I. Video Data. Are the letters to the seven churches relevant to us today? 10
A. These are letters dictated by the risen Lord to seven literal churches in western Asia Minor toward the end of the first century of the Christian era. 1
B. Chapters 2-3 are devoted to describing practical standards of behavior for the seven churches, and that the Apocalypse was written for a distinctively practical purpose. 2
C. The seven churches are addressed here. They have a common structure that includes: (1) a greeting, (2) commendations , (3) corrections, (4) an exhortation to repent, and (5) a promise of reward for those who overcome. Most are also encouraged by some aspect Christ’s character from 1:4-20. 3
D. The seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 were actual churches of John’s day. But, they also represent conditions of churches of all generations. This idea is supported by the fact that only seven were selected out of many that existed and flourished in John’s time and by the statement at the close of each letter that the Spirit was speaking to the churches (vv 7, 11, etc.). 4
E. The things that are said about each of these churches is a message intended for all churches. There are seven problems or descriptions to which all churches may at one time or another subscribe. These troubles affect all Christians and churches not only when such matters specifically begin to influence us, but also when a given period of time is generally characterized by these problems. 5
F. The seven letters are, with minor exceptions, organized in the following general pattern: (1) a description of Christ derived from the vision of ch. 1; (2) a commendation of the congregation; (3) a rebuke for spiritual deficiencies; (4) a correction for what is wrong; and (5) a promise to overcomers. The seven churches were congregations in Asia Minor in John’s day. Sometimes they are interpreted as representing seven stages of church history. But this interpretation is unlikely, since there is disagreement among interpreters about what part of Revelation represents which period in history. More likely, these seven assemblies are examples of the kind of churches that exist throughout history (2:7). This means that all seven letters are warnings to every church in every age (see 2:7). 6
G. In the second chapter of the book of Revelation the second major division of the book begins. As previously mentioned, chapter 1 seems to fulfill the command of 1:19, “Write the things which thou hast seen.” Beginning in chapter 4, the material deals with “the things which shall be hereafter” (1:19). In chapters 2 and 3 the messages to the seven churches are referred to as “the things which are” (cf. 1:19). These messages, therefore, contain divine revelation and exhortation pertaining to the present age; and, having special pertinence in the present situation in the church, they constitute one of the most incisive and penetrating exhortations in the entire New Testament in relation to church doctrine and Christian living. 7
H. Some people hold that these churches, in general, represent the history of the church – the idea that the church in Ephesus represents the apostolic church, the others the progress of the church through the centuries, and the church at Laodicea as the final church at the time of Christ’s coming. There is, however, no scriptural verification of this type of interpretation. 8
III. Scripture Text. Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. 12
IV. Verse Examination. 11
A. 2:1-7. Ephesus. the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).
B. 2:8-11. Smyrna. the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).
C. 2:12-17. Pergamum. the church that needed to repent (2:16).
D. Thyatira. 2:18-19, the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).
E. Sardis. 3:1-6. the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).
F. Philadelphia. 3:7-13. the church that had endured patiently (3:10).
G. Laodicea. 3:14-22. the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).
V. Additional Thoughts.
As was mentioned in the Overview, there were problems in the churches that existed during the time of John, that also exist during the time in which we live now; such problems can interfere with the work of the church in evangelizing and in teaching the love of Christ. In every congregation, the love of Christ should be visible, and without anyone being forced to look for it. Also, in every congregation, the Bible should be taught, and in its proper context.
VI. Summary. 9
In these second and third chapters of Revelation we considered: 2:1 Christ’s message to the angel of the church in Ephesus. 2:8 in Smyrna. 2:12 in Pergamos. 2:18 in Thyatira. 3:1 in Sardis. 3:7 in Philadelphia. 3:14 Laodicea.
1. Dr. John Phillips (D. Min; 1927-2010) John Phillips Revelation Commentary.
2. Dr. Robert L. Thomas (Th. M., Th. D.; 1928-2017). Revelation Commentary, 1992.
3. Dr. Daniel Green (Th. M., D. Min.). The Moody Bible Commentary, 2014.
4. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016). Ryrie Study Bible, 1986, 1995.
5. Dr. David Hocking. Bachelor of Arts in Bible, Greek and Ancient History; Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies & Systematic Theology; Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies and Languages; Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Studies.
6. Dr. A. Boyd Luter (Th. M., Th. D. , Ph. D.) Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2010.
7. Dr. John F. Walvoord (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Revelation Commentary, 1974.
8. Dr. John F. Walvoord (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Every Prophecy Of The Bible, 1990, 1999, p 526
9. Dr. Orville J. Nave, Nave’s Study Bible, 1978 (D.D., LL. D., 1841-1917). Orville J. Nave (Editor), Anna Seamans Nave (Editor)
10. John Ankerberg Show. Dr. Jimmy DeYoung (M. Div., Ph. D., 1940-2021).
11. Got Questions.
12. New American Standard Bible, 1995, pasted from Bible Hub.
VIII. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.
IX. My Websites To Follow.
https://untotheleastofthese.home.blog/ Equipping The Saints Website
https://thechurchoftheopendoor.wordpress.com/ Israel Website
https://success2693.wordpress.com/ Israel, History And Prophecy