The Seven Churches of Revelation
The messages to the seven churches of Revelation are an interesting study. They are a good example of the Bible having multiple applications to its words. There are at least four ways in which each of the messages can be applied:
- Local Application How do we know that it had an application in John's day? The letters were written to seven actual churches in cities in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) by those very names and the apostle John was their pastor.
When John was exiled it was to the Island of Patmos which is just off the coast of Asia Minor near those churches (see map to right). The description of the churches even matches characteristics of those cities and the people that lived there as will be shown below.
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;" (Rev 1:4)
- Historical Application This application sees each church in order as representing different periods in church history through the last 2000 years of history from John's time to the end of time with Laodicea being the church of our day and the one that will see the Second Coming.
- Personal Application We can consider how each message applies to us personally or to our congregations or denominations. There is spiritual counsel that can be of benefit at any time.
- End-time Application Some see the churches described as representing the various major belief systems existing all at the end of time. They can be categorized in different ways. Here is one example:
6. Eastern Mysticism (including Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Shintoism)
The very fact that these messages were included in scripture gives evidence that they had more than a local application. If they only applied to those churches, why include them in scripture?
We have already read in chapter one about the Son of Man among the candlesticks watching over them as the priest in the sanctuary would tend the candles to make sure they were always burning.
"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." (Rev 1:13)
This can be seen as showing His great concern for the welfare of the church and His people wherever they are.
Revelation chapters two and three contain the messages that John received for the churches. Each message contains the following parts (with a few noted exceptions):
Download a chart of the
messages to the churches.
- The name of the church
- A description of Christ - each taken from the description in chapter one
- The works of that church that Christ knows
- A Commendation for that church (except Laodicea)
- A reproof specific to each church (except Smyrna and Philadelphia)
- Specific counsel for each church
- A warning/call to repentance (except Smyrna and Philadelphia)
- A call for all ("He that hath an ear" - that's everyone) to heed the message
- A promised reward for the overcomers of each church
Go to the message to the church of Ephesus.