

“And He held in His right hand seven stars.

 

 

“And out of His mouth went forth a sharp two-edged sword; And His countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength

 

 

This description represents our Lord, not yet as the King, but as the High Priest of the heavenly Tabernacle tending the lamps.  This is the present work entrusted to Him as the Risen from the dead; the first who has ascended to take, that place.

 

 

He is not tending the lamps, in the sense of pouring in oil, or trimming the wicks.  That is supposed to be already done; and He is looking to the pastors and churches to return Him obedience, and love.  But they fulfil at last the Saviour’s word, by becoming foolish salt, cast out, and trodden under the feet of men: Matt. 5: 13.

 

 

The description of our Lord is very remarkably bound up with (1) the Churches, and (2) their chief pastors.  After the notice of each of the two terms comes implied threat, arising out of the view of Christ; a threatening which it is seen, will be carried out in fact, when the prophetic part of the Book is fulfilled: chaps. 2: 16-18; 14: 20 ; 19: 21.

 

 

We have first a notice of the Lamps (ver. 13), and then (1) “his eyes are as a flame of fire searching reins and hearts, “and his (2) feet like white brass, as if glowing in a furnace” - ready to tread down the disobedient and criminal.

 

 

Here is a reference to Isaiah 41: 25.  That chapter shows us Abraham as the conqueror of kings who were idolaters; himself worshipping only the true God.  But a greater victory has yet to be achieved by Christ, “Son of David, son of Abraham  “His feet are like fine brass  For “He shall come on princes as on mortar, and  as the potter treadeth clay

 

 

The implied threat is taken up in the addresses to the Churches.  (1) “Repent therefore; or else I am coming to thee quickly; and will war against them [the Balaamites and Nicolaitans] with the sword of My mouth Pergamos.  (2) “These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes as a flame of fire, and his feet like white brass Thyatira.

 

 

Then come “the Stars” - immediately on which we have a notice of the sword, sharp, and of double-edge, proceeding out of His mouth.

 

 

At this august vision, John fell at the Saviour’s feet as dead.  He is encouraged by the Lord’s action, and words of compassion.  Christ represents Himself as possessed of Godhead, but also as the man, suffering unto death once; but risen, and alive for ever.  He will raise His servants to life.

 

 

“And I hold the keys of Death and of Hades

 

 

‘Death’ here is the First Death, the bottomless pit into which Satan and his angels are cast and imprisoned during the Millennium.

 

 

The keys open also to Christ’s approved ones, the exit from the place of departed spirits [souls], that they may enter into the kingdom of heaven or the blessings of the millennial kingdom.

 

 

19. “Write therefore (1) the things which thou hast seen;

 

 

(2.) And the things that are;

 

 

(3.) And the things which are about to take place after these things

 

 

This verse is of the utmost importance.  It gives us the Divine division of the Apocalypse.

 

 

1. “The things thou hast seen refer to the vision of the first chapter: (1) The vision of Christ as the High Priest, (2) the lamps of the heavenly tabernacle, (3) and the stars.

 

 

This division is seven times mentioned: chaps. 1: 2, 12, 17, 19, 20 twice, and 4: 1.

 

 

II. “The things which are

 

 

This is the second division: but the first and the second parts are most closely knit together.

 

 

1. “The things thou sawest” - relate to the Sanctuary, and the High Priest, with the lamps and stars.  They form the heavenly aspect of the Churches.

 

 

“The things which Are give the view of the Churches as on earth.

 

 

These two aspects co-exist.  For nearly two thousand years these two moral landmarks have co-existed.  The time is the Day of God’s patience, while He woos the nations to be reconciled to Him through His Son.  Christ still holds the keys of Hadees and of Death: He has not opened the gates of Hadees to His saints, nor called out those who shall have part in the First Resurrection.

 

 

Does Christ now recognise any of His churches as Lamps of the Sanctuary above? and as witnesses to the world of the day of mercy?  Then the “things that Are abide still!

 

 

Not one of the signs of Division three has yet appeared.  The Holiest has not been opened, nor has God’s throne of Judgment been set: chap. 4: 1-3.  Christ has not left the Sanctuary, nor has He taken His apocalyptic place as “the Lamb” in the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures.

 

 

The moral Landmarks constitute the Time of the Apocalyptic “Mystery  The time of Mystery is the time of mercy, and of the testimony of the Churches, - “Now is the Accepted time; now is the Day of Salvation  The Mystery departs by means of the various steps of justice and of calamity, which the Throne of chapter four introduces.  At the time of “the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the Mystery of God shall be finished; as He declared to His servants, the prophets chap. 11.

 

 

This, then, takes away all footing from the Historical Interpretation.  That throws down the barrier which God has set between ‘the things that are’ and “the things which are about to take place after these things

 

 

It faultily supposes, that the Apocalypse gives us ‘the History of the Church

 

 

The events of the two thousand years since John wrote are not the history of the Church, but of the world.  To the eye of one who looks at things as God does, the Church has no history.  It is ‘the things that are  They constitute “the Mystery of God  Vainly, then, would any seek, in the history of the world during the time of Gospel gnercy, to find the prophetic events which are yet to take place.  “The things which are about to take place after these things” can only be fulfilled after the Throne of Judgment is set.  It cannot be both the Time of Mercy, and the Day of Judgment.  The authentic testimony of the Churches is – ‘This is the Day of Salvation  That must end, as soon as the stars and lamps are removed.  1 and 2 Thessalonians.

