Revelation 2:2
I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you can not bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) I know thy works.—This phrase is probably common to all the epistles. See, however, Note on Revelation 2:9. It expresses the way in which all actions are naked and open before the eyes—those flame-like eyes (Revelation 1:14)—of Him with whom we have to do (Psalm 11:4-5; Psalm 139:11-12; Hebrews 4:13). The veneer of a formal faith might impose on the world, but it would not escape His scrutiny (Acts 1:24). He knows, too, and lovingly accepts, the unmarked and unrequited acts of true love (Matthew 10:42; Matthew 26:13), and appreciates, amid all its failures, genuine loyalty to Him (John 21:17).

And thy labour (or, toil), and thy patience.—The same things which St. Paul had pressed on Timothy (2Timothy 2:25-26). The first word signifies labour carried on unto weariness. The “patience” is more than passive endurance; it is, as Archbishop Trench says, a beautiful word, expressing the brave and persistent endurance of the Christian. But though thus possessed of endurance, He commends them that they could not endure evil men. In one sense, the lingering of this grace among them is the green leaf betokening better things; they have not lost the power of hating evil. (Comp. Romans 12:9.) No man loves God truly who cannot hate evil (Psalm 101:3).

And thou hast tried (literally, didst try) them . . . and hast found them liars.—St. Paul had warned the Ephesian elders of the appearance of false teachers (Acts 20:28-31). Zeal for pure doctrine characterised the Ephesian Church. It is commended by Ignatius in his epistle (ad Ep. 6). The false apostles here spoken of are not, I think, to be identified with the Nicolaitanes of Revelation 2:6; that verse is introduced as a further ground of commendation, mitigating the censure of Revelation 2:4-5. The claims to be considered apostles, which the Ephesian Church had disposed of, affords additional evidence of the early date of the Apocalypse. Such a claim could hardly have been put forward at a later date. But at the earlier periods such troublers of the Church were only too common (2Corinthians 2:17; 2Corinthians 11:14-15; Galatians 1:7; Galatians 2:4; Philippians 3:2-3).

Revelation 2:2-3. I know — Jesus knows all the good and all the evil which his servants and his enemies suffer and do. Weighty words, I know! How dreadful will it one day sound to the wicked, how sweet to the righteous! The churches and their angels must have been astonished to find their several states so exactly described, even in the absence of the apostle, and could not but acknowledge the all-seeing eye of Christ and of his Spirit. With regard to us, to every one of us also he saith, I know thy works! Happy is he that conceives less good of himself, than Christ knows concerning him! The good works, which are the proper and necessary fruits of faith, are here intended. See on 1 Thessalonians 1:3; James 2:14-26. And thy labour — Of love, thy endeavours to promote the glory of God, and the present and everlasting good of mankind; and thy patience — In bearing persecution, opposition, and the various trials to which thou hast been exposed. And how thou hast such zeal for the honour of my gospel, and the establishment of my kingdom, that thou canst not bear them who are evil — Canst not suffer them to go uncensured, but proceedest against all those by the exercise of a proper discipline, whose principles or practices are contrary to the gospel, and are stumbling-blocks in the way of others. And thou hast tried them — By my word; (see on 1 John 4:1;) who say they are apostles, and are not — Who make false pretensions to a divine mission, and inspiration, and have endeavoured to impose their errors on others, on the pretence of apostolical authority; and hast found them liars — Or deceivers, and accordingly hast rejected their pretensions with a becoming disdain. And hast borne — Endured the contradiction of false apostles, and much opposition from men and devils, and still art not wearied out, but hast patience, and perseverest, and for my name’s sake — That is, out of love to me, and with a view to my glory; hast laboured — In opposing error and sin, and promoting the progress of truth and grace; and hast not fainted — Hitherto, under any difficulties or dangers, trials or troubles, which thou hast had to encounter.2:1-7 These churches were in such different states as to purity of doctrine and the power of godliness, that the words of Christ to them will always suit the cases of other churches, and professors. Christ knows and observes their state; though in heaven, yet he walks in the midst of his churches on earth, observing what is wrong in them, and what they want. The church of Ephesus is commended for diligence in duty. Christ keeps an account of every hour's work his servants do for him, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. But it is not enough that we are diligent; there must be bearing patience, and there must be waiting patience. And though we must show all meekness to all men, yet we must show just zeal against their sins. The sin Christ charged this church with, is, not the having left and forsaken the object of love, but having lost the fervent degree of it that at first appeared. Christ is displeased with his people, when he sees them grow remiss and cold toward him. Surely this mention in Scripture, of Christians forsaking their first love, reproves those who speak of it with carelessness, and thus try to excuse indifference and sloth in themselves and others; our Saviour considers this indifference as sinful. They must repent: they must be grieved and ashamed for their sinful declining, and humbly confess it in the sight of God. They must endeavour to recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as when they first set out in the ways of God. If the presence of Christ's grace and Spirit is slighted, we may expect the presence of his displeasure. Encouraging mention is made of what was good among them. Indifference as to truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not so; and it is displeasing to Christ. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. We must never yield to our spiritual enemies, and then we shall have a glorious triumph and reward. All who persevere, shall derive from Christ, as the Tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness, not in the earthly paradise, but in the heavenly. This is a figurative expression, taken from the account of the garden of Eden, denoting the pure, satisfactory, and eternal joys of heaven; and the looking forward to them in this world, by faith, communion with Christ, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. Believers, take your wrestling life here, and expect and look for a quiet life hereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promises quietness and complete freedom from conflict here.I know thy works - The common formula with which all the epistles to the seven churches are introduced. It is designed to impress upon them deeply the conviction that he was intimately acquainted with all that they did, good and bad, and that therefore he was abundantly qualified to dispense rewards or administer punishments according to truth and justice. It may be observed that, as many of the things referred to in these epistles were things pertaining to the heart - the feelings, the state of the mind - it is implied that he who speaks here has an intimate acquaintance with the heart of man, a prerogative which is always attributed to the Saviour. See John 2:25. But no one can do this who is not divine; and this declaration, therefore, furnishes a strong proof of the divinity of Christ. See Psalm 7:9; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39.

