The Seven Churches

Rev 1:11

"What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.  

Rev 1:12-16

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;  His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;  He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

When John wrote to the churches the letter had a current application and a future fulfillment.  Although there were many churches in Asia, the Lord singled out these seven churches because it would coincide with church history.

Things to note:

The letters were written to human messengers in John's time and the messages were directed at the churches.

 

Prophetically, the messages are directed towards particular church ages.

 

What the Lord says about Himself in the beginning of the letter is often what He will bring that church or what the messenger will bring that church.

 

Once the church age begins it continues on till the end.

 

The messengers did not know they were the messengers.  But they were always in the Lord's right hand, for they are the seven stars.

Rev 1:20

"The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches."

 

The stars are in the right hand of the Lord.  The messengers are in God's control.  If the messengers are angelic beings, we have no need to be told that they are in the Lord's right hand for holy angels cannot act contrary to the will of God.  Secondly, John would not need to write to them.

 

The messages are directed to the churches but written to the messenger as a sign of what happens after him.  Except for the last church age, whose messenger comes at the end to close the church and prepare them for the rapture.

1st - Church of Ephesus

The Loveless Church

Beginning:  Pentecost - Rapture

 

Rev 2:1-7

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.'"

 

Likely messenger:  Apostle Paul

AD 5 - 67, Apostle of the Gentiles

The Apostle Paul was the Lord's chosen vessel.

Act 9:15

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

 

Paul often taught about love and love being the greatest.  He also warned of false apostles.

 

What the church became:

After his departure the love of the church grew cold, but they still persevered and labored for the Lord.

What the Lord says about Himself:

  1. "These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand...

  2. ...who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands."

What Jesus will bring them

  1. The Lord brought forth Paul and reminds us that Paul was in His right hand.

  2. Paul brought the presence of Christ to the church by working mighty signs and miracles.  Paul also said, "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 1 Cor 2:4-5

2nd - Church of Smyrna

The Persecuted Church

Beginning:  AD 100 - Rapture

 

Rev 2:8-11

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"

 

Possible messenger:  Irenaeus

AD 130 - 202, Born in Smyrna

Irenaeus, one of the early church fathers, was a student of Polycarp and was possibly martyred.

 

Another possible messenger:

Polycarp AD 69 - 156

Disciple of the Apostle John; bishop of Smyrna; martyred

What the Lord says about Himself:

  • "These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life."

What Jesus will bring them:

  • He'll bring them life, if they are faithful until death.

3rd - Church of Pergamos

The Compromising Church

Beginning:  AD 313 - Rapture

 

Rev 2:12-17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.’"

Possible messenger:  St. Martin of Tours

AD 316 - 397

St. Martin was the bishop of Tours in France.  He stayed true to God's work and had a strong impact on society during his time. He is still revered in parts of Europe.

What the church eventually became:

In AD 313, Christianity was decriminalized within the Roman Empire by Constantine and Licinius with the Edict of Milan.

 

Christianity began to get polluted.  Constatine married the church and government.  This began a new era of Nicolaitans and Balaam doctrine.

 

Nicolaitans - A priestly body to rule over the laity.

 

Doctrine of Balaam - Pretend to serve God and get rich doing it.  Teach false doctrine to increase wealth.

What the Lord says about Himself:

  • "These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword."

What Jesus will bring them:

  • The Lord will fight against them with the sword of His mouth.

4th - Church of Thyatira

The Corrupt Church

Beginning:  AD 517 - Rapture

 

Rev 2:18-29

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’"

Possible messenger:  Saint Columba

AD 521 - 598

Columba is known as an Apostle of Ireland, who is credited for spreading Christianity in present-day Scotland.

 

He was true to God but the church age that was coming would not be.

The Lord says He gave her time to repent but she did not repent:

This is the longest church age, which lasted 1000 years.  The period is known as the "Dark Ages." This is the age of the Catholic church.

 

Since she did not repent she will go into the great tribulation.  The Catholic Church age continued on without change, so the Lord brought the Protestant Reformation.

