When one reads chapter two and three in the last book of the Bible (Revelation), many questions may arise as to why God choose the seven churches and in the order He addressed them through His servant John to write. Young Christians normally attempt to spiritualize the letters to the seven churches as they retrace History with total confusion. Many young and even mature Christians are unaware that the “seven churches” were literal historical churches in Asia.
The churches commanded for John to write to were actual well known churches in his day. Their unique selection show us as Believers many things. For starters, these churches represent types and conditions of all church generations to come. This fact can be supported based on several conditions. First, there were numerous churches in the area in which were not selected and written to. The fact the Spirit was speaking to these churches is another factor of the panoramic view that these “seven churches” shows us today of Church History and the existing periods. There is much debate over the theological importance’s of the “seven churches” but the fact remains, God divinely selected this seven distinctively over all of the vase churches in the area.
In this paper I plan to show the comparison of each church letter, of each church listed, to match into the church vision for which it was named. All throughout scripture names are of much importance. In Gods’ plan if one’s name no longer fit his journey, God renamed him as in Abram to Abraham. Abram means “exalted father” but Abraham means ” father of a multitude”. God knew Abraham would represent more than just *an* exalted father of history but that he would become *the* Father of History. The purpose of this illustration is to show what is in a name is of utmost importance when it comes to scripture. There are numerous accounts of where the people of the bible’s names were and what their names meant, and they always fit their namesake verses God would command them to change it to fit the Plan and purpose of Gods’ calling.
For starters the first addressed letter is to the Church of Esphesus. The word Esphesus means First Love the Early Church. The Esphesus Church Represents the time period from Pentecost to about 100 AD. This was the major developing period of Church History in which we have come to know today.
Before looking at the period in which it represents I feel first one should look at the Church itself. Esphesus was the fourth largest city in the empire when Paul visited the city and taught the people of Christ. It was connected by highways to all the important trade routes. Even The Roman Governor resided in this city as it was ideally located for sea harbor. The city’s temple served Asia as a Bank. The wealth of this city showed in the attraction of tourist visiting the legendary temple. The problem however in this city was even though it met the needs in both profit and pride of the people, it failed in the deliverance of the deepest needs of the population. The city was filled with both sorcery and witchcraft. Paul journeyed and visited the city and taught the people the true meaning of the relationship and the church as an living organism. This was a major start and beginning of the Early Church looked at as a real and living Church Body. Their love grew for God as did the Church, while Institutional Religion became a great success in Esphesus
When looking into Early Church History the people were corrupt in their ways and thinking before the knowledge was given unto them in Esphesus. Once the church in this city began to grow it grew out of their love for Christ. They were faithful to the Lord and they no longer tolerated wickedness. Even when they underwent much hardship they did not grow weary. However a problem began to arise within this church, they began setting up the church and the *instintutionalism* as they felt the need for in order to keep faith and serve God. The institutionalism over time became the importance of their hearts rather then the love of God. This church was doing everything right, everything they possibly could to make sure the Church remained faithful and that wickedness was not tolerated, with one exception. The people forgot was one once in their hearts and why they were keeping the *rules* and their faith. The church was religious but it lacked in spiritualism. They forgot their first love.
When a person first excepts Christ as their Savior, they become very excited and want to share the bubbles of love with the world. As time moves on in many peoples hearts they sometimes move into the institutional category and forget their first love, Christ. The early church not only represent the early history of the Church but also the early life of a New Christian.
John’s second letter to the Church of Smyrna represents the persecution Christians undergo. The name Smyrna means myrrh. The people of Smyrna were humble and quite poor. This was not an area of wealth as in the Esphesus Church. Even though Smyrna was a large and important port city the people living within it was heavily taxed by the Roman Government. The new believers underwent during it’s early stage of Christian growth much persecution and suffered many trails, yet they never lost their faith in the promise given to them from the Lord. There were satanic attacks on the people and yet they never gave up on the Lord and always shined forward in their hopes.
During the second and third century of Church Development the Christians were attacked just as the Asian Smyrna Church was. During this period of History many rulers rose and literally tried and killed Christians in attempt to wipe out the Christian Church. But the believers held firm to their faith over this 200 year period and honored the Lord Jesus Christ. Many were jailed and killed just for the pure mention of the word and name of Jesus.
Today, many Christians holding strong to their faith are persecuted for their faith and belief by the world and the worlds views. For those Christians overcoming the attacks and standing firm in their faith, a crown will be rewarded to them. When Christ is the focal point, hells gates can not break ones faith, just as with the Smyrna Church.
The third letter written was to the Church of Pergamum. The Pergamum church represents the corrupt period in the history of the Church. Pergamum was actually a very religious city in Asia. The city raised a temple to Zeus, the healing god who was worshipped in the form of a serpent. Pergamum was well known for it’s Medical University and Library housing over two hundred thousand volumes of notes .
The City was filled with pagan worship and many of the church members allowed untruthfulness to be within the church. The people saw and knew what was wrong yet they allowed it into the church and made excuses for why it was acceptable. Slowly the church itself grew farther away from the truth just as the period it represents. Starting with Constantine in 312 AD the church became of the world and Constantine married the church to the world. It suddenly was politically correct to be a Christian. Believers were no longer persecuted and killed based on there faith but rather raised up. The Roman Catholic Faith grew from this church period.
Many False teachers were invading the church of Pergamum. The false doctrine was becoming the accepted doctrine and the Lord commanded for them not to follow the Doctrine of Balaam, but to repent. Many times in a Christians’ life he may find himself being taught false doctrine and without the help of the Lord he may stray. That is why being of the world is dangerous and why faith in the Lord to reveal truth is so important.
To the Church of Thyatira an awful lot is said considering this was a very small town and church. Thyatira was a city in the Lycus River Valley, although not a magnificent city it has numerous trade guilds. The city was a very profitable city of its natural resources. The Jewish New Testament church of Thyatira was praised for its charitable works, service and faith. It was also criticized for following the works of Jezebel. Jezebel was from the Old Testament and had worshipped the false god Baal. Her role against the prophet Elijah and of raising the people up against Israel’s God, proved to show her wickedness. She is considered today as the most wicked woman within the Bible. Old Testaments writer blame her for the idolatry practice and worship of her husband and children in which she bought into Israel. Considering to state the Church of Thyatira had allowed Jezebel to run and control this church as it is known that idolatry always leads to adultery. This church had really gone bad, yet it continued to practice it’s works as if they were practicing in righteousness.
The people of Thyatira were in the dark thinking they were following the Lords will. The period the church represent is the dark ages in church history. During this one thousand years the church system when from the beginnings of the Roman Church into several views differing from the gospel. Many doctrines were added to the church such as Mary being born a virgin and wearing the collar of the priest backwards as a sign being closer to God. Neither of these two items are biblical doctrine yet it became known and is still today as the word of God.
Adding false doctrine to the Word of God became a practice during the dark age period and repentance was becoming less and less. This to a Christian in today’s world represents regardless of how good and how many wonderful deeds a person does for God, one should remember if he sins he must repent. In today’s church many Christians are warned to repent over and over yet continue to ignore God just as Jezebel was warned and then fed to the dogs. Sin not only effects a person but it spreads like a disease and within a church it can only bring the church to fall. But for the Christian who endures God’s Will, will endure even unto the end.