He that hath an ear, let him hear - Mr. Wesley has a very judicious note on the conclusion of this chapter, and particularly on this last verse, He that hath an ear, etc. "This (counsel) stands in three former letters before the promise, in the four latter after it; clearly dividing the seven into two parts, the first containing three, the last four letters. The titles given our Lord in the three former letters peculiarly respect his power after his resurrection and ascension, particularly over his Church; those in the four latter, his Divine glory and unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Again, this word being placed before the promises in the three former letters excludes the false apostles at Ephesus, the false Jews at Smyrna, and the partakers with the heathens at Pergamos, from having any share therein. In the four latter, being placed after them, it leaves the promises immediately joined with Christ's address to the angel of the Church, to show that the fulfilling of these was near; whereas the others reach beyond the end of the world. It should be observed that the overcoming or victory (to which alone these peculiar promises are annexed) is not the ordinary victory obtained by every believer, but a special victory obtained over great and peculiar temptations, by those that are strong in faith."
The latest account we have of the state of the seven Asiatic Churches is in a letter from the Rev. Henry Lindsay, chaplain to the British embassy at Constantinople, to a member of the British and Foreign Bible Society, by which society Mr. Lindsay had been solicited to distribute some copies of the New Testament in modern Greek among the Christians in Asia Minor.
The following is his communication, dated: - "Constantinople, January 10, 1816.
"When I last wrote to you, I was on the point of setting out on a short excursion into Asia Minor. Travelling hastily, as I was constrained to do from the circumstances of my situation, the information I could procure was necessarily superficial and unsatisfactory. As, however, I distributed the few books of the society which I was able to carry with me, I think it necessary to give some account of the course I took:
"Thus, sir, I have left at least one copy of the unadulterated word of God at each of the seven Asiatic Churches of the Apocalypse, and I trust they are not utterly thrown away; but whoever may plant, it is God only who can give the increase, and from his goodness we may hope they will in due time bring forth fruit, 'some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.' "Henry Lindsay."
In my note on Acts 19:24; (note), I have given an account of the celebrated temple of Diana at Ephesus, to which building, called one of the seven wonders of the world, St. Paul is supposed to allude in his epistle to this Church, particularly at Ephesians 3:18; (note), where I have again given the measurement of this temple.
He that hath an ear - See the notes on Revelation 2:7.
This closes the epistolary part of this book, and the “visions” properly commence with the next chapter. Two remarks may be made in the conclusion of this exposition:
(1) The first relates to the truthfulness of the predictions in these epistles. is an illustration of that truthfulness, and of the present correspondence of the condition of those churches with what the Saviour said to John they would be, the following striking passage may be introduced from Mr. Gibbon. It occurs in his description of the conquests of the Turks (“Decline and Fall,” iv. 260,261). “Two Turkish chieftains, Sarukhan and Aidin left their names to their conquests, and their conquests to their posterity. The captivity or ruin of the seven churches of Asia was consummated; and the barbarous lords of Ionia and Lydia still trample on the monuments of classic and Christian antiquity. In the loss of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the fall of the first angel, the extinction of the first candlestick of the Revelations: the desolation is complete; and the temple of Diana, or the church of Mary, will equally elude the search of the curious traveler. The circus and three stately theaters of Laodicea are now populated with wolves and foxes; Sardis is reduced to a miserable village; the God of Muhammed, without a rival or a son, is invoked in the mosques of Thyatira and Pergamos; and the populousness of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of Franks and Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy or courage. At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans. Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins; a pleasing example that the paths of honor and safety may sometimes be the same.”
(2) the second remark relates to the applicability of these important truths to us. There is perhaps no part of the New Testament more searching than these brief epistles to the seven churches; and though those to whom they were addressed have long since passed away, and the churches have long since become extinct; though darkness, error, and desolation have come over the places where these churches once stood, yet the principles laid down in these epistles still live, and they are full of admonition to Christians in all ages and all lands. It is a consideration of as much importance to us as it was to these churches, that the Saviour now knows our works; that he sees in the church, and in any individual, all that there is to commend and all that there is to reprove; that he has power to reward or punish now as he had then; that the same rules in apportioning rewards and punishments will still be acted on; that he who overcomes the temptations of the world will find an appropriate reward; that those who live in sin must meet with the proper recompense, and that those who are lukewarm in his service will be spurned with unutterable loathing. His rebukes are awful; but his promises are full of tenderness and kindness. While they who have embraced error, and they who are living in sin, have occasion to tremble before him, they who are endeavoring to perform their duty may find in these epistles enough to cheer their hearts, and to animate them with the hope of final victory, and of the most ample and glorious reward.
We should now be doing our very best to defeat this Sunday law. The best way to do this will be to lift up the law of God and make it stand forth in all its sacredness. This must be done if the truth triumphs.—Letter 58, 1906. CW 98.1
Exalt Not Human Beings—In the night I was earnestly addressing those who are bearing responsibilities of editors and contributors of our periodicals.... If those in charge of our periodicals have no more judgment than to fill the publications with the exaltations of human beings, then let them seek wisdom from God. Your spiritual eyesight needs the heavenly anointing.... In pouring forth an overflow of praise of one whom they do not know, who has not accepted a “Thus saith the Lord” in keeping His commandments, they place themselves where, in the crisis coming upon us, they will have defective discernment as they shall see the good things done by those who will seek to deceive, who will claim to be Christ and prophets sent of God. CW 98.2
Christ says of that time, “If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And again the question is asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Those who use their pen and voice to give such praise to human beings need to have clearer discernment. How much better would it be if this confidence and faith would be exercised toward those who are striving with pen and voice to do the will of God as obedient children, keeping His commandments, not to praise or glorify the individual, but to obey the word of God, to love as brethren, to uproot every fiber of the root of bitterness that they are allowing to spring up.... CW 98.3Read in context »
How much easier it would be to affect the heart and how much more would God be glorified if His servants were free from discouragement and trial, that they might with a free spirit present the truth in its beauty. Those who have been guilty of requiring so much labor of God's servants and burdening them with trials which belong to themselves to settle, will have to give account to God for all the time and means that have been spent to gratify themselves, thereby satisfying the enemy. They should be in a situation to help their brethren. They should never defer their trials and difficulties to burden a whole meeting, or wait until some of the messengers come to settle them; but they should get right before God themselves, have their trials all out of the way, and be prepared when laborers come to hold up their hands instead of weakening them. EW 107.1
*****Read in context »
As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones. I saw angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their power to resist the evil angels and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But His angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them. EW 270.1
I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people. EW 270.2
I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified. EW 270.3Read in context »
Where shall we find the purity, goodness, and holiness where we shall be secure? Where is the fold where no wolves will enter? I tell you ... the Lord has an organized body through whom He will work. There may be more than a score of Judases among them; there may be a rash Peter who will under circumstances of trial deny his Lord; there may be persons represented by John whom Jesus loved, but he may have a zeal that would destroy men's lives by calling down fire from heaven upon them to revenge an insult to Christ and to the truth. But the great Teacher seeks to give lessons of instruction to correct these existing evils. He is doing the same today with His church. He is pointing out their dangers. He is presenting before them the Laodicean message. RC 199.2Read in context »