These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church in Pergamos

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it (Revelation 2:12-17).

These things saith He

which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

This statement is important because it reminds us that Jesus’s words are powerful, dangerous, and can only truly come from Him. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and His word is described as a sharp, two-edged sword.

Jesus is the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.[i]

In Genesis, we can read the story of creation. God spoke all things into existence. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” [ii] Jesus, the Word of God, is the Light of Life. This is the light that gives life to every soul, many of which are being raised as sons of God through the adoption of Jesus Christ. [iii] Jesus who is the first begotten Son of God and the Word of God made flesh lights the way for all who would follow Him. He shows us the way by bringing the Father to light through the life that He lived, the teachings He taught, and His obedience to the Father.  

When the Word lived among us, He had a lot to say, and many of those words are recorded in the gospels. He also had apostles who served Him by bringing His words to people of all nations. Being the ambassadors of Christ, their words are His words, and we have some of the letters that they wrote on His behalf. We also have the Revelation of Jesus Christ—and this is just the New Testament. The Old Testament also contains the words of God as spoken by the prophets and many historical accounts that provide lessons about who God is and His will for mankind.

God has always given His word to man, and most notably through Jesus who is the Word of God. We also have the Holy Spirit who lives with man and within man, teaching man the good things of God in Jesus Christ and raising man up into a son of God as the Word is “written on the fleshly tables of the heart.” [iv] Here are some scriptures about Jesus as the Word of God:

  • And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
  • For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me (John 14:10).
  • I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (John 5:30).
  • It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).
  • For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me (John 17:8).
  • But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Corinthians 8:6).
  • Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Jesus Kills and Makes Alive.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [v]

Being Light, the Word of God can see all things, dividing truth from lie, righteousness from unrighteousness, and life from death. When His Word comes—which is perfectly true, righteous, and life-giving, all that is contrary to that word is sifted and destroyed. [vi] The lies, unrighteousness, and all dead things are defeated by the most powerful weapon of God—the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit. [vii]

When the Word of God became flesh and lived among us, He defeated many untrue things, including the idea that righteousness could come from following the law. Jesus taught what righteousness really means as He who is less concerned about outward observances of rules and regulations, and more concerned with the “thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

For example, Jesus teaches that hating your brother in your heart is akin to murder, and lusting after a woman in your heart is akin to adultery. The Word of God taught a lot of things, and the things that He taught and the life that He lived demonstrates the obedience that God truly desires, which is hinged on loving God with all you have and loving your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus also teaches that if we love His word and strive to keep it, then He will send the Holy Spirit to indwell us. The Holy Spirit makes the Word of God alive in our hearts, and in so doing tests our hearts and reveals our sin to us. The Holy Spirit also helps us die to sin and raises us in the things of righteousness and life. As our hearts are conformed to Jesus, the Word comes out of us through our actions and things that we speak when done in the Spirit of God. [viii]

The servants of God are responsible for properly handling the word of God, and this is only made possible when the Word of God lives within us and comes out into the world through a sincere and obedient heart, and this is His work in us. As Jesus said, Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” [ix]

When His servants properly care for His word, the world hates them just as they hated Him, and many are killed for the Word. Many die for Him, but those who have the everlasting Word in them will live as He breathes the breath of life back into them when He returns.

When the Word of God returns, He will judge all things. Jesus will divide the just from the unjust, the faithful servants from the unfaithful servants, and the living from the dead. [x] He will bring the Light of Life back to those who were killed for His sake, and His Word—which is Spirit, a fire, and a sword, will consume all lies and wickedness. Below are some scriptures that relate to the word of God being a sharp two-edged sword:

  • As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16).
  • He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:47).
  • But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (1 Corinthians 2:15).
  • But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4).
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21).
  • Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Revelation 19:15).

One day, Jesus who is the Word of God will return, and the sword that comes out of His mouth will judge the earth. As those who have faith in Him, we are passed from judgment to life. Having received so great a salvation, we should take the time to consider all that He has to say to the best of our ability, by the grace of God. Let us consider what Jesus is teaching us by His Spirit to the Church of Pergamos:

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”

What is Satan’s seat, and what does it mean to dwell there? It seems that we can know what this means by considering Jesus as the Word of God then comparing that to what the scriptures say about Satan.

Jesus testifies to the truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Jesus came to give us life. Jesus does not need the praise of man, but only sought to do the will of the Father and to glorify Him. Jesus speaks the words of God because He IS the Word of God. Jesus pleads for the Father to forgive man, and Jesus sacrificed Himself so that many would be forgiven. Jesus raises the dead flesh to life, both as He works His will in us by the Spirit and when He returns to raise our dead bodies from the grave.

Satan is a liar. He only comes to kill and destroy. He wants praise from man and He slanders God. He inverts the words of God (“you shall not surely die” is an example). He accuses man to God. He can act as a “thorn in our flesh.” Satan is also the “son of perdition who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” [xi]

That scripture sounds like “Satan’s seat.” Satan sits where only God should sit, and He inverts the ways of God for his own gain at the expense of others. Where God would bring the truth, Satan brings deception. Where the Son would honor the Father and the Holy Spirit the Son, Satan honors himself. Where God would bring freedom from sin, Satan brings captivity to sin. Where God would establish justice and righteousness and hold Himself to the same standard He puts on us—even to the point of becoming man and experiencing death, Satan is above the law.

There are many who claim to be ministers of God, but God is not on the throne of their heart (which is also the temple of God if the Spirit dwells in you). Satan rules them, and they do his works.  

How is it that the Church of Pergamos is said to have kept the name of Jesus and have not denied His faith? Jesus said that many would come in His name, saying that He is Christ. Yet, they would deceive many. [xii] This can be true here also. The Church of Pergamos says that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. They preach the gospel of Jesus’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, they do not truly serve Him. They serve themselves because being a Christian minister is profitable for them.

Who is Antipas, the faithful martyr who was slain among them? Historically, this is said to be a disciple of John who was killed because he refused and denounced Christian participation in idolatry and sacrifices, which was punishable by death under the reign of Emperor Nero. How would one apply a Method of Interpretation that looks for the spirit of the letters to the churches—a spirit that applies to all of time and not just a single point in time? Does this have a present or future fulfilment?

It seems that the letters to the churches provide a snapshot of the spiritual state of the church prior to the coming of the false Christ for the purpose of edifying the true believers and judging the false—as the two-edged word of God is created to do. Therefore, it is possible that there will be a martyr who is killed for their resistance to the carnality of the Synagogue of Satan. Most likely, this martyr is not merely an individual named Antipas, but an individual who we can look to in history that is representative of many who will also die as faithful witnesses for Jesus Christ.

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”

What is this doctrine of Balaam? This takes place in Numbers 22-24, and there seems to be a lot happening within that story. Thankfully, the general failure of Balaam is described in 2 Peter 2 and Jude 1.

  • Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15).
  • Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots (Jude 1:11-12).

These entire chapters are highly relevant, so it would benefit one greatly to read these full chapters, along with the account in Numbers to get a full view. More context surrounding the scriptures above is included at the end of this chapter.

The general idea is that these are prophets for hire who twist the grace of God into something that makes living a sinful life acceptable. They received the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ and His gospel, yet they turned back to sin, and they use the grace of God to justify themselves and the sins of others—and they use the word of God to do so.

They quote the bible out of context to preach soft sermons that make many comfortable with living a sinful life, and why not? Telling people what they want to hear is the best way to keep a building or television, radio, or Online ministry full of happy donors. They do not have the Spirit of God but walk in the spirit of Satan as they twist the words of God for gain in this world and social exaltation while openly or secretly pursuing their own desires.

Some might even preach righteousness, but they themselves do not obey what they teach or strive to grow in those regards as one who is honest about their sin, repentant, and faithfully seeking the Spirit of God to work the good things of God in them. Instead, they play pastor like a kid playing make-believe, then they go on to live a life of sin when they think no one is watching them. If they had true faith, they would know that the Spirit of Truth is always watching, and He will judge them for their faithlessness, hypocrisy, and their lying ministries that “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.”

“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”

As discussed more fully in The Symbolism, it is the opinion of the author of These Things Saith He that the “doctrine or deeds of the Nicolaitanes” is a general stand-in for teachings that condone a worldly form of Christianity. As for the Church of Pergamos, this is shown through their mishandling of the grace and forgiveness of God, using His mercy as a license to sin and seek the pleasures of this world without consequence.

It is no wonder that they blaspheme heaven and those who dwell therein. Such as these characterize heaven as a place of never-ending pleasure and self-indulgence. Jesus is busy building them a mansion in heaven. The carpenter works away, preparing for them a place where they can fulfill every carnal desire—and why not? This is the heaven they live in now—which is no heaven—because the Spirit of God is not bringing the real kingdom of God that “comes not with observation” and is “within you.” No, their present-day heaven is sin and those who are truly of the Kingdom are spoken evil of.

In reality, both the kingdom that comes within us by the Holy Spirit and the kingdom to come is a land of righteousness in which we come to know Jesus more fully and serve Him—not ourselves—forever.

“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

Those who misuse the word of God to condone a life of ungodliness—purchased by the blood of the Son of God—will have to face Him one day. He who is the Word of God will fight against them with His true word, and all their lies will be consumed, as well as those who peddled lies in the Name of Jesus for their own gain. It is fitting that those who abused the word would be judged by it.

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

“For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” [xiii] Those who are faithful to the words of Jesus are given a truer understanding of His word—even He who is the Word of God. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” [xiv]

Those who overcome are also given a new name—a name that Jesus Himself gives them. The false prophets and ministers for hire have a name in the earth. Meaning, people know who they are, and they are well-regarded and loved by many while those who are faithful to Jesus are often slandered and hated.

Those who overcome are given a better name—not one among men, but one given by Jesus Himself that is true to the individual who receives it. The Word divides and judges as He looks into the core of the person, and what He will see and declare about His servants is good. This name is not to be flaunted to be seen as something great in the eyes of others, nor would that be desired because receiving this name from Jesus shows His approval, which is the only approval that matters.