 

 

Viewed from the Apocalypse-time, as it regards the churches, has been at a stand still.  Those who do not accept the Scripture, of course would only scoff at such a view of “the Mystery of God  But it is true, if the words of the Saviour in verse 19 are true.

 

 

The Church’s testimony to the Time of Mercy must be over before the Throne of Wrath is set, and the blows of destruction are dealt.  “The Day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as DESTRUCTION from the Almighty Isa. 13.

 

 

This is entirely in harmony with Paul’s doctrine to the Thessalonian believers.  The Thessalonians were “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heavenHas He come yet?’), whom He raised from among the dead, our Deliverer from the wrath that is coming  It was the time in which Paul was exhorting Christians to “walk worthy of the God who is inviting you unto His own kingdom and glory 1 Thess. 2: 12 (Greek).

 

 

In the second epistle we find that the devil, by three false testimonies, was persuading the converts that the Day of Mercy was over, and the Day of Judgment had set in; 2 Thess. 2: 1, 2.  The apostle teaches them, on the contrary, that the Day of Wrath, the Great and Terrible Day, cannot set in till the nations abandon, with contempt and hatred, the faith of Christ: ver. 3.  Not till then can the Antichrist appear, and reign over the world, after taking his defiant seat in the temple of God at Jerusalem.  His presence and its power is put down by the Manifestation of Christ’s Presence in the air: 2 Thess. 2.

 

 

3.  “And the things which are about to take place after these things

 

 

This affirms that the prophetic part of Revelation - from chapter four to the end - has not yet begun to take place.  The reward of men according to the work of each has not yet begun to be bestowed by Christ come down in person.

 

 

20.  “(Write) The Mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest on My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.  The seven stars are the angels of the Seven Churches, and the seven candlesticks are the Seven Churches

 

 

The seven stars before were said to be “in My right hand here they are said to be “on My right hand  Alford suggests that they were, as a chaplet, both within, and on the back of the hand.

 

 

In the vision by John, the lamps are put first; now the stars are.  These appear prominently in the Saviour’s addresses.  Both Stars and Lamps are light-bearers.  So our Lord said to His disciples – ‘Ye are the light of the world

 

 

(1) The ‘Stars’ in the Apocalypse are sometimes taken literally, when they are in their natural locality.  At the sixth Seal the sun is made black, the becomes as blood, “the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth  Here they are literal; so is also the star called ‘Wormwood which makes the waters bitter.

 

 

(2) But they are also taken mystically.  “I saw a star out of the heaven fallen into the earth9: 1.  Here Satan is represented (after his lost battle in heaven) cast down to earth.  How, then, shall we distinguish between the literal use and the mystic?  Consult the context.  What follows here?  “To him was given the key of the bottomless pit.  And he opened the bottomless pit  A literal star could not have done that.

 

 

Look now to chapter 12.  “A great sign was, seen in the heaven.  A (mystic) Woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars  These are the twelve patriarchs, sons of Jacob.  This could not be literally fulfilled.

 

 

Then we have a vision of Satan, as the Great Red Dragon.  “And his tail is drawing the third of the stars of the heaven; and he cast them to the earth  Then takes place a battle in heaven.  Satan loses it.  “And the Great Dragon was cast down, the old Serpent who deceiveth the whole world; he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were cast down with him  Here is something greatly resembling Christ and ‘disciples’ of the Churches.  As seen in heaven, the officers are stars; as now on earth, they are “angels” during the time of the Mystery, and of mercy.  They are seen no more, after the throne of judgment is set.

 

 

Christ’s birth was heralded by a literal star.  He is, mystically, “the Morning star

 

 

Satan’s king is described also as a star: Isa. 14: 12.  “How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 day-star (margin) son of the morning!”

 

 

Satan and his stars are cast out of heaven into earth.  Some are to fill up the gap; they are now ‘angels’ on earth; but they will be then stars in the First Resurrection: 1 Cor. 15.  They are only for a brief time on Christ’s hand.

 

 

A “Mystery” in the Apocalypse is a moral object, holding two places.  (1) Away from its place it is a mystery, and would not be known without an explanation, wherein its literal reality is discovered, (2) as meaning certain things on earth.

 

 

The meaning of the stars and lamps, as seen in the Tabernacle of heaven, would not have been known, save by the explanation given in “The Things that are  They are the pastors and assemblies of the Seven Churches of Asia.  No one of the pastors, in Christ’s addresses to them on earth, is called ‘star while, when He is addressing the pastor of Ephesus, He says: “I will remove thy lamp out of its place, except thou repent  This shows us that the church is considered as subordinate to the pastor.  And in this verse, while the star’s place is given in relation to Christ - “on My right hand” - no such position is given to the Church.  Also to them is appended the “which thou sawest” in the twentieth verse; the second occurrence of “which thou sawest” is not genuine.

 

 

The removal of the Churches from their present place of witnessing takes place by (1) the ascent of the worthy to Christ on high.  It is a deliverance from the wickedness of earth and from the judgment of it by the throne. (2) But Laodicea is left to go through the Great Tribulation of Israel and of the earth.  The severance between the first two divisions and the third is a moral one.  The duration of the abode on earth of the approved is confined to the Day of Mercy; while the disapproved have to endure part of the righteous visitation on an evil world.  “The one shall be taken (to the Ark on high); the other shall be left” - to the wickedness of man and the flood of justice below.

