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A Few Final Considerations 

There has been no attempt to exhaust any of the material presented here. In fact, what has been presented has been presented with the hope that it will encourage believers to study these things for themselves—to study church history, especially the history of the persecution that true believers have suffered at the hands of the recognized, organized, institutional church throughout any age of history.

Before leaving the subject however, it does seem useful to revisit the passage as a whole and point out some often overlooked truths that are consistent throughout, as well as to clear up some common misinterpretations of some of the key terms and reoccurring themes in these two chapters of Revelation.


First of all, having looked closely at all of the seven letters, it will become obvious that the term “overcomers” in each of the letters is being used by the Lord in a rather unexpected way. The casual reader will infer that the term is used to denote “Christians” generally, and that the promises here are to Christians who have overcome sin, the world, and the devil.

In context, however, it will become clear that in fact the Lord is speaking to the believers in each age who have overcome the fallacies and heresies predominate in the churches mentioned. For example, in the first letter the overcomers are those who have managed not to lose their first love. In the third letter, the overcomers are those who have not gone the way of Balac; in the fourth, those who have not learned the ways of Jezebel and the deep things of Satan; in the fifth, those who have not “defiled their garments” with the dead orthodoxy and institutions handed down from the papal system to the Reformation; in the seventh, those who hear the voice of the Lord knocking at the door and allow Him to enter.

The overcomers mentioned in the letter to the Church at Smyrna and the letter to the Church at Philadelphia have won the victory over persecution; in the first case, the persecution of Rome, and in the second, persecution at the hand of the established, institutionalized amillennial churches who claim to be “the Israel of God” but who lie.


One of the things the Lord repeatedly rebukes the churches for is for allowing false doctrine and spiritual fornication to be incorporated into what is supposed to be the Lord’s Body. This is especially true during the period from Constantine to the time of the Reformation when blatant idolatry is not only tolerated but taught in the “church.” It can also be seen that much of the blame for this lies at the feet of the Nicolaitans. This is the group within the church that sees itself as an elite group of superior training, knowledge, and spiritual understanding that takes upon itself the responsibility for teaching the “laity” the things of God. When these men go wrong, they steer the entire ship off course, and that is why the Lord did not intend for believers to be under the domination of a few men who often take more stock of their scholarship and knowledge of the original languages than they do of their personal relationship with the Lord.

It is the rise and acceptance of the Nicolaitans—a professional, paid clergy—that has resulted in so many of the other problems we see in the churches, which include false doctrine and false worship. Yet in spite of this clear teaching in the Book of Revelation, these men remain firmly entrenched and firmly in control of the visible, institutionalized church today.

Jews, Lying Jews, Synagogue of Satan

These often difficult to exposit passages become much easier to understand and explain if one looks at them in the light of a conflict between amillennial theology and premillennial theology throughout the course of church history. If we interepret those who “say they are Jews and are not” (Rev. 2:9; Rev. 3:9) as those believe and teach that the church has replaced Israel in God’s divine “Plan for the Ages,” the messages are consistent with the rebukes to those churches which are not expecting the Lord to return to this earth to establish His own physical, literal Kingdom.

Many people are confused by a passage in Romans chapter 2 where Paul speaks of those who are Jews “inwardly,” and the circumcision of the heart, and the spirit (vv 28-29). It is from this passage that the term “spiritual Jew” originates, although the term does not appear in the passage.

In the context, Paul has been speaking only of Jews and Gentiles throughout the passage. What he is really saying is that the Old Testament Jew had no more promise of salvation than a Gentile if he was not a believer. Simply having the law would not save him if he did not believe in it and act on it. Paul is asking, “Would not God accept a Gentile who obeyed the law he had written in his heart before he would accept a Jew who disobeyed the law given by Moses?”

