The letter to the church there lauds the congregation for upholding its faith despite the city’s pervasive pagan influences (Revelation 2:13). Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. These seven churches really existed, and each was experiencing the particular problem to which the Lord referred as He dictated the letters to John. “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock. So why seven? 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. Thyatira — The Adulterous Church (Revelation 2:18-29) Some Christians and churches feel a need to … In the first century A.D., the Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony near Asia Minor. with excerpts from the Revelation 1 - 3. of The Church of Pergamum was surrounded by wickedness in their city, but they held fast to their beliefs. 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. 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. 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. Instead, Jesus urges us to keep seeking the Lord’s face even after His hand has bestowed riches in our lives. The Church at Ephesus received a letter, the Book of Ephesians, from the Apostle Paul. A number of expositors down through history have held that the seven churches represent seven sequential stages of church history. “I know your works. 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). 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. 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). This letter warns all Christians that although we may suffer greatly, the length of tribulation will be short compared to the promise of eternal life. They were also in one of the central hubs of trade, commerce, and communication. Which kind of church is best? Jesus does not reproach this congregation but condemns its persecutors. What Do the 7 Churches in Revelation Represent? 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. The next church, in Philadelphia, receives encouragement and affirmation in their message. These seven historical churches also serve as archetypes of churches all over the world throughout history. One such section is at the very beginning, where John addresses the seven churches in Asia - an area in modern Turkey. Wilmington’s Guide To the Bible. Dolores Smyth’s work has appeared in numerous faith and parenting publications. He wants them to grow hot or cold toward Him, but not to remain lacking in any passion toward the faith. He alone can infallibly interpret the symbols of the book of Revelation. However, there were members of the church who still held onto their former traditions, not willing to let go of their idols. Like Sardis, Laodicea had an abundance of resources but held an indifferent spirit - described as lukewarm - toward the Lord. Jesus Christ is the infallible Revelator. Does the Candy Cane Have a Spiritual Meaning? 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. Smyrna in ancient times was a very wealthy and powerful city, indeed it vied with Ephesus and Pergamon for influence in… 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. All rights reserved. Summary and Explanation: Thyatira was a wealthy commercial city. While they were doing well in an earthly fashion, they were spiritually lacking. 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). 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. The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) (Revelation 2-3). The Church of Smyrna received words of comfort. Summary and Explanation: Ephesus was the prominent commercial and cultural center of Asia. The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. They most likely put their faith in their works, prideful and assuming they were saved, or in good standing with the Lord. 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. Salem Media Group. 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). 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. The Church that Has Abandoned Its Love for Christ and His Teachings (Revelation 2:1-7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1991. California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. The seven churches of Revelation 2-3 is a topic of much speculation. The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. Philadelphia. The answer lies in the realization that the letters of chapters 2 and 3 have a representative as well as a specific purpose. 58: The Prophecy (Revelation 1-5). The payment for sin is death. Here, Jesus asks for them to let Him in. 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. Through time, theologians, historians, and even lay-people in the church have tried to come up with a certain, definitive answer about what the messages to these churches, and the churches themselves, mean beyond their historical existence. 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). The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. 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. 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). John’s “crime” was practicing Christianity. 1. Summary and Explanation: Laodicea was a prosperous industrial and commercial center. Jesus wanted this body of believers to continue as they were, and they would spend eternity in Heaven with Him. He encourages them to find that fire again and continue where they were doing well. 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). The Church that Patiently Endured Despite Weaknesses (Revelation 3:7-13). It’s another port city about forty or fifty miles north of Ephesus… Located in Asia Minor (now modern Turkey), these churches represented actual communities of early Christians—not buildings or meeting halls.In addressing each of these congregations, God said that He knew their works. 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). 5. Seven is the number of perfection or completion in the Bible. Answer: The seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. Ways of Christ. This Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible study will show you how the 7 churches of Revelation represent seven Church eras that have spanned throughout history, and end when the Lord returns.. Despite their lack of spirituality, Christ waits expectantly for them to open their hearts to Him. Despite poverty and hardship, they stayed true to God. Did God Send the Coronavirus as a Biblical Plague from Revelation? Jesus calls on this church to stop these sins. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) This letter addresses Sardis, a “dead” church3 Jesus’ oracle to Ephesus challenges a loveless… They can be read with four levels of application. 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). 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). 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. Thyatira. For example, Revelation 2:1 says, "The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands." 