 

 

The counterpart to the Mystery of the first chapter is that of the seventeenth.  “I will tell thee the Mystery of the Woman, and of the Wild Beast which carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and the ten horns

 

 

Here ‘the Woman the Harlot, corresponds to the ‘Churches and “the Wild Beast which carrieth her” to the Lamb, who tends the Churches.  The Wild Beast destroys the Harlot; Christ saves disciples of the Church.

 

 

The two places of the Harlot, in her day of Mystery, are both on earth.  As the ‘Mystery she is away from her natural place of Babylon, and is set on the seven hills of Rome; while the ‘waters’ are the nations, which she rules by her seductions.

 

 

After the burning of the Harlot by the ten Kings [not ‘kingdoms’] of the Antichrist, who have no territory, the remnant flee to the literal Babylon on the Euphrates.  That becomes the great commercial city of the world; but is swallowed by the last great earthquake, at the seventh Bowl of wrath.

 

 

The Great False Christ – “the Wild Beast which thou sawest (1) was [he once lived on earth] (2) and is not [he has died and been moved away from earth].”  Where, then, is he?  Among the departed spirits [souls] of the lost - in “the bottomless pit [i.e., a place within ‘Sheol’ / ‘Hades’] out of which he is to come up, when the time of the abandonment of the Christian faith by multitudes, is come – “the Falling away  That is the time of his kingdom of three years and a half.

 

 

In the Pit he is detained still – “He was, and is not”.  But the time of his return to earth is coming, and then “he shall be present*

 

* The text of the Apocalypse here followed is that of Tragelles.

 

 

The ‘stars’ and ‘angels’ of the second and third chapters are so called only during the time of Mystery.

 

 

But the saved of this dispensation will be the chief of Abraham’s plural seeds, “as the stars” (Gen. 15: 5), bright, fixed, and innumerable: 1 Cor. 15: 41, 42.

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

 

SIDE CONNEXIONS OF THE EPISTLES WITH ONE

ANOTHER.

 

 

1.  In Ephesians we have Christ walking amidst the lamps now.  In Sardis, the approved shall walk with Christ in white, while the disapproved of Laodicea will walk in nakedness and shame.

 

 

2.  Eight times the call to ‘Repent’ is given to the  Churches, or sonic of the consequences of impenitence

are stated.

 

 

(1) That call is not given to Smyrna, or to Philadelphia.

 

 

(2) Twice it is spoken of to Ephesus.  It is enforced on Pergamos.

 

 

(3) Thrice is the matter brought before Thyatira.  The angel’s wife refuses to repent.  Woe will befall those who repent not!

 

 

The world is not called to ‘repent’ - in the addresses to the Churches.  But four times its non-repentance under the judgments of God is noted.  Under the Bowls (Vials) men, instead of repenting blaspheme!

 

 

3.  Satan’s name occurs in the address to Smyrna.  The Jews are not now God’s people, but Satan’s synagogue of unbelief.  (2) In Pergamos, Satan has his throne, and dwelling.  False teaching is at work, among the Balaamites and the Nicolaitans.  (3) In Thyatira the ‘depths’ of his evil teaching are accepted by the majority. And the wife of the angel enforces them on Christ’s servants by teaching and by practice.

 

 

(1) The last four epistles are connected together in a remarkable way, by the Saviour’s words to the remnant of Thyatira: “That which ye hare already hold fast TILL I OPEN  (2) In Sardis we have the unfavourable result, because of unwatchfulness.  Christ will arrive over the angel, and he will not be aware of it: but he will be left to the Day of Trouble of the earth, after the Trouble of the Churches is ended: 7: 14.

 

 

(3) In Philadelphia we have the result of the Saviour’s descent.  While the false doctrine of Satan lulls the Churches which accept it, to sleep, Christ’s rousing words, remembered and kept, prepare His people for His coming.  The angel of Philadelphia has an open door set before him by the Lord, who alone has power to do so.  It is the door of escape to himself on high, out of earth with its sins, its persecutions of the holy, and the judgments of God.  Satan’s attempts to hinder will be ineffectual.  The reason of this is the good conduct of the angel.  (1) He is possessed of some power; (2) he has kept Christ's word; (3) and not denied His name.

 

 

But even to him there is a note of admonition.

 

 

‘Relax not your hold of the truth, lest the crown prepared for you be given to another

 

 

In the epistle to Laodicea we have no notice of the Lord’s coming.  It is about to be ejected with loathing.  It is minding earthly things; and, like Demas, loves this present evil age.  If Sardis is left to the Day of Israel’s and of the world’s temptation, much more will Laodicea be!  To her the Saviour says not, ‘I will open the door to you but ‘Let any one that will listen, open the door to Me

 

 

WHAT ARE THE CHIEF CONNEXIONS OF THE EPISTLES WITH THE PROPHETIC PORTION OF THE BOOK!

 

 

1. The words to Ephesus are connected with the last chapter, which tells of the eternal inheritance of the saved. The Saviour’s promise to give the conqueror to eat of ‘the tree of life points to the description of “the Paradise of God  “In the midst of its broad place, and on this side and that of the river, was the tree of life, which, bare twelve kinds of fruits, and yielded its fruit every month22: 2.

