Tag: Smyrna

The Assembly of Laodicea

The Assembly of Laodicea

Background and History:

Laodicea on the Lycus (Greek: Λαοδίκεια πρὸς τοῦ Λύκου; Latin: Laodicea ad Lycum, also transliterated as Laodiceia or Laodikeia) (modern Turkish: Laodikeia) was an ancient city built on the river Lycus (Çürüksu). It was located in the Hellenistic regions of Caria and Lydia, which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana. It is now situated near the modern city of Denizli.  This particular city was near Hierapolis and not too far from Colossae.  Hierapolis was well known for their “Hot Springs” and Colossae for their cold fresh waters.  As the waters run through the aqueduct to the city of Laodicea from Hierapolis it became “Lukewarm” waters (this could be emedic).

  • 2000 BC Originally founded by the Ionians as a relatively small town of Diospolis.
  • 19th Century BC the Hittites added it to their empire.
  • 900 BC captured by the Phrygians and soon afterward by the Lydians (renamed Rhoas).
  • 250 BC taken by the Syrians.
  • Antiochus II rebuilt the town renaming it after his wife “Laodice”.
  • 190 BC Became part of the kingdom of Pergamos.
  • Ultimately pass into the hands of the Roman Empire.
  • It was recorded by several historians, such as Josephus, of been populated by a great Jewish colony.

Economy:

  • The economy of the city was based on;
    • Bankers
    • Merchants
    • Gold refiners
  • I was in a junction roads leading from Ephesus and Smyrna.
  • It is recorded the caravan trades where as far as the “Yellow River” in Punjab by the China Sea.
  • Populated with very Wealthy Society members of the area, it was considered a “Neutral City” and never in need of a military power to defend it.
  • During the middle of the First Century, it was destroyed by an earthquake and rather on waiting, or asking for, or even depending on any help from the Roman Empire, its own society members rebuild it without any help from Rome. This was indicative of a very “prideful society”.
  • There are many architectural remains today testifying of its former luxury.
  • Textile Manufacturing was well known in the region at the time. The production and manufacturing of “Black Wool” (from a very particular strain of sheep bred in the Lycus Valley) with a glossy look and a soft and warm texture.  It was used in Clothing and Carpets.

Science:

The city was also well known for their school of medicine, especially for an ointment known at the time as “Phrygian Powder” ( a mixture of oil and collyrium powder).

Definition:

the Name of Laodicea
G2994

Λαοδικεύς

Laodikeus

lah-od-ik-yooce’

From G2993; a Laodicean, that is, inhabitant of Laodicia: – Laodicean.

Total KJV occurrences: 2

The  name of this particular city is a compound name;  “Lao” = people and “Diceans”= rulers, “Rule by the People”, this mean it was a democratic government, we will never know.  Never the less when this particular letter is brought to the point of view from the assembly (church), it is obvious that the “Ruler” of the Church is and always will be the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Inside the Word:


 

Rev 3:14 LITV

(14)  And to the angel of the assembly of Laodicea, write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Head of the creation of God:

 

The verse 14 of this chapter Three in Revelation, starts by, as the other letters from the Lord, assigned to the angel that was going to deliver it to the assembly of Laodicea.  Many of you have had heard traditionally that this is referring to the leader of the assembly, and that the Lord is directing the letter to such individual.  I do not share this point of view.  I clearly explained the reasons why on one of my previous letters on my Blog, but for the benefits of many, I will retouch some of those points that make me think differently from the traditional way.

  1. God is dictating this letter to John the Apostle and is not dictating to John to send this letter to the leader of this particular assembly. God tells directly to John to “…write…”, but what I believe the phrase is indicating is the command from God to the messenger or angel assign for this direct communication with this assembly, so He cal the angel to be alert and ready.  God always rely on His angels to deliver the messages and answers that the people of God are either requesting in prayer or the Lord God in His mercy send to them.
  2. God works through mysterious ways, and as you know the apostle was left on the island of Patmos to die due to his sentence. My question to you is, how the letters came to the hands of the assemblies?  How the letters came to be known after the apostle wrote them?  In one way or another, it does require a special messenger to delivered them in the event of a spiritual battle take place.  Please referred to the Book of Daniel Chapter 10 (read below);
    1. Dan 10:12-13 LITV
      1. (12) And he said to me, Do not fear, Daniel. For from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. And I have come because of your words.
      2. (13) But the king of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty one days. But, lo, Michael, one of the first rulers, came to help me. And I stayed there with the kings of Persia.

