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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Sections of the Apostolic Writings
The Gospels and Acts • The “Pauline” Letters • General Letters • End Times


Hitgalut
The Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan

~ 2 ~

III. The Letters to the Seven Messianic Communities (chapters 2-3)

A. Yeshua’s Letter to Ephesus (2:1-7)

1“To the angel[1a] of the Messianic Community in Ephesus[1b] write:

“He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks among the seven golden menorahs says these things:[1c]

2“I know what you have been doing, how hard you have worked, how you have patiently endured, and that you can’t stand wicked people; so you have tested those who call themselves ShliachimEmissaries, Apostles but who are not, and you have found them to be liars.[2] 3You have patiently endured and have suffered much for My sake without growing weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have lost the love you had at first. 5So remember where you were before you fell; turn from that sin and do what you used to do. If you don’t, I will come to you soon and remove your menorah unless you turn from your sin.[5] 6But you have this in your favor; you hate what the Nicolaitans do — I hate it too.[6] 7Anyone with ears needs to listen and understand what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic Communities. To everyone who overcomes I will give him fruit from the Tree of Life, which is in God’s Gan Eden.[7]

B. Yeshua’s Letter to Smyrna (2:8-11)

8“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Smyrna[8] write:

“The First and the Last, Who was dead, and has come to life says these things:

9“I know your actions, that your are suffering, and how poor you are (but you are actually rich!), and the slander from those who say they are Jews but aren’t; they are actually a synagogue of HaSatan, the Adversary.[9] 10Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will suffer for ten days.[10] Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11Anyone with ears needs to listen and understand what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic Communities. Anyone who overcomes won’t be harmed by the second death.[11]

C. Yeshua’s Letter to Pergamum (2:12-17)

12“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum[12] write:

“He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things:

13“I know you live in the town where the Adversary’s throne is.[13a] Yet you hold firmly to My name, and didn’t deny your trust in Me even when My faithful witness Antipas[13b] was killed in your town,  there where the Adversary lives. 14But I have a few things against you; there are some there who hold the teaching of Bil'amBalaam. He taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Israel so they would eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual sin.[14] 15So also you likewise have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.[15] 16Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17Anyone with ears needs to listen and understand what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic Communities. To the overcomer I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows but he who receives it.[17]

D. Letter to Thyatira (2:18-29)

18“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Thyatira[18] write:

“The Son of God, Who has his eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished brass, says these things:

19“I know your works, your love, faith, service, patient endurance, and that your last works are more than the first. 20But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman IzevelJezebel,[20] who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols. 21I gave her time to turn from her sin, but she refuses to repent of her sexual sin. 22So I am going to confine her to a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great termoil,[22] unless they repent of her works. 23I will strike her children with dead,[23] and all the Messianic Communities will know that I am He Who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24But to the rest of you in Thyatira — those of you who do not follow her teaching, those who haven’t learned ‘the deep’ things of the Adversary[24] — to you I say, I am not putting any other burden on you. 25Nevertheless, hold that which you have firmly until I come. 26He who overcomes, and he who keeps My works to the end,

‘to him I will give authority over the nations.
 27He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots,’[27]

as I also have received of my Father; 28and I will give him the morning star. 29Anyone with ears needs to listen and understand what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic Communities.

Chapter 3

____________

1a. Angel: Greek aggeloß, aggelos; Hebrew $alm, mal'ak; a messener, an envoy, one who is sent; a messenger from God (here and wherever angels are mentioned). The “angel” of a community probably refers to the rabbi/pastor of the Community. [RETURN]

Map showing location of Ephesus1b. “With an artificial harbor accessible to the largest ships, and rivaling the harbor at Miletus, standing at the entrance of the valley which reaches far into the interior of Asia Minor, and connected by highways with the chief cities of the province, Ephesus was the most easily accessible city in Asia, both by land and sea. Its location, therefore, favored its religious, political and commercial development. The city stood upon the sloping sides and at the base of two hills, Prion and Coressus, commanding a beautiful view; its climate was exceptionally fine, and the soil of the valley was unusually fertile. … Ephesus and Pergamos, the capital of Asia, were the two great rival cities of the province. Though Pergamos was the center of the Roman religion and of the government, Ephesus was the more accessible, the commercial center and the home of the native goddess Diana; and because of its wealth and situation it gradually became the chief city of the province. It is to the temple of Diana [Artemis], however, that its great wealth and prominence are largely due.” (Source https://bibleatlas.org/ephesus.htm, accessed 20 June 2020. Ephesus lies 35 miles SSE of Smyrna.

