|John depicted with a Church leader|
In my last post, I explained how John the Revelator saw God and the glory of Heaven. This post will cover the part of John’s vision concerning the variety of believers at the time of global destruction before the second coming of Jesus Christ. What he saw is hard to understand because he spoke of the believers using geography words reflective of the church in his day. Today believers are sprinkled among every nation. Some live in poverty under the thumb of a ruthless dictator. Some live in freedom. While John did not judge believers based on what he saw, his vision shows that God is aware of the many who believe and the circumstances in which they live.
This post is only about the believers John saw. I’m going to assume that most are Christians. However, based on the words in this chapter, I think Jews are considered believers even though they only believe half of the Christian Bible.
The first group of believers John names “Ephesus.” You can substitute any nation, creed or minority group. I won’t speculate on who John saw. This group has leaders who have lied to them. These believer have not fainted but they are weak. They have left their “first love.” I’m going to take a guess at what their first love was: The Bible. In taking that guess, I’m assuming that these believers are in an area that was founded on Biblical principles and virtues making it their “first love” or founding principles.
The second group of believers John names “Smyrna.” This group has corrupt leaders. John calls them Jews. My guess is that they are Jews. They live in poverty and tribulation. John counsels them to fear not the suffering of the body because the “second death” or suffering of the soul after the final judgement is worse.
The third group of believers John names “Pergamos.” These believer live “where Satan’s seat is.” The clues to these believers circumstances are in the doctrine of Balaam expounded in 2 Peter 2:10-22 and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The Nicolaitans were a mafia-like group. In some countries this looks more like a drug cartel.
The fourth group of believers John names “Thyatira.” These believers are full of good works, faith and charity. That’s good! However, they have allowed adultery to continue among them unchecked. John foretells great tribulation and death among them in the last days.
The fifth group of believers John names “Sardis.” These believers are spiritually dead. To understand what he means by “spiritually dead” I found a few other contemporaries who used similar language. James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) Paul says, “purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb 9:14) I wonder if being spiritually dead means that faith is dead, works are dead or both faith and works are dead among these believers. John counsels this group to strengthen the believers who “remain.” This leads me to suppose that many of these believers no longer believe.
The sixth group of believers John names “Philadelphia.” These believers have the Key of David. They are weak but they are promised protection in the hour of tribulation. The Key of David is a heaven-bestowed priesthood authority to act in God’s name. These believers are the Latter-day Saints because we definitely have the Key of David.
The seventh group of believers John names “Laodiceans.” These believers are neither hot nor cold. They are rich in terms of money but poor in terms of spirituality. John counsels them to buy “gold tried in the fire” and to overcome their spiritual blindness.
All groups of believers will go through the Last Days. John sees that the believers in all categories who “overcome” or endure the destruction with their faith intact will be blessed in the next life. John counsels us all to “hold fast” to that truth which you have. If what John saw is all fulfilled, and I think it will be, we’re in for a rough ride.
This post references the Revelation of John chapters 2-3 In my next post I will discuss the destructions John saw before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Read The Revelation: Part 1 here
Read The Revelation: Part 1 here
Image credit: Flickr/psyberartist