A careful study will reveal that in chapter 2 Paul is speaking of the Old Testament world. Jews and Gentiles. There are no Christians around because Christ doesn’t show up and die on the cross until Romans chapter 3 verse 21, where he introduces the common era with the phrase, “But now…” That word “now” in verse 21 is the great watershed of Holy Writ. It brings us into a new age. In this age, there is not only Gentile and Jew, there is the Body of Christ, which according to the same apostle, is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28).

Therefore, there is no room for a Christian in the church age to go around saying he is a Jew, that the church is Israel, or anything like that. If he does, he is either woefully misinformed, or he is a liar. In either case, he is spiritualizing (eliminating) the promises God has made in regard to Israel, to Jerusalem, and to Zion, the city of the King who is still to come, and who will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15). He is the Root and Offspring of David, and the government shall be on His shoulder, and of the increase of His government there shall be no end.

Other references to eschatological theology

Again, one cannot help but point out that in spite of the oft expressed attitude that eschatology is a “non issue,” that it isn’t worthy of discussion or debate, if read correctly the Letters to the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation are all about eschatology. Perhaps the most practical lesson we learn from this study is that if your church teaches the church will go through the Tribulation, most likely your church will! If your church teaches there will be no Rapture and no Tribulation, and no Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth, someone is trying to “steal your crown” (Rev. 3:11), which is the crown Paul promised would be given to “all that love His appearing” (II Tim. 4:8). How can you love His appearing if your church teaches He is not going to appear at all?!

It is time for all the eschatological fence sitters to come down on one side this issue or the other. Now that you’ve seen what the Lord’s side is, which side do you want to come down on?

Unity in the Body of Christ

Finally, it is very easy to misunderstand what has been said here in regards to the unity of the Body of Christ. Some will see this as an attack on the Roman Catholic Church, the mainline denominations, and the charismatic movement. It may be, but as they say, we didn’t write the letters to these churches, the Lord did.

The attack then, if there be any, is not against individuals who happen to be associated with any of these communities, but with the systems themselves. It needs to be clearly stated again and again that the scripture and love of Christ compel us to accept all who name the Name of Christ, and to recognize that all who are accepted of Christ are of one Body, and that there are absolutely no grounds for any division between brothers and sisters in Christ.

This, then, is one of the major failings of all of the churches mentioned above. Or, as one of the early brethren writers said, the problem with the state churches (the Catholic and mainline denominations) is that because admission to the church is through birth and infant baptism, they treat many who are known not to be Christ’s as though they were, making the gate to the Kingdom wider than the Lord has made it; and the error of the dissenting churches (post-reformation denominations) is that they treat many who are known to be Christ’s as if they were not, but rather regard them as gentiles or heathen because they are not of their membership, therefore making the gate to the Kingdom more narrow than Christ has made it.

Our goal in our gatherings, whether held in church buildings or living rooms, should be to respect the same gate the Lord has made. All who are accepted of Christ are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Period. Amen.

We do not judge another’s spirituality on the basis of the denomination, church, association, or fellowship they are associated with. We do not even judge their relationship with the Lord, (and ultimately to ourselves) on the basis of their knowledge of scripture, or any particular interpretation of scripture.

That is to say, a brother in Christ is a brother in Christ, be he amillennial, premillennial, or if there be any other thing in between. To paraphrase Anthony Norris Groves, our fellowship is based on a common life from the Lord of the Scripture, not common light on the scripture. They may choose to divide themselves from us, but we must never purposefully or intentionally cause ourselves to be divided from any. Again, to paraphrase Paul, the love and tender mercies of Christ constrain us. We cannot do otherwise—any more than a hand can reject a finger, or a face it’s nose.

And so we have reached the bottom line. The Lord is coming soon. Let us love each other and edify each other and build each other up as we endeavor to exhibit the unity that exists in the Body of Christ on the other side of the wall of Time and Space, where we all are seated with Him in heavenly places. I assure you there is no special seating for the Baptists, and none for the Methodists, and none for the Presbyterians. There is but one seat and we are all seated together in One Body. May we give the Lord glory and honor here and now by practicing the same on earth!

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