Revelation 2:16
Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Revelation 2:16-17. Repent, therefore, of these irregularities; or else I will come unto thee quickly — In the way of chastisement; and will fight against them — Those corrupt members; with the sword of my mouth — With my word, pronouncing terrible calamities against them, and executing what I have threatened. The word of God is the great engine wherewith Christ fights against, wounds, and overcomes all antichristian powers. He that hath an ear — That is disposed to receive useful instruction; let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches — Let him carefully regard the arguments and warnings given by the Spirit of prophecy. To him that overcometh, and eateth not of these sacrifices, will I give to eat of the hidden manna — He shall be made a partaker of those sacred pleasures which God’s sanctuary above affords, and of which the manna that fell in the wilderness, and was laid up in a golden vessel before the Lord, was only an imperfect type; even the full, glorious, everlasting fruition of God, and those comforts which flow from him. And will give him a while stone — The ancients, on many occasions, gave their votes in judgment by small stones; by black they condemned, by white ones they acquitted. Sometimes also they wrote on small smooth stones. Here may be an allusion to both customs; and the thing principally intended by the white stone is complete victory, and full public absolution. And in the stone a new name written — Eminent honour following thereon. So Jacob, after his victory, gained the name of Israel. Wouldest thou know what thy new name will be? The way to this is plain: overcome. Till then, all thy inquiries are vain. But then thou wilt read it on the white stone.2:12-17 The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together, should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support. This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer's soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.Repent - See Revelation 2:5.

Or else I will come unto thee quickly - On the word "quickly," see the notes on Revelation 1:1. The meaning here is, that he would come against them in judgment, or to punish them.

And will fight against them - Against the Nicolaitanes. He would come against the church for tolerating them, but his opposition would be principally directed against the Nicolaitanes themselves. The church would excite his displeasure by retaining them in its bosom, but it was in its power to save them from destruction. If the church would repent, or if it would separate itself from the evil, then the Saviour would not come against them. If this were not done, they would feel the vengeance of his sword, and be subjected to punishment. The church always suffers when it has offenders in its bosom; it has the power of saving them if it will repent of its own unfaithfulness, and will strive for their conversion.

With the sword of my mouth - notes on Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12. That is, he would give the order, and they would be cut as if by a sword. Precisely in what way it would be done he does not say; but it might be by persecution, or by heavy judgments. To see the force of this, we are to remember the power which Christ has to punish the wicked by a word of his mouth. By a word in the last day he will turn all the wicked into hell.

16. The three oldest manuscripts read, "Repent, therefore." Not only the Nicolaitanes, but the whole Church of Pergamos is called on to repent of not having hated the Nicolaitane teaching and practice. Contrast Paul, Ac 20:26.

I will come—I am coming.

fight against them—Greek, "war with them"; with the Nicolaitanes primarily; but including also chastisement of the whole Church at Pergamos: compare "unto THEE."

with the sword of my mouth—resumed from Re 1:16, but with an allusion to the drawn sword with which the angel of the Lord confronted Balaam on his way to curse Israel: an earnest of the sword by which he and the seduced Israelites fell at last. The spiritual Balaamites of John's day are to be smitten with the Lord's spiritual sword, the word or "rod of His mouth."

Repent; thou that art guilty of conniving at such things, change thy mind and practice, and let those who have entertained these opinions, and run into those filthy practices, change their hearts and practices;

or else I will come unto thee quickly; I will quickly come against thee, and punish thee: See Poole "Revelation 2:5".

