The Word This Week

Revelation 2:1...

Now we come to the seven letters to the seven churches.

By the time Jesus is telling John to write these letters, there were about 100 churches in existence. Therefore, we are left to wonder: Why did Jesus command John to write to THESE seven churches?

Why not the church at Jerusalem, or Rome, or Corinth, or Colosse, or Thessalonica?

We can only speculate about the reason, but our speculations about this are reasonable enough to draw some conclusions. It is very possible these are the very churches John oversaw from his position as ‘The Elder,’ as John was known as. (This is how he identifies himself in John 2 and John 3.) Also, these seven churches as listed appear in the exact order they would have received mail along the Roman postal route.

More likely is these seven churches represent everything we see in every church. Just as Paul had written seven letters to seven churches, from which we take and make application to church life and practice in all churches, and in our personal lives as believers, I think we have the same homiletic repeated here.

These seven churches, as evaluated by Jesus, provide us the opportunity to see every church in light of the assessment these churches received from Christ, recorded faithfully for us by John. We know these assessments of Christ go well beyond these local churches applicationally, because in His instruction for each church, Jesus includes the admonition, “Him who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” That includes all of us because we all have ears. So we pay close attention to what Christ says because we know how He is viewing our church and ourselves as well, by what He says here.

Additionally, there is a pattern laid out here, of the seven epochs of church history - but only if the churches are listed in this EXACT order. And so, the seven letters to the seven churches also become prophetic of the progress and regress of the church over the course of the next 2000 years of history from the time of this writing.

Therefore, what do we see in Jesus’ evaluation of the church at Ephesus – about our church, our lives in Christ, and where we fit in church history?

Pastor Bill