Revelation 2

Rev. 2:1 the church of Ephesus


"Ephesus today: Made well known by Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Ephesus is located 40 miles south of Izmir on the west coast of central Turkey and was a famous commercial center in Paul's time. The branch, in which Paul spent several years, was later directed by Timothy, and later still was the home branch of the apostle John. Following Roman rule its harbor filled with silt, and with it went the city's commerce and population." (Jay M. Todd, "The Seven Cities of Revelation ," Ensign, August 1976)

Rev. 2:1 he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand

While the imagery of the Lord holding stars in his hand may seem strange, the meaning is significant. Joseph Smith's translation teaches us that the seven stars represent seven servants. How is it then that the Lord holds his servants in his hands? The Lord's servants are his sheep and the elect of God. He has promised, 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand' (John 10:28). The Lord will not drop the seven stars, nor does anyone-especially Satan-have power to pluck them from his protective care.
Similarly, the imagery of the Lord in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks is instructive. The candlesticks represent the seven churches, and the Lord is among his people even if they are not aware of his supporting presence, 'For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' (Matt. 18:20) 'Lift up your hearts and be glad for I am in your midst...verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me' (DC 29:5; 38:7). The doctrine is reminiscent of the vision of Joseph Smith when he saw the missionary labors of the Twelve who were "standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2: 381.)

Rev. 2:2 thou has tried them which say they are apostles

Joseph Smith
The Apostles in ancient times held the keys of this Priesthood-of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and consequently were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to the...power and influence of spirits; for they could control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and mysterious operations when trying to palm themselves upon the Church in a religious garb, and militate against the interest of the Church...
A power similar to this existed through the medium of the Priesthood in different ages...Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many other prophets possessed this power. Our Savior, the Apostles, and even the members of the Church were endowed with this gift, for, says Paul, (1 Cor. 12:1), 'To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits.' All these proceeded from the same Spirit of God, and were the gifts of God. The Ephesian church were enabled by this principle, 'to try those that said they were apostles, and were not, and found them liars.' (Revelation 2:2.) (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 114 - 115)

Rev. 2:4 I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love

"The reader will notice in this passage that men posing as apostles were going about in the Church. Though in this case the branch of the Church in Ephesus put the finger on them as deceivers and liars, we must view the situation as serious and aggravated-especially so when we remember that John accuses the Church as having left (or lost) its 'first love.' What is meant by this phrase? Some good scholars have differed materially in its interpretation. In view of the words which immediately follow, 'Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent,' I submit that the Church at Ephesus was itself in anything but a favorable spiritual condition. For the Church to lose or leave its 'first love' is nothing but an orientalism which expresses the strained relations existing between the members and God, who once had their love and affection." ("New Light on the Great Apostasy" by Sidney B. Sperry, Ph. D., Improvement Era, 1950, Vol. Liii. September, 1950. No. 9)

Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works

Russell M. Nelson
The wise fisherman inspects his nets regularly. Should any flaw be detected, he repairs the defect without delay. An old saying teaches that 'a stitch in time saves nine.' Recorded revelation gives similar instruction. The Lord said, 'Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works' (Rev. 2:5).
If we are wise, we assess personal cords of integrity on a daily basis. We identify any weakness, and we repair it. Indeed, we have an obligation to do so. ("Integrity of Heart," Ensign, Aug. 1995, 21)

Rev. 2:6 thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate

"Nicolaitans were one of the heretical sects that plagued the churches at Ephesus and at Pergamum, according to Revelation 2:6,15. Irenaus identifies them as followers of Nicolas, one of the seven chosen in Acts 6, and as men who 'lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.'  He also relates them to Gnosticism 'John, the disciple of the Lord, preaches this faith (the deity of Christ), and seeks, by the proclamation of the Gospel, to remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men, and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an offset of that 'knowledge' falsely so called, that he might confound them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things by His Word.' There is also historical evidence of a Gnostic sect called Nitolaitans a century or so later.

"The doctrine of the Nicolaitans appears to have been a form of antinomianism, which makes the fatal mistake that man can freely partake in sin because the Law of God is no longer binding. It held the truth on the gratuitous reckoning of righteousness; but supposed that a mere intellectual 'belief" in this truth had a saving power.

"Nicolaitans of the 2nd century seem to have continued and extended the views of the 1st century adherents, holding to the freedom of the flesh and sin, and teaching that the deeds of the flesh had no effect upon the health of the soul and consequently no relation to salvation.