And they labor - The word used here (κόπος kopos) means properly "a beating," hence wailing, grief, with beating the breast; and then it means excessive labor or toil adapted to produce grief or sadness, and is commonly employed in the New Testament in the latter sense. It is used in the sense of trouble in Matthew 26:10, "Why trouble ye (literally, why give ye trouble to) the woman?" (compare also Mark 14:6; Luke 11:7; Luke 18:5; Galatians 6:17); and in the sense of labor, or wearisome toil, in John 4:38; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Corinthians 11:23, 2 Corinthians 11:27, et al. The connection here would admit of either sense. It is commonly understood, as in our translation, in the sense of labor, though it would seem that the other signification, that of trouble, would not be inappropriate. If it means labor, it refers to their faithful service in his cause, and especially in opposing error. It seems to me, however, that the word "trouble" would better suit the connection.

And thy patience - Under these trials; to wit, in relation to the efforts which had been made by the advocates of error to corrupt them, and to turn them away from the truth. They had patiently borne the opposition made to the truth, they had manifested a spirit of firm endurance amidst many arts of those opposed to them to draw them off from simple faith in Christ.

And how thou canst not bear them which are evil - Canst not "endure" or "tolerate" them. Compare the notes on 2 John 1:10-11. That is, they had no sympathy with their doctrines or their practices, they were utterly opposed to them. They had lent them no countenance, but had in every way shown that they had no fellowship with them. The evil persons here referred to were, doubtless, those mentioned in this verse as claiming that "they were apostles," and those mentioned in Revelation 2:6 as the Nicolaitanes.

And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles - Thou hast thoroughly examined their claims. It is not said in what way they had done this, but it was probably by considering attentively and candidly the evidence on which they relied, whatever that may have been. Nor is it certainly known who these persons were, or on what grounds they advanced their pretensions to the apostolic office. It cannot be supposed that they claimed to have been of the number of apostles selected by the Saviour, for that would have been too absurd; and the only solution would seem to be that they claimed either:

(1) that they had been called to that office after the Saviour ascended, as Paul was; or,

(2) that they claimed the honor due to this name or office, in virtue of some election to it; or,

(3) that they claimed to be the successors of the apostles, and to possess and transmit their authority.

