Summary: Mystery of seven churches, signs of His coming
1. The early church anticipated the soon return of Jesus Christ. “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
2. Jesus could return at any moment throughout history.
3. Even though Jesus has delayed His return, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels . . . but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
B. THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Author: John. While critics may debate who wrote Revelation, conservatives believe John the apostle is the author because of (1) his identification (1:1; 4:9; 21:2, and 22:8); (2) vocabulary; (3) concepts; and (4) early church tradition.
Date: 96 A.D., before Domitian’s death and John’s release.
Place: Isle of Patmos off the coast of Asia Minor from Ephesus.
Purpose: (1) to reveal Jesus Christ; (2) to reveal things to come (1:14); (3) to give a message to seven churches (1:11); (4) to give a foundation of Worship.
Key word: Revelation.
1. The Second Coming focuses on Jesus, not judgments, natural calamities, etc. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). The aged John was a political exile on the Isle of Patmos where he saw the glorified Jesus and received visions of the coming future.
2. There will be signs before Jesus returns. “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). A sign is not a mandatory “cause and effect” relationship that determines exact arrival. A sign informs of the “nearness of an event.”
3. What are some suggested signs before Jesus comes?
a. Israel’s return to the land (Ezek. 37:1-18).
b. Increase in knowledge (Dan. 12:4).
c. Increase in travel (Dan. 12:4).
d. Growing apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
e. Internationalism (Rev. 13:1 ff).
4. The time of His return is unknown. “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
5. The fact of His return is sure. “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
C. THE MYSTERY OF SEVEN CHURCHES (REV. 2, 3) SIGNS OF HIS COMING
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:19-20).
1. We learn about Jesus from these churches.
a. He is equal distance to all. “. . . who walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands” (Rev. 1:20; 2:1).
b. Their sin was offensive to Him.
c. He called five to repentance or risk judgment.
2. These were not the only churches that were in the region of Asia Minor. Why were these chosen? To parallel conditions between the seven churches and the general conditions of the church age.
D. THE SEVEN CHURCHES ANALYZED
1. Ephesus: the apostolic church that wandered in love. “You have left your first love” (Rev. 2:5). The Apostolic church - 30-100 A.D.
2. Smyrna: the church that remained true in trials. “You will have tribulation . . . be faithful until death” (Rev. 2:6). The Persecuted church – 100-316 A.D.
3. Pergamos: the church that compromised with the world. “You have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam” (Rev. 2:14). The State church – 316-500 A.D.
4. Thyatira: the church that was entirely corrupt. “You allow that woman Jezebel . . . to teach and beguile My servants to commit sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:20). The Development of the Papacy – 500-1500 A.D.
5. Sardis: the church of the reformation. “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:2). The Dead church of the Reformation – 1500-1700 A.D.
6. Philadelphia: the church that had revival and missionary outreach. “See I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it . . . you have kept My word and not denied it” (Rev. 3:8). The Revival Missionary church – 1700-1900 A.D.
7. Laodicea: the church that stopped caring and compromised. “You are neither cold nor hot . . . I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). The Apathetic church – 1900-to Present.
1. The Come Up Hither Principle. The next words the church hears from Heaven will be, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this” (Rev. 4:1).
2. The Prepare Principle. Believers must realize that the future is moving to a pre-determined climax and adequately prepare themselves.