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. Are there seven church ages? The Lord reminds us in this revelation that He will repay each of us according to our deeds (Revelation 2:23). EDITOR'S NOTE: This previously-written article has become a resource for many seeking to understand if the Coronavirus pandemic is an End Times plague. The messages could have been easily passed onto other believers. These trumpets follow seven seals of judgements. Chapters two and three. The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the … Biblestudytools.com, “Book of Revelation Summary.”, Biblestudytools.com, “Why These Seven Churches.”, Biblestudy.org, “The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 7.”. Revelation 1:20 defines the "seven stars" as the angels or messengers of the seven churches that are held in the hand of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church ≈ 590 - 1517 A.D. Thyatira-Akhisar. It was not a wealthy church either, with opportunities to flee and take refuge somewhere else. Christ’s revelation to Smyrna commends the community for its material poverty but spiritual wealth and acknowledges its wrongful persecution (Revelation 2:9). 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. The "7 Churches" of the Revelation, and the Churches of today and questions of the oecumene -. Should We Always Be Watchful for Jesus’ Return? The periods overlap in a way that is messy, pro-Reformation, and can only be applied with difficulty in retrospect. 4. 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). Chicago: Moody Press, 1968. What Is the Mark of the Beast in the Bible? The seven early churches … 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). Their Meaning and Significance During Apocalypse, California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Instead, Jesus reveals that a church fashioned in His image must teach God’s Truth in love. The view is known as the historical-prophetical view: John was not far from 100 years old, and the only remaining Apostle. Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. Smyrna — Izmir. Proud member There were seven stars and seven lampstands. For a more indepth study of all the seven churches, CLICK HERE. Pergamum, The Worldly Church: This church was the tolerant church. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. The Book of Revelation provides descriptions of each Church. 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. We hope it can direct you toward scriptural truths about plagues and a study of the Book of Revelation. The ruins of Smyrna’s marketplace are nestled in a city block of the thriving seaport … A. The Church that is Spiritually Dead (Revelation 3:1-6). Nor does it seem to include Orthodox church movements. Biblestudytools.com, New International Version. Obviously the Seven Churches. A critique of this perspective is that it is too vague, and general for such specific descriptions and prophecies. They were … The seven churches listed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are seven actual letters from Jesus — one to each church. The three approaches to understanding these churches all agree they were existing churches that received copies of the Revelation at that time. All rights reserved. The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the snares that can lure us away from our faith. Summary and Explanation: The city of Pergamum was renowned for its pagan practices. The Church that Follows False Prophets (Revelation 2:18-29). What Does the Bible Say About Coronavirus: Is it a Sign of the End Times? The Revelator says plainly that the seven golden lampstands (obvious symbols) ARE the seven churches, and He identifies those seven churches as “seven churches which are in Asia” (1:11). In the letters He applauds and chastises each church and He offers them advice on how to get back on track. According to this view, each church mentioned in these chapters represents a period in church history. Usually, when a group of seven things are mentioned, the order has some relevance. Summary and Explanation: Sardis was a city that had endured two surprise attacks despite its fortifications. The first church mentioned is the Church of Ephesus. The Lord calls on the community to repent or risk the judgment that will emanate from the “sword of [His] mouth” (Revelation 2:16). Some of these cities do not exist today like they did during John’s day, such as Pergamum. One church may have the hard work and patience of Ephesus, while another the lukewarm attitude of Laodicea. While the other churches received some encouragement or commendation from the Lord, this church received no positive words. We'll send you an email with steps on how to reset your password. They did receive consolation as well because many from this church had been martyred. Significance Today: Like the church in Laodicea, it’s easy to become complacent in our faith during times of abundance. Our Lord faults the church in Sardis for maintaining an outward appearance of being “alive,” while actually being spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1). Copyright © 2020, Bible Study Tools. There is also the chronological perspective. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. 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. Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. 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). 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). 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). It was also God’s divine will to communicate with these seven churches. 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. Ephesus, the Loveless Church. They were mocked and persecuted for their faith, and it was going to get worse before it got better. The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) (Revelation 2-3). They differ on how these churches may or may not apply to church history, including the modern body of believers. Christ warns us in this revelation that he will “spit out” lukewarm disciples. 3. 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. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul answered some questions they had about the days. The seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches Jesus walked among. Some theologians ascribe to a combination of these three theories, while others have their own, but these three are prominent. In Thyatira, the church was also having problems with false teachers. Revelation 1:4 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; The number ''seven'', The Bible numeric, this is the number of perfection. 