Revelation 2:2: Proof of the Ministry

Updated: Sep 7, 2019



Verse 2:[1] (Psalm 1:6; Rev. 2:9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and (1 John 4:1) thou hast tried them (2 Cor. 11:13; 2 Pet. 2:1) which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars…


[I know thy works] Either, evil works (Pareus): or, κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence (Gomar), good works (Pareus, Menochius, Gomar), which then He explains item by item (Gomar), that is, what things thou hast been previously doing (Ribera, Menochius). Some men are good, others sufficiently good, as Cicero in his Epistles distinguishes those things. That Bishop was of the latter sort, as what follows indicates. His works are here praised, that is, the majority are κατὰ τὴν ἐπικράτειαν, in accordance with the rule. Just as God observes both the good and the bad, Proverbs 15:3, and is וְתֹכֵ֖ן רוּח֣וֹת, the One weighing spirits, Proverbs 16:2; so also Christ (Grotius). These words are prefixed to all the Epistles (Cluverus), even to those where there is no commendation, as in Revelation 3:15; and hence they do not denote approbation, but simple omniscience (Durham). Now, thus it is spoken, either, 1. so that it might indicate the Divinity of Christ (Durham, similarly Cluverus). Or, 2. so that it might prove that the testimony of His that follows is beyond all exception (Durham). Or, 3. so that it might stir fear and veneration of Him (Cluverus).


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, etc., τὸν κόπον σου, καὶ τὴν ὑπομονήν σου] Ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, an hendiadys, in the place of τὴν ἐν τῷ κόπῳ ὑπομονήν σου, thy patience in the labor; endurance of labors, even heavy ones, which sort are wont to press upon Bishops. To bear such a burden is heavy (Grotius). And thy (namely, in thine office [Cluverus, similarly Durham]) labor (full of sweat and troubles [Pareus, thus Piscator], as the word signifies in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 1 Timothy 5:17 [Pareus, Durham]), and thy tolerance (Piscator) (or, patience [Beza], perseverance [Vatablus]). In bearing afflictions (Cluverus), from Satan and his instruments (Durham); in expectation of the repentance of the erring, in the bearing of infirmity: which is quite necessary in a Bishop, and to be praised (Cluverus).


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, etc., καὶ ὅτι οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς] Thou art μισοπόνηρος, a hater of knaves. For this is laudable. See Plutarch περὶ ἀοργησίας, “On the Control of Anger”.[2] In a manuscript, καὶ/and is missing,[3] so that the ὅτι/that is an explication of the perseverance. One is said not to be able to do what he abhors by temperament, Matthew 12:34; John 8:43; 12:39 (Grotius). And that thou art not able to bear (or, to endure [Erasmus], to carry, that is, to bear with a level spirit [Piscator]: that is to say, thou dost hardly endure [Glassius’ “Grammar” 261]) evil men. But thou dost reprehend them (Cluverus), and either correct them (Ribera, Menochius), or expel them from the Church (Ribera, similarly Cluverus, Pareus, Estius, Menochius); thou dost uphold the discipline of the Church (Pareus). Thou dost blend mildness with zeal, and thou dost not connive at sins (Cluverus).


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, etc., καὶ ἐπείρασας—καὶ οὐκ εἰσίν, καὶ εὗρες, etc.[4]] And (or, for [Piscator]) thou hast tried (or, tested [Piscator, thus Beza], by their fruits, doctrine and holiness [Ribera]) them that say that they are Apostles (either, 1. upon the single account [Cotterius], that they were made Apostles by the revelation of Christ [Grotius]; were sent from Christ Himself [Beza, Cotterius], either while He was dwelling among men, or having been received into the Heavens, no less then Paul and the Twelve [Cotterius]: Which indeed Paul was saying concerning Himself, but those falsely: This test did not belong to anyone: This method of discerning them was best, if they should seek by fraud money, which they say that they despise, and dissemble the sins of the rich: Such are those that are described in 2 Corinthians 11:13, etc. [Grotius]: Or, 2. in general, that is, legitimate pastors [Beza]: It indicates a legitimate test instituted by this Church both concerning doctrine and concerning their sending [Durham]), and are not (or, although they are not: καὶ/and in the place of a relative [Grotius]: Although they are Pseudo-apostles [Tirinus]), and hast found them (understand, to be [Piscator]) liars (Erasmus), that is, thou hast discovered their deceits (Grotius), and checked them (Pareus). Already at that time many Pseudo-prophets had gone out, 1 John 4:1 (Cluverus), and that in Ephesus, 1 Timothy 1:3, concerning which they had been forewarned, Acts 20:29, 30 (Brightman). Which sort were Ebion[5] (Pareus), Cerinthus and his followers, who were feigning that they had received their Revelations from some distinguished Apostle (Hammond).


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.

[1] Greek: Οἶδα τὰ ἔργα σου, καὶ τὸν κόπον σου, καὶ τὴν ὑπομονήν σου, καὶ ὅτι οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς, καὶ ἐπειράσω τοὺς φάσκοντας εἶναι ἀποστόλους καὶ οὐκ εἰσί, καὶ εὗρες αὐτοὺς ψευδεῖς.


[2] Moralia 6:32.


[3] Codex Alexandrinus.


[4] The Textus Receptus reads ἐπειράσω, in the middle voice.


[5] The Ebionites were a second century Judaizing sect, who insisted upon the keeping of Jewish religious rites and laws. They denied the Deity of Jesus Christ. The existence of a second century heresiarch by the name of Ebion is a matter of some dispute.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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