Concern for Present-Day Ministers of Jesus

It is difficult to imagine that a minister of the spirit of Pergamos would repent, because they most likely do not believe in the first place. However, it is possible that there are some who sincerely want to serve Jesus but are raised in the faith by Pergamos-like ministers. This could corrupt the heart of those who would otherwise be faithful to the Word of God and those entrusted to their care.

If this is the case for any would read this, then the best thing would probably be to back down from ministry, seek Jesus for yourself, become filled with the Spirit of God in truth, and perhaps He would call you to become a faithful minister—not ordained by the corrupt seminaries of man, but by the will and Spirit of God.

On another note, the scriptures are written in an interesting manner that allows for varying interpretations and disagreements among believers and nonbelievers alike. It seems likely that the written word of God tries the hearts of man just as Jesus who is the Word of God made flesh tried man, and just as the Holy Spirit tries the hearts of those who He inhabits. “Take heed how ye hear.” The word of God is dangerous, so take it seriously.

Concern for Christian Brethren Generally

If the church that you attend or the ministry, music, or other Christian culture that you consume condones a life of sin paid for by the blood of Jesus, then get out and get away. This is not a true servant of Jesus Christ, but of Satan. It is true that the blood of the Son of God washes away our sins, and there is none that can accuse us before God because we have passed from judgement to life. However, this presumes good faith, and good faith means that we have a sincere heart towards Jesus.

We are not merely paying lip-service to God while we take His Son for granted, using Him as a pass to serve ourselves and not Him. That is not the gospel, and that is not salvation. The gospel is that those who believe in Jesus, the Son of God who died for our sins and now lives, would find freedom sin and from the punishment for sin, which is death. Those who believe in Him will also receive Him in His everlasting kingdom—a kingdom of righteousness.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:11-13).”

We will not live a life of hedonism while claiming Jesus, then “go to heaven” and pursue carnal pleasure forevermore. When our King returns, He will say, “well done good and faithful servant.” And also, “Now rise and serve me.” [xv]

Do not be surprised if questioning the ministers of Pergamos results in slander and accusations. They accuse people of denying the faith and replacing grace with works. Some state that those who oppose them are “accusers of the brethren,” which is ironic and hypocritical because they accuse those who point out their sinful and heretical misuse of the sacrifice of Jesus.

They are very much like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’s day. They do not serve God. They serve their own self-interest, positions of power and authority, and they do not like anyone who would threaten their ministries that make them rich, powerful, and popular—in scales great and small.

If you cannot question a minister without being shunned and having your faith accused or belittled because you take the things of God “too seriously,” then that’s a good indicator that you are not dealing with a true person of God. In all things, test what you have been taught and go to the source who is Jesus Christ and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth so that you will not be deceived by these sorts of ministers and those who follow them.

In Conclusion

Jesus is the Word of God. His word, which proceeds out of His mouth, is called a sharp, two-edged sword. The written word of God that is given to us through the scriptures is also a two-edged sword. Both the written word of God and things spoken in the name of Jesus, when misused, lead to a lot of harm. Perhaps most notable among these misuses is that which uses the word of God to justify a wicked lifestyle.

As a Christian, we are saved by faith in Jesus that comes to us by the grace of God. Our works do not save us. We are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God. Therefore, there is no curse that can come upon us from God. Remember Balac who could not cause God to curse His people. However, as Balac discovered through the counsel of Balaam, the people could cause the wrath of God to come upon themselves if they forsook God and turned to idolatry. Though our faith in Jesus makes us blameless before God, wanton disregard for the blood that was shed to make our covenant with God can leave us as those who followed to ways of Balac and Balaam.

If we say that our sins do not matter because we are forgiven, and therefore go on to live as unrighteous as we please without regard for the calling we have in Christ—a calling to lay aside sin by His power in us as we serve Him and not this world—then we are rejecting the covenant. Our faith is a sham, and it does not matter how we might use the word of God to justify ourselves because that very same word will testify against us.

Where is Satan’s seat? Is it not the seat that seeks to usurp the throne of Jesus through lies, half-truths, and seducing people away from the right way? This church holds on to the name of Jesus and believes in His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. This is good; however, it is possible to treat the sacrifice of Jesus with such disregard that our faith is not acceptable.

Our use of the word of God demonstrates our faith in Jesus. Or the lack thereof. Therefore, it is fitting that the word of God would be used to combat those who misuse the word of God in such a manner that leads many astray into faithlessness and wanton sin that disrespects the blood of the Lamb that was slain to provide atonement, and eventually, worship of Satan himself who is the false christ.

Jesus is the bread of life that comes down from God out of heaven, as He stated. Jesus is also the word of God—and as Jesus also stated— “man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  [xvi]  Those who overcome misuse of the word of God, in all the forms thereof, are given the true word of God. They are given true understanding of scripture; they are given true knowledge of the Lord, Jesus Christ; they are given the promise of His return and a greater oneness with our Creator, Savior, and King.

He also gives us a new name because He knows us deeply, even better than we know ourselves. At the time that we know Him, even as He knows us, we will also know ourselves, even as we are known by Him. We will see just how precious we are and that His blood was not shed for no reason—and by His grace—we are made faithful to Jesus, who is the living Word of God.

Therefore, let us stand in faith by the grace of God who teaches us how to deny this world and follow Jesus instead, not misuse His sacrifice or His word to justify the sins that He died to release us from.

That being stated, it is important to remember that the fight against the flesh and sin is an ongoing battle for us until we are raised in our resurrected bodies.

Do not give space to The Accuser. The blood of the Lamb does indeed cover us. If our heart is sincere towards Jesus and we want to serve Him faithfully, we will find freedom from sin as He works in us to free us according to the grace we receive and the calling He has purposed for us in our service to Him and our brethren. Those who are honest about their sin, genuinely want to do right, and believe in Jesus for forgiveness are not condemned. They are “passed from judgement to life.” [xvii]

Our heart toward Jesus is the difference—which comes by grace first because all things come from God and are for His purposes. If His grace is upon us, then we will fear His word and we will strive to live by it—and He who is the Word will live with us, bringing the Kingdom of heaven to us by the Spirit. Jesus will return also, and He will judge all things righteously and with mercy towards those who are of a repentant heart, who call out to Him, and who trust in all that the Word has spoken.

 “To this man will I look; even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, that trembles at my word.” [xviii]

Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of Pergamos

Below are some scriptures that helped inform the understanding given within this chapter of These Things Saith He. The full chapters contain important information, so please read all scripture in context listed here and those mentioned elsewhere as you have the time and opportunity to do so:

  • But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (2 Peter 2:1-3).
  • Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:3-7).
  • For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 1:4-7).
  • Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:11-13).
  • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
  • Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents (1 Corinthians 10: 1-9).
  • Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:16-20).
  • My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (James 3:1-5)
  • And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: (Matthew 24:11-16).
  • And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords (Revelation 19:13-16).

[i] John 1:1-5

[ii] Genesis 1:3

[iii] Hebrews 2:10

[iv] 2 Corinthians 3:3, Jeremiah 31:33

[v] Hebrews 4:12

[vi] Matthew 25, Matthew 13

[vii] Ephesians 6

[viii] John 14-16

[ix] John 15:3-4

[x] Matthew 25, Matthew 13

[xi] 2 Thessalonians 2:4

[xii] Matthew 24:5

[xiii] John 6:33

[xiv] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[xv] Matthew 25:21, John 13:4

[xvi] Matthew 4:4

[xvii] John 5:24

[xviii] Isaiah 66:2


Previous Chapter: These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church in Smyrna

Introduction explaining the purpose behind These Things Saith He

Method of Interpretation Used within These Things Saith He

Brief Explanation of Symbolism Found Within the Letters to the Churches

These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church in Smyrna

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:8-11).

These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

This statement identifies Jesus as the greatest of all and the least of all, and as He who overcame death. These are important attributes that equate Jesus with God and provides comfort for those who serve Him with humility and suffer for His sake.

Jesus is the Greatest and the Least.

 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[i]

There is no one who can be as great as Jesus and there is none who can be made as low as Jesus, because there is no other who is God made flesh, who died for sinful man—yet Himself had no sin.[ii] His death was humiliating, excruciating, and done out of love for the Father—He who is also greatest and least, because the Father is above all, and none sacrificed more that He who sacrificed His one and only Son.

There is none who is more obedient to the Father than the Son, and there is none who deserves obedience, yet does not get it as He should, than Jesus. There is no one that is more well-known and there is no one that is not known as well as He deserves to be known. There is none that is more truthful than He who is born of the Spirit of Truth, yet there is none who endures more slander. There is none who loves more, and there is none who is more hated.

Hatred of Jesus reveals hatred of God, because the Son could only do what His Father gave Him to do. Those who hate the servants of Jesus also hate Jesus, because they can do nothing except that Jesus gives it. Those who are of the Spirit of God are the sons of God, and as Jesus said, “as much as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it also unto me.” [iii] There is none who continues to suffer more than Jesus, because He takes the suffering of His servants personally and with patience until it is time for Him to return and raise those who the Father gave Him.

There is no other who died and now lives, and there is none who can grant life from the dead other than Jesus. He is the first. He is the last. It is He who brought mercy to the gentiles, and it is He who will return to establish the throne of David in judgment and justice forever. [iv]

Here are additional scriptures that demonstrate Jesus as the greatest and the least. Take time as you are able to explore all scripture in context for a more comprehensive view:

  • Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God (Isaiah 44:6).
  • I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).
  • He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:3-6).
  • And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:9-12).
  • Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren (Hebrews 2:8-11).

When Jesus returns, the high are made low and the low are raised—and more specifically—those who are made so low as to die for His sake. This is He who comforts His faithful servants—He who is the servant of all, the King of all, the creator of all, and He who has the keys of hell and death.

