John the apostle sent seven letters to seven genuine churches that existed at the time he authored the book of Revelation. These churches are mentioned in Revelation 2—3 as Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. All of these cities were all in modern - day turkey, near the island of Patmos, from which John wrote Revelation.
Each church's message, while unique to its location, has significance for our lives today. Ephesus was told to go back to its first love (Revelation 2:4). Smyrna was warned that it would face persecution (Revelation 2:10). Pergamum had been summoned to repentance (Revelation 2:16).
Thyatira was told to get rid of its false prophetess (Revelation 2:20). Sardis needs to be awakened from its sleep (Revelation 3:2). Philadelphia was to maintain its patience (Revelation 3:10). Laodicea's lukewarm faith had to come to an end (Revelation 3:16).
Some people believe that the seven churches reflect historical eras. The church of Ephesus, for example, depicts the earliest churches, but Laodicea portrays today's lukewarm congregations.
This approach, however, takes a symbolic or allegorical interpretation that is not supported by the text of the Scriptures. Though there is significant application, the idea that these churches symbolize historical times is unlikely.
The church's letter concludes with information on eternal rewards. According to Revelation 2:11, "the one who conquers will not be harmed by the second death." Those who triumph are Christians. "This is the second death, the lake of fire," says Revelation 20:14 concerning the second death.
Revelation 2:28 provides another example. "And I will give him the morning star," the letter declares to believers. Revelation 22:16 clarifies later, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to bear witness to you concerning these things for the sake of the churches. I am the ancestor and descendant of David, the morning light."
In summation, each church received a letter from John and was a physical church. Each letter contained information about the resurrected Jesus, church instructions, and a description of eternal rewards. Furthermore, these letters have many applications for readers today who want to live holy lives and be ready for Christ's return.
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