Revelation 2:18
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like a blazing fire and whose feet are like polished bronze.
Sermons
A Little Religion is Worth RetainingJ. Alexander.Revelation 2:18-29
A Timely PeriodHomilistRevelation 2:18-29
An Imperfect ChurchJ. Hyatt.Revelation 2:18-29
Christ, the Morning StarJ. Cairns, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
Christian ExcellenceHomilistRevelation 2:18-29
Christian SteadfastnessT. M. Herbert, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
Christ's Letter to the Church At ThyatiraCaleb Morris.Revelation 2:18-29
Epistle to the Church At ThyatiraS. Conway Revelation 2:18-29
Hold FastJ. Trapp.Revelation 2:18-29
Hold Fast the Good ObtainedJ. Stratten.Revelation 2:18-29
InconsistencyW. Mitchell, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
Jezebel a Type of WorldlinessW. Milligan, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
Jezebel to be Cast Out of the ChurchJ. Murray.Revelation 2:18-29
Power Over the NationsW. Burnet, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
Self-Prepared PenaltiesG. Vianney.Revelation 2:18-29
Sins of OmissionJ. Trapp.Revelation 2:18-29
Space to RepentJohn Trapp.Revelation 2:18-29
That the Terms of Salvation are Offered to All MenS. Clarke, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
The Church Contaminated by Doctrinal ErrorJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
The Depths of SatanJ. Murray.Revelation 2:18-29
The Epistle to the Church in ThyatriaR. Green Revelation 2:18-29
The First and Last WorksA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
The Jezebel of ThyatiraR. Burgess, B. D.Revelation 2:18-29
The Morning StarH. Bonar, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
The Promises to the VictorsC. H. Spurgeon., A. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
The Words of Christ from Eternity to the Congregation At ThyatiraD. Thomas Revelation 2:18-29
ThyatiraD. C. Hughes, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
Thyatira -- the Sentimental ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 2:18-29
Time for RepentanceJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 2:18-29
Careful readers of these letters will observe how in this and the foregoing ones St. John seems to be contemplating great historical events recorded in the Old Testament. In the first, the allusion to "the tree of life" and the "Paradise of God" carries us back to the story of the Fall and the expulsion from Eden. In the second, Noah and the Flood are apparently referred to in the promise of life as the reward of fidelity, and the not being "hurt of the second death;" for the Flood was the second death of humanity, and the waters of the Flood may point us to that awful lake by which the ungodly at the last shall be overwhelmed, and which St. John calls the second death. In the third, the wilderness life of Israel, the ruin wrought on them by Balaam, and "the manna" which was their food, these form the groundwork of the letter to Pergamos. Then in the fourth, that before us now, we come on to the times of the monarchy, and that dark period when Ahab ruled over the northern kingdom, and Jezebel led him and his people into all the vileness of idolatry. A thorough Jew as St. John was, and having complete knowledge of the ancient Scriptures, they being his one book, would be quick to find analogies and illustrations of the spiritual condition of the Churches in the checkered history of mankind, and especially of Israel, as recorded in those Scriptures. And the tragedy - for it was no less - associated with Jezebel (cf. 'Macbeth,' and see whence Shakespeare got his nspiration); and the flashing fire in the eyes of the fierce Jehu, and the burnished brass of his swift-revolving chariot wheels as he furiously drove along on his journey of vengeance to slay the proud, idolatrous queen who had led all Israel astray, - this avenger might well come into the mind of St. John as he thought of the spiritual tragedy at Thyatira, and of an avenger more awful still, "the Son of God," whose eyes were "as a flame of fire and his feet like molten brass," and who was swiftly hastening to take vengeance on the guilty leader of whom Jezebel was the prototype, and that guilty Church. A fit name for this letter would be "The wrath of the Lamb," for much concerning that wrath is shown in it.

I. ITS REALITY. The letter is full of fearfulness to those whom it concerns, and was without doubt intended so to be. There is scarce a soft, gentle word in it, but all is stern from first to last. The inscription, the contents, the very promises at the end, are all marked by the same character. The Church had connived at, or at least had offered no strenuous opposition to, most awful and flagrant wrong, which had been taught and practised in her very midst; and in the wrath that this aroused all their righteousness - and they had much - is little more than named, and seems scarcely mentioned. The letter is hardly anything else than one vehement outpouring of the Lord's wrath and threatenings of his sore displeasure. The symbols show this. The eyes like as a flame of fire, and the feet of incandescent, glowing, molten brass, suggest strongly the twin ideas of rage and ruthless resolve to execute it upon those against whom it is directed. They bring before us a truly terrible aspect of the character of our Lord, but one which is real and actual, though far too much ignored both in thought and teaching. We say and sing far too exclusively, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild;" and this, notwithstanding the very Gospels themselves give not a few indications of a power of holy and awful anger which he who so graciously took up little children in his arms yet evidently had within him. Hearken how he speaks to the scribes and Pharisees; listen to his reiterated "woes" denounced upon hypocrites; and observe as a momentous fact that the most fearful utterances of the whole Bible fell from our Saviour's lips. And this Book of the Revelation, is it not like the prophet's scroll, written both within and without, and full of scarce anything but "lamentation and mourning and woe"? And all of it is the Lord's doing, either directly or through his agents. The Bible, therefore, gives but little countenance to that far too general idea that the character of Christ is only gentleness and love. And there is, and there ought to be, no such character anywhere. That love which is said to go out to everybody generally goes to nobody in particular, except the man's own self above all. It is a mere easiness and softness, utterly unreliable, and of little moral worth. But when there is real love, the obverse side will be a corresponding wrath against all that injures what is so much loved. What is tenderer, and at the same time fiercer, than a mother's love? Even amid the beasts of the field it is so. A bear robbed of her whelps, woe betide the despoiler if the mother overtake him! And all that wrath which is told of in the Bible, and especially in this book, those eyes which, against the Jezebels that seduce his people, are "as a flame of fire," once wept over Jerusalem and by the grave of Lazarus. If he could not hate, he could not love; and because he does so love, therefore is the wrath of the Lamb so real and terrible a thing.

II. ITS SEVERITY. (Vers. 22, 23.) God does do even now what is meant by these expressions. Out of men's own wickedness he makes whips to scourge them. How dreadful and irreparable is the ruin which even here and now often overtakes the ungodly! There is no need for laboured argument to prove that there is a hell hereafter: many men spend their lives in hell now. Their intense realization of their shame, their fall; the horror which good men have of them; the ruin they have brought upon themselves, and yet more upon those who trusted and loved and depended upon them; - all this is hell, and is a fearful corroboration of the sure teaching of God as to the judgment he forewarns us of hereafter.

III. ITS FORBEARANCE. "I gave her space to repent." Sentence upon an evil work is not executed speedily, and hence men too often, therefore, all the more set their hearts steadfastly to do evil.

IV. ITS JUSTICE. The Lord denounces here, we think, not a person, but a party; some evil knot of persons in the Church, who were to the rest what the woman Jezebel, Ahab's wile, was to Israel - their seducer and leader in all abominable ways. Vers. 22 and 23 seem to imply that there was not one person merely, but a dominant party in the Church, who were guilty of the sins which had so roused the wrath of the Lord. True, we have the phrase, "thy wife Jezebel," and this has led some to suppose that the pastor of the Church was afflicted with a detestable woman as a wife - such things do happen; but when we remember how "the harlot" is the continual name with which corrupt Churches are branded, we are permitted to regard the whole as symbolical. The phrase may therefore be regarded as telling of a pestilent and powerful set belonging to the Church, and therefore it could be said, "thy wife," who were as Jezebel. And we must regard the sins spoken of as being literally what they are said to be. And who that knows the power of these sins to waste the conscience, pollute the mind, ruin the body, paralyze the will, and every way turn man into worse than the very brutes, and so to make the Church in which they were practised a byword, a hissing, and a rebuke, can wonder that, as has ever been the case, the wrath of God arose against them until there was no remedy? Because of them the Flood came, the cities of the plain were overwhelmed with fire, the nations of Canaan were exterminated; and today, given the sin, there, not far off, is the judgment of God. Beware of them, for they "war against the soul," and against all the well being of mankind, so that, in mercy to the human race, God has branded them with his severe displeasure.

