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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on The Revelation of John

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2.1–3.22 : The seven letters.

Each contains initial descriptions of Christ, followed by encouragement, admonition, and promise.

2.1–7 : Ephesus:

Roman Asia's chief city.

1 :

Angel: see 1.20 . One: the risen Christ; see 1.17–18 . Stars: see 1.16 n., 1.20 . Lamps (lampstands): see 1.12 n., 1.20 .

2 :

Apostles: missionaries; on false apostles, compare 2 Cor. 11.12–15 .

4 :

Love … at first: initial, waning enthusiasm; see Jer. 2.2; Hos. 2.14–16 .

6 :

The Nicolaitans apparently taught that Christians were free to eat meat offered to idols and to practice immorality; see vv. 14–15 .

7 :

The tree of life (Gen. 2.9; 3.22 ) suggests paradise restored; see 22.14 .

2.8–11 : Smyrna.

Modern Izmir.

8 :

The First … Last: see 1.8, 17–18 nn.

9 :

Poor, but in reality you are rich: see the opposite in 3.17 . Synagogue of Satan refers to false Jews who spurred the authorities to persecute those who refused to worship at Smyrna's emperor cult shrine.

10 :

Ten days: a short period; see Dan. 1.12 . Crown of life: an athletic symbol of ultimate victory; see 3.11; Jas. 1.12 (translated “gift of life”).

11 :

Second death: final condemnation; see 20.14; 21.8 .

2.12–17 : Pergamum.

That it was the first center of emperor worship in Asia Minor may explain where Satan is enthroned (v. 13 ).

12 :

The two-edged sword: see 1.16 n.

14–15 :

Balaam (see Num. chs. 22–24; 31.16 ), here related to the Nicolaitans (vv. 6 n., 15 ), was regarded in NT times as the forerunner of all corrupt teachers.

17 :

Manna: bread from heaven (see Exod. ch. 16 ). Jews believed that the gift of manna would be repeated in the messianic age; see 2 Baruch 29.8 (noncanonical); compare Jn. 6.47–51 . White (like “light” and “brightness”) is a frequent symbol for good in Rev.; see 1.14; 3.5; 7.9; 19.14; 20.11 . The white stone may be related to the lot-casting Urim and Thummim; see Exod. 28.15 n. Is it here for those who “cast their lot” with God? A new name: compare Isa. 62.2; see 3.12 n.

2.18–29 : Thyatira.

A city renowned for its trade guilds and idolatrous feasts (see Acts 16.14 ).

18 :

Fire … bronze: see Dan. 10.6 .

20 :

Jezebel: name of Ahab's wicked, idolatrous queen (1 Kgs. 16.31; 18.1–5; 19.1–3; 21.5–24 ).

23 :

Her children: those who follow her teaching. Searcher … deeds: compare Jer. 17.10 .

24 :

Deep secrets of Satan: heretical teachings (see v. 20 ).

27 :

See Ps. 2.9 .

28 :

Star of dawn: Christ himself (see 22.16 ).

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