 

 

2. The address to the angel of Smyrna, attaches itself to the Millennial Day - and the reward of the martyrs therein.  “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life  We read in the prophetic part: “They came to life and reigned with the Christ a thousand years  “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection; over such the Second Death hath no power

 

 

3. The epistle to Pergamos is particularly important on this point.  Many who appreciate the addresses to the Churches, turn aside from the heads and horns of the Wild Beast, as something unintelligible.  Behold then in this epistle a God-given clue to the difficulties of the twelfth and thirteenth chapters.

 

 

Our Lord in His address speaks of Satan’s “throne” as seated at Pergamos.  The Lord’s throne is “in heaven  Satan, after his defeat in heaven and casting down to earth, raises from the Pit his king, and makes over to him, “his power, and his throne, and great authority  Where Satan dwells, Christ’s people suffer  unto death.  Antipas was slain at Pergamos.  And he becomes a member of the Man-child, who is caught away to God, and to His throne. Satan’s defeat is the joy of heaven.  “Now are come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, [The kingdom of God comes to heaven first,] and the authority of His Christ  Christ then is Michael, the archangel, who inflicts on Satan this defeat.  The Man-child is one of those who overcame the Wicked One, because of the word of their testimony, and who “loved not their life (soul) unto death

 

 

In the Saviour’s rebuke of the angel, he points to some in the assembly there who held false doctrine in regard of fornication, and the eating of meats offered to idols.  “They held the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel,” on both these points.

 

 

Here we have a clear hint concerning the two Wild Beasts of chapter thirteen.  Balak answers to the first Wild Beast (the kingly), to whom Satan gives up his throne.  The second Wild Beast answers to the False Prophet Balaam, who instructs the king, how to injure Israel before God.  He sets up as his idol, a statue of the blaspheming king, and compels all on earth to worship it; and to sign themselves, as devoted to the king, by a sacramental mark; just as the worshippers of Jehovah were devoted to Him by circumcision.  This is the Great “Temptation” of the dwellers on earth; and to be kept out of that day is a mercy to be asked of the Most High by prayer: Luke 21: 36.  Against the false doctrine of the Balaamites and Nicolaitans the Saviour testifies, that He will come quickly, and war against them with the sword of His mouth.  This looks onward to the Saviour’s descent from heaven with His army, in the nineteenth chapter.  “Out of His month goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and He shall rule them with sceptre of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God This refers us back to the Vintage of chapter fourteen - when “blood came out of the winepress, even to the horse-bridles [a reference to the army on white horses, that come with Christ], by the space of a thousand six hundred furlongs” (two hundred miles.)  This accounts also for the word in the nineteenth chapter. “He was clothed with a garment dipped in blood  The Vintage precedes the Battle.  And his treading the winepress is a key to the statement, that his feet were like white brass.

 

 

4. In the epistle to Thyatira, the Saviour’s piercing eyes, and His feet treading down the wicked are noticed. The iniquities of Jezebel, the wife of the angel, and the threats against her are brought before us in the account of Babylon, the Harlot-city of fornication with kings, and the mother of the abominations [idols] of the earth.

 

 

To the overcoming Remnant Christ promises a kingdom over the nations.  They form a part of the Man-child, who is to rule all the nations with sceptre of iron.

 

 

5. To Sardis, the unwatchful, our Lord utters the threat, that if unrepentant, He would arrive in air above them, and collect His watchful ones to Himself while they were, like the world, utterly ignorant of a fact so closely touching their welfare.

 

 

This refers us onward to the Crowned Reaper, seated on the Cloud - of the fourteenth chapter.  He is directed to send His sickle and reap, for the Harvest of the earth is fully dry.  The ripeness of the Vintage of earth is its being filled with the juices derived from the soil.

 

 

The few obedient in Sardis shall walk with Christ in white.  Their portion as victors shall be to be clothed in white, as was Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.  “His raiment became shining exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them  And they shall move on with Christ to the City above, in which are life’s fountains of water.

 

 

6. To Philadelphia’s angel the Lord Jesus speaks of the key which He possesses, which will open any lock, and which forbids the shutting of any door which He opens.  Here we are referred to the twelfth chapter - where Satan seeks to shut the door against the Man-child.  But he is unable to effect his purpose; the sufferer whose heel he bruised in life, is “caught away to God and to His throne  And his turn speedily comes to bruise the head of the Old Serpent.  His ascent brings on the war, in which Satan, feeling that the crisis is come, delivers battle, and loses it.

 

 

The Great “Temptation” of “the habitable earth” ensues on this casting down of the Wicked One from heaven.  The False Prophet thereupon presses idolatry, and the worship of the Wild Beast : [the opposite of the Lamb] to which whosoever yields is lost beyond recovery.

 

 

7.  In the epistle to Laodicea, Christ represents Himself first as “the Amen then as faithful witness, then as “the beginning of the Creation of God  This difficult title is, I think, to be expounded by the Saviour’s words in the first chapter.

 

 

1. “I am the First and the Last  Here is His Godhead.

 

 

2. “And the Living One, and I became dead  Here is His manhood, and His sacrifice for sin.

 

 

3. “And behold, I am alive for evermore.”  Those are the words by which to expound – “The beginning of the Creation of God  The first creation has fallen.  But it was the purpose of the Most High to restore it out of death into resurrection and eternal life: Rom. 8.  The words appeal to the second Psalm.  “Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten thee  Here is a new Creation, taking its rise out of the tomb.