And will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; and fight against them by my word; either convincing them, or pronouncing sentence against them; or, by raising up other teachers, who shall preach my word more faithfully, and whose doctrine shall be like a sword to devour and to destroy them. Repent,.... This is said to those who were truly godly in those times, but still retained their communion with these corrupt men, and had not, as yet, separated from then; nor had they protested against these evil doctrines and practices, at least but very coldly, and had too much connived at them; and therefore are called upon to repent of their lukewarmness, negligence, and sinful compliances:

or else I will come unto thee quickly: in a providential way, to rebuke and chastise for such remissness, indifference, and evil communication:

and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; of this sword; see Gill on Revelation 1:16. And it is observable, that Christ does not say, "I will fight against thee"; the true members of his mystical body, though lax and supine, for Christ does not fight against his people, but for them; but he says, "and will fight against them"; the Balaamites and Nicolaitans, for their idolatry and uncleanness.

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 2:16. The summons to repentance, and the threat in case this is neglected, is added to the reproof, Revelation 2:14-15, as in Revelation 2:5. As to the ἔρχομαί σοι, see on the former passage, and with respect to the ταχύ, cf. Revelation 1:1. The church as a whole, to whose members the Nicolaitans belong, having shared in the reproof, so also share in the admonition to repentance and the threat; for the conflict of the coming Lord, which is of course immediately directed only against the Nicolaitans (πολ. μετʼ αὐτῶν), must cause suffering to the entire body of the church (ἔρχ. σοι). It will nevertheless be a judging and visible coming to the entire church, if it continue to neglect the deliverance of its still curable members, and to cut off those actually dead already. It is against the idea of the coming of the Lord in general, and against the significance of the image of the sword in the mouth of the Lord in particular,[1171] if the ΠΟΛΕΜΉΣΩ, Κ.Τ.Λ., be explained: “I will raise up prophets in the church to do what the bishop neglects, and to courageously oppose themselves to the Nicolaitans,”[1172] or be supplemented “by another bishop;”[1173] so too Grot., Wetst., Vitr., Bengel, Herd., Stern, Rinck, Hengstenb., etc., offend against the latter idea, in maintaining a remembrance of the sword of the angel against Balaam,[1174] or the sword whereby the misled Israelites were swept away,[1175] or both.[1176] Already the statement expressly added after Revelation 2:16, ῬΟΜΦ. ΤΟῦ ΣΤΌΜΑΤΌς ΜΟΥ, renders this impossible.

[1171] Cf. Revelation 1:16.

[1172] Grot.

[1173] Calov.

[1174] Numbers 22:11.

[1175] Numbers 31:8.

[1176] Cf., on the other hand, Eichh., Heinr., Ewald, De Wette.Revelation 2:16. The church as a whole must repent of her too tolerant attitude to these errorists, but the threatened visitation is directed against the errorists themselves in the shape of some physical malady or mortal sickness, according to the current belief in early Christianity (cf. on 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 11:30, Everling: die paul. Angelologie, etc., 20 f.). Grotius refers the threat to the prophetic order (“prophetas suscitabo in ecclesia”). But the ethnic conscience generally regarded pestilence or any physical calamity as a punishment inflicted by the god for some offence against his ritual or some breach of morals. In the Hexateuch, the sword opposes (Numbers 22:23; Numbers 22:31) and finally slays (Numbers 31:8) Balaam. The run of thought in the verse is that if the church does not repent, i.e., if she does not act on her own initiative and expel the wrongdoers (in the hope of them ultimately coming to a better mind, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5), she must submit to having them cut out of her, and thus being irretrievably lost by death. The church is responsible for her erring members, and the exercise of discipline is viewed as a duty to them as well as to herself and God. Weak laxity is false kindness, the prophet implies; it merely exposes offenders to an alternative far more dreadful than discipline itself. The sword, Viet, remarks on Revelation 1:16, is used to punish deserters as well as to win victory for the faithful. For instrumental ἐν in the pre-Christian vernacular, see Tebtunis Papyri vol. 1. (p. 86) ἐν μαχαίρῃ-αις.16. Repent] The Angel, i.e. the whole body of the Church represented by him, is bidden to repent: because not only are the Nicolaitans guilty of the sins their doctrine involved, but the whole Church (and more especially its Bishop, if we suppose him to be intended) is more or less guilty, for having extended to them the toleration which the Church of Ephesus was praised for refusing.