V. ITS DISCRIMINATION. "The Lord knoweth them that are his" and his eye was upon them even in that corrupt Church. They had refused to be beguiled by the specious pretences of these ungodly teachers that their doctrines were profound, not for the uninitiated; that they were "deep" things - deep things of the devil, the Lord in indignation adds - though they pretended that they came from above. But this "rest of you in Thyatira" would have none of the doctrine; they spurned it as they should. And now the Lord tells them that no other burden should be put upon them. To have to endure such people amongst them, and to have the Name of Christ so dishonoured, this was burden enough. Therefore only let them abide in all those good and blessed qualities which characterized them, and which he commemorates in ver. 19, and then in that coming glory foretold in Psalm 2. they shall share, and from being despised and borne down with the burden of the wicked, they shall with Christ rule over them, and restrain them effectually as with "a rod of iron," and as now they were powerless to do; and best of all, he who is "the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and the Morning Star" (Revelation 22:16), he will give himself to them; the day star should arise in their hearts, the joy of the Lord should be theirs forevermore.

"Grant, Lord, that I may come
To thy saints' happy home,
Where a thousand years one day appears;
Nor go
Where a day appears
As a thousand years,
For woe!"







Thyatira.
One thing which Ephesus had Thyatira wanted, and it was a blessed want; nothing is said of Thyatira's "toil." The temper which animated the Church made all its service joyous, Therefore the Lord's commendation is so full and unreserved; He does not talk of removing the candlestick out of its place; instead He frankly recognises the growing efficiency of His servants: "I know that thy latest works are more than the first." Nevertheless there is a great and grievous lack. As in Ephesus, the mention of this defect is unqualified; not, "I have a few things against thee," nor, "I have this against thee," but, "I have against thee that thou are tolerating that woman Jezebel," etc. The name is a mystic one. Jezebel was the lady-wife of the half-barbarous king Ahab; the story of her reign is the story of the quick corruption and utter downfall of the kingdom of Israel. Idol-feasts were followed by "chambering and wantonness," and corruption spread rapidly among the youth of Israel. So was this prophetess introducing the speculations of Asiatic freethinkers and the Asiatic habit of voluptuousness into the Church of Thyatira. A love of talk about forbidden things was setting in; regard for law was being weakened; audacity was taking the place of reserve; the teaching spread that self-indulgence was nobler than self-denial, and more in accordance with the freedom of the gospel. There was a double attraction in the teaching of the prophetess — the subtle charm of womanhood, and the seductiveness of the thoughts themselves she was disseminating. Thus she led her votaries on into what they loved to call the "deeper aspects" of life and morals. We must observe that the Church is not charged with complicity in this teaching. Nor is the minister accused of sharing in the doctrine; the implication is that he is pure. But it is charged against him that he tolerates it; and both he and the Church are warned of their neglect of duty. Why is he so tolerant of this modern Jezebel — a woman who is working in the Church mischiefs as subtle, and in their consequences as dire, as those which destroyed the manhood of Israel? First, doubtless, he bore with her because she was a woman. The gracious tolerance of a strong man often takes this form. It is very hard for such a one to assert himself at all; most hard where self-assertion seems most easy. Next, the woman called herself "a prophetess." Here comes in regard for "the freedom of prophecy"; the very inspiration of the Church was a hindrance. "Who knows whether God is not speaking by her, notwithstanding all that is suspicious in her teaching?" The very spirit of service might help to mislead a gracious man. Underneath the easy temper of the pastor of Thyatira there was, however, a grave deficiency, one of the gravest in a Church ruler: he had an inadequate sense of the authority of law. Thyatira stands before us the type of a sentimental Church; the charm and the danger of the sentimental temperament are both set before us here. There is a sentimentalism of the strong as well as of the weak. In the weak sentiment takes the place which belongs to conviction; they try to make feeling do the work of moral qualities. And they miserably fail; their Christian character itself degenerates; like the Amy of "Locksley Hall," they are doomed to "perish in their self-contempt." The strong are not in danger of this: their personal character may seem to keep itself unstained. But if they have responsibilities for others laid upon them, their sentimentalism may mean unfaithfulness. If Ephesus may be looked upon as typifying the peril of the Puritan habit, Thyatira is a type of what we may call Neo-Puritanism. The Puritan was the guardian of the claims and rights of the individual. He trusted his own conscience to see the will of God, his own intelligence to interpret it. In strenuous years the man of such a temper, and with this lofty ambition, tends to be hard, self-confident, a dogmatist in his thinking, a precisian in his conduct. He is the man who can try the spirits; who can tear aside disguises; can see through them who call themselves apostles when they are not, and can find them false. Times have grown easier; there has swept over us a great impulse of tenderness, which has become the prevailing habit, and the characteristic individualism of the Puritan has changed its form. Out of regard for the sanctity of the individual conscience and judgment, varying interpretations of God's law are to be received as binding on various persons; and where divers interpretations of law are admitted, the law itself ceases to be law. In the freedom which is to be allowed to self-development, the educative influence of positive enactments is gone; every man is to be his own schoolmaster as well as his own judge.

I. THE APPEAL TO REALITY. In contrast with their readiness to be deluded, He sets out His own clear vision, piercing through all plausibilities, and detecting the heart of the matter; His fervid indignation, too, that will not long be restrained. Nothing is more needed than occasional plain speech about the foulness which lurks in much that professes to be an enlarged spirituality. There is more than an etymological connection between sentimentalism and sensuality. They who encourage display of the peculiar charms of womanhood, and seek to advance public causes by constant speech of things which both nature and piety tell us should be held in strict reserve, degrade the woman they seek to emancipate and brutalise the man. More than once the world has been startled by the announcement of "esoteric" teachings and practices among some who have posed as heralds of a higher morality, which differ not at all from the words and deeds of others who are frankly vicious. And what is still more startling is the discovery that some who have not accepted all the doctrines of their circle have known of the prevalence of them, and suffered them to pass without rebuke. These are really the coarse.

II. THE APPEAL TO COMPASSION. "Behold," says the Lord, "I cast them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation"; "and I will kill her children with death." There were simple souls in Thyatira saved from moral ruin by their ignorance. They "knew not the deep things of Satan" which the initiated talked of. There were other simple ones who fell by their curiosity. It was the place of the pastor to stand between these and the Lord of the flaming eyes and the glowing feet; to save them from, seeming judgment by instruction, warning, "if need were by discipline, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted with the flesh." It is a cruel thing to be tolerant of those who are destroying the souls of the unwary.

III. THE APPEAL TO DUTY. "I lay upon you the charge to be faithful to the law you have received. I impose no other obligation on you. But this you have; hold it fast until I come." It was the duty of all in Thyatira; it was the special duty of "the angel of the Church." An unwelcome duty it might be, but not on that account less urgent. And it was enforced by the promise "to him that overcometh." God's rewards are of two classes. We are to have more of what we have; there is to be given us that which we have not. We think more habitually of the former class — "to him that hath shall be given" — but the Lord thinks also of the latter class, and this is well for us. For if we were only to go on enlarging and developing the graces most congenial to us, which we find it easiest to exercise, we might attain to excellence, but we should be ever one-sided men. God would make us perfect men. He will not let us keep the defects of our qualities.

