Print this article

A Study in Revelation


The Seven Churches


I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last...And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength...

Revelation 1:10-11a;12-15 KJV 

 

As we continue from the previous chapter, John heard this voice which was the voice of Jesus Christ. And Jesus commanded him to write down in his vision what the sees and send it to the seven churches. In this vision in which John was in the spirit, he turns to see the voice that spoke to him, which was the Lord. Jesus was in the midst of seven candlesticks and He was dressed in white garments His head and his hair was white as snow and his eyes were as a flame of fire. And He had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth was a sharp two-edged sword...

 

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Verses 17 & 18

And when John saw Jesus, he fainted at Jesus' feet and Jesus laid his right head on him and told John not to fear because Jesus is the first and the last. Jesus is the one who lives and was dead but is alive forever, and He has the keys to hell and death.

Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Verses 19 & 20

Jesus reiterates His command to John earlier "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter," referring to the vision John saw. And write down the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks which were: and are and what is to come:

  • The seven stars--The seven angels of the seven churches;

  • The seven candlesticks--The seven churches.

As we continue we will examine key issues of the seven churches.

THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:1-7

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Ephesus these commendations:

  • They cannot bear them that are evil

  • They tried those who were so-called apostles. They tested them and found them to be liars

  • They hated the deeds of the Nicolotians which Jesus also hated

  • They have endured and persevered for His name sake and gained patience and didn’t become weary.

However, He had this against them:

  • They had lost their first love.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus gave the the church the commandment that they should one love another. John writes this  his letter:

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 

1 John 1:9-10

Jesus warns this church to repent from where they have fallen where they have lost their first love. Or else He would come to return their candlestick from their place. 1

If they overcome

  • He will give them to eat from the tree of life2,  which is in the midst of God’s paradise.

THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:8-11

 

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Smyrna these commendation:

  • He knew their works and tribulation and poverty although they were rich

And he knew the blasphemy of the Jews who were not Christians. Jesus said they belong to the synagogue of Satan. 

These Jews were persecuting the church at Smyrna. Remember in the Book of John, Jesus said to those Jews who wanted to kill Him  the devil was their father because they do the works of Satan.3 

Jesus told these believers in Smyrna that the devil will cast some of them in prison so that they may be tried and that they will have tribulation ten days. Jesus assured them to have no fear for these trials which they were to come suffer but to be faithful unto death and He will give them the crown of life. 

And Jesus told the seven churches He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. This second death is mentioned near the end of Revelation when death and hell are emptied into the lake of fire.4 

THE CHURCH AT PERGAMOS

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:12-17

 

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Pergamos these commendations:

  • They hold fast to His name

  • They have not denied the faith

  • They kept the faith even in those days when Antipas, Jesus’ faithful martyr was slain among them where satan also dwelled.

However, He had this against Some of them:

  • They They held on to the doctrine of Balam who told Balac to put a stumbling block before Israel to eat food that was sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.

  • (And unlike the Christians at Galatia) There were others in the church who held on to the doctrine of the Nicolatians.

His Requirement: Repent!

And if they didn’t repent, Jesus would come to some of these of Pergamos quickly!5  And He will come to the church and fight against them who held on to false doctrines with the sword of His mouth. 6

And Jesus told the seven churches:

The ones who overcome:

  • Jesus will give to them hidden manna to eat

  • And He will give him a white stone with a new name written on it which no man knows.

As we have read through the first three churches, there are those who believe the seven churches represents seven periods of history. However, this isn’t found in John’s writings. And it cannot be applied to these churches. Jesus told the Church at Galatia to repent or He will come to remove their candlestick among their midst. And He told the Church at Pergamos that if they didn’t repent, He will come and fight against them with the sword of His Mouth. In the context of Revelation, there is no mention that Jesus is coming until Revelation chapter 19 when Jesus is seen coming from heaven with a sword coming out of His Mouth!7 And this is not a pre-trib moment for this church! Therefore, the view that the seven churches are the seven different periods of church history is incorrect. And there will be more comment at the end of this chapter.

THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 2:18-29

 

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Thyatira these commendations:

  • their works

  • their charity

  • their service

  • their faith

  • their patience

  • and their deeds of late were greater than the first.

However, He had this against them: 

  • They tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess.

Her teachings lead men in the church astray in which they commited acts of fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Jesus gave this woman time to repent of her evil deeds. And if she refused to repent, Jesus would cast her into a bed, and those who commited adultry with her into great tribulation, and Jesus would kill her children.

Jesus searches the minds and hearts’ and Jesus will give to them according to their deeds.

But upon those who did not hold on to the teachings and doctrine of Jezebel, He gave them no other burdens. 

And they were to hold fast until He comes.

And they that overcome and keeps His words till the end:

  • He will give them power over the nations. And they will rule the nations with a rod of iron

  • And He will give him the morning star.