 

In the assembly of the Lord (The Church), not one and I mean no one is above of anyone, all the members of the assembly have the same responsibilities and obligations, everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord.  Please read the following:

  1. Luk 22:24-30 LITV
    1. (24) And there was also a dispute among them, who of them seems to be greater.
    2. (25) And He said to them, The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those exercising authority over them are called benefactors.
    3. (26) But you be not so, but the greater among you, let him be as the lesser; and the one governing as the one
    4. (27) For who is greater, the one reclining, or the one serving? Is it not the one reclining? But I am in your midst as One
    5. (28) But you are those continuing with Me in My temptation.
    6. (29) And I appoint a kingdom to you, as My Father appointed to Me,
    7. (30) that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

Orthographically it is very important to notice the separator that exists between the name of the assembly and the command verb, it is a comma “,” which exist to denote a pause and a separation of time and direction.  It is like if after He directs His command to the angel calling for his attention, He looked to the apostle giving to the apostle the command to write.  Never the less that is much irrelevant in regard to the message of the letter to the assembly, I think.

As we continue to noticed in this particular verse 14 of chapter 3 in the Book of Revelation, there are three descriptive Titles for the Identification of the Lord God:

  1. …These things says the Amen…
    1. G281
    2. ἀμήν / amēn / am-ane’
    3. Of Hebrew origin [H543]; properly firm, that is, (figuratively) trustworthy; adverbially surely (often as interjection so be it): – amen, verily.
      1. Total KJV occurrences: 152
        1. H543
          1. אָמֵן / ‘âmên / aw-mane’
          2. From H539; sure; abstractly faithfulness; adverbially truly: – Amen, so be it, truth.
            1. Total KJV occurrences: 30

This particular descriptive title occurs only once in the Bible, that is on this particular occasion only.  It is very clear that God is assuring His Church that Hi is the One to be trusted

  1. …the faithful and true Witness…
    1. Once again this particular descriptive title is used only in this particular verse of this chapter in the Bible. But the difference in this title versus the first one is that in this second title God is using two:
      1. …faithful…
      2. …true Witness…
    2. Notice also how the word “Witness” is spelled out, with capital letter “W”, indicative of the authority and ownership of His Name and position. He is our only Witness to the Father.
  2. The third and most impressive of them all is the one He uses here; …the Head of the creation of God…
    1. To get into the analysis of this particular title used here by the Lord God, will take much longer that we can have for this particular Blog, but let be brief;
      1. First, if you count the words used in this particular title, using the “KJV” or the “LITV” of the Bible notice that there are a total of seven words, indicative of “Consummation”, this is indicating that Jesus is not only the Beginning of the Creation (see; Gen 1:1; 1:26: John 1: 1-5) and also He is the Consummation of ALL Creation (Rev 21: 6).
    2. Christ is the “Head” of the Body (Col 1:17-20), which is the Church (1Co 12:27; Eph 5:30)

Rev 3:15 LITV

(15)  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold, or hot.

 

In this particular letter to the assembly of Laodicea, the Lord goes directly to the point without hesitation.  There is no commendations on this letter, nothing good at all to say, and neither any softening words of consolation.  There is no place to hide from the presence of the Almighty.  God is telling this assembly that there is one way and one way only to do the works in the field of the Lord’s Gospel, and that is to proceed and act as is requested by Him in His Word.  That preaching the Word of the Gospel of the Lord is not just about screaming it out of our lungs in front of a multitude, or to proceed to do good for us to be seeing by others, or even to do good deeds to those that blessed us only, not at all.  But to live a life as “Ambassadors” of the Gospel of Truth in the Lord Jesus Christ and from which, we can bring to the knowledge of salvation, those that never heard of such wonderful Way of Life.  If we are capable of living our lives as is described by the Lord’s Word, we as “Followers of the Way” not only will discover the truthful happiness of “Living”, but then again we will become witnesses of the Gospel of Christ through our actions.

By us, as followers of the Lord, living our lives as we are requested on the Word of God, our lives will grow without us even noticing such changes.  The more we act and live as true Christians, the closer we will be to the Lord.  Every day becomes a step closer to the “man” that the Lord wants us to become, and a step farther from the man that we were in our past life.  There is no science into this, there is no mystery, there is absolutely nothing but a simple step forward to the man that the lord wants us to become every day in Him.

Many leaders, preachers, minister and others concentrate on the fact that this is “not cold nor hot waters, but instead lukewarm”, and indeed that is very important in this letter.  But the fact is not this assembly is “lukewarm” but more so the reason why is a “lukewarm”.

Rev 3:16-18 LITV

(16)  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of My mouth.

(17)  Because you say, I am rich, and I am made rich, and I have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

(18)  I advise you to buy from Me gold having been fired by fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and your shame and nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

 

Many time over in our lives we can tell our mistakes and also the road we are taking is the wrong road to take, but on our own risk and blinded by our own understanding we continue without hesitation moving forward until we fall, and is then at that very moment we start to look for the hand of the Lord to come to our help.

Verse 16 chapter 3 in Revelation tell us just that, we should look once again at what the Book of Proverbs tells us about it:

  1. Pro 3:1-12 LITV

(1)  My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands,

(2)  for they shall add length of days and long life and peace to you.

(3)  Mercy and truth will not forsake you, tie them on your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart,

(4)  and you shall find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

(5)  Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.

(6)  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

(7)  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear Jehovah and depart from evil.

