The Seven Churches
Revelation 2 and 3 deal with “The things that are.” Every letter has the sentence “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
There are four levels of application:
1. These letters are written to specific local churches.
2. These letters contain advice for all the churches.
3. They contain personal advice as we can see from the words “Let him who has an
4. These letters lay out seven periods of church history.
The letters follow a specific pattern:
1. Each church has a specific name which is important to its message.
2. The title Jesus Christ uses of Himself is different in each letter.
3. There is a commendation in most letters.
4. This is followed by a concern.
5. Then an exhortation.
6. Lastly a promise to the Overcomer.
The churches were surprised by the content of their particular letter. Those who thought they did well were, in fact, doing very badly. Those who thought they did badly were, in fact, doing very well.
The Church in Ephesus
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
The title of Jesus Christ in this letter is:He who holds the seven stars in His right hand.
Jesus commends them as follows: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.
His concern for them is as follows: You have forsaken your first love.
He exhorts them to: Repent, and do the things you did at first.
His church did deal with the practices of the Nicolaitans. These, very likely, were leaders who used their position to rule over the believers rather than serving them according to:
When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me “Teacher” and “Lord” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
His promise to the overcomer is as follows: The right to eat from the tree of life.
The Church in Smyrna
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. “I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
The church of Smyrna suggests death. The Magi gave the baby Jesus the gift of myrrh according to:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of king Herod, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.” When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born, “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied “for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
They thereby prophesied His death.
The title of Christ in this letter is: The First and The Last, who died and came to life again.
He commends them as follows: He knows their afflictions and their poverty. He has no concerns for them.
He exhorts them as follows: They are not to be afraid for the suffering which will come upon them.Their “ten days” persecution lasted from 54 AD until 313 AD, approx. 250 years.
His promise to the overcomer is as follows: He will not be hurt by the second death.
The Church in Pergamum
To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp double-edged sword. “I know where you live – where satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My name. You did not renounce your faith in Me, even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans Repent therefore! Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
The church of Pergamum allowed false teaching to be mixed up with the truth.
The Title of Christ is as follows: He, who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
He commends the following: They remained true to His name and did not renounce their faith.
His concerns for them are as follows: In their midst were those who held to the teachings of Balaam.
See Numbers chapters 22-24
Then the Israelites travelled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho…….
Then Balaam got up and returned home and Balak went his own way.
And Deuteronomy 23:4-5
For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam, son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.
And II Peter 2:15
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.
And Jude 11b
….they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error…
And there were those who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
He exhorts them as follows: If they do not repent, Jesus Christ will come and fight against them with the sword of His mouth, which is the Word of the Lord.
His promise to the overcomer is as follows: He will receive some of the hidden manna, which may refer to the time that this overcomer will enjoy the fullness of his relationship with the Lord, who is the “Bread from heaven”. He will also receive a white stone with a new name written on it. This may refer to the overcomer receiving his entrance ticket in the form of a white stone to the heavenly wedding feast.
The Church in Thyatira
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery- just as I have received authority from My Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The title of Jesus Christ is as follows: The Son of God, whose eyes are like flaming fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. This speaks of judgement.
He commends to them the following: They had love, faith, service and perseverance.
His concern for them was as follows: They had allowed false teaching to enter the church. Those who continued to follow these teachings would be killed. This could mean that they would eventually enter the Great Tribulation.
He exhorted them as follows: Those who had not followed these false teachings were to hold on to what they had.
His promise to the overcomer is as follows: The one who would overcome and continue to do the will of the Lord to the end would be given power over the nations.