If the first of these, it would seem that the only ground of claim would be that they had been called in some miraculous way to the rank of apostles, and, of course, an examination of their claims would be an examination of the alleged miraculous call, and of the evidence on which they would rely that they had such a call. If the second, then the claim must have been founded on some such plea as that the apostolic office was designed to be elective, as in the case of Matthias Acts 1:23-26, and that they maintained that this arrangement was to be continued in the church; and then an examination of their claims would involve an investigation of the question, whether it was contemplated that the apostolic office was designed to be perpetuated in that manner, or whether the election of Matthias was only a temporary arrangement, designed to answer a particular purpose. If the third, then the claim must have been founded on the plea that the apostolic office was designed to be perpetuated by a regular succession, and that they, by ordination, were in a line of that succession; and then the examination and refutation of the claim must have consisted in showing, from the nature of the office, and the necessary qualifications for the office of apostle, that it was designed to be temporary, and that there could be properly no successors of the apostles, as such. On either of these suppositions, such a line of argument would be fatal to all claims to any succession in the apostolic office now. If each of these points should fail, of course their claims to the rank of apostles would cease; just as all claims to the dignity and rank of the apostles must fail now. The passage becomes thus a strong argument against the claims of any persons to be "apostles," or to be the "successors" of the apostles, in the uniqueness of their office.

And are not - There were never any apostles of Jesus Christ but the original twelve whom he chose, Matthias, who was chosen in the place of Judas Acts 1:26, and Paul, who was specially called to the office by the Saviour after his resurrection. On this point, see my work on the Apostolic Church (pp. 49-57, London ed.).

And hast found them liars - Hast discovered their pretensions to be unfounded and false. In 2 Corinthians 11:13, "false apostles" are mentioned; and, in an office of so much honor as this, it is probable that there would be not a few claimants to it in the world. To set up a claim to what they knew they were not entitled to would be a falsehood, and as this seems to have been the character of these people, the Saviour, in the passage before us, does not hesitate to designate them by an appropriate term, and to call them liars. The point here commended in the Ephesian church is, that they had sought to have a "pure ministry," a ministry whose claims were well founded. They had felt the importance of this, had carefully examined the claims of pretenders, and had refused to recognize those who could not show, in a proper manner, that they had been designated to their work by the Lord Jesus. The same zeal, in the same cause, would be commended by the Saviour now.

2. I know thy works—expressing His omniscience. Not merely "thy professions, desires, good resolutions" (Re 14:13, end).

thy labour—Two oldest manuscripts omit "thy"; one supports it. The Greek means "labor unto weariness."

patience—persevering endurance.

bear—evil men are a burden which the Ephesian Church regarded as intolerable. We are to "bear (the same Greek, Ga 6:2) one another's burdens" in the case of weak brethren; but not to bear false brethren.

tried—by experiment; not the Greek for "test," as 1Jo 4:1. The apostolical churches had the miraculous gift of discerning spirits. Compare Ac 20:28-30, wherein Paul presciently warned the Ephesian elders of the coming false teachers, as also in writing to Timothy at Ephesus. Tertullian [On Baptism, 17], and Jerome [On Illustrious Men, in Lucca 7], record of John, that when a writing, professing to be a canonical history of the acts of Paul, had been composed by a presbyter of Ephesus, John convicted the author and condemned the work. So on one occasion he would not remain under the same roof with Cerinthus the heretic.

say they are apostles—probably Judaizers. Ignatius [Epistle to the Ephesians, 6], says subsequently, "Onesimus praises exceedingly your good discipline that no heresy dwells among you"; and [Epistle to the Ephesians, 9], "Ye did not permit those having evil doctrine to sow their seed among you, but closed your ears."

I know thy works: these words being in the front of all the seven epistles, cannot be interpreted as signifying a knowledge of approbation, as Psalm 1:6, but of a comprehension in the understanding, and as signifying Christ’s omnisciency; though it be true, that the Lord both understood and approved of some of the works of this church particularly.

And thy labour, and thy patience; their labour in propagating the knowledge of Christ and doctrine of the gospel, and their patient taking up and bearing the cross.

And how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and their zeal and warmth, that they would not endure either persons erroneous in judgment, or lewd in their lives, in their communion.

And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not: in the primitive church there were some that falsely pretended an immediate call or mission from Christ, to preach what they did, but this church would not endure them. It appears from Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy, that there were then false teachers very busy in that church; possibly Ebion and Cerinthus, (who both lived in this time, and Cerinthus preached in Asia), or their disciples, might be some of them. They tried them, possibly, by the word of God, according to the rules given in it to try the spirits.

