THE SEVEN CHURCHES
Church Of The Ages
To The Church In Ephesus
To the angel (messenger) of the assembly (Church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars (which are the messengers of the seven Churches) in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands (which are the seven Churches): AMP Version
The designation "angel" refers to the pastor of the Church. The Lord commended this Church in four (4) ways:
a) Their devotion in service, "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance,
b) Their deeds of righteousness, "I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men." They hated the deeds of the Nicolaitians, a cult that professed faith in Christ, but taught (freedom to live without moral law) and practiced licentious living.
c) Their doctrinal soundness, "that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false."
d) Their diligence under testing, "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary."
To The Church In Thyatira
A military city situated in a fertile agricultural valley, it was noted for commerce, trade guilds, and craftsmen specializing in tanning, bronze, pottery, and purple dye. Christians most likely belinged to trade guilds, which put pressure on them to become involved in pagan worship. The Lord commended the Church for four works:
a) Their love for Christ
b) Their service
c) Their faith
d) Their patience/endurance under trial.
The Lord did, however, express concerns, especially how they allowed, "that woman, Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach." This is referring to a woman in the Church whose teaching corrupted God's people. Christian workers were expected to join the trade guilds in Thyatira, where many of these immoralities were commonly practiced. Failure to participate meant losing one's livelihood and being blackballed from a trade.
To The Church In Smyrna
There was no condemnation for this Church, only commendation. Politically, they suffererd persecution from the Roman Empire. Physically, they were fed to lions or set upon by wild dogs, crucified, tarred, burned at the stake, and boiled in oil. The famous Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was burned at the stake in the arena at Rome around 155 A.D.
To The Church In Pergamum
Pergamum was a center of learning, medicine, and religious books. Satan set up his center of operations here. He sought to control peoples minds through learning, their bodies through healing, and their souls through pagan religion. They tolerated the "doctrine of Balaam." Balaam was a gifted prophet who prostituted his gift for financial gain and worldly honor.
To The Church In Sardis
Sardis was situated on five major trade routes running through Lydia. The Lord gave no commendation to this Church, only criticism: "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Sardis had the look of life and a reputation for religious activity, but it lacked evidence of spiritual life. Many modern-day Churches live on the spiritual reputation of yester-years, but have been spiritually dead for years. Christ counseled this Church to seek spiritual healing:
- They were to "be watchful" v. 2
- They were to "strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die" v. 2
- The Lord called them to "remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent" v. 3
- The Lord made special mention of those who had not compromised their faith ....... v. 4
To The Church In Philadelphia
The Lord commended the Church at Phiadelphia for its good works. Although they had only "a little strength," the Lord said that they "kept (His) word, and hast not denied (His) name." Christ presented Himself in three ways to this Church:
a) He is "Holy" (v. 7). As God, Christ is holy, entirely set apart from sin and sinners. Holiness points to Christ's majestic purity or ethical majesty. b) He is "True" (v. 7). Christ is the true God, distinct from all others. He is the source of all knowledge and truth in the universe. c) He is the one "who holds the key of David." What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.
The imagery of the "key of David" is mentioned in the context of Isaiah 22:20-22. Eliakim, who had replaced unfaithful Shebna as King Hezekiah's steward, was given authority over the King's house and his treasury. The key represents authority and power over the Davidic house and kingdom. No one could reverse what Eliakim opened or shut. In the same way, Christ, who is holy, true, and of the Davidic line, possesses absolute authority to administer the spiritual and material affairs of God's Kingdom.
Numerically, the Church was not very strong, but God had infused this faithful group with spiritual power enabling them to be true to Him name in the midst of satanic opposition. Because of this small group of believers commitment the Lord gave them an open door for evangelizing the surrounding region.
To The Church In Laodicea
The Lord had no commendation for the Laodicean Church, but severely censured and condemned its spiritual condition. Christ said, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either one or the other." v. 15.
The Lord found some good works in each of the other Churches mentioned in Revelation, but not one good work in this Church. They were not cold, referring to people lacking salvation, untouched and unresponsive toward spiritual things. Nor were they hot, referring to true believers who had received Jesus as Savior and showed spiritual fervor in their Christian service. Christ described them as "Lukewarm".
Do you see your Church in this group of seven?