Revelation 2:1-17
Below is a view of the first three churches, linking to explanations.
For a table of the messages to the seven churches, go.
 Re 2:1 ¶ Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;   Angel The word means "messenger." Consider that they are the church reformers who read the letters to the others. Through the ages, the church has had challenges. God has sent dedicated people who have voiced His appeals as needed.
  Ephesus A prominent seaport of Asia Minor. See map, left side. We may compare the description here with Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
.2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
  Thy Singular, compared to the plural "your" in older English
  Works Or "actions."
  Labour From kopos meaning "weariness."
  Patience Or "perseverance."
  Not bear ... tried It is much easier to ignore the open sin of church members than to lovingly confront the sinners 1co0501.
  Tried ... apostles See 1jo0401, ac2029, 2pe02, 1ti0120. Docetism and Gnosticism threatened the church.
  My name's sake Remember that Christ is speaking v1. Patience for those who had taken His name including His character.
.4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.   Left thy first love Their enthusiasm was gone. This reminds us of Jesus' story about the seed that sprouted quickly but, because of poor soil and the hot sun, withered mr0405. In the work of sharing truth, some will hear and accept but later slip away. This is heart wrenching for those of us who observe. We who sow under the direction of the master sower have a responsibility to keep them encouraged but must not feel that we are totally to blame if they fall away. We each have a responsibility to remain secure in Christ. Some, when persecution or difficulties come, will turn away. By the grace of Christ we must determine to remain faithful he1035, he0604.
.5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.   Remember ... repent See note. Remembering how precious truth was would show the importance of returning. Would doing their first works be their means of salvation? Only in the sense that they needed to spend time in prayer and other activities which would encourage them to return to their state of spiritual fervor.

.6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

.7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
  Nicolaitans We don't know much about the Nicolaitans. Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, 1.26:ANF 1:352 in the 2nd century AD, described them as people who claimed to be Christians but who considered it "a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols." Assuming that the Nicolaitans are those described in v2 above, they would have call themselves apostles without being such in practice. Others wrote about the same error which is still practiced the error of living as if behavior didn't matter. 1jo0204, mt0721., ga0513, 2co0510, ro0331.
  Tree of life ... paradise The tree was in the Garden of Eden on earth and will be in heaven ge0209, re2202. When the earth passes away and we have a new earth, re2101 we may expect the tree of life to be in it again re2107. Paradise will then be here, too. Compare lu2343.
 8 ¶ And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;   Smyrna The name is now thought to have come from Samorna, a goddess worshipped in the city. See the Asia map for location.
.9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.   Tribulation Or "distress." The church experienced frequent periods of trouble from the government.
  Poverty ... rich ... Jews See the note for these interesting contrasts.
.10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
  Fear none See ja0102, jn1633.
  Suffer ... ten days A time of intense persecution of Christians. See note.
12 ¶ And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;   Pergamos See v12 note.
  Sword Why would He come as One holding a double-edged sword? False doctrine had entered. They needed to test everything with Scripture v14. Also he0412.
.13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
  Satan's seat A temple was built there in 29 B.C. dedicated to the worship of the goddess Roma (for the empire) and emperor Augustus.
   Antipas A common Greek name meaning "in place of father" which has been interpreted as representing all who witnessed or died for their faith during the time of the early church when the faithful ones witnessed (sometimes by dying) against the increasing influence of Satan on the doctrines of the church. The call of Antipas was to hold the faith of the previous generation who had lived by the pure teachings of Jesus. According to one Bible student, the Apostle Paul may be represented by the name, "Anitpas." See note at the bottom of this page..
  Martyr From martus also meaning "witness" as in re0105.
.14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
  Doctrine of Balaam The sexual and pagan celebration is symbolic of spiritual prostitution re1803. See Numbers 22 to 25, esp. nu25. for the historical situation the symbolic language was based on. See note.
  Doctrine of the Nicolaitans See note.
 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
.17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; 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.
  Sword ... mouth When refused, the word condemns us cutting us off from the source of life ro0801, re0116,v12.
  Overcometh A characteristic of the righteous people of all seven churches. Also 1jo0215.
  Manna ... stone ... new name See note.
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Was Antipas Paul ?
Paul was an active apostle during the time of Pergamos which later became part of the Roman Empire so the identity as Antipas is in harmony with time in history.
Paul was the most outstanding witness in that time. His name appears in 159 verses in the NT.
Satan's seat in trying to stop Christianity was in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12, 13).
Paul described his persecution as being killed "accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Romans 8:36).
He was physically slain in Rome by Nero. See his testimony is in 2 Tim. 4:6-8.
For the text including Antipas, see verse 13 above.