Summary: Revelation was to prepare and strengthen the Christians of Asia Minor (seven churches) so that they will remain faithful against the impending persecution.
Letters to the Seven churches of Revelation
Revelation 2: 1-1-29
As we begin this study on the letters of the 7 churches of the book of Revelation, I have mingled feelings. For one thing Revelation is the final book of the bible of 66 books. We come to Revelation after reading and understanding all the other 65 books and its content. This means that we need to know the other sixty–five books before we get to this place. You need to have the background of a working knowledge of all the Bible that precedes it. You need to have a feel of the Scriptures as well as have the facts of the Scriptures in your mind.
Revelation was to prepare and strengthen the Christians of Asia Minor (seven churches) so that they will remain faithful against the impending persecution. Asia Minor was a region of the Roman Empire that is now the western part of the country of Turkey. Patmos is a small, rocky island off its coast.
There had been several waves of persecutions of Christians by Roman authorities. The vision John received offered encouragement to persecuted Christians and assurance that God was still in control. The forces of evil , would eventually be utterly destroyed by God and God's eternal kingdom will come into its fulfillment. In particular, John's vision offered encouragement and comfort to the persecuted Christians of Asia Minor that their suffering was not in vain.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:21 that “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” This book also shows the final consummation of the kingdom of heaven which is preceded by the fall and punishment of Satan and his demons as John writes; “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:11).
The book is, then, an exhortation and admonition to Christians of the first century to stand firm in the faith and to avoid compromise with paganism, despite the threat of adversity and martyrdom; they are to await patiently the fulfillment of God’s mighty promises.
Revelation does not originate or begin anything. Rather it consummates and concludes that which has been begun somewhere else in Scripture. It is important to have a right understanding of the book to be able to trace each great subject of prophecy from the first reference to the terminal. There are at least ten great subjects of prophecy which find their consummation here. This is the reason that a knowledge of the rest of the Bible is imperative to an understanding of the Book of Revelation. It is calculated that there are over five hundred references or allusions to the Old Testament in Revelation and that, of its 404 verses, 278 contain references to the Old Testament. In other words, over half of this book depends upon your understanding of the Old Testament.
The ten great subjects of prophecy which find their consummation here are these:
1. The Lord Jesus Christ. is the subject of the book. The subject is not the beasts nor the bowls of wrath but the Sin–bearer. The first mention of Him is way back in Genesis 3:15, as the Seed of the woman. When the scene moves to heaven, we see Him there, too, controlling everything. Not only in Revelation but in the entire Bible Jesus Christ is the major theme. The Scriptures are both Theocentric and Christocentric, God–centered and Christ–centered. Since Christ is God, He is the One who fills the horizon of the total Word of God. This needs to be kept in mind in a special way as we study the Book of Revelation—even more than in the Gospels. The Bible as a whole tells us (1) what He has done, (2) what He is doing now , and (3) what He will do in the future. The Book of Revelation emphasizes (1) what He has done (2) what he is doing now and (3) what He will do.
2. The church does not begin in the Old Testament. It is first mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
3. The resurrection and the translation of the saints (see John 14; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 1 Cor. 15:51–52).
4. The Great Tribulation, spoken of back in Deuteronomy 4 where God says that His people would be in tribulation.
5. Satan and evil (see Ezek. 28:11–18).
6. The “man of sin” (see Ezek. 28:1–10).
7. The course and end of apostate Christendom (see Dan. 2:31–45; Matt. 13).