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

I. THE COMMENDABLE IN CHARACTER. "I know thy works," etc. Its progressive excellence is here commended. "And the last to be more than the first." Several excellent things are here mentioned — "Charity," which is love. The one genuine principle has various manifestations. "Service," that is ministry. "Faith." By this I understand not belief in propositions, but universal and living confidence in God, Christ, and eternal principles. "Patience" — that is calm endurance of those evils over which we have no control. "Works" — all the practical developments of holy principles.

II. THE REPREHENSIBLE IN DOCTRINE. Whatever was the particular doctrine that this prophetess taught, it was a great evil; it led to two things.

1. It led to great wickedness in conduct.(1) Licentiousness — "commit fornication."(2) Idolatry — "eat things sacrificed to idols." A corrupt doctrine will lead to a corrupt life. Creed and conduct have a vital connection with each other.

2. It incurred the displeasure of Christ. "Behold I will cast her into a bed," etc., etc.(1) A terrible retribution. The couch of indulgence would be changed into a bed of torture.(2) An enlightened retribution. "I am He which searcheth the reins and the hearts." There will be no ignorance in the dispensation of the punishment; the Judge knows all.(3) A righteous retribution. "I will give unto every one of you according to your works."

III. THE INDISPENSABLE IN DUTY. What is to be done to correct these evils, and to avoid this threatened doom?

1. Repent of the wrong. Kind Heaven gives all sinners time for repentance, and unless repentance takes place punishment must come.

2. Hold fast to the right.(1) You have something good. You have some right views, right feelings, right principles; hold them fast.(2) This something you are in danger of losing. There are seductive influences around you in society. Error is a prophetess ever at work, seeking to rifle the soul of all good.(3) This something will be safe after Christ's advent. "Till I come." He will perfect all, put all beyond the reach of the tempter. Meanwhile hold fast.

IV. THE BLESSED IN DESTINY. There are several glorious things here promised to the faithful and true.

1. Freedom from all future inconvenience. No other burden will be put on them. Freedom from evil, what a blessing!

2. Exaltation to authority. "To him I will give power over the nations." The Christian victor shall share in the dominion of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:2).

3. The possession of Christ. "I will give him the morning star," that is, I will give Myself to him, the light of life, the light that breaks upon the world after a night of darkness and tempest.

(Caleb Morris.)

I. THE MAJESTY AND JUDICIAL ASPECTS OF ITS DIVINE AUTHOR.

1. His majesty — "Son of God."

(1)Our Lord's resurrection; its grand and unanswerable demonstration (Romans 1:4).

(2)The title proof of His glory and Divinity (Hebrews 1:2-8).

2. His judicial aspects.

(1)Nothing can escape His piercing glance.

(2)No one can escape His resistless power.

II. HIS LOVING RECOGNITION OF EVERY COMMENDABLE QUALITY (ver. 19).

III. HIS HOLY ABHORRENCE OF THE EVILS PERMITTED IN THE CHURCH (ver. 20).

IV. HIS LOVING FORBEARANCE OF THIS WICKED PARTY (ver. 21).

V. THE TERRIBLE DOOM THAT AWAITS THIS PARTY UNLESS THEY REPENT (vers. 22, 23).

VI. OUR LORD'S INSPIRING WORDS TO THE FAITHFUL (ver. 24).

1. The importance of not giving heed to false doctrine.

2. The connection between false doctrine and the knowing "the depths of Satan."

VII. THE IMPORTANCE OF FIRMLY HOLDING THE TRUTH AND GRACE OF CHRIST (ver. 25).

VIII. THE BLESSED REWARD OF CHRISTIAN HEROISM (vers. 26-28).

IX. OUR LORD'S EARNEST EXHORTATION TO THE CHURCHES (ver. 29).

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. THIS CHURCH HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN OF HIGH MORAL CHARACTER.

1. Fervent in its love.

2. Faithful in its service.

3. Constant in its faith.

4. Genuine in its patience.

5. Progressive in its excellences.

II. THIS CHURCH, NOTWITHSTANDING ITS PREVIOUS HIGH MORAL CHARACTER, WAS CONTAMINATED BY DOCTRINAL ERROR THROUGH THE SEDUCTIVE INFLUENCE OF A CORRUPT WOMAN (ver. 20).

1. This Church was contaminated in doctrine by the teaching of a woman.

(1)Of wicked name. sake.

(2)Of vain pretensions.

(3)Of corrupt morality.

(4)Of seductive influence.

2. This Church, through its doctrinal error, was led into sinful practices.

3. There is a contaminating influence in doctrinal error.

III. THOSE WHO ARE INSTRUMENTAL IN LEADING A CHURCH INTO DOCTRINAL ERROR, AND ITS CONSEQUENT EVILS, ARE THREATENED WITH SEVERE RETRIBUTION (vers. 22, 23). Lessons:

1. To cultivate in Church life an increase of all Christian graces.

2. To avoid vain and impious teachers who profess the prophetic gift.

3. That women should keep silence in the Church.

4. That doctrinal heresy will lead to an awful destiny.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I know thy works and charity... and the last to be more than the first. —
I. WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE. A life of continual progress in which each "to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant," in reference to all that is good and noble. A continuous progress towards and in all good of every sort is the very law of the Christian life. Every metaphor about the life of the Christian soul carries the same lesson. Is it a building? Then course by course it rises. Is it a tree? Then year by year it spreads a broader shadow, and its leafy crown reaches nearer heaven. Is it a body? Then from childhood to youth, and youth to manhood, it grows. Christianity is growth, continual, all-embracing, and unending.

II. WHAT A SADLY LARGE PROPORTION OF PROFESSEDLY CHRISTIAN LIVES ARE NOT. Many professing Christians are cases of arrested development, like some of those monstrosities that you see about our pavements — a full grown man in the upper part with no under limbs at all to speak of, aged half a century, and only half the height of a ten years old child. They grow, if at all, by fits and starts, after the fashion, say, of a tree that every winter goes to sleep, and only makes wood for a little while in the summer time. Or they do not grow even as regularly as that, but. there will come sometimes an hour or two of growth, and then long dreary tracks in which there is no progress at all, either in understanding of Christian doctrine or in the application of Christian precept; no increase of conformity to Jesus Christ, no increase of realising hold of His love, no clearer or more fixed and penetrating contemplation of the unseen realities, than there used to be long, long ago. Let us learn the lesson that either to-day is better than yesterday or it is worse. If a man on a bicycle stands still he tumbles. The condition of keeping upright is to go onwards. If a climber on an Alpine ice-slope does not put all his power into the effort to ascend, he cannot stick at the place, at an angle of forty-five degrees upon the ice, but down he is bound to go. Unless, by effort, he overcomes gravitation, he will be at the bottom very soon. And so if Christian people are not daily getting better, they are daily getting worse. There are two alternatives before us. Either we are getting more Christlike or we are daily getting less so.

