Endurance, Perseverance and Testing. Revelation 2:1-2
Revelation 2:1, "These things says." This is a specific statement, a technical articulation in the Greek. TADE LEGEI [Tade legei] from LEGO meaning "I say." "These things I say," and this formula is used to introduce an authoritative pronouncement. It is only found eight times in the entirety of the New Testament. Seven of those eight are in these short epistles and the one outside of Revelation is found in Acts 21:11 when Agabus says, "These things says the Holy Spirit." This phrase was also used in secular literature by the kings of Persia whenever they were making official pronouncements, and it was used in the Septuagint by the Old Testament prophets whenever they set forth an authoritative statement from God. So this phrase is rich with power and authority. This is an authoritative pronouncement from the Supreme Court of heaven, a legislative decree.
Then we have a reference to two aspects of the vision of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen by John in the first chapter: "he who holds the seven stars in his right hand." Secondly, "the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands." The first statement is a slightly different version of what we read in chapter one where it says, KJV "he had seven stars in his right hand." The verb there is the verb ECHO [e)xw] which simply means to have and to hold, and so it is a simple statement that He had or held these seven stars. The verb that is used here in chapter two is a much more powerful verb, used in its participial form to indicate an individual. It is a substantive, the one who holds, from the verb KRATO [kratw] which means to hold something with authority. He is holding the seven stars and He is walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. The seven lampstands we know represent the seven churches. The stars are completely distinct from the seven churches, and the idea here is that he holds and controls or has authority over the seven stars. The seven stars are the seven angels and so the conclusion is that this represents the judicial authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over the angels who are observing these churches. Jesus Christ controls history. He is the one, according to John chapter five, God has now delegated judicial responsibility. So as part of His responsibility as the High Priest-Judge He is in control of the functions of the courtroom and He is executing present time evaluation on local churches. This includes discipline as well as blessing. That is the function of the second image here: He is the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.
This shows that Jesus Christ, even though He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, He is in the present period—known as the session, which refers to His humanity that it is in a passive waiting position—is awaiting the answer to His prayer, as stated in Psalm 2:7, to give Him the kingdoms. The writer to the Hebrews emphasizes what Christ is doing during the present session, and part of that includes His intercessory ministry for the church. But another aspect of that is His active involvement in evaluating the church and overseeing in history judgment on local congregations, because Jesus Christ is involved in preparing us as the bride of Christ for the judgment seat of Christ and to rule and reign with Him. So what we see here is his active ongoing involvement in local churches. He is walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands and it is from this vantage point that He is able to execute judgment on each congregation. This is a picture of our Lord being actively involved in every congregation. This means that the formation of a local congregation is a serious task.
In Revelation 2:2 we see the beginning of this evaluation. Jesus said: "I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you cannot bear them who are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars." Part of the problem that we have here is that the English has broken this up into a couple of different sentences, which makes it seem as if different thoughts are being expressed here. Actually, this is all one sentence in the Greek. Jesus starts of with the statement, "I know your works." 'I know' is based on the Greek verb OIDA [o)ida] and it is a perfect active indicative. There are two basic words for knowledge in Greek, OIDA and GINOSKO. OIDA is almost consistently used with reference to Jesus' omniscience, the omniscience of God. It is not an acquired knowledge, it is almost an intuitive knowledge. So when you read that Jesus knows something [OIDA] there is a reference there to omniscience. So this is, of course, speaking of the deity of Christ as opposed to the humanity of Christ, and Jesus in His omniscience knows everything there is to know about us. He is the one who walks in the midst of the congregation. There are no secrets hidden from Him, He is fully aware of every thought, every deed, every action, therefore He is qualified to judge us. He uses this verb OIDA and it is a perfect active indicative. The perfect tense indicates completed action. The emphasis of the perfect tense of this type is on the present result of completed action. So He has always known everything that there is to know about this Ephesian congregation. He doesn't learn anything new, there are no surprises. The active voice indicates that Christ performs the action. This indicative mood presents the situation as that of reality. He is the all-knowing, all-seeing judge.
Next, "your works." The Greek noun is ERGON [e)rgon]. The plural form of the noun is usually used in Scripture to indicate life-time production. It is not necessarily a word that within itself indicates either human good or divine good, it is a word that just expresses overall production in the life of a believer. ERGON is mentioned in each [according to the majority text] of these seven letters to the seven churches and each one begins with this statement, "I know your works." It is only left out of two of the churches in two or three of them oldest MSS. Now we are going to expand it. As we look at what comes, there are three groups of two that are linked together. First of all there is a positive statement: "I know your labor, and I know your endurance." This is followed by a second couplet: "I know you can't bear evils [or evil people]." And, "you have tested their claims and found them liars." That is, these were men who claimed to be apostles and they have been evaluated by the local congregation. The third couplet: "And have endured, and persevered," v. 3, "because of my [Christ's] name," i.e. orientation to Christ.