against them] Not “against thee:” the mass of the Church is faithful on the whole. But it is implied that if the whole Church does “repent”, and do its duty, these erring members will be reclaimed: and that it will be a loss to the whole Church, if they are not reclaimed but have to be destroyed.

with the sword of my mouth] cf. Revelation 1:16 note.Revelation 2:16. Ἔρχομαί σοι καὶ πολεμήσω μετʼ αὐτῶν) Many, from parallel passages, have inserted ταχύ[35] after σοί. But the Italian Version, which is nearest to the hand of John, did not contain the word quickly. To the writers who followed that reading, Ansbert is added with considerable regularity, and Bede and Ambrose, also, in Psalms 118. Serm. 19; nor has Apringius the word quickly in his paraphrase on this passage. It will be worth while to have turned over the Latin MSS. of the Apocalypse in this place. Sometimes the fuller reading is the genuine one, but generally the shorter. I will say under what circumstances each holds good. The fuller reading is sometimes to be preferred. For I. in the case of words having a similar ending, or in the recurrence of words or syllables, the copyists have easily passed over the intermediate text, which is to be restored from the more ancient authorities. II. Conjunctions, which are less frequent in other languages than in Greek, are often omitted in the Versions, which it is useless to follow too closely in this particular. III. The Greeks frequently removed something from the public reading, to which many copies were accommodated: and in such cases the fuller reading ought to be retained, if supported by the other authorities of greatest antiquity, and especially the Latin Version. Examples are of constant occurrence. If we except these three causes, brevity is an all but invariable characteristic of a genuine reading. For since the Greek copies, and the translators and fathers who have followed them, are to be divided into two classes, namely, into those of Asia and of Africa, as I have copiously explained in my Apparatus, you will seldom find that manuscripts of both classes endeavoured to fill up short passages by certain explanations of their own, though you will find in some places that many of the one class, and in some that many of the other, have done so. Hence the fuller reading, which now is too scrupulously defended by many, is almost always a counterfeit; whereas the shorter reading is genuine. In such passages the witnesses, however few they are, provided that they have sufficient antiquity, ought to have weight: in which particular the Latin witnesses are again conspicuous, as we have remarked, a little while ago, at ch. Revelation 1:11. Where such crumbs are treated of, it is indeed better in such an abundance of bread to pass over something genuine, than eagerly to catch at anything heterogeneous and infected by human feeling. That is undoubtedly to be preferred in every place, which is required by reasons peculiar to the passage under consideration. Here no critic can compel others to agree with him; but, on the other hand, others can have no control over him. We return to the particle quickly. The Lord repeatedly announces His coming in the Apocalypse, and chiefly so from ch. Revelation 2:5 to ch. Revelation 3:20 : and that in such a manner, that He may make His coming gradually nearer. The particle quickly is used at last, ch. Revelation 3:11; and therefore in the passage now before us, ch. Revelation 2:16, it has not yet a place.

[35] The only good authority for omitting ταχύ is the “Italian,” i.e. the Ante-Hieronymic Version, supposed to be of African origin. Vulg. and the weight of best MSS. support ταχύ.—E.Verse 16. - Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly (see on ver. 5). Some take "in like manner" with this verse: "In like manner (as Ephesus) repent therefore;" but this is not probable. Repent of having allowed some members to follow the examples of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans. With the sword of my mouth (comp. Revelation 1:16 and Revelation 2:12). It is possible that there is here another allusion to Balaam. It was with a drawn sword that the angel of the Lord withstood him (Numbers 22:23), and with the sword that he was slain (Numbers 31:8; Joshua 13:22). Those who follow Balaam in his sin shall follow him in his punishment; and the Church which allows such things will have to suffer along with those who commit them (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:8). I will make war (πολεμήσω)

The words war and make war occur oftener in Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament. "An eternal roll of thunder from the throne" (Renan).

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