And hast found them liars; and found that they had no such immediate mission, no authority from Christ. I know thy works,.... The good works, both of ministers and churches; no evil works are mentioned, nor anything complained of in this church but an abatement of the fervour of her first love. Christ, as the omniscient God, knows all the works of his people, and the springs, and principles, and ends, and views of them, whether they are done in obedience to him, and spring from love to him, and are performed in his strength, and by his grace, and are directed to his glory; and such he takes notice of, approves of, and is well pleased with, not as the ground of his delight in their persons, but as the fruits of his own grace; and during the apostolic age, churches and ministers were very diligent in working; yea, they were laborious, as follows:

and thy labour: particularly the labour of ministers of the Gospel, in these times, in the frequent preaching of it, in season and out of season; and in the constant administration of the ordinances; and in the diligent exercise of church discipline. The work of the ministry is a laborious work to the mind in studying, and to the body in the outward discharge of it; and it becomes more so, through the malice and opposition of enemies, and the weakness of friends; and such as are diligent and laborious deserve respect, even double honour; and though they may not have it from men, yet Christ takes notice of them and their labours, and commends them for them, and will reward them,

And thy patience; as this may refer to the ministers of the word, it may denote their patience in suffering reproaches and persecutions for the sake of the Gospel, which they bore patiently, cheerfully, and constantly; and in bearing the infirmities of weak saints, in their several communities; and in reclaiming and restoring persons out of the way; and in waiting for the success of their ministry, and their continuance and perseverance in it. And as this may respect members of churches, it may point at their patience under afflictions from the hand of God, and under reproach and persecution from men, for their embracing and professing the Gospel; and their patient waiting for the heavenly glory, and their firm expectation of it, and their perseverance unto it,

And how thou canst not bear them that are evil; that were so either in their principles or in their practices, or both; men that lived immoral lives, and held erroneous doctrines, these the primitive ministers and churches could not bear; they had an inward abhorrence and detestation of them in their minds; they could not bear them in communion with them; they admonished them according to the nature of their offence, and cast out such as were obstinate and incorrigible; they withdrew from such as were disorderly, and rejected heretics after the first and second admonition; their zeal for church discipline is here taken notice of to their commendation,

And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not,

and hast found them liars; this doubtless was done in the church at Ephesus, where, after the Apostle Paul's departure, grievous wolves, in sheep's clothing, entered, and men arose from among themselves, speaking perverse things, Acts 20:29; yet it was not peculiar to that church, though it was to the apostolic age; for in no other could men with any face pretend to be the apostles of Christ; and such there were, who sprung up in the several churches at Jerusalem, Corinth, Galatia, and elsewhere, who called themselves the apostles of Christ, but were false apostles, deceitful workers; they pretended to have their doctrine, call, mission, and commission, immediately from Christ, as the true apostles had, and a power to work miracles, and talked of inspirations and revelations by the Spirit of God. Now the apostles, ministers, and churches of those times, tried their pretensions and doctrines by the word of God, and by the fruits which they produced in themselves and others; and through that discerning of spirits which they had, they found them to be liars; that they were not, nor had they what they pretended to be, and have, and exposed them as such.

{3} 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) The proposition first condemning the pastor of this church Re 2:2,3 then reproving him Re 2:4 after informing him, and threatening that he will move the church to another place Re 2:5. This threat of divine vengeance Christ mitigates by a type of correction, calling to mind the particular virtue and piety of the Church, which God never leaves without recompense Re 2:6. Concerning the Nicolaitans, see Re 2:15.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 2:2. Τὰ ἕργα σου are not “Christian deeds of heroism against false teachers,” as Hengstenb. thinks;[919] who, partly because of the otherwise inexplicable Revelation 2:4, partly in order not to maintain a repetition with respect to the ὑπομονή, Revelation 2:3, and partly because of Revelation 2:6,[920] understands all of Revelation 2:2-3, as referring to conduct towards false teachers, the κόπος as work against them, while the ὑπομονή, Revelation 2:2, signifies “active” and Revelation 2:3 “passive” patience in suffering, which true confessors experience because of their zeal against them. All this is arbitrary. By τὰ ἔργα σου, the external activity in general, whereby the Church manifests its inner life, is designated. The works (“fruits,” Matthew 7:16 sqq.) cannot be evil (Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:22; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:15; Revelation 16:11; Revelation 18:6; cf. Romans 2:6 sqq.). It is the entire—and here praiseworthy[921]—conversation of the church,[922] including their bearing under suffering,[923] that is here meant. This is shown by what follows, where the works are more accurately explained in a twofold respect, ΚΑῚ ΤῸΝ ΚΌΠΟΝ Κ. Τ. ὙΠΟΜ. ΣΟΥ and ΚΑῚ ὍΤΙ Οὐ ΔΎΝῌ ΒΑΣΤ. ΚΑΚ.[924] Just because the ΣΟΥ does not stand after ΚΌΠΟΝ, but only after (Τ. ΚΟΠ. ΚΑῚ) Τ. ὙΠΟΜΟΝῊΝ (Revelation 1:14), these two ideas cohere the more intimately, but not as hendiadys;[925] while as the second point the ΚΑῚ Οὐ ΔΎΝῌ, Κ.Τ.Λ., is rendered prominent.[926] Just as in 1 Corinthians 15:58, the ΚΌΠΟς of believers with their firm steadfastness is required for realizing the ἜΡΓΟΝ of the Lord, both are here mentioned; viz., the ΚΌΠΟς, i.e., the toilsome labor,[927] and the ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ, i.e., the necessary patient perseverance, as a chief item in the ἝΡΓΑ.[928] The ΚΌΠΟς, together with the ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ refers to all wherein believers fulfil their peculiar holy task with divine and spiritual power and endurance,—a work which, in its most manifold forms, is always combined with hardship (ΚΌΠΟς), and therefore cannot be fulfilled without ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ, as this is essentially and necessarily conditioned by the antagonism between the kingdom of Christ and the world.

