Pt. 1: Seven Churches in Rev 2-3 – Introduction
I am starting a series of teaching on the Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3. We will also be covering Chapter 1 of Revelation, and just briefly touching on some other things in the Book of Revelation.
The author of Revelation is the Apostle John the Beloved. Historians believe John wrote this book around 95-96 AD. John was caught up in a vision while exiled on the Isle of Patmos. He saw the Throne Room in Heaven, the casting down of Lucifer from Heaven, and end-time happenings.
Although the focus in the Body of Christ, generally speaking, is usually on end-time events and the rapture as it concerns the Book of Revelation, the theme of this Book is that it’s a revelation or unveiling of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the focal point, not the Anti-Christ or things that will transpire in the last days.
The primary focus of this series will be on the letters written to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. John the Beloved sent a letter to each of the seven churches.
When John beheld Jesus in His majesty and glory in Revelation 1, Jesus is actually the One who spoke the messages to each of the seven churches and John wrote down the vision exactly as he saw and heard it.
In each letter, John addresses each church in the same format.
- Salutation to the pastor or leaders of the church
- Commendations (the things they are doing right)
- Liabilities (the things where they have missed the mark and have gotten off track)
- Promises to those who overcome (promises are given to each of the seven churches)
- Each letter is ended with the admonition: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
There are three major interpretations of the messages to the seven churches. I would also like to add a fourth possible interpretation.
- The seven churches represent seven actual churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) existing at the time the book was written and the messages apply to them.
- The seven churches are representative of periods in church history during the Church Age from the Apostolic Church to the end of the Age of Grace.
- The seven churches are prophetic pictures of end-time churches and the admonitions may be applied to given churches in this day.
- The seven churches represent seven major groups of people within the Corporate Body of Christ.
The most meaningful interpretation of the above is that they are all correct.
In my Shiloh Bible College handbook on the Seven Churches, which is written by Instructor Ed Cogan and the Bible College Staff, they also point out the correlation between the seven churches and the seven seals, trumpets and vials. Also, they show the association between the seven churches and the Kingdom parables in Matthew 13 and the seven doctrines listed in Hebrews 6:1-2.
Here is a chart listing each of the seven churches, and how it correlates to the church history period:
Jesus is still saying to the Church today, “I know thy works.” He is still examining motives, longing for fellowship with His people, and extending promises to those who choose to be overcomers in this life for His sake and that of the Gospel.
Revelation is the only book in the Bible which promises a blessing to those who read it. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein for the time is at hand” (Rev 1:3).
It is also the only book in the Bible which pronounces a curse on anyone who adds to it or takes away from it. Revelation 22:18-19 says:
18 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Seven times in the Book of Revelation the Lord says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” The Lord has a message for us in each of the seven churches. May we hear what the Spirit is saying to us today.