Revelation 2:2 Index
"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:"
Research Material

"I know..."

  • To each of the seven churches Christ declares, "I know thy works." His admonition is that of One who is fully acquainted with problems of each church and who is therefore able to recommend an appropriate and effective solution. (7BC 743)

"...thy..."

  • The singular is used because Christ is here addressing the "angel" (Revelation 2:1) who represents either each member of the church individually or the church as a single corporate unit. Christ deals with men both on a group basis - as a church - and also in terms of their direct, personal relationship to Him. (7BC 743)

"...works..."

  • CONDITION: The condition of the church locally and in the church age. "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:" (KC 32)
  • Or "deeds." "actions," "activities," more particularly, deeds as exhibiting moral character. The whole life and conduct is known to Jesus Christ. (7BC 743)

"...thy labour..."

  • ...the lassitude, or weariness, that results from strenuous exertion, reflected in the word "toil." It is as if Christ said, "I know what you have done, and I also know the toil and perseverance that were necessary to the doing of it." (7BC 743)

"...and thy patience..."

  • Or "perseverance," "[active, steadfast] endurance," literally, "remaining under." (7BC 743)

"...thou canst not bear..."

  • Too often, now as in former times, the church is prone to "bear," or endure, evil teachings and practices in its midst, supposedly in the name of peace. Ministers of Christ may find it easier to remain silent concerning the pet sins of their congregations than to take a bold stand for truth (Isaiah 30;10; II Timothy 4:3). The church at Ephesus was to be commended for making a clear distinction between truth and error, whether in doctrine or in the life, and for taking a firm stand against error. (7BC 743)

"...them which are evil..."

  • That is, the false apostles immediately to be discussed in more detail. Gross doctrinal error is reflected, sooner or later, in gross misconduct. What a man does is inevitably the result of what he things and believes (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34; I John 3:3). (7BC 744)

"...thou hast tried them..."

  • Or "to test," "to try." The church at Ephesus had diligently investigated the claims and teachings of these false apostles. Ignatius, writing early in the 2nd century, speaks of the diligence of the Ephesian Christians in shunning heresy (To the Ephesians ix. 1). (7BC 744)
  • In one of his epistles John cautioned believers with respect to the coming of "antichrist" and advised them to "try the spirits whether they are of God" (I John 4:1-3). The warning given by Paul to the leaders at Ephesus many years before, that "grievous wolves" would enter in among them "speaking perverse things" (Acts 20:29, 30), had been fulfilled. He had counseled the Thessalonians to "prove all things" and to "hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). Peter had written at length concerning "false prophets" and "false teachers" (II Peter 2). (I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 4:14, 15). Though at first it might not be easy to recognize the subtle errors of their teachings, the teachers themselves cold be known "by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-20).... Thus it is today, for the genuine "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22, 23) does not grow in the lives of those who teach and practice error. The sincere Christian who is sensitive to spiritual things is promised that he can, if he will, detect the unchristian spirit and motives that actuate every teacher of error (I John 4:1; Revelation 3:18). (7BC 744)

"...which say they are apostles, and are not..."

  • Paul gave the believers this counsel when starting the church in Ephesus: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30). Half a century later, they must have remembered his words, for the Lord praises them for testing those who say they are apostles and are not. When a church is on fire with evangelistic fervor like Ephesus was, the devil will always bring in those who will try to pervert the truth.... Paul also told them to care for the weak. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, " It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). (KC 35)
  • Among the more serious heresies that threatened the church toward the close of the 1st century were Docetism and an early form of Gnosticism.... More specifically, an early tradition indicates that a Gnostic named Cerinthus visited Ephesus and fomented trouble for John and his congregation (Irenaeus Against Heresies iii. 3. 4). What was true of Ephesus during this period with respect to struggles with false prophets seems also to have been true of the church in general. (7BC 744)