Jesus is He Who Overcame Death.

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.[v]

Jesus lived as a man because He is fully man and fully God. When Jesus died, He experienced real death. His spirit went to the Father who gave it, and when the spirit is divided from the soul, the soul and body die.[vi] It is said that Jesus “tasted” death because He did not stay dead for long. He rose from the dead, He is alive to this day, and He is seated on the right hand of God the Father.

Because of His obedience to the Father, all the way to His death on the cross, Jesus received the keys of hell and death. Those who put their faith in Him will also live, because it is in His power to give them life after death. There is no other who can raise us from the dead bodily. Jesus also raises us from the dead spiritually as He forgives our sin, leads us to true righteousness, and causes His nature to grow in us so that we can become more like He is.

Below are some scriptures that deal with Jesus’s death and resurrection, as well as His power to grant life to those who trust in Him:

  • For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:20-23).
  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).
  • This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:50-54).
  • He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it (Isaiah 25:8).
  • Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
  • See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever (Deuteronomy 32:39-40).

No person can be lower than God who became man, was hated by man, then died to save man. No person can be more exalted than the perfectly obedient Son who the Father has given all authority over death. Jesus is alive, and His words are given to comfort those who trust in Him, so let us consider what He has to say by His Spirit to the Church of Smyrna.

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

The Church of Smyrna mirrors Christ in that they are least and greatest, though not the least of all and greatest of all. Only Jesus Christ can hold that position, and He has full compassion and support for those who endure suffering on His behalf.

Jesus acknowledges their works—presumably the works that they do to serve and honor Him. He is also aware of their troubles and poverty, but as Jesus said during His earthly ministry, “many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” [vii] Though the Church of Smyrna is poor by the standards of this world, Jesus counts them as rich because they are rich towards Him, and He will exalt them in the Kingdom to come just as the Father exalted Him.

Jesus offers this encouragement because the suffering endured by the Church of Smyrna is worsened by the “synagogue of Satan.” Refer to The Symbolism for an explanation of what the synagogue of Satan might represent. Jesus is aware of the synagogue of Satan, and He acknowledges their blasphemy.

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

This sound similar to something else Jesus said: Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”  [viii]

When writing to the Church of Smyrna, Jesus mentions a specific instance of trial and persecution that some within this church experience. What is this ten-day tribulation that Jesus mentions? Is there a literal ten days or is this symbolic? Could this be similar to what we read about in Daniel 1? “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.” This was not a trial unto death, but this is an example of the servants of God being tested for a ten-day period. These are the same servants who refused to bow to the idol of king Nebuchadnezzar, which is an example of all who fail to bow to unjust rulers and instead choose to trust Jesus to abide with them during persecution. See the story of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3.

 In any case, we know that this time of trouble comes at the hands of the devil, which means “slanderer.” The Church of Smyrna is encouraged to remain faithful to Jesus, even to the point of death, and He will give them a crown of life.

He who was dead and is alive comforts those who suffer and die for His sake. He understands their trouble, and He reassures them that their suffering does not go unnoticed or unrewarded. They are promised salvation from death and everlasting life that only He can provide.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

The Church of Smyrna has not received rebuke from Jesus, so what do they have to overcome? Facing persecution in any measure for the faith is challenging, and even more when death is certain. How much more difficult might this be when the world whole-heartedly follows wickedness, false prophets, and false saviors who slander, accuse, and persecute God’s people? Jesus said, “many will kill you thinking they do God’s service, and this they will do because they have not known the Father nor me.” [ix]

If the Church of Smyrna are mindful of Jesus—He who is the least of all and greatest of all and He who died for us and now lives—then they will find strength to endure for His sake by the power of the Holy Spirit within them. They will look to the cross and He who suffered extreme injustice on their behalf, and they will consider it an honor to suffer for His sake, because He will give them strength and peace to endure it. He will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can handle, though they might feel as if they cannot handle it.

There is none who felt more forsaken than Jesus on the cross who said, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” Yet, the Father did not forsake Him, and Jesus will not forsake those who suffer and die for His sake—even if they might feel forsaken, and the synagogue of Satan will do everything they can to make sure that they feel as forsaken as possible.

Concern for Present-Day Ministers of Jesus

Having a small ministry does not mean that you are insignificant. It is better to be small and sincere in service—which seems to be the case very often—than to have a big-time ministry that is inflated by corruption. Man usually judges according to outward appearances, and these outward appearances of success are contrary to what God deems successful. Of course, sincere ministers know this already. However, it never hurts to be reminded.

The ministers of Satan are often the richest and the most popular, and no wonder, because the world loves its own. In reality, those who are faithful to Jesus are often the least in this world, but to Him they are great.

This does not mean there are no sincere ministers with a large reach or financial prosperity. Both the small and great that fear God are accepted by God, and all that are accepted by God are humbled before Him. Ministers who are great in this world yet humble before God are also as Smyrna, because what really matters is a heart that is “poor in spirit.” Meaning, the person is humble before God and acutely aware of how they can do nothing without Him.  

There is another lesson that ministers might consider when reading the letter to the Church of Smyrna.

Encouraging Christians to endure suffering for the sake of Jesus is an important task for ministers of the faith. The degree of suffering varies depending on the culture in which we live, ranging from minor social pressures and ostracizing to more severe legal and social persecution to complete hostility and murder.

Instructing the brethren in how to endure suffering patiently and in faith encourages a soberness of mind that focuses one’s heart on Jesus Christ, trusting in His promises and strength to make enduring all things for His sake possible.

It is a severe failure in ministry to forego this lesson, instead teaching that Jesus would not allow His servants to suffer because He only wants them to be prosperous in this world and therewith find happiness and contentment. What happens when a Christian is taught that God blesses the obedient and they never suffer, then suffering comes? Their faith is weakened, and all the more when false brethren are accusing their faith because of their suffering. They might question whether God is really with them or begin to deny the faith entirely as one who is as a “seed sown on stony ground.”

The best way to instruct patience during suffering is to be an example yourself. Those who are faithful to the difficult teachings of Jesus can expect persecution by the world in varying degrees. The truth is offensive to those who hate God and especially those who hate Jesus and all that He stands for. Enduring persecution for the true testimonies of Jesus, despite the consequences, emboldens and strengthens those who look up to you, and there is a reward in heaven for those who would take care of His people and lead by example.

Concern for Christian Brethren Generally

Jesus says, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [x] Jesus also promised to strengthen and comfort us through the Holy Spirit that provides us with peace that can withstand the troubles of this life, even dire persecution. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [xi]

Jesus did not promise that we would avoid trouble in this world. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” [xii]

As the world continues to reject Him and turn on those who love Him, Christians can expect to be hated vigorously and eventually persecuted to the point of death. However, the death that we experience is not lasting. Jesus will return and He will raise us from the dead, and His wrath is poured out on those who harmed His servants. His wrath is more severe than the wrath of man, and His death is everlasting death while the death of man is only temporary.

Christians are promised the resurrection for a reason, and that is because the world hates us just as they hated Jesus. They will kill us just as they killed Him if we keep His ways—ways that were true, good, and obedient to the Father. If we obey the Son as He obeyed the Father, then we will die as He died. We will also live as He lives, because He has promised it and we can trust in His word.

In Conclusion

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” [xiii]

As the world is overrun by unbelievers, Christians can expect persecution. However, Jesus tells us not to fear, but rather we should take comfort in knowing that our suffering results from our being called out of this world and into His service. We can also take comfort in knowing that the world hated Jesus first and He is sympathetic to our suffering.

Remembering this can be important when faced with times of great Christian persecution, especially when the Christian is accused as having incurred the wrath of God because of their sin. Remember Job.

This is especially true when false saviors come, particularly the false christ. Many will believe that this is God, including many professing believers of Jesus. As they enjoy prosperity that comes with their allegiance to this false god, they mock those who do not worship this false god and instead accept poverty, persecution, and death.

The current Christian notion that Jesus only wants us to live a comfortable and prosperous life will be very useful for this false christ regime.

Therefore, let us remember what Jesus and the apostles said about Christian suffering. Especially as it pertains to the suffering that results from remaining faithful to our Lord, Jesus within an ungodly world that turns on Him, embraces falsehoods, and eventually welcomes and worships a false god.

Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”[xiv]

Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of Smyrna

Below are some scriptural excerpts that informed the author’s interpretation of the letter to the Church of Smyrna. Reading all scripture listed here and within the entirety of These Things Saith He is recommended for greater understanding and faith-building, as well as an exercise in testing the things taught by others:

  • If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me (John 15:18-21).
  • And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me (Philippians 1:28-30).
  • And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (Acts 5:41-42).
  • And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first (Mark 10:29-31).
  • And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing (2 Corinthians 12:7-11).
  • Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19-20).
  • But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).
  • And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them.When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:7-11).

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.


[i] Philippians 2:5-11

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5

[iii] Matthew 25

[iv] Isaiah 9

[v] Revelation 1:18

[vi] Ecclesiastes 2:7, James 2:26

[vii] Mark 10:31

[viii] Mark 13:12-13

[ix] John 6:2

[x] Matthew 5:10-12

[xi] John 14:27

[xii] John 16:33

[xiii] John 15:18-27

[xiv] Matthew 16:25


Previous Chapter: These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus

Introduction explaining the purpose behind These Things Saith He

Method of Interpretation Used within These Things Saith He

Brief Explanation of Symbolism Found Within the Letters to the Churches

These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:1-7).

These things saith He

that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

This is a statement that reveals some important attributes of Christ. We see that Jesus has authority and control over the servants of God, and Jesus who is one with God walks among them.  

Jesus Holds all Servants of God in His Hand.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” [i]

Jesus holds the servants of God in His right hand—the hand that is symbolic of strength and control. The idea of God holding all things in His hand—particularly His servants—is a theme that repeats throughout the scripture. Below are a few examples. These are beautiful scriptures that attest to the nature of God towards His servants, and we can gain more insight by considering these in context. Explore further for your personal edification:

  • Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Isaiah 41:9-10).
  • Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10).
  • Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me (Isaiah 49:16).

