Summary: God wants us to understand the message of the Book of Revelation. What significance does what Jesus wrote to these churches in the first century have to our lives today?
REVELATION CHAPTER 2-3: SEVEN LETTERS FROM JESUS TO THE CHURCHES Part #1
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:10-11).
QUESTION: What significance does what Jesus wrote to these churches in the first century have to our lives today?
1) I do not believe that the seven letters in the book of Revelation identify seven different periods of the history of the church, from the first century, right up until the second coming of Jesus.
QUOTE: “The notion that these seven churches describe seven successive periods of Church history hardly needs refutation… The epistles describe conditions which occur not in one particular age of Church history, but again and again.” (William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors).
2) Our first job in interpreting the letters in Revelation chapters 2-3 is to discover the author’s original intent, within the context of the first century churches.
3) “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Even though these seven letters had significance to the seven churches in the first century, because they are included in the Bible, they also apply to our lives today.
4) As we get ready to study these seven letters, it is helpful to note that Jesus follows a similar pattern with each letter, which includes seven different items.
1. The Name of the CHURCH. The very first sentence of each letter identifies the name of the church the letter is sent to.
2. A Revelation of CHRIST. Each church receives a special revelation about the nature of Jesus Christ Himself.
3. A COMMENDATION. Jesus applauds them for what they are doing right.
4. A CONDEMNATION. Jesus rebukes them for what they are doing wrong.
5. A COMMAND. What Jesus wants them to do to change their ways.
6. A CHALLENGE. To every church, Jesus gives the same challenge: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
7. A COVENANT PROMISE. What Jesus has promised to do for the overcomers.
The Church in Ephesus
“1 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ’These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." (Rev. 2:1-7).
1. The Name of the CHURCH. Ephesus.
• “Ephesus was wealthy, prosperous, magnificent, and famous for its shrine of Diana… The temple of Diana was… a treasure house, a museum, and a place of refuge for criminals. Paul visited this city (Acts 18:19-21) on his way from Corinth to Jerusalem… during his second missionary journey, about AD 52… The church at Ephesus was more than 40 years old when Christ dictated this epistle.” (William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors).
2. A Revelation of CHRIST. He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. (see Rev. 1:12-16).
3. A COMMENDATION. I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
• It is encouraging to know that Jesus knows our works done for His kingdom!
• God wants us to be excellent at what is good, and innocent of evil.