The second commendation[929] is, that the Lord knows the “works” of the church at Ephesus, that it “cannot bear them which are evil” (ΚΑΚΟΎς without the article). Concerning the form ΔΎΝῌ,[930] cf. Wetstein and Winer. The ΒΑΣΤΆΖΕΙΝ makes us think of the ΚΑΚΟΊ as a heavy burden.[931] The expression ΚΑΚΟΎς[932] designates those meant properly according to their perverted and worthless nature, which, however, in the sense of the prophet, already according to the O. T. view, cannot be estimated otherwise than by the measure of the positive divine norm. Thus “they which are evil” are in some sort of contradiction to the divine truth, whereby the inner and outward life of believers is determined; hence the actual intolerance towards them, or[933] the necessary hatred of their godless nature.[934]

καὶ ἐπειρασας τ. λεγ. ἑαυτ. ἀποστόλους, κ.τ.λ. The praiseworthy conduct of the church towards those that are evil, who are here more accurately designated as false teachers, is still further acknowledged (until ψευδεῖς). Πειράζειν, synonymous with δοκιμάζειν[935] and correlate with τό δοκίμιον, δοκίμον γένεσθαι,[936] is more the practical putting to the test, the trial from living experience. In 1 John 4:1, where the question is treated solely with respect to a definite confession, δοκιμάζειν properly occurs: in this place, on the other hand, the πειράζειν indicates that works especially[937] come into consideration. Hence the connection of our false apostles with the false prophets, 1 John 4,[938] is inapposite.

Those here meant call themselves apostles, and yet are not; so the result of the proof is that they are found liars. Those men must, therefore, like the false apostles at Corinth,[939] have professed themselves as sent immediately from the Lord himself.[940] If in so doing they should have appealed to their intercourse with Christ as long as he was on earth,[941]—which, however, is not indicated,—it would of course follow that “that was the apostolic age.” But, at any rate, this declaration has sense only at the time which occurs about the Pauline period, i.e., possibly up to the destruction of Jerusalem; but not at the end of the first century, where a trace nowhere occurs of a false teacher laying claim to apostolic authority.

As to the character of the false teachers, cf. Revelation 2:6.—[See Note XXVIII., p. 155.]

[919] Cf. also Heinr.

[920] See exposition of verse.

[921] Without saying, therefore, that I approve the οἶδα (N. de Lyra).

[922] Ew., De Wette, Ebrard.

[923] Calov.

[924] Cf. Ew.

[925] Grot., Heinr.

[926] Against Ebrard.

[927] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 6:5.

[928] Cf. also, in Revelation 14:13, the correlation of the general ἔργον and the more definite κόπος.

[929] Cf. also Revelation 2:6.

[930] Mark 9:22.

[931] 2 Kings 18:14; Matthew 20:12; Galatians 6:2; Acts 16:10; Acts 16:28.

[932] Not πονηρούς. See on Revelation 16:2.

[933] Revelation 2:6.

[934] Cf. Psalm 139:21 sqq.

