Sometime between A.D. 60 – A.D. 100 Apostle John wrote to seven church congregations in the Roman province of Asia, known today as (southwestern Turkey) to discuss the spiritual status of the church in addition to their relationship with each other.
The seven letters of Revelation are penned to real flocks who labored as Christians, endured, experienced human trials and tribulations inclusive of spiritual divide. At least two of the seven churches targeted in John’s letters engaged in practices that called for aggressive and immediate spiritual intervention. Smyrna and Pergamos represent these two.
Through John’s letters, he expresses his belief that makes attaining salvation and accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ the most important priority in life. His divinely crafted individual seven letters addressed spiritual concerns, as well as offered encouragement and recognition for growth and progress, were warranted.
God purposely tabbed these seven congregations to become a historical and prophetic beacon of light for present and future generations. The accord gives commendations for godly behavior, encouragement to persevere in the faith and warnings to repent where necessary. (1:19–3:22)
The seven churches of Revelation include:
- Ephesus, the church that endured
- Smyrna, the persecuted church
- Pergamos, the church fighting blasphemous and apostasy demons,
- Philadelphia, the faithful church
- Thyatira, the faithful and preserving church
- Sardis, the “dead church
- Laodicea, the complacent church
The seven letters have at least two things in common: 1. “All begin with Jesus speaking to members of his church.” 2. “Each letter commends the church for strong spiritual works but rebukes them over distinct spiritual and human errors threatening their spiritual health. The author passionately points out specific spiritual dilemmas followed up with solutions.
[Remember that “shortly” to the Lord is different than it is for us, and it is Jesus talking. A thousand years is as one day to the Lord. This verse is used by Preterits to try to prove that everything in Revelation happened shortly after it was delivered to the churches in the first century.] Simpson, S (1999)
Ephesus (The Church that Endured)
The church at Ephesus endured in the faith (2:2- 4), suffered for Christ’s name and had not lost their zeal for Christ and the gospel. However, even though Ephesus had developed spiritually some setbacks attributed to false prophets infiltrated the church to foil traditional teachings of John.
Smyrna the persecuted church
The church at Smyrna was a suffering church, not only in spirit but economically as well. However, the bible says they were rich in spirit, since, the Laodicea church inferred that it was wealthy, but it was spiritually impoverished (3:27). The church at Smyrna collided with a body who professed to be Jews but behaved as though they were tools of Satan. “He will be King of Kings, and there will be no area in which His authority is not final.” http://www.tellingthetruth.org/listen/landing/end-times
Pergamum: Plagued by Spirits of Blasphemy and Apostasy
The church of Pergamum did not exhibit a place where Christians dwelled.
The Church in Pergamum was referred to as “Satan’s throne.” Pergamum was known for heavy engagement in pagan religious practices. The city epitomized the workings of the world while promoting a civil religion which resulted in working for Satan, and was not only attacked by external forces but battled with internal forces as well.
Thyatira: the faithful and persevering church
Thyatira was praised and chastened. Christ praised the church for its love, faith, service, and perseverance. The praise over Thyatira’s spiritual status was more than any of the seven churches. Out of the seven churches, Thyatira was the only church John credited with improving its spiritual status but it had condoned the church allowing teachings of Jezebel, a false prophetess.
Sardis: The “Dead” Church (Revelation 3:1-6)
A dead church cannot grow and that is what the church at Sardis was. It is “dead” (3:1). On the outside, it looked alive and had a reputation as such. It even appeared to be full of energy on the inside but had no life. Like many contemporary churches today it was just an empty shell.
“The Lord would not have told John to write the Revelation and send it to the seven churches (Rev. 1:11) unless there was a way for him to do so.” Brisco (N.D)
The Church at Philadelphia “The Faithful Church”
The Jews of Philadelphia who were persecuting and intimidating the Christians are called a “synagogue of Satan” (3:9). This is how John refers to them in the letter to the church in Smyrna (2:9). They will lose their wealth and later admit that the church reflects the true people of God (3:9). Because the church in Philadelphia has kept faith with Jesus, he will keep them from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the world to test those who live on the earth” (3:10).
Laodicea: The Complacent Church (Revelation 3:14-22)
Christ introduced himself to the church at Laodicea as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (3:14). Both the church at Sardis, Laodicea had earned a reputation of complacency. But the church of Laodicea was also spiritually arrogant and because of that Christ did not compliment them on anything. The church thought of itself as rich and in need of nothing from Christ. Deemed spiritually blind, in error, its flock thought they could see the light and were rich beyond need.
Summarizing the reasons for John’s letters, one could say “the church had serious spiritual issues within and around the church. Bad attitudes, greed, weakness of the flesh and disobedient spirits caused many to lose sight of Christ and His will for the church. To heal, members needed to take off the old and put the new. They needed to be reminded that salvation lies – in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Today’s contemporary churches can learn from John’s letters because they too have fallen into bad spiritual practices and need to reconcile with Christ to receive salvation.
Brisco, S (N.D). The return of Christ; Telling the Truth; Retrieved from
N.N. (2015). How did Revelation get Distributed? Retrieved from
Simpson, S (1999). The letters to seven churches: Deception in the Church; Retrieved from http://www..deceptioninthechurch.com/7churches.html