Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Revelation
Book: Revelation
Chapter: 2

Epistles to the churches in Asia, with warnings and
encouragements, To the Church at Ephesus; (1-7) at Smyrna;
(8-11) at Pergamos; (12-17) and at Thyatira. (18-29)

1-7 These churches were in such different states as to purity
of doctrine and the power of Godliness, that the words of Christ
to them will always suit the cases of other churches, and
professors. Christ knows and observes their state; though in
Heaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches On Earth,
observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The Church
of Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps an
account of every Hour's work his servants do for him, and their
labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enough
that we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and there
must be waiting patience. And though we must show all Meekness
to all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. The
Sin Christ charged this Church with, is, not the having left and
forsaken the object of Love, but having lost the fervent degree
of it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with his
people, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him.
Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking their
first Love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness,
and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves and
others; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. They
must repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinful
declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They must
endeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, and
seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as
diligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. If
the presence of Christ's Grace and Spirit is slighted, we may
expect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention is
made of what was good among them. Indifference as to Truth and
error, good and evil, may be called Charity and Meekness, but it
is not So; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian Life
is a warfare against Sin, Satan, the world, and the Flesh. We
must never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shall
have a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shall
derive from Christ, as the Tree of Life, Perfection and
confirmation in Holiness and happiness, not in the earthly
Paradise, but in the heavenly. This is a figurative expression,
taken from the account of the garden of Eden, denoting the pure,
satisfactory, and eternal joys of Heaven; and the looking
forward to them in this world, By Faith, Communion with Christ,
and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take your
wrestling Life here, and expect and look for a quiet Life
hereafter; but not till then: the Word of God never promises
quietness and complete Freedom from conflict here.

8-11 Our Lord Jesus is the First, for By him were all things
made; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. He
is the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First and
Last, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother and
Friend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourable
amidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviest
Tribulation, like the Church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as to
this world, are Poor as to the next; and some who are Poor
outwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in Faith, in good Works, rich
in privileges, rich in Gifts, rich in Hope. Where there is
spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be Well borne; and when
God's people are made Poor as to this Life, for the sake of
Christ and a good Conscience, he makes all up to them in
spiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear none
of these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it,
furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be to
try them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of the
reward; "I will give thee:" they shall have the reward from
Christ's own Hand. Also, how suitable it is; "a Crown of Life:"
the Life worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause,
shall be rewarded with a much better Life, which shall be
eternal. The second Death is unspeakably worse than the first
Death, both in the agonies of it, and as it is Eternal Death: it
is indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a Man is kept
from the second Death and wrath to come, he may patiently endure
whatever he meets with in this world.

12-17 The Word of God is a Sword, able to slay both Sin and
sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not
fear this Sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without
steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and
opportunities we have for duty in the places where we Dwell, So
he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same
causes. In a situation of trials, the Church of Pergamos had not
denied the Faith, either By open apostasy, or By giving way So
as to avoid the Cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but
reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of Gospel doctrine
and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil
practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of
men, as Well as of particular persons; those who Sin together,
should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those
that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of
Christ, come down from Heaven into the soul, for its support.
This is hidden from the Rest of the world. The new name is the
name of Adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the
believer's soul, this new name and its real import are
understood By him.

18-29 Even when the Lord knows the Works of his people to be
wrought in Love, Faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes,
which are as a Flame of Fire, observe them committing or
allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them.
Here is praise of the ministry and people of Thyatira, By One
who knew the principles from which they acted. They grew wiser
and better. All Christians should earnestly desire that their
last Works may be their best Works. Yet this Church connived at
some wicked seducers. God is known By the judgments he executes;
and By this upon seducers, he shows his certain knowledge of the
hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper.
Encouragement is given to those who kept themselves pure and
undefiled. It is dangerous to despise the Mystery of God, and as
dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. Let us beware of
the depths of Satan, of which those who know the least are the
most happy. How tender Christ is of his Faithful servants! He
lays nothing upon his servants but what is for their good. There
is promise of an ample reward to the persevering, victorious
believer; also knowledge and Wisdom, suitable to their power and
dominion. Christ brings Day with him into the soul, the Light of
Grace and of Glory, in the presence and enjoyment of him their
Lord and Saviour. After every victory let us follow up our
advantage against the enemy, that we may overcome and keep the
Works of Christ to the End.