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Now John begins to address each of the seven churches individually.
A Message for Ephesus
The first is for the folks in Ephesus. John relays everything Jesus says to him.
Jesus wants these Christians to know that he's seen what they're doing. (He does see everything, after all.) He knows they've been doing good work. They're staying faithful and patiently waiting for him to come again.
He knows they don't tolerate evil and that they've even outed some false prophets, too. High five, guys.
In the beginning, they were filled with love, and now they've kind of lost their passion for him and each other. Threats of death or banishment will do that to you.
He wants them to remember how good things used to be and go back to that.
If they don't do this, Jesus is going to take their candlestick and chuck it out. Too bad, those looked expensive.
But if they do they right thing, they're going to eat from the tree of life in Paradise with God. So, a pretty nice reward.
A Message for Smyrna
Jesus knows the people in Smyrna aren't rich. But, hey, mo' money, mo' problems, right?
He knows they've been turned into the Roman authorities by some of the Jewish people (because Jews don't consider Christians as part of the synagogue anymore).
This is bad, but they shouldn't worry about what's about to happen next.
Some of them are going to be thrown in jail—oh, sure, nothing to worry about.
If they're faithful 'til death (wait, so now they're going to be arrested and killed?), Jesus will give them a crown of life to wear. Well, maybe it's a really fancy crown.
But if they don't stay faithful to him, they're going to receive eternal punishment. That crown is starting to look better and better.
A Message for Pergamum
Jesus understands that they're living near Satan's throne. (Pergamum is by the seat of the Roman government—subtle, Jesus.)
But, he knows they're keeping the faith anyway. They didn't pretend not to be Christians when one of them was killed a while back. Nice job, guys.
However… there are some people in the church who are still following false prophets. These guys are teaching that it's okay to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. But, Jesus clarifies, it is most definitely not.
This stuff needs to stop immediately. Otherwise, Jesus is going to have to come down there and sort this out. And it will not be pretty.
But if the people get back on the straight and narrow, Jesus will give them manna and a white stone which has a new name written on it.
Manna and stones—just what they've always wanted!
A Message for Thyatira
Jesus knows that they're doing good works. But not so fast…
They are also wrapped up with this Jezebel woman (probably not her actual name, but a shout-out to 2 Kings 9:22). She's been telling them that it's fine to sacrifice to Roman gods (again, it is not). Not to mention that she's also kinda… promiscuous.
Jesus has tried to get Jezebel to repent, but it's no use. Soon, she and the people she's sleeping with are going to be in a world of hurt.
Even her children are going to be struck dead because of her adultery and idolatry. What do you expect for a commandment breaker like that?
Not everyone is following this woman, though, and that's good.
The people that do listen to Jesus will receive two lovely parting gifts—authority over every nation and the morning star. What catalog is Jesus getting this stuff from?