Email 36

Dear BethLLives:
My answers are often forthright. Please do not be offended if I do not agree with you. I always state my reasons why. I’ve been told my style is sometimes curt and undiplomatic especially for Christians. I’m used to a Jewish congregation, and in that context have no problem of offending anyone’s sensibilities for most Jews are extremely forthright and passionate about their beliefs. I’m giving you my take, and you might disagree. If you do that is okay for we must always remember “we see through a glass darkly but some day we shall know as we are known.”
Your questions edited by me to a shorter format:
The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, are they a type of Judaism and Christianity?
Are they the two witnesses before G-d? As Moshe the Law Giver and Aaron the Priest or like Moshe and Eliyahu?
Cold these two churches be the two witnesses in Revelation Chapter 11? (Two lamp stands and two olive trees?

You remarked in your e-mail one of the proofs that brought you to the decision that Smyrna represented the Jewish people is because Christians already have the crown of life. This was in reference to Yahshua remarking, “Let no man take your crown.” On my level of understanding, this presupposes that you must have a crown in order for someone to take it. I do not believe in the doctrine of eternal security or eternal salvation characterized as “once saved always saved.” Scripture does not support it, and therefore this passage could certainly be referring to Jews as well as Christians. Let me add that in the KJV Romans 3:25 and 2 Peter 1:9, Sha’ul and Kefer respectively tell us we are saved from our past sins and not our future ones. We are reconciled to YHVH by trusting in the faithfulness of Yahshua’s work (imputed righteousness), but then we must be obedient to His Torah to maintain the process of progressive salvation. We fall, we sincerely repent, and we do not commit “high handed” sin for which there is no forgiveness. This is the same process of salvation in the Old Testament. G-d does not change.

It is advantageous to list the verses you referred to and go over them line by line:
Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Let us take the first sentence and interpret it. Note for many ages people have taken the last three words of this verse to castigate and persecute Jews saying they are of the synagogue of Satan. First, the plain rendering is about those who claim to be Jews, but are in fact not Jews. Therefore, the plain sense of the verse is about someone masquerading as a Jew. What is the motive for this? Then as today, there are those that adopt a smattering of Jewish practices, adopt the festivals, and call themselves Messianic Jews, but still maintain their false doctrines. Yochanan in my understanding is writing about such Gentiles who say they are Jews but are not; on the contrary, they are of the synagogue of HaSatan. Perhaps because they subject themselves to a legalistic perversion of the Torah and, as a result, they drive Gentiles away from the truth. It is regrettable that practically all the commentators ignore the plain and straightforward interpretation of this verse. In verse two John says: “you tested them that call themselves apostles, but aren’t and you found them to be liars.” This verse is accepted by the literal sense of it, but in the preceding above, they opt for the metaphorical interpretation that Yochanan is talking about Jews who reject Yahshua as the Messiah. This double standard has fueled ages of anti-Semitism. Accepting it as such denys what is said in Zechariah 8:23 “Thus saith YHVH of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that G-d is with you.”

You might also check that nowhere in the B’rit Chadasha (NT) are unbelieving Jews called non-Jews. A good rule for interpreting Scripture is “when the literal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense.”

You refer to Yahshua identifying Himself as the first and the last, which would have enabled Jews to readily identify His office or who He is from the Old Testament. First Century Judaism would not have understood this. One the NT as we know it did not exist and was not readily available. The OT and rabbis comments on it only refer to the Alef- Tav as G-d’s Word, that is the Torah or the literal written Torah. Not the manifestation of the Word or Torah manifested as Yahshua. The Alef – Tav that would equal “the first letter and last letter” of the Hebrew alphabet that is comparable to Yahshua’s title in Revelation of Alpha and Omega would have been completely unknown to them. This understanding did not occur until much later and in fact, not many, Jews or Christians even understand it now.
Resurrection was a doctrine held by the Pharisees, but denied by the Sadducees. There is no body of writing extant in Judaism that refers to a resurrected human before the day of judgment. Therefore, this would be an alien doctrine to most Jews of the first century.

Your reference to the 10 days of Awe being consistent with their suffering 10 days may be considered as a legitimate form of interpretation even under the rules of interpretation of Pashat. It would fall in the category of “remez,” hint. JR Church came up with an interesting study on this some time ago. I concur with him in that the 10 days of awe represents three years of afflictions and testing before the seven years of Tribulation, but for believers. Traditional Jews are not believers. Moreover, if they maintain that status into the Tribulation they are subject to martyrdom if they them believe.

I’ve earlier set down my belief and understanding of the giving of the “crown of life.” This does not differentiate the Jews, but in my opinion confirms that the letter is to the Gentile believers at Smyrna. Note, he says as elsewhere in Scripture, stand fast, persevere and overcome. All warnings to live an obedient life and not risk falling away from grace.
The bottom line is that I do not believe that Smyrna represents the Jewish people, but is addressed to all believers both Jew and non-Jew.

