Christ’s letter to the Ephesian church praises the congregation for its “deeds...hard work...and perseverance,” and for its rejection of false apostles (Revelation 2:2-3). There are also seven angels blowing seven trumpets which herald seven judgments. Summary and Explanation: Laodicea was a prosperous industrial and commercial center. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. The Compromising Church ≈ 314 - 590 A.D. 4. The names of the seven churches of Revelation are symbolic names and represent the church down through the ages from the beginning of the New Testament church, right to the end at the second coming of Christ Jesus, and reveals the condition of the church at different periods in history. The Church that Patiently Endured Despite Weaknesses (Revelation 3:7-13). While the other churches received some encouragement or commendation from the Lord, this church received no positive words. It was not a wealthy church either, with opportunities to flee and take refuge somewhere else. Laodicea. Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. McGee, J. Vernon. Ryrie, Charles. Additions to part 2. Once the apocalyptic message was given to the churches in these prominent cities, the message would spread to the Christian communities in the rest of the province. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Thru the Bible Vol. The Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3) (Past and Present Church Prophecy) Introduction Although the ‘seven churches’ are not used for proving ‘pre-tribulation’, they are extremely important nonetheless. There were seven stars and seven lampstands. Summary and Explanation: Smyrna was home to a large Jewish community hostile to Christians. with excerpts from the Revelation 1 - 3. Significance Today: The message to Philadelphia shows us the blessings that come when we maintain our faith despite life’s tribulations. Salem Media Group. Those who persevere in faith, however, will receive a share of Christ’s messianic authority over all nations and triumph over death (Revelation 2:26-28). The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) (Revelation 2-3). All rights reserved. Some of these questions may not have good answers until the Lord returns. Our Lord faults the church in Sardis for maintaining an outward appearance of being “alive,” while actually being spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1). The Church that Follows False Prophets (Revelation 2:18-29). Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) This letter addresses Sardis, a “dead” church3 Jesus’ oracle to Ephesus challenges a loveless… 1 While we do not favor this view, it is instructive to understand the arguments for and against such a view since it will frequently be encountered by students of the book of Revelation. Pergamum, The Worldly Church: This church was the tolerant church. The first church mentioned is the Church of Ephesus. The city of Sardis was also a city of wealth, known for the carpet industry and for minting coins. of Significance Today: Today, Christians can fall into the trap that ensnared the church in Sardis if we merely go through the motions of practicing our faith without really feeding our spirit. There was a woman in the church who claimed to be a prophetess, who committed sins of sexual immorality, and whose behavior was reminiscent of Jezebel, Ahab’s wicked wife, whose story is told in 1 Kings. All rights reserved. We can avoid becoming “the living dead” by engaging in our faith through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. Significance Today: Like the church in Laodicea, it’s easy to become complacent in our faith during times of abundance. One such section is at the very beginning, where John addresses the seven churches in Asia - an area in modern Turkey. The Lord had seven messages to give before He revealed the visions of the End Times to John, which set the pattern of seven throughout the book. The Bible notes that slanderous accusations by Jews against Christians had led to Christian persecution by Roman authorities (Acts 14:2, 19: Acts 17:13). The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. Significance Today: Like the Christians in Pergamum, it’s easy to normalize the non-Christian behavior of those around us and allow that behavior to dilute our values (1 Corinthians 15:33). Smyrna in ancient times was a very wealthy and powerful city, indeed it vied with Ephesus and Pergamon for influence in… It was also God’s divine will to communicate with these seven churches. 3:8). Jesus Christ is the infallible Revelator. Usually, when a group of seven things are mentioned, the order has some relevance. The Church of Pergamum was surrounded by wickedness in their city, but they held fast to their beliefs. They are represented by seven golden lampstands, and the seven angels – or messengers – of the churches, represented by seven stars in the right hand of Jesus. Christ warns us in this revelation that he will “spit out” lukewarm disciples. Like Sardis, Laodicea had an abundance of resources but held an indifferent spirit - described as lukewarm - toward the Lord. The Lord said, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Significance Today: Just as some in Thyatira’s church were led astray by a false prophet, Christians today fall prey to cult leaders, occult practices, and other false teachings. The letter to the church there lauds the congregation