What Do the 7 Churches in Revelation Represent? 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). Are there seven church ages? In the first century A.D., the Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony near Asia Minor. Ultimately, Christians should meditate on these things, but not allow the unanswered questions to dictate their lives. 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). 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). These seven cities in the Roman province of Asia, in modern-day western Turkey, were the most important of western Anatolia. Philadelphia. However, there were members of the church who still held onto their former traditions, not willing to let go of their idols. Thyatira: The church whose false prophetess was leading … Before we look at these letters as a whole, let’s briefly look at the seven cities where the recipients lived. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 1981. Revelation 1:20 (NASB95) Jesus explained what the images symbolize. 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. They can be read with four levels of application. The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the snares that can lure us away from our faith. 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). Wilmington’s Guide To the Bible. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. The periods overlap in a way that is messy, pro-Reformation, and can only be applied with difficulty in retrospect. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul answered some questions they had about the days. Summary and Explanation: Sardis was a city that had endured two surprise attacks despite its fortifications. Ryrie, Charles. Ephesus : the church that had forsaken their first love . They did receive consolation as well because many from this church had been martyred. Our Lord faults the church in Sardis for maintaining an outward appearance of being “alive,” while actually being spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1). Some criticism of this view include that it is difficult to line up certain movements in the church with the descriptions in Revelation. Revelation’s seven churches were among a number of early Christian communities in Asia Minor. Some believe that the seven churches represent seven periods of church history or seven types of individuals that exist today. The Church that Has Abandoned Its Love for Christ and His Teachings (Revelation 2:1-7). The Church that is Spiritually Dead (Revelation 3:1-6). 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). “I know your works. These seven historical churches also serve as archetypes of churches all over the world throughout history. The instruction given to Revelation’s congregations, therefore, is valuable to Christian congregations today. In the letters He applauds and chastises each church and He offers them advice on how to get back on track. Pergamum: The church that needed to repent of sin (Revelation 2:16). Biblestudytools.com, New International Version. John was exiled to the Island of Patmos by the Roman Empire. Ephesus. It also only includes a western perspective; it does not take into account movements in Africa, Asia, or South America. 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). 1. A number of expositors down through history have held that the seven churches represent seven sequential stages of church history. 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). Some of these cities do not exist today like they did during John’s day, such as Pergamum. Some say they are merely representative churches of the … Walvoord John F. and Roy B. Zuck. Please enter your email address associated with your Salem All-Pass account, then click Continue. 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 … It was not a wealthy church either, with opportunities to flee and take refuge somewhere else. 3:8). 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). Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. 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. Ephesus Smyrna Pergamos Thyatira Sardis Philadelphia Laodicea. All rights reserved. Thyatira. The first church mentioned is the Church of Ephesus. Some of these questions may not have good answers until the Lord returns. 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. There is also the chronological perspective. We can avoid becoming “the living dead” by engaging in our faith through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. Proud member The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the … Despite its hard work and doctrinal integrity, Christ faults the community for having “forsaken the love [they] had at first” (Revelation 2:4). They were mocked and persecuted for their faith, and it was going to get worse before it got better. The seven churches listed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are seven actual letters from Jesus — one to each church. 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. 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. California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Significance Today: The lesson in the letter to Ephesus teaches that truth and love must go hand-in-hand. Significance Today: The message to Philadelphia shows us the blessings that come when we maintain our faith despite life’s tribulations. The letter to the church there lauds the congregation for upholding its faith despite the city’s pervasive pagan influences (Revelation 2:13). Smyrna. Through the centuries, these churches have increased and decreased, and experienced persecution. McGee, J. Vernon. Third, since both the challenge and promise with which each letter ends are pers… New religions and end of days cults have sprung up around some of these theories. 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. They were … Jesus wanted this body of believers to continue as they were, and they would spend eternity in Heaven with Him. The Lord said, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. 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." 