A Message to the Church, Part 1
John was instructed to write down everything he saw of the revelation of Jesus Christ and then send the report to the seven churches in Asia. These churches did exist and all were located in what we know as Turkey. Today they lie in ruins.
The seven different messages form a single message that is applicable for the church in every time and in every place. In essence, Jesus is encouraging each church body to examine itself in light of who He is and what He achieved through His death, burial and resurrection.
Each distinct message follows a pattern. First, Jesus addresses the “angel”, or the messenger, of the church. Then Jesus reveals something about Himself that ties to what John recorded in Revelation 1:12-16. This is followed by a “state of the church” analysis, complete with judgments against the church and a call to repentance.
The Message to Ephesus
Even though this church stood strong against heretical teaching and evil people, it had lost its first love. The revelation of Jesus to them is meant to draw them back to Christ and to the joy of experiencing His presence in their midst. After all, He is the One who walks among the seven lampstands.
The Message to Smyrna
The church was suffering mightily with more to come. Much of it was from Jews who stood in opposition to Christianity. The real source of the persecution was Satan. He is the one fixed on destroying God’s people. The message to this church was hope. The crown of life is waiting for those who overcome, who trust in the One who is “the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive.”
The Message to Pergamum
It was not easy to be a believer in Pergamum. Temptation surrounded this city. Jesus commended them for standing firm in the faith. He also warned them about compromise. A teaching had entered their circle that was leading many to idolatry and sexual sin. Jesus called them to repent, to realize that all they needed was found in Him – the manna of life and an eternal identity. Jesus’ word would bring that victory to them.
The Message to Thyatira
Jesus sees and knows everything. Nothing can be hidden from Him. He knew the church in Thyatira was improving in their faith, love, service and patience. He also knew they were entertaining heretical teaching. This heretical teaching had as its foundation shifting sand. Jesus encouraged this church to find its stability in Him, the One with the feet like polished bronze. The promise to those who overcame was authority and power and resurrection in Jesus Christ.
Revelation for You
- How do these messages to the churches apply to your life today?
- Why do you think Jesus began every message with a revelation of Himself?
- How would you summarize what Jesus is saying to the churches?