"Today, the doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made God's law of no effect: that by 'believing' we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned in the book of Revelation." (

Bruce R. McConkie
Members of the Church who were trying to maintain their church standing while continuing to live after the manner of the world. They must have had some specific doctrinal teachings which they used to justify their course. In the counsel given to the Church in Pergamos, their doctrine is condemned as severely as that of Balaam who sought to lead Israel astray. Whatever their particular deeds and doctrines were, the designation has come to be used to identify those who want their names on the records of the Church, but do not want to devote themselves to the gospel cause with full purpose of heart. Thus, on July 8, 1838, the Lord said: "Let my servant Newel K. Whitney be ashamed of the Nicolaitane band and of all their secret abominations, and of all his littleness of soul before me, saith the Lord, and come up to the land of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and be a bishop unto my people, saith the Lord, not in name but in deed, saith the Lord." (D. & C. 117:11.) (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 447.)

Rev. 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear

This phrase, "he that hath an ear, let him hear," accompanies the promise made to each of the seven churches (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). It's meaning is important whether in this instance or elsewhere in the scriptures. It means, "You are about to be told something of great importance, eternal consequence, and profound significance. Yet, you will not be able to comprehend it unless you lend a spiritual ear to hear and understand such a deep doctrine, for the things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned." The phrase is like the Lord's bookmark-his personal highlighting of deep doctrine. In the case of the seven churches, the bookmark highlights the great promises given to those who overcome.

Rev. 2:7 to him that overcometh

The great blessings listed in Rev. 2-3 are specifically given to those who overcome, meaning those who have overcome the world, overcome Satan, and overcome the natural man. The Savior declared, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33); we are to do the same.
Bruce R. McConkie
The struggle which we face is whether we will overcome the world or whether we will be overcome by the world. All men forsake the world when they come into the Church; they then overcome the world if they continue in righteousness and in diligence in keeping the commandments of God.
No one has overcome the world, the world of carnality and corruption, until he has given his heart to Christ, until he uses all his talents, abilities, and strength in keeping the commandments of God, and in causing this great work to roll forth.
The Lord has given us the agency, the talent, and the ability to achieve in this field. He sent his Son into the world to be the great Exemplar, to be a Pattern, to mark the way whereby we, like him, might attain glory and eternal reward.
It was Christ who said: "I have overcome the world," (John 16:33) and it was also Christ who promised, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (Revelation 3:21.)" (Conference Report, April 1955, Afternoon Meeting 115.)

Rev. 2:7 the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God

Usually, the word "paradise" is used to mean the righteous portion of the spirit world (see Lu. 23:43, 2 Cor. 12:4). In this instance, as in Rev. 22:2, "paradise" is used to mean the celestial kingdom.
Bruce C. Hafen
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rev. 2:7) When that day comes, we will be given the quality or nature of life that God himself has, which is called "eternal" (godlike) life. It is an endowment of pure grace, the greatest endowment of all: "And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God." (D&C 14:7)
"This tree of life is the same tree of which Adam and Eve were not allowed to partake until they had faithfully and obediently endured the trials of mortal experience to the point of offering God a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is the tree described as growing from the seed of faith Alma describes in Alma 32. It is the tree whose fruit represents the final bestowal of not only all that the Father has but what the Father is. No wonder that, when Lehi partook of this "love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men," he declared it was "the most desirable above all things." And an angel added, "Yea, and the most joyous to the soul." (1 Nephi 11:22-23.)" (The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life's Experiences [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 198.)

Rev. 2:8 the church in Smyrna


"Smyrna today: The site of ancient Smyrna is today's metropolitan Izmir, major port and industrial center in western Turkey. The branch's bishop, Polycarp, was martyred in A.D. 155." (Jay M. Todd, "The Seven Cities of Revelation ," Ensign, August 1976)

Rev. 2:9 I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan

The Lord uses the term "Jews" to mean those who are of the house of Israel, the covenant people of the Lord. He is more than willing to adopt Gentiles into the House of Israel if they will come unto him and repent. With respect to the Jews, he doesn't care about the purity of their Jewish lineage if their works are those of Satan. Hence the synagogue of Satan is full of individuals who can carefully trace their lineage back to Judah and his brethren, but whose hearts are full of wickedness.
This 'synagogue of Satan' reference is instructive because the same application can be applied to the church of the devil spoken of in the Book of Mormon (1 Ne 13:6). In spite of the many churches in the world, the Lord doesn't recognize institutional affiliation as much as the affiliation of our hearts and souls (see DC 10:67-68). Hence, in his mind there are only two churches-his true church and the church of the devil.
James E. Talmage
We hold that God is no respecter of persons, but, on the contrary, that he will acknowledge good in any soul, no matter whether that person belongs to a church or not. But the Lord is not pleased with those churches that have been constructed by men and then labeled with his name. He is not pleased with those doctrines that are being taught as being his doctrines when they are only the effusion of men's brains, undirected by inspiration and utterly lacking in revelation.
He has expressed himself with regard to the churches that are built by man and has said they shall be overthrown. Indeed he has applied strong terms to some of those churches, or to church organizations in general, that have been brought into being by men. Read his words to John the Revelator. See what he means by the synagogue of Satan to which some of the people belonged. Read what he has said about the great and abominable church, the mother of abominations. The church as such may be wholly corrupt because of the false claims that are being made for it, and yet within that church as members there may be people who are doing their best. They have been deceived. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 171.)

