I. Video Data. Are the letters to the seven churches relevant to us today? 10
Dr. John F. Walvoord (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Revelation Commentary.
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.
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 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). (HCSB. Dr. A. Boyd Luter (M.Th., D. Th., Ph. D.) 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
IV. Scripture Text. Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. 12
V. 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).
VI. My 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.
VII. Additional Thoughts.
A. Rev 1:19, per Dr. Ryrie’s note: (2) “things which are;” i.e., the present state of the churches (chaps 2-3). There is much teaching on the churches of Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, as to future date periods for each of the mentioned churches, from the date forward of the Revelation, such as:
The Church of Ephesus era occurred from 33-100 A.D.
The Church of Smyrna era, the Persecuted Church, occurred from 100-313 A.D.
The Church of Pergamos era occurred from 313-538 A.D.
The era of the Church of Thyatira, the Pagan Church 538-1514 A.D.
The Church of Sardis era, the Dead Church, occurred during the 1514 – 1798 A.D.
The era of the Church of Philadelphia occurred from 1798 – 1866 A.D.
The era of the Church of Laodicea, the Lukewarm Church, 1866 A.D. – present
B. Based on such flawed assumptions of when certain church periods will occur, the rapture of the church could not have been possible until present day. Per Paul’s writing of Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” Christians were looking forward to the return of Christ, from the time of Paul’s writing of Titus in the year 65 A.D. John Walvoord had a sign in his office at Dallas Theological Seminary with the words, “Maybe Today.” As in the time of the writing of the New Testament, until all years forward, there has always been a teaching of imminency in regard to the Rapture of the Church. However, if the above suggested church periods were true, the Rapture could not have occurred until sometime during the “present”? Laodicean Church age. Chapters 2 and 3 address churches as they were functioning at the time of John’s writing. As we move on to chapters two and three of Revelation, we will see that every church problem that The Revelation addresses, has been common to the churches of every era of time, from the time of the Revelation, through present day churches.
C. In addition to the “church ages” incorrect teachings, it is important to address another incorrect teaching in reference to the Book of Revelation. Many people relate to “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, ” as to “the book of revelations.” But, per Rev 1:1, the correct wording is “The Revelation.” The Book of Revelation is “one revelation” (singular) that Jesus gave to the Apostle John, and “not many revelations” (plural).
VIII. 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 (M. Th., D. Th., 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.
X. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.
XI. My Websites To Follow.
https://untotheleastofthese.home.blog/ Commentary Preparation
https://newsandcommentary38395276.wordpress.com/ Thy Kingdom Come