for upholding its faith despite the city’s pervasive pagan influences (Revelation 2:13). A number of expositors down through history have held that the seven churches represent seven sequential stages of church history. Some say they are merely representative churches of the … The next church, in Philadelphia, receives encouragement and affirmation in their message. He chided them however, “...you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4b). Smyrna is the second church mentioned in Revelation. Each letter, as proclaimed by Jesus and recorded by John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation to repent. The instruction given to Revelation’s congregations, therefore, is valuable to Christian congregations today. The primary role of these letters concerns what was actually happening in each of the seven local churches that existed during the time of John’s writing. John’s “crime” was practicing Christianity. ; Smyrna: The church that would face severe persecution (Revelation 2:10). While they were doing well in an earthly fashion, they were spiritually lacking. Before we look at these letters as a whole, let’s briefly look at the seven cities where the recipients lived. Proud member Despite the church’s love, patience, and endurance, they tolerate this wicked woman taking an inappropriate role of leadership, giving false prophecies, and being flagrantly sinful. Thyatira — The Adulterous Church (Revelation 2:18-29) Some Christians and churches feel a need to … Philadelphia. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). 58: The Prophecy (Revelation 1-5). Theologians believe many of the laborers of this church were expelled from their labor guilds - and unable to legally work in their craft - because of their conversion. Ultimately, Christians should meditate on these things, but not allow the unanswered questions to dictate their lives. Does the Candy Cane Have a Spiritual Meaning? Walvoord John F. and Roy B. Zuck. He alone can infallibly interpret the symbols of the book of Revelation. The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. Those in Laodicea’s church who open the door to Christ will share in His Heavenly banquet and have the right to sit with Him on His throne (Revelation 3:20-21). Instead, Jesus reveals that a church fashioned in His image must teach God’s Truth in love. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Finally, John addresses the Church of Laodicea. He encourages them to find that fire again and continue where they were doing well. Who Are the Four Horsemen in Revelation? One example of the use of the number seven in the Revelation given to John is the seven churches the text is addressed to. These seven cities in the Roman province of Asia, in modern-day western Turkey, were the most important of western Anatolia. These churches were seven real churches at the time, and some believe they represent seven church ages, while others argue they represent seven church types that have existed since the church began, and will exist until Christ returns. These churches are located in Asia, modern Turkey, some believe they represent seven church ages, while others argue they represent seven … The message is, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2). The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the … The seven churches of Revelation 2-3 is a topic of much speculation. Summary and Explanation: Ephesus was the prominent commercial and cultural center of Asia. Alluding to the city’s history of prior surprise attacks, Jesus warns the congregation to “wake up” and repent, lest he “come like a thief” to bestow His judgment (Revelation 3:2-3). Only one of the churches is in another part of the Bible. What Does the Bible Say About Coronavirus: Is it a Sign of the End Times? a.) Most pastors teach that Jesus was just addressing the churches that existed at the time it was written in 95 A.D. The Lord calls on the community to repent or risk the judgment that will emanate from the “sword of [His] mouth” (Revelation 2:16). According to this view, each church mentioned in these chapters represents a period in church history. What Is the Mark of the Beast in the Bible? Some believe that the seven churches represent seven periods of church history or seven types of individuals that exist today. The seven churches are named for their locations. The view is known as the historical-prophetical view: Chart 17-1 lists fourteen occurrences of the number seven in Revelation. Although the seven letters in Revelation are tailored to the named churches, these churches and their stated deficiencies can symbolize all churches in one respect or another. Revelation’s seven churches were among a number of early Christian communities in Asia Minor. Barnhouse, Donald. Summary and Explanation: Sardis was a city that had endured two surprise attacks despite its fortifications. John was not far from 100 years old, and the only remaining Apostle. In the book of Acts, Lydia was a wealthy benefactress and convert to Christianity. They can be read with four levels of application. The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. To share in Christ’s victory, we are to avoid these “so-called deep secrets” of Satan (Revelation 2:24) and hold firm to Christ’s teachings. Instead, Jesus urges us to keep seeking the Lord’s face even after His hand has bestowed riches in our lives. They were … Although the