The second part of the covenant treaty is the prologue, which emphasized the history of the king’s relationship with his subjects, stressing the benefits given by him and the positive or negative responses shown by his subjects (Kline, “Treaty of the Great King”, pp. 56ff). Each of the seven letters to the seven churches now follows this same covenantal pattern at a micro-level: Christ’s lordship over each church is firstly emphasized, then the individual churches record of faithfulness or unfaithfulness is mentioned, ethical challenges are issued, and finally warnings of punishment and promises of blessing are given. In this case, a commission to conquer is also given to each church (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29, 3:5, 12, 21).
The history of the covenant is covered in a unique way in this section. The fashionable teaching that the seven churches represent seven eras in the history of the church, though incorrect in so many ways, is correct in at least one aspect. The seven letters do cover seven time eras, and those eras are the seven eras of Old Testament history. The letter to the Ephesian church emphasizes the era of the garden. The letter to Smyrna emphasizes the era of the patriarchs. The letter to Pergamum alludes to the time Israel spent in the wilderness. The letter to Thyatira speaks of the early part of the Israelite monarchy. The letter to Sardis takes its imagery from the later part of the Israelite monarchy. The letter to Philadelphia tells us of the return from the Babylonian exile. Finally, the Laodicean letter emphasizes the period of the last days of the old covenant leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
T H E L E T T E R T O E P H E S U S : J U D G E M E N T O N T H E F A L S E A P O S T L E S ( R e v 2: 1- 7 )
1. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The one who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks ¡among the seven golden lamp stands, says this: 2. ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and have found them to be false. 3. And you have perseverance, and have endured for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4. ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5. ‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first, or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lamp stand out of its place- unless you repent. 6. ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the N1Colaitans, which I also hate. 7. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’”
Here we see images taken from the Garden of Eden. Christ walks among the seven golden lamp stands just as God ‘ walked among the trees of the garden. The angel, like Adam, has fallen, having left his first love. Yet to those who do repent and do the things they did at first, Christ will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
The city of Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor. In politics, trade, culture and religion it dominated the region. Its temple to Dianna, the goddess of fertility, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was also a city full of moral depravity (Eph 4:17-19, 5:3-12). Yet Christ, through Paul’s ministry (Ac 19), had established His church there and eventually that church would come to dominate the life of the city.
The Ephesian church was known for its hard work, perseverance and intolerance of false teachers. The leaders were willing to take a strong stand for orthodoxy, and they knew the importance of excommunication. Yet the church’s desire for sound doctrine had become perverted into a hardening up against other believers who differed, therefore they had left their first love. Some would say we are dealing here with a ‘doctrine versus love’ issue. Not so, Christ challenges the Ephesian leader to repent and “do the deeds you did at first”. Love was very much a part of the early life of the Ephesian congregation but they had fallen. He wanted both sound doctrine and a flow of love, love being Christian actions that fulfilled the ethical laws of scripture (Mt 22:34-40, Ro 13:8-10, Jn 14: 15, 21, 23). Scripture describes love as neither an emotion nor state of mind; it is obedience to God’s commands. The Ephesian church knew this truth but they were not obeying it.
But they had one redeeming virtue, they hated the N1Colaitans. The second-century bishop St Irenaeus wrote that N1Colas was a deacon who practiced adultery and eating of things sacrificed to idols and taught others to do the same (St Irenaeus, “Against Heresies”, i.xxvi.3, in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., “The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eredmans, (1885), 1973), p.352}. The name ‘N1Colas’ means ‘conqueror of the people’. Balaam, mentioned in John’s third letter, also means ‘foreign conqueror of the people’ and the two sins associated with Balaam are the same as those mentioned for N1Colas. The sins of Jezebel mentioned in the fourth letter are also sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols. It seems that idolatry and sexual perversion were common traps for the early churches. They are still common traps today. God’s judgment is upon those who practice and teach such sins. God is telling His church in Ephesus in no uncertain terms to be on guard. Their orders were clear: they must overcome. The Greek root for overcome is ‘nikao’, the very root word for N1Colaitan! Christ was challenging the church to overcome and conquer those who sought to overcome and conquer the church (Rev 12:11).