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. There were seven stars and seven lampstands. The first level is historical. It’s another port city about forty or fifty miles north of Ephesus… Summary and Explanation: Laodicea was a prosperous industrial and commercial center. The three approaches to understanding these churches all agree they were existing churches that received copies of the Revelation at that time. In Thyatira, the church was also having problems with false teachers. The Church that Remains Faithful Amidst Persecution (Revelation 2:8-11). Significance Today: Like the church in Laodicea, it’s easy to become complacent in our faith during times of abundance. The Church at Ephesus received a letter, the Book of Ephesians, from the Apostle Paul. The view is known as the historical-prophetical view: Despite poverty and hardship, they stayed true to God. Despite their lack of spirituality, Christ waits expectantly for them to open their hearts to Him. The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. The Tribulation period lasts seven years. Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. Although they refused to deny … Usually, when a group of seven things are mentioned, the order has some relevance. 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. Summaries and Explanations. 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. … Summary and Explanation: Ephesus was the prominent commercial and cultural center of Asia. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971. Jesus does not reproach this congregation but condemns its persecutors. 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. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were congregations of the Church of God in the first century. with excerpts from the Revelation 1 - 3. 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 Church of Smyrna received words of comfort. 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). 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.. The Jerusalem Church was scattered, and his writings to Rome would have been scrutinized. Summary and Explanation: The city of Pergamum was renowned for its pagan practices. 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. 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. Summary and Explanation: Thyatira was a wealthy commercial city. Laodicea. 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 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). Here, Jesus asks for them to let Him in. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Summary and Explanation: Philadelphia was home to a synagogue community hostile to Christians. (Revelation 3:9). Their Meaning and Significance During Apocalypse, California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. 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. The next church, in Philadelphia, receives encouragement and affirmation in their message. The seven churches are the primary focus of the first three chapters of Revelation. Significance Today: Like the church in Smyrna, Christians are persecuted worldwide in obvious and insidious ways. To them, he gave this advice, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). Like Sardis, Laodicea had an abundance of resources but held an indifferent spirit - described as lukewarm - toward the Lord. Salem Media Group. 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. The Lord reminds us in this revelation that He will repay each of us according to our deeds (Revelation 2:23). 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. Much of the dialog is directed towards the leaders in the churches regarding the way the truth is being taught, or not. Sardis was a seemingly active church, full of good works. 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. According to this view, each church mentioned in these chapters represents a period in church history. Instead, Jesus urges us to keep seeking the Lord’s face even after His hand has bestowed riches in our lives. A. All rights reserved. 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. 6. He encourages them to find that fire again and continue where they were doing well. The answer lies in the realization that the letters of chapters 2 and 3 have a representative as well as a specific purpose. The payment for sin is death. These church ages are explained below. 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). The Church that Patiently Endured Despite Weaknesses (Revelation 3:7-13). 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. The "7 Churches" of the Revelation, and the Churches of today and questions of the oecumene -. 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. Smyrna is the second church mentioned in Revelation. Smyrna in ancient times was a very wealthy and powerful city, indeed it vied with Ephesus and Pergamon for influence in… 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). He alone can infallibly interpret the symbols of the book of Revelation. John was not far from 100 years old, and the only remaining Apostle. The stars = the angels of the seven churches The messages could have been easily passed onto other believers. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). What Is the Mark of the Beast in the Bible? 7. Biblestudytools.com, “Book of Revelation Summary.”, Biblestudytools.com, “Why These Seven Churches.”, Biblestudy.org, “The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 7.”. Although John literally wrote Revelation, the Book makes it clear that the source of the revelations is Jesus (Revelation 1:1-2). Chicago: Moody Press, 1968. 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. What Do We Know about the Shepherds at Jesus’ Birth? Ephesus: "The Era of Transition" (September 70 to 82 = 12 years) Revelation 2:1-7: (1) To the angel … 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 Church with a Lukewarm Faith (Revelation 3:14-22). The seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches Jesus walked among. However, the wealth and good works of this church meant nothing because the church was spiritually dead. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Second, since all the churches were to read all the letters, the letters were also admonitory to all. The book of Revelation opens with seven letters to seven churches. 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). You can find her on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth. 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. He chided them however, “...you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4b). 