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THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Revelation 2:4-5

But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.- Revelation 2:6

Jesus mentioned something else favorable about the Ephesians at this point. He said, "But this you have." He told them, "You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans." This is a little surprising since Christianity elevates love to the highest of virtues. But, of course there is such a thing as "righteous indignation," (Ephesians 4:26-27), and Jesus Himself drove out the moneychangers from the Temple when He saw them defiling it with their greed (Matthew 21:12-13).

The name Nicolaitans is only found in the Bible here and in verse 15 of this same chapter. Some commentators assume that it referred to the followers of some heretic named Nicolas. However, the only Nicolas mentioned in the Bible was a godly person chosen to be one of the first deacons in Acts 6. It is more likely that the name Nikolaites, coming from two Greek words nikao - "to conquer" and laos - "people," referred to an element in the Church that wanted to dominate the people. This is probably a reference to the false apostles mentioned earlier, and their tendency to establish a ruling class over the rest of the people in the church.

I have known a number of pastors who acted like little dictators in the church. They evidently never believed what Jesus taught - that whoever would be greatest in the Kingdom would need to be a servant to all (Matthew 20:25-28). John himself had written about this kind of egotist in his third epistle.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. - 3 John 9

Jesus is the only head of the Church. He did give them Apostles, and over time, as seen in the Book of Acts and in the epistles to the churches of the First Century, a few other leaders were added to their simple organizational structure (see the notes about pastors and other ministries in verse 1 of this chapter).

Peter, the natural leader of the Early Church (John 21:16, Acts 2:14) instructed other leaders to not "lord it over" other believers since Christ is the Chief Shepherd of His Church (1 Peter 5:2-4). Another picture of the Church in the New Testament is that it is a body with many different parts, all functioning together for the good of the whole person, and controlled by its head, who is Jesus Christ Himself (I Corinthians chapters 12 to 14; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-16. Romans 12:4-8).

Then Jesus added another unusual statement: "which I also hate." Expression of hatred from the Lord, or from His people, is rare in the Bible. In the strict sense, Jesus even taught us to love our enemies instead of hating them (Matthew 5:43-44). But the word is sometimes used in a comparative sense, like Jesus' instruction to "hate" one's family - meaning to love less than their love for Him (Luke 14:26). In Amos we find instruction to hate what is evil.

Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the LORD God of hosts
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. - Amos 5:15

This is followed by an expression of God's own hatred of their religious activities that were not sincere.

"I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies." - Amos 5:21

God does not hate evil-doers; He hates the evil that they do.

Counsel

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. - Revelation 2:7

"He who has an ear, let him hear." Who should be able to understand this teaching? Someone with a mystical sixth sense? Someone who has an enlightened guru to explain it? No! If a person has a working ear, he should be able to hear. These truths are being revealed to those who are willing to hear. Still, there are many, who really do not want to know the truth.

39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. - John 5:39-40

Since Jesus was speaking, why did He say, "what the Spirit says to the churches"? He was indeed speaking, but the entire vision came to John by way of the Holy Spirit. See our notes on chapter 1, verse 10, where John said that he was "In the Spirit."

In each of the letters Jesus promises a blessing "To him who overcomes." See the notes from chapter 2, verse 1 about the fact that every true Christian is an overcomer. However, the trials that each church faces will tend to sort out the true believers from the false.

The promise to true believers of this church is this: "I will give the right to eat from the tree of life." The original tree of life was in the Garden of Eden. However, Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead. God banned them from the garden and set a guard to keep them from entering, presumably because He did not want them to eat from the tree of life and experience eternal existence in their sinful state (Genesis chapters 2 and 3).

When Jesus added, "which is in the paradise of God," He was probably referring to the same place He had in mind when he told the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:42). The word comes from the Persian language's description of a garden. Theologians say that it may be a portion of Hades, the place of the departed dead, until the future judgments, when believers will go to Heaven and non-believers will go to Hell. Jesus' story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) give some credence to this concept, but the word "Paradise" is not used in that story.

The Apostle Paul spoke of someone (possibly himself) who was caught up to the third heaven, which he equated with Paradise. It was a place of indescribable wonder (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). It is thought that the "third" heaven is beyond the first one - our skies, or the atmosphere around the Earth; and beyond the second one - outer space and the physical universe; to God's own abode, which is beyond time and space.

Paul went on to assure us that for a Christian to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:6-8).

I once heard the story of a little boy who was trying to understand this concept. He simplified it greatly by saying, "Well, wherever Jesus is, that will be Heaven to me."

The Tree of Life may be in that intermediate place now, so that overcomers may partake and never die again.

When we get to the last chapter of Revelation we will consider that The Tree of Life will be located on the New Earth (Revelation 22:2).


Next: Revelation 2:8a


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