III. How THIS COMMENDATION MAY BECOME OURS. Notice the context. Christ says, "I know thy works and love and faith and service" (for ministry), "and patience and that thy last works are more than the first." That is to say, the great way by which we can secure this continual growth in the manifestations of Christian life is by making it a habit to cultivate what produces it, viz., these two things, charity (or love) and faith. These are the roots; they need cultivating. If they are not cultivated then their results of "service" (or "ministry") and patience are sure to become less and less. These two, faith and rove, are the roots; their vitality determines the strength and abundance of the fruit that is borne. If we want our works to increase in number and to rise in quality, let us see to it that we make an honest habit of cultivating that which is their producing cause — love to Jesus Christ and faith in Him. And then the text still further suggests another thought. At the end of the letter I read: "He that overcometh and keepeth My works to the end, to him will I give," etc. Now, mark what were called "thy works" in the beginning of the letter are called "My works" in its close. If we want that the Master shall see in us a continuous growth towards Himself, then, in addition to cultivating the habit of faith and love, we must cultivate the other habit of looking to Him as the source of all the work that we do for Him. And when we have passed from the contemplation of our deeds as ours, and come to look upon all that we do of right and truth and beauty as Christ working in us, then there is a certainty of our work increasing in nobility and in extent. There is still another thing to be remembered, and that is, that if we are to have this progressive godliness we must put forth continuous effort right away to the very close. We come to no point in our lives when we can slack off in the earnestness of our endeavour to make more and more of Christ's fulness our own.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Notwithstanding, I have a few things
I. A SERIOUS CHARGE ALLEGED AGAINST THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA. The most perfect Church upon earth is very imperfect. A seriously observant man will soon perceive "an end of all perfection" in the most excellent characters. All our Lord's descriptions of character are faithful. He never drew a false likeness. By Him neither excellences or imperfection were ever exaggerated. The design of the Holy Ghost in exposing the sins and imperfections of the people of God is to warn Christians of their danger, and to excite them to constant watchfulness and fervent prayer. The faithful reproof marks the line of conduct we are bound conscientiously to pursue in dealing with professors of the religion of Christ.

II. DIVINE PATIENCE SPARES FOR A SEASON THE MOST ABANDONED AND GUILTY CHARACTERS. Justice might instantly inflict condign punishment upon licentious characters.

III. TREMENDOUS JUDGMENTS WILL SUCCEED THE EXERCISE OF PATIENCE UPON THOSE WHO CONTINUE IMPENITENT.

IV. OUR LORD ASSERTS HIS OMNISCIENCE AND HIS PREROGATIVE TO PUNISH AND REWARD MANKIND.

V. THE EPISTLE CONCLUDES WITH EXHORTATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT ADDRESSED TO THOSE WHO HAD NOT APPROVED OF THE DOCTRINE OF JEZEBEL.

(J. Hyatt.)

Alas for our many inconsistencies, our varied imperfections; alas for the mischief they do to our own souls and to the cause of Christ everywhere! Up to a certain point, by the grace of God and a steadfast will, we have done, let us suppose, pretty well. We have gained something. But the difficulty is to get on a little farther. Conscience has always a few things against us which we cannot quite conquer — very unimportant, perhaps, according to the world's judgment, and yet, we know, very contrary to the Spirit of Christ. We ought to be humble, and we are proud. We ought to be grave, and we are frivolous. We ought to be exact in our times of prayer, and we suffer all manner of things to interrupt us. We ought to be overflowing with kindness; and we are reserved, impatient, and unsympathising. It is well for us if we can perceive our inconsistencies and try to amend them. The devil does his best to keep our attention fixed on what we have gained. Our inconsistencies, whatever they may appear to us, are spots and blemishes in the soul, disfiguring that image of Christ into which we desire to be transformed, holding us back from God only knows what higher degrees of perfection, spoiling the offering of our life, keeping back a part of the spoil. Moreover, it is by these inconsistencies that the devil gains power over us in other ways. These are his stations which he seizes and fortifies, establishing on them his engines of war, from which he hurls his fiery darts of temptation so as to overcome our defence in the matter of some kindred fault, and to throw in other forces of his own as soon as the breach is opened. And who shall tell the disheartening effect upon ourselves of these inconsistencies? So much for the effect of our inconsistency on ourselves. And what shall we say of its effect upon the world at large? There is nothing which does the devil's work half so well as the unholy life combined with great profession.

(W. Mitchell, M. A.)

proceeded in the same way as all do who succeed in making havoc of the Church of Christ. She came under the semblance of religion; she pretended to be inspired of God; and she appears to have gained such credit with the bishop himself that he was beguiled by her enticing words, and suffered her to teach; this was his sin. Now it is evident when we read the character of this man that he had not lent himself knowingly to any wicked designs of the false prophetess. What does this show but our constant liability to error, even though we should be exalted to the highest station in the Church of Christ? We may be compromising our high and evangelical principles by unworthy and undignified concession to the errors of others, as effectually as did those deceived Christians of Thyatira; and there will never be wanting a Jezebel or a doctrine which that name will denote to assure us that it is right so to do, and that we thereby gain a universal esteem which will help us to extend our own particular views and influence. But, besides this practice, the false prophetess had a doctrine, and it is characterised by "the depths of Satan." Our Lord pronounces the things whereof Jezebel and her followers made their boast to be deep, but they were not the deep things of God, but of Satan; there is a spirit which searcheth the mysteries of godliness; and there is a spirit which is busy in diving into the depths of evil under the pretension of seeking out causes, until it becomes what may be termed mysticism. The false prophetess, no doubt, led her votaries to believe that some other revelation than what was in God's Word had been made to her, and professed to communicate some superior light on the deepest and most intricate points of faith. Generally speaking, when error is worked into a system, it must have an air of mystery thrown around it, and be supposed to conceal something which cannot meet the vulgar eye or be known to the uninitiated. Nothing but truth will bear an open investigation; truth is the only system that may be committed with safety to a whole community; not that it will be so safe as never to be perverted, but it will finally triumph, and requires neither secret machinery nor open violence to force it on men's minds. Beware of an inordinate love of speculation on the nature and counsels of the Most High; deep things, though most alluring, are not the best elements for the health of the soul, and very few who have exercised themselves much therein have been able to maintain a spirit of sobriety unto the end. Let us beware of a tendency to begin our inquiries where all wise men make an end. Let us seek to be wise up to the word, not beyond it; and thus keeping our hearts in all simplicity we shall soon learn to whom the Father reveals His mysteries, and we shall retain an unclouded judgment to approve things that are excellent, and to discuss with patience and candour.

2. The other lesson to be learnt from this history regards the discipline and ordinances of the Church. The deluded followers of the false prophetess had set at nought the discipline of the overseers of the Church for the time being, apparently esteeming it a burden not to be tolerated by them who pretended to such great gifts. God, however, is not a God of confusion but of order, and was careful to confirm that burden and thereby to give His sanction to discipline.

(R. Burgess, B. D.)

Why they did not insist upon having this Jezebel turned out of the Church appears exceedingly strange. Perhaps she was a woman of wealth and riches, of some note and rank in Thyatira. There are few Churches so exactly apostolic as to pursue a strict impartiality. The gold ring and the gay clothing goes a great way. A woman, whether she was a prophetess or not, provided she had some thousands a year, and knew how to apply it among her friends, might be guilty of a great many peccadillos and have them winked at, when one of low degree could not escape censure for the first trip. There is something bewitching in riches and worldly dignity — they make mankind do very absurd and inconsistent things, and even New Testament Churches have been fascinated therewith. Perhaps this prophetess would have been accounted a good Christian in these soft, good-natured times when divorces are so common. She would probably have endowed a church, entertained the clergy, like a good Christian and orthodox believer; and this would cover a multitude of sins. But Christ does not judge as men do, for He looks into the heart and sees that many specious actions are only intended as a cover to conceal other designs than those that are pretended publicly. There is no imposing upon Him that searches the hearts. It is a great mercy that the Church has such an Head, who knows all things, and discerns all characters, and will not suffer sin to pass without rebuke.

(J. Murray.)

It is a fault, then, not only to be active in evil, but to be passive of evil.

(J. Trapp.)

Jezebel was a heathen princess, the first heathen queen who had been married by a king of the northern kingdom of Israel. She was, therefore, peculiarly fitted to represent the influences of the world; and the charge against the first Church of the second group is that she tolerated the world with its heathen thoughts and practices. She knew it to be the world that it was, but notwithstanding this she was content to be at peace, perhaps even to ally herself with it.

(W. Milligan, D. D.)