To those who loved, obeyed and overcame, Christ would “grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God”. This tree of life is a picture of life in Christ, as we saw in chapter one. To eat of the tree is to enjoy the blessing and benefits of salvation and eternal life both in this life and in the next. In Christ, the overcoming Christian has been returned to the Garden of Eden. Through the first Adam, Paradise was lost. In the second Adam (1Co 15:45), Paradise is restored. What the first Adam lost is that which the Christian has gained. God’s original purpose is back on track and His glory will soon fill the world as it did in the beginning. Eden is coming.
THE LETTER TO SMYRNA: JUDGMENT ON THE FALSE ISRAEL (Rev 2:8-11)
8. “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 9. ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10. ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’”
The words of this passage reflect the era of the patriarchs and of the children of Israel in Egypt. The experience of the Smyrnaeans in being poor yet rich is analogous to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who all lived as aliens in the land of promise (Heb 11:19). Just as Isaac was persecuted at the hands of his brother Ishmael, so this church was being persecuted at the hands of false Jews. The danger of imprisonment confronted some members of the congregation as it did Joseph at the hands of a slanderer. As the Smynraeans suffered and went to prison, so the Israelites suffered in the prison of Egypt for 400 years. The 10 days of persecution run parallel to the 10 plagues visited upon Egypt before the deliverance of Israel. Finally, the crown of life is symbolised in the crown that the high priest wore in the tabernacle, which was set up just after the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.
Smyrna was a suffering church. As well as the highly intolerant cult of emperor-worship that existed in Ephesus, the local believers in Smyrna had to contend with what was the most consistent form of satanic opposition confronted by the early church, apostate Jews. Here they are called the synagogue of Satan. A quick glance at the book of Acts shows up much of the evil perpetrated by these so called sons of Abraham (Ac 4:1-2, 17-21, 5:17-40, 6:12-14, 7:54-58, 8:1-3, 21:27-36, 23:1-10.) They had not only the blood of Christ on their hands, but the blood of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of early believers. It was war to the death, so Christ reassures his saints in Smyrna that they will be victorious over death just as He has come to life again.
A popular modern myth holds that the Jewish people still have a special place in the heart and plan of God. This shows a lack of understanding of God and the covenant Christ brought into being. Christ Himself said that if a Jew does not believe in Him, that Jew does not believe Moses either (Jn 5:46). There is no such thing as an orthodox Jew unless he is a Christian. Paul entered the debate by stating he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (Ro 2:28-29). Who is the true Jew? He or she who has been clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), who is a member of the royal priesthood (1Pe 2:9), who has the laws of God written on their heart (Heb 8:10), who is a citizen in the New Jerusalem (Gal 4:25-26), whose heart has been circumcised (Ro 2:28-29), and who enters into the true Holy of Holies to worship God (Heb 10:19).
Although many local believers were about to be thrown into prison by the false Jews and Romans, the real culprit was a desperate, fighting Satan. Christ encourages the believers to appreciate the dimensions of the conflict and to take heart. Persecution was a sign of progress and victory. Satan only persecutes when threatened, and the early church represented Satan’s worst-case scenario: the kingdom of God on the march, bursting open the gates of hell (Mt 16:18) and setting the captives free (Heb 2:14-15). Today’s hot spots of persecution represent tomorrow’s victories in the making.
Even as Satan marched around like a roaring lion seeking someone in Smyrna to devour, he was actually doing the church some good. God allows Satan to touch His people at times so as to test them. This happened to Job (Job 1-2) and also to Peter, so that his big mouth would be tamed (Lk 22:31). Now we see the same thing happening to the believers at Smyrna. All things were working for their good (Ro 8:28). God allows this seeming contradiction to teach us valuable lessons that we would otherwise not learn, to bring us to maturity, and to teach us how to use our weapons. To those Smyrnaeans who were faithful, even to the point of death, and passed the test, there was waiting a glorious crown of life, the hope of every Christian.
We have in this verse an interesting statement concerning the Smyrnaeans not being hurt by the second death. There are two deaths: Christians face the first, rebels face both. There are also two resurrections: the first is usually called salvation, the second is our entry into heaven after death. Paul said in Ephesians 2:4-6 that God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in. our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Baptism pictures this same resurrection process with our old life buried in the water and our life with Christ resurrected as we emerge from the water (Ro 6:4-11). Salvation, then, is the first resurrection, our entry into heaven after death is the second resurrection. If we refuse the call to salvation, there awaits both a physical death and a second spiritual death.