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 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. Ultimately, Christians should meditate on these things, but not allow the unanswered questions to dictate their lives. To The Church in Ephesus This number shows the completeness of God’s wrath, as well as the perfection of His love throughout the Bible, and becomes a motif in the Last Days. In the book of Acts, Lydia was a wealthy benefactress and convert to Christianity. Significance Today: The message to Philadelphia shows us the blessings that come when we maintain our faith despite life’s tribulations. Through the centuries, these churches have increased and decreased, and experienced persecution. Some of these questions may not have good answers until the Lord returns. Revelation. Wilmington, H.L. To this church, Jesus commended them for their endurance, their longsuffering, and their dislike of false doctrine and evil behavior. The first level is historical. Third, since both the challenge and promise with which each letter ends are pers… Only one of the churches is in another part of the Bible. 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. Smyrna. She maintains a faith and lifestyle blog graceandgrowing.com, where she muses about the Lord, life, culture, and ministry. We can avoid becoming “the living dead” by engaging in our faith through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. The church’s downfall was its devotion to a false prophet that led some members to commit idolatry and immorality (Revelation 2:20). 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). The Church with a Lukewarm Faith (Revelation 3:14-22). 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. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. 2. 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. These churches are located in Asia, modern Turkey, some believe they represent seven church ages, while others argue they represent seven … Ryrie, Charles. Thru the Bible Vol. 3:8). The Lord Jesus commands John to write a message to each of these churches. Significance Today: The lesson in the letter to Ephesus teaches that truth and love must go hand-in-hand. Summaries and Explanations. The Lord said, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. In fact, those who persevere despite weaknesses will stand strong as pillars in Heaven. The instruction given to Revelation’s congregations, therefore, is valuable to Christian congregations today. The message ends with encouragement for those who did not follow this prophetess. 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. Who Are the Four Horsemen in Revelation? Still others spend their entire lives attempting to interpret this final prophetic word from the Lord. Despite its hard work and doctrinal integrity, Christ faults the community for having “forsaken the love [they] had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 1981. 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. The Church that Remains Faithful Amidst Persecution (Revelation 2:8-11). John was exiled to the Island of Patmos by the Roman Empire. It also only includes a western perspective; it does not take into account movements in Africa, Asia, or South America. Before we look at these letters as a whole, let’s briefly look at the seven cities where the recipients lived. “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. Others indulged in false doctrine. Ephesus : the church that had forsaken their first love . Some say they are merely representative churches of the … Pergamum. Sardis was a seemingly active church, full of good works. a.) Smyrna is the second church mentioned in Revelation. The seven churches are named for their locations. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. 6. There are also seven angels blowing seven trumpets which herald seven judgments. 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. THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION — Introduction — Untold numbers of professing Christians have been taught, as I was, that the seven churches of Revelation are somehow related to the body of Christ. What Are the Different End Times Opinions Amongst Denominations? 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. The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. Although John literally wrote Revelation, the Book makes it clear that the source of the revelations is Jesus (Revelation 1:1-2). Chart 17-1 lists fourteen occurrences of the number seven in Revelation. The book of Revelation opens with seven letters to seven churches. USA: Victor Books, 1984. Laodicea. One example of the use of the number seven in the Revelation given to John is the seven churches the text is addressed to. The Jerusalem Church was scattered, and his writings to Rome would have been scrutinized. New religions and end of days cults have sprung up around some of these theories. Some believe that the seven churches represent seven periods of church history or seven types of individuals that exist today. Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. 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. 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. Additions to part 2. Jesus’ letter to Thyatira praises the church for having grown in faith and service (Revelation 2:19). The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were congregations of the Church of God in the first century. 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. 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. Ephesus. Walvoord John F. and Roy B. Zuck. The Compromising Church ≈ 314 - 590 A.D. 4. You can find her on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth. 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. 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 … Thyatira: The church whose false prophetess was leading … Question: "What do the seven churches in Revelation stand for?" I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). These seven cities in the Roman province of Asia, in modern-day western Turkey, were the most important of western Anatolia. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7): known for having labored hard and not fainted, and separating themselves from the wicked; admonished for having forsaken its first love (2:4); Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11): admired for its tribulation and poverty; forecast to suffer persecution (2:10) 7. They epitomized a church that seemed good, but many had cold hearts toward the Lord. The Church that Compromises Its Beliefs (Revelation 2:12-17). 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. McGee, J. Vernon. Christ praises the Philadelphians for remaining faithful in the face of trials despite their limited strength (Rev. However, the wealth and good works of this church meant nothing because the church was spiritually dead. He chided them however, “...you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4b).