The above scriptures are encouraging for those who serve Jesus and need some reassurance of the fact that He holds them up and He will not forsake them. However, there is another side to the control that Jesus has over His servants.

Not all that Jesus has chosen to serve Him are ordained by God to become the sons of God. Some servants that Jesus holds are created to betray Christ and those who follow Him.  Judas Iscariot is an example of this. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.[ii]

We might wonder why God would choose some servants to serve Him faithfully and choose others to betray Him. Paul the Apostle acknowledges this in his epistle to the Romans. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?[iii]

Here are some additional scriptures that demonstrate this attribute of God—He who ordains some as servants of honor and some of dishonor. Explore these scriptures in context yourself for a more well-rounded and informed understanding:

  • The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4).
  • The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 9).
  • For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Romans 9:17-18).
  • Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants (Psalm 119:89-91).

“For all are thy servants.” This is an important statement that summarizes all the points made so far. Whether a minister of God (a star) is created for honor or dishonor, for faithful service or for betrayal, they are created by Him and for His purposes—and His purposes are always good because He is good, and all things are coming together for the good of the servants who truly love Him. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.[iv]

Whether a servant is created for honor or for dishonor, God is glorified and in full control. This idea can be reassuring on one hand. We know that if we are chosen by God to become the sons of God, then nothing can stand in the way. We can also have peace that is not shattered by corruption within the faith, because we know that all things serve a good purpose. For example, there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.[v]

On the other hand, the idea of God’s sovereignty over His servants can cause fear. We might fear that we are created to be vessels of wrath. If the love of Jesus is true and sincere in us—if we hear the words of Jesus and want to grow in our understanding and ability to live as He would have us to live—then that is a good indicator that He is for us. If the Spirit of Truth is in us, then we are the children of God in the making, and He will cause the Christ-like nature to grow in us throughout the course of our lives. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.[vi]

Fear God and thank Him knowing that there are some created for destruction, and it is by grace alone that any would have a different fate. It is appropriate for us to fear Him, but we trust in Him also. We are His work. He upholds us, and no one can take us away from God—a God who not only has full control over His servants, but also walks among them.

Jesus Walks Among His People.

Jesus walked among us as an obedient Son to the Father. He walks with us as the Spirit of God lives within us. He is always fully present. He sees all things and He knows all things because the Son, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are God.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.[vii]

Jesus is the word of God who became flesh and dwelled among us.[viii] This is important for a few reasons. Firstly, this important because of the gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, lived as one of us, died for us, and now lives. Through faith in Him, we are saved from death.

It is remarkable that God—the Creator of all things and He who upholds all things—would humble Himself to such a degree as to become human like us. Being made human like us, He has compassion for us, and He understands the weakness that we all have due to our sinful nature—though He was without sin because He is not merely flesh but God, and God cannot sin. [ix]

Not only did God humble Himself in becoming human, but He further humbled Himself to allow mere men to crucify Him—and He did this on behalf of those who would believe in Him. This is a God that loves His people, even to the point of sacrificing Himself for us. However, having sacrificed Himself for us, He is even more justified in having full authority over His servants. [x]

The knowledge that Jesus walks among the candlesticks is also important because this demonstrates that Jesus is God, specifically as we refer to Old Testament scriptures about God walking among His people. Consider the fuller context for a picture of the judgment, justice, and mercy of God:

  • Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee (Deuteronomy 23:12-14).
  • And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright. But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it (Leviticus 26:11-16).

We might refer to Old Testament scripture concerning God walking among us, like Leviticus 26, and see that those who despise the commandments of God and break His covenant are sorely punished. In Christ, we have a new and better covenant.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them (Hebrews 10:16).

For the Christian who follows the new covenant, the commandments that we follow are summarized as loving God with all your might and loving your neighbor as yourself.[xi]

The new covenant was paid for by the blood of Jesus and we continue with Him in faith, knowing that our sins are forgiven and that He will fulfill all promises that He made to us—promises that result in our adoption as sons of God and life from the dead.

This adoption hinges on God with us, specifically Jesus who is the Son of God who died for our sins, and now lives in heaven, and whose teachings we strive to be faithful to. Jesus taught that if we strive to keep His commandments, then He would send the Holy Spirit to us—and by the Holy Spirit, God is both with us and now, most importantly, He is within us. [xii] The same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb indwells us, and we too can become the sons of God.

With the Spirit of God within us, we have the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.[xiii] The Spirit of God reveals the things of Jesus to us, searches our hearts for sin, encourages repentance, and provides us with strength to do as our Father would have us to do—which is to keep the commandments of God and remain faithful to the teachings of His Son, Jesus.

The commandments of God and faith towards Jesus matter greatly. Although we are not under the old covenant, we are dealing with the same God—a God of mercy but also a God of judgement and justice who should be feared.

Jesus lived with us. He died for us. He lives and He has full control over all things, and He will reign forever in righteous judgement and justice.

Jesus is our God, and He has a lot to say by the words He spoke and by the Spirit that dwells with and within us. He is worthy to be heard, so let us explore what Jesus has to say to Ephesus.

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

Jesus is in control of all, and He is aware of what His servants are up to. As for the Church of Ephesus, Jesus seems to praise them for their hard work and endurance as they stand against false apostles and general evil within in the church. However, they have “lost their first love.” What is their first love, and how did they lose it?

As followers of Jesus, we should take a stand for what is true. For example, Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians to beware of “false apostles” and “deceitful workers.”[xiv] In His epistles to Timothy, he instructs that sound doctrine should be enforced, gives details about what it means to be a faithful minister of the gospel, and He calls some people out by name Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. [xv] Paul’s epistle to Titus provides additional instruction pertaining to the conduct and requirements of Christian ministers.

Paul also instructs the Romans to take notice of and stay away from those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.[xvi] When writing to the Romans, Paul also addresses “doubtful disputations” that cause unnecessary division, including things like eating meat verses herbs and observing the sabbath.[xvii]

With these ideas in mind, along with the attributes of Christ mentioned previously (His authority over His servants as He who walks among them all), we might be able to understand what the Ephesians’ “first love” is and how they lost it.

There is a time for standing up for what is true and good. Doing so requires a lot of work and patience, especially when done in the face of great opposition. However, when being factually right and tearing down those who disagree with us becomes most important, we can lose sight of what matters most: Jesus Himself and His commandments—commandments to love God and one another.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

It is loving to lead people away from sin and away from false teachings. It is loving to point out false teachers that cause the faith of others to faulter. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” [xviii] However, this should be done out of love of Christ and the brethren. If that love is replaced with a love of tearing people down and a love of raising yourself or others up as better than another, then the person delivering the rebuke needs a rebuke themselves.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

As Christians, we should strive to continue in the love of Jesus Christ. When we fall away from that, all that we do is corrupted. Therefore, to Ephesus, the church above all others (in their estimation), full of pride and not love, “I will remove your candlestick out of his place.” This might not be surprising when we consider another attribute of God: He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.[xix]

Therefore, we should humble ourselves before God—He who we all see “as through a glass darkly.” None of us have all understanding, so we should retain patience with our brethren so long as the faith is not hindered, trusting in Jesus to return and set all things right.

When Jesus returns, errors in Christian doctrine will be resolved and we have reason to believe that grace is extended to those who humbly misunderstood secondary issues while showing love towards God and others. Grace is also extended to those who patiently wait on the judgment of the Lord instead of becoming quick to take judgment into their own hands wrongly.

Jesus said, “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [xx]

Those who are found “drunken” and “smithing their fellow servants” are counted as unbelievers. Such as these along with all unfit things pass away when Jesus comes because He Himself will reign. One thing will not pass away, and that is His word—a word that commands us to love Him and one another.

See 1 Corinthians 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”

Although the Church of Ephesus is rebuked, Jesus acknowledges one thing that they have right, and this is that they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which God also hates. As explained further in The Symbolism, it is the opinion of the author that the Nicolaitanes refers to the worldly church.

There is a time for hate. We should love righteousness and hate iniquity, just as God does. Ephesus has not confused good and evil, and they take a stand against evil and support that which is good. In a world that calls evil good and good evil, this is a righteous and necessary endeavor that requires a lot of labor and patience, and the ability to stand firm and not faint in the face of opposition.

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

From the beginning, man has killed man with their knowledge of good and evil that came from a forbidden tree. Because of this, man must die. In Jesus we have forgiveness and the promise of eternal life within a truly righteous kingdom.

We cannot build paradise using our own knowledge and strength. We cannot build paradise by joining with this world and the ways of this world that destroy all who stand in its way. We wait on our first love, Jesus Christ. He will come and He will make all things right.

However, the Wicked One comes first—and He “was and was not and yet is.” He tempts us using our pride, self-righteous indignation, resentment, fear, and impatience. When He comes in a full way, the spirit of Ephesus unrepented of leaves this church vulnerable to great deception. If we follow the spirit of Ephesus, we are already fallen away from the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ in some measure.

It is good to know that Jesus overcame the world already, and we will overcome also if we continue to put our faith in Him. However, because we trust in Him, we know that God is not someone to trifle with, so we fear Him also—and this is good—because God gives mercy to those that fear Him grace to the humble.

We have to humble ourselves to know that we depend on He who holds us all in His hand, and He will complete His work in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ. He will also judge us, and this is His right, because He alone lived a human life as one of us and died for the forgiveness of our sins. He showed us mercy, so we should instruct others with love, gentleness, and self-control with a desire to show mercy as much as possible. Then, when a sharp rebuke is needed, Christ Himself is in it by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us—and the words spoken are just.

Before we can rebuke others, we must remember what Jesus said about removing the beam out of our own eye. We should honestly evaluate ourselves first and others last as one who loves the word of God, respects His righteous judgment, and as one whose first love is Jesus Christ Himself and by extension, our brethren in Christ.