And I gave her space to repent
Homilist.
God is the great giver; He gives life and food and happiness to all His creatures.

I. A DEFINITION OF TIME. Some call time the measure of duration; others the succession of ideas, pearls strung upon a golden thread. But is not this as good as either — "space to repent?"

II. A LIMITATION OF MERCY. "Space," a definite period of time. Man's "days are determined" (Job 14:5).

1. How rash the calculations of the sinner.

2. How simple the reckoning of the saint (Genesis 47:9; Job 14:14; 1 Corinthians 7:29).

III. A DECLARATION OF DUTY. "Repent."

IV. A FORESHADOWING OF DESTINY. Man is related to eternity.

(Homilist.)

I. DIVINELY ALLOTTED.

1. The wealth of Divine mercy.

2. Man will have no excuse if finally lost.

II. CERTAINLY LIMITED. Then use it well, prize it highly, see that the Divine purpose concerning your destiny is accomplished.

III. WILFULLY NEGLECTED.

1. Because their minds are darkened.

2. Because their hearts are insensible.

3. Because their retributions are delayed.

IV. ETERNALLY RUINOUS. Lessons:

1. We are Divinely called to repentance.

2. We should repent now, because now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

"In space comes grace" proves not always a true proverb. They that defer the work, and say that men may repent hereafter, say truly, but not safely. The branch that bears not timely fruit is cut off (John 15:2). The ground that yields not a seasonable and suitable return is nigh unto cursing (Hebrews 6:8).

(John Trapp.)

I will give unto every one of you according to your works
My children, if you saw a man prepare a great pile of wood, heaping up fagots one upon another, and when you asked him what he was doing, he were to answer you, "I am preparing the fire that is to burn me," what would you think? And if you saw this same man set fire to the pile, and when it was lighted, throw himself upon it, what would you say? This is what we do when we commit sin.

(G. Vianney.)

This is not the name which these persons gave to the doctrines they held, but the real character they deserved. Mankind have always been fond of depths and mysteries, and more disposed to adhere to things which they do not understand, than to simple and plain truths that are more plain and obvious. It would appear to have been one of the particular stratagems of the wicked one to persuade mankind that Divine revelation is beyond the understanding of the inferior ranks of Church members, and that whey must depend for their direction how to understand them, upon some select commissioners that are initiated in the secrets thereof. The depths of Satan differ from all things that may be called depths in the Word of God, in the following particulars.

1. Satan appoints trustees to keep the key of his secrets, and does not show an index to the mysteries which are in his system. But there are no mysteries in the Word of God, but what have a key to open them, and an index to point them out.

2. The interpretation of Scripture mysteries is always shorter, and expressed in fewer words, than the mysteries themselves. The vision of Nebuchadnezzar's great image pointed out himself in a mystery; the interpretation was short, and yet exceedingly plain. The depths and mysteries of Satan are quite different; the mystery is short, but the interpretation long, and the opening of the mystery very tedious.

3. The depths of God are always opened up by the Spirit of God, in the course of Divine revelation, and without the interpretation of the Holy Ghost, who is the original author, all the art of men and angels could not develop one single emblem in either the Old or New Testament, with any degree of certainty. The depths of Satan are like Milton's Darkness Visible, incapable of any consistent interpretation, nor are they ever intended to be understood. They are believed because they are inscrutable, and on that account require a large measure of faith. But what God reveals, the nature and character thereof is plain, though the measure is unfathomable.

4. These doctrines, which John calls the depths of Satan, appear to have been the dogmas of men, and the conceits of sophisters in religion, which were intended to render godliness more fashionable and agreeable to the taste of corrupt professors; and they differed from the simplicity of the gospel in the ease they promised to those who embraced them.

(J. Murray.)

But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come
I. HOLD FAST THAT WHICH YOU HAVE, BECAUSE IT IS WORTH RETAINING.

1. Because of the means which God has employed to put you in the possession of it.

2. Because it is connected with the salvation of your soul.

3. Because the minutest portion of it is valuable, and is capable of unlimited increase. When the whole substance is composed of gold and silver and precious stones, intrinsic value belongs to every particle and to every grain, so that its very dust is carefully preserved. And so it is with all the impressions and feelings which belong to true religion, for they are fruits of the Spirit, and portions of the ways of the unsearchable God. The mariner does not throw away the little light which shines upon him from the polar star, but retains it in his eye till it has guided his vessel into port. And though in some periods of your religious experience, Jesus Christ may not appear to you in His full tide of glory, as the Sun of Righteousness, yet if He appears to you in the feebler beams of the morning star, ever remember that what you see, though but a glimmering, still is light, real heavenly light. Hold it, therefore, in your view. If you possessed but one single grain of wheat, its intrinsic value would be trifling; but how is its value enhanced, and with what care will it be preserved, when you know that if it be sown and reaped, and sown and reaped again, its production will soon be seen waving in the valleys, and crowning the mountain tops, till it has furnished food sufficient for a city, a continent, a world. And who can set limits to the increase of grace? Who can tell what advances he may make in knowledge, in holiness, and in joy, who is now for the first time sitting at the feet of Jesus?

II. HOLD FAST THAT WHICH YOU HAVE, BECAUSE VARIOUS EFFORTS ARE MADE TO DEPRIVE YOU OF IT.

1. Such efforts are made by our own evil propensities. As the guards and the cultivators of that which we have, there must be vigilance and resistance and persevering prayer; there must be a war continually waged against evil thoughts, evil propensities, and evil actions; and there must be an unceasing and determined effort to bring the whole soul under the supreme dominion of gospel principles and of gospel influences.

2. Such efforts are made by the world. The mere presence of material and worldly objects has a tendency to divert our attention and our affections from those objects which are spiritual and unseen. The quantity of time and thought and labour which worldly business receives, from both the master and the servant, is often unfavourable, and sometimes fatal to fervency of spirit.

3. Such efforts are made by Satan.

III. HOLD FAST THAT WHICH YOU HAVE, BECAUSE THE GOSPEL FURNISHES YOU WITH THE MEANS OF RETAINING IT.

1. The gospel furnishes you with the examples of righteous men, who have retained their spiritual possessions even in the midst of multiplied difficulties and dangers.

2. The gospel promises the Holy Spirit to help your infirmities, and to make your strength equal to your day.

IV. HOLD FAST THAT WHICH YOU HAVE, BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST IS APPROACHING.

1. This announcement, you perceive, prescribes the term of your endurance. It is to continue till the Lord comes. The oath which Christ requires from us, when we enter His service, is an oath of fidelity for life; and, in this respect, Christ's requirements accord with the dispositions of all His faithful servants. They desire to persevere. They pray that they may persevere.

2. The announcement that Christ is coming affords great encouragement to sustain your endurance; for He is coming to receive His people to Himself, that where He is, there they may be also. And as the shipwrecked mariner is encouraged to hold fast the rope which he has grasped, when he hears that the lifeboat is coming to convey him to the shore, so be you strengthened and encouraged by the announced approaching of your Lord, who even now is walking on the waters to conduct you to the desired haven.

(J. Alexander.)

Homilist.
I. Christian excellence is an ATTAINMENT.

1. Christian excellence is an attainment in contradistinction to a native growth. It does not spring up in the soul as an indigenous germ. It is a seed that has been taken in and cultivated.

2. Christian excellence is an attainment in contradistinction to an impartation. In a sense, it is the gift of God; not in the sense in which life and light and air and the seasons of the year are the gifts of God, blessings that come upon us irrespective of our own efforts, but rather in the sense in which the crops of the husbandman, the learning of the scholar, the triumphs of the artist, are the gifts of God — blessings that come as the result of appropriate labour. We shall grow neither good nor be made good; we must become good; we must struggle after it.