false prophet remained unrepentant, Jesus affirms that the congregation can still repent by turning away from the prophet’s ways (Revelation 2:21-22). The Church that Remains Faithful Amidst Persecution (Revelation 2:8-11). Ephesus. Christ praises the Philadelphians for remaining faithful in the face of trials despite their limited strength (Rev. Each letter, as proclaimed by Jesus and recorded by John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation to repent. You can find her on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth. The Church with a Lukewarm Faith (Revelation 3:14-22). (Revelation 3:9). The Tribulation period lasts seven years. Ephesus : the church that had forsaken their first love . Some of these cities do not exist today like they did during John’s day, such as Pergamum. The other point of view is that each church would represent different kinds of churches through history. California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. 7. The Book of Revelation provides descriptions of each Church. Revelation, An Expository Commentary. Christ promises that if Philadelphia’s congregants remain faithful to Him, He will protect them from the “hour of trial” and make them pillars in God’s heavenly temple (Revelation 3:10-12). Wilmington, H.L. The seven churches of Revelation described in Revelation chapters 2 through chapter 3 are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. She maintains a faith and lifestyle blog graceandgrowing.com, where she muses about the Lord, life, culture, and ministry. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul answered some questions they had about the days. Obviously the Seven Churches. The Book of Revelation contains the prophecies of the last days, before the New Heaven and the New Earth go on into eternity, with believers living for their God with no sin, no sorrow, and no pain. God has given this woman, and the church, time to turn from this sin; “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:21). … 3. Smyrna — Izmir. Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. The Church of Smyrna received words of comfort. Although John literally wrote Revelation, the Book makes it clear that the source of the revelations is Jesus (Revelation 1:1-2). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971. Pergamum: The church that needed to repent of sin (Revelation 2:16). 2. A. Although they refused to deny … We hope it can direct you toward scriptural truths about plagues and a study of the Book of Revelation. It’s been almost 2,000 years since the apostle John was instructed by Jesus to write letters to the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). Each letter, as proclaimed by Jesus and recorded by John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation to repent. They differ on how these churches may or may not apply to church history, including the modern body of believers. In fact, those who persevere despite weaknesses will stand strong as pillars in Heaven. They most likely put their faith in their works, prideful and assuming they were saved, or in good standing with the Lord. Indeed, the primary purpose for John writing his letters to the seven churches was to deliver Christ’s “report card” for the churches of that time. Jesus calls on this church to stop these sins. The short letters in Revelation chapters two and three are addressed to these specific seven churches: Ephesus: The church that had abandoned its first love for Christ (Revelation 2:4). John was exiled to the Island of Patmos by the Roman Empire. The messages could have been easily passed onto other believers. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Their location was so full of wickedness the Bible calls it, “where Satan’s throne is...the place where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:13). This “forsaken love” can mean that the Ephesians had become less devoted to Christ or that the work they did was no longer motivated by love for one another. The periods overlap in a way that is messy, pro-Reformation, and can only be applied with difficulty in retrospect. Some criticism of this view include that it is difficult to line up certain movements in the church with the descriptions in Revelation. Christ scolds this church for allowing its economic prosperity to cause it spiritual bankruptcy and reveals that, despite its economic wealth, only He can provide spiritual wealth (Revelation 3:17-18). The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968. A church that upholds doctrinal purity at the expense of showing love is just as flawed as a church that upholds congregational harmony at the expense of truthful teachings. Biblestudytools.com, New International Version. The Temple and city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, and the Jews dispersed 26 years before, and John's attention was called to the condition of the "Seven" representative churches … Dolores Smyth’s work has appeared in numerous faith and parenting publications. “I know your works. The seven churches also represent the seven spiritual church ages from the New Testament church, right through to the last church before Jesus returns at the second coming. Answer: The seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. The Roman Catholic Church ≈ 590 - 1517 A.D. The Jerusalem Church was scattered, and his writings to Rome would have been scrutinized. But the Bible urges us to “not conform to the pattern of this world” but be transformed by the renewal of our mind in accordance with God’s Word (Romans 12:2). The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. The three approaches to understanding these churches all agree they were existing churches that received copies of the Revelation at that time. Significance Today: The lesson in the letter to Ephesus teaches that truth and love must go hand-in-hand. There is also the chronological perspective. Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. They no longer had the burning, consuming passion for their God they had when they were first saved and settled into the routine of the faith. Ephesus, the Loveless Church. Thyatira-Akhisar. One church may have the hard work and patience of Ephesus, while another the lukewarm attitude of Laodicea. Their Meaning and Significance During Apocalypse, California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. 3. 5. The seven churches are representative of the church as a whole; the number seven symbolizing completion or perfection. The Lord Jesus commands John to write a message to each of these churches. Ephesus Smyrna Pergamos Thyatira Sardis Philadelphia Laodicea. Question: "What do the seven churches in Revelation stand for?" The ruins of Smyrna’s marketplace are nestled in a city block of the thriving seaport … Seven is the number of perfection or completion in the Bible. Looking forward to Christ’s return, Christians are called to live for Him, even if every question about the Book of Revelation remains a mystery. The book of Revelation opens with seven letters to seven churches. Biblestudytools.com, “Book of Revelation Summary.”, Biblestudytools.com, “Why These Seven Churches.”, Biblestudy.org, “The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 7.”. Smyrna. Third, since both the challenge and promise with which each letter ends are pers… Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. These church ages are explained below. Christ does not reprimand this church but warns of impending imprisonment for some of its members, urging them to remain faithful “even to the point of death” and remember the promise of their “victor’s crown” (Revelation 2:10). Those in Sardis who heed Christ’s warning will be “dressed in white,” a symbol of purity and victory, and will be acknowledged in Heaven’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5). They epitomized a church that seemed good, but many had cold hearts toward the Lord. Indeed, the primary purpose for John writing his letters to the seven churches was to deliver Christ’s "report card" for the churches of that time. Sardis was a seemingly active church, full of good works. USA: Victor Books, 1984. To this church, Jesus commended them for their endurance, their longsuffering, and their dislike of false doctrine and evil behavior. The letter to the Ephesian church does offer the community hope if they repent and rekindle their love for Christian living (Revelation 2:5-7). 6. These trumpets follow seven seals of judgements. What action items should the church take in light of these seven messages? In addition, the following articles may offer more encouragement for all to remember as we face the trials of COVID-19 together: Christianity.com is a member of the Salem Web Network of sites including: Copyright © 2020, Christianity.com. In the first century A.D., the Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony near Asia Minor. The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) (Revelation 2-3). Jesus does not reproach this congregation but condemns its persecutors. What Are the Different End Times Opinions Amongst Denominations? Christian scholars from the second century to date have attributed the physical writing of Revelation to John the Apostle, son of Zebedee (Mark 3:17), and author of the Gospel and Epistles of John. Despite poverty and hardship, they stayed true to God. It’s another port city about forty or fifty miles north of Ephesus… A critique of this perspective is that it is too vague, and general for such specific descriptions and prophecies. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. One of the criticisms of this theory is that it dismisses the prophetic nature of the messages, and reduces the significance of the prophecies coming from the glorified Christ. Second, since all the churches were to read all the letters, the letters were also admonitory to all. Pergamum. They were also in one of the central hubs of trade, commerce, and communication. The seven churches are always mentioned in the same order: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The first level is historical. 