Rev. 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer

The saints in Smyrna were called to suffer great tribulation for a period of "ten days" meaning a short season. We presume that most of the saints survived the persecutions but some did not. Martyrs from Smyrna include Metrodorus, Pionius, and Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History (Eusebius of Caesarea), chap. 11.)
Alexander B. Morrison
Polycarp was martyred in a.d.156 for his belief in Christ. Unwilling to bow to Caesar and to worship him, the aged bishop was brought into the stadium to be tried by the Roman Proconsul in the presence of a mob of 'lawless heathen.' Polycarp was ready for his ordeal. He knew he would be martyred, having said to his companions a few days before his arrest, 'I must needs be burned alive.' As he was entering the stadium there came to Polycarp a voice as it were from heaven: 'Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.'
"Curse the Christ," the Proconsul ordered. The reply was simple: "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?"
The Proconsul persisted: "I have wild beasts; if thou repent not, I will throw thee to them." Boldly Polycarp replied, "Send for them. For repentance from better to worse is not a change permitted to us; but to change from cruelty to righteousness is a noble thing."
Again the Proconsul spoke: "If thou dost despise the wild beasts I will make thee to be consumed by fire, if thou repent not." Courageous Polycarp answered: '"Thou threatenest the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is quenched; for thou knowest not of the fire of the judgement to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why delayest thou? Bring what thou wilt."
"Polycarp hath confessed himself to be a Christian," proclaimed the Proconsul's messenger to the assembled multitude. "Burn him alive," they raged. Timber and faggots were brought, and Polycarp was submitted to the flames. (See Martyrium Polycarpi, a letter from the Church in Smyrna, in Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd edition, edited by Henry Bettenson [Oxford University Press, 1986], pp. 9-12.)" (Feed My Sheep: Leadership Ideas for Latter-day Shepherds [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 165.)

Rev. 2:11 He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death

The second death is spiritual death and means to be forever cast from the presence of God. Such a fate is ultimately suffered only by the sons of perdition (DC 76:37-39).

Rev. 2:12 the church in Pergamos


"Pergamos today: About fifty miles north of Smyrna is the locale of ancient Pergamos (Pergamum); in the photograph, theatre and acropolis are to the left. In about 29 B.C. a temple for emperor worship was built here. Thus the Lord called it 'Satan's seat.'" (Jay M. Todd, "The Seven Cities of Revelation ," Ensign, August 1976)

Rev. 2:12-13 Pergamos...where Satan's seat is

"This passage may refer specifically to the enormous altar dedicated to the god Zeus, which had the appearance of a throne and stood on a hill overlooking Pergamos. It may also refer generally to the pagan cults of Athena, Asclepius, Dionysus, and Zeus, in which the power of Satan was manifest through false religious systems that promoted the worship of the emperor as a god." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 35.)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Under Augustus a temple was built at Pergamum [Pergamos], probably 29 B. C., and dedicated to Rome and Augustus, and Pergamum became the center of the imperial worship and 'Satan's throne' [seat]." (Dummelow, p. 1075.) Thus Satan dwelt in Pergamos and sat upon the throne in his own temple; and in like manner Satan dwells in every place and among every people where he, as the author of sin and the advocate of unrighteousness, finds those who open their hearts to him, who believe his doctrines, and who follow his ways; and similarly he reigns on the throne in every house of worship from which those doctrines flow which damn men and lead them carefully down to hell. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 451.)

Rev. 2:14 the doctrine of Balaam

"The doctrine of Balaam was to eat things sacrificed unto idols, to commit fornication (Num. 25:1-3), and to engage in priestcrafts. Balaam, the son of Beor, convinced many from Israel to commit fornication with Moabite women and to worship false gods (Num. 31:16) he was also involved in divining for hire with Balak, the king of Moab (Num. 22:1-24; Deut. 23:4, 2 Pet. 2:15-16; Jude 1:11). After meeting in council in Jerusalem, the early apostles had specifically enjoined the saints to 'abstain from meats offered to idols' (Acts 15:6, 29)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 36.)