 

 

And Paul, before Festus and Agrippa, witnessed “none other things, than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come, that the Christ should suffer, and that He, the First of the select resurrection [out] of the dead is about to announce light to the people [of Israel,] and to the nationsActs 26.  But Laodicea regards not resurrection, but the evil age.  ‘Seek from Me says Christ, ‘garments, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear  This threat leads us on to the sixteenth chapter,- in which we read – “Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame

 

 

This instructs us, that the unwatchful of the Churches will be left to the Great Trouble of earth, and that the wicked will understand, that these are left, because of disobedience to Christ, - and they will despise them.  They are tasteless salt, cast out by God, and trodden underfoot by men.

 

 

But much turns on the question - WHO ARE THE OVERCOMERS?

 

 

We must distinguish ‘overcomers’ into two classes.  Two worthy objects of desire are presented in the Gospel.

 

 

1. ETERNAL LIFE, offered to the world; and accepted by all God’s elect.

 

 

2. THE FIRST RESURRECTION, and the glory of the thousand years.

 

 

All who attain the Millennial have Eternal Life, as the gift of God:- Matt. 19: 27-29; Mark 10: 29-30; Luke 18: 29-30.  But not all who receive Eternal Life attain to the prize of their calling.  So Israel in the desert came short of the hope set before, them in Egypt: 1 Cor. 10.; Heb. 3.; 4.

 

 

Eternal Life is God’s GIFT to faith: THE [millennial] KINGDOM OF GOD is the PRIZE set before the obedient, and the sufferer: Rev. 2.; 3.

 

 

The Lord has commanded, that certain offenders shall be put out of the Churches, as unworthy to be accounted saints: Matt. 18.; 1 Cor. 5.  And the next chapter teaches, that those so put out will not attain the Millennial kingdom: 1 Cor. 6: 8 -11.

 

 

The Prize of the Christian calling comes first, in order of time; and is seriously pressed on the attention and zeal of [regenerate] believers.  John Baptist urged it on Israel.  The Lord Jesus taught at large the greatness of its blessedness and privileges; and commanded disciples to seek it before every thing: Matt. 6: 33.  He also strongly impressed on disciples the woe of its loss.  Seven times He spoke of some believers being rejected      from it.  Not all His disciples would be overcomers.  Some would be rejected, as “workers of iniquityMatt. 7: 21-23; 1 Cor. 6.     Some, as men of strife and pride: chap. 18: 1-4.  Some as rich: 19: 23, 24.  For before entering the kingdom, there must be an “accounting worthy Luke 20: 35; 21: 36.  Paul prayed for his converts that God would ‘count them’ worthy of their calling: 2 Thess. 1: 5, 11.

 

 

In the seven epistles of our Lord - many are marked out as losing the hope.  On some the sword of Christ would fall, as holders of false doctrine: 2: 16.  If our Lord, as He says, ‘will render unto each as his work shall be,’ then all those rightly ejected by the Churches will, at His coming, be rejected from the [millennial] kingdom: Matt. 18: 17.

 

 

8. The overcomers must be observers of Christ’s words if they would rule over the nations: Rev. 2: 26, 27.  The hope of the prize is by Him removed from all in the Church of Thyatira, save the remnant.

 

 

Those overcome are to wait for resurrection till the thousand years of reward are finished: Rev. 20: 5.

 

 

Eternal life belongs to the men of faith.- And those [eternally] lost, after the Judgment of the [Great White] Throne, - are cast into the lake of fire, because of unbelief, and its works: Rev. 20: 12-15.  So the eternal heritages of faith, and of unbelief, are put in sharp contrast, one with the other.  “He that overcometh shall inherit these things: [[the Millennium &] the new heavens and earth,] and I will be His God, and he shall be My Son

 

 

“But the cowardly, and unbelieving and sinners, [mark how sin of act flows out of unbelief] and the abominable and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers (or poisoners) and all liars shall have their portion in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the Second Death21: 7, 8.

 

 

And again – “Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city

 

 

“For without (the city) are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie

 

 

Let us now sum up, - on the question -

 

 

IS OUR LORD AT HIS COMING, TO TREAT [REGENERATE] BELIEVERS OF THIS DISPENSATION, IN GRACE ONLY?

 

 

Much evidence to the contrary has been adduced; and much more is still in reserve.

 

 

The real principle of the coming Day is announced by our Lord, in His address to Thyatira’s angel.

 

 

“All the Churches shall know, that I am He, who searches and hearts: [and therefore take account of the doctrines as well as deeds of disciples] and I will give to each of you according to your works

 

 

What can be clearer than this?  See also Romans, second chapter.

 

 

The same principle is shown also in the structure of the seven epistles.  They are divided into three parts.

 

 

1. In the first division, some attribute of Christ, taken mainly from his appearance to John, is given.  The divisions of these epistles answer to the threefold partition of the Book, as given to the apostle.  The first is – “The things thou sawest

 

 

These attributes of Christ are applied to the pastors and churches, in the way of comfort, or rebuke, in the next division.  Christ is the great Actor, in reward and blessing, or in punishment.

