This message is in answer to the request for some study material regarding the seven churches mentioned in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 (http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/aug2011/spoely816.htm).
I pray my humble effort will stir others to dig deeply into God’s Holy Word and discover truths for themselves that will inform, and transform, their being, as privileged, believing children in these end times.
The following are in my opinion good sources for beginning a study of the seven churches of Revelation:
Dispensational Truth by Dr. Clarence Larkin, Chapter 22, and the following web sites:.
The churches are both historical churches that existed in John’s day and represent types of churches that existed across the centuries since John’s time to the present, with the first being the church at Ephesus and the most recent being the church of Laodicea. The churches of Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos, Thyatira and Sardis no longer exist in our times but the Philadelphia and Laodicean churches can be found today.
Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) did not maintain their first love , and has become a backslidden church, and wanted to model the church after the Old Testament order of priests, Levites and common people. This church typifies the Church in the period AD 70 to AD 170.
Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) suffered persecution and death and will earn the crown of life, or the martyrs crown. They were told to remain faithful even unto death. This church typifies the Church during the period AD 170 to AD 312.
Pergamos (Rev.2:12-17) accepted sexual perversions and compromised, and became rich and powerful as it entered into a union with the state and adopted many pagan sensual feasts likened to Balaam (Num. 23-25) and celebrated the birthday of the “Sun God” on December 25 from April. This church typifies the Church during the period AD 312 to AD 606 when Boniface III was crowned “Universal Bishop”.
Thyatira (Rev.2:18-29) followed the teachings of a false prophet, Jezebel, and committed fornication, adultery, and ate things sacrificed to idols. She typified the Papal church with its images and pictures for people to bow down to. A study of the Papal system and the introduction of the “Sacrifice of the Mass”, as superior to the Word of God, shows how this system assumed the role of the false prophet. This period lasted from AD 606 to the Reformation in AD 1520.
Sardis (Rev.3:1-6) is spiritually dead, lazy and drifting along, given over to formalistic and ritualistic worship, during the Reformation period, having a form of Godliness, but without power. The Reformation began with a crisis when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517 AD to openly criticize the teachings of the Papal church of the day, especially concerning the selling of indulgences to help the departed to be bought out of Purgatory. This period lasted from AD 1520 to AD 1750, approximately.
Philadelphia (Rev. 7-13) is faithful to God and keeps His word. Three things were said of this church: a) it was weak, it was the dead Sardis church revived, b) it had set before it an open door, leading to missionary activity in many parts of the world, c) it was to be kept from the hour of temptation, referring to the Tribulation, and will be caught out before the Tribulation begins. This period has lasted from AD 1750 to 1900 and continues even to the present.
Laodicea (Rev.7:14-19) is lukewarm, self-satisfied and indifferent. It was out of and in disgust with the Laodicean church luke-warmness that John Wesley started his fervent outdoor meetings and that drove William Booth to become a hot Salvationist. The luke-warmness was caused by deception: the Laodiceans thought they were rich and needed nothing having elegant, debt-free churches with stained glass windows, eloquent preachers and large congregations.
They however did not, and do not to this day, teach about the deepening of the spiritual life or the conversion of the unsaved. There worldliness has actually forced Christ out of His own church. To see one of these churches one need only to turn on the TV and watch the prosperity gospel being preached at one of our modern mega-churches with some congregations numbering over 10,000. The period of this church is AD 1900 to the present.