(8)  Healing shall be to your navel and marrow to your bones.

(9)  Honor Jehovah with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase,

(10)  and your barns shall be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst with new wine.

(11)  My son, do not reject the chastening of Jehovah, and do not loathe His correction;

(12)  for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son with whom he is pleased.

Please read verse 17 of Chapter 3 in Revelation, and you will come to the same conclusion as mine, there is nothing in the Word of God about us imposing our will over the will of the Creator, and expect all to be great and accepted in the eyes of the Lord.  That is what is happening in this assembly.  A misconception of life fundamental values and the misappropriation of such as we disrupt our own way of life and path of our mortal journey.  We do understand that there is a purpose for our lives in the Christian journey, but to reject the notion that we as a human can’t take control of our own journey make us challenge the very principal for the one we, as “Followers of the Way”, had been called:

  1. Rom 8:28-29 LITV

(28)  But we know that to the ones loving God all things work together for good, to those being called according to purpose;

(29)  because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.

By rejecting the role that we had been given and possess our own interpretation of what we think we should be and we are, based on our “own understanding”.  We become blindfolded to the spiritual truth on the eye of the One that predestines us to be who we must be under His will.  At that very moment, we are no longer part of Him, who called us, but a member of this world looking to be like the ones that are not from this world.  By doing so, we are part of something that doesn’t belong to the Body of Christ but a “Spot” on the Gospel of the Lord.

Once again, GOD is willing to give us the opportunity to be part of His Body (The Church), and the only way to do so is as in verse 18 of chapter three in Revelation indicates, we must buy directly from HIM, the gold that has been fired by fire.  For you and I, in this contemporary world, this expression may not make much sense at all, but for the assembly in question, this is very clear to them.  Their main economy was based, in three important and key items.  What will be accomplished by doing what it is said by God in this particular verse?  Let see:

  1. Refine Gold
    1. One important key element of their economy was the refinery of Gold.
    2. We are getting what we need from the Main Supplier, no middle man, no misunderstanding, no confusion, no dilemmas, no disruption of supply, no impurity on the product (none).
    3. Buying gold at the main source provider will not only give you the certainty of receiving a quality product but and unlimited source of the gold needed. This will make you rich in every way imaginable.
  2. Textile
    1. Another key item on their economy was the “Black Wool”, used among other things for garments.
    2. The Lord is asking to this assembly to get garments from Him, not the regular “Black Wool” but instead “White Garments”.
    3. Why so important? You may ask;
      1. White Garment are more balance and delicates to the appearance.
      2. White Garments are the one that the Church will be adorned with and no other color or imitation of it, none.
  3. Medicine
    1. The Lord in a brief but very clear and explicit way expressed to the assembly that if they get from Him the anointing of the Holy Spirit and to get into the WORD of GOD. Here in this part of the verse, there are two words we must look in an individual way to understanding them:
    2. Anoint;
      1. G1472 / ἐγκρίω / egchriō / eng-khree’-o
      2. From G1722 and G5548; to rub in (oil), that is, besmear: – anoint.
        1. Total KJV occurrences: 1
    3. Eye salve
      1. G2854 /  Κολλούριον / kollourion / kol-loo’-ree-on
      2. Neuter of a presumed derivative of κολλύρα kollura (a cake; probably akin to the base of G2853); properly a poultice (as made of or in the form of crackers), that is, (by analogy) a plaster: – eyesalve.
      3. Total KJV occurrences:
      4. So the Lord is asking to this assembly to rub in the oil of the Holy Spirit to be able to eat the “Bread” through their eyes of spiritual knowledge of the WORD of GOD, which is the “Bread of Life”.
        1. Eph_1:13  in whom also you, hearing the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
        2. Eph_4:29  Let not any filthy word go out of your mouth, but if any is good to building up in respect to the need, that it may give grace to the ones hearing.
        3. Col_3:17  And everything, whatever you do in word or in work, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father through Him.
        4. 2Th_2:17  encourage your hearts, and may He establish you in every good word and work.
        5. 2Ti_4:2  preach the Word, be urgent in season, out of season, convict, warn, encourage with all long-suffering and teaching.

Rev 3:19 LITV

(19)  I, as many “as I love, I rebuke and I chasten.” Be zealous, then, and repent. Prov. 3:12

Verse 19 of chapter three in the Book of revelation is as clear and simple, that only by spiritual blindness the individual won’t be able to understand.  God desire for all us the only best from Him.  As a Father, He only rebukes and chastens the ones He loves.  All you and I must be very dedicated to observed is to ask in prayer, that we (you and I) can and will be counted among those to be “rebuke and chasten” by the love of Christ and under His Mercy.  There is a very important point to observed on this verse and that is that the believer must step in and not just to “REPENT” but for the process of repentance to take effect in the heart of the believer, it must be creating with it some degree of zealously, moving the life of the believer to a life of action.