 

 

2. The second division treats of the State of each Church.  If it have any good points, they are first named; and then those that are blameworthy.  This portion answers to – “The things that are  And the Lord appeals to those concerned to amend the points with which He justly finds fault.

 

 

Here we may notice some of the Church-sins of the present day.

 

 

The salt that was to keep down the corruption of the world, has itself become corrupt.

 

 

1. Some of Christ’s commands are deliberately, and to an increasing extent, broken.

 

 

Women speak in the assemblies, teach, and rule.  This is an open door, at which Satan will enter in:* 1 Tim. 3: 14-16.

 

* The warning given to pastors and churches, by Christ’s words about Jezebel - how strong!  How neglected!

 

 

Appeals of a worldly kind for money, as Bazaars, Entertainments, and Services of Song.  Teetotalism. Sprinkling of infants has taken the place of immersion of believers; and true baptism, as taught in the Word of God, is deliberately refused by believers. Then we have the Churches’ fall from Grace back to Law. Most take the Ten Commandments, the basis of the old covenant given to Israel at Sinai, as their Rule of Life. Christians are soldiers, lawyers, takers and dispensers of oaths, and bring actions in courts of justice.  Many are, with all their might, striving to be rich, and are not innocent in their ways of getting gold.  Some take titles of honour from the world.  Many believers marry unbelievers.

 

 

But it is not meant to exhaust the subject.

 

 

There is not one of the Churches addressed by Christ which does not show, that not Grace, but recompense according to works in the Millennial Day, is Christ’s teaching.

 

 

1. How lofty is the tone of the epistle to Ephesus?  A new FALL is come.  What is it?  The diminution of love to the Redeemer.  If this be not repented of, the candlestick is to be removed.

 

 

2. What shall we say of the word to Smyrna?  ‘The overcomer shall not be hurt by the Second Death  What, then of the overcome?

 

 

3. To Pergamos it is declared that our Lord will visit false doctrine in the Churches with the sword.

 

 

4. In Thyatira, practice of evil has followed in the train of false teaching.  And the Lord threatens sorely the impenitent.  Only the faithful remnant escape blame, and to them will the door of deliverance be opened.

 

 

5. Sardis, unwatchful, shall be treated, when Christ comes down for His people, as a part of the world; and left in its ignorance, to the world’s current of evil, and judgment.

 

 

6. Philadelphia and Smyrna are the only two churches who are not rebuked.  The faith and watchfulness of Philadelphia shall be honoured by escaping the day of temptation.  But let them not grow slack, lest a crown. destined for them be lost.

 

 

7. Laodicea, taken up with the world, and indifferent to Christ and His fulness, is about to be spued out of His mouth!  The blame, which began with Ephesus, is consummated in the last church.

 

 

The promises to the overcomers receive their completion “in that day and they attach to the close of the book: referring chiefly to (1) The Temple, (2) The City, (3) The Paradise of God.

 

 

1. The promise to Ephesian overcomers is the fruit of the tree of life, which is in the New Eden of the Most High: 22: 1, 2.

 

 

2. To Smyrna the promise [to overcomers] is the First Resurrection, and its glories.

 

 

3. The promise to the overcomers of Pergamos is of priestly glory - the manna reserved in the Holiest, the onyx stone, and a special name thereon: 7: 9-17.

 

 

4. The promise to the remnant in Thyatira is of kingly power, to be given to the observers of Christ’s commands: Rev. 20: 4-6.

 

 

5. The penalty attaching to Sardis arises out of unwatchfulness and inactivity.  While the main body of the Church would be caught asleep, the wakeful should walk with Christ, clad in white, their names not blotted out, but confessed before God and His angels.  The opposite to these rewards, then, would befall the unwatchful: 14: 14-16.

 

 

6. The benefits to the angel of Philadelphia respect the future time of Great Trouble on earth, consequent on Satan’s defeat and casting down to earth: 12.; 13.  The glory to the overcomers would be both priestly and kingly; to be (1) a pillar in the temple, and (2) honourable in the City of God: 7.; 21.

 

 

7. The offer to any one of Laodicea’s church is bountiful.  If any would open to Christ, he would, as I understand it, receive an invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: 19: 7-9.

 

 

These seven epistles, then, of our Lord, with other passages, negative a number of points commonly assumed, with regard to the Churches.

 

 

I. It is generally assumed, that, in ‘the Rapture of the Church all believers will at once ascend to Christ and to bliss.  The Revelation supposes that there will be seven Raptures: (1) 4: 1, 2; (2) 7: 9-17; (3) 11: 12; (4) 12: 5; (5) 14: 1-4; (6) 14: 14-16; (7) 16: 15.

 

 

1. Sardis is ignorant of Christ’s descent, and is left, as in Matt. 24: 36-42.  The expression, ‘the Rapture of the Church,’ is not to be found in Scripture.

 

 

2. The door is to be opened by Christ to the faithful remnant only: 2: 25.

 

 

3. The angel of Philadelphia is to be rescued, because of a faithfulness to truth not even professed by the majority of believers.

 

 

II. It is assumed that all believers of this dispensation will escape the day of Tribulation coming on the world.

 

 

But the majority of believers do not confess Christ as the Lord, in His appointed way of immersion: Acts 2: 36, 41; Matt. 10: 32, 33.  There are, indeed, two escapes: (1) an earthly one, for Israel, into the wilderness: 12: 14; (2) there is an heavenly one, by resurrection, and ascension to the throne of God.  But not all escape. Satan, defeated in his attempts against flying Israel, then turns to pursue (1) the remnants of the Woman’s seed; whether those who observe the Law, or (2) keep the testimony of Jesus Christ: 12: 17; 19: 10.

 

 

III.  Some own not Christ’s judgment of believers in His Presence.  In Pergamos some would be refused by Christ as holders of false doctrine in regard to fornication and idolatrous worship.  The great principle announced by our Lord to Thyatira testifies that all will be judged by the Saviour, in regard both of their doctrine and their practice.  See also Rom. 2; Heb. 12: 15-29; James 2: 12.

 

 

IV.  Many, who acknowledge the Thousand years of glory as about to take place at the Saviour’s coming and kingdom, yet teach that all believers shall enjoy them, - a word strongly denied by Rev. 20: 5, and other places.

 

 

V.  Not all will be priests at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  Not all confess the Righteousness of Christ as the wedding garment, which he who has not is ejected: Matt. 22.  And some believers have not “the fine linen, which is the righteous acts of saints Rev. 19: 7-9.

 

 

Not all believers will reign with Christ the Thousand years.  Overcomers alone will have the right to govern the nations then: 2: 26.  Overcomers alone will sit down with Christ on His throne: Rev. 3: 21.  Here the first text confirms the second.

 

 

And now a word of testimony to a different party of believers.  When Christ comes, there are no previous signs.  “That which ye have already, hold fast till I open   It is not, ‘Hold fast till the last sign is fulfilled

 

 

It is remarkable, too, that if the other reading is preferred, the same sense arises. “Hold fast till I arrive

 

 

Finally, how solemn and clear is that word of our Lord: “The hour is coming in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth – THEY THAT HAVE DONE GOOD, UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF LIFE; and THEY THAT HAVE DONE EVIL, UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF JUDGMENTJohn 5: 28, 29; Matt. 7: 21-23.*

 

[* And ‘one thousand years’ lie in between them!]

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

[2]

 

SOLUTION OF THE MAIN ARGUMENT

 

AGAINST

 

THE SECRET PRESENCE OF CHRIST;

 

OR,

 

A NOTE ON 2 THESS. 1: 3-10.

 

 

The subject opens (2 Thess. 1.) in the words of the [Holy] Spirit thus:-

 

 

3, 4. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because your faith is growing exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth: So that we ourselves boast of you in the Churches of God, for your patience [endurance] and faith in all your persecutions, and in the afflictions that ye endure.

 

 

5. “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, (1) that ye may be accounted worthy of the kingdom of God for which ye even suffer.”

 

 

It appears from the epistle, that the saints at Thessalonica were troubled, because they thought, that the Day of Judgment and of wrath on the living had already set in; and that they were destined to pass through “the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” - that day of man’s sin, and of God’s punishment.  Were not their persecutions a proof of this?

 

 

The wisdom of the apostle directs him to show, (1) that it was still the day of Gospel mercy, and that (2) when the Day of Judgment on the living wicked shall set in, it would not fall on them, the saints of the Lord; but on their persecutors; while they would be gathered to Christ [by a selective rapture] out of earth; and enjoy the Millennial Kingdom.

 

 

If such blessing may be bestowed on [regenerate] believers in that kingdom of glory, how much more on the sufferers because of their faith in it?  The present scenes of unjust suffering on earth during the Day of God’s patience, will call on Him to requite with blessing those injured now.  The [millennial] kingdom is a compensation provided by God for His sufferers: Luke 6: 21-26.

 

 

6. “If indeed it be a just thing with God, (1) to reward to them that trouble you, trouble.  (2) And to you the troubled relief, with us [Paul, Silas, and Timothy] - at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven

 

 

The Redeemer’s descent “from heaven” is spoken of with primary reference to those who are alive and remain on earth.  It is the lower atmospheric heaven of “clouds  It is parallel, I believe, with “meeting the Lord in air” of the former epistle.  It is the same expression which is found, where the Lord Jesus is treating of His return.  “The same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.  Even thus shall it be in the Day when the Son of man is revealed Luke 17: 29, 30.

 

 

The apostle founds his argument upon the nature of justice that dwells in God as the Governor.  That Day of the Lord is one of the manifestation of His righteous judgment: Rom. 2.  And justice means the rendering to each according to his work: (1) Woe, to unjustly persecuting; (2) joy and reward, to those suffering for faith in God and His Christ.

 

 

Here are the two opposite awards of justice to two morally opposed classes.  And observe, - the doom of the persecutors is first stated; probably, because that truth would most quickly open the eyes of the sufferers to the true state of the case.

 

 

The turning point of the argument is now reached.

 

 

1.  Mr. B. Newton’s view is, - ‘That in Christ’s return there will be no secrecy.  He reveals Himself in glory, to the men of earth, as soon as He begins to leave the heaven

 

 

Against this set the following texts:

 

 

(1) “He made darkness His secret place; His Pavilion round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies Psa. 18: 11.  (2) “In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His Pavilion: in the secret of His Presence shall He hide mePsa. 27: 5.  (3) For those that fear and trust Him before the sons of men, we read – “Thou shalt hide them in the Secret of Thy Presence, from the pride of man; Thou shall keep them secretly in a Pavilion from the strife of tongues Psa. 31: 20.  (4) “He that dwelleth in the Secret Place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the AlmightyPsa. 91:1.

