INTRODUCTION: The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John in 95 AD, on the Island of Patmos, a bare rocky Greek island in the Aegean Sea, located off the western coast of Turkey.

All the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3 were all located in Asia Minor, Modern day Turkey. The Apostle was banished to the Island because of his Christian faith. There the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision and dictated to him the seven letters to the seven churches. These were not John’s letters but Christ’s letters to His churches.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church, which He purchased by His precious blood walks in and among His churches (Rev. 2:1). He knows their works, love, faith, labour, troubles, hearts etc. These letters to the seven churches are just as relevant to each individual Christian, each local assembly, and all church ages, since the Lord Himself says repeatedly: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” And “To him who overcomes.” May all followers of Christ and all local assemblies heed His word, more so, as His coming is at the very door.

Summary of the letters

We should remember that these seven cities were predominantly pagan cities and that all of life was drenched up in the worship of pagan deities – trades, hospitals, buying and selling, businesses, markets, feasts, governments (imperial worship) and so on. This was the society these early Christians lived in.
As we have also seen, of the seven churches, only two were without rebukes and received only commendations from the Lord. These are Smyrna and Philadelphia – the spiritually healthy churches. Two had similar rebukes – Pergamum, and Thyatira. Three of these churches received hard rebukes for their very grave sins – these are the churches in Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea.
Here is a summary of the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. And of course, letters to every local church and all believers of every era as well.

Ephesus – the loveless church (Rev.2:1-7).

The church at Ephesus was one we would call a fundamental church today. Her theology was correct, sound, in line with the doctrines of Jesus, the apostles and the prophets. This church had no theological problems, was always on guard, and rejected false teachers and doctrines. This was also a zealous and hardworking church, an on-fire church or Christians. However, the Lord was highly displeased with them and threatened to remove their lampstand. Why so? They emphasized truth above love. In God’s kingdom it’s not just doing the right things, but also the how and the motive behind how the correct thing is done is of prime importance to Christ. Anything not done or born out of love is substandard, and therefore counted as nothing before God who is Love. God gave His son out of love. Christ died because He loved us. He gave the Church His Spirit because He would not leave us as orphans – that’s love. Truth and love must walk side by side. Truth must never make us hard, mean, self-righteous and legalistic; neither must it be used as a weapon of attack, but as a weapon of love. Truth must be spoken in love. We are commanded by Christ to walk in love – love for God and love for people.

Smyrna: The suffering church (Rev.2:8-11).

This was a suffering church, faced with much tribulation, persecution and poverty. It was the poorest materially of the seven churches, (but Jesus said they were rich). This church suffered most cruelly at the hands of the Roman authorities than all the others. In spite of their severe suffering they remained loyal and obedient to Christ. The Lord was very mindful of their sufferings and stood with them in it. To this church He didn’t promise immediate deliverance from their sufferings, but rather prepared them against Satan’s plot of new coming sufferings and encouraged them not to fear, but to remain faithful till the end. This debunks the errant belief that the suffering of the righteous is an evidence of lack of faith or of the presence of secret sin in their lives. This church received no wordd of reproof either doctrinally or morally. They received only commendations, comfort, encouragement and promises from the Lord.

Pergamos: the compromising church (Rev.3:12-17).

This was the church that dwelt in the city Satan had then chosen to set up his throne. A city so soaked in paganism and charged with demonic presence. Like the Ephesian church, the Lord started with some commendations. He commended them for holding unto His name and not denying His faith even in the face of suffering, persecution and martyrdom. His controversy with them was the tolerance of false teachings in the church. They tolerated among them those who had the doctrines of Balaam and those who had the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, which were highly hated by the Lord. A little leaven will definitely work itself through a whole batch of dough, this was causing believers to compromise their faith.
It seems this church was the exact opposite of Ephesus – they emphasized love above truth. Like earlier said truth and love must walk side by side, the two are compulsory companions. Truth must not be dispensed with at the expense of love. Christ wants us to be uncompromising Christians even in the midst of the darkness of this world. The Lord called this church to repentance.

Thyatira: the corrupt church (Rev.3:18-29).

This church also started with commendations by the Lord. He commended them for their: love, service, faith, and their patience, but like Pergamos this church permitted a false teacher, a self-proclaimed prophetess, called Jezebel to teach and mislead believers in the church. This was corrupting the church. The letters to Pergamum and Thyatira show that the doctrines we follow are important to the Lord. False doctrines make believers compromise the faith and thereby corrupt the church. The Lord called this church to repentance.

Sardis: the dead church (Rev. 3:1-6)

The Lord started with a word of rebuke, not commendation for this church. The church at Sardis had a reputation for being alive. But the Lord said it was dead, not about to die, but was already dead! Popularity, beautiful and big auditorium, activities, good music, eloquent preaching, people’s approval etc., do not necessarily indicate that a church is alive and has God’s presence. This church lived on these and in the glory of past revivals, miracles, testimonies. Sardis had no general commendation. However, there were a few who did not defile their garments. These few the Lord noticed and commended. They were spiritually a dead church because of their failure to watch and pray. The Lord called this church to repentance, He tells them to wake up from the sleep of death and to become watchful.

Philadelphia: the faithful church (Rev. 3:7-13).

This is the church with little strength, yet remained faithful to the Lord. This church kept His Word, did not deny His name and kept the command (given to all believers)to always persevere in times of adversities and tribulations. There were no words of reproof for this church – both doctrinally and morally – only commendation, words of comfort, encouragement and promises. In fact the Lord started His commendation with: “Look! I have set before you an open door.” This is the faithful church with an open door given to her. Faithfulness and obedience are required of us by our Lord, and will be greatly and richly rewarded.

Laodicea: the lukewarm church (Rev. 3:14-22).

Of all the seven churches this church received the hardest rebuke from the Lord, even more than Sardis (the dead church). According to Christ this was a sickening church and He was about to vomit them out from His mouth. He used very strong words to describe their true and tragic state: wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. There was no word of commendation – both generally and individually, not even one church member was worthy of commendation from the Lord. They were all indifferent and complacent to Christ and the things of God. This was the church that thought that prosperity was a sign of God’s approval and forged ahead with their agenda and programmes without seeking His counsel and guidance; a self-sufficient, self-deceived and arrogant church, who said they were rich both materially and spiritually. The Lord called them to repentance, telling them to buy three things from Him: gold refined in the fire, white garments and eye salve. He also told them to become zealous.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *