He who has an ear
Every man hath an ear naturally, but he alone will be able to hear spiritually to whom God has given the hearing ear; whose ear God hath wakened and opened. 1
let him hear
Each letter closes with this imperative command which is very similar to Jesus invitations in the synoptic gospels (Mtt. Mat. 11:15; Mat. 13:9, Mat. 13:43; Mark Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23; Luke Luke 8:8; Luke 14:15).2 It is Christs desire that those who hear the words of this prophecy (Rev. Rev. 1:3+) not only hear the subject matter, but understand its significance. This phrase recognizes the reality that those whose hearts are not open to Christ may hear (or read) the words, but will not understand the message: The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Cor. 1Cor. 2:14). See Hiding or Revealing?.
If we desire that God would reveal more to us, we must first respond in obedience to that which has already been revealed. If we fail to respond to what He has already revealed, then we stand to lose what we already understand (Mark Mark 4:24-25; Luke Luke 8:18). Thus is the dilemma of the lukewarm Christian who believes he sees and hears, but has become blind and deaf (Rev. Rev. 2:16-17+).
[The seven letters] are also accompanied with a seven times repeated entreaty and command to hear what is said in them. And yet there is not another portion of Scripture, of equal extent and conspicuity, to which so little attention has been paid.3what the Spirit says
to the churches
Each letter is given for the benefit of all seven churches. The book of Revelation is given to: (1) John; (2) each individual church; (3) all seven churches; (4) all churches of all time; (5) all believers in every age (Rev. Rev. 2:7+, Rev. 2:11+, Rev. 2:17+, Rev. 2:29+; Rev. 3:6+, Rev. 3:13+, Rev. 3:22+; Rev. 13:9+). See Seven Churches of Asia.
tree of life
The tree of life originally stood in the Garden of Eden (Gen. Gen. 2:9). By partaking of its fruit, man had eternal life. But through the Fall, man lost access to the tree (Gen. Gen. 3:22-24).
The tree of life is a common motif for righteousness and wisdom in Scripture (Ps. Ps. 1:3; Pr. Pr. 3:18; Pr. 11:30; Pr. 13:12; Pr. 15:4) for it is by righteousness and wisdom that life is lived to the full. For this reason, the Jews referred to the Word of God as the tree of life. [Torah scrolls are] written on parchment, sewn together, rolled onto wooden rollers called eytz chayeem (tree of life), and read regularly in the synagogue.5
During the present age, while man is barred from the tree of life, God has provided another tree of life: the cross of Jesus Christ. Those who place their trust in His atoning work upon the cross have eternal life (John John 3:14-16).6 Even though every man has been bitten by the Serpent (Gen. Gen. 3:15), by merely looking upon this tree in faith, he will be healed (Num. Num. 21:9).
In the eternal state, believers will once again obtain full access to the tree of life (Rev. Rev. 22:2+, Rev. 22:14+). The promise made to the overcomer is an essential element of salvation. In the eternal state, man will still be dependent upon God for access to the tree of life (Rev. Rev. 22:2+) because independence from God is sin.
Paradise of God
Significantly, the church which had lost its first love was given the promise of access to a tree which was in the midst of the garden wherein God and Adam used to have sweet fellowship (Gen. Gen. 3:8). This is the very essence of the first love which the Ephesians had left.
Paradise Παράδεισος [Paradeisos] was originally a Persian word, denoting an enclosed garden, especially a royal park.7 Among the Persians a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting ground, park, shady and well watered, in which wild animals, were kept for the hunt; it was enclosed by walls and furnished with towers for the hunters.8 Although Paradise was initially associated with the Garden of God (Gen. Gen. 2:8; Gen. 13:10; Isa. Isa. 51:3; Eze. Eze. 28:13; Eze. 31:5), the meaning of the term has changed with time: We may thus trace παράδεισος [paradeisos] passing through a series of meanings, each one higher than the last; from any garden of delight, which is its first meaning, it comes to be predominantly applied to the Garden of Eden; then to the resting-place of separate souls in joy and felicity; and lastly, to the very heaven itself.9 What was originally a garden of delight has taken on the connotation of the new heavens and the new earth.10
Prior to the cross, paradise was a compartment within Hades (Luke Luke 16:22-23). At His crucifixion, Jesus told the repentant thief, today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke Luke 23:43). The location of paradise after the victory of Jesus on the cross moved to heaven, for Paul was caught up into Paradise [emphasis added] where he heard inexpressible words (2Cor. 2Cor. 12:4). Essentially, the term describes the abode of righteous men upon death:
It is a term describing the abode of the righteous ones, no matter where that above may be at any point in time.... from Adam until the Ascension of Jesus, Paradise was in Abrahams Bosom. From the Ascension of Jesus until the end of the Millennium, Paradise is in Heaven. Then, after the Millennium and for all eternity, Paradise will be in the New Jerusalem on the new earth.11
1 A. R. Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 2:7.
3 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 67.
5 Israel My Glory, May/June 2001, 23.
6 It is suggested that the phrase tree of life may have carried the connotation of the cross of Christ to the original readers of Rev. Rev. 2:7+.Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 55.
7 Ibid., 50.
9 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 95.