 

 

2. He [i.e., Mr. Newton] translates Parousia by ‘Coming  It should be rendered ‘Presence  The word never in itself means motion; though it is often placed in circumstances which imply motion.  It signifies the Saviour’s stationary Secret Presence in air, to which His people are caught up.  The proofs of this have been given in my (1) “Presence of the Christ, the centre of the Secret Rapture, and of His glorious manifestation;” and in my “Letter to Pastor Frank, White Fletcher, Norwich.

 

 

If I remember right, the Revised Version either gives ‘Presence’ in the text, or in the margin of the places where it occurs.

 

 

3. We differ also in the sense to be given to “Revelation  To Mr. B. N. ‘the Revelation’ of His Presence is only a synonym for His ‘Coming  We, say - that His Presence is at first in secret, His revelation succeeds it. His secret Presence is of blessing for His saints; the Manifestation of His Presence is for judgment of wrath on the Antichrist and His adherents.  Christ ascending went up in a cloud, which shut Him from the eyes of the disciples: Acts 1: 9.  He shall in like manner return, as the two angels testified.

 

 

We too “shall be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord1 Thess. 4: 17.

 

 

As the Saviour’s “revelation” of His Presence is for wrath, it cannot take place in the time of Gospel mercy. That is Paul’s argument in 2 Thessalonians 1. and 2: 1-4.   Of the Antichrist Paul says – “Whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and paralyze with the manifestation-on-high of His Presence 2: 8 (See Greek).  And again – “At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His might, inflame of fire taking vengeance2 Thess. 1: 8.

 

 

4.  Once more Mr. B. N. differs, in supposing, that the “Revelation of the Presence” marks out the time of mercy and blessing, to the persecuted saints.  He holds, that verse seven should be read - as defining the time of reward to the troubled. - “To you the troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven 2 Thess. 1: 7.

 

 

Now does the passage so say?  Just consider the entire statement of the Holy Ghost, and it will be seen - that the apostle is treating of destruction falling on the troublers of the holy.  “At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with the angels of His might [who execute His judgments: Matt. 13: 41, 42].  “Then [after that] shall the righteous shine out, as the sun in the kingdom of their Father43.

 

 

“In flaming fire taking vengeance (1) on them that know not God [the heathen], and (2) on them that obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus: 9.  Who shall be punished with eternal destruction (proceeding) from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His might

 

 

This then manifestly gives the doom of the two classes of Christ’s foes - in the immediate trouble sent on them; and then in their endless woe.  The Saviour is then showing His “face” to His foes (See Greek).  He is revealed.

 

 

The tenth verse gives us the blessed lot of the troubled for Christ’s sake.  “When He shall have come (1) to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that, believed,* (for our testimony among you was believed) in that Day.  Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil (in you) all good pleasure in goodness, and the work of faith with power11.

 

* The true reading.

 

 

Here, then, we see, that the ruling principle of the passage is, - the different effects on the lost, and on the approved, when justice steps in to administer the affairs of men.  In both notices of ‘the troublers’ and ‘the troubled the ‘troublers’ and their doom are put first: 6, 7.

 

 

“In that day is the end of a parenthesis.  Where does it begin?

 

 

“If, indeed, it be a righteous thing with God to recompense to those who trouble you, trouble.  And to you the troubled relief with us.” ( (1) “At the revelation of the Lord Jesus … (2) … when He shall, have come ) in that Day

 

 

Paul is not here speaking of the Gospel-day of mercy - which is ‘this day’ - but of the coming Day of reward.

 

 

(1)  “I am persuaded, that He [Christ] is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day  (2) “The Lord grant unto him [Onesiphorus,] that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day 2 Tim. 1: 12, 18.  (3) “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me in that day4: 8.

 

 

The millennial reward of the saints occurs at a time somewhat later than the indignation and destruction poured out in the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty.  See Rev. 19: 11; 20: 4-6.

 

 

The Father has come down to the Secret Presence.

 

 

“Now the Lord make you to increase and abound in love to one another, and to all; that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints1 Thess. 3: 12, 13.

 

 

Christ our Lord comes first in secret for His saints: 1 Thess. 4.  Then He comes in glorious manifestation on high with His saints.  “If ye then be risen with Christ [in the immersion which follows upon faith] seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Hint in gloryCol. 3: 1-4.  Now that will be true, after Christ has judged the assembled ‘saints’ in His Secret Presence.

 

 

As soon as that arrangement is over – “the manifestation of His Presence” to the enemy and to the world, takes place: 2 Thess. 2: 8.  After the revelation of the Antichrist, “the Lord shall consume him with the breath of His mouth, and shall paralyze him with the out-shining-on-high of His Presence

 

 

When is the sign of a Person’s Presence needed!

 

 

When the Person cannot be seen!  Then this explains the Saviour’s reply to the disciples’ question – “What shall be the sign of Thy Presence  Now Jesus had said to His Jewish disciples - “Ye shall not see Me, till ye say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord “Then shall appear the sign o the Son of man in heaven” - is the answer.  And the sign to the unready of the Church is the taking of one to the Saviour’s Presence on high; and the leaving of another: Matt. 24: 36-42.

 

 

The Lord give His people grace to bow to the testimonies of His Word!

 

 

THE END