But Christ warns the Smyrnaean church that faithfulness must proceed right to the point of death. We must pass all tests. We must finish the race. We must overcome. We must be true until our dying breath. All who slip away under pressure, who turn from the truth, are in danger of facing the second death (Heb 10:26-31, 2Pe 2:20-22). Backsliders slide a lot more after death than they do in this life!
THE LETTER TO PERGAMUM: JUDGMENT ON THE FALSE PROPHET AND GODLESS KING (Rev 2:12-17)
12. “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 13.‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is, and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14. ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. 15.‘Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the N1Colaitans. 16. ‘Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’”
The imagery of the deliverance from Egypt portrayed in the last letter is continued in this letter. Here the theme is Israel in the wilderness. The enemies of this church are described as Balaam and Balak, the false prophet and king who tried to deceive Israel in the wilderness. To those who overcome Christ promises the hidden manna, the food that sustained the Israelites for 40 years in the desert. They are also promised a white stone with a new name written on it, which was the emblem worn by the high priest (Ex 28:9-12).
Pergamum was a city that held Satan’s throne, and after reading about the synagogue of Satan in the last letter we get some idea of what John was talking about. Pergamum was the worst place of all for Jewish opposition to the infant church. Pergamum, of all the seven cities, was also the most devoted to the cult of emperor-worship, having many magnificent temples devoted to both the emperor and to the state (Robert H. Mounce, “The Book of Revelation”, (Grand Rapids: Eredmans, 1977), p.96). Later in the book of Revelation, John describes the Jews as
the harlot that rides on the beast of Rome, so it is fitting that here in Pergamum, where both Jewish bigotry and Roman deification were strongest, he should tell us Satan has made his headquarters and that the cold-blooded murder of believers is taking place. Counterbalancing this shocking news was the announcement that Christ holds the double-edged sword. The sword not only stands for the Word of God, as we saw earlier, but it was also a symbol of ultimate authority in an age when the sword was the ultimate weapon (Ro 13:3-4). Christ is telling the Pergamum believers that He alone has ultimate authority over humanity (Mt 28:18), not Satan or his Roman and Jewish stooges.
Persecution was one form of attack against the believers that was obviously not working. Satan had begun a second more subtle and insidious form of attack: corruption from within through heresy and lust. The perpetrators are called Balaam and Balak, very appropriate names indeed. When it was discovered that the people of God could not be destroyed in open battle, the false prophet Balaam suggested to Balak, king of Moab that the only way to destroy Israel was to corrupt them through sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols (Nu 22-25). We see the same kind of battles being fought today. In the third world, there is open persecution and martyrdom. In the western countries we see heresy and lust within the doors of most churches.
The Pergamum believers were told to repent, to turn away completely in both thought and action from the satanic influences that were within their church. Repentance is not just a state of mind nor a change of action but both. Both are demanded of anyone who would come to a saving knowledge of Christ (Isa 55:7, Lk 13:33, Ac 3:19). If there was no repentance forthcoming from the Pergamum church, Christ warned that He would come as a judge and fight against the heretics. He was offering them one last chance to change and then they would be judged, not at the end of the world or at the second coming, but in the next few years. Just as God used a sword against Balaam and Balak (Nu 22:31, 31:8), so He would bring a real physical judgment upon these men.
The overcomer in Pergamum was promised a gift of hidden manna which is Christ Himself, the bread that gives eternal life (Jn 6:30-51). They were also promised a white stone with a new name on it which was known only to its owner. The symbolism comes from Isaiah 56:5 and 62:2, where the covenant faithful are promised a new name. A name represents an identity and as partakers of the new covenant, Christians get a new name, that is, a new identity given by Christ himself.
T H E L E T T E R T O T H Y A T I R A : J U D G E M E N T O N T H E R O Y A L H A R L O T ( R e v 2 : 1 8 – 2 9 )
18. “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 19. ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20. ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads my bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21. ‘And I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22. ‘Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts, and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24. ‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them-1 place no other burden on you. 25. ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come 26. ‘And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS, 27. ‘AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father, 28.‘and I will give him the morning star. 29. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
John now turns to imagery from the era of the Israelite monarchy. The leader of the church is rebuked for his toleration of a woman called Jezebel, a wicked queen of ancient Israel who plotted evil on a large scale during the time of the monarchy. Just as Jezebel’s children were struck dead (2Ki 9:6-10), so the followers of this deceiver would be struck dead. The promise to those who overcome is the same as that given to David: Authority over the nations (2Sa 8:1-14, Ps 18:46-50, 89:20-29). David’s messianic Psalm is quoted as the concluding promise to the Thyatiran believers.