  • Pro 3:11-12 LITV
    • (11)  My son, do not reject the chastening of Jehovah, and do not loathe His correction;
    • (12)  for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son with whom he is pleased.

Rev 3:20 LITV

(20)  Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with Me.

 

In this verse 20, the Lord says to the assembly very clearly that He stand at the Door.  In previous chapters and verses we see how the Lord is in the midst of the assembly but in this particular case, the Lord is outside the door.  It is a dramatical implication to it.

  1. In ancient times doors were designed with only one lock or secure mechanism, but from the inside of the house, and not to be capable of being open from the outside as it is done today. The implication here is very important because required from the believer to open the door for any visual communication to take
  2. The second point to consider is that the invitation is to the individual and not to the assembly. The Lord specifically said, “…If Anyone…”, this is an individual invitation to take action and not a group invitation for the action to take place.  Each individual is part of the Church and the individual is the important and integral part of the plan of Salvation.  He/she  are the Temple of God and as result of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, he/she is the Body of Christ which is the Church.
  3. The Lord is inviting the individual that give him/herself to the Lord to be partaker of the Glory of the Lord.

Rev 3:21 LITV

(21)  The one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father in His throne.

 

Here is the promise to the overcomer, and that is to sit with the Lord in His throne…  This is very special promise because the throne that was given to the Lord Jesus Christ, in addition, to be sitting with the Father in Heaven was also the one of “King David”.  But King David’s throne was not in existence at the time of Jesus Birth, how could that be, you may ask?

Here is a Biblical reference that will clear for you that question:

  1. Luk 1:29-33 KJV
    1. (29)  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
    2. (30)  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
    3. (31)  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
    4. (32)  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
    5. (33)  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Rev 3:22 LITV

(22)  The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.

 

And of course here is the closing statement from the Holy Spirit to the ones that are not only reading this but more so hearing this message of Salvation.  If you have an ear hear what the Holy Spirit is telling you.  The Lord Is Coming Soon, Be Ready!

The Assembly of Smyrna / Second Letter to the Assemblies (Book of Revelation)

The Assembly of Smyrna / Second Letter to the Assemblies (Book of Revelation)

Background and History:      Smyrna

Smyrna is known today as “Izmir”, located in Turkey and as a major city with a population of approximately 300,000 habitants.  It has an excellent harbor, import/export few items such as tobacco, grapes, cotton, figs, olive oil and other.

The original city was destroyed about B.C. 627, and was deserted and in ruins for four hundred years. Alexander the Great contemplated its restoration, and his design was carried out after his death. The new city was built a short distance south of the ancient one, and became the finest in Asia Minor, being known as the glory of Asia. It was one of the cities which claimed the honor of being Homer’s birthplace. A splendid temple was erected by the Smyrnaeans to his memory, and a cave in the neighborhood of the city was shown where he was said to have composed his poems. Smyrna’s fine harbor made it a commercial center; but it was also distinguished for its schools of rhetoric and philosophy. Polycarp was the first bishop of its church, which suffered much from persecution, and he was said to have suffered martyrdom in the stadium of the city, A.D. 166. It is argued with some plausibility that Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna at the time of the composition of Revelation, and was the person addressed here. This question, however, is bound up with that of the date of composition (see Trench, “Epistles to the Seven Churches”). The city was a seat of the worship of Cybele the Mother of the gods, and of Dionysus or Bacchus.

Alyattes, the king of “Lydia”, successfully conquered it, putting an end to a history of two and one-half millennia.  Alexander the Great, during the fourth century, put in charge one of his four generals to build in its place the most beautiful, well build and planned city in Ionia.  The result was known as the “Flower of Ionia”.   27 B.C. Smyrna went under the Romans control and which became a great allied to the Romans during the Syrian/Mithridatic wars.  From 27 B.C. to 324 A.D it was a powerful city with great material prosperity.  From the years 178 A.D. throughout 180 A.D. suffered many seismic disturbances but always rebound from it.

Today, Smyrna (Izmir), is known as “The Paris of the Levant”.  The richly embellishment of the temples and splendid buildings, in a perfect symmetry of those encircling “Mount Pagos” resulted in the title “the crown of Smyrna”.

Please Click on this link to be able to see a Map of what is today "Izmir" also known as Smyrna during Bible Times.
Please Click on this link to be able to see a Map of what is today “Izmir” also known as Smyrna during Bible Times.

Religion

There is a legend that surround the origins of this great empire, and which it also has to do with their polytheistic believes.  Never the less, the beginning of the Roman religious believes were “animistic” in character.  Their believe were, everything that was around them and that inhabited the Earth had its own spirit or numen. They truly believe, they were watched over by their ancestors’ spirits called “genius” (for male) and “juno” (for female).

Early in their history due to the Sabine influence, the romans had as prominent gods the following:

  • Mars
    1. The god of war
      1. Vital role in the beginning of the Roman history.
        • In accordance with the legend of the foundation of Rome, he was the father of Romulus and Remus.
  • Quirinus
    1. The god who watched over the people and government of Rome was the deified Romulus.
  • Jupiter
    1. The leader of the gods

All the three gods were worshiped at the temple on the Capitoline Hill, which they were known as the Capitoline Triad.  This Sabine influence did not replace the former believe but instead, they were added to their worship.