II. Christian excellence is an attainment that REQUIRES FAST HOLDING.

1. Because it is worth retaining. Its value will appear by considering three things.(1) The priceless instrumentality employed to put man in possession of it: the mission of Christ.(2) Its essential connection with man's spiritual well-being; there is no true happiness apart from it.(3) Its capability of unlimited progress; it may be as a grain of mustard, but it can grow.

2. Because there is a danger of losing it.(1) Men who have had it have lost it before now.(2) Agencies are in constant operation here that threaten its destruction.

III. Christian excellence is an attainment that will be placed BEYOND DANGER AT THE ADVENT OF CHRIST.

1. He comes to every Christian at death.

2. When He thus comes —(1) He crushes for ever our enemies. He bruises the head of Satan under our feet.(2) He removes from us everything inimical to the growth of goodness.(3) He introduces us into those heavenly scenes where there will be nothing but what ministers to the advancement of goodness. Take heart, Christian, the struggle is not for long.

(Homilist.)

I. THERE IS SOMETHING "WHICH WE HAVE ALREADY"; LET US INQUIRE WHAT IT IS. First, have we obtained pardoning mercy? Secondly, have we obtained justifying grace? Thirdly, there is sanctifying power. Fourthly, suppose freedom and comfort in the ways of God. Fifthly, suppose a sweet sense of the love of God in the soul. Lastly, have you obtained an interest in the promises?

II. Supposing, then, that we have something, "HOLD FAST." And this is opposed to those who turn round and go back, or who turn aside and go astray. Let there be an advancement and progress in holiness, in zeal, in love, in conformity to Christ's image. When it is said, "hold fast," it implies that there are certain fixed and determinate principles of truth, which we are on no account to let go. There is a "form of sound words," which is not to be relinquished. The dignity of Christ, the efficacy of His sacrifice, the triumph of His mediation, the fact of His advent and coming again in glory, we are to give up only with our liven "Hold it fast" implies that there are certain means and instrumentalities to be employed. "What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." Consider what you will lose, if you hold not fast the things which you have already obtained. And, again, if you lose what is gained, the dishonour and shame are greater than before.

(J. Stratten.)

"Hold fast." Here, as constantly, a material image is used to set forth a spiritual act, or rather a life-long series of spiritual acts, indicated by the continuous act "hold fast." It implies, too, that there is something to lay hold of, and what that is is referred to beforehand, "that which ye have already." By this we should probably understand all that is included in "the faith once delivered to the saints"; "the sum total," as it has been expressed, "of Christian doctrine, and hopes, and privileges." How much that is! The laws of Christ, they are to be held fast, not one forgotten or neglected; the promises of Christ, they are to be held fast, not one forgotten or neglected; the helps of Christ, they are all of them to be held fast, and used in the varied and continued necessities of this mortal life of temptation. To hold all these fast may be summed up as holding Him fast, as our Divine Lawgiver and Redeemer, our great Priest and Sacrifice, our in-dwelling Spirit and life. We do not need to ask for a Christ of higher endowments and larger resources; it is enough for us to hold fact the Christ we have already, "who of God is made unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." "Hold fast till I come." The thoughts suggested by the words "hold fast" are very different from those suggested by "I come." "Hold fast" tells of the struggles of earth; "I come" tells of the serene and abiding peace which reigns where Jesus is. "Hold fast till I come." The earthly effort till the heavenly reward. The strenuous life-effort, weary, protracted, often seeming doubtful in result, is to continue till Christ comes, up to the hour of that supreme disclosure, but not beyond it. Then the weary hands may relax their painful effort, the weary eyes their outlook for danger, the weary heart its patience of hope, for the security and rest of victory will have come.

(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Tug for it with those that would take it from you.

(J. Trapp.)

And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him I will give power over the nations
The service of Godto be constant: — Look at yon miller on the village hill. How does he grind his grist? Does he bargain that he will only grind in the west wind, because its gales are so full of health? No, but the east wind, which searches joints and marrows, makes the mill-stones revolve, and together with the north and the south it is yoked to his service. Even so should it be with you who are true workers for God; all your ups and your downs, your successes and your defeats, should be turned to the glory of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The promises to the victors: —

I. We have THE VICTOR'S AUTHORITY. Now, the promise in my next text is moulded by a remembrance of the great words of the second psalm. The psalm in question deals with that Messianic hope under the symbols of an earthly conquering monarch, and sets forth His dominion as established throughout the whole earth. And our letter brings this marvellous thought, that the spirits of just men made perfect are, somehow or other, associated with Him in that campaign of conquest. And so, notice, that whatever may be the specific contents of such a promise as this, the general form of it is in full harmony with the words of the Master whilst He was on earth. Our Lord gave His trembling disciples this great promise: "In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." "Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things"; and, linked along with the promise of authority, the assurance of union with the Master: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." My text adds to that the image of a conquering campaign, of a sceptre of iron crushing down antagonism, of banded opposition broken into shivers, "as a potter's vessel" dashed upon a pavement of marble. The New Testament teaching converges upon this one point, that the Christ that came to die shall come again to reign, and that He shall reign and His servants with Him. That is enough; and that is all. But all the other promises deal not with something in the remoter future, but with something that begins to take effect the moment the dust, and confusion, and garments rolled in blood, of the battle-field, are swept away. At one instant the victors are fighting, at the next they are partaking of the Tree of Life. There must be something in the present for blessed dead, as well as for them in the future. And this is, that they are united with Jesus Christ in His present activities, and through Him, and in Him, and with Him, are even now serving Him. The servant, when he dies, and has been fitted for it, enters at once on his government of the ten cities. Thus this promise of my text, in its deepest meaning, corresponds with the deepest needs of a man's nature. For we can never be at rest unless we are at work; and a heaven of doing nothing is a heaven of ennui and weariness. This promise of my text comes in to supplement the three preceding. They were addressed to the legitimate wearied longings for rest and fulness of satisfaction for oneself. This is addressed to the deeper and nobler longing for larger service. And the words of my text, whatever dim glory they may partially reveal, as accruing to the victor in the future, do declare that when he passes beyond the grave there will be waiting for him nobler work to do than any that he ever has done here. But let us not forget that all this access of power and enlargement of opportunity are a consequence of Christ's royalty and Christ's conquering rule. That is to say, whatever we have because we have knit to Him, and all our service there, as all our blessedness here, flows from our union with that Lord. Whatever there lies in the heavens, the germ of it all is this, that we are as Christ, so closely identified with Him that we are like Him, and share in all His possessions. He says to us, "All Mine is thine."

II. Note THE VICTOR'S STARRY SPLENDOUR. "I will give him the morning star." Now, no doubt, throughout Scripture a star is a symbol of royal dominion; and many would propose so to interpret it in the present case. But it seems to me that whilst that explanation — which makes the second part of our promise simply identical with the former, though under a different garb-does justice to one part of the symbol, it entirely omits the other. But the emphasis is here laid on "morning" rather than on "star." Then another false scent, as it were, on which interpretations have gone, seems to me to be that, taking into account the fact that in the last chapter of the Revelation our Lord is Himself described as "the bright and morning star," they bring this promise down simply to mean "I will give him Myself." Now, though it be quite true that, in the deepest of all views, Jesus Christ Himself is the gift as well as the giver of all these seven-fold promises, yet the propriety of representation seems to me to forbid that He should here say "I will give them Myself!" So that I think we are just to lay hold of the thought — the starry splendour, the beauty and the lustre that will be poured upon the victor is that which is expressed by this symbol here. What that lustre will consist in it becomes us not to say. That future keeps its secret well, but that it shall be the perfecting of human nature up to the most exquisite height of which it is capable, and the enlargement of it beyond all that human experience here can conceive, we may peaceably anticipate and quietly trust. Only note the advance here on the previous promises is as conspicuous as in the former part of this great promise. There the Christian man's influence and authority were set forth under the emblem of regal dominion. Here they are set forth under the emblem of lustrous splendour. It is the spectators that see the glory of the beam that comes from the star. And this promise, like the former, implies that in that future there will be a field in which perfected spirits may ray out their light, and where they may gladden and draw some eyes by their beams. Christian souls, in the future, as in the present, will stand forth as the visible embodiments of the glory and lustre of the unseen God. Further, remember that this image, like the former, traces up the royalty to communion with Christ, and to impartation from Him. "I will give him the morning star." We are not suns, but planets, that move round the Sun of Righteousness, and flash with His beauty.