 

From this church age rose men like:

Pope John XII (955 - 964) - turned the Papal Palace into a whorehouse.

Pope Benedict IX (1032 - 1048) - raped, murdered, and sponsored orgies.

Pope Alexander VI (1431 - 1503) - jailed and murdered on false charges to steal money.

The list continues on but will not be discussed.

 

What the Lord says about Himself:

  • "These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass."

What Jesus will bring them:

  • Eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass are symbols of judgment.  Jesus will bring judgment on this church.  He says, "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death"

5th - Church of Sardis

The Dead Church

Beginning:  AD 1517 - Rapture

 

Rev 3:1-6

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’"

Likely messenger:  Martin Luther

AD 1483 - 1546, preached justification by faith

Martin Luther helped kick start the Protestant Reformation in 1517 with his Ninety-Five Theses, a challenge of unbiblical Catholic church practices.

 

During the Reformation and sometime after, the protestant churches were full and vibrant.

 

What the church eventually became:

The once vibrant churches of the Reformation are now dead and practically empty.  Large cathedrals in Europe that were once packed with people now have no more than a few members. They still have a name but are dead.

 

What the Lord says about Himself:

  1. "These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God...

  2. ...and the seven stars."

What Jesus will bring them:

  1. The most important doctrine for Luther was justification by faith.  He firmly believed and taught, "The just shall live by faith."  A life guided by the Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ alone.

  2. God reaffirms us that Martin Luther was in His hand, just like Paul.  And this work is from none other than God Himself.

6th - Church of Philadelphia

The Faithful Church

Beginning:  AD 1739 - Rapture

 

Rev 3:7-13

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’"

Likely messenger:  John Wesley

AD 1703 - 1791, preached sanctification by grace

John Wesley began street preaching at George Whitefield's invitation in 1739.  From that time onward his work began to grow.

 

John Wesley encouraged people to experience Christ personally.

 

Martin Luther left the church with justification by faith but John Wesley took it further and preached sanctification by grace.  Through grace God makes us holy and transforms believers that we may have a personal encounter with Him.

 

What the Lord says about Himself:

  1. ‘These things says He who is holy...

  2. ...He who is true...

  3. ..."He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens"

What Jesus will bring them:

  1. John Wesley brought a message of sanctification and holy living.

  2. Wesley's message was true and it brought people into a personal relationship with God.

  3. Churches that teach holy living and a relationship with God have been given an open door.

7th - Church of Laodicea

The Lukewarm Church

Beginning:  AD 1906 - Rapture

 

Rev 3:14

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

The messenger:  ?

Appears:  AD 2017 (hopefully) - Rapture

The Azusa Street Revival in 1906 started the Pentecostal movement.  Later many mega-churches appeared and they started preaching the prosperity gospel. Many churches have become rich but they are void of Christ.

 

The condition of the church is: wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  Christ is outside knocking, waiting for those who will open the door, so that He can come in and dine with them.

 

You would think Christ would describe Himself as He who has eyes like a flame of fire, feet like fine brass, or a sword that comes out of His mouth, as a sign of judgment, but He does not.  

 

Why?

Because there is an end time prophet who is coming to "restore all things" and go forth "conquering and to conquer."

What the Lord says about Himself:

  1. ‘These things says the Amen,...

  2. ...the Faithful and True Witness,...

  3. ...the Beginning of the creation of God.

What Jesus will bring them:

  1. The Amen - The word of the Lord is always "Amen."  Amen means "so be it."  The end time prophet will bring the word of the Lord and it shall be Amen!

  2. The Faithful and True Witness - The end time prophet will be a faithful and true witness.

  3. The beginning of the creation of God - This is none other than Jesus.  The coming prophet will bring Jesus to the people.

The prophet that is coming will not reform the church to start a new church age.  He is coming at the end of the church age to close the church and prepare them for the rapture.  The bride must be prepared for Christ.  The forerunner must come.  

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