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. To this church, Jesus commended them for their endurance, their longsuffering, and their dislike of false doctrine and evil behavior. The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. For a more indepth study of all the seven churches, CLICK HERE. The seven churches in Revelation are literal churches from the first century AD. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) This letter addresses Sardis, a “dead” church3 Jesus’ oracle to Ephesus challenges a loveless… Only one of the churches is in another part of 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. There is one perspective that these messages only applied to those seven specific churches and the messages have no lasting significance. They epitomized a church that seemed good, but many had cold hearts toward the Lord. A critique of this perspective is that it is too vague, and general for such specific descriptions and prophecies. Revelation, An Expository Commentary. Ways of Christ. The other point of view is that each church would represent different kinds of churches through history. Summary and Explanation: Smyrna was home to a large Jewish community hostile to Christians. Chapters two and three. John’s “crime” was practicing Christianity. 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. Still others spend their entire lives attempting to interpret this final prophetic word from the Lord. What Are the Different End Times Opinions Amongst Denominations? Christ’s revelation to Smyrna commends the community for its material poverty but spiritual wealth and acknowledges its wrongful persecution (Revelation 2:9). 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. 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. Thyatira-Akhisar. 4. Jesus’ letter to Thyatira praises the church for having grown in faith and service (Revelation 2:19). Revelation. 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) The church’s downfall was its devotion to a false prophet that led some members to commit idolatry and immorality (Revelation 2:20). They differ on how these churches may or may not apply to church history, including the modern body of believers. Some theologians ascribe to a combination of these three theories, while others have their own, but these three are prominent. Chart 17-1 lists fourteen occurrences of the number seven in Revelation. 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). Who Are the Four Horsemen in Revelation? The church was not beyond hope, but it needed to find that passion for Christ again. Copyright © 2020, Bible Study Tools. 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. The seven churches are representative of the church as a whole; the number seven symbolizing completion or perfection. The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. 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 Compromising Church ≈ 314 - 590 A.D. 4. 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 seven churches are named for their locations. 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. 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 location was so full of wickedness the Bible calls it, “where Satan’s throne is...the place where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:13). 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. In fact, those who persevere despite weaknesses will stand strong as pillars in Heaven. 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). Did God Send the Coronavirus as a Biblical Plague from Revelation? Knowing the challenges they were facing and how they were responding, He admonished them to repent of their mist… Does the Candy Cane Have a Spiritual Meaning? To The Church in Ephesus One such section is at the very beginning, where John addresses the seven churches in Asia - an area in modern Turkey. Additions to part 2. Though they would suffer in this life, God had a reward for them. 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. 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. Most pastors teach that Jesus was just addressing the churches that existed at the time it was written in 95 A.D. Instead, Jesus reveals that a church fashioned in His image must teach God’s Truth in love. of 3. They most likely put their faith in their works, prideful and assuming they were saved, or in good standing with the Lord. It was also God’s divine will to communicate with these seven churches. These churches are located in Asia, modern Turkey, some believe they represent seven church ages, while others argue they represent seven … While they were doing well in an earthly fashion, they were spiritually lacking. 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. a.) 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. Dolores Smyth’s work has appeared in numerous faith and parenting publications. Finally, John addresses the Church of Laodicea. There are also seven angels blowing seven trumpets which herald seven judgments. 3. These trumpets follow seven seals of judgements. Ephesus, the Loveless Church. One church may have the hard work and patience of Ephesus, while another the lukewarm attitude of Laodicea. 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. However, the seven churches in Revelation also have spiritual significance for churches and believers today. 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). 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). 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 seven early churches … Article Images Copyright © 2020 Getty Images unless otherwise indicated. Should We Always Be Watchful for Jesus’ Return? The Church of Pergamum was surrounded by wickedness in their city, but they held fast to their beliefs. 2. 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). I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). The Lord Jesus commands John to write a message to each of these churches. The message ends with encouragement for those who did not follow this prophetess. Barnhouse, Donald. Smyrna — Izmir. Obviously the Seven Churches. 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. Which kind of church is best? 5. The seven churches are always mentioned in the same order: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The Book of Revelation provides descriptions of each Church. Sardis. We hope it can direct you toward scriptural truths about plagues and a study of the Book of Revelation.