III. Lastly, mark THE CONDITION OF THE AUTHORITY, AND THE LUSTRE. Here I would say a word about the remarkable expansion of the designation of the victor, to which I have already referred: "He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end." We do not know why that expansion was put in, in reference to Thyatira only, but if you will glance over the letter you will see that there is more than usual about works; works to be repented of, or works which make the material of a final retribution and judgment. Bring your metaphor of a victor down to the plain, hard, prose fact of doing Christ's work right away to the end of life. It is the explanation of the victory, and one that we all need to lay to heart. "My works." That means the works that He enjoins. No doubt; but look at the verse before my text: "I will give unto every one of you according to your works." That is, the works that you do, and Christ's works are not only those which He enjoins, but those of which He Himself set the pattern. He will "give according to works"; He will "give authority"; "give the morning star" That is to say, the life which has been moulded according to Christ's pattern, and shaped in obedience to Christ's commandments is the life which is capable of being granted participation in His dominion, and invested with the morning star. It is for us to choose whether we shall share in Christ's dominion or be crushed by His iron sceptre.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. POWER IS IN MANY CASES THE RESULT OF CONQUEST. Even in this life victory brings new strength. Physical force is attained by a long series of efforts. The blacksmith's brawny, sinewy arm is the natural consequence of years of vigorous strokes upon the anvil. Intellectual strength grows in the same way. It is in great measure acquired by mental application, and comes from painful, persevering endeavours to master some of the branches of art or science. This is a law of our being, the great principle, according to which the All-wise and Almighty Ruler of the world dispenses His gifts. It is, therefore, not surprising to find the same method applied to the highest and noblest kind of power, known as moral and spiritual. The ability to refuse the evil and choose the good, as well as to lead others to do the same, is indeed a special gift of God's grace, and yet it is the result of constant, persevering effort. In short, this promise to Thyatira is being continually fulfilled in the present life.

II. At the same time, FOR ITS LARGEST AND TRUEST ACCOMPLISHMENT WE MUST LOOK ON TO THE GRAND AND GLORIOUS FUTURE. It is to him that shall have overcome, and kept Christ's works to the end, that He here promises power over the nations. "The royalties of Christ," remarks Archbishop Trench, "shall by reflection and communication be the royalties also of His Church. They shall reign, but only because Christ reigns, and because He is pleased to share His dignity with them.

(W. Burnet, M. A.)

I will give him the morning star
(compared with Revelation 22:16): — In seeking to interpret these words in the second chapter, some have supposed that the "morning star" is not directly connected with Christ; but that the promise is only a general one, setting forth the splendour of the reward of believers. Upon this principle there would be the same blessing promised to the Church of Thyatira under two forms: rule over the nations, and the splendour of such an inheritance here and hereafter. Had our Lord meant to display the splendour of the Christian's reward, He would have spoken of making His people like the morning star, rather than of giving them the morning star; hence I agree with those who understand Christ to promise that lie will give Himself to His faithful ones as their portion and reward. But it is plain that Christ will not for the first time become the morning star to His people when He bestows Himself as their final reward, since He is so already in the present life; and hence we must understand Him as promising to give Himself in a higher measure as the reward of their fidelity.

I. I remark THAT CHRIST IS TO HIS PEOPLE THE MORNING STAR OF TIME, AND WILL BE TO THEM THE MORNING STAR OF ETERNITY, BECAUSE HIS LIGHT SHINES AFTER DARKNESS. It belongs to the day star to appear in the midst of gloom when the shades of night are still thick and heavy, and to announce their departure. It was in this sense that Christ came as the light of the world. There was a general sense in which the whole world sat in darkness, as it does still where Christ is not known. "Darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people." Take the altar at Athens, to which Paul appealed. If we understand its inscription as to "The Unknown God," did not this proclaim God at large as still unknown? When Christ came the world was in the darkness of guilt, with only light enough to read the sentence of conscience, but none to see how it could be reversed. There was the darkness of depravity, for in the night the "beasts of the forest walked abroad," and foul and hideous lusts degraded every land. These causes produced a darkness of untold misery. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Similar to this first coming of Christ into the world is His first appearing in His saving character to individual sinners. Every sinner to whom Christ has not thus appeared walks in darkness. Let him at length be aroused by the Spirit of God, and how awful is the sense of darkness that overwhelms him! The experience of Christians, indeed, is various. Some have more memory of this darkness than others. Some wander in it longer and plunge into it more deeply. Such is the first grand deliverance from darkness which Christ works for all His people, and which during their earthly history He constantly renews when the clouds of ignorance, the shades of guilt, and the storms of afflictions might gather around them. And now in the second of our texts He promises, as the reward of their faith and loyalty, that He will give Himself to each of them as the morning star of eternity. Here too the emblem shall be fulfilled, for His light will shine after darkness. To every Christian, the brightest, the happiest, the most devoted, there is a sense in which life ends in darkness. The passage from time into eternity is a dark passage. The Christian must enter it alone, and pursue it, it may be, with failing eye and fainting step. There is no night so deep as that of the valley of the shadow of death. But here the last victory over darkness is achieved. "Light is thus sown in the righteous" when the departing spirit is gathered home. And when the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the mighty shadow of the judgment throne falls even upon the redeemed in awe and solemn dread, shall not this bright and morning star rest upon the head of Him who is at once their Judge and Advocate, so that they shall "rise to meet Him, free of fear"? Now has come a world of which it is written, "And there shall be no night there," "the Lord God giveth them light, and the Lamb is the light thereof."

II. I remark, THAT CHRIST IS TO HIS PEOPLE THE MORNING STAR OF TIME, AND WILL BE TO THEM THE MORNING STAR OF ETERNITY, BECAUSE HIS LIGHT TRANSCENDS ALL COMPARISON. No one can mistake the morning star in the firmament or confound it with any other orb. It shines pre-eminent and alone. In the words of Milton, it "flames in the forehead of the morning sky." Thus it is with Christ.

1. Christ is preeminent in His titles. Some of these are shared with others; but what a stamp of peculiarity is set upon them as applied to Christ! Is He the Son of God? Then He is His "only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father." is He the Angel of God? Then He is "made so much better than the angels, as He hath obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than they." Is He the Mediator? Then He is "the one Mediator between God and men." Is He the Saviour? Then there is salvation in no other, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

2. Christ is pre-eminent in His offices. As a Prophet, He brings revelation from the highest heaven. As a Priest, He offers the alone and perfect sacrifice. As a King, He is without example.

3. Christ is pre-eminent in His history. To Him all history converges, and in His own it is summed up and transcended. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah; He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley; He is the Pearl of Great Price; He is the Plant of Renown; He is the Bread of Life; He is the precious Corner-stone.

