Lesson 152: Revelation 2–3

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John wrote to the seven angels, or servants, of the congregations of the Church in Asia Minor and conveyed the Lord’s words of commendation, correction, and warning to the Saints. John also included promises of exaltation to those who overcome.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 2–3

John writes the words of Jesus Christ to the leaders of the seven churches

Invite a student to read aloud the following account by Sister Sydney S. Reynolds, a former member of the Primary general presidency. Ask the class to listen for what they can learn about the Lord from this account.

Sydney S. Reynolds

“Sister Gayle Clegg of the Primary general presidency and her husband lived for a number of years in Brazil. Recently she had a Primary assignment in Japan. As she came into the chapel on Sunday, she noticed among the Japanese Saints a Brazilian family. … She only had a minute to greet them and found the mother and children very enthusiastic but noticed that the father was rather quiet. ‘I’ll have a chance to talk with them after the meeting,’ she thought as she was quickly ushered to the stand. She delivered her message in English, which was translated into Japanese, and then she felt impressed to bear her testimony in Portuguese as well. She hesitated as there were no translators for Portuguese, and 98 percent of the people would not understand what she said.

“After the meeting the Brazilian father came up to her and said, ‘Sister, the customs are so different here, and I have been lonely. It is difficult to come to church and not understand anything. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off just reading my scriptures at home. I told my wife, “I’ll give it one more chance,” and I came today for what I thought would be the last time. When you bore your testimony in Portuguese, the Spirit touched my heart, and I knew that this was where I belonged. God knows I am here, and He will help me’” (“He Knows Us; He Loves Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 76).

  • What can we learn about the Lord from this experience?

Write the following incomplete phrase on the board: Because the Lord knows each of us … Invite students to look for truths as they study Revelation 2–3 that help them understand what the Lord can do for them because He knows them.

Explain that Revelation 2–3 contains the Apostle John’s record of Jesus Christ’s words to seven Church congregations in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Invite a student to read Revelation 2:1–3, 6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord knew about the Saints in Ephesus.

  • What did the Lord know about the Saints in Ephesus? (Explain that the term Nicolaitans [verse 6] could refer to a group whose members claimed they could commit sexual sins without punishment because the grace of God would save them [see Bible Dictionary, “Nicolaitans”].)

Point out that these verses record that the Lord commended, or praised, the Saints for their good works. Add to the statement on the board so that it reads as follows: Because the Lord knows each of us, He can give us personal commendation …

Invite a student to read Revelation 2:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else the Lord knew about the Saints in Ephesus.

  • What else did the Lord know about the Saints in Ephesus?

Point out that the Lord was giving the Saints correction because of their sins. Complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following truth: Because the Lord knows each of us, He can give us personal commendation and correction.

  • What are some ways we can receive personal commendation and correction from the Lord?

  • How can knowing that the Lord can give us personal commendation and correction influence the way we approach our personal scripture study and prayer? How can it influence the way we respond to the counsel of our Church leaders and parents?

  • Why should we make an effort to seek out personal commendation and correction from the Lord?

  • When have you experienced the Lord giving you personal commendation or correction? How did this experience help you know that the Lord knows you individually? (Caution students to not share experiences that are sacred or too private.)

Invite students to ponder what actions they think the Lord might commend them for as well as what thoughts or behaviors the Lord might correct them for. Encourage students to set a goal to repent when the Lord corrects them.

Invite a student to read Revelation 2:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised those who overcome, or endure faithfully to the end.

  • What did the Lord promise those who overcome, or who endure to the end in righteousness?

  • What do you think it means to “eat of the tree of life”? (verse 7).

  • How might hearing this promised blessing after receiving personal correction have been helpful to the Saints in Ephesus?

Remind students that in addition to addressing the Church congregation in Ephesus, the Lord addressed other Church congregations in Asia Minor.

Divide the class into five groups, and assign each group one of the following references:

Invite students to read their assigned verses as a group, looking for what the Lord counseled the Saints to do and the blessings He promised they would receive if they did so.

After sufficient time, invite a member of each group to report what his or her group found. Invite a student to write on the board (beneath the promised blessing from Revelation 2:7) the promised blessing that each group identified (see Revelation 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12). After the list is complete, point out that each of these promises refers to receiving the blessings of exaltation, which are conditioned upon our enduring faithfully to the end.

  • What principle can we identify from these verses about what we must do to receive the blessings of exaltation? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: If we overcome, then we can receive the blessings of exaltation.)

  • What do you think we need to overcome to receive the blessings of exaltation?

Invite a student to read Revelation 3:14–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a condition the Church members in Laodicea needed to overcome in order to receive exaltation.

  • What condition did the Church members in Laodicea need to overcome?

  • What do you think it means that these Church members were lukewarm disciples of Jesus Christ? (verse 15). (The word hot may have been used to describe someone who is fully committed to the gospel, and cold may have been used to describe someone who has completely disregarded the teachings and covenants of the gospel. A lukewarm disciple may be someone who believes the gospel is true but is not fully committed to living it.)

  • In your opinion, what are some things lukewarm disciples of Jesus Christ might do and not do?

Invite students to think about what they have done to follow Jesus Christ over the past few days and whether they are a hot, cold, or lukewarm disciple of Jesus Christ.

Invite a student to read Revelation 3:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord said He was correcting the Saints in Laodicea.

  • Based on what the Lord told the Saints in Laodicea, why does He correct us? (Help students identify a truth similar to the following: Because the Lord loves us, He corrects us so we will repent.)

