As 2018 comes to a close, my “Through the Bible In a Year” reading plan is also coming in for a landing. This morning, I read Revelation 1-5.
Revelation 1 provides the general outline of the book. Here it is…
Revelation 1:19 (CSB) “Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.”
John was told to write three things:
- “what you have seen” – This is the initial vision that John saw (Revelation 1).
- “what is” – This is the Church Age (Revelation 2-3).
- “what will take place after this” – This refers to all that will take place in Heaven and on Earth after the Church is raptured (Revelation 4-22).
So, what about you and me? Which one of the above 3 outline points do we presently live in?
Clearly, we are living in the Church Age which is spoken of in Revelation 2-3.
When we read through Revelation 2-3, we see that John wrote brief letters to seven churches.
Revelation 1:10-11 (CSB) “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet saying, ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.'”
There are various ways that Christians have interpreted how we are to think about these seven churches.
Some have thought that they represent the Church Ages. In other words, they think that what John wrote to the church at Ephesus (first church in Revelation 2) was for the early church of the first and second centuries. Then, the second church, Smyrna, represented the church as it appeared in the next few centuries. So on and so forth.
I don’t believe this is the case. While there are certainly other ways that Christians have understood how we are to view these seven churches, I hold to the view that these seven churches represent the seven kinds of churches that have always existed since the first century.
In other words, for the past 2,000 years, there have always been churches that bore striking similarities to the church at Ephesus. There have also been churches that looked a lot like the church at Smyrna and the rest of the churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3.
Now, let’s make it really personal and practical. Look at your own church. Consider it’s strengths and weaknesses. Consider how it impacts and is impacted by the world around it. Then, look at each of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 to see which one best describes your own church.
In a book (in outline form) that I wrote as I taught through Revelation many years ago (2006-2007), I identified the seven churches with the following titles.
- The Church at Ephesus
- Revelation 2:1-7
- The Passionless Church
- The Church at Smyrna
- Revelation 2:8-11
- The Purified Church
- The Church at Pergamum
- Revelation 2:12-17
- The Passive Church
- The Church at Thyatira
- Revelation 2:18-29
- The Poisoned Church
- The Church at Sardis
- Revelation 3:1-6
- The Pulseless Church
- The Church at Philadelphia
- Revelation 3:7-13
- The Persevering Church
- The Church at Laodicea
- Revelation 3:14-22
- The Pathetic Church
But there is so much more to these churches than the title I gave them. When you read through Revelation 2-3, you get to observe how Jesus spoke of them. You also get to read the specific instructions He gave them. And finally, you get to read the warnings He gave to them.
This is helpful information because if you can identify your church in one of the seven, you can come to see what Jesus is telling your church to do … and the warnings He might be giving to your church.
Rather than make this post any longer, I will simply create a link to notes that I developed while teaching through this book. These notes break down each of the seven churches and point out what Jesus tells them. You can access my notes by clicking here.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the “Comments” section below. I typically respond to each comment within a few hours.