Previous: Revelation 2:24

26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-
27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' - Revelation 2:26-29

As we have been pointing out throughout this series of messages to the Church, "He who overcomes," is a description of all true believers in Christ (See 1 John 5:3-5 and notes above on chapter 2, verse 1).

Again, the overcomer is one about whom it can be said that he or she "keeps"" My works. This does not describe a method of salvation, but a result of following Christ. Salvation is emphatically not a result of good works, but by grace through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:9-10 - Also see the notes on chapter 2, verse 19).

The word for "keeps" is the Greek verb terero, which in turn comes from the noun teros, meaning "a guard." This enforces the concept that every overcomer is a veteran of spiritual warfare. He or she is a victor, because, as John himself had taught,

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. - 1 John 4:4

"My works" introduces two key concepts of Christianity. Jesus said they were "My works" because they were the normal outcome of a right relationship with Him. He said,

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:16

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.- Matthew 7:18-20

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." - 1 John 13:34-35

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." - John 14:15

See the notes on good works in chapter 2, verse 2.

Jesus also called them "My works," because He actually takes up residence in the lives of true believers, and does through them the things He wants to accomplish. He promised to always be with His disciples, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He encourages people to invite Him into their lives (Revelation 3:20). The Apostle Paul understood this amazing concept. After praying repeatedly for the Lord to remove some "thorn in the flesh," he said,

8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In some of His other writings Paul also referred to the amazing work of Christ within him.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.- Philippians 4:13

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. - Galatians 2:20

The expression "until the end," is sobering. If one is a true believer, He should be faithful to the end of his life. The spiritual battle continues as long as we live in a sin-corrupted world, but knowing Christ and serving Him makes it a wonderful life, full of meaning!

Consider the martyrs of the past, or even of our current generation. Most of them could have been spared their torture and death by recanting - giving up their belief in Christ. But that personal bond with Him, and the promise of eternal life, were more valuable to them than physical existence.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from some of the great "Promise Keepers" speakers during the big rallies of the 1990's was the concept of "finishing well." In our generation amazing grace has been the emphasis, and rightly so. But for some, this fosters a concept known as "easy-believism." This is the false idea that, since we are saved by grace, we can live the same unholy way that the world does. However, living an unchanged life casts doubt on whether or not a person is really born again (John 3:3).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 2:14

Paul weighed in on this question in the book of Romans.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:1-4

In another place he wrote,

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.- 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Back to the concept of finishing well, I have known many people who seemed to have grown so rapidly at first, but who gradually drifted away. Some of them were even in the ministry, but at some point they just turned and walked off. This is not the same thing as a true believer falling into sin and then repenting. The Bible if full of examples like that. It is never a question of God not wanting a sinner to return. But for some people, it is apparently just a decision not to believe after all. I have to think that those who make that decision learned all they needed to know about God's great love and offer of salvation, but for some illogical reason, decided not to believe it. People like that are doomed because they have already rejected the truth that could have saved them. What more could they learn that would turn them back again? (Hebrews 6:4-6)

By contrast, the tireless Apostle Paul expressed his desire to keep on serving the Lord as long as he would live.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. - Acts 20:4

Jesus then revealed the reward that these overcomers would experience. He said, "to him I will give power over the nations." In Revelation 20 we will fully consider the reign of Christ on earth for 1000 years before the final judgment and the creation of a New Heaven and New Earth. All true Christians from the Church Age will return with Jesus (Revelation 19:11-14). The martyrs of the Tribulation Period will be raised (Revelation 20:4), and the Old Testament Saints will resurrected (Daniel 12:1-3). All of these groups are part of the "first resurrection," and they will reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6).

The promise to overcomers is to give authority over the nations. This stands in contrast to the unholy alliance between the church and various governments during the Middle Ages. God was not pleased with Papal influence over the nations, but He will be pleased to allow His righteous followers to rule and reign with Christ when He returns as King of Kings (Revelation 19:11-16).

27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'- as I also have received from My Father."

This is a quotation from Psalm 2:7-9, where God the Father promises to give all the nations of the earth to His Son. In that future kingdom peace and prosperity will be maintained by the sure and swift judgment of lawbreakers. Jesus will reign and those He has redeemed will assist Him. In that sense it can be said of them that they also rule with a rod of iron.

"And I will give him the morning star." One further reward for the overcomers is this interesting promise. In the last chapter of The New Testament (Revelation 22:16) Jesus calls Himself the morning star. This description is usually applied to the planet Venus when it shines brightly just before sunrise. It is the precursor of an even brighter light, the sun itself. In the last chapter of The Old Testament, in the context of the final judgments, it is prophesied that Messiah (Jesus) will appear as the Sun of Righteousness. This refers to His Glorious Return to dispel the darkness of The Tribulation.

But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves. - Malachi 4:2

Ray Stedman notices a relationship here between the Rapture of the Church and Christ's Second Coming to set up the Millennial Kingdom.

So what Jesus is saying to the faithful believers in the corrupt church at Thyatira is that there will be two stages of the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. First He will appear as the morning star, shining brightly before dawn, coming for His own. Then, at a later period, He will appear as the shining sun, coming in all His power and glory, visible to all the world. (God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation, p 65.)

This is the first of several hints about the Rapture in the Book of Revelation. We will find more in the messages to the Churches at Philadelphia and Laodicea. In Chapter 4, when John is told to "come up here," we will relate it to teaching from the rest of the New Testament.

29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." See notes about this expression in chapter 2, verse 7. Again, the responsibility is on the reader or listener to make use of what has been said.

Next: Revelation 3:1


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