4. What Christ is to His people, He is alone. We have many friends, but only one Redeemer; many earthly helpers, but only One who delivers our souls from the lowest hell. The succour that we receive from others in the things of salvation, so far from disturbing Christ's pre-eminence, only confirms it. The unity which the soul of man receives through Christ is as great a proof of adaptation and design as anything in the outer world. The heart of man needs something to engross it, an object on which it can concentrate all its affections without self-reproach, and which by its admitted sway brings unity into its existence, and concord into all its purposes and aspirations. Now as Christ has fulfilled this end in time, so shall He yet more by His gloriously asserted and devoutly recognised pre-eminence fulfil it to endless ages. His supremacy shall then be disclosed as on earth, in its brightest manifestation, it never yet has been. The morning star shall then shine forth unsullied by a cloud. What new displays of grace and glory Christ in these new circumstances shall make, it is not given to us to know. And while the morning star shall thus emit new and dazzling rays, oh, how different the impression of delight and rapture which His pre-eminence shall make then on His own people from what it made here! Then there shall be no darkness of ignorance or unbelief to hide His beams — no sin, or world, or self, to divide the heart with Him — no creature worship to impair His ascendency — no coldness and lukewarmness even in the Church to damp the rising flame of love and adoration! Love and adoration shall be spontaneous and irresistible.

III. I remark, THAT CHRIST IS THE MORNING STAR OF TIME, AND WILL BE THE MORNING STAR OF ETERNITY, BECAUSE HIS LIGHT USHERS IN PERPETUAL DAY. It is the property of the morning star to be the day's harbinger. Other stars rise and shine and set, and leave the darkness still behind them. Hence Christ is not compared to the evening star, though it be in itself as bright as that of the morning, and indeed the same; because in that case the associations would be too gloomy, and the victory would seem to remain for a time on the side of darkness. True, the Christian may be in darkness even after Christ has risen upon him, but it is only "the cloudy and dark day" — it is no more "the black and dark night." The dawn may be overcast, but the day still proceeds. Day still penetrates through the crevices of your unbelief into the dungeon of your despondency; and you are startled in your self-made gloom and solitude by rays that travel from beyond the icy atmosphere from a higher luminary, though you refuse to go forth to them.

(J. Cairns, D. D.)

He who speaks is Jesus Himself.

1. He speaks as a promiser. It is to something future that He points the eye of His Churches — the things "not seen," the "things hoped for."

2. He speaks as a giver. "I will give." He has been a giver from the first.

3. He speaks to the overcomers. Though the gifts are not wages, yet they depend on our winning a battle. They are something beyond mere salvation.

4. He speaks of the morning star. This is His promised gift, and a very glorious one it is.(1) What it is naturally. It is not any star that appears in the morning, but one — one "bright particular star" — a star which, above all others, is known for its splendour, and is connected with the departure of the night and the arrival of the day. It says, Night is done: day is coming; the sun is about to rise.(2) What it is symbolically. Christ Jesus — He is the Star. He is the giver and the gift; as if He said, "I will give him Myself as the morning star." Bright and fair to look upon; attractive and glorious; joy of the traveller, or the sailor, or the night-watch.(3) What it is prophetically. We get Christ, in believing, just now, but we do not get Him as the morning star. That is yet to come.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.
These words are a strong and general appeal to the reason and understanding of all unprejudiced and impartial men.

1. The phrase, "Let him hear," is an authoritative expression, becoming the majesty of God, and the weight and dignity of what is spoken by His command. And if they refuse or neglect to hear, and will be at no pains to examine into the true nature and end of religion, it is no hurt to Him, but to themselves only.

2. As these words express the authority of God, in requiring men to attend, so they do further denote His goodness likewise, in proposing to men, universally and plainly, the doctrine and the way of life.

3. The other phrase in the text, "He that hath an ear," signifies he that hath understanding, that hath ability, that hath capacity to apprehend what is spoken (Matthew 19:12). To have an ear, in the Scripture-sense, means to have an understanding free and unprejudiced, open to attend unto, and apt to receive the truth. And the want of it is not like the want of natural parts and abilities, pitiable and compassionable, but faulty and deserving of severe reproof (Mark 8:17, 18).

4. The capacity men have, and the indispensable obligation they are under, to hearken to and obey what God delivers to them.

I. GOD, THE GREAT CREATOR AND RIGHTEOUS GOVERNOR AND MERCIFUL JUDGE OF THE WHOLE EARTH, OFFERS TO ALL MEN THE GRACIOUS TERMS AND POSSIBILITIES OF SALVATION. God speaks to men originally, by the light of nature, by the order and proportions of things, by the voice of reason, by the dictates of conscience.

II. THIS OFFER, THOUGH GRACIOUSLY MADE TO ALL, YET IN EVENT BECOMES EFFECTUAL TO THOSE ONLY WHO ARE QUALIFIED AND CAPABLE TO RECEIVE IT. Light introduced upon any object supposes always that there be eyes to view and to discern it by that light. The sound of a voice, or the use of speech, supposes always that men have ears to hear what the speaker uttereth. And, in matters of religion, God's offering to men certain terms or conditions of salvation supposes in like manner a certain moral disposition in the mind, which causes it to have a regard to things of that nature, to have a sense and relish of things relating to morality; otherwise men would, in their nature, be no more capable of religion than beasts.

1. That disposition of mind which qualifies men to receive the terms of salvation is somewhat which the Scripture always speaks of as a matter of singular excellency, and worthy of great commendation. It is an eminent gift, or grace, of God.

2. Wherein consists this excellent temper and disposition of mind.

(1)Attentiveness or consideration.

(2)A delight in examining into truth and light, a taking pleasure at all times in beholding the light and in hearing the voice of reason.

(3)Moral probity, sincerity, and integrity of mind.

(4)A readiness to hearken to the voice of revelation as well as of reason.

3. What are the opposite qualities, or chief hindrances, which generally prevent the offers of salvation from being effectually embraced?

(1)Carelessness and want of attention.

(2)Prejudice or prepossession.

(3)Perverseness and obstinacy.

(4)The greatest impediment is a love of vice.

III. That they who want an ear, they who want the dispositions necessary to their receiving this gracious offer of salvation, or are prevented by any of the hindrances which render it ineffectual, are always very severely reproved in Scripture, plainly DENOTING IT TO BE ENTIRELY THEIR OWN FAULT THAT THEY HAVE NOT EARS TO HEAR. The reason is because these necessary dispositions are not natural but moral qualifications, and the contrary impediments are not natural but moral defects. And though, in Scripture-phrase, it is to the delusions of Satan that this moral incapacity of men is frequently ascribed, yet this is never spoken by way of excuse, but always, on the contrary, of high aggravation.

IV. THAT, SINCE THE SCRIPTURE ALWAYS EXPRESSLY LAYS THE BLAME UPON MEN'S SELVES, HENCE CONSEQUENTLY ALL THOSE PASSAGES WHEREIN GOD IS AT ANY TIME REPRESENTED AS BLINDING MEN'S EYES, OR CLOSING THEIR EARS, OR HARDENING THEIR HEARTS, OR TAKING AWAY THEIR UNDERSTANDING FROM THEM, MUST OF NECESSITY BE UNDERSTOOD TO BE FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS ONLY, not denoting literally what God actually effects by His power, but what by His providence He justly and wisely permits.

1. Some of these sorts of expressions denote only the general analogy or fitness of the thing to be done.

2. Some other expressions of this kind are only figurative acknowledgments of the universal superintendency of Providence over all events, without whose permission nothing happens in the world.

3. Some other expressions of this kind are only applications of prophecies or declarations of certain prophecies being fulfilled (Jude 1:4 1 Peter 2:8). Not appointed of God to be wicked, but foretold by the ancient prophets that such persons would arise. Of the like sense are the following (Daniel 12:10; 2 Timothy 3:13; Revelation 17:17).

4. To be denunciations or threatenings or God's justly and in judicial manner leaving incorrigible men to themselves, after many repeated provocations (Ezekiel 24:13).

(S. Clarke, D. D.).

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