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Revelation 2:2

    Revelation 2:2 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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:

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you can not bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars:

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false;

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    I have knowledge of your doings, and of your hard work and long waiting, and that you will not put up with evil men, and have put to the test those who say they are Apostles and are not, and have seen that they are false;

    Webster's Revision

    I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false;

    World English Bible

    "I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you can't tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them which call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false;

    Clarke's Commentary on Revelation 2:2

    I know thy works - For the eyes of the Lord are throughout the earth, beholding the evil and the good; and, being omnipresent, all things are continually open and naked before him. It is worthy of remark, that whatsoever is praiseworthy in any of these Churches is first mentioned; thereby intimating that God is more intent on finding out the good than the evil in any person or Church; and that those who wish to reform such as have fallen or are not making sufficient advances in the Divine life, should take occasion, from the good which yet remains, to encourage them to set out afresh for the kingdom of heaven. The fallen or backsliding who have any tenderness of conscience left are easily discouraged, and are apt to think that there is no seed left from which any harvest can be reasonably expected. Let such be told that there is still a seed of godliness remaining, and that it requires only watching and strengthening the things which remain, by prompt application to God through Christ, in order to bring them back to the full enjoyment of all they have lost, and to renew them in the spirit of their mind. Ministers continually harping on Ye are dead, ye are dead; there is little or no Christianity among you, etc., etc., are a contagion in a Church, and spread desolation and death wheresoever they go. It is far better to say, in such cases, "Ye have lost ground, but ye have not lost all your ground; ye might have been much farther advanced, but through mercy ye are still in the way. The Spirit of God is grieved by you, but it is evident he has not forsaken you. Ye have not walked in the light as ye should, but your candlestick is not yet removed, and still the light shines. Ye have not much zeal, but ye have a little. In short, God still strives with you, still loves you, still waits to be gracious to you; take courage, set out afresh, come to God through Christ; believe, love, obey, and you will soon find days more blessed than you have ever yet experienced." Exhortations and encouragements of this kind are sure to produce the most blessed effects; and under such the work of God infallibly revives.

    And thy labor - He knew their works in general. Though they had left their first love, yet still they had so much love as excited them to labor, and enabled them to bear persecution patiently, and to keep the faith; for they could not tolerate evil men, and they had put fictitious apostles to the test, and had found them to be liars, pretending a Divine commission while they had none, and teaching false doctrines as if they were the truths of God.

    Barnes' Notes on Revelation 2:2

    I know thy works - The common formula with which all the epistles to the seven churches are introduced. It is designed to impress upon them deeply the conviction that he was intimately acquainted with all that they did, good and bad, and that therefore he was abundantly qualified to dispense rewards or administer punishments according to truth and justice. It may be observed that, as many of the things referred to in these epistles were things pertaining to the heart - the feelings, the state of the mind - it is implied that he who speaks here has an intimate acquaintance with the heart of man, a prerogative which is always attributed to the Saviour. See John 2:25. But no one can do this who is not divine; and this declaration, therefore, furnishes a strong proof of the divinity of Christ. See Psalm 7:9; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39.

    And they labor - The word used here (κόπος kopos) means properly "a beating," hence wailing, grief, with beating the breast; and then it means excessive labor or toil adapted to produce grief or sadness, and is commonly employed in the New Testament in the latter sense. It is used in the sense of trouble in Matthew 26:10, "Why trouble ye (literally, why give ye trouble to) the woman?" (compare also Mark 14:6; Luke 11:7; Luke 18:5; Galatians 6:17); and in the sense of labor, or wearisome toil, in John 4:38; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Corinthians 11:23, 2 Corinthians 11:27, et al. The connection here would admit of either sense. It is commonly understood, as in our translation, in the sense of labor, though it would seem that the other signification, that of trouble, would not be inappropriate. If it means labor, it refers to their faithful service in his cause, and especially in opposing error. It seems to me, however, that the word "trouble" would better suit the connection.

    And thy patience - Under these trials; to wit, in relation to the efforts which had been made by the advocates of error to corrupt them, and to turn them away from the truth. They had patiently borne the opposition made to the truth, they had manifested a spirit of firm endurance amidst many arts of those opposed to them to draw them off from simple faith in Christ.

    And how thou canst not bear them which are evil - Canst not "endure" or "tolerate" them. Compare the notes on 2 John 1:10-11. That is, they had no sympathy with their doctrines or their practices, they were utterly opposed to them. They had lent them no countenance, but had in every way shown that they had no fellowship with them. The evil persons here referred to were, doubtless, those mentioned in this verse as claiming that "they were apostles," and those mentioned in Revelation 2:6 as the Nicolaitanes.

    And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles - Thou hast thoroughly examined their claims. It is not said in what way they had done this, but it was probably by considering attentively and candidly the evidence on which they relied, whatever that may have been. Nor is it certainly known who these persons were, or on what grounds they advanced their pretensions to the apostolic office. It cannot be supposed that they claimed to have been of the number of apostles selected by the Saviour, for that would have been too absurd; and the only solution would seem to be that they claimed either:

    (1) that they had been called to that office after the Saviour ascended, as Paul was; or,

    (2) that they claimed the honor due to this name or office, in virtue of some election to it; or,

    (3) that they claimed to be the successors of the apostles, and to possess and transmit their authority.

    If the first of these, it would seem that the only ground of claim would be that they had been called in some miraculous way to the rank of apostles, and, of course, an examination of their claims would be an examination of the alleged miraculous call, and of the evidence on which they would rely that they had such a call. If the second, then the claim must have been founded on some such plea as that the apostolic office was designed to be elective, as in the case of Matthias Acts 1:23-26, and that they maintained that this arrangement was to be continued in the church; and then an examination of their claims would involve an investigation of the question, whether it was contemplated that the apostolic office was designed to be perpetuated in that manner, or whether the election of Matthias was only a temporary arrangement, designed to answer a particular purpose. If the third, then the claim must have been founded on the plea that the apostolic office was designed to be perpetuated by a regular succession, and that they, by ordination, were in a line of that succession; and then the examination and refutation of the claim must have consisted in showing, from the nature of the office, and the necessary qualifications for the office of apostle, that it was designed to be temporary, and that there could be properly no successors of the apostles, as such. On either of these suppositions, such a line of argument would be fatal to all claims to any succession in the apostolic office now. If each of these points should fail, of course their claims to the rank of apostles would cease; just as all claims to the dignity and rank of the apostles must fail now. The passage becomes thus a strong argument against the claims of any persons to be "apostles," or to be the "successors" of the apostles, in the uniqueness of their office.

    And are not - There were never any apostles of Jesus Christ but the original twelve whom he chose, Matthias, who was chosen in the place of Judas Acts 1:26, and Paul, who was specially called to the office by the Saviour after his resurrection. On this point, see my work on the Apostolic Church (pp. 49-57, London ed.).

    And hast found them liars - Hast discovered their pretensions to be unfounded and false. In 2 Corinthians 11:13, "false apostles" are mentioned; and, in an office of so much honor as this, it is probable that there would be not a few claimants to it in the world. To set up a claim to what they knew they were not entitled to would be a falsehood, and as this seems to have been the character of these people, the Saviour, in the passage before us, does not hesitate to designate them by an appropriate term, and to call them liars. The point here commended in the Ephesian church is, that they had sought to have a "pure ministry," a ministry whose claims were well founded. They had felt the importance of this, had carefully examined the claims of pretenders, and had refused to recognize those who could not show, in a proper manner, that they had been designated to their work by the Lord Jesus. The same zeal, in the same cause, would be commended by the Saviour now.

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