Later on the Monarchy period, the Etruscan influence was such, that the Capitoline triad underwent a transformation:

  • Jupiter still at the pinnacle of their religion.
  • Mars was replaced with Juno
    1. Juno became the wife of Jupiter
  • Quirinus was replaced with Minerva
    1. Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno
      1. goddess of wisdom

Once the Greeks were settled on the South of the Italian peninsula, also influence their religious believes.  These last influenced the Romans by giving to the Romans the power to create their mythology, and as a result, an eloquent and pictographic gamma of characters of Roman gods were borrowed from the Greek gods.

Examples of such are:

Roman gods                                      Greek gods

  • Jupiter                                          Zeus
  • Mars                                             Ares
  • Minerva                                        Athena
  • Apollo                                           Apollo

This particular process on any culture in were the influence is operating this way is called “syncretism”, a distinctive nature displayed by the Romans gods vs the counterparts was the fact that they displayed a frugal nature.  The believer’s faith was guided by a college of “pontiffs” (an assembly of the highest ranking priest in the Ancient Roman/does this sound familiar?).  The highest among them was “pontifex maximus”, position hold by patricians until the third century B.C. a plebian Roman could hold such position.  Also even though this position was a highly wholly spiritual function, there was later on politicized. A great example of this was Julius Caesar, whose was the pontifex maximus during the first Triumvirate.

Each god had their own temple, priest or flamines.  While the college was task with the affairs of the gods, the flamines represented their particular deity.  The most important priest represented the Capitoline Triad, there was an exception to the rule and that was the priestesses to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, all were men. The Vestal Virgins (as they were known) priestesses were ordered to remain celibate for the entire thirty years of service and their task was to keep the sacred fire of Vesta burning in the temple. Many privileges were given to them, among some, privilege to own properties, to vote, no longer under the control of their parents, highly regarded and a reason why many patrician families wished their daughters to be given the position.  The title of Vestal Virgins were appointed by the pontifex maximus by a drawing lots.  Some of the downsides of the Vestal Virgins were for example that if the priestess fail to remain celibate for any period of the thirty years of service the punishment was to be buried alive.

During the beginning of the Empire, the emperor were deified after death, but it was not until Julius Caesar that the emperor was deified during their terms and after him many others will follow, there were couple exceptions; Caligula and Nero.

Worship of the imperial cult became a commonplace and even many of the emperors believed to be themselves “gods”.  Commodus, for example, believed to be Hercules himself, Diocletian found affinity with Jupiter.  Never the less, the one who made himself to be placed in a statue in the Jewish temples around the Roman Empire was Caligula.

Christianity started as a marginal and persecuted sect, but ended up the official state religion.  As the Christians grew in number and with the ability to influence the Emperor Constantine, convinced by the Christian teachings, Constantine marched into a battle with the banner of Christ, and with heavy odds against him and his army, won the battle and attributed to Christ the victory calling it a divine intervention.

Immediately after his victory, Constantine passed the “Edict of Milan”, professing tolerance toward Christians and their believes.  He ended baptized and the majority of his successors were Christians.  Julian was an exception to that rule, trying to reinstate the traditional Roman gods, but with no much result.  It was not but until 380 A.D. that Christianity became the State Religion.

During the month of December (December Saturnalia), on what is known as the “Via Sacra” (Sacred Way), passage that runs from the Coliseum, the Capitoline Hill (Capitoline Triad Temple Location) and Temple of Jupiter, marches and religious festivals took place.

Up to now is a brief view of the religious practices of the Roman Empire during the first, second and portion of the third centuries.

Let’s start with the Biblical passage for our delight, which is located in the 2nd Chapter of the Book of Revelation verses 8-11. Keep in mind I am using the Literate Translation which you will be able to find by downloading e-Sword program ( www.e-Sword.org ) which is a great tool for Bible Studies and is totally free of charge.

(Rev 2:8)  And to the angel of the assembly of Smyrna, write: These things says the First and the Last, Who became dead, and lived:

Once again we can see how the Lord Jesus Christ appointed the angel to take the message to the assembly of Smyrna. This is indicative that there is always a particular messenger for the plan of God in our lives.  This particular messenger knows the target in question and understand the all details regarding the assembly of Smyrna.

“These things says the First and the Last”…  Please pay attention to the way the Lord uses the first word in the sentences, which is in a plural manner.   It is indicating to us, the multiple things the Lord sees in our lives that many times we have no idea of them.  Immediately after it is brought up one of the names that our Lord is known by: and these can be read in four more locations in the Bible:

  1. Isa 41:4
  2. Rev 1:11
  3. Rev 1:17
  4. Rev 2:8
  5. Rev 22:13

It is not until the Book of revelation that this particular Name of God is used in Capital Letters (this could be observed if you use the LIT Translation vs the KJV).