That’s a lot of words, but what does this look like practically?

Concern for Present-Day Ministers of Jesus

Remaining humble before God knowing that we all see in part and know in part is key. It is also critical to know which doctrines are truly matters of salvation, and not something that is merely a pillar in the temple of our favored denomination—denominations of which will all come to nothing once Jesus returns, because these are not His true church. Are we loyal to them or to Him?

The true church is not a building or a set of certain doctrines that makes one loyal to a particular Christian sect—sects that often view themselves as being more Christian than another. The true church is in spirit, made of those who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Meaning, the heart sincerely desires the Lord and seeks Him in faith. If we sincerely desire Him and seek Him, then He will reveal the issues that matter most to us, and He will rebuke our petty divisions and our love of our denominations and apologetic ministries that so often exalt themselves higher than He.

In relation to this, we will learn that Jesus expect His ministers to stand up for the truth, but the truth includes ideas like:

  • Rebuke in the spirit of meekness.
  • With what judgement you judge, you will be judged.
  • What do you have that you did not receive from God?
  • We all see God in part.
  • We do not want to be old wine skins.
  • God resists the proud and gives grace and mercy to the humble.
  • None is higher than He, and all things are created by Him for His honor and glory.
Concern For Christian Brethren Generally

It seems that we overcome by putting Jesus first so that we avoid being led by ministers who would cause the candlesticks that they are responsible for to be removed. Although stronger judgment is reserved for leaders, every Christian bears individual responsibility for their relationship with Jesus.

To that end, it is a good idea to remain humble before Jesus, knowing that all the brethren are doing what they can to seek Him, and they look for Him by looking to various leaders in the faith with who we might disagree at times.

As for ourselves, we can trust that God is in control, and He will lead us to faithful ministers if we put Him first. He must come before our loyalty to ministers and Christian denominations and sects of all varieties. We must also strive to get to a place in our Christian development in which Jesus is our teacher and master in all things.

Although we need to surround ourselves with believers because we need continual support in the things of God, we do not need to be continually led about by others. We need to mature, and to mature, we need to learn to rely on Jesus more and on man less.

As for rebuking our brethren, this is needful at times. It is also needful to stand up for things that are good and true in general. However, all things should be done in love and as gently as possible. If harsh words are needed, then these words should come from the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves, or else we might experience some chastening from the Lord who does not tolerate those who are spiritually drunken with self-righteous indignation.

What if a person has trouble with over-reacting to the sins of others or otherwise jumping to harsh rebuke? There could be many reasons why this happens. Sometimes this is learned behavior and sometimes this is a trauma response that is hard to break. In all struggles with sin that we have, honesty and a sincere desire to do right is important. If we are honest about our sin and seek Jesus and the person we harm for forgiveness and attempt to make things right, then grace covers us. We all have room to grow in Christ, and the troubles that are addressed in the letter to the church of Ephesus are common to many.

In Conclusion

It is by grace that we all stand, and if the grace of God is for us, who can be against us? Why do we judge one another who stand by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?

Many judgments within the household of the faith concern secondary or tertiary issues of which many within the faith disagree. With these judgments, we begin to excuse and condemn one another. We begin to consider ourselves to be more righteous than another—forgetting that the righteousness we hold is not of our own works, but of the works of Jesus and the perfect life He sacrificed for us.

There is a time for taking a stand against corruption within the Christian faith and within this world in general. However, this must be done with diligence and great care to ensure that the judgments we make are just and needful lest we find ourselves falling under the weight of our own judgments.

If we want gracious judgment, we must give gracious judgment as much as this is possible.

This begins by learning to weigh what matters most for us as Christians.

What teachings are indeed necessary for salvation? It is not difficult to connect any teaching we like to the issue of salvation, but if we seek the Spirit to help, He will show us how to remove our biases so that we can judge rightly—not according to the corruptions of our spirit—but according to the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit.

When all else fails, we can fall back on Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. Of course, much is built upon this, and as Paul the apostle instructs, we must “take heed what you build,” and what are we building if not Christ-like Christians? We might have some debate about what it means to be Christ-like, but to a large degree we should be of one mind and one spirit by the unity of the Holy Spirit.

However, when dealing with our brethren—and we must remember that they are brethren of whom Jesus upholds and walks among—taking the most humble and gracious position will not be frowned upon by our Lord. He would rather that we stand up for what we believe is true, with a willingness to agree to disagree on secondary and tertiary issues, than for us to fuel accusation, slander, division, and strife among His house.

We must have faith, knowing that if the grace of God is for us, then He will work all knowledge in us and our brethren according to His perfect timing and methods by the Spirit of God in us. We do not have to force the matter.

In humility, we can accept that none of us knows all truth as we should know it, and one day we will. We can accept that every Christian will give an account of themselves to Jesus, and He will set all things right. In so doing, it is likely that we will be amazed at His judgments, fall on our faces before Him, and thank Him for how incredibly patient, gracious, and merciful He is with us all.

This idea applies to more than the household of the faith. However, judgement begins from within and thereby we can have the right heart as we go out into the world, doing the work of our Lord and not the works of this world.

To that end, we have things to overcome as well.

When dealing with contentious issues, we need to remember Who we serve first. From large-scale conflicts on the national and global sphere to daily disagreements with people in our lives, Jesus comes before our worldly disputes—and He would have us to deal with one another in a fashion that mirrors His dealings with us.

It is not wrong to test ideas, sift the good from the bad, and take a stand for what is right. However, if we are not doing so with the leading of God and His Spirit according to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, then we have “left our first love” in pursuit of another. It does not matter how good this other might be, it is not Jesus Christ our Lord.

How should we deal with people during disagreements? We should be quick to listen and slow to speak, quick to mercy and slow to wrath, humble in our own righteousness and wisdom and gracious towards the goodness and intelligence of those with who we disagree.

Stand up for what is right. Rebuke evil. However, do so in love, self-control, and the goal of persuasion instead of the goal of condemning others as you exalt yourself because of how right you are. Repay no one evil for evil but do good to all and trust in God who is the Avenger. Hope in mercy.

This is a high calling, but with persistence we can learn to stand up for what is right and in the right way. We can seek the Lord to forgive us of our pride, anger, resentments, fear, envy, and all other evils of the heart and spirit that cause us to leave of first love in favor of another. Jesus knows our frame and He forgives. He can see when we value what is right according to His Spirit as we wrestle with the sins of our flesh.

However, let us not deceive ourselves. Seek the Spirit to test our hearts, reveal things to us, and lead us to repentance by the patience of God that we all need. Seek strength to perform that which is not natural to man. What is natural to man is to kill, steal, and destroy for the sake of what man deems to be right, good, and true. This is not the Christian way, and this is not the way of the gospel: a gospel of peace and grace through faith in our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Thanks to God for His mercy and love that covers our sins. If we are honest about our shortcomings that have a nature that has similarities to the Church of Ephesus, then we can trust in the forgiveness paid for by the Son and the power of the Spirit to help us overcome.

Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of Ephesus

Below are additional scriptures that helped to inform the author’s understanding of the letter to the Church of Ephesus. The key scriptures are noted for simplicities sake, but the reader will gain more when reading these in their full context, looking at the whole chapter at the least.

  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 1:9-12).
  • Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes (1 John 8-11).
  • Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:13-18).
  • I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).
  • For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians: 26-31).

[i] John 10:27-30

[ii] John 6:70-71

[iii] Romans 9:19-21

[iv] Romans 8:28

[v] 1 Corinthians 11:19

[vi] Philippians 1:6

[vii] Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14

[viii] John 1

[ix] Hebrews 4

[x] Philippians 2

[xi] Mark 12:30-31

[xii] John 14

[xiii] Ephesians 1:14

[xiv] 2 Corinthians 11

[xv] Timothy 1:18-19

[xvi] Romans 16:17-18

[xvii] Romans 14

[xviii] Leviticus 19:17

[xix] Proverbs 3, James 4, 1 Peter 5

[xx] Matthew 24:48-51

An Unnamed Lamentation of a Servant of Jesus Christ

I can almost hear it. The sound of many singing pop Christian songs to the Lord, muffled through the blood that gurgles in their throats—the blood of many who reject Jesus in sincerity. They drown in it, all the while praising God in vain, thinking themselves alive and accepted.

Lord have mercy. Our world is steeped in sin. We are a spoiled people. Adulterous, self-serving, and lovers of lies and oh so willing to tear people down while we think ourselves righteous.

Many of our sins we inherited by those who came before us, creating systems of decadence, flattery, pride, self-obsession, perversion, robbery, murder, and glorying in all ungodliness. They allowed it to happen, and we reap the reward. You will reap it. Do we not do the same? How much evil are we allowing into our world, even now? How much more will our children inherit? Will there be any faith left in the earth?

The scriptures say that your mercy endures forever. Thank God for that. How far can your mercy be stretched? Can we stretch it so thin that it’s transparent? Will not a blast of hot wind spoken by many lips who honor you without sincerity blow right through, tearing it apart, letting your wrath flow out as a consuming fire?

If we acknowledge our sin and turn to you, though it burns us sore, You will restore. For the sake of your blood that was spilled and your body that was broken, you will have mercy on those who fear you and humble themselves in your sight. How amazing is your grace—the true grace that comes from your perfect, pleasing, and preordained will, that changes the hearts of man who have long rejected you.

Lord strengthen the faithful few, who love you more than this world. Thank you for patiently continuing with the whorish servants like me, who cannot seem to decide which way they want to go. We are completely unworthy, yet for reasons beyond knowing you do not let us fail. As the Psalm of David so aptly put, “I have gone astray like I lost sheep. Seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.”

Truly, our salvation is by You and for You. All good things come from You only. Be gracious to us who fear you and trust in you, so that we will not be a shame to You anymore.

