The First Angel is addressed as:
the Angel of the church of Ephesus.
The First Angel is known throughout the book,
as the Angel of the first religion -
The Sabean Religion.
The Angel for each religion has a specific mission.
In these Book of Revelation verses, Jesus Christ addresses the first and most ancient of the Seven Churches (Religions) and He approves (commends) it for what it has attained - and condemns those things in which they have fallen short. For each of the seven religions, in turn, He will repeat this pattern of commending (praising) some aspect of the religion, condemning some other aspect of the religion, concluding with a threat or promise and a refrain.
It is IMPORTANT to understand that this collection of verses is only of when the Sabean Angel is addressed. There are MANY other verses throughout the Book of Revelation that deal with the Sabean religion.
"As to the religion of the Sabeans very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Baha'is are certain of one thing that the founder of it has been a Divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabeanism became widespread and flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith."From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 10, 1939
Lights of Guidance, p. 502
Indeed, among the Sabeans, Abraham is considered to be the founder of their faith.
Amongst the great prophets was His Holiness Abraham who, being an iconoclast and a herald of the oneness of God, was banished by the people from his native land.'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 388
There still remains a group of the loyal followers of the Sabean Religion near Baghdad in Iraq. Although they feel that their numbers are dwindling since they do not permit conversions to their religion and one must be born into it. They have about 80,000 members in Iraq and another group of 15,000 in southern Iran, and some very small numbers in the US and elsewhere. They fit in with the Islamic world by adopting the Islamic customs and Arab language, and they are accepted by the Iraqi people.
The Sabean book is called Kanza Rama, which is said to transmit the sayings of the ancient Prophets of Seth, Abraham and others lost to time. The group in Iraq call themselves 'Mandaean Sabeans' and they have adopted the teachings regarding baptism from John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Christian religion, in which they see baptism in playing a major role in purifying the soul.
It is interesting that the Bible does not identify John the Baptist as being Jewish but says that he followed what we identify with many ancient Sabean practices in his living close to nature in the wild. Some also feel that he should be identified with the Essene sect and the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke has the lengthy account of John's birth to the Priest Zacharias and Elisabeth, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. It is difficult to tell how much of the original teachings of Sabeans remain because the religion is ancient and has now interacted with so many other religions.
One thesis of this book is that the Sabean religion is the foundation or First Religion to the First Peoples (the Native Peoples) throughout the world and particularly in regards to the Indians of North America. While references to water, a central factor in the Sabean religion, are prominent in regards to the third religion (in the order of the seven religions being discussed here), acceptance of the Sabean Religion as having been the first of the present day religions has been the practice of other Baha'i writers such as Hand of the Cause William Sears (Release the Sun, p. 231) and is our practice in this book.
"It is possible the Indians of the Americas were influenced in the remote past by Prophets in Asia. But again, as there is nothing in our teachings about it we cannot do more than speculate."From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1950
Lights of Guidance, #1576
Further, there is reason to believe from the Book of Genesis in the Bible that all the present religions are descended from Abraham because it repeatedly says that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed of Him:
12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram.
12:3 in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
22:15And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven.
22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
The role and importance of the Native Peoples and their spiritual teachings is a prominent theme in the Baha'i Faith.
"The original population of the United States was very dear to 'Abdu'l-Baha's heart, and He foretold for the Indians a great future if they accepted and became enlightened by the Teachings of Baha'u'llah.
"To believe in the Mouthpiece of God in His Day confers very great blessings, not only on individuals, but on races, and He hopes that you who are now numbered amongst the followers of Baha'u'llah will give His Message to many more of your tribe, and in this way hasten for your people a bright and happy future."From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1947
Lights of Guidance, p. 530
"If the light of Divine Guidance enters properly into the lives of the Indians, it will be found that they will arise with a great power and will become an example of spirituality and culture to all of the people in these countries.From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America and Mexico, August 22, 1957
Lights of Guidance, p. 599
The contributions to science and mankind's intellectual accomplishments by each of the past religions has been very great and this applies no less to the Sabean Religion.
Every one of the eminent divines both studies and teaches the science of logic, although they consider its founder to have been a Sabean. Most of them have insisted that if a scholar has thoroughly mastered a variety of sciences but is not well grounded in logic, his opinions, deductions and conclusions cannot safely be relied upon.'Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 31
 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Ephesus - Sabean - Commentary
This is the first of SIX threads about the seven Angels, or seven churches (actually the seven world religions) to which Jesus sends His Message.
The SIX threads are lists of verses and are like six strings of pearls or six strings of jeweled beads. Each jeweled bead may be thought of as being a diamond, a ruby, etc. (a similar actual list in Rev.21:18-19). Every string/thread has the exact same seven jewels/beads in the exact same order, the jewels representing the seven world religions in the order of their appearance on earth - are usually represented by an angel in the verses. The following is the first religion addressed in this first thread. It is also the first religion addressed in each of the five later threads to the seven religions of the world.