Diana was the Roman “Mother Goddess,” called Artemis by the Greeks, and was primarily considered a patroness of the countryside, hunters, crossroads, and the Moon. In Acts 19, some render her name as Artemis, others as Diana. As “Queen of Heaven” she has been worshipped as Semiramis, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Ishtar, Venus, Artemis (of the Ephesians), and Diana, among other names and designations of the fertility goddess, and now Miriam [Mary], the mother of Yeshua HaMashiach, is worshipped by many as the current reigning “Queen of Heaven.” See more in the discussion of the Babylon Mystery Religion[RETURN]

1c. “The seven stars are the angels [Rabbis/Pastors] of the seven Messianic Communities. The seven menorahs are seven Messianic Communities.” (Rev 1:20). How comforting for a Rabbi/Pastor to know that Yeshua is holding him in the palm of His right hand, the hand of power. [RETURN]

 2. The early non-Jewish Messianic Believers were plagued by Messianic Jews and Prostelites who came to them, primarily from Jerusalem but from other cities as well, claiming to have apostolic authority, trying to force them to formally convert to Judaism (by circumcision) as a requirement for salvation. Rav Sha'ul soundly denounced these false apostles, particularly in his letter to the Messianic Community at Galatia. [RETURN]

  5. “… remove your menorah…” He said that their menorah is their Messianic Community(Rev 1:20), and He says that their loss of their original love is a sin. So He seems to be saying that He will dissolve the Community if they do not return to the love they had at first. [RETURN]

  6. Notice the pattern of each of these letters. First He commends them for what they are doing right. Then He calls to attention their problem or shortcoming, followed by instruction how to remedy the situation. Next He tells them the consequences of failure to fix the problem. And finally he tells them something positive. Wouldn’t if be nice if everyone could follow this pattern of correction? [RETURN]

Community Commendation Shortcoming Instruction ConsequencesCommendation/ Promise
Ephesus Good works, perseverence, hate wickedness First love waned Repent I will remove your menorah Hate Nicolatians, Tree of Life for overcomers
Smyrna Suffering, poverty, slander from evil people None Don't be afraid, hang on, be faithfull to death None Crown of life for the faithful
Pergamum You hold fast in Satan’s territory and don’t deny Yeshua Tolerate the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans Repent Yeshua will come and make war with those who continue in heresy Hidden manna and a white stone for overcomers
Thyatira love, faith, service, patient endurance, increasing works Tolerate Jezebel and her paganism Followers of Jezebel remente; the rest, hold fimly till I come Great oppression and death for the followers of Jezebel Authority over nations for overcomers
Sardis None at all Spiritually dead, no good works at all Wake up, reember and obey the teaching and repent I will come against you as a thief A worthy and righteous few will walk in white with Yeshua, name in Book of Life
Philadelphia Good works, kept My word None Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown None False Jews will worship at your feet, kept from the time of testig coming, make pillars in the Temple
Laodicea None Lukewarm, you make me vomit!
Self-centered, secure in their earthly wealth. Don't realize you are spiritually bankrupt.
Buy true spiritual wealth, garments of righteousness, and eye salve. Be zealous and repent None stated I reprove and chasten those I love. If you will turn around I am right here for fellowship. A seat on the throne for overcomers

  7. Gan Eden, or literally, Garden of Eden, is the Hebrew term that comes to English as “Paradise.” This is where the Tree of Life was originally located, but in the Olam Habah we find it in the middle of New Jerusalem (Rev 22:1-5). [RETURN]

  8. Map showing location of Smyrna“Smyrna, is a large ancient city on the western coast of Asia Minor, at the head of a gulf which reaches 30 miles inland, … early became a great trading-center and the chief port for the export trade. In Roman times, Smyrna was considered the most brilliant city of Asia Minor, successfully rivaling Pergamos and Ephesus. Its streets were wide and paved. Its system of coinage was old, and now about the city coins of every period are found. It was celebrated for its schools of science and medicine, and for its handsome buildings. Among them was the Homerium, for Smyrna was one of several places which claimed to be the birthplace of the poet. On the slope of Mt. Pagus was a theater which seated 20,000 spectators. In 23 [C.E.] a temple was built in honor of Tiberius and his mother Julia, and the Golden Street, connecting the temples of Zeus and Cybele, is said to have been the best in any ancient city. Source: https://bibleatlas.org/smyrna.htm, accessed 20 June 2020. [RETURN]