Another portion that is curious to observe in the verse the use of …”Who became dead, and lived:”…  By using this particular name, God Himself becomes a witness of His selfish act in the Cross for all mankind.

As you continue reading this passage, you can’t stop noticing the theme of “death” in the letter.

As you know the word “Smyrna” means “Myrrh” which is a spice used to either preserve the bodies after death and as an aromatic spice, which is what normally we know about it.  Never the less, there is a passage in  Genesis 37:25 that mention specifically this spice and is in relation to the narrative of Joseph son of Jacob.

Also in Exodus 30:23 it is mentioned to be included as part of the group of species and other ointments to be use for the anointing of the tabernacle, the ark of the testimony, the table and vessels, the altar of incense and the altar of burnt offering with vessels, the laver and his foot, also Aaron and his sons. Such anointed group of spices and oils was going to be presented to the children of Israel as a holy anointing oil throughout the generations.

In Esther 2:12 you can see the use of Myrrh in the anointing of the royal queen before to be presented to the king.

Myrrh is also found in the Bible as one of the three gifts the wise men presented to the Christ Child, according to the gospel of Matthew. According to the gospel of Mark, Jesus was offered wine and myrrh before the crucifixion.

In Isaiah 60:6 expressed the Word of God that will be given presents to the Lord Jesus during the millennium but among the gifts presented to Him one will be out of the equation, and that is “myrrh”.  Myrrh was representative of the pain and suffering of our Lord as a human on this earth, but that will be all behind Him once He entered the millennium and after.

(Rev 2:9)  I know your works, and the affliction, and the poverty; but you are rich. And I know the evil speaking of those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

The Lord in verse 9 started to give the commendations of the assembly of Smyrna.  The Lord started by saying to the assembly:

  1. I know your works
  2. I know your affliction
    1. G2347
    2. θλίψις
    3. thlipsis
    4. thlip’-sis
      1. From G2346; pressure (literally or figuratively): – afflicted, (-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
    5. Total KJV occurrences: 45
    6. Notice how this word is used to denote one of the qualities of the spice of myrrh which is to be pressure in order for the spice to be effective in its natural way.
  3. I know your poverty
    1. G4432
    2. πτωχεία
    3. ptōcheia
    4. pto-khi’-ah
    5. From G4433; beggary, that is, indigence (literally or figuratively): – poverty. This is used when there is nothing at all available, there is nothing you can reach for. Extreme poor.
    6. Total KJV occurrences: 3
      1. But you are rich
      2. Is this not knowing of your worth by choice or by ignorance on the part of the assembly? Does the assembly knows they are rich but choose to be poor or do they think they are really poor?
  • (2Co 8:9) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich, He became poor for your sake, so that you might become rich by the poverty of that One.
  1. I know the “evil speaking” of those saying themselves to be Jews
    1. G988
    2. βλασφημία
    3. blasphēmia
    4. blas-fay-me’-ah
    5. From G989; vilification (especially against God): – blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.
    6. Total KJV occurrences: 19
      1. They Are Not
      2. They are synagogue of Satan.
        1. As I have read this particular section of the verse, my head started spinning in questions about why is this said here by the Lord? There is also an important point that we must remember, the Lord was very straight and clear to the adversary and his followers, and He never deviated.
        2. If we read John chapter 8, we will noticed the level of tension that existed among Jesus and the so called “religious leaders of the Jews”, in particular in verse 18 and 19.
        3. In John 8:19 the religious leaders asked the Lord … (Joh 8:19) Then they said to Him, Where is your father? Jesus answered, You neither know Me, nor My Father. If you had known Me, then you also would have known My Father.
          1. In the above phrase in Bold/Italic/Underline format they were trying to tell Jesus that He (Jesus) was a “Bastard” (this is what is known today as a sarcasm). The below verses demonstrate how intense was the tension, and when you read these verse read it as if you were a Jew…
        4. (Joh 8:39) They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father (here is the second time in this chapter they said to Jesus in an indirect way that He was a “Fatherless Child” (Bastard)). Jesus said to them, If you were children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham.
        5. (Joh 8:40) But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has spoken the truth to you, which I heard alongside of Abraham did not do this.
        6. (Joh 8:41) You do the works of your father. They said to Him, We were not born of fornication; we have one father, God (This is the third time in this chapter they indicated to the Lord that “He” (Our Lord Jesus) was a “Bastard”).
        7. (Joh 8:42) Then Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I went forth and have come from God. For I have not come from Myself, but that One sent Me.
        8. (Joh 8:43) Why do you not know My speech? It is because you are not able to hear My Word.
        9. (Joh 8:44) You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar, and the father of it.

(Rev 2:10)  Do not at all fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw you into prison, so that you may be tried; and you will have affliction ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

We as Christians know that it is very difficult to be a “Follower of the Way” (as we used to be known before the term Christians came about).  We must pray for those that persecute us, forgive those that torment us and bless those that curse us, right?  Of course we must.  But there is also a reminder from the Lord that no matter what we will go thru in life, He will never leave us nor forsake us.