THE CHURCH AT SARDIS 

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars;

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:1-6

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Sardis this commendation:

  • They have a name that they’re alive

But Jesus gave them this warning

  • They were dead and He did not find their deeds completed before His Father

Jesus warned them to wake up and strengthen what remain which were about to die.

And he gave them this requirement.

  • Wake up or else He would come upon them like a thief, and they will not know what time He would come upon them.8 

There were few in this church who had not soiled their garments, and Jesus said they will walk with Him in white because they were worthy.

And they that overcome:

  • shall be clothed in white garments

  • their name will not be erased from the book of life

  • Jesus will confess their names before Hs Father and before His angels9 

Pre-tribbers claim that "the thief in the night" refers to Jesus’ coming before the tribulation. However, in the words above, he comes "as a thief" to those who are not on the alert for His coming which comes after the tribulation. There is only one reference in Revelation when Jesus comes "as a thief." And that’s at the sixth bowl when Anti-christ gathers the kings and their armies for battle at Armageddon on the day of the Lord.10

THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:7-13

 

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Philadelphia these commendations:

  • They have kept His word and

  • They did not deny His Name.

The Church at Philadelphia had from the Lord Jesus an open door which no man could open and shut. This church had little strength and held on to the Lord. They were facing persecution from those who called themselves Jews, but Jesus said they were not Jews, but liars. These Jews were enemies of Christ because they denied the gospel. Jesus was to make these (who were not) Jews to worship at the Philadelphians feet.

Because the Philadelphians kept the word of Jesus’ patience, He will keep them from the hour of temptation which is to come upon the whole world to try them that live on the earth.

Jesus told them to behold, He will come quickly and to Hold fast on what they have so no one take their crown.

For those who overcome, Jesus will:

  • Make them a pillar in the temple of His God

  • Write upon Him who overcome the name of His God and the name of the city of His God, which is New Jerusalem which will come out of Heaven from His God11

  • Write upon Him a new name.

This passage of scripture has been used by pre-tribbers to claim that since they will be kept from the Hour of Temptation, Jesus is promised to this church that they will be delivered by a pre-trib rapture. However, as you read further Jesus tells them He is coming quickly. And their is no mention of His coming until the nineteenth chapter. And Jesus said He will come quickly at the end of the book of Revelation which is related to His coming after the tribulation.12

A further examination of this verse is in a past and revised article Hour of Temptation.

THE CHURCH AT LAODICEA

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:14-21

 

In John’s message from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus gave the church at Laodecia this warning:

  • Their works were lukewarm.

Jesus wished they were either hor or cold, But they were lukewarm. And because they were lukewarm Jesus said He will spew them out of His Mouth.

There was a reason why Jesus said these Laodiceans were lukewarm:

  • Because they said they were rich and increased with goods and need of nothing when they knew they were poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked.

Jesus  gives the church this requirement:

  • Buy from Him Gold tried in the fire (refinement) and white rasinment

  • Be clothed so their shame doesn’t appear.

  • Anoint their eyes with salve so they may see

  • Be zealous and repent.

As many Jesus loves, He chastens and rebukes.

Jesus tells this church to behold, He stands and the door and knocks, and if anybody hears His voice and openss the door, He will come into them and dine with them and them with Him.

For those who overcome :

  • Jesus will grant to sit with Him in His throne.

In all the closing statements addressed to these churches, Jesus said "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." If anyone hears what the Lord said to the seven churches, then what He said can be applied to them as well.

As mentioned earlier, There are those who believe these churches represent the seven periods of church history. And as concluded, this part of scripture does not confirm this idea. Jesus said He will come to them. And the only reference to His coming is after the tribulation.

And there are those who believe the first six churches represent church history up to the rapture and the Laodicea represents the apostate church that will go through the tribulation. However, even though these Laodiceans are lukewarm, Jesus tells them to repent. And that the ones he loves, he rebukes and chastens. There are weaknesses in the other churches as well. The characteristics of these churches can apply to any other church throughout history including today.

There are others who believe the seventh church, Laodicea, represents the church at the end of church history up until "the rapture." However, in their scheme of things, Philadelphia is raptured out. Therefore, this view is also incorrect. We must remember, we must interpret scripture by what is given, not at an implied idea.

As Peter wrote:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man; but holy men as God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 2:21

As a final comment Jesus instructed these churches that if they overcome, their names would not be blotted out of the book of life.  Therefore, the church is called to obedience and holiness to the Lord. And tribulation is one of the ways God uses to purify His church. for further study, please read Daniel 11:33-35 and  Acts 14:22.


Footnotes

 1. Revelation 1:20.

 2. Revelation 22:2

 3. See John 8:39-44.

 4. Revelation 20:13-14.

 5. Revelation 22:7;12.

 6. Revelation 19:15

 7. Ibid.

 8. John 10:10; Revelation 16:12-16.

 9. See also Luke 12:8-9.

10. Revelation 16:12-16.

11. Revelation 21:2.

12. Revelation 22:7;12.

   Print this article

   E-Mail     

 

       Related Article

Hour of Temptation       

      

John In The Spirit

Home