   9. “… those who say they are Jews but aren’t…” obviously refers to Gentiles pretending to be Jews. Stern says, “Perhaps they, like the Gentile Judaisers of the book of Galatians, adopted a smattering of Jewish practices and tried to force them on Gentile [Believers]. They may have subjected themselves to a legalistic perversion of the Torah … They apparently organized a pseudo-Messianic synagogue. Their false doctrine probably led them to wrong and immoral behavior, since false doctrine usually does. They probably drew Gentile [Believers] away from the truth and thereby threatened the Messianic community.” (Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 795) [RETURN]

10. Not literally ten days, but a short period of suffering; no clue is given as as to the nature of the persuection, other than being imprisoned at the hand of the devil. [RETURN]

11. The second death is eternal death in the lake of fire according to Rev 20:6; Rev 20:14; Rev 21:8. [RETURN]

12. Map showing the location of Pergamum“Pergamum (or Pergamos, now Bergama) in Mysia lies 3 miles from the Caicus river, about 15 miles from the Mediterranean, and 50 miles north of Smyrna. Two of the tributaries of the Caicus were the Selinus and the Kteios. The former of these rivers flowed through the city; the latter ran along its walls. On the hill between these two streams the first city stood, and there also stood the acropolis, the chief temples, and theaters of the later city. … Art and literature were encouraged, and in the city was a library of 200,000 volumes which later Antony gave to Cleopatra. The books were of parchment which was here first used; hence, the word ‘parchment,’ which is derived from the name of the town Pergamos. Of the structures which adorned the city, the most renowned was the altar of Zeus which was 40 ft. in height, and also one of the wonders of the ancient world.” There were also beautiful temples to Zeus, Dionysus, Athena and Asklepios. “To the temple of the latter, invalids from all parts of Asia flocked, and there, while they were sleeping in the court, the ‘god’ revealed to the priests and physicians by means of dreams the remedies which were necessary to heal their maladies. Thus opportunities of deception were numerous. There was a school of medicine in connection with the temple. Pergamos was chiefly a religious center of the province. A title which it bore was ‘Thrice Neokoros,’ meaning that in the city three temples had been built to the Roman emperors, in which the emperors were worshipped as gods. Smyrna, a rival city, was a commercial center, and as it increased in wealth, it gradually became the political center. Later, when it became the capital, Pergamos remained the religious center. As in many of the towns of Asia Minor, there were at Pergamos many Jews, and in 130 B.C.E. the people of the city passed a decree in their favor. Many of the Jews were more or less assimilated with the Greeks, even to the extent of bearing Greek names.” (Source https://bibleatlas.org/pergamum.htm, acessed 21 June 2020.) [RETURN]

13a. With numerous temples to false deities, all of whom Scripture says are demons (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37), it is called the seat of the Adversary's throne. (“Satan” is not his name; it is his title. Satan (!tX) is the Hebrew word that actually translates as “adversary.” [RETURN]

13b. Antipas is believed to have been the first Messianic martyr in Asia Minor. [RETURN]

14. The issue here is not the eating of the meat that was sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8:1-13). In the ancient Roman world, most meat that was available was offered by the markets that were associated with the pagan temples, it was the actual participation in the pagan rituals and sexual sin that was commonly part of those festivities (1 Cor 10:21), thus violating the mitzvot that was established for Messianic Gentiles by the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:28-29). In that society, as it is now, participation in pagan festivals was difficult to avoid. All your friends, neighbors, and pagan family members were doing it, just as today they celebrate the pagan feasts of Ishtar (Easter), Saturnalia (Christmas), and Halloween. Then, as now, you could say, “But I'm not worshiping the false gods, I’m just enjoying the fun with my family.” But that was not a legitimate excuse then, nor is it now. [RETURN]

15. Nicolaitans (followers of Nicolas), a sect mentioned in (Rev 2:6 and Rev 2:15 ) whose deeds were strongly condemned. They may have been identical with those who held the doctrine of Balaam. They seem to have held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication, in opposition to the decree of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29). The Messianic Rabbis branded them with a name which expressed their true character. The men who did and taught such things were followers of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11). They, like the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. In a time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulness, they persuaded men more than ever that was a thing indifferent (Rev 2:13; Rev 2:14). This was bad enough, but there was a yet worse evil. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Messianic Community. And all this was done, it must be remembered, not simply as an indulgence of appetite: but as a part of a system, supported by a “doctrine,” and accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination (2 Peter 2:1). It confirms the view which has been taken of their character to find that stress is laid in the first instance on the “deeds” of the Nicolaitans. To hate those deeds is a sign of life in a Messianic Community that otherwise is weak and faithless (Rev 2:6). To tolerate them is well nigh to forfeit the glory of having been faithful under persecution (Rev 2:14; Rev 2:15) (Adapted from Smith’ Bible Dictionary) [RETURN]

