Letters To The Church (Revelation 2-3)

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As we study the book of Revelation, we begin a series within a series, where we explore the 7 letters of Jesus to the church. The number 7 is a key number in Hebrew thought, in the book of Revelation, and the bible as a whole. Seven represented completion or even perfection: think the days of creation.

In Revelation, there are 7 different churches, reflecting the totality of the church (cf. interestingly also Paul wrote to 7 churches). The church cities also provide a geographic circuit of travel (see map). Each letter from Jesus has a reflection applicable to that church but also for us today.rev_7 churches-map

Each letter contains a 7-fold pattern.

  1. Introduction: To the angel of the church in ___.
  2. Personal Authorship & Powerful Authority: “The words of Jesus…”
    1. Ephesus: Him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
    2. Smyrna: The first and the last, who died and came to life.
    3. Pergamum: Him who has the sharp two-edge sword.
    4. Thyatira: The Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
    5. Sardis: Him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
    6. Philadelphia: The Holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
    7. Laodicea: The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
  3. Commendation Insight: “I know…”
    1. Ephesus: good deeds and sound doctrine
    2. Smyrna: suffering and poverty
    3. Pergamum: hold fast God’s name
    4. Thyatira: works, love, faith, service, patient endurance, latter works exceed the first
    5. Sardis: works, some who have not soiled garments and walk worthy
    6. Philadelphia: works with little power but kept God’s word
    7. Laodicea: works not hot or cold
  4. Cautionary Warning
    1. Ephesus: abandoned first love
    2. Smyrna: do not fear suffering (only church w/o condemnation)
    3. Pergamum: tolerate false teaching of Balaam & Nicolatians
    4. Thyatira: tolerate Jezebel who seduces others into sexual immorality and you’ll be judged with great tribulation and children struck dead.
    5. Sardis: reputation of being alive but you are dead, so I will come like a thief against you.
    6. Philadelphia: make those of the synagogue of Satan bow down
    7. Laodicea: wish you were hot or cold, not lukewarm
  5. Commanding Exhortation
    1. Ephesus: remember, repent, and repeat good works
    2. Smyrna: be faithful unto death
    3. Pergamum: hold fast and keep God’s work
    4. Thyatira: hold fast until I come and keep my works until the end.
    5. Sardis: remember and keep God’s word, repent and wake up.
    6. Philadelphia: hold fast in the hour of trial
    7. Laodicea: buy from me gold refined by fire and white garments to cover shame, and salve to anoint eyes for sight.
  6. Promise
    1. Ephesus: I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
    2. Smyrna: I will give you the crown of life.
    3. Pergamum: I will give some of the hidden manna, and a white stone with a new name written on the stone that no one knows, except the one who receives it.
    4. Thyatira: I will give authority over the nations
    5. Sardis: I will clothe you in white garments and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.
    6. Philadelphia: I will keep [protect] you in the tribulation; I will make him a pillar in the temple.
    7. Laodicea: If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come and eat with him. I will grant him to sit with me on my throne.
  7. Closing: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

What is the Spirit saying to you from these words of caution and command from Jesus?

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