Rev. 2:17 hidden manna

"hidden manna. Manna is the food that Israel received from heaven for forty years while they wandered in the wilderness (Ex. 16:35). The hidden manna refers to Jesus, who is the 'true bread from heaven' (John 6:32). Jesus said: 'I am [the] bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever' (John 6:48-51). Jesus is 'hidden,' or unseen and unknown by the wicked, but is revealed to him or her who overcomes.
"The phrase 'hidden manna' may also refer to eternal truths from and about Christ that are revealed only in the temple, 'mysteries' given only to those who seek diligently for them (see Matt. 13:11-12; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Ne. 2:16; 1 Ne. 10:19; Alma 12:9; D&C 76:5-7)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 37)

Rev. 2:17 I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written

Chieko N. Okazaki
Think about whose you are, whose name you bear. I have always enjoyed the passage in Revelation 2:17 in which the angel tells John the Beloved, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." And of course this passage would apply to women as well. The Prophet Joseph Smith referred directly to this passage and then explained:
Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it.
The new name is the key word. (D&C 130:10-11)
We're not in the celestial kingdom yet, and I don't know whether the white stone is literal or figurative, but I think that this is the Lord's way of reminding us about the importance of the names we choose to take upon us-to choose names of honor and valor, names that we can bear proudly and pass on unsullied to our children. What do you think when you hear the name "Adolf Hitler"? Is that a name you want for your own? No! What about your family name? What about your personal name or names? And what about the name of Christ that you bear as a result of having been baptized and having accepted that name by covenant? (Sanctuary [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 96.)

Rev. 2:14, 15, 20 the doctrine of Balaam...the doctrine of the Nicolaitans...and that woman Jezebel demonstrate that the Apostasy is well underway

"The Greek word Paul used that is translated as 'falling away' is apostasia. It meant literally to stand apart in immovable opposition, and in a civil sense, 'rebellion' or, better, 'revolution' or 'mutiny.' It carried the idea of an internal takeover by parties hostile to established authority, leadership, and constitution. Paul warned the Church for over three years that there would be such a rebellion. Once the rebellion succeeded, those leaders whom the Savior chose would be replaced by others of a perverse nature (wolves in sheep's clothing) who would change the doctrine (constitution) of Christ to fit their own base desires. Paul's warning shows that the Church was not in danger of totally disappearing. Rather, those antichrists, who would replace Christ's gospel with the doctrines of men, would assume control.
"John fought against these stubbornly disobedient and defiant individuals. We know the names of some of them: Diotrephes, Alexander the coppersmith, Hymenaeus, and Philetus (see 3 Jn. 1:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:14). These and others perverted the doctrine by setting themselves up as leaders and replacing the teachings of Christ with their own. It appears that in many areas local officers also struggled to supplant the authority and leadership of the prophets and apostles. Presbyters and bishops vied for power and claimed authority that was not theirs.
"The situation was critical. A false prophetic circle arose that competed with the true prophets for ecclesiastical authority and theological acceptance. False apostles infiltrated the church at Ephesus (see Rev. 2:2); at Pergamos a faction upheld what John called the 'doctrine of Balaam' (Rev. 2:14, KJV), which was probably a move to incorporate into Church practice certain elements of the pagan religion of the Romans; while at Thyatira a false prophetess with quite a number of followers seduced many with her teachings (see v. 20). Heresy was spreading everywhere." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 5.)
Neal A. Maxwell
Widespread fornication and idolatry brought apostolic alarm (see 1 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:3; Jude 1:7). John and Paul both bemoaned the rise of false Apostles (see 2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2). The Church was clearly under siege. Some not only fell away but then openly opposed. In one circumstance, Paul stood alone and lamented that 'all men forsook me' (2 Tim. 4:16). He also decried those who 'subvert[ed] whole houses' (Titus 1:11).
Some local leaders rebelled, as when one, who loved his preeminence, refused to receive the brethren (see 3 Jn. 1:9-10).No wonder President Brigham Young observed: 'It is said the Priesthood was taken from the Church, but it is not so, the Church went from the Priesthood' (in Journal of Discourses, 12:69)." ("From the Beginning," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 18-19)

Rev. 2:18 the church in Thyatira


"Thyatira today: Ruins of this busy commercial city are about 50 miles northeast of Smyrna." (Jay M. Todd, "The Seven Cities of Revelation ," Ensign, August 1976)

