Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Message To Seven Churches - Introduction

My wife and I are in an Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) at our church. This is basically a group that meets every week to study, verse-by-verse, through a book of the Bible. The class is led by an 86 year old retired Pastor and seminary professor, so the discussion tend to be more on the scholorly side most of the time (which I just love!).

We have been in this class for almost 3 years and in that time we have studied many different books, including 1 & 2 Peter, Hebrews, and Ephesians in the New Testament, and we have also studied many different topics from the Old Testament. Currently we are studying the book a Revelation, and since I have been teaching Revelation in another Bible study for about 2 years I have quite a few notes compiled for the book. So as we work our way through chapters 2 and 3 in our ABF class I thought I would post here what I wrote when I was teaching through these chapters several months ago. I will do this over several posts because I still have other things that I want to do here in addition to this. So with that, here is the intorduction to Revelation chapters two and three - the message to the churches.

The Message To The Churches - Introduction

As we go through these seven letters we can apply these messages in three ways:

  1. As describing the condition of the seven individual churches that they are addressed to.
  2. As the current condition of any individual Christian or church congregation. In other words, examining yourself honestly will show that you fit the description of one of these churches, and the same is true for any local church throughout church history.
  3. As a progressive time line of the Church from Pentecost to the end of time. In other words, the church at Ephesus is a picture of the early church right after Pentecost, and the church at Laodicea is a picture of the church at the end of the church age.

As we go through chapters two and three we will concentrate on the first two, and then when we have looked at all seven of the letters we will go back and look in detail at number three.

Chapter two contains the first four messages that Jesus gave to His churches. Remember the instructions that John was given back in chapter 1 where he was told to “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches” (Revelation 1:11). Here, in these next two chapters we are going to see the messages that Jesus gave to each of the churches that were listed in verse 11 of chapter 1.

One important thing to remember as we study the instructions to these seven churches is that even though the individual messages were addressed to a specific church all seven churches received the entire letter, so all seven churches would have read the message not only addressed to them, but also the messages addressed to the other six as well. The reason that this is important is that just because the message was addressed to the church at Ephesus, for example, doesn’t mean that it was not applicable to Smyrna as well. And it also means that even though the message was sent to these seven churches there is practical application for us in each of these messages also.

Additionally keep in mind that these seven churches were not the only churches in Asia Minor at the time, and they were not the only churches experiencing what Jesus describes in these messages. Jesus specifically chose these seven churches for a reason - they represent a complete picture of Christ’s church; every congregation and every individual Christian can find themselves somewhere in this list. As we will see as we study this book, the number seven is used over and over again to indicate completion or perfection. In this case, what Jesus was doing by choosing these seven churches was giving us a complete picture of His Church.

Each of these seven letters has several things in common. As we study we will see that:

  1. In each letter Jesus declares that He knows their situation and their deeds
  2. In each letter there is an exhortation
  3. In each letter there is a description of Jesus taken from John’s vision in chapter one and it is directly related to the message for that church
  4. In each letter there is a commendation (except Laodicea) a rebuke (except Smyrna & Philadelphia) and a plea to hear and heed the message.
  5. In each letter there is a promise to the one who overcomes.

These seven churches, according to Dr. Halley, were connected by a great triangular highway. The churches are listed in order following this highway in a clockwise direction starting at Ephesus and ending in Laodicea. As you would leave Ephesus and head north along this highway you would come to Smyrna and then to Pergamum, which was about 100 miles north of Ephesus. Leaving Pergamum and heading southeast you would next come to Thyatira, then to Sardis, Philadelphia and then Laodicea, which was about 100 miles east of Ephesus.

Our outline for Chapter two is as follows:

  1. The message to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)
  2. The message to the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)
  3. The message to the church at Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17)
  4. The message to the church at Thyatira (Revelation2:18-29)

As I said above, we will look at each of these messages individually and in detail, so I encourage you, over the next few days, to open your Bible to Revelation chapters two and three and read through these chapters to get a feel for what these messages say and I will post the message to the church in Ephesus in a few days.
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Famous Quotes said...

This sumps it up

Ploughed Ground said...

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