Revelation 1:17-20 – John says he fell down like a dead man in the presence of the Lord. He witnesses Jesus evaluating 7 churches.
Revelation 2:2-3 – The Church at Ephesus
Jesus knows our works and labors. We will be evaluated by Jesus for what we do now. Jesus has good things to say, but in Revelation 2:4 Jesus says that the Epehesian church has walked away from their first love.
Acts 19 – The church here in Ephesus starts and is growing rapidly, and doing powerful things for God. There is a massive revival. Magic Books were burned and idol makers ran out of work.
In Revelation 2 the Ephesian church had been in existence for 40 years.
1) Christ compliments them for what they have done well. The church was working to the point of exhaustion for Christ. How often do we do that?
Revelation 2:8- Church of Smyrma
Very large city, similar to Ephesus, seaport, very wealthy, interested in arts and athletics. Known for their temples.
Revelation 2:12-17 – The church at Pergamum
Capital of region, for 400 years. Large city, had second largest library in the world, city built on a large hill overlooking a valley. Known for medicine and where parchment was invented. This church compromises their spiritual beliefs. The city had a massive alter to Zeus, that looked like a giant throne on the hillside. The city is structured as an opposition to God…Zeus being a counter to God the father, and the savior their culture was the medical community. Medical symbol of a snake on a staff comes from this city. The Christians were merging the “Satanic” culture around them with their beliefs…they were intermarrying with nonbeleivers, eating food offered to idols. Much like many churches/Christians in America, we are blending with the pagan American culture, and we are not standing out from the rest of the culture like Christians should be if they were holding true to their faith. We don’t act like were Christians – we try to have the best of both worlds….acknowledge Christ as Lord iour minds but act like any other nonbeleiver.
Revelation 2:18 – the Church at Thyatira
Smaller city, but las longest letter. Culture surrounded around guilds. Act 16:14 – Lydia that sells purple dye, was from Thyatira. The church was very large here. Jesus commends them for their love, service, faith and perseverance and that they are growing in their love, contrasted with Ephesus which was condemned for turning from their first love. But, they are condemned for allowing Jezebel to continue teach and practice false doctrine (sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols) in their church. The guilds often offered food to pagan gods and participated in drunken orgies. Jezebel was teaching in the church that this lifestyle was okay, as its just fitting in with the culture there, and is condemned for that.
Revelation 3:1 – Church of Sardis
Very rich and large, appearing to be a thriving church. The city was a major crossroads for surrounding cities, positioned up on a hill so it was easily defended, leading the Roman army to occupy the city. Jesus unloads on this church in scripture, calling them “dead” and telling them to “WAKE UP!”
We can look like good Christians on the outside to everyone ele but God sees our hearts.
Revelation 3:5 What robes connotes celebration, victory and purity for those who are with Christ during his future coming and judging of the world.
Revelation 3:7 – Letter to the church at Philadelphia
Youngest city of the others in these letters. Missionary city to draw people into the Greek culture. It was located at the corner of 3 regions. Started by people from Pergamum to reach out to Lydia and Phrygia with the Greek culture. Located in a valley I an fertile land used for farming and vineyards. Hit by frequent earthquakes. Was wealthy from selling wine to other cities.
Christ tells them in this letter that this city is an open door for them to use as a means of Christian missionary work. Since they city was strategically located for Sharing the Greek culture, God also calls the church to use this location as a means to share the Gospel to the regions that came together there.
This message applies very much to our geographical region – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill – because this is a hub of traffic for colleges. People come here from all over the world to go to our many colleges – how should we take this opportunity to share the Gospel as Christ encouraged the Church at Philadelphia? Just as what Christ tells the church at Philadelphia, missionary work does not mean that we have to have any special credentials to share the faith…we just have to be willing and obedient. God does the saving.
Revelation 3:14 – The Church at Laodicea
The richest of all the churches in this region, very very wealthy city. Was on the road to Asia.
Christ calls the church lukewarm, even though they thought they were rich in spirit in addition to their financial wealth. In this area, they had a unique circumstance where they had hot springs. It had to be pumped in for 6 miles, so by the time it got to the city it was lukewarm which was not very good and the people did not like their water. So both hot and cold water would be better than lukewarm. This text is not saying (as many teach incorrectly) that God would rather us be unsaved (cold) than to be a lukewarm believer. The application is still the same though…we are to be “hot” for God (or cold and refreshing, also good in this comparison to water) and passionate about Him and serving him. This city started as a fortress but over time became a major trade center. Later it was decimated by an earthquake.
Revelation 3:18 – there was a special breed of sheep in this area that were violet/black and brought a lot of wealth with the sale of their wool. Many wore these fine dark clothing, but Jesus tells them to robe themselves in white. They had a large medical center known for their eye and ear salve. Jesus also tells them they are blind, despite their notoriety for healing eyes.
Revelation 3:20 – this church was backsliding and turning from true faith (they were becoming junked up by their culture), and Jesus says that he is standing at the door and knocking. They need to repent and turn back to him. The reward in doing so is ruling and reigning with him one day.
We are to analyze our hearts, in reflection of these letters to the different churches and see where we fall short and respond with a renewed passion for following Christ and serving Him.