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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 2 - Verse 13

Verse 13. I know thy works. The uniform mode of addressing the seven churches in these epistles. See Barnes on "Re 2:2".

 

And where thou dwellest. That is, I know all the temptations to which you are exposed; all the allurements to sin by which you are surrounded; all the apologies which might be made for what has occurred arising from those circumstances; and all that could be said in commendation of you for having been as faithful as you have been. The sense of the passage is, that it does much to enable us to judge of character to know where men live. It is much more easy to be virtuous and pious in some circumstances than in others; and in order to determine how much credit is due to a man for his virtues, it is necessary to understand how much he has been called to resist, how many temptations he has encountered, what easily-besetting sins he may have, or what allurements may have been presented to his mind to draw him from the path of virtue and religion. In like manner, in order to judge correctly of those who have embraced error, or have been led into sin, it is necessary to understand what there may have been in their circumstances that gave to error what was plausible, and to sin what was attractive; what there was in their situation in life that exposed them to these influences, and what arguments may have been employed by the learned, the talented, and the plausible advocates of error, to lead them astray. We often judge harshly where the Saviour would be far less severe in his judgments; we often commend much where in fact there has been little to commend. It is possible to conceive that in the strugglings against evil of those who have ultimately fallen, there may be more to commend than in cases where the path of virtue has been pursued as the mere result of circumstances, and where there never has been a conflict with temptation. The adjudications of the great day will do much to reverse the judgments of mankind.

Even where Satan's seat is. A place of peculiar wickedness, as if Satan dwelt there. Satan is, as it were, enthroned there. The influence of Satan in producing persecution is that which is particularly alluded to, as is apparent from the reference which is immediately made to the case of Antipas, the "faithful martyr."

And thou holdest fast my name. They had professed the name of Christ; that is, they had professed to be his followers, and they had steadfastly adhered to him and his cause in all the opposition made to him. The name Christian, given in honour of Christ, and indicating that they were his disciples, they had not been ashamed of or denied. It was this name that subjected the early Christians to reproach. See 1 Pe 4:14.

And hast not denied my faith. That is, hast not denied my religion. The great essential element in the Christian religion is faith, and this, since it is so important, is often put for the whole of religion.

Even in those days wherein Antipus was my faithful martyr. Of Antipas we know nothing more than is here stated. "In the Acta Sanctorum (ii. pp. 3, 4) is a martyrology of Antipas from a Greek MS.; but it is full of fable and fiction, which a later age had added to the original story."—Professor Stuart, in loc.

Who was slain among you. It would seem from this, that, though the persecution had raged there, but one person had been put to death, It would appear also that the persecution was of a local character, since Pergamos is described as "Satan's seat;" and the death of Antipus is mentioned in immediate connexion with that fact. All the circumstances referred to would lead us to suppose that this was a popular outbreak, and not a persecution carried on under the authority of government, and that Antipas was put to death in a popular excitement. So Stephen (Acts 7) was put to death, and so Paul at Lystra was stoned until it was supposed he was dead, Ac 14:19.

Where Satan dwelleth. The repetition of this idea—very much in the manner of John—showed how intensely the mind was fixed on the thought, and how much alive the feelings were to the malice of Satan as exhibited at Pergamos.

{b} "know thy" Re 2:9 {c} "denied" 2 Ti 2:12

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