V.1 The FIRST angel, the first church, is Ephesus, the name of one of the towns (now in ruins) in Turkey where John had been teaching the Christian Faith. Most realize that the ruins are no longer significant, however the name is significant as to the meaning of the word 'Pale'. This is the attribute that describes the Sabean Religion, believed to have existed around 5000 B.C., the oldest religion of the seven, now almost unheard of.
From the Baha'i perspective, Baha'u'llah is the one holding the seven stars which symbolize the seven Revealers, and the candlesticks symbolize the world religions, thus bringing them together in unity.
This first star is the Sabean Prophet. For each church there is an "Angel" who is of that religion that is being addressed. There is a distinction, as the Angels are shown to have a specific mission.
John is writing to the angel of each religion symbolized as candlesticks, but it is the One that holds the Stars in His right hand, that is making judgment. This, the `Return' of all the religions is Baha'u'llah. He approves each religion for what it has attained - and condemns those things in which they have fallen short. He will repeat this pattern of commending some aspect of the religion, condemning some other aspect of the religion, for each of the seven religions in turn, concluding with a threat or promise and a refrain.
 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:
V.2 The Commends:
The Sabean Religion is an archetype for all the very ancient Native Religions throughout the world although it may be speculative that it is their actual source. These religions feel a particular attachment to nature and patience and attachment to truth is a particular hallmark about them.
 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
V.3 For many long centuries the followers of the Native Religions have sought the Great Spirit. Many religious teachers have come to them claiming to be spiritual leaders (apostles) but the Natives have often found them not to have the true spirit.
"It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient decent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches.From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Baha'i para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951
Lights of Guidance, p. 523
 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
V.4 The Condemn:
Like all religions, the Native religions have let dogma, superstition and vain imaginings creep into their original spiritual teachings and may have forgotten the name of the prophet from whom the religion originated.
 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
V.5 He is asking them to consider where they have erred, and to return to the spirit of their original teachings.
"O people of the world, ye are all the branches of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the drops of one sea." Thus he announces human unity, strikes the universal chord of harmony between the races, nations and tribes and makes of the earth one native land. The world was in the darkness of indifference and Baha'u'llah is the light of unity.ABDU'L'BAHA, DIVINE PHILOSOPHY, P. 61.
The threat is that He will remove their religion entirely, if they don't heed His warning.
 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
V.6 He commends that they hate the wrong doing of the Nicolaitans, a group of people who are a symbol for those who arise actively against religion. In truth and point of fact there are few Native People anywhere in the world who are atheists.
 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
V.7 The Refrain:
"He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches:" The hope is that they will acquire a perceptive eye, and a hearing ear, so that the veils will be removed and they will understand the message that Baha'u'llah brings.
The promise is "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Meaning that they will recognize the Manifestation of God, which is the "Tree of Life".
 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
The 'first beast' (living creature representative of the four natures/souls of man and the four directions of the earth) says "come and see" meaning 'open your eyes and mind'. The Bab has been sent to open the minds and hearts of mankind for the arrival of the One to come (Baha'u'llah), and the arrival of the New Day.
Their hearts are deprived of the power of true insight, and thus they cannot see, while those endowed with the eyes of the spirit circle like moths round the Light of Truth until they are consumed. It is for this reason that the Day of Resurrection is said to be the greatest of all days, yet it is like unto any other day.THE BAB, SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF THE BAB, P. 79
 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
V.2 This is the first verse to begin the introduction of what are called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As with any archetype there is much that can be said about them and they are discussed at length in the Afterword of this Chapter - Chapter Six.
There are positive and negative views of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse although most modern literature stresses only the negative view. In the positive sense, the white horse is a symbol of the strength and purity of the religions of the world, as going forth to conquer. This horse, and its rider with a crown, brings a message from God. The Sabean (Native) Faith was the beginning of a religious cycle. The rider goes forth to conquer, symbolizing the prophets who have come to continue to give their message from God to the peoples of the world.
In a negative sense, the religions lose their purity and become dogmatic causing the very opposite of which is their true purpose. Thus in all the religions we see them bringing hatred and death, with burning of crosses and churches in the US to the slaughter by the Islamic State in the Middle East and the conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims. The evil of the age applies to all.
 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
V.7 This first angel is the Angel of the Sabean Religion which, going by the order here, was the first and most ancient of the Seven Religions. The Sabean religion, being so very ancient, and having often been supplanted by other religions is no longer very prominent in the world as an organized religion.
The mentioning of 'hail and fire mixed with blood' and being cast to the earth and a third part of the trees and all the grass being burnt up may yet have external implications, both in regards to environmental issues and catastrophic events to come, but the internal spiritual meanings are key.
Trees and greenery are symbolic of spiritual powers (such as,. the tree of 'knowledge' and the tree of 'life' in the Garden of Eden), however, over-time these spiritual powers and teachings have lost their heavenly vitality and have become earthly. The grass is indicative of the general followers of the religion and the one third portion also appears in the following verses regarding other religions and this shows that a large part of the whole of mankind is in spiritual darkness.