To be a faithful Christian in Thyatira meant hardship and suffering. The trade guilds controlled the economy of the city and being unemployed and unemployable in the midst of a booming economy must have made life hard. People thought these new followers of The Way were weird because they did not burn incense to Caesar, eat the meat offered to the gods, or sleep around like everyone else. In the middle of such a satanic pressure-cooker, the local believers were excelling. The hard times were making them stronger, their deeds of late were greater than at first. Their love was increasing and their faith was like steel.
However, the faithfulness and love of the Thyatiran believers was marred by their toleration of heresy and immorality. The Thyatirans were the opposite of the doctrinally correct but cold Ephesians. These evils were not accepted, just tolerated. A church that tolerates immorality and false doctrine is a church heading for judgment. Church leaders must be strong enough to bite the bullet and deal with the people who push and practice evil within their church. These people are usually strong-willed, stubborn, sly and dominating, so church leaders must be forever vigilant. In fact, they must be intolerant. Biblical Christianity must, by its very nature, be highly intolerant. Ephesians 5:11 gives us such a mandate. It challenges us not only to be intolerant of evil but to expose the deeds of darkness. Too many churches today are tolerating evil within their flocks and failing to expose the dark deeds of the society around them. Pornography, abortion, messianic big government, corruption, immorality, materialism, greed, hedonism and heresy are all on God’s hit-list. The message to Thyatira is relevant to our age.
God is gracious and patient, even toward those who rebel against him. He gave Jezebel time to repent and He does the same for us today when we temporarily turn away from His loving kindness. Yet Jezebel abused the patience of God, so Christ basically says: “You want to go to bed with her. Very well, here is a deathbed for you unless you repent of her deeds.”
The fact that Christ says I will strike the children of Jezebel dead is a stern reminder that Christianity is not milk and honey. There is a price to pay in this life for those who tread underfoot the grace of God. People sometimes say the God of the Old Testament was a God of vengeance and judgment, but that the God of the New Testament is a God of grace and love. But God is not a man that He should change His mind or character (Isa 15:29, Ps 110:4, Mai 3:6, Heb 7:21, Jas 1:17). God showed His grace and justice in the Old Testament era and He does the same in our era. That is the very essence of the book of Revelation: Christ saves and Christ judges, Christ holds the double-edged sword.
How would Christ judge this local church? What standard would He use? The answer is in verse 23. The Thyatirans would be judged by their deeds, which means their actions, their lifestyle and the things done in the body (Ps 62:2, Jer 17:10, Mt 7:21-29, 16:27, 19:17, Jn 5:28-29, Ro 2:7-9, 2Co 5:10, Gal 6:9, Eph 2:10, 1Ti 4:16, Heb 4:11, Jas 2:14, 1Pe 1:14-17, Rev 20:12). The simple message of the Gospel is that we are saved by God’s grace, and it is that grace that propels us into a life of obedience, holiness, righteous living, sanctification, service, compassion and good works. Christians, indeed, everyone, will be judged on the basis of their obedience or disobedience to God’s righteous commands, these are the deeds being spoken of here.
It seems that Jezebel was dabbling very heavily in the occult while still attending church. She was into the deep things of Satan, as they call them. Witchcraft in the name of Christianity is not such an uncommon practice. It is a power religion and power religion has always had a strong attraction for the naive and adventurous. The lust for power was what drove Satan, and he now offers that same sense of occult power for those who would sell their soul to him. Millions all over the world do just that, and those within the church who slide into immorality have taken the first step to opening themselves up to demonic powers. Even the power gifts of the Holy Spirit can be abused. One of the dangers of the modern Charismatic movement is that the power gifts of God can take precedence over holiness and obedience, a situation Satan loves and Christ deplores (Mt 7:21-29).
Christ makes a startling promise to those Thyatirians who overcome all of these depressing situations. He says that He will give them authority over the nations. Christ can make this promise because He rules the nations, and Psalm 2:8-9 is quoted here to remind the Thyatirans of this fact. In the light of Psalm 2, the deep things of Satan look laughable, the truly deep secrets belong to God and this is one of them!