These Things Saith He – Scripture for the Laodiceans

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20

Jesus knocks, but we don’t always open. We don’t open because we don’t want to hear what He has to say. We might say that we love Jesus, and on some level this can be true. However, our love of this world is in the way and makes us lukewarm towards Him – and we know it.

We know that if we open the door and hear what Jesus has to say, He will ask us to let go of things that we want to hold on to—things that we serve instead of Him. We cannot serve this world and Him also. Though we live in this world, we cannot be of this world because He is not of this world.

If He is knocking and we do not open—and if we are sons of God in the making—then the Father will chasten us to make us more receptive of the good things that we can gain from Jesus. The riches that He has to offer are far better than the things of this world, but without faith, we cannot receive them.

The good things that Jesus gives us are of the Spirit, and though we might prosper in some measure if we live uprightly, many of the things of Spirit have nothing to do with gain in this world. The understanding and wisdom that He gives are often hinged on faith of future gain, not in this world, but in the Kingdom of Heaven to come.

We can experience the things of the Kingdom of Heaven in some measure even now as the Spirit works in us and causes the things of Jesus to manifest in our lives. The more this happens, the more Jesus is our Lord in sincerity, and the more authority He gives us also because we are of the same purpose as He is. “I am come to set fire on the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?”

It is difficult to overcome the world. We might be ashamed to admit our love of this world, but if we are faithful to admit our faults to God, then He is faithful to forgive, to guide us, and to strengthen us in the way He would have us to go.

This is something that no one can do for us. We can encourage one another in the things of righteousness on a basic level, but each person needs to open to Jesus and hear what He would have them to do personally—and there will be things required of us depending on what we are given. “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes we ask for things without taking measure of what it means for us, but we can trust that God is in control of all things and nothing or no one can remove His hand. Yet, let us not be foolish and bury our talent in the earth. The earth is for the dead and the dead rule it until Jesus returns, and in Him alone we have life. Even life from the dead when we refuse the dead and the dead rise against us.

Below are some scriptures that we can consider and compare to what is written by the Spirit to the Laodiceans. This is list is a work in progress. I will take some time away to complete the final These Things Saith He work, Lord willing—and I think—Lord insisting.

  • Matthew 6 and Luke 14
  • Matthew 19 and Mark 10
  • Luke 12
  • Hebrews 12
  • Proverbs 3

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NEXT: These Things Saith He Edited and Finalized

All Current “These Things Saith He” Drafts

The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

Seed that Fell into Good Ground

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold (Matthew 13:8).

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).

We are considering the section of the Parable of the Sower that deals with seed that fell into good ground. We are comparing the statement that Jesus made within that parable (verse 8) to the explanation also given later within Matthew 13 (verse 23).

In previous articles within this series, we considered seed that fell by the wayside, seed that fell on rocky soil, and seed that fell among thorns. The seed that fell by the wayside was eaten up by unbelievers. The seed that fell on the rocky soil was burned up by hardness of heart and persecution, and the seed that fell among thorns was choked out by cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.

Here, we have seed—which is compared to the word of the kingdom—that falls into good ground. There are no unbelievers to take it away. There are no hard hearts and overwhelming societal pressures. There are no smothering life cares and covetousness of worldly riches.

This soil—which is compared to the place in which the word was sown—is able to receive the good things of the kingdom of God, continue in them, and bring forth fruit.

What is the soil?

Let’s recap what we considered so far.

We considered the soil to be the individual heart of the person who received the good news of the of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. All believers on a individual level might go through times in which certain aspects of the things of God as given through Jesus and His ways are challenged and destroyed.

Sometimes unbelievers convince us that some matter of righteousness is not necessary, for example. On a larger scale, unbelievers might overthrow the faith of a believer all together.

Sometimes tradition within the Christian faith or the well-regarded and accepted knowledge of man challenges some good thing of God, and the knowledge is burned up. On a larger scale, persecution for the gospel’s sake might overthrow the faith of a believer all together.

Sometimes the demands of living in this world and the allure of financial or social gain cause some good thing of Jesus to become choked out, and the believer is not fruitful in that matter, though they hold onto the faith generally. On a larger scale, becoming too consumed with living a regular life and accruing gain can overthrown the faith of a believer all together.

As individual Christians, we can experience fruitlessness in a variety of ways and on a spectrum of severity. This is common to many of us, but we should be aware of this teaching of Jesus so that we can seek Him to make us value His wisdom above man’s, to soften and strengthen our hearts, and to remove our love for the world and give us a greater love for Him. We can all become more fruitful in these regards.

There are some who fulfill the most severe end of possibilities within this parable, but that is not something for sincere believers to be overly concerned with. God is in control of all things, and all things that He does are good. Rather than focus on others, we are better off focusing on our own Christina walk in faith, trusting in the mercy of Christ for us—along with a healthy fear of the Lord that motivates us to take the faith seriously.

If we continue in faith and we have proper respect for the things of God as given through Jesus, then we will be fruitful. We might not be perfectly fruitful in all knowledge of the Lord—because His ways are vast when we consider all that He and the apostles taught—but we will find areas of growth. We will find and challenge areas of weakness also in faith, and we will overcome according to the opportunity and grace extended to us.

Now that we have considered the soil in terms of the heart of the individual, I want to consider this in another way that just came to me today.

I want to consider the soil in terms of the environment of the Christian.

As Christians, we carry the word of God. The Spirit of God is with us and within us, and His word comes out of us through our actions and the declarations of faith that we make as we live out our lives, praise God, declare His good teachings, and attempt to share the things that the Spirit has given us with the world around us.

If a Christian is planted in a bad environment, then the seed that they have to share will not be received and little to no fruit will be shown. Meaning, that Christian will not have a meaningful effect on the world around them. Instead, they will feel eaten up, beaten up, taken advantage of, or cast off as some useless thing. The glory that they could give to God is hindered, except for the glory of enduring such troublesome circumstances in faith. This is a life of Hell for a Christian, but all things are good because God is good. We must hold on to His love and goodness no matter the calling in which we are called.

However, if a Christian is planted in an environment that is welcoming of the spiritual gifts they were given, and is eager to hear and receive the good word of Jesus, then that environment will blossom into a place that is fruitful in the things of the Kingdom of God. This is a heavenly life for a Christian. We get to taste what it will be like to live in the Kingdom that is to come as we live it and encourage this in others, and they in turn encourage us and all are made fruitful and bring glory to God.

This is why Christians should not be alone. We are a body of believers and we should surround ourselves with the faithful as much as possible. This is why a Christian should not be “unequally yoked to unbelievers.”

Sometimes we stand among the ungodly, and though we cannot have a real effect on those around us because of the environment, our individual heart can be preserved if the Lord is gracious towards us. Sometimes we endure it in faith. Sometimes we get out of there so that the good things of God can be useful for our sakes, for the sake of others, and for the glory of God.

There is a time for all things and the Lord leads us even when we feel as if we are alone in the darkness. He is there. He will bring us through all things for His Name’s sake.

There is a time to lay down your life in faith and there is a time to flee. There is a time to put down the sword and there is a time to buy one—and if we have proven ourselves willing to lay our lives down for His sake, and if we have proven ourselves faithful over His word—then we might find that He allows us to escape for a time.

We might find that we are instructed to take up a sword, and not the sword of man, but the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God: a word sown on good ground, with deep and abiding roots, able to withstand unbelievers, hardships, and temptations without bending an inch.

When that word springs up out of us, the children of God stand strong even to death if required of us, and this world will have a reconning for all their Godless deeds—and all the more when that same word causes all who belong to Jesus to rise at His coming, which is the greatest of all fruits of our faith. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord!

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. 

These Things Saith He – Overcoming the Laodiceans

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

How does one simply decide to be zealous about the things of God that pertain to Jesus and His gospel? Truly, the grace of God works all things in us—including chastening when it is necessary.

When we belong to Jesus but our heart is going after this world, He might allow this world to hurt us so that we will realize how much better He is. The things that Jesus has to offer are far more precious and meaningful than all the riches of this world.

However, it would be better if we could avoid chastening and instead turn to Jesus who is already there standing at the door. If we come to Him and repent of our love of this world, then there is no need for us to be chastened.

The real trouble is when a worldly Christianity is the norm—a Christianity that claims that a person can love the world and love Jesus too.

Jesus teaches us that “you cannot serve God and mammon (worldly riches).”

When serving God and mammon are not only commonplace, but praised, how can one come out of the mindset of the Laodiceans? As Jesus stated, they do not see their true state. They think that they have all that they need. Something would have to open their eyes to how “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” they are.

Maybe some would find this out without chastening. However, it seems to be unlikely depending on how deep their love of this world goes.

It is good to know that God chastens every son that He loves. I believe that the real challenge for the Laodiceans is learning how to bear that chastening in faith. They have to trust in God and not this world. They have to turn to Jesus more fully, become zealous about Him, and form a real relationship with Him. If they continue in the faith despite the challenges that come as the things that they have loved and trusted in are removed from them, then they will overcome.

As they overcome, they are given something more precious than all the vain things of this world: a close relationship with Jesus. Sitting with Him in His throne is not just about power or authority, though He can give both as He deems. What really matters is the closeness to Christ Himself. He is the real inheritance of the children of God—and we too become sons of God through Him.

We must overcome this world and a love of it, and this is hard when we have many things in this world to distract us and seduce us away from Jesus. However, it does not matter how well off we are financially, if we do not have Jesus truly, then we truly do not have anything—and there is always more of Him that we need.

We might have a relationship with Jesus, but we should never become lukewarm about Him. We always need more. There is more of Him to learn, more of Him to be formed in us, and more that He would have us to do as His servants in this world. We cannot consider ourselves rich in Him overmuch either, or we might find ourselves growing stagnant.

Being poor in spirit is what matters most. As Jesus teaches, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We never have enough of Jesus—though He is more than enough. We can be thankful for all that He has done for us and recognize His work in our lives while continuing to appreciate an on-going need for Him. If we become “lukewarm,” then He might put us into circumstances that bring our spirits down a notch so that we can refocus and return to Him more fully.

