The next verses entail the divine messages to the Seven Communities of Light—or Light-Bearers, “Bodhisattvas”. This blog will focus on the first four communities. As we shall see the style of these particular verses will be closer to more mundane themes that are less esoteric and symbolic than the rest of the Book. In essence they are prophetic speeches. The following is a map of their representative areas:
Source: Smyth Helwys Bible Commentary
The Message to Ephesus, 2:1-7
Rev 2:1 ‘Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives among the seven golden lamp-stands:
Rev 2:2 I know your activities, your hard work and your perseverance. I know you cannot stand wicked people, and how you put to the test those who were self-styled apostles, and found them false.
Rev 2:3 I know too that you have perseverance, and have suffered for my name without growing tired.
Rev 2:4 Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make: you have less love now than formerly.
Rev 2:5 Think where you were before you fell; repent, and behave as you did at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.
Rev 2:6 It is in your favour, nevertheless, that you loathe as I do the way the Nicolaitans are behaving.
Rev 2:7 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life set in God’s paradise.”
Write to the angel: The Premier Light Bearer of the Community
I know you cannot stand wicked people, and how you put to the test those who were self-styled apostles, and found them false:
This is the age-renowned warning, present in many diverse spiritual traditions, against false teachers. Their evil works will sooner or later be revealed in the light of day. Yea, what you hide in the dark will be brought forth into the Light Triumphant!
The passages go on to relate that the Unborn One knows about this community’s Right Perseverance, even in times of great tribulation. They have fended off Mara’s greatest assaults against their firm and Resolute Reserve. Yet, one complaint is lodged against them: that they have less love in their work than they did before. They have grown to be luke-warm, and if they do not amend this behavior will be spewed-out by the mouth of the Unborn One.
that you loathe as I do the way the Nicolaitans are behaving:
A pseudo-occult sect who practiced the vilest forms of phallic sorcery.
what the Spirit says: The speaker is identified here and in the other messages as the Spirit, although each of the commissioning formulas identifies the speaker as the risen Jesus, the Bodhisattva of Light.
those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life set in God’s paradise:
This is most fascinating, since the “tree of life” in Genesis is forbidden to be approached. Here, one may eat freely from IT’s Fruit of Wisdom. One’s actions here are henceforth not evil as formally thought.
The Message to Smyrna, 2:8-11
Rev 2:8 ‘Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, “Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again:
Rev 2:9 I know your hardships and your poverty, and — though you are rich — the slander of the people who falsely claim to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of the sufferings that are coming to you. Look, the devil will send some of you to prison to put you to the test, and you must face hardship for ten days. Even if you have to die, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life for your prize.
Rev 2:11 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: for those who prove victorious will come to no harm from the second death.”
First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again:
The Blessed Tathagata, the Thus Come and the Thus Gone, who was once dead being close to the ways of the world and worldly and now has Eternal Life in the Ways of the Unborn Spirit.
The False Synagogue is the Church of Mara. Once again, the Unborn One knows of their hardships as in the former community, but equally here how Mara has spiritually imprisoned them, but to never lose heart but keep ever-close to the Buddhadharma for their salvation.
will come to no harm from the second death:
The second death is the death of one’s spirit with the eventual agony in Avīci Hell.
The Message to Pergamum, 2:12-17
Rev 2:12 ‘Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum and say, “Here is the message of the one who has the sharp sword, double-edged:
Rev 2:13 I know where you live, in the place where Satan is enthroned, and that you still hold firmly to my name, and did not disown your faith in me even when my faithful witness, Antipas, was killed among you, where Satan lives.
Rev 2:14 “Nevertheless, I have one or two charges against you: some of you are followers of Balaam, who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites so that they committed adultery by eating food that had been sacrificed to idols;
Rev 2:15 and among you too there are some also who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Rev 2:16 So repent, or I shall soon come to you and attack these people with the sword out of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: to those who prove victorious I will give some hidden manna and a white stone, with a new name written on it, known only to the person who receives it.”
the one who has the sharp sword, double-edged: The mark of Supreme and Undivided Wisdom, or Amuttara Samyak Sambodhi.
I know where you live, in the place where Satan is enthroned:
Pergamum is the Imperial City of Mara.
Antipas: most faithful witness of the Unborn One.
the teaching of Balaam: A typological relationship is expressed between John’s rival teacher and the Canaanite diviner whose interaction with ancient Israel is recounted in Num 22-24. who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in the path of the descendants of Israel: This is an allusion to Num 31:16, which suggests that Balaam and Balak incited the Israelites to intermarry with the Moabites and to worship their gods (cf Num 25:1-2). to eat food sacrificed to idols: This act seems to be what “Balak” has taught some of the Christians in Pergamum to do. (JBC, Jerome Biblical Commentary) For our purposes, Balak is a messenger of Mara.
some of the hidden manna: According to Jewish apocalyptic tradition, the treasury of manna would descend in the messianic age (2 Apoc. Bar 29:8). I will give him a white stone and upon the stone a new name will be written, which no one knows except the one who receives it: This promise can be understood best in the context of popular magic (Charles, Commentary 1. 66-67). The white stone is an amulet, and the “new name” is a powerful magical formula. Its power is greater if no one else knows it, since then no one else may use it. This name is probably a name of the risen and glorified Jesus. (JBC) For our purpose the White Stone is the Beloved Bodhipearl of Noble Wisdom.
The Message to Thyatira, 2:18-29
Rev 2:18 ‘Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira and say, “Here is the message of the Son of God who has eyes like a burning flame and feet like burnished bronze:
Rev 2:19 I know your activities, your love, your faith, your service and your perseverance, and I know how you are still making progress.
Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have a complaint to make: you tolerate the woman Jezebel who claims to be a prophetess, and by her teaching she is luring my servants away to commit the adultery of eating food which has been sacrificed to idols.
Rev 2:21 I have given her time to repent but she is not willing to repent of her adulterous life.
Rev 2:22 Look, I am consigning her to a bed of pain, and all her partners in adultery to great hardship, unless they repent of their practices;
Rev 2:23 and I will see that her children die, so that all the churches realise that it is I who test motives and thoughts and repay you as your deeds deserve.
Rev 2:24 But on the rest of you in Thyatira, all of you who have not accepted this teaching or learnt the deep secrets of Satan, as they are called, I am not laying any other burden;
Rev 2:25 but hold on firmly to what you already have until I come.
Rev 2:26 To anyone who proves victorious, and keeps working for me until the end, I will give the authority over the nations
Rev 2:27 which I myself have been given by my Father, to rule them with an iron sceptre and shatter them like so many pots.
Rev 2:28 And I will give such a person the Morning Star.
Rev 2:29 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Of particular import here is the whore Jezebel: A typological relationship is expressed between this Christian leader and Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Sidon who married Ahab, king of Israel (1 Kgs 16:31). As a Canaanite, she advocated the worship of Baal, who calls herself a prophetess: It is likely that she was recognized as such, at least by some Christians in Thyatira. to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols: Her teaching was the same as Balaam’s (JBC) For our purposes she is a composite of Mara’s Five Whores: Greed, Fear, Pride, Ignorance and Dark Desires.
The salient message for these first four communities is that what they do unto their brothers and sisters in the name of the five whores of Mara, the dharma will equally counteract upon them. In this there is neither mercy nor any forgiveness. (From a Tozen Teaching: Exegesis II)
The Morning Star: Giving the morning star may mean making one like the morning star: the faithful will be glorified and immortalized. (JBC)