From the seed of reality, religion has grown into a tree which has put forth leaves and branches, blossoms and fruit. After a time this tree has fallen into a condition of decay. The leaves and blossoms have withered and perished; the tree has become stricken and fruitless. It is not reasonable that man should hold to the old tree, claiming that its life forces are undiminished, its fruit unequalled, its existence eternal. The seed of reality must be sown again in human hearts in order that a new tree may grow therefrom and new divine fruits refresh the world.'ABDU'L-BAHA, BAHA'I WORLD FAITH, P. 226
 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
V.1 The Lamb symbolically represents Jesus and the Bab.
The 144,000 represent all the peoples of the earth. The number comes 12x12,000 which was calculated as the Twelve Tribes of Israel times thousands based again upon the number 12. It is not a literal number. Some have imagined that it means only 144,000 will go to heaven, but it is a poetic symbolic representation of all the peoples of the earth, being receptive (having written in their foreheads, that is to say in their hearts and minds) the awareness of the Heaveny Father, represented in this Day by Baha'u'llah, the return of Christ, which is the central theme of the Book of Revelation.
 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
V.2 The 'Voice from Heaven' is Baha'u'llah, the One proclaimed by the Bab. The waters are the symbol of His teachings which like thunder give new meaning to life and come with a strong system of justice and peace for the world. Happiness and joy come to the hearts that listen.
 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
V.3 The New Song, a song of thanksgiving, love and peace; the words coming from the writings of Baha'u'llah and the Bab. They sang along with the four beasts (see Chapter 4:7) and their elders, which are the four races of men. None can hear the song, except those of mankind (symbolized by the 144,000) who are redeemed from the whole earth and not just from special religion or sect. The New Song is the New Message for renewal to the world that brings new knowledge and wisdom, the 144,000 being a symbol of those who first responded to the New Message. This great gift is one that everyone should seek and hold onto with all their might. The new laws are for this day and age, devoid of old man-made superstitions, traditions and vain imaginations.
'Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.' Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God's Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race.BAHA'U'LLAH, TABLETS OF BAHA'U'LLAH, P. 87
We have abolished the law to wage holy war against each other. God's mercy hath, verily, encompassed all created things, if ye do but understand.BAHA'U'LLAH, EPISTLE TO THE SON OF THE WOLF, P. 25
The Cause of Baha'u'llah is the same as the Cause of Christ. It is the same temple and the same foundation. Both of these are spiritual springtimes and seasons of the soul-refreshing awakening and the cause of the renovation of the life of mankind. The spring of this year is the same as the spring of last year. The origins and the ends are the same. The sun of today is the sun of yesterday. In the coming of Christ, the divine teachings were given in accordance with the infancy of the human race. The teachings of Baha'u'llah have the same basic principles, but are according to the stage of the maturity of the world and the requirements of this illumined age.'ABDU'L-BAHA, BAHA'I SCRIPTURES, P. 461
 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
'We were the first who followed the commandments of God: we are the source of command and its origin, and the firstfruits of all good and its consummation: we are the sign of the Eternal, and His commemoration amongst the nations. k No, by God, we are servants who have believed in God and in His signs, and through us the teeth of faith are disclosed in a smile, and the sign of the Merciful One shineth forth; through our mention spreadeth Al-Batha,* and the darkness which intervened between earth and heaven is dispelled.'ABDU'L-BAHA, A TRAVELLER'S NARRATIVE, P. 76
 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
V.5 No fault could be found in the new believers, as they spoke no guile. They gave up their hereditary dogmas, creeds and hatred after receiving the New Teachings of love and unity.
At all times and in all ages of the world, religion has been a factor in cementing together the hearts of men and in uniting various and divergent creeds. It is the peace element in religion that blends mankind and makes for unity. Warfare has ever been the cause of separation, disunion and discord.'ABDU'L-BAHA, THE PROMULGATION OF UNIVERSAL PEACE, P. 97
 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
V.2 We identify the First Angel with the Sabean Faith and Native religions, the first of the Seven Religions throughout the world, caring for the earth.
The first vial poured upon the earth is the influence of the tyrannical sociopathic leaders that hold sway over humankind. All those who seek the materialism and immorality of the present day, are grievously affected regarding the happiness and contentment of their souls.
"The first angel is a power who will give forth wonderful signs. The first vial really means influence. Through that influence some who were apparently good, but inwardly bad, were destroyed; they were deprived of the light. These people in their characters were really like animals; the 'mark' here signifies character."
The travails of this time will be grievous enough that we do not need to describe them in gory detail, but we all know about the potential of such things as radioactive fallout and what it can cause. Unfortunately, it will fall upon the good and the evil alike.
 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
V.1 This is the start of the sixth and last thread regarding the seven Angels, and the first angel is therefore again identified with the Sabean religion.
The major concept in this chapter is that the 'great whore' Babylon the Great, the United States sitteth upon many waters, extending her power over many lands and seas, and yes, coincidently affecting the lives of many native peoples throughout the world.