17. Hidden manna: Manna is supernatural food, named after the Hebrew word for “What is it?” See Exodus 11:7-9. Manna represents supernatural sustenance. Additionally, the Talmud (which was still in oral form as the “Tradition of the Elders” at the time this letter was written) says that in the third heaven “mills grind manna for the righteous” (Chagigah 12b). According to 2 Baruch 29:8, in the Messianic Era “the treasury of manna will again descend from on high, and those alive then will eat of it.” (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 797)

White stone. This is the only reference in Scripture to the righteous being given a white stone, and several interpretaions have been offered. In ancient courts of justice, the accused were condemned by black pebbles and the acquitted by white, so this might indicate acquittal in God’s system of justice. However, the pebbles indicating guilt or innocence were not given to the acquitted. Another explanations relates to the high priest’s breastplate, which contained twelve stones, each with the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved on it (Exodus 28:21). As he ministered in the temple, the high priest bore the names of God’s people into God’s presence. In the same way, the “white stone” with the believer’s name written on it could be a reference to our standing in God’s presence, but that stone wasn’t given to the individual either. Probably the best theory has to do with the ancient Roman custom of awarding white stones to the victors of athletic games. The winner of a contest was awarded a white stone with his name inscribed on it. This served as his “ticket” to a special awards banquet. According to this view, Yeshua promises the overcomers entrance to the eternal victory celebration in heaven. [RETURN]

18. Map showing location of Thyatira“Thyatira was a wealthy town in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, on the river Lycus. … It stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. The name ‘Thyatira’ means ‘the castle of Thya.’ Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. Upon the early coins of Thyatira this Asiatic god is represented as a horseman, bearing a double-headed battle-ax, similar to those represented on the sculptures of the Hittites. A goddess associated with him was Boreatene, a deity of less importance. Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

“Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds which were probably more completely organized there than in any other ancient city. Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. Powerful among them was the guild of coppersmiths; another was the guild of the dyers, who, it is believed, made use of the madder-root instead of shell-fish for making the purple dyestuffs. A member of this guild seems to have been Lydia of Thyatira, who, according to Acts 16:14, sold her dyes in Philippi. The color obtained by the use of this dye is now called Turkish red. The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to [HaDerek]. According to Acts 19:10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet [HaDerek] reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early [Messianic Community] that no [Messianic] might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to [HaDerek] was presented.” (Source: https://bibleatlas.org/thyatira.htm, accessed 21 June 2020.) [RETURN]

20. This may possibly (but unlikely) have been a member of the Messianic Community who, like her namesake the queen (1Kings 16:30-33; 1Kings 18:4; 1Kings 18:13; 1Kings 18:22; 2Kings 9:22), was leading members of the Messianic Community into idolatry, occultism, witchcraft, and other demonic practices. I find it more likely, however, that this refers to one of the temples at Thyatira that was dedicated to Sambethe. At this shrine was a “prophetess,” one of the Greek Sibyls. “The sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece. The earliest sibyls, according to legend, prophesied at holy sites. Their prophecies were influenced by divine inspiration from a deity; originally at Delphi and Pessinos. In Late Antiquity, various writers attested to the existence of sibyls in Greece, Italy, the Levant, and Asia Minor.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibyl, accessed 21 June 2020.) “She teaches and seduces My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.” Apparently a significant number of the Community members were still involved with this temple and its oracle. [RETURN]

22. Those who join in the sins associated with this Jezabel are in termoil; they are struggling with how to be loyal to Messiah and still function in their social and business environment. Thyatira was a city of guilds, the “trade unions” of the day. If you wanted to work, you had to be a member of the appropriate guild, and each guild had its pagan patron deity. Part of the activities required by the guild was participation in the service to that god or goddess. When your company had a mandatory “business dinner” it was in honor of their deity. If you didn’t participate you couldn’t work, and if you didn’t work you and your family couldn’t eat. [RETURN]

23. Her “children” had no problems of conscience; trained by her they are fully committed to her her teachings. So their punishment, death, is nominally worse than hers, a bed (Exod 21:18). [RETURN]

24. “Various Gnostic philosophies appealed to people’s pride by promising spiritual knowledge deeper than that available to ordinary mortals. Many modern and movements make the same empty promises.” (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 798) [RETURN]

 27. Psalm 2:8-9 [RETURN]

 

Page originally posted (incomplete) on Thursday, 18 April 2020
Major updates and revisions on Sunday, 21 June 2020

Page last updated on Thursday, 21 January 2021 04:16 PM
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Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return
ANXIOUSLY WATCHING FOR MASHIACH’S RETURN,
SPEEDILY AND IN OUR DAY. MARANA, TA!