If we have riches in this life—and if we live in the West, then we most likely do—we should take care that a love of this world does not make us half-hearted towards Jesus. He is what really matters.

If we have riches in the Spirit as we learn of Jesus and are gifted by Him, then we should remain humble before Him, always knowing that anything we have came from Him, and we always need more.

We all fall short of His perfection. Only His blood perfects us, but having received His sacrifice, we should be serious about Him and find out what He would have us to do with all that He died to provide for us.

The gospel of the kingdom is not just some far off idea—it is a present idea when Jesus lives in us though the Holy Spirit. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we walk in His kingdom that comes “not with observation” and is “within you.”

However, Jesus will return also, and we want to be His when this happens. We cannot belong to Him and belong to this world also. Jesus said of His disciples, “they are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” He also prayed that that the Father would not take them out of this world, but that He would deliver them from evil.

We cannot escape this world and the troubles of this world, but we can find an escape from temptations that would devour our faithfulness to Jesus–and this world is full of such temptations.

We can live in this world and we might even be able to prosper. The Holy Spirit will convict us. Jesus stands at the door. If a love of this world is keeping us from opening up to Him, then He will let us know.

This can take many forms. This isn’t just a love of wealth. This can also be a love of people. Jesus wants us to love people. However, sometimes in our desire to be at peace or to please people around us, we deny the hard things that Jesus has called us to. Sometimes we fear emotionally hurting people that we love, and we know that we will if we follow Jesus as we should. Sometimes we fear being rejected or outcast by people that we love, respect, and value.

Jesus must come first in all things, and it seems that the more He comes first—especially in a Laodicean world—the less we might have in this world financially and socially. However, nothing that we lose here compares to what we have to gain in Him!

We cannot be like Lot’s wife. Do not look back at this dying world. Look to Jesus. Even when this world seems to be closing in; if we call out to Jesus in humility, honesty, and faith, He will give us strength and guidance to overcome the deceitfulness of riches, the seduction of sin, and the false securities of this world.

PREVIOUS: These Things Saith He – The Laodiceans Overview

NEXT: These Things Saith He — Scripture for the Laodiceans

All Current “These Things Saith He” Drafts

The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

Seed the Fell Among the Thorns

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them (Matthew 13:7).

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

This is the third statement that Jesus made during His Parable of the Sower. We are looking at the statement that Jesus made during the parable and the corresponding explanation that He gave, then considering how we might apply this to our lives as Christians for the purpose of strengthening our faith.

Jesus has a lot to teach us. One of the lessons that He taught is that we cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon  is a term in the bible that refers to material wealth. One of the greatest cares that a person has in this life pertains to material wealth, especially in prosperous nations that measure a person’s success and respectability in property square-footage, vehicle mileage, and retirement account balances—to name a few.

On one hand, we have some responsibility to care for people. Especially if we have a family, but how much of our cares are necessary and how many are merely mammon-like luxuries of societal pressure or personal ease and comfort?

Certainly, many Christians prosper because God has blessed them, and their wealth is not a distraction from the things of God. However, the things of God include lessons that Jesus taught about serving God and material gain.

To each his/her own conscience. I think we should refrain from judging anyone in these things overmuch, especially if we live in prosperous nations like in the West. We are all wealthy for the most part, even those of us who are technically impoverished by modern standards.

In any case, it’s not hard to see how a love of money or the responsibilities of this life in general can become a distraction from the things of God as given by Jesus and His apostles.

We only have so much time. How do we choose to spend that time? Once our needs are met, do we pursue more wealth, or do we pursue Jesus?

Sometimes we might have to forego some of our needs in order to pursue Jesus. Especially when we find that the cares of this life are taking us away from Him.  

Jesus Himself said that His “meat is to do the will of my Father.” Sometimes our meat should be to do the will of our Lord. Sometimes our drink should be the Holy Spirit that springs up in us the knowledge of the Lord in truth unto everlasting life. Sometimes our rest should be to labor in the Lord. Sometimes our clothing should be His righteousness and the armor of God that fights against the powers of darkness in this world.

If we have these things, it does not really matter how much we lack in mammon. Jesus will provide for us, especially if we face a time when God decides to burn down our briars and thorns so that we can turn to Him more fully.

We really need very little to survive in the flesh, but we need the greatest things of all to survive in spirit and bodily in the resurrection, and only Jesus can provide those things. No amount of work in this world can gain them, and no troubles that we face in this life compare to the trouble of the “blackness of darkness forever.”

There is a time for all things. There is a time to prosper and there is a time to do without. Paul the Apostle spoke to this. He said that He knew how to have a lot and how to have nothing and to find contentment in all things through Jesus Christ. We can learn too by the grace of God as He wills it.

My Experience with Seed Among Thorns

Fighting against the thorns has been an on-going struggle for me for as long as I can remember in some form. Presently, this might be my greatest trouble. There is fruitfulness in Christ, by the grace and mercy of God. However, I feel the smothering of the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches all too well.

I’ve never owned my own home, so not having a home has been my greatest point of covetousness of riches. I’ve either lived in houses owned by other family members, lived with other family members, or rented—and it’s not because I do not work. I work constantly in some form these days, unless I’m asleep or managing to spend time with family.

I’m learning to be content with a roof over my head and the head of my family, even if it is not my own. I am learning to care less about what other people think about me also. There is an assumption that if you are impoverished, then you are incompetent or lazy. There are many reasons why people land on hard times, and sometimes it’s a matter of priority.

For example, I prioritize raising my kids over advancing my business. My kids are the reasons why I started my at-home work in the first place. I don’t regret choosing to homeschool my two older sons and keep my toddler at home. I don’t regret that my kids never saw the inside of a daycare. I don’t judge other parents. I only do what I think is best.

Yet, in doing these things, I find that the cares of this life are multiplied. In order to keep a reliable client, I have to work a set number of hours every week. I could probably make do with less money, but I have to keep the reliable client, or that’s my reasoning. In order to retain them and get the work done—while taking proper care of my kids—I have to spread those hours out over 7 days. It’s been that way since last summer. Other than 2 weeks off for last Christmas, I’ve had 3 days off (I think) in nearly a year. On one hand, I thank the Lord for giving strength to do more than I ever thought possible. On the other hand, those thorns are pressing in.

Jesus should be my first priority, but I feel more and more the fear that even He will get choked by the thorns. Yet, I have faith that He will not allow it. Finding time to write for Him is hard. I write for money every day. I should be able to give Him some time at least a few days a week.

Maybe one day I will not be able to continue with all of this. I don’t know how long I can. Yet, some things will remain fruitful. I can live a Christian life. I can raise my kids uprightly and keep working in that direction, for example. I can have the fruit of knowing and loving the teachings of Jesus. I can have the fruit of enduring hard things patiently. Not that I’m perfect in any of these things, nor do I want to seem to be.

The point is, there are many kinds of fruit, and I trust that Jesus will help us to preserve the fruit that He wants, and He might allow the thorns to choke the fruit that He doesn’t want. I don’t know.

Even as I write this, I’m tired, but I also know that the Sprit is strong when we are weak. I kind of like doing all my writing for Him at the end of long days for this reason. Lord willing, the Spirit will lead it and Lord willing, I will have strength to continue a while longer. I trust that I will finish all that He truly gave me to do. If I take up more than I should, I trust He will remove me from those things, or He will remove the thorns so that I can do what I should.

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. 

Considering Proverbs 11:31

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. – Proverbs 11:31

What does recompense mean? I understand this to mean, “repay” in the sense of giving someone what they are owed.

We could also say that the righteous get what they have coming in this life, and this is even more true for the wicked and the sinner.

At first when I read this, I wondered at it because it seems like the wicked do not get what is coming to them. On the contrary, they seem to get away with a lot. As for the righteous, I think of a saying that I heard once: “no good deed goes unpunished.” It seems that the righteous do not always receive good things, but trouble. Jesus Himself said that we should expect trouble if we follow Him because the world hates Him and His followers.

I have experienced this. I have done well. Why haven’t I received well? Why do I have so much trouble and why do the wicked have it easy?

Reality check.

I have been the sinner, and I have received what I had coming.

Sometimes I feel discouraged because I think that all my attempts at doing what is right are not rewarded in proportion to the effort that I put in. Most things are done in faith, hoping for some good in the future—both in this life and in the kingdom of heaven to come.  

As for my wickedness, I have received much more in comparison. I think this is a good thing. After-all, we know from the scriptures that God chastens every son that He loves.

It’s interesting to consider.

Most of the suffering that I have endured in this life has come from foolishness and sins done in youth that led me into things that I have not been able to escape. I could say that this in unfair because I was just a young and stupid person with emotional and mental problems, so I could not have done any differently. I could also say that this is unfair because the Christianity that I grew up in was easily overthrown by the sins of this word and the damage done to my heart and mind.

It was no wonder that I was a modern-day idolater, for example. Even though I grew up in this way, I was still held responsible for my sins because I was a Christian and God was not going to let me get away with it, and I have suffered quite a lot. I don’t think I’ve had a time in my life that was not full of suffering in some measure.

Yet, God is good and I do not blame Him one bit. It has been good for me. Without going through all that I have, I would not have real understanding of how wise and good the things of God are. I would not have real care and longing for righteousness and for His kingdom.

Though I still suffer many things, and though I try to be more faithful with all that He has given me, I do not see the recompense readily. I see changes in me as I have died to self and seen Christ form in me, but there is more to be formed for certain and I have to wait for this to happen. I have to wait to see what will be in faith, knowing that when Jesus returns, we will be as He is. I have to wait to see what my efforts will mean for my children in faith, hoping that they will grow into strong men of God despite many obstacles that come against us.