[935] 2 Corinthians 13:5.

[936] 1 Peter 1:6; Jam 1:2Revelation 2:2. οἶδα: nothing escapes his notice, neither the good (Revelation 2:2-3; Revelation 2:6) nor the bad (Revelation 2:4-5) qualities. ἔργα = the general course and moral conduct of life, exemplified more especially in its active and passive sides, as exertion and endurance, by κόπος and ὑπομονή, which are knit together by the final σου as epexegetic of ἔργα. The κόπος, or hard work, is further specified in the text of Revelation 2:2 (the church’s vigorous dealing with impostors), while the ὑπομονή is developed in Revelation 2:3. For a parallel, verbal rather than real, see 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Here duty follows privilege (Revelation 2:1), and communion with Christ involves practical energy and enterprise on earth. The remarkable prominence of ἔργα in this book corresponds to its O.T. conception of the fear of God which, as a religious principle, manifests itself effectively in works. The phrase has nothing to do with the special sense in which Paul had employed it during a bygone controversy. Works here are the result of an inner relation to God (Revelation 12:11).—Patient endurance (Revelation 2:2-3; Revelation 2:7) wins everything and triumphs over opposition, as in the case of the Maccabean martyrs (4Ma 1:11) who are lauded for their courage, καὶ τῇ ὑπομοντῇνικήσαντες τὸν τύραννον τῇ ὑπομονῇ.—βαστάσαι, the weak are a burden to be borne (Galatians 6:2): the false, an encumbrance to be thrown off. Patience towards the former is a note of strength: towards the latter, it is a sign of weakness. The prophet is thoroughly in sympathy (cf. 2 John 1:10-11) with the sharp scrutiny exercised at Ephesus over soi-disant missioners; he gladly recognises the moral vigour and shrewdness which made the local church impatient of itinerant evangelists whose character and methods would not stand scrutiny. Pretensions, greed and indolence were the chief sins of this class, but the prophet does not enter into details. He is content to welcome the fact that uncomplaining endurance of wrong and hardship has not evaporated the power of detecting impostors and of evincing moral antipathy to them, upon the principle that ὑπομονή, as Clem. Alex. finely explained (Strom, ii. 18), is the knowledge of what is to be endured and of what is not. The literature of this period (1 John, Didachê, etc.) is full of directions upon the moral and religious tests which a community should apply to these itinerant evangelists and teachers called “apostles”. The popularity and spread of Christianity rendered precautions necessary on the part of the faithful against unscrupulous members of this order, which had already attracted men of quite inferior character as well as of heretical beliefs. The evil men here includes these pseudo-apostles as well as the Nikolaitan libertines of Revelation 2:6 (cf. Revelation 2:15) with whom perhaps the “apostles” were in sympathy; ἐπείρ. and εὗρ. denote some definite and recent crisis, while μις. reflects the permanent obstacles of the local situation. This temper of the church is warmly commended by Ign. (ad Eph. ix.) at a later period; “I have learned that certain folk passed through you with wicked doctrine (κακὴν διδαχήν), but you would not allow them to sow seed in you”. With equal loftiness and severity of tone, John like Ignatius might have added: τὰ δὲ ὀνόματα αὐτῶν, ὄντα ἄπιστα, οὐκ ἔδοξέν μοι ἐγγράψαι (Smyrn. v.).2. canst not bear] As too heavy a burden.

them which say they are apostles] Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13 sqq. For the question who these false Apostles at Ephesus were, see Excursus II.

hast found them liars] Rather, didst find them false. They had profited by St Paul’s warning, Acts 20:28-30.Revelation 2:2. Οἶδα τὰ ἔργά σου, I know thy works) This word οἶδα, I know, occurs seven times:

I know thy works: Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:15.

I know where thou dwellest: Revelation 2:13.

I know thy tribulation: Revelation 2:9.

I know thy love: Revelation 2:19.

καὶ ὅτι) Καὶ was formerly omitted by some: but it is to be retained.[26] For endurance and sternness against the evil are different virtues, [though they are united in this Man.—V. g.]—ἐπείρασας) Erasmus, without any MS. authority, edits ἐπειράσω:[27] all the MSS. have ἘΠΕΊΡΑΣΑς. See App. Crit. Ed. ii. on this passage. The Middle, ΠΕΙΡΆΟΜΑΙ, occurs only with an infinitive, and that but rarely, as ἘΠΕΙΡᾶΤΟ ΚΟΛΛᾶΣΘΑΙ, Acts 9:26. ΠΕΙΡῶΜΑΊ ΣΕ, with an accusative, is never used: ΠΕΙΡΆΖΩ is employed for all purposes. [There must have been a remarkable talent of discernment in this church-president.—V. g.]—ἀποστόλους, Apostles) In this passage false apostles are repulsed: false Jews, Revelation 2:9; those given up to Heathenism, Revelation 2:13-14.

