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New Defender's Study Bible Notes

2:2 works. Compare I Thessalonians 1:3—“work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.” However, their love was beginning to wane.

2:2 are not. These false apostles were also of great concern to Paul (II Corinthians 11:13-15). John had no doubt warned the Ephesians to “try the spirits whether they are of God,” for they might well be “false prophets” (I John 4:1). They had done just that, and Christ commended them for it.

2:9 say they are Jews. These must have been Gentile converts of the Judaizers, who were trying to impose Judaism, with its law and priesthood, on Christianity. Just as men claiming to be apostles, who were not, were disturbing the church at Ephesus, so at Smyrna men claiming to have become Jews, who were not, were plaguing the church there. These two groups of heretics were beginning a corruption of Christianity which would eventually pervade the church for a thousand years, imposing an imagined apostolic succession and continuing priesthood, both of which would subjugate the ordinary people in the churches in a “Nicolaitan” hierarchy. As the false apostles were ministers of Satan (II Corinthians 11:13-15), so these false Jews had become—unknowingly perhaps—a synagogue of Satan.

2:13 Satan’s seat. “Satan’s seat” is literally “Satan’s throne.” This may be a reference to the great altar of Zeus at Pergamos, but there is also some evidence that the priesthood of Babylonian idolatry had moved to Pergamos when Babylon fell to the Persians.

2:13 Antipas. “Antipas” means “against all.” Although Antipas may have been an otherwise unknown martyr (i.e., “witness”) at Pergamos, the Lord may have included his name here to represent all His faithful witnesses who take a clear stand for Christ “against all” the forces of Satan, even at the possible cost of martyrdom.

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