The message of the SEVEN CHURCHES to us
As Christians we are God’s Universal Church—and should give attention to the warnings and instructions written to the Seven Churches, in Revelation 2 and 3. Commendations and promises of reward are also found in these messages and serve as a rich source of hope for our inheritances in the coming Kingdom.
Although written to seven distinct churches in the Roman Province of Asia, the messages are for all of us. The circumstances and characteristics of those seven early churches apply forward in time to include us, and we should regard these messages as applying to each one of us—individually and personally.
In this essay the warnings, commendations and promises are combined in one, just as the Church is one. Each message contains the following advice:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
1. 2:4-5 You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!
Repent and do the things you did at first …or I will remove your lampstand from its place.
2. 2:14 You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice
the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
3. 2:15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teachings of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!
Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
4. 2:20 You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she
misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
2:22 I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
I will strike her children dead. Then all will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds,
and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
2:24 Now I say to the rest of you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s
so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you):
Only hold on to what you have until I come.
5. 3:1-3 I know your deeds: you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and what is about to die,
for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore,
what you have received and heard: obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up,
I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
6. 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish your were either one or the other!
3:16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
3:17 You say, ‘I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;
and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness;
and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Balaam’s teaching that came into the Church was a direct violation of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:29).
The Nicolaitans were a sect of that time, most probably started by someone named Nicolas, that evidently promoted the teaching of Balaam. This teaching in effect was an accommodation to the worldly influence and sin that pervaded the Roman Empire of that time—and continuously since then into our world now.
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1. 2:2-3 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot
tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not,
and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name,
and have not grown weary.
2. 2:6 You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
3. 2:9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!
2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison
to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death…
4. 2:13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name.
You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness,
who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
5. 2:19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance,
and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
6. 3:4 You have a few people who have not soiled their clothes.
They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
7. 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.
I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial
that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
(It is interesting that the Laodicean church did not have commendations, yet was recognized as a church.)
1. 2:7 To him who overcomes,
I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
2. 2:10 Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
2:11 He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
3. 2:17 To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.
I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
4. 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
2:27 ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’ (Psalm 2:9)
5. 2:28 I will also give him the morning star.
6. 3:5 He who overcomes will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life,
but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
7. 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.
I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem,
which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
8. 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,
just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
The messages of Revelation 2 and 3 are from Jesus personally to the Church. We need to give attention to this because all of it applies to each one of us, all the time. The Holy Spirit will help us understand, and will also give us the power to overcome. Repentance gives release from the power of sin, and hunger for righteousness and love for God and his kingdom, gives us plenty of motivation to press forward to victory.
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