Contents: Jesus dictated personal messages to seven local churches of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. John was His scribe. The messages concerned “the things which are,” the spiritual condition of the seven communities (see Revelation 1:19).
Ephesus – Having left the first love they had for Jesus, the Ephesian believers had become comfortable. Surrounded by those involved in pagan cult practices, their once vocal and robust testimony had grown weak to the point of silence. Without returning to their former love, judgment was coming (Revelation 2:1-7).
Smyrna – The persecuted believers of this local church stood firm in both their belief and the outward-focused practice of faith. Their visible and uncompromising testimony came with a price. It was a price they gladly paid. A reward for persevering would be theirs (Revelation 2:8-11).
Pergamos – False doctrines, initiated by Satan, were taught and accepted among many in the Pergamos congregation. Outright idolatry replaced the worship of God alone. Pagan practices undermined the practice of biblical faith. Judgment was coming (Revelation 2:12-17).
Thyatira – Compromise and corruption had so weakened the people of this community that it was no longer useful, except as a bad example. Sexual immorality associated with pagan worship infected the Jesus community of Thyatira. Judgment was coming (Revelation 2:18-29).
Sardis – While there were a few believers in Sardis whose garments were “not soiled,” most had compromised their faith. They were hypocrites. Talking about all the “right things,” they were hypocrites. Religious masks hid their true nature. Their walk did not match their talk. Judgment was coming (Revelation 3:1-6).
Philadelphia – The church at Philadelphia persevered in the face of rampant false teaching. Like their brothers and sisters in Smyrna, the community of Jesus’ followers in Philadelphia experienced heavy persecution. A reward would be theirs (Revelation 3:7-13).
Laodicea – Messiah Yeshua rebuked this group of believers for their self-sufficient attitude. Wealth, power, and prestige clouded their eyes. The people of God lost sight of their position and purpose. They had become useless. Neither hot or cold, they were lukewarm. Judgment was coming (Revelation 3:14-22).
Characters: God, Messiah Jesus, Holy Spirit, the pastors and communities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, John
Conclusions: The Church of the 21st Century cannot overlook the instruction from Jesus to all of the churches addressed. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Believers beware! Turning a deaf ear to the voice of God leads to the loss of spiritual hearing. Love for the Lord will grow cold. We will be without victories in tribulation, and find ourselves to be apostates, carried away by every wind of doctrine. Faithful overcomers remain in vital relationship with Messiah Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church (1 John 4:4).
Striking Facts: First, the letters to the Churches are Epistles from Messiah dictated as he stood before the Father’s throne. The letters to the individual church communities are the instruction and benefit of the entire Church today (Revelation 2:1).
Second, while these letters deal with local churches existing in John’s time, they are also symbolic of the conditions within the whole Body of Messiah (Church) during this present Church Age. While symbolism plays a significant role in Revelation, God intends for the “mystery” it represents to be plainly understood.
Third, the promises and warnings of Revelation correspond to the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament writers, and the Supreme Authority – Messiah Jesus.
Fourth, all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning world HIStory have unfolded in a literal manner, to this day. The same can be expected for HIStory’s future events.
Memory Hook: Revelation 2 & 3, The Churches That Be, 4 + 3, ESP, TSP, L
In Revelation 2 & 3, seven local congregations of Asia Minor are sent a message from Messiah, each one applicable to the spiritual condition it exhibits. The churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The ‘L‘ of Laodicea reminds us of a finger pointing to heaven. After Laodicea’s spiritual condition is revealed in Chapter Three, the Bride of Messiah meets her Bridegroom. She is “taken up” in the air to be with the Lord, where He is forever. New Testament believers receive new glorified bodies at the event known as the “Rapture.”
From this point on, Jesus’ followers of the Church Age will watch the unfolding events on earth as described in Revelation 4 – 22.