Rev. 2:23 I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts

"The word reins literally means kidneys. To the Hebrews the word signified strength and vigor. The phrase is an idiom, meaning that the Lord knows all things about the inner man, his strengths and weaknesses, his character and emotions. And he shall then be able to 'give unto every one of you according to your works.'" (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 452)

Rev. 2:27 as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers

The Joseph Smith Translation helps us to understand the nature of dominion given to those who are made queens and priestesses, 'kings and priests unto God' (Rev. 1:6). You can't be a king without a kingdom. The dominion and authority of these saints is as real as any earthly king, 'And to him who overcometh, and keepeth my commandments unto the end, will I give power over many kingdoms; And he shall rule them with the word of God; and they shall be in his hands as the vessels of clay in the hands of a potter; and he shall govern them by faith, with equity and justice, even As I received of my Father.' (JST Rev. 2:26-27) Notice how much more merciful and just is the Joseph Smith rendition. The King James Version makes it sound like these saints will rule harshly, breaking their subjects to shivers as if they were clay pots.
Gerald N. Lund
One day in a [Pepperdine University] class on the book of Revelation, we ended up in a major discussion about the "natural paradox," as the professor called it, found in Rev. 2:26-27. As part of the promise to the faithful who endure to the end, the Lord said they would receive "power over the nations," "rule them with a rod of iron," and break the nations to "shivers." "Do you see the paradox?" the professor asked. "The image is that of a tyrant, smashing nations to pieces like clay pots, but the promise is given to the faithful. How do you reconcile faith and tyranny in the same breath?" I wanted to tell him that the Book of Mormon makes it clear that the rod of iron is a symbol for the word of God, and that the faithful were leading with God's word, not some tyrannical weapon. But since references to the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith were not warmly received at Pepperdine, I bit my tongue. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 269.)

Rev. 2:28 I will give him the morning star

Jesus declared, 'I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star' (Rev. 22:16). For an individual to receive the morning star is the same thing as to receive the Second Comforter (see commentary for John 14:16). It is to receive personal visitation from the resurrected Lord (see also 2 Pet. 1:19).

Overview of Revelation 2-3

"In John's apocalypse we find additional convincing evidence that apostasy was ruining the church. As had Jude before him, John told of the forces of rebellion already at work in Christianity. And, as he reported, they were succeeding...
"The evidence of apostasy in progress is found in the messages to seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3. In those communications we can evaluate the spiritual stability of the churches based on the words addressed to each one. It is often suggested that the seven are representative of the church as a whole, given John's propensity for the use of numbers - particularly the number seven - in symbolic ways. We have every reason to believe that the messages were actual communications to the seven churches, yet it is also possible that their words characterize all of Christianity and give us a reasonable evaluation of the faith as a whole near the end of the first century.
"...If the messages to the seven churches of Asia paint a fair picture of the overall status of early Christianity, one cannot avoid the conclusion that the prophecies of apostasy were then being fulfilled. Of the seven churches, only two were not condemned, and one of those was to suffer martyrdom. One church was ready to die because of its sins; another was to be spit out of God's mouth. Of the rest, all were guilty of serious error, and each was told in strong terms that if it did not repent, it would be rejected." (John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 27 March 1990, 2 vols. [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1990], 1: 107-109.)
Ephesus (2:1-7)
For good works, diligence, patience, longsuffering, and rejecting apostates, Nicolaitans, and false apostles
For forgetting their first love (God)
To eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God
Smyrna (2:8-11)
For suffering tribulation and poverty
To receive a crown of life and avoid the second death
Pergamos (2:12-17)
For remaining true to the faith
For tolerating the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans
To eat hidden manna, to receive a white stone and a new name
Thyatira (2:18-29)
For works of charity, service, faith, and patience
For tolerating the false prophetess Jezebel and her teachings of idolatry and fornication
To receive power over the nations, to rule by the word of God, and receive the morning star
Sardis (3:1-6)
For the few righteous which have not defiled their garments
For forgetting the Lord, becoming spiritually dead, and for works of wickedness
To be clothed in white and have their names written in the book of life
Philadelphia (3:7-13)
For faithfulness in spite of little remaining strength
To triumph over their enemies, be made a pillar in the temple of God, and receive a new name
Laodicea (3:14-22)
For being lukewarm and proud in their riches
To sit with the Lord in his throne
"[With respect to] the letters to the seven churches ... the number seven symbolically indicates completion or wholeness and thus has meaning for the entire church of Christ. Thus the contents of all seven letters apply to all Saints of all ages subsequent to the time of John's book of Revelation. Certainly the problems and challenges set forth in the letters are experienced by God's people in all ages, and the promises and rewards in the letters are directed to all Church members." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 27.)