1Ki_8:57  Jehovah our God is with us as He has been with our fathers; He shall not forsake us or leave us,

Also in this particular verse there is an important part that many believers omit as they read this passage, that is the reality of a an accuser that is always ready to point his fingers at us just to make our lives a “living hell”, he is called the devil.  This part on this particular verse can’t and most not be confused with the part of the “Great Tribulation”, this part of the  verse is what we will see on a daily basis just for been part of the “Special Elite Unit” called “Christians” or “Follower of the Way”.  One way or another, there is no doubt that the Lord never leaves us nor forsake us, read below:

Heb_13:5  Set your way of life without money-loving, being satisfied with present things; for He has said, “Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you,” never! Deut. 31:6

Another part on this verse that strike me is the fact that the Lord advised of ten days of afflictions. These ten days put me to think, why the Lord mentioned those ten days in a specific manner?  If we go back in history, we will be able to notice that between the End of the First Century and all away to the end of the Second Century there were a total of ten Roman Emperors. Let see them one by one in a list:

Name Succession Reign / AD Time in Office
Trajan Caesar Marcvs Vlpivs Nerva Traianvs Avgvstvs Adopted and Heir of Nerva Jan/98 – Aug/117 19 yrs 7 mths
Hadrian Caesar Pvblivs Aelivs Traianvs Hadrianvs Avgvstvs Adopted and Heir of Trajan Aug/117 – Jul/138 21 yrs
Antoninus Pius Caesar Titvs Aelivs Hadrianvs Antoninvs Avgvstvs Pivs Adopted and Heir of Hadrian Jul/138 – Mar/161 22yrs 7 mths
Marcus Aurelius Caesar Marcvs Avrelivs Antoninvs Avgvstvs Adopted son/son-in-law and Heir of Antoninus Pius and

Co-Emperor with Lucius Verus until 169

Mar/161 – Mar/180 19 yrs
Lucius Verus Caesar Lvcivs Avrelivs Vervs Avgvstvs Adopted son Heir of Antoninus Pius and son-in-lawof Marcus Aurelius; Co-Emperor with Marcus Aurelius until his death Mar/161 – Mar/169 8 yrs
Commodus Caesar Marcvs Avrelivs Commodvs Antoninvs Avgvstvs Natural son of Marcus Aurelius; Co-Emperor from 177 ?/177 – Dec/192 15 yrs
Pertinax Caesar Pvblivs Helvivs Pertinax Avgvstvs Proclaimed by the Praetorian Guard Jan/193 – Mar/193 3 mths
Didius Julianus Caesar Marcvs Didivs Severvs Ivlianvs Avgvstvs Won auction by the Praetorian Guard for the position of Emperor Mar/193 – Jun/193 2 mths – 4 days

(65 Days)

Septimius Severus Caesar Lvcivs Septimivs Severvs Pertinax Avgvstvs Seized power with the Support of the Pannonian Legions Apr/193 – Feb/211 17 yrs 10 mths
Caracalla Caesar Marcvs Avrelivs Severvs Antoninvs Pivs Avgvstvs Son of Septimius Severus; Co-Emperor with Severus from 198; with Severus and Geta from 209 until Feb 211; Co-Emperor with Geta until Dec 211 ?/198 – Apr/217 19 yrs

Emperors Timeline 2nd Century (Click on this link to see a timeline of the Second Century Roman Emperors).

(Rev 2:11)  The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. The one overcoming will not at all be hurt by the second death.

As it was with the first assembly, the Lord tells us to pay attention to this message of this assembly, because it is not particular to them but to all of the believers in Christ.  Also it important to say that the affirmation of the Lord by explicitly saying this message is through the Holy Spirit, this is visible because the word “Spirit” is in Capital letter “S” indicative of the Third Person of the Trinity of God.

The last but not the least point to talk about is how the Lord indicates to the one overcoming this particular time will not be hurt by the second death and you might ask; what is the second death?  The Bible gives us the answer and here it is:

Rev_20:6  Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.

Rev_20:14  And death and hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.

Rev_21:8  But for the cowardly and unbelieving, and those having become foul, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the lying ones, their part will be in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Remember always to Pray to the Lord before and after of your Bible Study for His guidance, knowledge, wisdom and understanding on the Word and God Bless You.

The Book of Revelation:  Introduction to the Seven Assemblies

The Book of Revelation: Introduction to the Seven Assemblies

As a Review and for our benefit we will bring some important details we already cover on Chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation, and these are the following:

  1. This is the only Book on the Bible that promise a Blessing to the “Reader” and also to the “Hearers”, see the following verse;
    1. Rev 1:3
  1. Blessed is the one reading, and those hearing the Words of this prophecy, and keeping the things having been written; for the time is near.
  1. The Book of Revelation is a Prophetic Book, read the below verse;
    1. Rev 1:3
  1. Blessed is the one reading, and those hearing the Words of this prophecy, and keeping the things having been written; for the time is near.
  1. For this blessing to take effect of the prophetic Book of Revelation, we must keep the things having been written, read the verse below please;
    1. Rev 1:3
  1. Blessed is the one reading, and those hearing the Words of this prophecy, and keeping the things having been written; for the time is near.