Jesus at the Door

Display the picture Jesus at the Door (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 65; see also LDS.org).

  • What is the Savior doing in this picture?

Read aloud the following questions, and invite students to silently ponder their answers:

  • What feelings might you have if you heard a knock at the door of your home and realized it was the Savior?

  • Would you open the door?

Point out that this picture illustrates the words the Lord addressed to the Church in Laodicea. Invite a student to read Revelation 3:20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessing the Lord offered to the Laodicean Saints and what they had to do to obtain it.

  • What blessing did the Lord offer to the Laodicean Saints?

  • What did they need to do to obtain that blessing?

  • What principle can we learn from verse 20? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we open the door to the Savior, He will come in to us and sup with us.)

To help students understand what it means to sup with the Savior, explain that in ancient Near Eastern culture eating a meal with someone was a sign of fellowship. It indicated that a bond of friendship and peace existed or was at least being offered.

  • What do you think opening the door mentioned in verse 20 represents?

Explain that people who open the door to the Savior and sup with Him are individuals who repent of their sins and enter into fellowship with Him and our Heavenly Father.

To help students understand what opening the door might represent, invite a student to read aloud the following account by President Spencer W. Kimball:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“One day [an artist named Holman Hunt] was showing his picture of ‘Christ Knocking at the Door’ to a friend when the friend suddenly exclaimed: ‘There is one thing wrong about your picture.’

“‘What is it?’ inquired the artist.

“‘The door on which Jesus knocks has no handle,’ replied his friend.

“‘Ah,’ responded Mr. Hunt, ‘that is not a mistake. You see, this is the door to the human heart. It can only be opened from the inside.’

“And thus it is. Jesus may stand and knock, but each of us decides whether to open” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 212).

  • How do you think we can open our hearts to the Savior?

Invite students to read Revelation 3:21–22 silently, looking for the Lord’s promise and counsel to the Saints in Laodicea.

  • According to verse 22, what counsel did the Lord give?

Invite students to “hear what the Spirit saith” (verse 22) by reflecting on what they have learned today. Encourage them to act on any impressions they receive.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 2:1–3:22. The Lord’s instructions to the seven churches

For more information regarding the Lord’s instructions to the seven Church congregations, see New Testament Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2014), 531–32.

Revelation 2:11. “The second death”

Revelation 2:11 teaches that the faithful ‘shall not be hurt of the second death.’ The wicked, however, ‘shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death’ (Revelation 21:8). While serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Earl C. Tingey explained that ‘the second death is spiritual. It is separation from God’s presence’” (‘The Great Plan of Happiness,’ Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 73).

“In one sense, we all experienced a spiritual death when we left God’s presence to come to earth. This initial separation, however, is not the ‘second death’ mentioned in Revelation 2:11. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all of God’s children will overcome this initial spiritual death and be brought back to God’s presence to be judged (see Helaman 14:16–17), after which most people will inherit a kingdom of glory. A second spiritual death will be pronounced at the Day of Judgment upon those who refuse to repent of their sins and who willfully rebel against the light and truth of the gospel, as Satan did [see D&C 29:44–45; Guide to the Scriptures, ‘Death, Spiritual,’ scriptures.lds.org]. They will be forever separated from God and will be sons of perdition (see D&C 76:30–37, 44)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 534).

Revelation 2:14. “The doctrine of Balaam”

“Balaam was an Old Testament prophet, whose actions are recorded in Numbers 22–24; 31:16. He appeared at first to be true to the Lord and His people, repeatedly refusing Balak’s request to curse Israel. Nevertheless, Balaam eventually succumbed to Balak’s offer of riches and taught Balak how to cause the army of Israel to weaken themselves through sexual sin and idolatry (see Numbers 25:1–5; 31:13–16). The plan included having Moabite women seduce the men of Israel and persuade them to offer sacrifices to heathen gods, thus destroying them spiritually” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 534).

Revelation 2:17. “Hidden manna” and “a white stone”

“The Lord provided life-sustaining manna for the children of Israel to eat during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness (see Exodus 16:15, 35). Just as the manna sustained physical life, Jesus Christ is the ‘bread of life’ that sustains spiritual life (John 6:35, 48). The ‘hidden manna’ mentioned in Revelation 2:17 refers to Jesus Christ. Jesus is ‘hidden’ from the wicked. But, as He taught in John 6, those who symbolically partake of His flesh will receive everlasting life (see John 6:47–58). …

“… For revealed insight into the meaning of the white stone, see Doctrine and Covenants 130:8–11” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 535).

Revelation 2:28. “I will give him the morning star”

“‘The morning star’ is a symbol of Jesus Christ (Revelation 2:28; 22:16). The promise of ‘the morning star’ is given to him ‘that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end’ (Revelation 2:26)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 535).

Revelation 3:14. “The Amen”

“In Hebrew and Greek the word ‘amen’ means truly, certainly, or faithfully. In Revelation 3:14, Christ’s faithfulness and truthfulness as the great ‘Amen’ are presented as a contrast to the lukewarm attitudes of the Laodiceans (see also Revelation 3:15–16). When uttered at the conclusion of a prayer or a discourse, ‘amen’ is a way of solemnly affirming what has been said or expressing agreement with it. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that the Savior’s title ‘Amen’ also shows ‘that it is in and through him that the seal of divine affirmation is placed on all the promises of the Father’ (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 32)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 536).