When I consider it all, I can’t say anything but how good God is. How gracious and merciful. If it were not for Him and His intervention, I very well might not be here at all to endure these hard things, to grow, to seek Him, and to find more of His work in me. If I managed to survive bodily, I would surely be dead in spirit because I was headed to my destruction full force.

So, the suffering that I go through pales in comparison to that fate. God is good.

It did not matter that I did not know any better. It did not matter that my life made me foolish and unwell mentally. I did not matter that the Christianity I knew was lukewarm at best. I was chastened, and it was hard—and it was good.

It was worth it. It is still worth it. Every day that I get to live through hardship and seek Jesus is a good day, even when it does not feel like it because I’m still alive and I can learn. I can get stronger. I can die to self more fully and be raised in Christ in Spirit and one day bodily too.

The same goes for all of us.

If we belong to Jesus, we might suffer for our sins. His blood paid the price and we are forgiven. However, if that forgiveness does not cause us to surrender to Him, but instead we turn to idols of self or idols of people, idols of wealth, idols of comfort, idols of false spirituality, and so forth—which are real problems for many in the faith—then we can expect to suffer when He takes these things from us.

However, it will be good because everything that He does is good.  He will bring us through it all for His Name’s sake if we continue to put our trust in Him, even when it is hard and it seems as though we are going through more than we can handle. In the end, there is a reward of righteousness—the righteousness of Jesus that covers our sins and the righteousness that He works in us by the Spirit who makes us more like Him in spirit and in sincerity. We will love what is really good and really true when all else proves to be meaningless.

The more we let go of that which is meaningless, the more peace and joy we have also. Even when things are hard. There’s always something good that God is working. Sometimes we just need to look and see, and sometimes we look to the future in faith because we serve a wise, patience, merciful, generous, and good God whose promises we can trust in.

I would that the suffering was over. I know that it is far from over. Yet, there is a lot of good things to look at also and to be thankful for—especially Jesus. He has overcome all things. He will make a way for us to overcome in Him also because He said it and His word is true.

Seed That Fell Upon Stony Places

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away (Matthew 13:5-6).

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matthew 13:20-21).

This is the second statement that Jesus made within the Parable of the Sower. As we did in the last article within this series, we are looking at a section of the parable and the corresponding explanation that Jesus gave.

The goal is for us to consider how we receive the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ so that we might be strengthened in the faith.

The seed was earlier identified as the “word of the kingdom.” What is the word of the kingdom? In most basic terms, this is the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, we are promised everlasting life in His kingdom and freedom from sin and death. Within this faith, there is much for us to learn because Jesus had a lot to say, and He still has a lot to say to us through all scripture and through the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we receive His word happily and we begin to see some semblance of a Christian life. However, when it becomes difficult to keep His word, that growth withers away and it’s as if there was nothing received at all.

This can happen in a variety of ways. The most extreme way is when a person embraces the gospel then later denies the faith because of religious persecution. This also happens in small ways. We might hear a teaching of Jesus and His apostles, embrace that teaching as good, then later deny or fail to perform that teaching when it becomes difficult or contrary to our nature.

The latter is common to all of us in the Christian faith, and the good news is that if we continue in the faith anyway, we will get stronger. We will grow deep roots.

First, we need to get acquainted with the word of God through faith and continued relationship with Jesus who is the word of God. As we learn about Him and love His ways and teachings, we will try to keep His word and live it. We will fail when it gets too hard for us.

When this happens, we can turn to Jesus in faith. We can acknowledge that we love His word, but we lack the strength to uphold it. We can acknowledge that His sacrifice is sufficient for our sins, yet we want to keep His word because we love Him, and we want to be faithful to His teachings.

We can also acknowledge that Jesus made a promise. He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to those who keep His commandments. Jesus also stated that He will send the Holy Spirit to those who persistently ask. So, we keep asking and seeking in faith, and when the Holy Spirit comes to us, we will find greater strength in keeping His word.

We might receive the Spirit in a demonstrative manner as the apostles did or we might simply find it easier to perform the righteousness that we seek. The evidence of receiving the Spirit is fruitful faith—and fruit is only made possible when we have roots.

We all need deeper roots. We might not deny the faith outright, but we can keep the sayings of Jesus more perfectly. The more we can endure small temptations while remaining faithful to His word, the greater confidence we can have in our ability to remain faithful to Jesus during times of great trouble.

We will experience the love of God first-hand as He works in us. We will see His perfect timing and methods as a good Father who knows how to raise each child personally. We will experience mercy and know that He is for us. We will experience strength of Spirit and know that we are being made into sons that can stand strong in righteousness no matter the cost, because He that is in us is strongest when we are weak.

We will see that all things are given to us by the grace of God, and we put our trust in Him to work all good things in us. He makes us to have deep roots. He waters those roots. He feeds us. He prunes us. He makes us strong so that we can be of use to Him and our brethren.

Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him, then we will be fruitful. Without Him, it is impossible to keep His word. It is all made possible by Him, so have faith. He will cause you to overcome. Bit by bit. If we fail to keep His word and we are honest and remorseful, there is mercy. He knows our frame. He died for us for a reason.

However, we should not be foolish to think that we can deny Jesus in small ways carelessly and remain faithful when serious trials come. Even so, it is the grace of God that makes all the difference. He can do a lot with us in short order if He so chooses.

In any case, for us who love Jesus and do not want to receive Him as a seed on stony ground, let us keep seeking Him to make our hearts rich in knowledge of Him so that we can have deep and strong roots that are tapped into the never-ending supply of water that the Holy Spirit provides. When the heat comes bearing down, we will remain strong—and Lord willing—as a shelter and shade for some in the faith whose roots are not as well formed.

The scripture mentioned here is found in John 14-16. Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 12 also speaks to this idea.

My Experience with Seed that Fell on Stony Ground

One of the most frustrating things as a Christian is to love the teachings of Jesus but find myself unable to keep them. Once I received good teachings that were not fit to be eaten by birds on the wayside, the next challenge was keeping these teachings.

The more that I learned about Jesus and His ways, the more I became convinced of His goodness and the wisdom of His teachings. I loved His ways, but I also saw my sin very clearly and I became discouraged because I was not able to do the things that Jesus taught. This led me to a desperate place.

I was convinced that many things had gone wrong within the Christian world, and I felt like I should do something about that in some small way. So, I started my first Christian blog. However, my own sin weighed heavily on me, and I had not received the Holy Spirit in a demonstrative manner.

One of the teachings that I had come to believe was that receiving the Spirit in demonstration and power was to be expected and sought after persistently, so I did. I asked to receive the Holy Spirit often, and I did so for about two years before anything noticeable happened.

In late January 2016, that changed. I was alone in my room, praying to Jesus. I was very upset about my inability to live righteously, and I wanted to understand His word better. I was sure that things were wrong in mainstream Christianity, but I needed to have that knowledge confirmed in the Spirit. One of the things that I believed was that the gospel was not just forgiveness, but power to live righteously as the Spirit of God wrote the words of God in our hearts and changed our natures (I still believe this).

I needed the Holy Spirit so that I could do as I should do, and I needed the Spirit to strengthen my understanding in the things that I believed to be true about the Christian world as I saw it.

I prayed to receive the Holy Spirit because I wanted to overcome sin, and I told Jesus that I would make His truth and will for His people known if He would teach me. I didn’t really understand what I was asking for or what that would mean, but I really wanted to know Him, to live uprightly, and to help His people who I considered to be in danger of trouble because of corruption within the faith.

He answered in a demonstrative manner. I wrote about this on a few other occasions. I felt a sensation come over me that at first just felt like emotional peace, but then it was more than emotion. I felt a physical sensation come over my hands and lips then I began to speak softly in a language that I did not understand. I sat up (I was lying on my bed at the time crying to Jesus). Then, the words turned into a song that was gentle at first, then strong and almost angry, then one of rejoicing. I did not know what the words were. I still don’t, but I did know that it was a song for the churches.

This is why I take the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation so seriously. Though, I would that I could do better. Time and life responsibilities make it difficult—like a seed among thorns. I get what that is like too.

I would that I could say that I am never like one who received the seed of God on stony ground now that I have the Holy Spirit. Some sins were taken away as well as some social anxiety problems that I had. However, I still have weak areas.

Overtime, I have learned that it is good for us to wrestle against sin and to learn to trust in the strength of God and not ourselves. This struggle draws us near to Jesus, especially when we have the Holy Spirit because we cannot sin without being affected by it. We need to know better, and we need to do better. I also know that receiving the Spirit is not just a one and done thing. We need continual refreshing, which is why the Spirit is compared to a stream of water.

I am not really like stony ground in the sense that nothing can make me deny the truth and goodness of the ways of Jesus. I have experienced mild troubles socially because of the hard things I say and write about mainstream Christianity in the West, and so far, by the grace of God, I have not denied what He gave me.

As far as living a Christian life–which is most important of all– I still need to see Him work in me so that I have the strength of Spirit to do all that He would have me to do. I still struggle with some sin, but I do know that what I wrote about above is true.

When we fail, admit our fault, and sincerely want to do what is pleasing to God, there is mercy through Jesus. I also know that the more we fail and keep seeking, the stronger we will get. I also know that the more we grow, the more challenges we might face depending on the will of God for us and what He is creating us to endure.

Below are some things that I wrote that might help if you feel weak in the things of God. I have also and I still do, but I am thankful to know that Jesus works mightily in us when we continue to put our trust in Him.

God Gives Strength, but We Don’t Always Notice.

Praying for the Right Kind of Strength

It’s not that you aren’t improving. Things keep getting harder.

That’s the basics of how it went for me. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to share your own troubles with unbelief, feel free to email me at kindlingtruth@hushmail.com. It’s difficult sometimes to remain faithful to Jesus, especially when the world hates us for it or because of our own weakness. If you find yourself on the verge of unbelief, pray. If you would like someone to pray with you or for you, reach out anytime.

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. This is not copyrighted material. Use and share freely.