[26] The margin of the greater Edition had preferred the omission, but both Ed. ii. and Vers. Germ. agree with the Gnomon.—E. B.

[27] So Rec. Text; but ABC, ἐπείρασας.—E.

A Memph. omit καί; but BCh Vulg. support it.—E.Verse 2. - Owing to the inaccurate use of a corrupt text, the Authorized Version is here very faulty. The Revised Version is to be preferred throughout. I know thy works. This introductory "I know" appears in all seven letters. He whose eyes are "as a flame of fire" (Revelation 1:14) has perfect knowledge of his servants, and this knowledge is the basis of the praise and blame. "Works," a favourite word with St. John, and very frequent in both Gospel and Apocalypse, is used in a wide sense, including the whole of conduct (comp. John 3:19, 20; John 5:36; John 7:3, 7; John 8:39, 41, etc.; 1 John 3:8, 12 2John 11 3 John 1:10). Thy toil and patience. Explanatory of "thy works;" the Ephesians know how to toil and how to suffer patiently. They have "learned to labour and to wait." St. Ignatius says that he must be trained "in patience and long suffering" by the Ephesians ('Ephes.,' 3.). And that thou canst not bear evil men. Again St. Ignatius supplies a commentary: "Now, Onesimus of his own accord highly praiseth your orderly conduct in God, for that ye all live according to truth, and that no heresy hath a home among you; nay, ye do not so much as listen to any one, if he speak of aught else save concerning Jesus Christ in truth" ('Ephes.,' 6.). The word for "evil" (κακός), though one of the commonest in the Greek language, is rare in St. John; it occurs only here and in Revelation 16:2 (see note); John 18:23 3John 11. Didst try them which call themselves apostles, and they are not. It is incredible that this can mean St. Paul. Even allowing the prodigious assumption that the "Jewish Christianity" of St. John was opposed to the "Gentile Christianity" of St. Paul, what chance would an opponent of St. Paul have had in a Church which St. Paul founded and fostered? And had such opposition existed, could St. Polycarp, St. John's own disciple, have spoken of "the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul" ('Philippians,' 3.)? This mention of false apostles is doubly interesting:

(1) as a fulfilment of warnings given by St. Paul himself to the Ephesian Church (Acts 20:28-30; comp. 2 Timothy, passim);

(2) as a strong incidental mark of the date of the book. In A.D. , when contemporaries of the apostles were abundant, the claim to be an apostle might with some show of reason be made; in A.D. such a claim would be ridiculous. This Trench admits, and hence tells us that the meaning of "apostles" must not be pressed, "as though it implied a claim to have seen and been sent by the Lord Jesus," But this is just what "apostle" does imply (Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Thy works (τὰ ἔργα σοῦ)

See on John 4:47.

Labor (κόπον)

Originally suffering, weariness; hence exhausting labor. The kindred verb κοπιάω is often used of apostolic and ministerial labor (Romans 16:12; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11).

Patience (ὑπομονήν)

See on 2 Peter 1:6; see on James 5:1. Compare Paul's exhortation to Timothy in Ephesus, 2 Timothy 2:25, 2 Timothy 2:26.

Bear (βαστάσαι)

See on John 10:31; see on John 12:6. Compare Galatians 6:2, where the word is used of Christians bearing each others' burdens.

Them which are evil (κακοὺς)

Trench observes that "it is not a little remarkable that the grace or virtue here ascribed to the angel of the Ephesian Church (compare Revelation 2:6) should have a name in classical Greek: μισοπονηρία hatred of evil; the person of whom the grace is predicated being μισοπόνηρος hater of evil; while neither of these words, nor yet any equivalent to them occurs in the New Testament. It is the stranger, as this hatred of evil, purely as evil, however little thought of or admired now, is eminently a Christian grace."

Hast tried (ἐπειράσω)

Rev., didst try. See on tried, 1 Peter 1:7; and compare 1 John 4:1; 1 Corinthians 12:10.

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