4. These seven churches really existed, and each was experiencing the particular problem to which the Lord referred as He dictated the letters to John. Revelation. Some believe the seven churches are only relevant to people living in the 1st century A.D. Others believe the seven churches are relevant today. What Do the 7 Churches in Revelation Represent? In the letters He applauds and chastises each church and He offers them advice on how to get back on track. These particular seven churches may have been chosen to receive Christ’s apocalyptic message because, geographically, the churches were located along an established, circular trade route that brought together the most populous and influential parts of the province. They did receive consolation as well because many from this church had been martyred. Significance Today: Like the church in Smyrna, Christians are persecuted worldwide in obvious and insidious ways. Are there seven church ages? Modern Christians should study the example of these four churches, and even ponder their contemporary significance, but ultimately, they should strive to live in obedience with the Great Commission, and follow God’s leading. The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were congregations of the Church of God in the first century. The letter then addresses the church’s sin by denouncing some of its members for following false teachings that brought about religious and moral compromise (Revelation 2:14-15). Despite their lack of spirituality, Christ waits expectantly for them to open their hearts to Him. Revelation 1:20 defines the "seven stars" as the angels or messengers of the seven churches that are held in the hand of Jesus. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Through the centuries, these churches have increased and decreased, and experienced persecution. They are represented by seven golden lampstands, and the seven angels – or messengers – of the churches, represented by seven stars in the right hand of Jesus. While in Patmos, John was seized by the Holy Spirit and received prophetic visions from Christ instructing him to: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea” (Revelations 1:1-2; 9-11). Though they would suffer in this life, God had a reward for them. Summary and Explanation: Philadelphia was home to a synagogue community hostile to Christians. He wants them to grow hot or cold toward Him, but not to remain lacking in any passion toward the faith. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1991. So why seven? The seven churches listed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are seven actual letters from Jesus — one to each church. Still others spend their entire lives attempting to interpret this final prophetic word from the Lord. The messages to the church played their part in God’s perfect plan historically, and may still be a part of it currently, depending on which view of the Book of Revelation and the churches an individual takes. In Thyatira, the church was also having problems with false teachers. The answer lies in the realization that the letters of chapters 2 and 3 have a representative as well as a specific purpose. The Church at Ephesus received a letter, the Book of Ephesians, from the Apostle Paul. Much of the dialog is directed towards the leaders in the churches regarding the way the truth is being taught, or not. Nor does it seem to include Orthodox church movements. Thyatira. The Church that is Spiritually Dead (Revelation 3:1-6). To The Church in Ephesus Copyright © 2020, Bible Study Tools. However, there were members of the church who still held onto their former traditions, not willing to let go of their idols. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. These seven churches were some of the most prominent churches at that time to which John the Apostle would have been close enough to communicate effectively. Revelation 1:20 (NASB95) Jesus explained what the images symbolize. Those who repent will be given the “hidden manna” that is the grain of Heaven (Psalm 78:24), and a “white stone” or clean slate with a new identity in Christ (Revelation 2:17). Summary and Explanation: Thyatira was a wealthy commercial city. Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. Should We Always Be Watchful for Jesus’ Return? Wilmington’s Guide To the Bible. It also only includes a western perspective; it does not take into account movements in Africa, Asia, or South America. Each of these periods can be traced and assigned to a specific phase of the growth and change of the body of Christ over time, from its inception, to its decline before Christ’s return. These seven historical churches also serve as archetypes of churches all over the world throughout history. Ways of Christ. Jesus’ letter to this church wastes no time denouncing the congregation for its lukewarm faith, threatening to “spit” the congregation out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock. They were mocked and persecuted for their faith, and it was going to get worse before it got better. Ephesus: "The Era of Transition" (September 70 to 82 = 12 years) Revelation 2:1-7: (1) To the angel … The Church that Has Abandoned Its Love for Christ and His Teachings (Revelation 2:1-7). The payment for sin is death. Did God Send the Coronavirus as a Biblical Plague from Revelation? The Lord reminds us in this revelation that He will repay each of us according to our deeds (Revelation 2:23). However, I doubt that the order of the churches has any particular theological importance.That’s not to say that the order is random either. Jesus wanted this body of believers to continue as they were, and they would spend eternity in Heaven with Him. New religions and end of days cults have sprung up around some of these theories. The church was not beyond hope, but it needed to find that passion for Christ again. Much of this prophecy is shrouded in description that can be confusing, and many theologians debate the extent of what is symbolic and what is literal in the visions described by John the Apostle.

what are the seven churches in revelation

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