2:1 “To the angel [messenger, whether divine or human; perhaps pastor] of the church [read Acts 19-20 regarding founding of the church at Ephesus] in Ephesus [administrative center; large and influential city; most famous for its association with Artemis or Diana, the goddess of love] write: These are the words of Him who holds [keeps carefully or faithfully] the seven stars [cf. Rev. 1:20] in his right hand [authority over and protection of His churches/leaders] and walks among [Jesus is aware of what goes on in His churches; cf. Matt. 18:20] the seven golden lampstands [cf. Rev 1:12,16]:
2:2 [commendation] I know [Gr. oida: complete knowledge] your deeds [good and right deeds], your hard work [exhaustive labor in Christ’s cause; this strong evangelistic church helped spread gospel to all Asia (Acts 19:10)] and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate [bear] wicked men, that you [discerning/mature] have tested [because they valued doctrinal purity] those who claim to be apostles [term refers to early Christians who had seen the resurrected Lord; in this case itinerant missionaries with questionable credentials] but are not, and have found them false.
2:3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary [cf. 1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9].
2:4 [condemnation] Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken [because they were so busy preserving orthodoxy] your first [cf. “things you did at first” in v. 5] love [love for Christ demonstrated by a love for one another and for the lost].
2:5 [note three imperatives: 1] Remember [a motivation to repent] the height [love and a deep commitment to God had once characterized this church] from which you have fallen!  Repent [turn away from a lack of love] and  do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you [indicates special judgment against them] and remove your [specific churches can become extinct] lampstand from its place.
2:6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practice of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
2:8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna [wealthy and beautiful port city located on a gulf 40 miles north of Ephesus; leading center of emperor worship] write: These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last [everlasting deity; cf. 1:8,17; Christ was all they needed], who died and came to life again [refers to Christ’s work of redemption; encouragement to those who daily faced threat of death].
2:9 I know [see and understand] your afflictions [Gr. thlipsin: tribulations or intense pressure from the outside; persecution and possibility of death; result of not endorsing emperor worship] and your poverty [materially destitute; probably result of persecution; confiscation of property (cf. Heb. 10:34)] – yet you are rich [spiritually; cf. Matt. 6:19-20]! I know the slander [malicious and hurtful lies intended to discredit church’s witness] of those who say they are Jews [ethnically; large Jewish population persecuted Christians] and are not [spiritually, because of their rejection of Christ; cf. Rom. 2:28-29 re: true Jew], but are a synagogue of Satan [ultimate source of opposition/ persecution].
2:10 Do not be afraid [words of reassurance] of what you are about to [trouble was coming] suffer [dangerous to be a Christian in Smyrna]. I tell you [advance warning], the devil will put some of you in prison [suggests persecution would get worse] to test [cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7] you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days [either literal ten days or reference to short period of time; number “ten” represents human completeness; limited period of suffering but eternal reward]. Be [continually, even in the future] faithful [committed; implies trustworthiness, steadfastness, and courage], even to the point of death [martyrdom: supreme price to pay for faithfulness], and I will give you the crown [symbol of victory (athletic games)] of life [eternal in quality/duration].
2:11 He [individual responsibility] who has an ear [to receive and act upon Christ’s message], let him hear [and be strengthened by what he hears] what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death [eternal and spiritual death; separation from life (20:14)].
2:12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum [about 55 miles north of Ephesus; city had large library of 200,000 scrolls; a center of worship for Asclepios, the god of healing represented by a serpent] write: These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword [ability to protect and to judge; cf. Rev. 1:16; see Heb. 4:12].
2:13 [commendation] I know [to have a complete knowledge of a situation] where you live [aware of their circumstances] – where Satan has his throne [city was a leading center for emperor worship in Asia]. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me [suggests an occasion where they had to make a choice], even in the days of Antipas [perhaps a pastor or member of the church], my faithful witness [martyr], who was put to death [martyred] in your city [perhaps because he refused to worship the emperor] – where Satan lives.
2:14 [condemnation] Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam [Num. 22-24], who taught [advised; cf. Num. 31:16] Balak [king of Moab] to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols [as part of a pagan feast; cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-24] and by committing sexual immorality [Num. 25:1-3].
2:15 Likewise you also have those who hold [rather than hate; cf. Rev. 2:6] to the teaching of the Nicolaitans [possibly a sect that promoted the teaching of Balaam and tolerated sexual immorality (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1-13) and eating meat sacrificed to idols].
2:16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you [indicates special judgment against them] and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
2:18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira [famous for the production of a rare and expensive purple dye; cf. Acts 16:14] write: These are the words of the Son of God [only occurrence of this title in the Book of Revelation], whose eyes [penetrating in their gaze] are like blazing fire and whose feet [strong; able to crush opposition] are like burnished bronze [cf. Rev. 1:14-15].
2:19 [commendation] I know your deeds, your love [in contrast to church in Ephesus] and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more [progressing] than you did at first.
2:20 [condemnation] Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate [many people confuse love with tolerance] that woman Jezebel [not necessarily her name but a person similar in character/deeds to OT queen who promoted idolatry in Israel (1 Kings 16:31-33); proverbial name for wickedness], who calls herself a prophetess [one who speaks truth from God]. By her teaching [cf. Rev. 2:2, church at Ephesus tested/rejected false teachers] she misleads [ungodly influence; her teaching promoted ungodly behavior] my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
2:21 I have given [graciously] her time [Gr. chronos] to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling [and therefore will suffer the consequences].
2:22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering [punishment fits crime], and I will make those who commit adultery with her [spiritual adultery that led to moral compromise] suffer intensely, unless [gracious opportunity] they repent of her [Jezebel’s] ways.