Some teach that Psalm 2 refers to the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. However, this is not the orthodox interpretation. In Acts 4:23-28, we find some believers praying a prayer of thanksgiving for the release of Peter and John from prison. In the middle of their prayer, they quote Psalm 2:1-2 and then declare it to be fulfilled at the first coming of the Lord. It is no accident that Psalm 2 is the most-quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It declares the New Testament reality of Christ as universal King of the nations, which must have been a great source of encouragement to all the churches, Thyatira included, that received the various apostolic letters in which it is quoted.
Christ then says in verse 27 that He has received authority from His Father. This is a very modest way of stating what had actually happened. When Christ rose triumphant from the grave and ascended to the throne room of heaven He was given authority over all of heaven and earth. The Father rewarded the Son for His successful mission to earth by handing over responsibility and authority for the government of both spheres of the Kingdom.Daniel describes the handing over ceremony in Daniel 7:13-14, and Christ declares His new authority in Matthew 28:18. He who had spiritual ears was to hear or grasp the full significance of these revolutionary truths.
T H E L E T T E R T O S A R D I S : J U D G E M E N T O N T H E D E A D ( R e v 3 : 1 – 6 )
1. “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die, for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3. ‘Remember therefore what you have received and heard, and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. 4. ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5. ‘He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. 6. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
The language of this letter reflects the period of the latter monarchy, during which the Israelites were falling away from God’s commandments and were threatened with exile by the prophets. As with Israel, this church had a reputation for life but was dead. There were a few who were remaining faithful to the church leaders, just as there was a remnant of faithful Israelites (Isa 1:5-23, 6:9-13, 65:8-16, Jer 7:1-7, 8:11-12, Eze 37:1-14). The warning of imminent judgment given to the Sardis congregation also has its roots in the multitude of warnings given to Israel by the prophets (Isa 1:24-31, 26:20-21, Jer 4:5-31, 7:12-15, 11:9-13, Eze 6-7, Mic l:2-7, Zep 1).
The seven Spirits of God is the Holy Spirit (Rev 1:4). The seven stars are the seven leaders of the seven churches (Rev 1:16, 1:20).
Sardis was a church that everybody thought was going somewhere, the type that today would attract all the metropolitan church gypsies. But this busy, seemingly growing church was spiritually stone dead. Today, we tend to think of a dead church as one that has a stagnant congregation of older people, a lack of stimulating programs, or a boring pastor. This is not what is being talked about here; rather, the church had become one with its surrounding culture. It had become secularised and its world view was no different from that of its surrounding culture. As a dead church, it experienced neither theological controversy nor persecution. Here was a religious club full of Sunday Christians.
At this point, some members of the local congregation would no doubt have been complaining about their letter. “What are you scolding us for? We haven’t done anything!” And that was precisely the point. They had once received good quality teaching but had grown comfortable and cozy. They are told to recall the original teaching and obey it and repent. If they fail to repent, Christ promises to come as a thief and deal with the church. No, we are not dealing with the second coming but another localised historical judgment.
There were a few people who had not caved in to the surrounding culture. They are described as not having soiled their garments. Clothing is a well known symbol for righteousness in scripture and the imagery dates back to Eden. Adam and Eve’s first realization that they were sinners was the knowledge of their nakedness. God graciously clothed them through the shedding of innocent blood. Their nakedness, and by association their sin, was covered by animal skins. This was a foretaste of the sacrificial system that was to come, culminating in the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God. Because of this primordial imagery, clothing is associated throughout the Bible with right standing with God, while nakedness is associated with sin (Job 29:14, Ps 132:16, Isa 52:1, 61:10, Eze 16, 23, Ze 3:4, Mt 22:11, Rev 3:18, 4:4, 7:9). The fact that the clothes mentioned in this letter are white is also significant: Christ is perfectly righteous so His robe is perfectly white. When we are married to the Bridegroom in salvation, we partake of Christ’s righteousness and our clothes are also made pure white. These pure-white wedding clothes (Rev 19:7-8) are the root of the western tradition of the white wedding-dress.
The next statement has created a lot of debate over the two thousand years since Christ made it. He says: “I will not erase his name from the book of life.” There are several schools of thought on this issue. Some say that once a person is saved, they are always saved regardless of the sins committed after salvation. The Calvinists preach that those who fall away were never really saved in the first place, and that those who have been predestined to salvation will be faithful to the end. The Armenians teach that those who have been truly saved can be truly lost if they truly turn away from an obedient walk. Regardless of your position, it is clear from the messages to the seven churches that each one of us must do all we can to walk along the narrow road and to keep our robes from being soile