All these is because one reason and one reason only for the “Follower of the WAY” (The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ), … for the time is near

It is also very important to mention that the Book of Revelation is the only Book that has what is called the “Divine Outline of the Book”. This particular point can be seen in the following verse:

  1. Rev 1:19
  • (19) Write what things you saw, and what things are, and what things are about to occur after these things.
    • …things you saw… This is use in a past sentence indicative of all the Apostle John saw in chapter one of the Book of Revelation.
    • …things are… This is use in a present way, indicative of what the Apostle witness and saw in chapters 2 and 3, which is in relation to the Seven Assemblies in the area of Asia Manor which is known today as “Turkey”
  1. (Seven Assemblies Map)
  • … things are about to occur after these things…   (meta tauta)   This is expressed in a future sentence. This is indicative of the future events once the events on chapter 1 and chapter 2 and 3 (the Seven Assemblies will go through their lives as followers and believers of the Gospel of the Lord) will take place.   This also could be seen in the following verse:
    1. Rev 4:1 LITV

After these things I saw. And behold, a door being opened in Heaven! And I heard the first voice as a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you what needs to happen after these things.

If we are capable to put this in perspective for everyone to see it in a visual way, just imagine a straight time line in where there is the Book of Revelation displayed in chapters by numbers and cause of time base on events of “past”, “present” and “future events”, this time line will look like this:

(Time Line of things and events base on the Divine Outline).

It is very important for us to bring to your attention the fact that in chapter 1 verse 4 it is mentioned the Holy Trinity of GOD, let’s see it:

Rev 1:4 LITV

(4) John to the seven assemblies in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from the One who is, and who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits which are before His throne;

  • It does mentioned God Almighty when is referring to … His throne…
  • The Lord Jesus as …the One who is, who was, and who is coming…
    • o This could be validated by the Gospel of John chapter 1 verses 1 and 2:
      • Joh 1:1-2 LITV
      • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
      • He was in the beginning with God.
    • The Holy Spirit when it does mentioned … the seven spirits which are before His throne…
      • o Read the following verse;
        • Isa 11:2 LITV
        • And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest on Him; He will have the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.
          • These are known as the seven manifestations of the Holy Spirit (count the underline description on the above verse)

Continuing our journey to the beginning of the Seven Assemblies (Revelation chapters 2-3) is very important to notice the Seven Assemblies during these two chapters in Revelation mentioned, unless you are in deep knowledge of the Asia Manor area and or the Middle Eastern history, you otherwise will not know these assemblies. The question remain of, Why these particular assemblies? Why more important assemblies of their time are not mentioned?   Such assemblies are the assembly of Antioch (Paul’s headquarters assemblies), the assembly of Jerusalem, the assembly of Corinth and so on. The question remains, why?

The Bible (The Word of GOD) is a collection of 66 Books written by more than 40 Authors with different backgrounds, written in 3 different languages, through a time of approximately 1500 years with a divine engineering precision in where everything has a meaning and a time. For the Followers of the Way (Jesus Christ or Lord) means that the Bible is without a doubt the Word of GOD and has a Divine Authority.

Understanding this is why the question of “why these seven assemblies” in particular and not other assembly were chosen but these.   Let’s make reference to our Seven Assemblies Map in a PDF File to refresh our memories on their location.   (Seven Assemblies Map).

  1. These seven assemblies were real geographical locations of temples and assemblies of the time.
  2. As warning or reprimand to all the assemblies, in fact the seven letters applied to all the seven assemblies. Read the following verse:
  • Rev 1:11 LITV
    • (11) saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last; also, What you see, write in a scroll, and send to the seven assemblies of Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
  1. This also could be taken as a personal advised (homiletic) in order for the believer to keep him/her in the right track of the Word of God and keeping the things having been written because the “time is near”.
  • Rev 2:7 LITV
  • (7) The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. …

There is one important point of view that could very well, and in my personal and humble opinion, is the strongest of all the points mentioned, which is from a prophetic and historical point of view.

If you remember the Book of Acts is the last Book in the Bible that mentioned anything about the development and circumstances in were the assembly of the Lord went through from a historical view for about 30 years. There are some points that had been gathered with the Apostle’s epistles and letters, but many gaps exist. My believe is that these Seven Assemblies, and very specially due because the order in were they are mentioned in the Bible and only the order in were they are mentioned, tells us the rest of the story. These Seven assemblies are:

  1. Ephesus
  2. Smyrna
  3. Pergamos
  4. Thyatira
  5. Sardis
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Laodicea

(Time Line of the Church History base on the Seven Assemblies)