The Sign of Revelation’s Seven Churches
Throughout chapters 2 and 3 of the Revelation, seven churches are presented and examined. These were real churches during the time of John the Revelator, but it may be that these churches have other meanings for us, too. God’s sort of like that—He packs a powerful word.
Some Bible scholars believe the message from these churches serve to describe various phases that churches pass through. Other scholars teach that these churches correspond historically to the church age as a whole and that the characteristics of each age or epoch are described in these passages by each church.
For example, the first one treated is the Church of Ephesus. It corresponds to the church age during the first century. The church at Ephesus is called the “loveless church” because it “left its first love,” which we all know is Christ. During this age, a system of clerical hierarchy (lordship of the clergy over the laity) dominated and drew followers from an intimate relationship with Christ to a relationship of substitution through the clergy.
The other churches mentioned also correspond to various specific historical eras and they each have particular characteristics mentioned by the Lord. Most of these characteristics were displeasing to Him. Smyrna, the persecuted church, corresponds to AD 100-313. During this era, Christians were severely persecuted.
The next church is Pergamos, and it’s been tagged the compromising church representing the era 313-590. During this time, the church was compromised of its purity by allowing pagan beliefs and activities to enter and find acceptance.
Thyatria is called the corrupt church and represents the time 590-1517 up to when Martin Luther broke from the Catholic traditions.
Sardis comes along as the reformed church from 1517 to 1901. Not a lot to discuss here.
The church of Philadelphia, brotherly love, begins in 1901 and exists simultaneously with the church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church, until the end of the church age.
In these last days, it’s easy for us to see that two churches exist. The church of brotherly love that seeks to please the Savior, reaches others for Christ, and desires obedience to God’s word. There also exists a tremendous number who claim to be Christian, but word and deed message something altogether different. They might faithfully attend church, apply themselves reverently to committees, and make a difference with their fellowmen by reaching out, helping, and applying what is socially acceptable, but most of these actions are simply self-serving and recognition-seeking; their “works” will perish with them. There has to be a change in the heart, and this is what Jesus is looking for.
What church do you belong to?
There’s another blessing for being a member of the church of brotherly love…
“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.” Revelation 3:10
That sounds like the tribulation to me. What do you think?
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