The church of Philadelphia:
The premise you advanced is that Philadelphia represents Christians and Smyrna represents Jews. I disagree with the latter as you have read, but let us examine the church at Philadelphia.
The name: Philadelphia means, “love of brother.” A Hellenistic city in the province of Lydia in western Asia. We are to love our brethren even our enemies, but few truly practice this quality. I’ll comment on the two names later at the end.
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The “Key of David” has long been recognized as it is applied in Isaiah 22:20-22 when Elyakim was given the “key of the House of David” to act in full authority on behalf of King Hezekiah. Likewise, Yahshua has been given the “key of David” to act in full authority on behalf of YHVH Elohim.

Notice the reference to making them the synagogue of Satan in verse 9. A Jewish commentator sees this verse as referring to the day that Israel ascends to the heights YHVH promised, referring to the humiliation of Gentiles before Israel. It may also be refer to the conversion to Gentiles to the faith of Israel. Sha’ul says, Gentiles must be grafted into Israel, and this seems to me to be a better interpretation.

“Let no man take thy crown.” This is a warning against false doctrine as preached by false teachers. Again, in my opinion it means we may fall from grace if we do not hold to the truth. This does not mean to me that it is Christianity to which He is referring. The word “church” is ecclesia meaning “called out ones.” It was mistranslated as “church,” which is a derivative from sun god. To me it this phrase is addressed to anyone who believes in G-d’s truth. A Jew does not have to become a Christian to believe. Yahshua was not a Christian, but a faithful Jew who practiced Judaism to the fullness. On the contrary, a true believer has to be partakers of the covenants of Israel and a citizen of that commonwealth, i.e. an Israeli. Yahshua disagreed with some of the rabbi’s interpretation and traditions (oral law), but in no way established, a new religion called Christianity. The early assemblies were all-Jewish, and were not separated from Judaism until late in 200 CE (AD). You will read in Acts that they were zealous for the Torah (Law). By the way, Torah should have been translated as “instructions,” not Law. Today as in ancient times, “Christians” were identified in Hebrew and called Nazarets.

I agree there are two witnesses on earth. Christians that testify to the Grace of G-d and Jews that testify to Torah. In the Book of Revelation, the faithful sing the Song of the Lamb and The Song of Moshe representing grace and law. Yahshua came at a time in Jewish history when there were to houses of authority: Hillel who represents liberalism or you might say grace. Shammai who represented conservatism or you might say law. Yahshua took some of His doctrine from Hillel and some from Shammai. He was liberal on some issues but stringent on others. A careful analysis shows he chose a middle path. Not one or the other exclusively. We need to see Torah in a new light and see it as a necessity of grace. Read on the site “ The definition of a true believer.” And are we Legalists?” on the first page.

So, the bottom line is that I see Philadelphia as representing the ‘called out ones” Jew or non-Jew who have been reconciled to YHVH under the covering of Yahshua’ blood and who obey His voice as He was the Manifested Torah.
The Two Olive Trees. In the shield of Israel, you see olive leaves on either side of the menorah. There are 24 and a flame on the top of each. To me this stands for the 24 elders of Israel around G-d’s throne. 12 patriarchs and 12 apostles, again joining together Law and Grace. You made a reference similar to this about the transfiguration..
Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the G-d of the earth.
These two witnesses are identified with the two olive trees of Zechariah 4:3. Some have likened the two olive trees to Moshe and Elijah or Moshe and Enoch. Elijah and Enoch were translated, and G-d says it is appointed for man to die once. These two have never seen human death. So, we have some thinking to do here. In any event the text clearly says they will witness in Jerusalem and be killed there, lying in the street for three and half days. After which they arise from death and go to heaven. The text is speaking about literal men. I think to extrapolate it into including Christians and Jews as represented by the above churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna in this context is not warranted.
About the names:

The following is from strong’s. 4667. Smurna, smoor’-nah; the same as G4666; Smyrna, a place in Asia Minor:–Smyrna. 4666. smurna, smoor’-nah; appar. strengthened for G3464; myrrh:–myrrh.3464. muron, moo’-ron; prob. of for. or. [comp. H4753, G4666]; “myrrh”, i.e. (by impl.) perfumed oil:–ointment. I also looked Smyrna up in a good lexicon and do not come up with the same definition you did: as dealing in bitterness. The root means perfumed oil something that is attractively scented.
Philadelphia is self-evident.
Shalom v’brachas,
Hope I covered all the bases it could be a most detailed study.

Rabbi Davis (R. Milchamah b. David)