Intro to the Seven Letters (Rev 2–3)

Intro to the Seven Letters (Rev 2–3)

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded John twice to write letters to the seven churches in Asia: “to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and Laodicea” (Rev. 1:11,19).

The Addressed Churches

The seven churches addressed were existing churches during the time of St. John. Still, they also represent the universal church, every place where God’s people gather for worship, fellowship, and outreach.

The Lord Jesus Christ specifically chose the seven churches because they were in the key cities of the seven postal districts of the Roman empire in Asia, currently modern Turkey. They were thus the central points for disseminating information.

The seven cities appear in the order that a messenger traveling on the great circular road that linked the churches would visit them. Thus, after landing at Miletus, the messenger(s) bearing the Book of Revelation would have traveled north to Ephesus (the city nearest to Miletus), then Smyrna in a clockwise circle, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Even with their problems, which appear in the letters, God saw these seven churches as “golden” in Christ (Rev. 1:12). They are the golden lampstands amid the darkness of the world in which God has placed them.

The Letters

The seven letters are in Chapters 2 and 3. Each letter contains some or all of the following features: the correspondent, the commendations, the concerns, the commands, and the counsel.

These letters (messages) sent to these particular churches were from the Lord Jesus Christ to minister to their spiritual needs. In each letter, the Lord Jesus Christ quoted different aspects of His appearance, power, and authority, mentioned in the vision of “the One like the Son of Man,” and recorded in Chapter 1. These aspects reveal the glory, the power, and the authority of God, in Christ.

The Rebuke

the Lord Jesus Christ rebuked five of the seven angels of the churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia being the exceptions) for tolerating sin in their midst. The problems in those five churches ranged in severity from waning love at Ephesus to total apostasy at Laodicea. Any church of any age could have a mixture of the sins that plagued these five churches. 

The Exhortations and Promises

The seven letters close with an appeal: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7; 2:11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). These appeals show that the message is for the seven churches of St. John’s time and everyone today. They emphasize the sober responsibility believers have to hear the voice of The Spirit of God in the Scriptures. 

He also promised “him who overcomes” (Rev. 2:6,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God. Through this faith, they overcome the world (1 John 5:4–5). In both Greek and English, the verb νικντι; overcome” is in the present tense. In Christ, overcoming is an everyday experience.


Excerpt from: Revealing the Father through the Book of Revelation, by Hegumen Abraam Sleman

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